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The Muslim Headscarf Is Driving France Crazy, Once Again

New Age Islam News Bureau

19 Nov 2019

Saudi Arabia's Princess Lamia bint Majid Al-Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies


The Muslim Headscarf Is Driving France Crazy, Once Again

Challenging Islamic Law In Egypt, Christian Woman Fights For Inheritance Equality

Alwaleed Philanthropies' Princess Lamia States Need for Global Tolerance At Dubai Summit

Abortions: Five Teenagers among Women Who Had At Least Their 6th Termination in UK Last Year

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Muhammadiyah Chairman Reiterated, According To Islamic Teachings, the Face and Palms of Muslim Women Were Not Aurat Hence No Need To Cover

Tuesday, 19 Nov 2019

Jakarta: Muhammadiyah chairman Haedar Nashir reiterated that according to Islamic teachings, the face and palms of Muslim women were not aurat – parts of the body that may not be exposed in public.

Quoting the organisation’s edicts council, Haedar on Saturday said that adult female Muslims must cover all parts of their bodies except their faces and palms.

“This is shar’i (in accordance with syariah), ” he said during the opening ceremony for the national executive meeting of Aisyiyah, an Islamic NGO in Indonesia.

The Muhammadiyah women’s wing held the national meeting, themed “Movement and Dynamics of Spreading Progressive Islamism”, that ended yesterday at the Aisyiyah University of Yogyakarta in Sleman regency.

Haedar said that the council based its edict on the Quran and hadiths and had concluded that doing otherwise was contrary to the two texts.

He added that the extraordinary piety and observance Muslim communities displayed in their religious practice deserved to be welcomed warmly as part of the current dynamics in Islam.

At the same time, he also noted the recent development of the “hijrah movement” of Islamic revival amid life changes, especially among the upper-middle society.

Haedar cited as an example the “phenomenon” of Muslim women covering up their entire bodies, including their face and palms, which had caused public controversy.

This phenomenon, he continued, could be because such women were extremely dedicated to the hijrah movement, or because some non-mainstream Muslim women believed that contemporary Muslim fashion did not follow syariah.

“It is now our task to make them understand the Islamic views of Muhammadiyah. That is the key to progressive Islamic teaching, ” said Haedar, underlining the importance for everyone to avoid conflicts between living in society and living according to one’s religious beliefs.

He also highlighted the importance of instilling values to prevent people from misinterpreting moral and spiritual values as violence, conflict, hatred and hostility.

“It’s time for Aisyiyah to be a pioneer and engine of progressive Islamic teachings based on deep, broad and substantive Islam, ” he said.

Aisyiyah chairperson Siti Noordjannah Djohantini said that some 300 members from the country’s 34 provinces had attended the meeting during the weekend.

She added that the meeting was “special”, because it coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Aisyiyah Bustanul Athfal kindergartens, which were first established in 1919 during the pre-independence era, when it was difficult for indigenous people to access education.

“The initiative proved Muhammadiyah’s and Aisyiyah’s commitment to education, ” said Noordjannah. — The Jakarta Post/ANN



The Muslim Headscarf Is Driving France Crazy. Once Again

Daniel Ben Simon

Nov 18, 2019

From the moment my taxi driver picked me up at the airport, he found it hard to conceal his anger. “How in the hell has it broken out again?” he muttered. The whole way from the Bordeaux airport to the center of the city, Jibril, a tall, strong man, described the events in France in recent weeks relating to the country’s attitude toward immigrants.

Jibril’s parents immigrated to France from Senegal. He and one of his siblings were born in Bordeaux. Jibril has three children who attend elementary school in the city, which is considered the world’s wine capital. Until recently, the family’s dark skin hadn’t kept him and his wife from feeling French. He says their children also felt no animosity or rejection over their skin color, he said.

In recent months, however, Jibril says he feels that his country is turning its back on him. Although things had calmed down, the public discourse against immigrants has resumed. The debate over the future of France and of its Muslim inhabitants has engendered a mix of hate and fear.

He says he has had passengers who let go of their inhibitions and say exactly what’s on their mind. One told him that he would be happy to wake up one morning and find that the country’s immigrants, particularly Muslims, had disappeared. It was a fantasy shared by many of his friends, the passenger acknowledged.

Jibril expressed concern that French President Emmanuel Macron would be succeeded by a head of state who would pursue a policy involving deportations of one kind or another. “In today’s atmosphere, anything is possible,” he said.

Once a year Jibril travels to Senegal to see relatives. “They relate to me as being French, while here they relate to me as African,” he quipped.

“So I ask you, what am I, French or Senegalese? What are my children? I know that the French hatred toward us has always existed, but recently I haven’t been feeling good. I was born in Bordeaux but I don’t feel at home in my country. And I don’t feel at home in Senegal either.”

As we spoke, there was a heated exchange on the radio between an academic and a local politician. The academic was a woman who had been born in France to Algerian parents. The politician was a “true” Frenchman, as he described himself. “In my family, there are no immigrants. Everyone is French,” he said to her.

The host of the program made reference to the killing of four police employees at police headquarters in Paris in October. Before he knew the motive for the killings, French Interior Minister Christophe Castaner called on the French people to be on the lookout for unusual behavior, particularly “men with beards or who pray in the street and arouse suspicions.” Muslim organizations called the remarks blatant incitement against the country’s Muslims and went on alert.

Jibril turned up the volume and acknowledged that he had become addicted to discussions on the radio about “the Islamic threat.” It’s on from morning to night, he said. “Islam, Islam, Islam.” He’s a Muslim who advocates complete separation between religion and state.

On the radio, the politician and the academic were trying to have a calm conversation about a proposed amendment to the 2004 law banning the wearing of religious symbols in public institutions to adult chaperones on school trips. The academic claimed that it would violate a basic right. The politician argued that allowing Muslim women to wear headscarves while accompanying schoolchildren on trips was a ploy to bring in Islam “through the back door.”

The number of Muslim female chaperones wearing headgear has risen, but the bill prohibits all religious symbols worn by chaperones, including kippot for Jewish men and large crosses for Christians.

Psychological warfare

The Muslim headscarf is driving France absolutely crazy. It embodies the most primeval fears and for many people it is perceived as a declaration of war by Muslims against their new country. If they integrated into France and felt fully French, they wouldn’t need to cover their heads with a black rag, the argument goes. And more and more people in France are convinced that the Muslim headscarf is psychological warfare against secularism and the principles for which millions of Frenchmen have died.

The radio debate became more heated. Perhaps in an effort to rile up the politician, the academic told him that because of the negative stance that he and his colleagues were taking, she was considering joining a group of women taking children to school.

The host interjected: “Madame, if you would permit me to ask, would that be with our without a headscarf?”

“With a headscarf, of course,” she said decisively.

The headscarf frenzy isn’t abating. Several weeks ago, it caused an uproar at a session of the Dijon region’s legislature and reverberated around the country. It happened on a Friday in October, when a group of students entered the chamber to witness democracy in action.

They were accompanied by a woman who took her seat next to them. Suddenly Julien Odoul, a right-wing regional council member from the National Rally, the former National Front, addressed the presiding officer: “Madame Speaker, I would ask that you approach the woman accompanying the group and demand that she remove the Islamic headscarf on her head. We are in a public building, in a democratic assembly. She can keep wearing her scarf at home or on the street, but not here. In the name of our secular values and the women suffering under Islamic tyranny, I would ask that the woman be told to remove the scarf on her head, because that’s [our] republic and secularism.”

This set off a commotion among the council members, including shouting in support and against the request. The students were shocked by the turn of events. The council speaker denied the request, saying that it would only exacerbate hatred in the country. Right-wing council members walked out of the chamber in protest.

Overnight, Odoul became a hot political property and a mainstay of television coverage. On the far right, his political future was thought to be a sure thing. Course behavior and harsh rhetoric had become a political weapon in France too.

The French Senate approved the bill October 29 but it has little chance of becoming law since the lower chamber, controlled by Macron’s centrist party, will almost certainly axe it.

Leila, Fatima and Samira

This month marks 30 years since a dramatic event that transformed political discourse in France. It began with three girls on their way to school. The three, Leila, Fatima and Samira, were wearing Muslim head coverings. It’s hard to believe that they would have thought that cloth on their heads could ignite controversy that has not waned to this day, but that’s the case.

Their case was the official start of the clash between Muslim immigrants to France and the secular French republic. In the view of many French, there is no value more sacred than secularism. And many also live with the sense that nothing can stop Islam before it completely takes over France.

The 2004 law restricting the display of overt religious symbols in the public sphere did not achieve its goal. It was aimed at indirectly curbing the growing religious fervor of Muslims, but it didn’t calm matters. And now it is the turn of Muslim mothers and others accompanying children to school to embody fear of Islam in France.

This poisoned atmosphere could also seep into the elections that are due to be held in France in another year and a half. The conditions for it are ideal: fear over the future, economic insecurity, chronic unemployment, rampant capitalism and millions of immigrants who are returning to religion. All of this is deepening the fear and changing the face of France.

Fear of religion has exceeded all limits, and fear of immigrants, fanned by the far right, has become widespread. All that’s needed is a single irresponsible and uninhibited politician. The founder of the National Front, Jean-Marie Le Pen, may have faded almost entirely from the national scene, but he has left behind two heirs and a racist, xenophobic legacy.

His daughter Marine Le Pen and her young niece Marion Marechal-Le Pen will undoubtedly do what they can to see to it that France continues to wallow in this mire. How unfortunate.

Jibril, my cab driver, got out of his car to say goodbye to me. He had the feeling that I was on his side, and he wasn’t mistaken. If he really felt that ill winds were blowing in France, he would pack up his family and move to Senegal, he said.

“I would become African again,” he sighed. “Actually, I’ve never stopped being African.”



Challenging Islamic law in Egypt, Christian woman fights for inheritance equality


When Huda Nasrallah’s father died last year, she went to court to demand a share of the estate equal to that of her two brothers. Two courts have ruled against her, basing their decisions on Islamic (Sharia) law, which holds that a female can only inherit half of what her corresponding male relatives do. Nasrallah, a human rights lawyer, appealed those rulings to the Supreme Court, which is expected to rule later this month.

Nasrallah is making the legal argument that, as a Coptic Christian, she should not be subject to Islamic law. Christian doctrine calls for equal inheritance rights between men and women, but while the Coptic Church has full authority over most of the issues pertaining to the personal status of Christians, such as marriage and divorce, its jurisdiction does not extend to inheritance rights.

While Egyptian criminal codes are based largely on European legal traditions – namely, French, Italian and Belgian – Shariah law is the guiding principle for family and personal status issues.

Nasrallah says that she’s fighting for principle rather than money. “It is not really about inheritance. My father did not leave us millions of Egyptian pounds,” she told the Associated Press. “I have the right to ask to be treated equally as my brothers.”

Nasrallah’s father died last December. His estate consisted of a four-storey apartment building in a low-income neighbourhood in Cairo and a bank account. When Nasrallah, with the support of her brothers, invoked a Coptic bylaw calling for equal inheritance distribution, her claim was rejected.

Christian women first, Muslim women next?

The issue of equal inheritance is a thorny one in the Muslim world. In late 2018 the late Tunisian president Beji Caid Essebsi proposed a measure that would allow for gender equality in inheritance. It faced no small amount of controversy, as well as opposition from Cairo’s Al-Azhar, considered the highest authority of Sunni Islamic thought. The proposal has yet to be approved by the Tunisian parliament.

“The issue of inheritance goes beyond religious rules. It has to do with the nature of the society we are living in and Egypt’s misogynistic judicial system,” Hind Ahmed Zaki, a political science assistant professor with Connecticut University, told the Associated Press. The government’s worry, she said, is that if equal property rights are granted to Christian women, it won’t be long before Muslim women are demanding them as well.

As it is, women in Egypt often have difficulty getting even the small slices of inheritance they are entitled to. Particularly when land or cash is involved, “too often, men do their best to avoid giving women their share of the inheritance,” said Rafic Khouri, co-author of a 2017 UN report on women and land in the Muslim world.

“The effect is that women are generally marginalised in the economic life of the Arabic-speaking countries,” Khouri said. Being excluded from inheritance is even more dire for women in the Arab world, given that the rates of female employment in those countries are ranked the lowest globally. With no independent sources of income, women are entirely dependent on their male relatives, leaving them vulnerable to abuse.

Given that Nasrallah’s brothers are in favour of equally sharing their inheritance they could, as many other families do, simply distribute the estate among themselves. For Nasrallah, her case is about something bigger. She wanted to set a legal precedent that would allow other women to inherit their fair share as well.

“If I didn’t take it to court, who would?” she said.



Alwaleed Philanthropies' Princess Lamia States Need For Global Tolerance At Dubai Summit

18 November 2019

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia's Princess Lamia bint Majid Al-Saud, Secretary General of Alwaleed Philanthropies joined attendees at the recent World Tolerance Summit in Dubai to discuss how humanitarian institutions and NGOs can help "spread tolerance across the globe."

Princess Lamia took part in a panel which also included Rustam Nurgaliyevich Minnikhanov, president of the Russian region of Tatarstan, Muferihat Kamil, minister of peace in Ethiopia; and Lucy Jeannette Bermúdez, president of the State Council in Colombia.

The princess said: “Opening up channels of dialogue among people of different backgrounds is essential to help societies become more tolerant. Many world leaders are promoting peace and happiness, but our vision to have a significant impact requires a broader effort by the business community, civil society and humanitarian institutions, all working together with governments to encourage change.

“Each individual should consider tolerance as part of his or her responsibility to their community and society. It brings people together and strengthens relationships, making for a more stable world. There will be no economic progress or social mobility without understanding and appreciation of different cultures, faiths, values and backgrounds,” she added.

The World Tolerance Summit (WTS) is an initiative of Dubai-based International Institute of Tolerance (IIT), established to forge alliances against extremism and sectarianism, as part of the Mohammad bin Rashid Al-Maktoum Global Initiatives program.

Alwaleed Philanthropies, which was established in 1980 by Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, has collaborated with leading philanthropic, governmental, and educational organizations to work with countries to develop closer community ties, provide disaster relief, empower women and youth and foster cross-cultural understanding through art, media and academic and creative learning.

Alwaleed Philanthropies has invested more than $4 billion since its founding in more than 189 countries.

The Foundation recently supported the Musée du Louvre in Paris to open new and expanded spaces to explore Islamic art in the museum’s Department of Islamic Art. This followed the Foundation’s donation of $23 million to help construct the department in 2005.



Abortions: Five teenagers among women who had at least their 6th termination in UK last year

David Mercer

Tuesday 19 November 2019

Data for England, Wales and Scotland also shows more than 140 women had at least their eighth termination in 2018 - an increase of more than a quarter over the previous two years.

Anti-abortion campaigners said the figures were "extremely alarming" and suggested that recent law changes allowing early abortion pills to be taken at home had contributed to an increase in repeat terminations.

Data released by the Department of Health for England and Wales and NHS Scotland under the Freedom of Information Act revealed:

Five teenagers were among 718 women who had at least their sixth abortion in 2018

143 women had an abortion last year having previously had seven or more terminations - a 19% increase on 2017 and a 27% rise on 2016

172 women had their seventh abortion in 2018 - a 26% increase on 2016

403 women had their sixth termination - 10% up on 2017 and a 33% increase on 2016

1,298 women - including five teenagers - had their fifth abortion in 2018, while 4,389 women - including 23 teenagers - had their fourth termination

Overall, 84,258 repeat abortions were performed in Britain in 2018, including 3,332 on teenagers - with the overall figure up 7% on 2017 and an 11% rise on 2016

The Society for the Protection of Unborn Children said women having high numbers of abortions were "crying out for help" and voiced concerns about the "harmful policy" that allows women in Britain to take an early abortion pill at home.

Antonia Tully, the organisation's director of campaigns, told Sky News: "A woman seeking her seventh or eighth abortion could easily be in an abusive situation where she is being repeatedly coerced into having an abortion.

"Alarm bells should be ringing loudly when teenage girls are having repeat abortions. Is anyone asking questions about why a teenager, possibly underage, keeps presenting for abortion?

"This is a massive betrayal of vulnerable women and girls who need help not abortions."

Ms Tully added that women in Britain can have abortions at home "away from any medical supervision", saying: "This harmful policy ignores the evidence that women aborting at home, often alone, can be left with serious mental health problems."

However, abortion provider Marie Stopes UK said the number of women having eight or more terminations was a "tiny fraction" of the 205,295 abortions carried out in England and Wales last year.

Dr Caroline Gazet, clinical director at Marie Stopes UK, told Sky News: "For the few women who do need [eight or more abortions], we need to focus on where they are being failed and how we can help them rather than stigmatising their choice.

"We have also found that some women seeking more than one abortion, were in violent or controlling relationships, which contributed to their decision to end a pregnancy.

"There is no right number of abortions and the reasons women choose to have them are deeply personal and vary widely."

Anti-abortion charity Life said the figures were "extremely alarming but hardly surprising given the increasingly easy access to abortion".

The charity's director of advocacy Liz Parsons told Sky News: "Women having repeat abortions, especially young people, would suggest there are underlying problems leading to unplanned pregnancies which are not resolved by putting women on the abortion conveyor belt."

The figures do not include Northern Ireland where abortion was only decriminalised last month.

Before then, abortion was only allowed in Northern Ireland if a woman's life was at risk or there was a danger of permanent and serious damage to her physical or mental health.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "We believe all women in Scotland should have access to clinically safe and legal abortion services.

"It is our view that abortion care should be part of standard healthcare provisions, free from stigma.

"NHS Boards always speak to patients having a termination about contraception options."

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it was unable to comment "given the pre-election period".




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