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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 15 Feb 2010, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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The Indian Muslim woman and her veil

For Clinton, a bit of Wellesley in Saudi Arabia

Burka: the other view

Why I Support a Ban on Burqas

Brick Lane plan for hijab gates angers residents

Women-only national transport system proposed

Beneath the Burqa: Islam, Secularism and Liberty

Woman tortured by ‘pir’ hospitalised

Pakistani Bishop to Help Prosecute Muslim Jurist for Murder of Catholic Girl

Missing North Portland girl found

Spanish town joins Europe veil debate

Is politics driving ban on burqa?

Under the Shadow of Shariah Law, Transsexuals Take to Beauty Contest

Man of war, master of politics, lover of women

Should France ban the full Muslim veil?

A Niqabi Living in the Bastion of Secularism!

Muslim women should be allowed to wear the burqa – but how many really want to?

To Saudi Arabia’s Women: Valentine’s Day is Also for You

MIDEAST:  Gaza's Female Scribes Face Worse Than Discrimination

Woman suspect in lawyer’s murder case killed

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/the-indian-muslim-woman-and-her-veil/d/2469

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The Indian muslim woman and her veil

 

Islam is by far the most talked about yet the least known religion. Women of this religion are subject to certain rules that should be followed. What does 62 years of independence really mean to the Indian Muslim women?

THE HIJAB came into being with Islam itself. It referred to the dressing up of women decently, since they were considered to be very distractive for men. The burqa, as it later came to be known, was essential since it helped women remain dignified and pure and at the same time attractive and yet not revealing. It gave them a sense of comfort and religious belonging. It was just a way of life that the Quran says is necessary and in fact an integral part of their Islamic religion and identity.

The purdah system as we all know is a practice that has been going on ever since the idea of Islam originated. It basically refers to the ideal way of dressing wherein the entire body is covered except the eyes.

Particularly, Indian Muslim women suffer more. Because of their gender and religion, these women are a minority in a minority and since time immemorial have been oppressed in many ways and forms. Muslim women have had a tough and a long battle. No matter what the Quran Sharif says, it is a known fact that the status of women in Islamic society lies low.

Shah Bano, the heroic lady who decided to take her husband to court for not giving maintenance and also divorcing her after 43 years of marriage, is amongst those, who have tried to raise their voice against the injustice that prevails in society against Muslim women.

 The All India Democratic Women's Association, Women rights groups and other such alliances are usually curbed down very forcefully by other fundamentalist groups each time they come put to protest.

Sixty two years of independence should be a sign of liberation. Muslim women have done very well for themselves in life. They have been progressive and still maintained their dignity. e.g. Shabana Azmi.

This thinking is what requires to be liberated!

What one needs to understand is that no matter how connected we are to our identity, at the end of the day we are individuals and it is up to us to choose how we live, what we wear , how and where we eat etc. Despite six decades of independence, Muslim women in India face considerable challenges. Their poor socio-economic status reflects a lack of social opportunity which is exacerbated by their marginal status and also their illiterate husbands make things worse.

A few statements/facts:-

a) Nicolas Sarkozy said that the Burqa was “not welcome” in France (he has tried to ban it in his country).Sarkozy’s statement about Burqa, came at a time when he could have discussed more important strategic deals. In France, only about 1% of women actually wear the burqa. This statement attracted the angry criticism of Muslim leaders and clerics, besides a section of feminists around the world.

Sarkozy’s own argument is that the number of women wearing the burqa is increasing and that this is a sign of religious radicalization.

b) The literacy rate of Muslim women was found to be 21.91 per cent - lower than even the poor national average of 24.82 per cent.

c) Sofie Ashraf, a young musician who raps while wearing a burqa is the perfect example why these stereotypes often do not apply. “We love Islam, so we wear burqa.” she says, and adds that it comes with a responsibility.

In a context where the Shari'a is used to justify women's subordination, it is imperative for Muslim women in India to enter the discourse on the Shari'a with reference to personal law, and challenge their historic marginalization from religious knowledge.

It is a known fact the Muslims in India are economically very poor , hence it shouldn’t be a problem for a female to also go out, work and earn for a living , but that is where the whole problem lies. What the Muslims” need to understand is that there is little relevance of burqa at workplace.

Financial constraints, gender bias and a patriarchal society are enough to make life hell for these women. Lack of opportunity defines their life and furthermore we burden them with religious practices.

It is time for these women to smile and laugh in the face of a history of repression and discrimination. Yes, the burqa is a good system, yet it is NOT mandatory and hence we must remember that.

Today as we enjoy our independence for yet another year we must pledge to liberate the Muslim women and just let them be on their own. Let them decide what is correct and what is not. Let us just guide them and not bind them to our thoughts. Let us be progressive and only then can India, along with all its Hindu and Muslim men and women, progress.

 http://www.merinews.com/article/the-indian-muslim-woman-and-her-veil/15797722.shtml

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For Clinton, a bit of Wellesley in Saudi Arabia

By Paul Handley

16 Feb 2010

Instead of one of the huge state-run universities, the US Secretary of State has chosen for her American-style "town hall" meeting Saudi Arabia's most elite private university for women.

The college aims to produce graduates who can break through the kingdom's harsh Islamic ceiling on women in the job market and public life in general.

Only 10 years old, Dar al-Hekma was established to meet the demands of internationally oriented women who want good jobs, said Saleha Abedin, vice dean of institutional advancement.

Saudi government universities were educating women, but not many were producing graduates ready for jobs and most were getting married and staying at home.

"We tapped into the current demand of the market" of women seeking professional careers, said Abedin.

"Our students get hired immediately if they want," she said.

For Saudi Arabia, that was a change - though not particularly radical in Jeddah, the country's most progressive city.

About 1,000 women are in Dar al-Hekma's all-English courses in business administration, law, marketing, and special education - including the first Saudi course in teaching autistic children.

Its largest programme is in graphic design, the country's first for women.

Unlike other universities, its US-designed curriculum requires women to do volunteer community service and encourages participation in sports, another traditional no-no.

And while it requires, like all Saudi institutions, Islamic courses, Abedin underscores the difference.

"We teach things like the history of women in Islam," she said.

The students are Saudis and non-Saudis who grew up in the kingdom, mostly from Jeddah, because the campus lacks dormitories. It isn't cheap, with tuition of about $15,000 (£9,564) a year more in the US range.

Full report at: www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/expatnews/7249064/For-Clinton-a-bit-of-Wellesley-in-Saudi-Arabia.html

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Burka: the other view

By Sara Malkani

16 Feb, 2010

In the ongoing controversy about the proposed burka ban in France, the voice of one group of people is strangely obscured. Muslim women who do not wear the burka or the headscarf do not feature prominently in this debate.

We do hear a great deal about the importance of preserving the choice of Muslim women who want to wear the garb. But in any community, the choices of some people have a definite impact on the lives of others.

The presence or absence of the choice to wear a religious garment that is meant exclusively for the females of a religious group affects gender relations and gender hierarchy in the community as a whole.

I am a Muslim woman and I do not wear the burka or the headscarf. The constant reference in liberal media to those women who choose to wear it has made it increasingly difficult for countless Muslim women such as myself to express our discomfort with it.

This is because any outright criticism of the garment comes across as an intolerant attack on Islam as well as the Muslim women sporting it.

The reality is that many women have reason to dislike the garment even when they do not harbour any Islamophobic sentiments. The fact is that the burka is often imposed on women by hardliners — in parts of the Middle East, state authorities force women to wear it in all public places.

Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/editorial/12-burka-the-other-view-620--bi-10

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Why I Support a Ban on Burqas

Bernard-Henri Lévy

February 15, 2010

People say, "The burqa is a dress, at most a costume. We're not going to make laws about clothing and costumes." Error. The burqa is not a dress, it's a message, one that clearly communicates the subjugation, the subservience, the crushing and the defeat of women.

People say, "Perhaps it's subjugation, but it's done with consent. Get it out of your mind that malicious husbands, abusive fathers, and local tyrants are forcing the burqa on women who don't want to wear it." Fine. Except that voluntary servitude has never held water as an argument. The happy slave has never justified the fundamental, essential, ontological infamy of slavery. And, from the Stoics to [19th century thinker] Elisée Reclus, from Schoelcher to Lamartine to Tocqueville, all who rejected slavery provided us with every possible argument against the minor added outrage that consists of transforming victims into the authors of their own misery.

People evoke freedom of religion and conscience, freedom for each of us to choose and practice the religion of his or her choice; in the name of what can anyone forbid the faithful to honor God according to the rules indicated in their sacred texts? Another sophism, for -- and it can never be repeated enough -- the wearing of the burqa corresponds to no Koranic prescription. There is no verse, no text of the Sunna that obliges women to live in this prison of wire and cloth that is the full-body veil. There is not a shoyoukh, not one religious scholar, who is unaware that the Koran does not consider showing the face "nudity" any more than it does showing the hands. And I'm not even mentioning those who tell their congregations loudly and clearly, as Hassan Chalghoumi, the courageous Imam of Drancy, did today, that wearing a full-body veil is downright anti-Islamic.

People say, "Let's not confuse things! Be careful, drawing attention to the burqa may encourage an Islamophobia -- itself a form of racism in disguise -- that's just dying to explode. We closed the door on this racism, preventing it from infiltrating the debate on national identity. Are we going to let it sneak back in through the window in this discussion of the burqa?" Still another sophism, tireless but absurd, for one has nothing to do with the other. Islamophobia -- and it can never be repeated enough -- is obviously not racism.

Full report at: www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/why-i-support-a-ban-on-bu_b_463192.html

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Brick Lane plan for hijab gates angers residents

Audrey Gillan

15 February 2010

It is synonymous with curry and trendy bars, nightclubs and art venues. Now a plan to mark the entry points to London's cosmopolitan Brick Lane with giant arches in the shape of headscarves or hijabs has been condemned as offensive to Muslim women and a waste of £1.85m of public funds.

The proposed arches, part of a "cultural trail" through the street – immortalised in Monica Ali's novel Brick Lane – have been criticised as "misconceived" and "excluding". Locals have said they risk ghettoising a community that considers itself tolerant and diverse. Tracey Emin, who lives just off Brick Lane, is one of a number of residents in the east London area who claim that Tower Hamlets council risks inflaming racial tension by trying to force the "hijab gates" – as they have become known – through without proper consultation. After an outcry, the council has extended the deadline for complaints to 22 February.

One local Muslim woman has told the council that the stainless-steel, illuminated arches "create a stereotypical image of Islam, and endorse the practice of the veil that not all of us are happy with. It is a divisive image and one that in the present climate is highly inappropriate. Tower Hamlets should be seeking to bring communities together at this moment." Another, a hijab wearer, said that to call the gates anything other than a hijab was "just semantics". She said: "It is a huge waste of money. There has been enough conflict and tension since Brick Lane started developing after the yuppies moved in. This looks to me like a tool of aggravation and is taking a step backwards."

The Spitalfields Trust, which helped to save many of the historic Huguenot silk weavers' houses that abut Brick Lane, has urged the council to abandon its "misconceived" idea.

The cultural trail through the area is aimed at celebrating the various migrant communities – including Huguenots, Jews and now Bangladeshis – that have settled there across hundreds of years.

Full report at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2010/feb/15/brick-lane-hijab-gates

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Women-only national transport system proposed

Feb 16, 201

DUBAI - A Saudi thinktank has proposed the creation of a nationwide public transport system just for women as an alternative to allowing them the right to drive, Arab News reported on Tuesday.

The Dubai-based Saudi Center for Studies and Media has submitted its proposal to the kingdom’s advisory Shura Council for approval, the Saudi daily said.

“Our proposal provides the most suitable solution to the social environment of Saudi Arabia and its culture and traditions,” Jamal Banoun, chairman of the centre, was quoted as saying.

The centre argues a women-only transport system will encourage more women into the workforce and save them money they currently spend on taxis and drivers, according to the newspaper.

“We believe that once the project is approved by Saudi authorities it would save working women 35 percent of what they spend,” Banoun was quoted as saying.

“We are sure the project would encourage more Saudi women to work as it provides them with a safe and secure transport service.”

Arab News did not reveal further details about the women-only transport system.

Saudi Arabia imposes a strict ban on women driving, considered by clerics in the conservative Muslim kingdom as un-Islamic.

Women, who cannot travel without written permission from a male guardian, have to use taxis or chauffeurs.

The ban has become increasingly unpopular among women, with rights campaigners in 2008 petitioning King Abdullah to lift the ban.

http://business.maktoob.com/20090000436334/Women_only_national_transport_system_proposed/Article.htm

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Beneath the Burqa: Islam, Secularism and Liberty

By Carolyn Witte

Ever since French President Nicolas Sarkozy infamously stated that the burqa was “not welcome” in his country, triggering a contentious debate between Muslims, secularists and everyone in between, I’ve been struggling to identify what exactly is at issue. Women’s rights? Secularism? National security? French culture? Is the French parliamentary panel’s proposed ban on full-veils — the burqa and the niqab — legitimate legislation or the latest form of Islamophobia?

A few arguments:

1) The burqa does not signify piety, but is a symbol of radical political Islam.

To some extent, this is true, but not entirely. The Quran does not stipulate that women must wear the burqa; in fact, the burqa is not mentioned at all. The Quran only instructs Muslims to dress modestly — both men and women. However, Islamic scholars have interpreted this requirement, called hijab, in many different ways, most commonly by covering hair. In Saudi Arabia for example, where the ultra-conservative Wahhabism is practiced, women are required to wear the headscarf in public by law. Yet most women wear the burqa. The connection between Wahhabism and militant Islamist groups like al Qaeda and the Taliban, and moreover, the Taliban’s brutal treatment of Afghan women has caused many in the West to associate the full-veil with not only the subordination of women, but with terrorism. Yet this logic is somewhat flawed — just because burqa-wearing Afghan women were oppressed does not necessarily mean that burqa-wearing French women are also oppressed, or have anything to do with the Taliban. Such assumptions are ignorant and endorse false stereotypes on which militant extremists thrive. In the words of the NYT editorial board, “the Taliban would be pleased.”

Full report at: www.cornellsun.com/section/opinion/content/2010/02/16/beneath-burqa-islam-secularism-and-liberty

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Woman tortured by ‘pir’ hospitalised

By Mohammad Saleem

Monday, 15 Feb, 2010

FAISALABAD: A mother of four has been hospitalised with her arms paralysed and renal failure due to the alleged torture of a pir (spiritual healer).

Shahnaz Bibi alleges her five maternal uncles -- Sharif, Mansha, Noor Mohammad, Akram and Arshad – handed her over to Chan Pir on Jan 23 to probe her role in the murder of her uncle, Nawaz.

Nawaz was found murdered at her home in Pindi Bhattian, some five months ago. The police found no clue in their search for the accused. After the police failure, the family decided to nab the murders through pir’s ‘miraculous investigation’.

She alleged that the pir made her stand on a charpoy after tying her hands with the ceiling and jolted the charpoy.

She said the pir had also pressured her to nominate Riaz, Parveen Bibi and Taj Bibi in the Nawaz case. When she refused, the pir and one of her uncles kept on beating her for hours before her cousin, Qamar, came there and rescued her.

The Pindi Bhattian police registered an FIR on Jan 23 under Section 365 of the Pakistan Penal Code. Shahnaz said most of the people visiting her have advised her an out-of-court settlement because of her abject poverty. However, “I will not surrender to such elements and will fight till death for justice.” She says she is the sole brad winner for the family.

She was referred to Allied Hospital on Jan 27 by Tehsil Headquarters Hospital because of her critical condition.

Full report at: www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/16-woman-tortured-by-pir-hospitalised-hs-08

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Pakistani Bishop to Help Prosecute Muslim Jurist for Murder of Catholic Girl

2-15-2010

Lahore, Pakistan -- A prominent Presbyterian bishop in Pakistan will lead a team of lawyers following the case of Shazia Bashir, a 12-year-old Catholic girl allegedly tortured, raped and killed on Jan. 22 by a wealthy Muslim lawyer in Lahore.

Bishop Timothy Nasir, Moderator of the United Presbyterian Church in Pakistan, is a canonist and jurist and rector of the Theological Seminary of Gujranwala. Fides reports that he is a well-known newspaper columnist and defender of religious minorities.

His appointment was reportedly necessary because of pressures and threats surrounding proceedings against the accused murderer, Choudry Naeem.

Shazia Bashir, a house maid from Lahore, had been working as a domestic laborer for Naeem for eight months at a salary equivalent to about $12 per month. She was reported to be the only source of income for her impoverished family even though child labor is illegal in the country.

Her parents asked to see her multiple times but were denied visitation. They were finally allowed to visit and found her in serious condition.

Bashir was taken to Jinnah Hospital in Lahore, where medical personnel reportedly discovered evidence of torture and rape. The girl later died at the hospital.

Her employer Naeem, former President of the High Court of Lahore, is an influential figure who has close relations with the Pakistani army, the Punjab government, and the Pakistani Muslim League (Nawaz). Recently lawyers associations and trade unions have defended him.

Full report at: http://www.aina.org/news/20100214203553.htm

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Missing North Portland girl found

By Jeff Manning

February 14, 2010

Portland Police located a 10-year-old North Portland girl Sunday afternoon who'd been reported missing by her family earlier Sunday morning.

Police found Fartun Adan in a park near her home, said Portland Police Sergeant Greg Stewart. "She was headed home," Stewart said. "She was uninjured."

It's not yet clear where the girl had been, Stewart said. The family told police that they had last seen her at about 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/02/north_portland_girl_goes_missi.html

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Spanish town joins Europe veil debate

By Edward Cody

February 15, 2010

Cleric charged with threatening woman

Cunit, Spain:This sunny little resort on the Mediterranean shore has long been a favourite for weekenders seeking to escape the congestion of nearby Barcelona for a dose of sandy beaches and sea breezes.

But Cunit has gained a new distinction: It is famous in Spain as the town where a Moroccan-born Muslim woman with a master's degree says she was threatened by Muslim fundamentalists because she took off her veil.

The treatment of Fatima Ghailan, 31, prompted an investigating magistrate to bring charges against the shaikh of the local mosque, Mohammad Benbrahim, and the head of the Islamic Association, Abdul Rahman Al Osri, the leading figures in Cunit's Muslim community.

The case also generated demands for the resignation of Mayor Judit Alberich, a liberal Socialist who, her political opponents said, catered to her Muslim constituents at the expense of respect for the law.

The conflict roiling Cunit and its 12,000 inhabitants has shown Spaniards that they are not exempt from the growing tensions in Western Europe over Muslim immigrants who seek to preserve their home-country ways and sometimes to impose a conservative strain of Islam — in societies based on secular democracy and Christian tradition.

Referendum

The unease has become a major political issue in France, where the government is trying to find a way to ban Muslim women's full-face veils without violating the constitution. In Switzerland, voters decided in a recent referendum to ban construction of minarets, and a petition is circulating for a second referendum to mandate expulsion of any immigrant convicted of a crime. Spain's Muslim population, mostly immigrants from Morocco is about one million in a country of 47 million. It is far smaller than France's Muslim population of more than five million, which is the largest in Europe. As a result, the government in Madrid has not had to confront the tensions as a national issue, as have its counterparts in France and Switzerland.

Full report at: http://gulfnews.com/news/world/other-world/spanish-town-joins-europe-veil-debate-1.583101

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Is politics driving ban on burqa?

February 15, 2010

French politicians are trying to mobilise anti-immigration voters before polls, argues Gwynne Dyer

Eight months ago (and 10 months before regional elections were due to be held all over the country), French President Nicolas Sarkozy raised a vital issue before the French Parliament. Not the financial meltdown that was undermining the world’s economies, or the threat of climate change, or even the rash of bike thefts in Paris. He wanted to ban the burqa.

“The problem of the burqa is not a religious problem,” he told French legislators in June of last year. “This is an issue of a woman’s freedom and dignity. This is not a religious symbol. It is a sign of subservience....I want to say solemnly, the burqa is not welcome in France.” The next day Parliament created a 32-member cross-party committee to investigate whether wearing the burqa violates the principles of the French Constitution.

The burqa is a shroud-like full-body covering worn in public by some Muslim women who take (or whose husbands or fathers take) an extremely conservative view on the need for female ‘modesty’. The wearer sees the world only through a narrow grill of cotton threads sewn into the front of the garment, or, in the case of the variant called the niqab, through an open slit that reveals only the eyes.

The parliamentary committee discussed the issue of the burqa for six months, and delivered its conclusions two weeks ago. It did not propose to ban the burqa entirely, but recommended that women wearing burqas be forbidden to enter schools, hospitals, and Government offices or to use public transportation. Thus a bus-driver, for example, could refuse to let a burqa-clad woman board the bus to collect her children from school.

What useful purpose could such a law serve? Some of the women wearing burqas presumably do so of their own free will, while others are forced to do so by their male relatives. An anti-burqa law would violate the rights of the first group, and increase the likelihood that the second group will be entirely confined to their homes.

Full report at: http://www.dailypioneer.com/236059/Is-politics-driving-ban-on-burqa.html

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Under the Shadow of Shariah Law, Transsexuals Take to the Stage in Aceh in Rare Beauty Contest

Nurdin Hasan

February 14, 2010

Banda Aceh. In their best Acehese costumes, kitsch jewelry and towering hair buns, 40 transsexuals sashayed down a stage on Saturday to loud club music, disco lights and rapturous applause as they competed in the Miss Transsexual Aceh 2010.

The streets of Aceh may be monitored by the Wilayatul Hisbah, or Shariah Police, but that did not deter the audience in the auditorium of the Radio Republik Indonesia building in the provincial capital, Banda Aceh, as they welcomed the finalists with screams and whistles.

There was no seat left unoccupied. Drag queens, homosexuals and members of Aceh’s minority communities forked out Rp 10,000 for tickets to the show, with some having to sit on the ground or watch from the balconies.

Transsexuals entertained the audience by lip-syncing to local songs and dancing to dangdut music. Some wore sexy outfits while others donned the hijab , the Muslim headscarf.

The winner of the Best Transsexual Catwalk wore a sash with the words “Cet Work,” a misspelling of the word catwalk, splashed across it.

Organized by Putroe Sejati Aceh (True Sons of Aceh), an organization that provides shelters for transsexuals, the 40 contestants represented 23 districts and cities in the staunchly Muslim province.

University student Zifana Letisia, from North Aceh, was crowned the pageant winner and will represent Aceh at the Miss Transsexual Indonesia 2010.

She said she was treated well at her campus despite her sexuality. “At campus, my achievements are quite extraordinary. Nobody dares to put me down.

“People on campus are polite, even respectful and proud of me, even though I am a transsexual,” Zifana said, adding that she did not take Islamic law lightly.

Full report at: www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/under-the-shadow-of-shariah-law-transsexuals-take-to-the-stage-in-aceh-in-rare-beauty-contest/358655

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Man of war, master of politics, lover of women

By Laurence Arnold

February 14, 2010

Charlie Wilson, the hard-partying U.S. congressman whose exploits on behalf of the mujahedeen resistance fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan formed the basis of the book and movie Charlie Wilson's War, has died. He was 76.

A Democrat representing an impoverished area in rural Texas, Wilson held his House seat from 1973 to 1996.

He was "one of the most distinctive figures in the House," the Almanac of American Politics put it in the 1990s -- "tall, almost spectrally thin, flamboyant, pleasure-loving, always ready with a wisecrack or quip, yet also serious-minded when he wants to be and even idealistic."

He homed in on what would become his signature cause in 1982, on a fact-finding trip to the Mideast. After visits to Israel and Lebanon, he tacked on a stop in Pakistan at the behest of a wealthy political backer, Joanne Herring.

Tom Hanks portrayed Wilson and Julia Roberts played Herring in the film version of Charlie Wilson's War (2007). The movie showed how Wilson's 1982 visit to Pakistan would become Herring's great triumph.

A glamorous fixture of Houston society, Herring had years earlier swept Wilson "from the Bible Belt into her dazzling world of black-tie dinners, movie stars, countesses, Saudi princes and big-time Republican oil magnates," George Crile wrote in the 2003 book that was turned into the movie.

Herring was a staunch conservative, part of a secret organization dedicated to fighting the possibility of a communist takeover of America, Crile wrote.

She became passionate about Pakistan, which she considered a bulwark against Soviet expansionism, especially after Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan in December 1979. Wilson was among the powerful friends she tried to recruit to Pakistan's defence.

Full report at: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/master+politics+lover+women/2563321/story.html

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Should France ban the full Muslim veil?

By Conan McKenzie and Myriam Francois-Cerrah |

15 February 2010

Conan Mckenzie, Lady Margret Hall

'The burqa is a uniquely isolating garment'

One of the British tabloids’ favourite stories, which they wheel out several times a year almost without fail, is the ‘Muslims are taking over’ piece. It can be adjusted to suit different times and different outlets, but it is essentially homogenous, a one-size-fits-all insta-story ready to be resurrected whenever there’s a bit of a slow news day. The story may be about proposed Mosques, requests for Korans in local libraries or lessons on Ramadan in schools, but the cumulative narrative never changes. According to this narrative, Muslim immigrants, with their veils, their Sharia Law, their Mosques and (never explicitly stated, but always implied) their habit of occasionally exploding, are engaged on a great mission to transform the country into an Islamic state, street by street, town by town. It’s an absurd distortion of the facts, but, like most stories that appear in the great British press there’s a seed of truth in amongst the exaggerations and falsifications.

The British government’s approach to immigration over most of the last sixty years has been dictated by the doctrine of multiculturalism, under which immigrant groups are encouraged to form their own communities and maintain the old cultural traditions that they brought with them from their previous homes, including those traditions that so annoy the tabloids. Multiculturalism hasn’t been entirely successful; separation, it turns out, tends only to encourage fear and suspicion amongst the majority community about the minority; hence the tabloid scare stories.

The French have a better system. Their approach focuses not on multiculturalism but on assimilation, on encouraging new immigrants to discard the trappings of their old countries and cultures, and instead to integrate into mainstream French society. To this end Muslim children are required to abide by French secular norms and are forbidden from wearing headscarves in school, just as Catholic children are forbidden from wearing visible crucifixes. Now Nicholas Sarkozy wants to go one step further, and ban adult women from wearing the burqa, on public transport and in all publicly-owned buildings in France. This policy is a continuation of the long-standing French emphasis on immigrants adopting French cultural norms. But the importance goes beyond cultural tradition; the burqa is a uniquely isolating garment, because by hiding a woman’s face, it prevents other people from having any sort of meaningful interaction with her. It cuts its wearer off from society, and isolates her from the community (sometimes involuntarily; there is considerable anecdotal evidence that many Muslim women are forced to wear a burqa against their will). The burqa makes a mockery of France’s aim of integrating immigrants into society.

France has, so far, done a reasonably good job of preventing recent immigrants from retreating into their own ethnic communities; banning the burqa in public buildings will continue the good work, and enable Muslim women to play a full part in French society. That way, the French tabloids will have nothing to complain about.

Full report at: http://www.cherwell.org/content/9893

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A Niqabi Living in the Bastion of Secularism!

Feb. 14, 2010

Interviewed By Hedi Yahmed

Dressed in brown clothes and a niqab that covers her face with a net over eyes, Najat; a French-born Moroccan is trying to practice her right of performing religious rituals against the French law that seeks to change what she considers her own personal choice, in a secular country that is supposed to protect freedom of belief.

Najat: The Story of a Parisian Niqabi

In the center of one of the Muslim communities located at the French commune Aulnay-sous-Bois in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, we met Najat (37 years old), who refused to come out except with her twin sister Asmaa' who is not wearing niqab. There is a great similarity between the two sisters to the extent that you may think they are the same person, only in different dresses.

"I pray for her to wear the niqab just like me," says Najat about her sister Asmaa', who in turn said that she is proud of her sister but will never wear the niqab!

In a French mixed from to time with some Moroccan sentences, Najat said that she does not hesitate to consider herself a completely French woman, for she was born and brought up in the 8th Arrondissement of Paris; one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the big city. Najat, as she said, does not feel the inferiority complex toward those whom she called the "native French" ("Français de souche") which any immigrant may feel once arriving to this country. For that reason, Najat does not hide the challenging statements she makes against law banning niqab.

Najat Refuses to Unveil

Concerning her opinion about the French Parliamentary Committee's report issued at the end of January that recommends enacting a law banning the wear of niqab in public administrations and on public means of transportation, Najat says, "What I've understood of that report is that they will ban all women wearing niqab from coming into all state facilities and means of transportation."

Full report at: www.islamonline.net/servlet/Satellite?c=Article_C&cid=1265890334167&pagename=Zone-English-Euro_Muslims%2FEMELayout

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Muslim women should be allowed to wear the burqa – but how many really want to?

Martin Salter

February 15th, 2010

I don’t always see eye to eye with Justice Secretary Jack Straw, but one area where I am in complete agreement with him is on the issue of the burqa.

In his thoughtful 2006 article he revealed that he felt uncomfortable with women in his surgery speaking to him whilst their faces were completely obscured, and how he often invited them to remove the veil. Despite representing an ethnically diverse constituency I’ve never had a Muslim lady visit my MP’s surgery wearing a burqa but I like to think I would take the same approach in similar circumstances.

At Justice Questions in the Commons last week, Tory MP Peter Bone returned to the issue and asked Mr Straw whether there should be a change in the law with regard to wearing burqas in public places. The Justice Secretary replied:

“All of us may have views about the wearing of the burqa, but I do not believe that the matter should be the subject of the criminal law – that would be expecting the police to remove these items of apparel from women who chose, for religious or cultural reasons, to wear them. That should have no part in the system of law in the United Kingdom.”

Indeed, this is an issue where many people  hold strong views but where few politicians dare to venture. For myself, I believe that women are absolutely at liberty to wear whatever they want. Whether burqa or bikini, neither is either an invitation to harassment or an indication that the wearing of a garb of choice is worth less than other women who opt for different clothing alternatives.

That said. I do wonder how many women cover their faces because they genuinely wish to or because the men or priests in their communities have decreed that they must.

Bikini or Burqa – both are symbols of societies obsessed with a woman’s body as the sole indicator of her worth, and are both opposing sides of the same coin of female stereotyping. Every month or so a newspaper or magazine will publish a study showing that more young girls want to be glamour models than anything more vaguely worthwhile, and although it’s true that this is their “choice”, it is an inescapable fact that  choice is shaped by people’s expectations and aspirations. When you’re conditioned from a young age that getting your kit off or bagging a Premier League footballer is the highest ambition you can presume to aim for, you tailor your “choices” in response.

Full report at: blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/msalter/100026048/muslim-women-should-be-allowed-to-wear-the-burqa-%E2%80%93-but-how-many-really-want-to/

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To Saudi Arabia’s Women: Valentine’s Day is Also for You

Dr. Walid Phares

February 15, 2010

During yesterday’s Valentine’s Day celebration, as for the past several years, my thoughts went to youth, women and men who believe in gender equality and personal freedoms across the Middle East and for their fundamental right to give and receive, talk about and be free, with regard to love. I have been arguing that freedom of love in all of its aspects, starting with personal relationships, is the single deepest power that can shatter the forces of suppression not only in social relationships, but also in society and hence in politics as well. In past pieces and in a book I am now writing, I am calling on the peoples of the region, at least those who are conscious of their oppression, not to wait, not to leave it to destiny alone. Millions in the Middle East had been using this celebration to protest oppressive powers. While in the West and Asia Valentine’s Day has become too commercial, in the Levant, Valentine is becoming a force of change.

Iranian youth have been bold in practicing “Valentine guerilla,” holding hands in public wherever they can. “Kiss then run” from the Basij militia has become a sport practiced by daring boys and girls. Women have been challenging the “ethics police” who force them to wear the Chador. All that added fuel against the Khomeinist regime and somewhat emboldened those youth and women who took the streets in Tehran in June 2009. The killing of Neda unveiled even more resentment among youth who – as we have started to learn from Twitter, Facebook and YouTube – want to live their lives in happiness, not as slaves to the Ayatollahs. In the Gulf, dating has been mutating towards daring methods, challenging the social restrictions. Stories of the use of gadgets abound while radical clerics are fuming about the “creeping depravation.” In Lebanon, the clash is ironically not on sectarian grounds but rather ideological: Either free youth practicing free relationships or Hezbollah keeps the regions it controls under Khomeinist medieval rule. But this year in particular, I am dedicating my lines to Arabia’s women and their right to Valentine’s Day, thus to love and normal relationships.

Full report at: http://www.familysecuritymatters.org/publications/id.5506/pub_detail.asp

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MIDEAST:  Gaza's Female Scribes Face Worse Than Discrimination

By Mel Frykberg

Feb 15, 2010

Female journalists worldwide complain about discrimination on the grounds of gender. However, their colleagues in Gaza also face death threats, the dangers of working in a war zone and the struggle for daily necessities as the Israeli siege on Gaza drags on.

Last year a shadowy group in Gaza calling itself 'Swords of Islam' threatened to slit the throats of female journalists who appeared on TV with their heads uncovered, calling them "shameless and immoral."

The Hamas authorities took the threat seriously enough to offer the women protection. However, the Hamas security forces have themselves on occasion been part of the many problems that Gaza’s small number of female journalists face.

Last year Asma Al Ghul had her passport confiscated by the Hamas government’s Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice security force as she swam in the sea fully clothed, but without a hijab, with some male colleagues. She subsequently received death threats on the phone.

Gaza is a deeply conservative patriarchal society where many people believe a woman’s place is in the home with her husband and children. The free mingling of the sexes is frowned upon.

This attitude has impacted negatively on Gaza’s female reporters, especially those married with children, as they try to report.

The issue came to a head recently when dozens of female journalists held a rally outside the office of the Palestinian Journalists’ Syndicate (PJS) in Gaza City and demanded that membership of the syndicate be opened to women.

Maan News Agency reported that journalist Dunya Isma’il called on the PJS to introduce a set quota for women members, as in the Palestinian Legislative Council and to delay elections.

Full report at: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=50333

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Woman suspect in lawyer’s murder case killed

By Munawer Azeem

Tuesday, 16 Feb, 2010

ISLAMABAD, Feb 15: A woman, who was suspected of complicity in the murder of former attorney general of Pakistan Mohammad Sardar Khan in the federal capital on February 3, was also killed allegedly by the same gang in Peshawar, sources close to the investigation told Dawn here on Monday.

The sources said during investigation it was revealed that the Pashto-speaking woman (RS) had been missing from her house located at Mango Town of Bhara Kahu in the capital since the morning of February 4.

The killers used the woman in contacting the 74-year-old lawyer, a native of Peshawar, on the pretext of seeking legal help on her brother’s murder case.

The woman talked to the lawyer on the phone on various occasions and on February 3 along with one of her accomplices she picked him from his daughter’s flat at Sector F-10.

Later, they took the lawyer to G-11 where they along with four other persons tried to shift him into another car with the intention of kidnapping.

However, the lawyer put up resistance and tried to flee. At this, the culprits opened fire at him killing him on the spot.

On February 4, the culprits shifted the woman to Peshawar to avoid their arrest, the sources said, adding later they murdered her and dumped the body somewhere. Efforts are in progress to recover the body.

The investigators came to know about the murder of the woman after arresting a suspect, resident of G-7/2, on Sunday. The suspect was produced in the court of law on Monday which gave him in the police custody for physical remand.

The sources said the killers were influential and well-connected in Peshawar and also enjoyed the support of the local police. Whenever the investigators reached the city to arrest them, the local police helped them escape by informing them about the raid.

Advocate Khan, who was also a member of the Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan and amicus curiae of the Supreme Court during the hearing of the NRO case, was pleading some high-profile cases involving land disputes in Peshawar.

http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect/dawn-content-library/dawn/the-newspaper/national/woman-suspect-in-lawyers-murder-case-killed-620

URL of this Page: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/the-indian-muslim-woman-and-her-veil/d/2469


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