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Selling the 'Fantasy': Why Young Western Women Would Join ISIS

 New Age Islam News Bureau

21 Feb 2015

Egyptian protesters hold up placards and shout slogans during a demonstration in Cairo against sexual harassment, Feb. 12, 2013. (photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)


 Divorce Warning Over Religious and Sharia Marriages

 More Women Are Leaving Behind Religious Identities For Something More Spiritual

 Law Soon To Protect Saudi Child Rights

 Boko Haram Is Not a Feminist Problem - A Nigerian Woman's Perspective

 Egyptian Students Launch Anti-Harassment Campaigns

 Asif Ali Zardari for Women Antiterrorism Force

 Three Missing London Schoolgirls 'Travelling To Syria to Join Isil'

 Labors Of Love: Husbands Force Working Saudi Women to Divide Up Salary

 Have AKP's Policies Caused Rise In Violence Against Women?

 Don’t Force Muslims to Take Of Their Hijabs at Work and In Schools - Dr. Omane Boamah

 Muslim Basketball Player Wants To Play With Hijab

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau





Selling the 'Fantasy': Why Young Western Women Would Join ISIS

21 Feb, 2015

British authorities’ desperate race to track down three teenage girls who they suspect are on their way to Syria to possibly connect with the terror group ISIS has reignited a question raised when a young American woman put herself in a similar position –- namely, why?

Commander Richard Walton of Britain’s Counter Terrorism Command said today that the two 15-year-olds and one 16-year-old are hardly alone in their quest to join jihadists and that British authorities “are concerned about the number of girls and young women who have or are intending to travel to the part of Syria that is controlled by the terrorist group calling themselves Islamic State [ISIS].”

“It is an extremely dangerous place and we have seen reports of what life is like for them, how restricted their lives become. It is not uncommon for girls or women to be prevented from being allowed out of their houses or if allowed out, only when accompanied by a guardian,” he said. “The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those under the control of [ISIS], leaving their families in the U.K. devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return.”

So why would young women travel halfway around the world to a combat zone to link up with a terrorist group that has boasted about countless atrocities, including those committed against women?

Mostly for the same reasons that young men do, according to academics.

“ISIS has been on a very strong female recruitment drive, and women are joining ISIS for a variety of reasons, many of which are the same as men,” Jayne Huckerby, Director of the Duke International Human Rights Clinic, told ABC News in January. “Feelings of alienation, feelings of inequality. [For] adventure. In some cases, romance. And in many cases too, these women are responding to quite a deliberate call from the Islamic State [ISIS] to have women come and participate in a form of state-building and to make a new country in which they can practice their religion.”

“Women see themselves playing a number of roles in the group. They see themselves as recruiters for other young women. They see themselves as a very important part of the propaganda machine of ISIS,” Huckerby said.

Katherine Brown, a lecturer in Defence Studies at King’s College London, wrote for the BBC in August, “Women are joining [ISIS] because it provides a new utopian politics – participating in jihad and being part of the creation of a new Islamic state.”

“There is a great deal of romanticism in women’s accounts about being part of this political project with a new version of a political Islamic ‘good life’ built upon a particular idea of Islam and Sharia law,” Brown wrote. “The perceived failure of Western states to give Muslims a sense of belonging, purpose and value as Muslims and citizens is striking in the online accounts of these women jihadis.”

Mia Bloom, Professor at the Center for Terrorism and Security Studies at UMass Lowell, said ISIS has been selling the girls a “fantasy” escape.

“Most of the girls are drawn by a combination of fantasy and the feeling that by joining ISIS, they will be empowered, have an exciting life, and do something meaningful with their lives,” Bloom told ABC News today.

The ISIS recruitment drive for women has also played out in the same arena as it has for men: online.

Twitter accounts supposedly belonging to women living under ISIS rule describe their day-to-day lives in a positive light and beckon other Western women to join.

“[ISIS] pays for our houses, we get money monthly, food aid, travelling aid, soldiers protecting our borders, everything,” one such account said this week, according to the SITE Intelligence Group. “…[W]ith every child we get extra money, No kafir [disbeliever] country does!”

Brown wrote that the women online “offer the women advice, support, help with travel, and are a source of propaganda for [ISIS], presenting idealized notions of an Islamic life and jihad.”

“Online networks facilitate their travel and help coordinate them with expat communities once they arrive,” she said.

Bloom also noted that male members of ISIS work to woo women online so they’ll to travel to the Middle East, where the men can marry one or more of them, or the women can be used as lures for other male recruits.

“It’s all about the social media that is being used to lure these young women,” she said. “Then the women are used as a reward. They are ranked according to value in terms of blondes and converts will be more desirable… By marrying them [the women] off and encouraging children immediately, it retains the men and makes it less likely that they will go back to their home countries.”

Huckerby spoke to ABC News in January when a 19-year-old American woman, Shannon Conley, was sentenced to four years in prison for attempting to go to Syria to join ISIS. The FBI had said Conley fell in love with a member of the group online and planned to travel to the Middle East to marry him.

FBI agents reportedly met with the Colorado woman repeatedly beginning in late 2013, trying to talk her out of supporting the terror group. But the AP reported that Conley flatly told the agents she was going to wage jihad in the Middle East, even if it was illegal.

Judge Raymond Moore said the four-year sentence was meant to deter others from following in Conley’s footsteps.



Divorce warning over religious and Sharia marriages

21 Feb, 2015

A campaign group in Birmingham has warned thousands of Muslim women will have no rights if they divorce because their marriages are not recognised by law.

Habiba Jaan from Aurat said it impacts on those who have not backed up their religious or Sharia marriage with a civil ceremony.

The Asian Network's Poonam Taneja speaks to women affected by the issue, to Ms Jaan, and to Abdul Rashid from Birmingham Mosque.



More Women Are Leaving Behind Religious Identities For Something More Spiritual

21 Feb, 2015

(RNS) Nadia Bulkin, 27, the daughter of a Muslim father and a Christian mother, spends “zero time” thinking about God.

And she finds that among her friends — both guys and gals — many are just as spiritually disconnected.

Surveys have long shown women lead more active lives of faith than men, and that millennials are less interested than earlier generations. One in three now claim no religious identity.

What may be new is that more women, generation by generation, are moving in the direction of men — away from faith, religious commitment, even away from vaguely spiritual views like “a deep sense of wonder about the universe,” according to some surveys.

Michaela Bruzzese, 46, is a Mass-every-week Catholic, just like her mother, but she sees few of her Gen X peers in the pews.

“I have women friends who grew up Catholic who think my choice to stay Catholic is like I choose to keep believing in Santa Claus. They just don’t get what is in the church for me,” said Bruzzese.

“For me, Catholicism is a verb — it is the action of being in the world and trying to live the gospel,” said Bruzzese, who teaches theology at a Catholic high school in Albuquerque, N.M. Many of her students go home to parents who no longer observe the faith.

That fits with the findings of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, which tracks Catholic faith and practice.

In 1974, CARA research found 46 percent of men and 45 percent of women considered themselves to be “strong Catholics.” By 2012, both groups had dropped significantly on that question — men to 24 percent and women to 30 percent.

On the rise: Those who call themselves “not very strong” Catholics. That self-description by men climbed to 67 percent in 2012, up from 44 percent 1974. Among women, 57 percent said their faith was “not very strong,” up from 43 percent 40 years ago.

Senior researcher Mark Gray, director of CARA polls, sees “some evidence of a closing ‘gender gap’ but I’m not sure how to disentangle this from life-cycle effects. It may be as women age they become more religious or spiritual and men do not (as much).”

Another survey — one that asked questions about spirituality — found significant differences between men and women and marked change between generations.

In the fall of 2014, the Public Religion Research Institute asked four spirituality questions as part of a larger survey on attitudes toward climate change.

Respondents were asked how frequently they sensed “a connection to all life”; a “deep inner peace or harmony”; ”a deep connection with nature and the earth”; and “a deep sense of wonder about the universe.”

Almost a third of Americans said these spiritual experiences were not a regular part of their lives. And each age group described themselves as experiencing less wonder and connection than the age group before.

While 49 percent of seniors (ages 65 and older) rated high on the spirituality index, only 29 percent of young adults (ages 18-29) did likewise.

And 44 percent of women scored high on the index but only 36 percent of men.

Bulkin scored especially low on those PRRI questions. “To talk about the attachment to the universe for me means thinking about science — it’s an intellectual connection,” she said.

Bulkin was born in Indonesia then moved to Nebraska when she was 11. Today, her mother, a self-proclaimed atheist, attends a Unitarian Universalist congregation. But Bulkin, a consultant in Washington, D.C., is more inclined to use her Sunday morning for a calming yoga class.

“Sometimes I do say I’m spiritual but not religious, but it depends on your definition,” said Bulkin. “I’m more an agnostic when I think about it. But I spend zero time thinking about it.”

Her male friends who do claim a religious identity are more culturally attached than religious, she said. “I know more girls who are religious Christians who struggle to find a guy who is the same.”

Juliet Vedral, 33, a pastor’s daughter who is active in her Christian faith, is enrolled in the Young Adult Life and Leadership Initiative at the Shalem Institute in Washington, D.C.

Vedral said her friends fall into roughly three groups: Religious (mostly women); spiritual but not religious (more women than men) and folks who are “not into it at all” (definitely more male).

At Shalem, most participants in its contemplative prayer and leadership programs are women “in the second half of life” said Leah Rampy, the executive director. Older women may have more time to participate, or they may be more willing to be part of institutional religion.

“Young people want their spirituality to be very personal, not corporate. It might be yoga or mindfulness or chanting but it has to be authentic and it has to work for them,” said Rampy.

This may be in part because “young men and young women are experiencing the world with less difference between their lives in the workplace and in education,” said sociologist of religion Cynthia Woolever. “All the same forces that would move men toward the ‘none’ category (away from brand-name religion) are present for women, too, now that whatever fence was around women is removed.”

Woolever also points to the marriage rate as an influence in religiosity, if not necessarily spirituality. “It’s married women who go to church and they take their kids. Certainly single women go to church, too, but at a much lower rate,” said Woolever.

Protestant scholar and author Phyllis Tickle, 80, who has observed American spirituality for decades, also cited the changing cultural context of women’s lives.

“In evangelical and even in some progressive parts of Christianity, women are getting very mixed signals,” said Tickle. “There is a view that a woman should be subordinate on Sunday, equal to men the five workdays of the week and Saturday is up for grabs. She’s told at home and at church the man is to be the ‘servant leader,’ but then she goes to work where she has to be as tough as the guys to succeed.”

Tickle called it “religiously imposed schizophrenia. My generation didn’t have the pressure to be the perfect wife and the perfect professional. It doesn’t leave you any time for spirituality — or any internal time at all. Whatever the female of the 22nd century is going to be spiritually, we just don’t know,” Tickle said.

When Bruzzese looks ahead, she has no benchmarks for how her three young daughters might one day connect to a Catholic life as adults.

“I hope they live lives of faith that reflect the joy and the liberation promised by Jesus,” she said. But how they express this, and whether they follow her and their grandmother into Catholic church pews as adults, Bruzzese said, “is not up to me.”



Law soon to protect Saudi child rights

21 Feb, 2015

The Supreme Judicial Council will begin preparing provisions to protect children’s rights from parental control and harassment during litigation cases. Issues related to visitation, custody and alimony can become a battleground for parents in which children sometimes get caught up.

The council is also considering granting judgess new powers to accelerate the judicial processes and improve supervision of the court’s administrative performance.

According to the proposal, disciplinary proceedings would be presented in writing to the chairman of the board. Court presidents would oversee administrative departments and all employees, including the management director, as well as oversee all correspondence and transactions received by the court.



Boko Haram Is Not a Feminist Problem - A Nigerian Woman's Perspective

21 Feb, 2015

Many victims of Boko Haram attacks have been men and boys. Reducing the terror attakcs to gender violence is a distortion of actual events and disrespectful to male victims and their families.

I want to correct some misconceptions about Boko Haram and the kidnapped girls that are still missing in Chibok, Borno State, Northern Nigeria.

I am a Nigerian. I grew up in a village in Middle Belt Nigeria. I am no stranger to African conflicts. I have personally experienced the bombings and terrorist acts of Boko Haram.

In 2011, I traveled to Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria. The main city bridge was bombed on Christmas Eve. A neighboring village was burned down while families slept. Many women, men and children died or were injured. I was a student in Sierra Leone when civil war broke out there in 1993. Africa is a vast, complex, and beautiful continent. And there are many positive things happening in Africa. But for some of us, uncertainty has become a way of life. In the Hausa language they say, ya sama jiki ('it is a way of life').

Sadly, I have grown accustomed to chaos.

The April 2014 kidnapping of over two hundred girls in Chibok, Nigeria has received worldwide attention popularized on Twitter with the hash tag #BringBackOurGirls. American feminists, with some African allies, cite the Chibok kidnapping as a typical example of gender violence. But many victims of Boko Haram attacks have been men and boys. Reducing Boko Haram to gender violence is a distortion of actual events and disrespectful to male victims and their families.

As a Nigerian, I am disappointed that our President, Goodluck Jonathan, broke his silence not to offer homegrown solutions, but to solicit and accept offers from mostly western governments to hunt for the abducted girls. In 2015 he insists on calling upon the US government to help Nigeria battle Boko Haram. 'Help' from imperial powers has been disastrous for Africans. This was proven most recently in Libya, Ivory Coast, Somalia, and Mali, to name a few. If Nigerians (and other Africans) constantly look to Europe and America for crisis management then how will Africans ever build their capacity to solve their own problems? This is even more problematic when we consider that western interference is, in fact, a significant part of the problem. We are grateful, nonetheless, that people are interested in the story, hence pressurizing the Nigerian government to act.

Boko Haram means 'education is forbidden', not Western education is forbidden as it has been widely reported. This is an important distinction because Boko Haram has not just targeted Christians and western institutions. They have attacked anyone, including Muslims, who do not agree with their understanding of Islam.

Like Shehu Usman Dan Fodio (1754-1817), the infamous Fulani Sokoto caliphate centuries earlier, the leader of Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, aims to 'reform' Islam in Nigeria and to make all of Nigeria subject to Muslim ethics. I have listened to YouTube videos in the Hausa language and without subtitles. The videos have been posted online since the abduction of the Chibok girls. Below I highlight key points raised by Boko Haram's leader, Abubakar Shekau:

- Shekau is willing to die for his religion because prophets before him died for Allah.

- Anti-religious pluralism: Nigerian traditional religions, and Christianity have nothing in common with Islam, so they must be opposed.

- If you are not Muslim, you must convert or be killed.

- On the rumor that the Chibok girls were sold for marriage, Shekau states that if he were to do that, it is permissible in Islam to sell and or marry girls as young as nine years old.

- Boko Haram is not interested in money. They want a Nigeria that teaches Islam in all of its institutions.

- Their jihad (holy war) is against non-Muslims and Muslims who do not follow the Holy Quran properly (Shekau listed 'infidels' countries and leaders such as George W. Bush, Barack Obama, Saudi Arabia, Russia, etc.)



Egyptian students launch anti-harassment campaigns

21 Feb, 2015

CAIRO — A number of students at the faculty of computers and information at Cairo University launched the Speak Up campaign Dec. 24 to fight harassment on campus. Soha Abu Zeid, one of the spokeswomen for the effort, told Al-Monitor, “The campaign started as a project for the media campaigns course, which was being taught during the first semester of the current academic year. However, students decided to carry on with the activities for the second, current semester, although the course had ended.”

She further explained, “At the beginning, a work group chose harassment as a subject for the campaign. We conducted a poll among university students on the issue, as we had noticed an increase in the rate of harassment on campus, and the results of the poll confirmed our observations.”

Abu Zeid also said, “The campaign aims at encouraging female students to speak up about the cases of harassment they have faced on campus, as we have noticed that the main problem in harassment cases is the victims’ reluctance to talk about it. Therefore, we chose the title 'Speak Up' for the campaign. We are using social networking sites for participation and complaints of students who have been harassed on campus. The names of victims remain anonymous to preserve confidentiality.”

She spoke about one of the campaign's successes. “Based on the complaints we received from students who have been harassed, we discovered a recurring complaint against one of the teaching staff at the faculty of economics and political science. We then talked with the victims to persuade them to make a formal complaint against the accused before the Anti-Harassment Supreme Committee at the university. They actually did, and he was suspended from work and is currently being investigated,” said Abu Zeid. The anti-harassment committee was established in June 2014 as part of a university initiative.

Ibtisam Mukhtar, another Speak Up representative, told Al-Monitor that one of the campaign's goals is simply to raise awareness among students that there is an organization to fight harassment on campus, a fact not known to many. “During the first semester, we started communicating with female students only via social networking sites, due to time constraints and because the date of the campaign launch was close to semester finals. However, we are currently seeking to work more effectively among female students during the second semester. We will be organizing events and seminars at Ain Shams University and Helwan University in addition to organizing self-defense training courses,” Mukhtar said.

Mona Magdi, a professor of media campaigns in the information faculty at Cairo University and the campaign’s supervisor, told Al-Monitor, “The Anti-Harassment Supreme Committee has been cooperative with the campaign to a large extent. It had been encouraging the students in the faculty of economics and political science to file complaints against the aforementioned member of the teaching staff, working in utmost confidentiality for the sake of students during investigations.”

Maha Saeed, a professor in the faculty of arts and the chairperson of the executive committee of the Anti-Harassment Supreme Committee, said that she is impressed with the campaign’s performance. She met with the students who organized the campaign to help coordinate activities and is working with the campaign on events taking place during Women’s Week, March 8 (International Women’s Day) through March 15. “I wish that all students in the other faculties at Cairo University would follow suit and organize similar campaigns,” she said.

The campaign has faced some challenges due to the absence of financial support. As Mukhtar noted, during the first semester, the campaign relied solely on social networking sites, which did not require financial resources. Reaching out to students on the ground and organizing events can, however, necessitate funding, which, she thinks, will not be an impediment to the campaign. For now, it is a wait and see situation. “Perhaps the campaign would receive financial support from the university’s anti-harassment committee. There are also ongoing consultations and debates on whether or not to include the campaign in the UNESCO projects for educational development in Egypt, which would provide it with the necessary funding,” said Abu Zeid.

At the moment, according to Magdi, the campaign's members consist of “15 to 20 female students and one male student only, which is due to the high number of females in the information faculty as opposed to males.” The Speak Up campaign Facebook page has tallied some 4,000 likes and posts featuring more than 30 stories from students who have been subjected to harassment on campus. The campaign receives student complaints about harassment via and are then reposted on Facebook while keeping names concealed.

According to data from Nov. 27 from the I Saw Harassment (Shoft Ta7arosh) initiative, Cairo University’s performance in fighting harassment has been a failure. The initiative, in a “comment” on harassment news reported by news websites, demanded that the university adopt a clearer policy. I Saw Harassment consists of a group of volunteers who, according to their Facebook page, are “a pressure group to monitor, document and combat harassment crimes against women and to provide legal and moral support for victims in public places.”

During the 2013-14 academic year, Cairo University experienced some incidents of harassment that were made public through the media, including the harassment of a female student near the faculty of law in March 2014. This may have been due to the large number of journalists on campus at the time to cover student demonstrations, some of which led to clashes with security forces.

On Jan. 22, the president of Cairo University, Gaber Gad Nassar, announced that the university is investigating numerous incidents of harassment involving students and members of the teaching staff. UNESCO reviewed the Cairo University campaign to fight harassment and recommended its dissemination to universities around the world. According to a Feb. 14 media report, surveillance cameras set up in September 2014 at Cairo and Ain Shams Universities to primarily monitor troublemakers on campus have recorded cases of harassment.

It may be difficult for a university to eliminate harassment on campus, which might explain why students are launching their own campaigns. University administrations should nonetheless continue to deploy resources to eliminate harassment, because the students' campaigns may be transient, ebbing or flowing or possibly disappearing with graduations.



Asif Ali Zardari for women antiterrorism force

21 Feb, 2015

KARACHI: Pakistan Peoples Party co-chairman and former president Asif Ali Zardari has directed the Sindh government to initiate steps to set up a counterterrorism force and a women antiterrorism force in the province.

The PPP chief issued these directives while presiding over a meeting on law and order held in Bilawal House on Friday.

The participants in the meeting — which was attended by Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah, were MNA Faryal Talpur, Local Bodies Minister Sharjeel Inam Memon, the Sindh chief secretary, the IG Police and the Sindh advocate general — reviewed law and order, political situation and other related matters.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari, who was briefed on steps being taken in these matters by the Sindh government, stressed the need for establishing a counterterrorism force in Sindh and also a women antiterrorism force to meet the challenge of terrorism.



Three missing London schoolgirls 'travelling to Syria to join Isil'

21 Feb, 2015

Three east London schoolgirls have flown to Turkey and there are fears they may cross the Syrian border and join the Islamic State terrorist group.

Shamima Begum, 15, Kadiza Sultana, 16, and an unnamed 15-year-old, pupils at Bethnal Green Academy, flew from Gatwick on Tuesday, during half-term.

Commander Richard Walton, of the Metropolitan Police, said he feared they were "extremely vulnerable".

The trio are friends with a fourth girl who travelled to Syria in December.

At the time the three girls were interviewed as her friends, police said.

Cdr Walton said the teenagers' families were "devastated" but there was a "good chance" the girls were still in Turkey.

He hoped a police appeal, via social media, would persuade them not to enter Syria.

The girls were last seen at their homes on Tuesday morning when they gave their families "plausible reasons" to be out for the day, police said.

They boarded a Turkish Airlines flight, which landed in Turkey on Tuesday evening.

The third girl is not being named at the request of her family.

Shamima is possibly travelling under the name of her 17-year-old sister Aklima Begum, police said.

'Increasing concerns'

Cdr Walton said he hoped the trio would "hear our concerns for their safety and have the courage to return now, back to their families who are so worried about them."

He said the force was becoming "increasingly concerned" about a growing trend of young girls showing an interest in joining Islamic State.

"The choice of returning home from Syria is often taken away from those under the control of Islamic State, leaving their families in the UK devastated and with very few options to secure their safe return," he said.

"If we are able to locate these girls whilst they are still in Turkey, we have a good possibility of being able to bring them home to their families."

Shamima and the unnamed 15-year-old were reported missing by their families on Tuesday evening, while Kadiza was reported missing on Wednesday morning.

Police have issued a description of the three girls:

Kadiza Sultana is 5ft 6in and slim build. She was wearing black rimmed glasses, a long black jacket with a hood, a grey striped scarf, a grey jumper and dark red trousers and was carrying a black holdall. She speaks English with a London accent and Bengali.

Shamima Begum is 5ft 7in. She was wearing black, thick-rimmed glasses, a black hijab, a light brown and black leopard-print scarf, a dark red jumper, black trousers and a jacket, and was carrying a dark blue holdall with white straps. She speaks English with a London accent and Bengali.

The 15-year-old unnamed girl is 5ft 6in and slim build. She was wearing black, thick-rimmed glasses, a black headscarf, a long dark green jacket with a fur-lined hood, a light yellow long-sleeved top, black trousers and white trainers, and was carrying a black Nike holdall. She speaks English and Amharic.

Salman Farsi, a spokesman for the East London Mosque, said he thought the girls had been "misled".

A fellow pupil at Bethnal Green Academy, identified only as Sadek, said what happened was "really sad" and urged the trio to return.

BBC security correspondent Gordon Corera said ambassador Thomas Krajeski, senior adviser for foreign fighters at the US state department, said that more than 20,000 people have gone to Iraq and Syria from more than 100 countries.

British officials have said that this includes at least 600 people from the UK.

Our correspondent added Turkey has long been the primary entry point for those heading to Iraq and Syria.

Dr Erin Saltman, from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, which offers independent expertise in counter-terrorism, said IS propaganda targets young women specifically with the promise of being part of a humanitarian movement.

She said: "They are the wives and mothers of the future jihadists so quite a lot of dedication and time has been put into trying to allure these younger women to come and join in these efforts.

"They are very much restricted to the house and home for the most part. There is strict sharia law in the region."

BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said it was "absolutely extraordinary" that four girls from the same year at the same school had travelled to Syria, with the apparent aim of joining IS.

He said "very difficult questions" were being asked about how friends, family and the police had not managed to dissuade the three girls from going to Syria when their best friend had travelled to the country in December.

Home Secretary Theresa May said it was important "to look at the whole question of the ideology that is driving these actions" and the government was working on extremism strategy.

But shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the idea of the schoolgirls travelling to Syria was "very disturbing" and showed more action was needed to counteract extremist recruitment messages.

A spokeswoman for Tower Hamlets Council said it fully supported the appeal issued by the police.

A Turkish Airlines official told the BBC the airline is only responsible for checking that visas are valid for passengers before check-in and boarding flights and that all other security issues before flight are "the responsibility of the official airport authorities".

Those with information can call the free Anti-Terrorist Hotline number on 0800 789 321.



Labors of love: Husbands force working Saudi women to divide up salary

21 Feb, 2015

MANY married Saudi women have voiced concern that their husbands force them to share their salaries with them.

The men claim that they have the right to take part of their wives’ salaries every month and use it to spend on everyday household expenditures but women have traditionally been given the choice to spend whatever they earn as they want.

While many married Saudi women are willing to chip in when necessary, they say the choice should ultimately be theirs and men should not force them to do so, Al-Riyadh daily reports.

As more and more women are joining the work force, numerous opportunities have opened up for them. Their traditional roles as housewives have also changed, making them financially independent.

For an increasing number of Saudi women, full-time motherhood is no longer the only job they have. In some cases, women make more money than their husbands, which is why it is important that married couples set the record straight right from the beginning and set goals for themselves and work towards achieving them.

Mai Al-Ali, a government employee, said every working woman is entitled to keep whatever she earns. It is the husband who should bear the expenses of running the household.

“A wife can help her husband financially in some cases. For example, when there’s an emergency financial situation.

The most important thing is he shouldn’t force her to give up her salary,” Al-Ali said.

She narrated several stories involving working women whose husbands make them share part of their salaries to help run the household.

“Some husbands force their wives to apply for loans and they take the loans for themselves, leaving the women the responsibility of paying off the loans.

This is unacceptable and puts a wife thorough a lot of pressure,” she said. Abeer Al-Nekhaish, a government employee, called for setting limits according to the Shariah by which a husband can ask his wife to give him a part of her monthly salary to help run the household.

“If a wife wants to willingly help her husband bear the daily expenses of their family as a way to get closer to Allah and ask for His forgiveness, she can do that if her husband really needs it.

It is wrong, however, for a husband to control his wife and make give him her salary,” she said.

Awatif Al-Shammary, private-sector employee, said she helps her husband financially as much as she can and feels that it is her duty to do so.

However, she said many husbands do not appreciate the sacrifices their wives make and do not stand by their wives during difficult times.

Layla Al-Juhani, meanwhile, said a husband and wife should agree on this thorny issue right at the outset. A wife’s salary is her own right; she works hard for it.

Abdulaziz Al-Shayhan said a working woman should keep her salary to herself and should not give it in whole or part to her husband.

“If there is a need for her to chip in, she should talk with her husband and agree on how much she should pay toward household expenses.

It’s essential for a husband and wife to help one another. If a wife earns a decent salary and so does her husband, there is no need to help him.

But if the husband’s salary is low while hers is higher, they should talk about how they can help each other,” Al-Shayhan said.

Citizen Abu Majed Al-Shammary believes husbands who make their wives pay to run the household are making their wives feel helpless and oppressed.

“Such husbands always cause trouble when their wives protest or refuse to give them any money. The result is constant marital problems the costs of which will be paid by their innocent children,” he said.

Fahd Al-Amir, head of guidance and counseling unit, Wifaq Society, agreed that many working wives have problems with their husbands over how salaries should be divided.

“Each and every working wife is entitled to her salary. A family who has problems over a wife’s salary is unstable.

My advice to husbands is to fear Allah and never take part or all of their wives’ salaries. It’s better for husbands to be the sole breadwinner as this will increase the stability of a family,” Al-Amir said.

Dr. Farhan Al-Eneizi, psychology professor, said a wife should help her husband financially and never burden him with too many responsibilities.

“If a wife does not help her husband in covering household expenses, the husband will view her as a wife who cannot fulfill her household duties because of work.

Problems will emerge and may develop into constant quarrels over the issue. The end result may even be divorce,” he said.



Have AKP's policies caused rise in violence against women?

21 Feb, 2015

The BBC reported on Feb. 17 that her name had been tweeted 4.6 million times. Ozgecan Aslan was not even 20 years old when she fell victim to a brutal murder. She was a college student in the southern town of Mersin in Turkey. While returning home from class on the afternoon of Feb. 11, the minibus driver attempted to rape her. She did as Minister of Family and Social Policies Aysenur Islam had recommended: women and children in distress should “learn to scream.” Aslan screamed, fought and used her pepper spray against her attacker. There are scratch marks on the murderer’s face. He got mad at her for resisting the assault and stabbed her with his knife. According to him, she was not dead when he called for help from his father and a friend, both of whom complied. Things then only get worse. It is not just murder, but the attempt to get rid of the evidence by cutting off Aslan's hands and burning her corpse. Reading the detailed accounts of the murderers, one cannot help but feel deep sorrow, embarrassment, fear and fury.

In September 2014, Al-Monitor reported that between 2003 and 2010, there had been a 1,400% increase in the number of slain women in Turkey.

Islam criticized the media in October 2014 for their insistence to dwell on these murders. Although official numbers have not been released for 2014, researchers have compiled records of at least 281 women murdered. The murder rate of women rose 31% from 2013 to 2014, and in January 2015 alone, 26 women were murdered in Turkey. Aslan’s murder highlighted the fact that less than 6% of all prosecutors who deal with rape cases are female. Pundits claim a male-dominated courtroom along with lax laws encourage attacks on women.

Two intriguing points in the aftermath of Aslan’s murder are noteworthy. First, as the public uproar started, a few regular Justice and Development Party (AKP) supporters tried to silence the resentful voices. This backfired with a vengeance. Some examples of high-profile tweets follow:

On Feb. 14, Cemile Bayraktar, a female hijabi blogger for the pro-AKP daily Yeni Safak tweeted: "Muslim country, rape … try not to be a greedy opportunist, in the US every two minutes a woman gets raped. Now, shut your mouth." Her tweet generated hundreds of angry replies. One person replied: “So you are telling us if you were raped, you would be pleased about it, and you would continue with your life?”

Another provocative tweet was written by a popular television personality, Nihat Dogan. He tweeted on Feb. 14: “Women wearing miniskirts and getting naked don't have the right to make a fuss if they are harassed by perverts deprived of morals due to the secular system." He faced a stronger backlash than Bayraktar, losing several of his professional contracts and being ostracized on social media.

For the first time, other AKP supporters did not defend the outrageous statements of these pro-AKP public faces. The reason being they did not correctly predict President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s reaction. Erdogan did not remain quiet and approached the matter with sincere humility. His daughters visited Aslan’s mourning family. Erdogan and his wife also promptly offered condolences to the family. Indeed, Erdogan stood tall and pledged his time and attention to the family to bring the murderers to justice. He said, “This could have happened to any one of our daughters.”

Indeed, Erdogan's statements led the lone pro-AKP voices, who had attempted to turn this hideous crime into blaming the victim, to retract their words. For the first time, pro-AKP figures had not found support and were left vulnerable to social lynching. One prominent religious figure, Cubbeli Ahmet Hoca, declared Aslan a martyr.

The second crucial point is the spontaneous campaign that was started on social media with the hashtag #sendeanlat (you tell your story). Under this hashtag, women from all walks of life shared their stories of sexual and physical harassment. The floodgates to shocking revelations had been opened. Over 1 million tweets were posted. These devastating firsthand accounts of victims showed no women in Turkey were immune to sexual harassment; it affects minors, hijabis, the elderly and disabled, those living in urban and rural areas, those with little education and graduate degrees, the rich and poor and tourists and locals. All these women had been taught since early childhood to hide in shame and remain quiet in the face of rape and sexual harassment. Now it was out in the open.

However, not all reactions were in support. Female columnist Sevda Turkusev from Yeni Safak tweeted: “Come to your senses. Go tell these stories to a doctor, not on social media. Do you think you will all become movie stars by airing your dirty laundry here?” Other voices urged all cases of rape and sexual harassment to remain untold, according to the Turkish honor code.

Photos of Aslan, smiling, decorate taxis, buses and buildings. Women, men and children have heeded the call to “wear black” to show their sorrow and protest. Yet, experts fear soon this populist fanfare will subside and murderers and rapists will continue to be released after short sentences.

The People’s Democracy Party deputy chairwoman, Hatice Altinisik, responsible for people and their beliefs, told Al-Monitor, “We are trying to survive male terror every day.” Altinisik emphasized how the AKP still fails to provide real policy solutions to these deep-rooted problems. She said, “They are still proposing band-aid solutions, not a real cure. Pink buses are fine, but where do we go after we get off the pink bus?” Indeed, the latest perplexing AKP solution to prevent another case of brutal murder came from the Higher Education Board (YOK). YOK announced that class times would be changed, so that female students can get home before sunset.

In other words, the AKP's policies do not help to make the streets, or police headquarters for that matter, safe for women.

However, is getting home before sunset and using gender-segregated transportation a viable solution? For instance, in one case, a husband murdered his hijabi wife of 9 years, because he was convinced her body and voice resembled that of a porn star he had watched. The court considered his jealousy as an extenuating circumstance and lowered his prison term.

Researchers have listed several reasons a man could receive a reduced sentence for murder or rape, such as: a man who says, “she was wearing jeans; she came home an hour late; there were birth control pills in her purse”; a rapist who could not complete the attempted rape; a victim who fails to scream during rape, which is viewed as giving consent and criminals who come across as well mannered in court. Yet, there has never been a discussion on “registering sex offenders” in Turkey. With this mindset, perpetrators of sexual crimes receive a slap on the wrist at best. We must remember it was the AKP government that looked the other way during the Gezi Park protests, while female protesters were systematically sexually abused by the police.

Sexual and physical harassment of women has been a pervasive and long-term problem in Turkey. While it did not start with the AKP government, they remain unconvinced that its faulty policies and dangerous rhetoric have contributed to the number of murdered females to skyrocket. A hope for change is therefore fruitless.



Don’t force Muslims to take of their Hijabs at work and in schools - Dr. Omane Boamah

Schools infringing on rights of Muslims to be sanctioned

21 Feb, 2015

On Friday, the Muslim community in the Western Region took to the streets of Sekondi Takoradi Metropolis to protest what they call human right abuses of Muslim students in the country.

We wish to point out, Dr. Omane Boamah said, that under article 21(1)(c) of the 1992 Constitution of the republic of Ghana, “all persons shall have the right to freedom to practice any religion and to manifest such practice.”

Given that the constitution guarantees, as part of the fundamental freedoms, the freedom of “any religion and to manifest such practice”, it would be wrong to force any individual to abandon her/ his faith. It is equally wrong to force Muslim women and girls to disrobe or take off their hijabs at their places of work or schools.

The statement warns that heads of any institution, including schools and work places, found to be contravening this basic constitutional right would be liable to sanctions.



Muslim basketball player wants to play with hijab

World Bulletin / News Desk

21 Feb, 2015

A year ago, Indira Kaljo, a female Muslim basketball player, chose to wear the hijab, the Islamic headdress for women.

She took the decision following an "awakening" during a charity trip to earthquake-hit Haiti.

But the Bosnian-American player quickly realized she would not be able to play professionally in Europe as basketball's governing body had forbidden the use of any type of headgear, including hijabs, turbans or yarmulkes, during official games.

"It doesn't make sense," says Kaljo, who believes the ban to be discriminatory towards athletes who want to follow their faith, including Sikhs and Jews.

In 2014, she launched an online petition, which collected some 70,000 signatures, attracting worldwide attention to the ban and, she says, influenced the International Basketball Federation, or FIBA,  to soften its position on head scarves.

Indeed, in September 2014, FIBA announced that women would be permitted to wear religious head coverings in domestic basketball games for a two-year provisional period.

However, FIBA has yet to grant players the same latitude in international competition, saying it would consider the matter in a board meeting later this year.

Two weeks after the FIBA decision, the Qatari women's basketball team withdrew from the 2015 Asian Games, in protest of the ban on the hijab, still in effect in international games.

FIBA says its decision has nothing to do with religion, but is only related to sports concerns. According to the article, all headgear, hair accessories and jewelry are prohibited.

"It sucks," says Kaljo, who is currently in Istanbul. "This is our passion, our dream. This is what we worked for since we were little kids."

Kaljo says she does not buy the safety concerns reason given by FIBA for the rule.

She says she has been comfortable while playing covered.

"I play the same. For me, I am more comfortable now than before (when) I was playing uncovered," Kaljo says, adding the long-sleeve dress made in a sports material helps better contain sweat, which can be sometimes uncomfortable, especially in close contact with other players.

"The first time playing with the hijab, I had a good game," she said.

"It makes me really sad when I hear of women who stopped playing after deciding to wear hijab," complains Kaljo.

The passionate athlete believes there will be more Muslim women playing basketball to represent their country, if FIBA expands the September 2014 ruling at the international level.

She currently continues her career in the Saudi team, which was established in 2006, taking part in private local and international competitions, as there is no official national league in the country.

"I think Muslim women should be comfortable in their skin, whether they wear the hijab or not, covered or not covered," says Kaljo, who is also running an NGO, Activne, which aims to promote personal development for Muslim women through sports.

Two women in Saudi Arabia were released last week after more than two months in jail for driving a car, which is forbidden for women in the country.

Kaljo thinks this ban also should be removed like other rulings that restrict women participation in daily life.