New Age Islam News Bureau
16 Dec 2016
Photograph courtesy Humans of Karachi, Asmara Kiani is a member of the Pakistan National Women Football Team
• Incoming UN Chief Appoints Nigeria’s Amina as Deputy
• Shocking Video: Muslim Immigrants Ban Women from Entire Neighbourhoods in France
• Syrian Girls Flee War Only To Become Mothers in Jordan Camp
• Jawi Urges Cheaper Dowries, Wedding Gifts to Stem Rising ‘Immorality’
• Woman Who Wrote ‘Babi’ On Traffic Summons Fined RM100
• Muslim Woman 'Made Up NY Subway Hate Attack' By Trump Fans
• A Study in Education: How Muslim Women Are Getting Into the Classroom
• These American Muslim Women Are Refusing To Remove Their Hijabs, Despite the Rise of Attacks
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
The 'Football Is Not For Women' Stereotype Follows Me Everywhere, Says Pakistani Footballer
Dec 16, 2016
Asmara Kiani is a member of the National Women Football Team and is also head coach for the Total Football Youth Academy, which provides training to under-16 players. She has represented Pakistan in international games and was declared the best player of Pakistan in the 8th National Women Football Championship.
Dawn caught up with her in Islamabad to talk about the stereotypes and limits placed on women who want to play sports.
Q: How did you get into football and what challenges did you face?
A: I was active in sports generally when I was in school. I started playing football at a more organised and professional level with my club, The Young Rising Stars (YRS) formed in 2007. We have been the national champions for five years and I became the captain of YRS in 2012, a position I still hold. The stereotype that football is not a woman’s game has followed me everywhere; in a society where women are expected to perform household chores, playing football came as a surprise. This doesn’t discourage me as I know there are emotional issues and criticism and it takes a lot of mental strength to deal with a society that may disagree with your ideas and what you do. What I do helps dispel the limits placed on women and it shows that empowered women exist in sports. I believe we need to make society accept the fact that women playing football is as normal as men playing the game.
Q: What are some of your achievements in football?
A: My biggest achievement has been representing my country at an international level. In 2009, as part of a sports envoy exchange programme I visited the United States of America. That was a great experience because I saw how advanced football is there and I learnt a great deal from that experience.
As a permanent member of Pakistan’s National Women Football Team I have represented my country in the SAFF Women Championship in Bangladesh in 2010 and in Sri Lanka in 2012. I was declared the best player of Pakistan in the 8th National Women Football Championship.
In this age where Pakistan is only known for religious fundamentalism and terror, empowered women and girls can be the new face of the country in international media by breaking new boundaries and reaching for the skies. As a woman I take a lot of pride in the fact that I am one of the very few who play football and excel at it. I hope that I can in some small way, through my efforts, present a positive image that represents what the real Pakistan is.
Q: What is next on the cards for you?
A: Football is my profession; I work as a coach and as a sports development officer. I look forward to more opportunities and more international exposure. For a year we haven’t had any professional football and we have been arranging amateur tournaments. We hope that organisations will step in and help increase tournaments and activities in football. I have been working like an ambassador for football.
Incoming UN chief appoints Nigeria’s Amina as deputy
December 16, 2016
UNITED NATIONS - Incoming UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday announced his choice of Nigeria’s Environment Minister Amina Mohammed to be the UN’s number two official and tabbed two other women for key leadership posts.
Guterres has made achieving gender parity at the world body a priority of his tenure, which begins January 1. Women currently fill less than one in four leadership positions at the United Nations.
A senior Brazilian foreign ministry official, Maria Luiza Ribeiro Viotti, will serve as Guterres’s chief of staff, while Kyung-wha Kang of South Korea was appointed to the new position of special adviser on policy. Amina Mohammed was widely tipped to become UN deputy secretary-general after she led successful negotiations on the sustainable development goals - 17 targets agreed by the United Nations to end extreme poverty by 2030. The 55-year-old Mohammed will succeed Jan Eliasson of Sweden. Viotti, who is Brazil’s undersecretary for Asia and the Pacific, also served as ambassador to Germany and as UN envoy.
The 62-year-old economist helped shape Brazil’s role within the BRICS club of emerging economies and worked as director for human rights in the foreign ministry.
Kang, 61, is currently head of Guterres’s transition team and has served as deputy UN aid chief since April 2013.
Guterres, a former prime minister of Portugal who led the UN refugee agency for 10 years, won election as UN chief despite calls from civil society and some member-states for a woman to be chosen for the first time in the organization’s 71-year history.
He said after taking the oath of office on Monday that “gender parity is a must” and “will become a clear priority from top to bottom in the UN.”
Guterres will succeed former South Korean foreign minister Ban Ki-moon, who led the UN through two five-year terms.
Shocking Video: Muslim Immigrants Ban Women from Entire Neighbourhoods in France
DECEMBER 15, 2016
Welcome to the land of Sharia law. No, I'm not talking about Iran or Saudi Arabia, but about France.
A documentary produced by French news channel France 2 has caused a major controversy in the land of the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. The reason? The news channel sent a couple of female undercover journalists to neighborhoods and cities in France with large Muslim populations to see with their own eyes how women were treated in them. The results were downright shocking.
The women were told that they were not welcome in just about every single shop or café they visited in Saint-Denis. They were told to go home... and stay there. Of course, they were allowed to go outside, but then only if they were wearing a burqa.
For example, one shopkeeper told a female journalist who entered his shop that it was wise for her to "stay outside." After all, she was told, "only men are allowed to enter the shop."
Dutch magazine Elsevier (the Dutch equivalent, more or less, of National Review) adds:
In some streets, not one woman is seen outside. And whenever the female journalists tried to enter a shop or café, they were told they were not welcome. When one of the journalists asked a local Muslim entrepreneur what he would have done if she was his niece, he answered that "she would stay inside the home." He added: "She can do whatever she wants, make no mistake about it, but she's not welcome here."
"This is Saint-Denis," the Muslim immigrant explained. It's not like Paris here. There's a completely different culture. It's more like home [ed.: than France]."
And that, of course, is the problem. Saint-Denis isn't Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, or Saudi Arabia. It's a city in France. It may surprise these "new French," but French women are used to being treated as equals of men, not as rabid dogs.
As a result of the documentary, French Deputy Minister Pascale Boistard, who's responsible for women's affairs, has been forced to admit that there are entire neighborhoods in France where women are oppressed and not allowed to leave their homes. But, he says, don't worry! Those radical Muslims are in the minority! The majority of French Muslims respect women. Truly, they do!
But wait a minute. How does Mr. Boistard explain that the female journalists weren't welcome anywhere? There are only two possible answers: either he's lying through his teeth, or the minority of radical Muslims are oppressing the majority of "moderate Muslims." In either case, France has a very serious problem.
It's news like this that explains why the populist-nationalist National Front, led by Marine Le Pen, continues to surge in the polls. If I were a Frenchman I too would seriously consider voting for that party, even though I consider them somewhat dangerous. How is it that these Muslim men are welcome in France? Why aren't they deported? What kind of Western government allows them to stay when it's clear that they're opposed to everything French culture stands for?
Feel free to treat women like dogs in the Middle East and North Africa; it's not OK to do so in France (or in any other European country).
Syrian girls flee war only to become mothers in Jordan camp
December 15, 2016
In a crowded maternity clinic at a refugee camp in Jordan near the Syrian border, Elhem cradled her crying 11-month-old son, bounced him on her knee and then handed him to her mother to help calm him down.
"When I had the baby I felt a sense of motherhood and was happy," the Syrian refugee said through a translator, adjusting her floral niqab. "I'm a housewife now."
She's 17, and her experience is common. Elhem, who asked to be identified by her first name, says many Syrian girls in the camp are also mothers, including a friend who gave birth at the age of 15.
Despite efforts to reduce early marriage in Zaatari camp since its opening in 2012, maternal health workers from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) say the number of babies born to adolescent girls remains stubbornly high.
More than 15 million girls worldwide are married before they turn 18, according to campaign group Girls Not Brides.
Child marriage deprives girls of education and opportunities, and puts them at risk of serious injury or death if they have children before their bodies are ready.
In Jordan, Zaatari sprouted in an area that had been an empty desert, transforming in just a few short years into a sprawling slum city currently housing nearly 80,000 Syrians.
Since UNFPA began its operations in Zaatari in mid-2013, doctors have delivered more than 6,500 babies in the camp - 5 percent of them born to mothers younger than 18.
Girls Not Brides estimates about 13 percent of girls in Syria are married before their 18th birthday, and 3 percent become brides before they turn 15.
But the child marriage rate among Syrian refugees in neighboring Jordan is far higher - more than doubling to 25 percent in 2013, from 12 percent in 2011 when the war began, said the UN children's agency UNICEF.
The charity Save the Children says many Syrian refugee families marry off their daughters to provide them financial security or protect them from sexual violence perpetrated by other men in refugee camps.
"VERY HARD TO CONVINCE THEM"
When Elhem fled her hometown of Daraa in Syria, she did not imagine that two years later in 2014, she would get married at age 13 to her older cousin in Zaatari camp.
She said it was not a decision borne out of love or romance, but did not elaborate further.
Elhem said she has never been to school, which UNFPA says is a key risk factor for child marriage.
With no schooling or sexual education, generations of girls and women are not aware of the physical, mental and sexual health risks associated with early marriage.
"It's very challenging, it's very hard to convince them not to marry young," said Samah Al-Quaran, a UNFPA health worker in Zaatari camp.
Girls who marry young are more vulnerable to domestic and sexual violence, said Al-Quaran.
"The risk of gender-based violence is higher in early marriage because the girl doesn't understand what her husband is allowed or not allowed to do," the Jordanian health worker said, adding that the maternity clinic also provides round-the-clock assistance for victims of domestic and sexual violence.
PREGNANCY CONTROLLED BY HUSBANDS
Al-Quaran said she has seen many cases of husbands determining the use of birth control. She said many men opt for short-term solutions, such as condoms or contraceptive pills, so he can control exactly when his young wife becomes pregnant.
"The decision for family planning within this culture is with the man. The man decides if he wants children or not. It's not up to the mother," she said. "This control is a sort of violence."
In June, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution calling for an end to child, early and forced marriage, and recognizing child marriage as a violation of human rights.
Ending child marriage by 2030 is one of the targets within the new Sustainable Development Goals adopted by world leaders at a U.N. summit last year.
At Zaatari, Elhem says her only hopes and dreams are for the sleeping baby she is holding.
"The most important thing for me now is to raise my child and to give him a decent life with a good education. All I care about is the future of my son."
Travel for this story was provided by the European Commission and European Journalism Centre.
Jawi urges cheaper dowries, wedding gifts to stem rising ‘immorality’
December 16, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 16 — Muslim families should consider reducing the quantum of dowry and wedding gifts, or “hantaran”, in order to facilitate marriages between couples, Federal Territories Islamic Religious Department (Jawi) said today.
In its Friday sermon, the religious agency suggested that the difficulty in getting married may have contributed towards the cases of rape, adultery and baby dumping.
“Although we are aware that today’s cost of living is increasing, it should not be a reason to make it hard for Muslims to get married by raising the value of dowry and gifts for the bride,” it said in the sermon distributed to mosques in the territories. “It would be wonderful if families of both the bride and groom can discuss and agree to reduce the amount of dowry and gifts in order to allow the couple to start their married life in peace and tranquillity,” it added later in a list of suggestions to curb the problem.
“Avoid being in debt from the very first day of married life and work together to manage your finances well.”
In Malay-Muslim culture, the groom provides two types of payments: with the mandatory mahr or “mas kahwin” kept by the bride and the amount set by state religious authorities.
Meanwhile, the “hantaran” agreed upon by both families consists of gifts exchanged between the couple, and usually an amount of cash that can either be kept by the bride or used by her family to pay for the matrimonial ceremony.
Jawi also warned that young Muslims nowadays have greater lust and desire since they have easier access to “indecent materials”.
“Today, with the internet, anyone can watch illicit photos and videos wherever they are. Through this, the door leading to adultery and immorality will be numerous,” it claimed.
“Rape and the number of children born out of wedlock are likely to rise, followed by baby dumping and other harmful acts. Why is this problem becoming more severe? Is it because marriage is made more difficult? Or, is it because we really do not know how to orientate and act accordingly?”
Several Muslim leaders, including PAS MPs Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali and Datuk Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad have previously mooted child marriage as a solution to premarital sex and statutory rape.
In Malaysia, the legal minimum age for marriage under civil law for both genders is 18, with marriages involving those under this age requiring consent from the state mentri besar or chief minister.
Shariah laws here place the legal marrying age for Muslim boys and girls at 18 and 16, with girls aged below 16 being allowed to be married off with the consent of the Shariah court.
Woman who wrote ‘babi’ on traffic summons fined RM100
December 15, 2016
PETALING JAYA: The woman driver of a Mercedes-Benz who wrote “babi” on a police summons was fined RM100 in the Johor Baru Magistrate’s Court today.
Tan Yeoh Foong, 53, pleaded guilty to a charge of misbehaving under Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955, which carries a maximum fine of RM100.
A policeman noticed her car was obstructing traffic in Jalan Tun Abdul Razak and told her to park elsewhere but she refused.
He then issued her a summons for parking on double yellow lines and she signed it as “babi”. She also shouted that her name was “babi”.
The officer, with the help of a surveillance unit, arrested her on the spot.
Muslim woman 'made up NY subway hate attack' by Trump fans
15 December 2016
A young Muslim woman who reported being harassed on the New York subway by supporters of US President-elect Donald Trump has been arrested for fabricating the story, officials say.
Yasmin Seweid, 18, said three men had called her a "terrorist".
She has been charged with filing a false report and obstructing governmental administration.
She reportedly later admitted to police she had been out drinking and had made up the story as an excuse.
The student originally told police the men had told her to "get out of this country" and to "get the f****** hijab off your head!", NBC reports.
She said they had tried to tear off her headscarf and that no bystanders had intervened during the alleged incident on 1 December. She also said that one of the men had grabbed her bag, breaking the strap.
"It breaks my heart that so many individuals chose to be bystanders while watching me get harassed verbally and physically by these disgusting pigs," she said on Facebook one day later, according to NBC.
But officials reportedly got suspicious when they could not find witnesses or any significant video.
Then, last Friday, the woman was reported missing, in a case that was widely reported on US media. She was found one day later.
She was arrested on Wednesday and admitted fabricating the story to avoid getting into trouble with her parents.
Ms Seweid was arraigned at Manhattan Criminal Court, where she appeared without a veil and with her hair shaved. Unnamed sources told the NY Daily News her parents had forced her to cut her hair over the incident.
Released on Thursday, she faces up to a year in jail for each charge.
In the days after the election of Mr Trump in November, hundreds of alleged cases of intimidation and abuse were reported in the US. Many of the cases were linked to Trump supporters, a monitoring group said.
A Study in Education: How Muslim Women Are Getting Into the Classroom
Dec 16, 2016
The Centre has been testing the waters to abolish triple talaq and establish a uniform civil code. While the BMMA backs a ban on triple talaq, the Muslim Personal Law Board is equally opposed to the government’s moves. But despite a passionate espousal of the interests of Muslim women, neither the government nor its ideological allies have taken any steps towards more obvious ways of their empowerment such as education. The politics though, hasn’t held back Muslims women from classrooms.
“The government is still holding on to the survey of Sachar Committee that came out with the data that 66.6% of Muslim women can read and write. They didn’t ask the women what they can read and what they can write. If they had, most women would have said they can read the Quran and they can write some Urdu. The problem is that documents detailing their state entitlement happen to be in English or vernacular languages. So most Muslim women are left in the lurch,” said Farhat Amin, the Orissa coordinator for the BMMA.
One of the principal ways in which the organization gets more Muslim girls in classrooms is by getting parents involved with the affairs at the schools. “Earlier,” Amin said, “the schools used to be unwilling to elect Muslim and Dalit parents as members of the school monitoring committees by citing excuses, saying these people will not be able to speak at meetings, file applications. But they have been proven wrong.”
Jugna Begum of Diwan Bazaar, another Muslim-majority locality in Cuttack, has been a member of a local school monitoring committee since 2007. She has also been an RTE activist for two years now. When the homemaker first decided to become involved with school enrolments, hers was the rare family in the area to send their daughter to high school.
“Currently most of their daughters are in high school or college. When I go home to home to persuade the parents to let their daughters continue studies, I tell them, ‘the world is changing, you have to change with it,” she said, pointing at a row of houses outside her WINDOW.
Her daughter, Sapna Begum, is now training to become a teacher. The 18-year-old’s most prized possession is a computer her father, a butcher, gave her as a present on her last birthday. It’s placed under a pink cover on a table in a room she shares with her two siblings. “There is nothing I liked more than to study. I feel I am the luckiest girl in the world to be allowed that freedom.”
Noorjahan Bibi, an RTE justice worker, says she is working hard to provide better facilities to the students. (Snigdha Poonam/HT Photo)
In another house in Diwan Bazaar, Noorjahan Bibi, another RTE justice worker, tells me about the changes she’s achieved as an education activist. “I have got schools to give kids better food as midday meal, arrange for carpets in the classrooms, fix the lights.” The one she’s proudest of is having pushed 12 children in her colony to go to school.
“If a man is educated, his family will be financially secure. If a woman is educated, she will make sure generations of women who follow her in the family will also be educated,” says 26-year-old Raheema AV, one of the eight young Muslim women selected by Delhi-based Zakat foundation for a fully-funded training for the civil services examination. Launched in 2007, the fellowship programme is meant to confront the glaring lack of Muslims in positions of state authority.
“There are 1100 seats in UPSC, so going by their numbers at least 170 Muslims should make it every year, but only 34 do on an average. No more than six are women,” said Syed Zafar Mahmood, the foundation’s president. Ten Muslim women have made it to the civil service over the eight years of the programme. It’s been three months since Raheema travelled from Mallapuram in Tamil Nadu to Delhi with her husband. “I have already changed so much—my viewpoints, my personality, the way I look at the world.”
Two things drove 24-year-old Fathima Nadackal from coastal Kerala to take the qualifying test for the fellowship. “Growing up, I saw every girl in the community get married the moment she was out of high school. I wanted to break the pattern by any means. I also wanted at least one girl in my town to say that she wanted to follow my path.” Nadackal has seen to both already.
In 2014, Sana Akhtar from Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh was one of the two Zakat foundation fellows to make it to the civil service. I asked Akhtar, currently an IAS officer in West Bengal, what she considers her biggest achievement. “The idea is that anyone can do it. It’s our own insecurity that holds us back.”
These American Muslim Women Are Refusing To Remove Their Hijabs, Despite the Rise of Attacks
December 15, 2016
On Wednesday, the New York Times reported that several imams in the U.S. told women in the Muslim community they can remove their Hijab if they fear being targeted. This comes on the heels of several anti-Muslim attacks in the United States.
Despite the alarming rate of anti-Muslim hate crimes in the United States, Muslim women who wear the hijab are still devoted to wearing their headscarves. Jana al-Akhras, 23, told Mic in an email that she didn't think about removing her headscarf in response to recent events of Muslim women being targeted in attacks.
"I have not [considered removing my hijab]," al-Akhras said. "Hijab is something I chose to undertake years ago for very specific reasons. Those reasons have not changed just because circumstances have."
Throughout the 2016 presidential election, anti-Muslim rhetoric has become normalized, due largely in part to President-elect Donald Trump's dialogue and policies introduced by the Republican Party. In May 2016 report, Georgetown University documented 53 reported anti-Muslim attacks in December 2015.
Imam Omar Suleiman, president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research, said he hasn't heard of any religious leaders saying women in fear of safety can remove their headscarves.
"I don't know of any imam or fatwa [or any other ruling body] saying it's permissible for women to remove their headscarves," Suleiman told Mic in an email. "We need to stand strong and provide as much support to people, especially Muslim sisters trying to observe hijab, so they don't feel intimidated in a country that prides itself on religious freedom."
These Muslim women are refusing to remove their hijabs, despite the rise of attacks
Jana Al-Akhras, 23, says she refuses to remove her hijab despite the alarming rate of anti-Muslim hate crimes.Source: Jana Al-Akhras
Al-Akhras, a Palestinian-American, said she understands why other Muslim women feel pressured to ditch the hijab.
"Hijab means so many different things to different people," Al-Akhras said before noting she can't speak on behalf of all Muslim women. "I'd be lying if I said it didn't make me sad. Not because they removed it, but because something outside of themselves made them doubt the reasons they chose to wear it in the first place."
Saman Quraeshi, 30, said she often wonders if her hijab prompts people to think negatively about her. Quraeshi is the program director for the Ikram Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the empowerment of Muslim women.
"I'm living life like I would have normally, but I would be lying if I didn't say that I often wonder if people harbor certain feeling toward me," Quraeshi told Mic in an email. "The post-Trump world feels unsettling, in response to that I have pepper spray that I carry with me in my purse."
Suleiman also encouraged Muslim women afraid for their own safety to wear a hoodie or another piece of APPAREL to mask their hijab. She also said it's important for Muslim women to learn self-defense tactics and other ways to stay safe.
Quraeshi, a Pakistani-American, said one of her Muslim friends gave pepper spray to all of her friends at an annual friendsgiving celebration.
Like Al-Akhras, the Muslim American said she hadn't thought about removing her hijab over safety concerns. For Quraeshi, the hijab is a symbol for her relationship with God.
"While I understand why some may choose to do that, I would like to live in a world where my actions are not motivated by fear," Quraeshi added. "The hijab, although a piece of cloth, continues to remind me that there is a lot of internal work that I need to do to become a God-conscious Muslim woman in a dynamic world."
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