New Age Islam News Bureau
1 Jul 2016
Photo: Switzerland denies Muslim girls citizenship after they refuse to swim with boys at school
• Death Threat Issued Against Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasreen
• Chicago Police Tackle, Strip Search Fasting Muslim Woman
• Banned from Stadiums for Being a Woman in Iran
• Lower Austrian Swimming Pool Bans Burqinis
• Donald Trump Says He'll Consider Replacing Hijab-wearing TSA Agents with Veterans
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Switzerland denies Muslim girls citizenship after they refuse to swim with boys at school
01 Jul 2016
Switzerland has rejected citizenship requests from two Muslim girls for refusing to take part in swimming lessons with boys at school.
The 12- and 14-year-old will no longer be considered for naturalised citizenship because they have not complied with the school curriculum, authorities in Basel said.
The girls are understood to have refused to take part in school swimming lessons because boys were present and their religion forbade that form of interaction, according to USA Today. Their applications for Swiss passports have now been overturned.
Meanwhile, the father of two other girls who refused to let his daughters swim with boys was fined $4,000 swiss francs (around £2,900) by a district court in another part of the country.
Stefan Wehrle, president of the country's naturalisation committee, told TV station SRF that "whoever doesn't fulfil these conditions, violates the law and therefore cannot be naturalised."
The father, who was fined by a court in Altstaeten in the north-east of the country, had been in trouble with authorities previously for requiring his daughters to wear head veils in school, according to The Local.
In the end, his eldest daughter was granted the right to wear a veil to school by Switzerland's highest court on the grounds of religious freedom.
Parts of the Qu'ran and the collection of oral traditions laid out in the Hadith, which follow the example of the Prophet Mohammed, advise Muslims on interactions between men and women.
These include unrelated men and women avoiding physical contact and women being dressed modestly. The explicit requirement to cover the head and face is not in the Qu'ran.
The two cases in Switzerland are the latest in a series of refusals by authorities to grant immigrants citizenship for cultural reasons.
Two Muslim brothers who refused to shake hands with their female teacher on the grounds of religious restriction were soon the centre of widespread media coverage and public uproar.
The boys' father, an imam at the Basel mosque, immediately had his naturalisation request suspended by authorities, while any parent or guardian who refuses to shake a teacher's hand can now expect a $5,000 fine.
Yet the case is not always limited to instances of religious difference. The resident-led committees which lead recommendations for immigrants in their communities gaining citizenship have previously rejected applications before on the grounds of people not seeming "Swiss enough".
One immigrant family from Kosovo who had been in the country for a decade was told their tendency to wear shabby clothing in the street and not greet passersby was proof of their lack of integration.
And an American who had lived in the country for 40 years had his application refused after being unable to name any Swiss friends or nearby villages.
Switzerland has been a top destination for immigrants coming to Europe and, along with Australia, it has the highest proportion of immigrants in the developed world.
But the country has also been accused of outright racism after 60 per cent of Swiss citizens voted in 2009 "against the construction of minarets" - the towers that deliver the call to prayer on either side of mosques - in the country.
Britain has said before that it would like controlled immigration as in Switzerland or Australia. As a consequence of ending the free movement of people, Switzerland lost full access to the Single Market.
Death Threat Issued Against Bangladeshi Writer Taslima Nasreen
July 1, 2016
New Delhi: Controversial Bangladeshi writer Taslima Nasreen made headlines after an obscure outfit from Kerala owing allegiance to the Islamic State (IS) issued a death threat against her on their Facebook page on Wednesday.
Ansarul Khilafa – Kerala, a page on social networking site Facebook, posted that she should be killed when found. The post has a photo of Taslima Nasreen with her alleged anti-Islamic quotes.
Taslima has, on many occasions, been issued a death threat for raising questions against religious stereotypes.
Taslima left Bangladesh in 1994 on account of threat calls after which she lived in several countries. She has now relocated to US after death messages were allegedly sent by radical Islamists.
Banned from Stadiums for Being a Woman in Iran
01 Jul 2016
Last February, when Iran hosted a major international beach volleyball competition, Mina took a huge risk. She traveled to the games, in an attempt to enter the stadium and cheer Iran’s team on in person.
It was a risk because Iran has banned women from watching men’s volleyball – a national obsession – in stadiums since 2012. Over the past few years, interest in volleyball has surged as the national team became an international powerhouse and qualified for the summer Olympics.
Mina had reason to hope she would be allowed to watch the game live. After Iran was chosen to host the tournament by the Switzerland-based International Volleyball Federation (FIVB), the group promised women would be allowed to attend the game.
But that never happened. Mina was turned away at the gate by a security guard. She ended up watching the matches from the rooftop of a nearby café, together with other female fans. That is, until authorities stopped allowing women onto the roof.
Iran has long banned women from attending men’s soccer matches, at least partly on the theory that women shouldn’t hear male fans swear and curse. But when they expanded the ban to volleyball, that excuse didn’t cut it anymore, Mina said – volleyball games have been historically family-friendly.
Mina, together with the other activists, has been dedicated to upending this stadium ban for a decade. “Excluding women from stadiums is part of excluding women from society,” she says. “Iran has to see the consequences for not letting women go to the stadium.”
Growing up in Iran, Mina only had to look at her family to see how women were discriminated against. When she was 9, her father passed away. Because she didn’t have brothers, only sisters, her paternal grandfather became the girls’ guardian and inherited the money. “My mother had given birth to us, and we were living in my mom’s house,” but still she wasn’t considered worthy in the eyes of the law.
“I was fortunate that my grandfather really loved my mom and gave her custody of her children, money and everything she needed,” she said. “He was a good man.”
Mina, born in the 80s, grew up thinking about the Iran- Iraq war, not sports. But as a teenager – when Iran’s national football team began winning games – she joined much of the rest of the country in becoming an avid football fan.
But unlike men, boys, she couldn’t see a game live. “When you’re a super fan and you can’t watch it, it’s really annoying,” she said.
So she, together with her mother, watched live volleyball instead.
Mina remembers the exact moment when she jumped from being a fan to an activist. She was in her 20s. Iran’s soccer team were playing the qualifying match against Bahrain to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Tehran. Near the stadium Mina watched as a group of women marched by, chanting, demanding to watch the game.
“For the first time after the revolution [of 1978] women showed that they wanted to go to the stadium,” she said. As a woman and massive sports fan, she embraced their cause.
That year, she started protesting. At first, police would tear up the women’s billboards or posters, so they began writing slogans – like “I share half of the Freedom” – on their scarves, knowing police would never pull those off. “Freedom” in Persian is “azadi,” which is also ironically the name of Tehran’s stadium.
In 2013, Iran elected a new president, Hassan Rouhani, who spoke of some reforms. At the same time, the former president of the international football federation (FIFA) visited Iran with his female colleagues. Mina saw this as an opportunity to elevate her work.
Mina laughs easily and often, and says she isn’t afraid of being an activist in Iran. But she understands the potentially serious consequences of her activism. She uses fake names when talking to the media and refuses to let people take her picture.
True, Mina knows two girls who were picked up for sneaking into games wearing boys clothes, their only punishment being a call to their parents. However, not everyone gets off so easy. In 2014 authorities arrested Iranian-British woman Ghoncheh Ghavami along with some 20 others when they tried attending a World League volleyball match. They were released, but Ghavami was rearrested and charged with ‘propaganda against the state.” She was imprisoned, spending time in solitary, for nearly 5 months.
Despite the danger, Mina’s family supports her activism. Her mother, sisters, and grandmother are all sports fans. “No matter the time of day, we’re always watching live matches, football, volleyball,” she said. “Last week we were watching wrestling – it was the world cup in LA, our team was in championship, and it was 5 a.m. It’s our hobby.”
In fact, Mina was watching a soccer game on television as we spoke. “We just updated our satellite dish,” she said.
She said some clerics say that women who want to go to stadium are not Islamic. “That’s not true,” Mina counters. “My mother – my whole family, really – is religious, and they love volleyball and football. And It’s not just me and my family.”
More pressure on Iran needs to come from the FIVB, Mina believes, which has back-tracked twice on their promise to Human Rights Watch to help allow women into Iran’s volleyball games, and FIFA, which no longer allows Iran to host football games. Both have anti-discrimination language in their charter. Since Iran has qualified for the Olympics, the country’s official discrimination also runs afoul of the Olympic Committee charter.
Mina believes president Rouhani has the power to take on the hardliners and allow women into stadiums. “The FIVB says, “We want volleyball to be a family sport,” she said. “But there is no family without women.”
Recently, three or four women were caught sneaking into a football stadium used by Iran’s Esteghlal team, as they wanted to see their team train for the new season. When security officers stopped them, boys and men in the stands protested, saying that the women should be there.
“It was a great moment for me, because it’s true, they should be there,” she said. Now if only Iran’s government would act accordingly.
Chicago Police tackle, strip search fasting Muslim woman
01 Jul 2016
CHICAGO— A Muslim woman was running to catch a train in Chicago when five police officers tackled her, ripped off her hijab and strip searched her.
Itemad “Angel” Almatar said she faced humiliation at the hands of police before being arrested for no reason. She was carrying a backpack with food in it to break fast.
Surveillance camera video showed her overtaken by five Chicago police officers as she climbed the stairs of the State/Lake station in the Loop.
“They threw me to the stairs, and grabbed my bags. They kicked me, hit me, took off my hijab,” she said.
They also had an issue with her putting food inside her bag.
“They asked me why I put my food inside my bag, why I’m Muslim, why I’m fasting, why I’m wearing these clothes, why I cover my body,” she said.
Almatar said she was terrified.
She thought the people who grabbed her might be thieves, until they arrested her.
“She was strip searched, videographed, and at the same time men were allowed to see her naked. This is the ultimate horror you can do to a Muslim woman,” said Imam Malick Mujahid, a Muslim community leader in Chicago.
Almatar was charged with reckless conduct and resisting arrest, but on Wednesday a Cook County judge found her not guilty. Her attorneys said the police officers are guilty of profiling and violating her rights, perhaps in the name of vigilance.
“We know a couple things. There’s a Constitution, and the Constitution says you can’t just grab people for no reason whatsoever,” said Aaron Goldstein, a supervising attorney with the Cook County Public Defender’s office
In court, prosecutors said police officers first yelled ‘Stop!’ but the video of the incident shows no one turning around in response, even though several other commuters were walking up the stairs with Almatar.
A spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department said he would look into the incident and what, if any, action was taken internally.
Almatar said she plans to file a federal civil rights lawsuit soon.
Lower Austrian swimming pool bans burqinis
01 Jul 2016
Burqinis (the full head-to-ankle swimsuit worn by some Muslim women) have now been banned from a swimming pool in the town of Hainfeld in Lower Austria - by order of the council. The Krone newspaper reports that the motion was submitted by councillor Peter Terzer, of the right-wing Freedom Party.
Mayor Albert Pitterle confirmed that from now on, swimmers will be required to wear appropriate swimwear in the water, that meet sanitary standards. He said no particular incident had prompted the ban, and that actually the bathing rules requiring appropriate swimwear had been in place “for decades”.
Terzer told a local newspaper that he was pleased the burqini ban had been adopted and that a text had been formulated which ensures that “no one wearing a burqini can enter the pool”.
In addition to the dress code, the council also discussed the potential for sexual assaults in the swimming pool, with Terzer expressing concerns that better security was needed. However, the mayor said the lifeguards were trained to look out for swimmers’ personal safety and that there had never been any incidents of sexual assault at the pool.
A sexual assault was recently reported at a swimming pool in the town of Mistelbach, around 60 miles north of Vienna. After the incident local authorities placed a temporary ban on asylum seekers entering the pool, until it had increased security measures.
A swimming pool in Basel, Switzerland, recently banned looser styles of burqinis - saying it was hard to distinguish them from street clothes.
Earlier this year, the British department store chain Marks & Spencer launched its own burqini line in Europe to appeal to the growing “Islamic fashion” market, combining modern design with Muslim principles of modesty.
Donald Trump Says He'll Consider Replacing Hijab-Wearing TSA Agents With Veterans
01 Jul 2016
Donald Trump unwittingly waded once again into familiar territory Thursday: controversy, stemming from comments involving the Muslim faith.
During a question-and-answer session following a trade policy-themed town hall event in Manchester, New Hampshire, audience member Cathie Chevalier asked, "Why aren’t we putting our military retirees on that border or in TSA? Get rid of all these hibi-jabis they wear at TSA?"
Chevalier, the past state president of the New Hampshire Ladies Auxiliary Veterans of Foreign Wars, was referring to a hijab, the headscarf some Muslim women wear.
"I understand," the presumptive Republican presidential nominee responded.
Chevalier continued, "I’ve seen them myself. We need the veterans back in there to take it. They fought for this country and defended it, they’ll still do it."
Trump seemed to affirm the idea, telling her he would consider her suggestion.
"You know, and we are looking at that," he said. "And we are looking at that. We’re looking at a lot of things."
Trump has had a fraught relationship with the Muslim community, once proposing to ban all Muslim immigrants, as well as advocating the profiling and surveillance of mosques.
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Candace Smith ✔ @CandaceSmith_
ICYMI-- Woman asks Trump to replace all hijab-wearing TSA personnel with vets. Trump says "We are looking at that."
11:13 AM - 1 Jul 2016 • Denver, CO, United States
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