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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 4 Aug 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Syrian Women Burned a Burqa after Being Freed From the Islamic State

New Age Islam News Bureau

4 Aug 2016

THESE women celebrated their freedom from the tyrannical regime of Islamic State by burning their burkas, which they had been forced to wear under the brutal militant group's rule.


 American Airlines Kicks Off Muslim Women Because Crew Felt ‘Unsafe’

 3,770 Yezidi Women and Children Still In ISIS Captivity

 Muslim Women in Delaware Speak Out Against Donald Trump

 Saudi Arabia's Women Contingent Show Ambition after 2012 London Olympics Success

 How 2 Muslim Women Claimed Their Own Justice after a Man Asked If They Were ISIS

 Muslim Rashtriya Manch to organise International Raksha Bandhan Festival on August 17

 Malala Yousafzai Meets YouTube Sensation Superwoman

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Syrian Women Burned a Burqa after Being Freed From the Islamic State

August 3, 2016

Women in the Syrian city of Manbij celebrated their liberation from the Islamic State by burning a Burqa, the full-body covering they had been forced to wear in public under the militant group's rule.

In a video released by the Syrian Kurdish news agency ANHA, a crowd cheers as a woman waves a swath of black fabric and sets it on fire.

The Syria Democratic Forces (SDF) — a US-backed alliance comprised of the powerful Kurdish YPG militia and its Arab allies — seized control of more than 70 percent of the northern Syrian town over the weekend, following a months-long offensive.

Restrictive dress codes are strictly enforced in areas controlled by the Islamic State, and women have previously been seen celebrating their freedom when the group is forced to flee. In June, Reuters reported that Souad Hamidi, 19, tore off the face-covering veil she had been forced to wear since 2014 and replaced it with her red head scarf after her village in northern Syria was recaptured by the SDF.

"They would punish people who did not follow their rules, sometimes forcing them to stay in dug-out graves for days," Hamidi said. "Since they (SDF) took control, we are living a new life."

Manbij, which is within the Aleppo governorate, fell to IS in 2014 and was strategically important to the group because of its proximity to the Turkish border, making it a crucial route for supplies and foreign fighters. It also became a hub for trafficking antiquities and artifacts looted from archaeological sites, such as the ancient city of Palmyra.

The UN and human rights groups have documented the systematic abuses, abduction and rapes suffered by women and girls under IS, particularly among the minority Yazidi community in northern Iraq. The group also relies on women to recruit foreign fighters by sharing propaganda online of life under the group. A manifesto published by IS in 2015 said girls could be married from the age of nine, and women should only leave the house when they absolutely have to, and even then they must remain hidden and veiled.

While plenty of devout Muslim women choose to wear the niqab, the Islamic State's heavy-handed policy on it has drawn resentment from moderate Muslims living under the group's rule.



American Airlines Kicks Off Muslim Women Because Crew Felt ‘Unsafe’

August 4, 2016

In another disgusting incident of Islamophobia in the United States, two Muslim women were removed from American Airlines flight 2239 because an attendant felt “threatened” and “unsafe” by their presence.

Niala Khalil, a multimedia journalist with the government funded Voice of America, was travelling with a friend who works for the federal government, when the incident occurred. The pair was on a delayed flight from Miami, Florida to Washington D.C.

“My friend and I were removed from American Airlines (AA) flight 2239 traveling from Miami International Airport (MIA) to Washington-Reagan National Airport (DCA) because the main crew airline attendant felt "unsafe" by our presence,” Khalil wrote in a length Facebook post on Tuesday, detailing the incident. “Yup, the only two apparent Muslim girls on the plane got kicked off. Not sure if it was my friend's statement "evil-eye" bracelet, the fact that I was watching a Pakistani drama on my iPhone, or our obvious Muslim last names that made him uncomfortable, but here's the kicker, we both work for the United States Federal government.”

Khalil, who was born in Boston, said the plane was on the tarmac for more than five hours, during which, the crew offered the passengers only one glass of water and a bag of pretzels. A flight attendant told them there would be no more food or beverage and that they were not allowed to purchase in-flight food, or deplane to get food and use the airport restrooms.

When Khalil’s friend and a white male passenger seated behind her began talking about the delay, a flight attendant approached them and told the woman, “If you have a problem, you can get off the plane.”

The friend, who was calm and composed, told the flight attendant that she was just “stating facts.” He then threatened to remove her from the flight “for instigating other passengers” – despite the fact she wasn’t the one who had started the conversation. “I was flabbergasted by the whole time,” Khalil wrote. She asked a female flight attendant for the male flight attendant’s name so they could lodge a complaint about his behavior. The female crewmember told them to point out the man when they next see him.

Her friend “took a photo of the male attendant” so they could get his name, but another attendant, who was walking by, said that it was a federal offense. While taking a photo on a plane is not a federal offense, airlines have the right to stop people from taking their pictures without consent.

The passengers deleted the picture (and thankfully saved it in the delete folder), but AA customer relations representative, Lourdes Broco, shortly boarded the plane and asked them to follow her to the front, where several armed Air Marshalls and Miami-Dade police officers were waiting for them.

Although the matter was quickly sorted out and Broco realized the attendant, identified as Roger, has exaggerated, Khalil and her friend felt like victims of racial bias.

“Although we were encouraged to document the incident to AA customer relations, we still experienced insult and embarrassment as two minority Muslim-American women. For being such a ‘threat’ to an AA attendant, it’s telling that the Miami-Dade police officers joked with us and posed for this picture with the ‘pretty harmless’ airplane menaces,” Mohammad continued.

The airline offered the pair $200 credit for future travel and a $24 food voucher. However, the damage was already done.

American Airlines, over the past few months, has made headlines for similar incidents.

Not too long ago, a Muslim passenger, Mohamed Ahmed Radwan, was allegedly removed from an American Airlines flight because an employee was feeling a little “uncomfortable” after harassing him in front of everyone.



3,770 Yezidi women and children still in ISIS captivity

August 4, 2016

A Yezidi member of parliament from the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) bloc in the Iraqi parliament, Vian Dakhil, said the Yezidis faced the worst crimes against humanity committed by the Islamic State (ISIS). She indicated that the biggest problem facing the populations in the Sinjar region is mistrust. And the only solution and guarantee for the life of Yezidi Kurds and security for the area is to convert Sinjar to a province and incorporate it within the Kurdistan Region.

Vian Dakhil: We are now at the second anniversary of the disaster that happened to the Yezidis in general and Sinjar particularly, and still approximately 3,770 abducted women and children are in the hands of ISIS.

What’s the scale of the Iraqi government’s support for the Yezidi Kurds?

Unfortunately, the central government’s response has been inadequate. Most of the existing camps in the Kurdistan Region are provided by international organizations, with humanitarian support offered by the Kurdistan Regional Government. Under these circumstances we do not see real involvement from Baghdad morally or financially. And most Iraqi officials do not mention Yezidis in international forums.

What’s the future of Sinjar after the district’s liberation from ISIS?

Now we are in the process of converting Sinjar to a province, and incorporating it into the Kurdistan Region, because this is the best solution for the minorities in this area, especially for the Yezidis after what happened to us. Therefore the best solution is to convert Sinjar into a province and annex it with Kurdistan, and build it again so that people can return home.

What has changed after ISIS control in the district?

Mistrust, which makes us worry a lot, because reconstruction of the city is a temporary matter that is possible if some organizations and some countries help us. But there is difficulty to rebuild trust among the populations. Therefore we have to build the roots of trust among the citizens and this will take a long time.

There is a proposal that Sinjar sill become a province within the Nineveh region. What’s your opinion on that?

If this is implemented on the ground, we will stay in the same vortex. There is no difference between a district in Nineveh province or a province within the Nineveh region. But there are bigger benefits to the citizens, guarantees for their life and provision of security in the area, that will happen when we are within the Kurdistan Region.

What do you demand from the international community?

Our demands two years after the disaster are that the international community should stand with us, because Iraq in general and the Kurdistan Region in particular paid the price and the Yezidis paid a bigger price. Therefore the international community should rescue the abductees, and recognize the disaster that happened to the Yezidis as genocide committed against a population in the region.



Muslim women in Delaware speak out against Donald Trump

August 3, 2016

The man's words, Donald Trump attributed to a woman. His wife's silence, he left an open-ended question.

But local Muslim women heard the implication behind Trump's words — that being a female practitioner of Islam means subjugation and silence.

"The comment wasn't just to disparage the Gold Star family, per se. It was basically Donald Trump's way of disparaging Muslim women once again," said Zehra Wamiq, a businesswoman and mother.

The Republican presidential nominee was responding to a family's attack on his character, credentials and patriotism when he said Khizr Khan's Democratic National Convention speech could have been written by his rival Hillary Clinton, and his wife, Ghazala Khan, maybe "wasn't allowed" to be anything but silent on stage. The backlash came because they're the parents of a U.S. Army captain killed by a suicide bomber in Iraq in 2004, but Delaware women are firing back because they say he was insulting all of them.

"I'm really tired of this kind of notion or this kind of stereotype. I've been working for many years to educate people, to make them understand, to fight against these stereotypes and to dispel these notions," Wamiq said. "To see someone who is running for the highest office in the United States and, just by using one sentence, he seemed to negate all the work of not only myself but that other people are doing. It's not only offensive, it's just tiresome."

Wamiq was raised in Pakistan's largest city and moved to the United States to finish her education after getting married. She now lives in Garnet Valley, serves on the board of the Wilmington Montessori School where her son is a student, operates a travel agency and is the founder of the Delaware Valley Speakers Bureau.

"So I do speak," Wamiq said. "He insinuated Muslim women are not allowed to speak, which is something I'm doing the opposite of. I am a speaker. I go out and speak, giving presentations about Muslim women and their faith and also women's status in Islam, the history of Muslims in the United States to schools and colleges."

Following Trump's much-maligned remarks, Wamiq took to Facebook where she dropped the increasingly-popular hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow. The social media connector first appeared Monday and has galvanized Muslim women across the country to share their experiences as American professionals, students, adventurers, engineers and scientists.

"This work is being done to make America true to its ideals. The reason many of us chose America to be our home is because of the ideals," Wamiq said. "I don't want these ideals to go to waste just for the short-term gain of a political party or a presidential candidate."

Ruhi Khan, a Delaware native of no relation to the Gold Star family at the center of the controversy, won't get to vote in the presidential election — but she wishes she could.

"Donald Trump is doing an awful job of portraying Muslim women and he's just clutching onto strings by saying these things," the Newark Charter School ninth-grader said.  "I hope he's not our president. He'd better not be. That would be a bad thing not just for Muslim women but for everyone."

Recently, Ruhi Khan was elected vice president of her class, and the nomination included the necessity of speaking in front of her entire grade. That she's a Muslim didn't factor at all into the moment.

"It never crossed my mind. Of course, I was nervous, but that was because they're my classmates, not because of my culture or religion," Ruhi Khan said. "Donald Trump is just spewing nonsense about that subservient idea of women who are Muslim."

But based on what Delaware Chairman for the Trump campaign, Rob Arlett, knows about Islam, he isn't so sure his presidential pick was off-base when he said Ghazala Khan "maybe wasn't allowed to speak."

"Perhaps that is a true statement. I have Muslim friends. We all have Muslim friends, and in that religion and in that context, females are subservient to the husband. That is a fact," Arlett said. "Some people may have perceived it as being an insult, but again, are they, therefore, saying their religion is an insult? Because it's a fact."

But Ghazala Khan has rejected that notion, and penned an op-ed that since has been widely circulated. She attributed her silence on the DNC stage to lingering grief over the death of her son, Army Capt. Humayun Khan, who was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and the Purple heart.

"Donald Trump said I had nothing to say. I do," Ghazala Khan said in the op-ed. "Donald Trump said that maybe I wasn’t allowed to say anything. That is not true. My husband asked me if I wanted to speak, but I told him I could not. My religion teaches me that all human beings are equal in God’s eyes. Husband and wife are part of each other; you should love and respect each other so you can take care of the family."

Religious intolerance isn't Trump's message, Arlett said, and he called the conversation a distraction perpetuated by the media who would rather not focus on what the Republican nominee really is saying: that illegal immigration is a real threat, that the country is at war with a radical ideology born of Islam and that Europe is under siege by Muslims because of its lax immigration policies.

"It's not about religion. It's about national security," Arlett said.

And to answering the Khan family at all, Arlett said Trump was within his rights to defend himself against a personal attack made on an international stage like the DNC.

Muslims in Delaware, Arlett said, are free and welcome to practice their religion however they see fit as anyone else is. But a Muslim woman who does not live her life in subservience to men, he said, is an "exception to the rule."

"There's exceptions to all rules. That doesn't take away the facts of what was just said. We have to understand the bigger picture here. The reality is he has a job and responsibility as commander in chief to protect the people. That is the No. 1 most important factor in all of this. I don't care if it's Muslim or not Muslim," Arlett said. "Have some within that religion been 'Americanized?' Again, that's a true statement, too. But the foundation of that religion is what it is. You can say the same thing about Christianity, too."

In the days that followed the DNC and Trump's response to the Khan family, Amna Latif  was watching.

A Pakistani immigrant who moved to the United States to finish her education and join her husband who'd already relocated, Latif, who now lives in Newark, heads the Tarbiyah Islamic School of Delaware, which she founded in 2009. As much as she respects her husband, she's proud of her independence — she kept her maiden name, she built her school and it was her choice to wear garments which cover her face in keeping with her faith.

"This is who I am. You can call me submissive. Yes, I am submissive to God," Latif said. "I am my own person."

In 2011, her school had 35 students and since has grown to an enrollment of more than 200. On her roster of employees are 35 people, 28 of whom are women.

New Castle's Meryem El Harrasse was born in Morocco and has taught children at Tarbiyah School for the last five years. She hasn't liked Trump since his reality show "The Apprentice" put the bombastic billionaire on prime time TV, and his current act hasn't surprised her at all.

"I don't feel bad because I know that's not what a Muslim woman is, but I hope one day he will understand before he talks about Muslim women all the freedom Islam gives to a woman," said El Harrasse. "It's not me. My religion gives me the right to talk, the right to do whatever I want. We have rules, but we are not slaves. We can have our own last name. We have the right to vote in our country. We have the right to go wherever we want."

Latif and El Harrasse share the same mission: educating Delaware's youngest on character as well as scholarly learning. Part of the school day includes religious instruction, and Latif said there are as many lessons there for girls as for boys.

"We have a lot of rights that are given by Islam many, many, many years ago. We had ownership of property, ownership of business, equal rights for equal pay and things like those that were not in the U.S. until the 1900s," Latif said. "Muslim men do support their women. My husband supported me all along ... He said, 'Do what you want to do. Do what makes you passionate.' "

There are women central to the Muslim faith, people both close and influential with the prophet Muhammad.

At 25, Muhammad married up. His first wife was 40-year-old Khadija, a wealthy, thrice-married merchant who is revered as the first convert to Islam. Muhammad's third wife, though only nine when they married, is loved in part for her stubborn ways and influence on the prophet, and after his death Aisha led Muslim armies into combat.

Hillary Clinton's broken glass ceiling is 34 years behind Pakistan's, where Benazir Bhutto became the first woman to head a major political party in 1982. Clinton has to beat Trump to catch her though, because Bhutto in 1988 was elected to lead the country twice, and no other woman led there before or since.

Bhutto was on her way to a third term was she was assassinated.

"There was a huge following. My father was a huge supporter," Wamiq said. "Her courage, her bravery. She was merely 26 years old when she was put into jail for five years, and her integrity and courage was the driving force not only for me but for many other women. And later, when she was killed, that was also her courage."

In October 2012, a man boarded a school bus in Pakistan and asked by name for Malala Yousafzai. Then he shot her in the head.

She lived and continued her mission — the same that sparked the assassination attempt of the then-14-year-old — of promoting the education of girls throughout the world. At 17, she became the youngest Nobel Prize laureate.

"In Muslim countries, there are leaders who are women. It's important to let people know [that Muslim women are subserviant] is a false stereotype," Ruhi Khan said. "For me, Malala, especially because I am a youth, I feel she has been a very big role model. She spoke out against what's wrong in her culture and she chose to fight for education because she deserved it and not because as a woman she should just stay silent."

Still, all Muslim woman around the world are not free.

In Saudia Arabia, women aren't allowed to drive and traveling without an escort is risky. In Iran, only 17 percent of women are part of the labor force compared to 76 percent of men. In Yemen, only half the women can read compared to 83 percent of men. There exists a form of murder known as "honor killings," which are tracked by human rights organizations and generally associated with religious and local views of women as reproductive vessels and points family pride, though some argue these acts should be seen as part of the global issue of violence against women.

That Islam plays a role in some of these statistics is undeniable, but Ruhi Khan said it can't be spoken of so simply.

"It's not because they're Muslim they're doing this, it's because they're not good. They're trying to be awful to women. It's not because they're real Muslims. They're not following the true beliefs of equality and kindness," she said. "I make it a point to let people, the people I know in my school and outside my school, know my views and that I'm a Muslim and that one of the main parts of destroying Islamophobia is letting people know people who are Muslims, they're there, and they aren't the awful people you see on the news."




Saudi Arabia's women contingent show ambition after 2012 London Olympics success

Aug 4, 2016

Riyadh: With just 11 sportspeople competing at the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, Saudi Arabia's delegation will still be historic: it will include four women, an unprecedented number for a country where women's rights are severely restricted.

Sarah Attar at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. GettySarah Attar at the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics. Getty

In London 2012, athlete Sarah Attar and judoka Wojdan Shaherkani became the first Saudi women to compete in an Olympics. Four years later, Saudi female presence will double and those women will be more ambitious, although their prospects remain modest.

In her second Games, Attar will move from the 800 m to the marathon on the streets of Rio. Fencer Lubna Al-Omair, judoka Wujud Fahmi (set to compete in the 52 kg category) and sprinter Cariman Abu Al-Jadail (who will run the 100 m) will all be in Brazil.

These sportswomen, who live and train mostly in the United States, received a special invitation from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to compete at the Games that start on 5 August.

Religious rules in Saudi Arabia, a kingdom under strict Islamic law, do not allow women to do sport and therefore to take part in Olympic qualification events, so an IOC invitation was in fact the only way they could compete at the Games.

"The International Olympic Committee has now given us four invitations and we are preparing to take them up," a source at the Saudi Olympic Committee told dpa. "We will take all necessary measures to ensure that Saudi Arabia's participation is fully compliant in all respects."

The IOC's Olympic Charter has for several years demanded that every delegation include at least one woman. Based on this rule and on the possibility of facing sanctions for violations, Saudi Arabia competed in London 2012, for the first time in history, with two women.

After that historic achievement, Attar will once again be at the Games, but now her ambitions go beyond a mere presence. Born in the US state of California to a US mother and a Saudi father, the athlete was finally able to train full-time as an athlete after London 2012.

"A lot has changed since then. Oiselle, an athletic apparel company for women, sponsors me, and I am living and training full-time with an elite group of distance runners in Mammoth Lakes, California," Attar said in an article she wrote for the women's magazine Marie Claire.

Now aged 23, Attar is increasingly aware of the significance of her participation in the 2012 Olympics, when she was still an inexperienced teenager and was barely starting to study art, history and graphic design at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

"More and more, I am realizing my place in history. There is a whole generation of girls in Saudi Arabia who now have a female Olympic role model to look up to-that didn't exist before. They'll grow up knowing that competing in the Olympics is a possibility, and that's what means the most to me," Attar noted.

In London, she starred in an unforgettable scene. She crossed the finish line last, all on her own, with a time of 2:44 minutes in the 800 m and received a resounding ovation and media attention from around the world. Now she will be taking part in the marathon, a distance she says she feels very comfortable in.

"Although I competed in the 800 m in London, I love long-distance running. The marathon is such a beautiful challenge and I am really diving into marathon training to see what I am capable of at this distance," she told Like the Wind magazine.

Under the guidance of her US coach Andrew Kastor, Attar has already run the Boston marathon, among other elite events.

Saudi sprinter Cariman Abu Al-Jadail, who will be running the 100 m, is a student at Boston University and trains under US coach Francesca Ebonique Green. After taking part in the indoor athletics world championships in Portland in March, she hopes to make her presence in Rio more than just a symbol.

Fahmi is set to be the second Saudi judoka at a Games, following Shaherkani's participation in London. Like her compatriots, she received intensive training in the United States ahead of Rio 2016.

Fencer Al-Omair will be taking part in her first international event. Since women are not allowed to join sports clubs in Saudi Arabia, she joined a special training camp in Egypt and will travel to Brazil straight from there to make her Olympic dreams come true.

Despite the presence of several women, the Saudi Olympic Committee insists that it will violate none of the country's religious rules and that female athletes will have to dress and behave as required.

"We confirm that we will continue to act in accordance with government and religious regulations in this field. Under no circumstances will we breach them. [.] Saudi female athletes will participate in complete accordance with religious regulations in all respects," a committee source told dpa.



How 2 Muslim Women Claimed Their Own Justice After A Man Asked If They Were ISIS

Aug 03, 2016

In the years following Sept. 11 and every subsequent extremist terrorist attack in the West since, Muslim Americans have bore the brunt of apologizing for and defending their religion, answering calls to denounce these attacks in ways that no other groups have needed to.

The statistics are clear: after the attacks in Paris and San Bernadino, Cali. last year, the rate of alleged hate crimes against Muslims in the U.S. almost tripled. Divisive rhetoric calling for a complete ban of all Muslims coming into the country both validates and exacerbates anti-Muslim discrimination.

Such bigotry isn't limited to any specific part of the country. In a recent incident in Williamsburg, Brooklyn — a neighborhood that is held up as the archetype of the gentrification of New York City — two Muslim women were the targets of anti-Muslim sentiment.

Amani Alkhat and Eman Bare say they were on their way to lunch, and waiting at a stoplight when an employee of a bar said to them, over his shoulder: "ISIS."

According to a Facebook post she wrote following the incident, Alkhat turned around and said, "Excuse me?" to the man, who grinned and responded, "Are you a part of ISIS? I'm just asking!"

She continued:

He had some bad luck in the Muslim women he chose to harass today, right? We immediately turned around and confronted him. I asked, "Well, are you a part of the KKK? Are you a Nazi? Actually, are you a mass shooter? Are you going to light us up right now?" I guess these two so-called oppressed girls in headscarves scared him off, because he quickly gathered his things to run back into his store. I guess he didn't believe #MuslimWomenTalkBack!

Alkhat and Bare share a well-established platform that they used to shed light on their experience. Alkhat is the editor-in-chief of Muslim Girl, a website for and by Muslim women, and Bare a contributor. While Alkhat described the incident on Facebook, Bare wrote an article about it, titled "How We Got An Islamophobe Fired In 20 Minutes."

Quickly after the man scurried back into the bar, Bare whipped out her cell phone to take a photo of him and the storefront. Alkhat wrote that this angered the man so much that he stormed back out, accused the women of harassment, and threatened to call the cops on them, saying, "I'll have them decide if you're ISIS or not!"

"I'm putting this on blast because it's really sick when racists exploit the political vulnerability of marginalized, ostracized, and scapegoated minorities to get a free pass in imposing further violence upon them," Alkhat wrote. "Whether it's undocumented peoples being threatened with deportation, Muslims with their lack of due process rights, or other variations of this oppression."

20 minutes after Alkhat's post on Facebook went up, inciting plenty of outraged responses, the business owners reached out to her and Bare to inform them that the man had been fired.

In a climate rife with street harassment and Islamophobia, the women fearlessly stood up for themselves, showing a distinct sense of courage. The outcome also shows how social media can be used as a powerful tool for justice.



Muslim Rashtriya Manch to organise International Raksha Bandhan Festival on August 17

August 4, 2016

Reminding of legendary poet Rabindranath Tagore who invoked the festival of Raksha Bandhan to inspire love and brotherhood between Hindus and Muslims in the wake of the Partition of Bengal in 1905, Muslim community organisation Muslim Rashtriya Manch (MRM), would be holding an International Raksha Bandhan Festival on August 17.

MRM, supported by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and guided by its pracharak Indresh Kumar, would organise the event at the Talkatora stadium where thousands of Muslim women would be tying the thread of protection to Hindu men and Hindu women would do the same to their Muslim brethren from across the country.


Ambassadors from across 35 countries, including western and Muslim middle-eastern nations, have been invited to attend the festival.

While the global intentions of the organisers are clear from the repertoire of dignitaries who are expected to attend the event, the organisers want to use the occasion to soothe the flared up sentiments of the Kashmir Valley after the recent wave of brick-batting in the wake of the Burhan Wani killing.

Hundreds of Muslim women and men from Jammu and the Valley are expected to attend the festival and mark the "bond of brotherhood and sisterhood", symbolically a social pact between the Valley and the rest of India. The organisers feel the gesture would go a long way in establishing trust with the people of the Valley.

"We want to show the people of Kashmir that there is a wealth of difference between Pakistan and India. There is a country that is torn by strife and terrorism, and here we have India, a country of peace and love," Afzal added.

"The festival will showcase the ecumenical culture of India to the rest of the world. It will tell the global comity of nations that we are a peace-loving people who believe in co-existence of various religions and races.

Raksha Bandhan is not just a festival of Hindus, rather it is our civilisational festival that underlines the bonds of trust that we believe in establishing," said Mohammand Afzal, national convener of the Manch.


The Hindu festival of rakhi, as it is called in short, has been at the centre of many a lore in Indian history to symbolise the composite culture of the nation in terms of religious harmony.

The story, though contested, is the account in which Rani Karnavati, the widowed Queen of the King of Chittor, sent a Rakhi to Mughal Emperor Humayun when she realised that she could not defend against the invasion by the Sultan of Gujarat, Bahadur Shah.

Touched, the emperor immediately set off with his troops to defend Chittor. "These incidents show that rakhi symbolises a relationship of trust and has been celebrated not just by Hindus, but by Muslims too."

According to another legend, when Alexander the Great invaded India in 326 BCE, his wife Roxana or Roshanak, sent a sacred thread to Porus, asking him not to harm her husband in battle. In accordance with tradition, Porus, the king of Kaikeya kingdom, gave full respect to the rakhi.

On the battlefield, when Porus was about to deliver a final blow to Alexander, he saw the rakhi on his wrist and restrained himself.



Malala Yousafzai Meets YouTube Sensation Superwoman

August 4, 2016

After a generous donation to the Malala Fund, Superwoman got to meet Malala Yousufzai herself!

YouTube Star Lily Singh, popularly known as Superwoman, released a video in December where she launched her #GirlLove campaign. The purpose was to encourage women to support and appreciate each other instead of bringing each other down.

The movement went viral on social media with many Youtubers releasing videos in support of the campaign and a Twitter hashtag #GirlLove with posts from women to women taking over the platform. Even stars like Sofia Bush and Priyanka Chopra were on board and loving it!

Superwoman also announced that all the revenue from this video will be donated to the Malala Fund, in addition to a $100 per girl in the video.

And guess what? Superwoman's video raised $4000 for the Malala Fund in just 30 days!

The campaign did not end. It is still going active and now the YouTube star has met Malala Yousafzai.

Maybe there will be a video collaboration where Malala may make an appearance on the YouTube channel? Time will tell.