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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 13 Jun 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Three Saudi Women Turned Away From France, Over Veil

New Age Islam News Bureau

13 Jun 2012


 Pro-female Genitals Mutilation Parliamentarian Taken to court By Egypt women’s NGO

 Arab women cry for end to harassment

 Saudi woman bags first prize in Qur’an contest

 Single Women Gaining Limited Acceptance in Iran

 Lahore CJ takes suo motu notice of torture, killing of woman by husband and in-laws

 “Purdah Bagh” A Breath of Fresh Air For Muslim Women in Delhi

 Egypt women’s group delivers 50 female names to parliament for constituent assembly

Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Saudi women Turned away From France, over veil




Three Saudi women Turned away From France, over veil

 June 13, 2012

Paris: Three Saudi women were reportedly barred from entering France after they refused to remove their veils at Paris' Charles de Gaulle Airport.

A police union official said border police had asked the women to remove their veils after they arrived from Doha, Qatar.

The Daily Mail quoted the official as saying that the women refused. Border police then barred them from entering France and returned them to Doha.

France became the first country in Europe to outlaw the veil, while similar legislation has since been passed in Belgium and Holland.

Supporters of the ban claim the veil contradicts France's principles of secularism and women's rights.

Some Muslim groups say it stigmatises moderate Muslims.

Former president Nicolas Sarkozy's government introduced a ban on all forms of Islamic head coverings, including niqab and burqa in 2011.



Pro-female Genitals Mutilation Parliamentarian Taken to court By Egypt women’s NGO

Manar Ammar | 4 May 2012

Egypt’s New Women Foundation said they are suing Islamist Parliament member Azza al-Garf over her pro-female genitals mutilation (FGM) statements. The women’s rights foundation sent a letter to the speaker of parliament Saad al-Katatny, informing him of legally going after Garf and asking for his permission to be allowed to take the MP to court.

The parliament needs to lift immunity for an MP in order for them to be held accountable in a court of law.

Garf was reported saying that FGM is an Islamic practice and that the anti-FGM laws should be amended. Garf is a Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) member, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.

“We are on our way to sue Garf to preserve our rights and the gains of Egyptian women,” said the open letter to the speaker.

“We are suing her for going against Egyptian laws that criminalize sexual harassment and FGM, practices that goes against women rights and human rights.

“We completely refuse Garf’s statements and announce that she does not represent us.”

Garf gave similar statements on her Twitter account last month, calling for lifting the laws that criminalize FGM. The statements stirred criticism, which led to the FJP to announce that Garf has no account on Twitter and no comments were made by Garf herself.

Rights surveys in the country put the number of women who go through FGM to be around 86 percent. Current Egyptian law bans the practice and gives prison sentences to any medical staff who performs the surgery. However, many families go to underground clinics to get their daughters the procedure, risking permanent scares or even death.

In 2010, a 13-year-old girl died after a local doctor in the Nile Delta region’s Menoufiya governorate failed in the operation.

Local media said the doctor was arrested soon after when an unknown good Samaritan phoned a hotline service set up to report on female genital mutilation incidents.

The doctor, whose name was not revealed in local media reports of the incident, is to stand trial for the illegal operation that led to the girl’s death.

In June 2007, 12-year-old Badour Shakour died as a result of a circumcision operation. The death sparked a battle within the country over the use of the controversial medical procedure. Her death galvanized women and children’s rights groups to action, where they pushed for more stringent penalties against those who carry out female genital mutilation.

Shakour’s cause of death was an overdose of anesthetic, but her memory was the cause of an awakening that reached to the upper echelons of government.

In summer 2008, Egypt’s Parliament passed a law that ostensibly bans the controversial procedure. Not that it should have needed to legislate against FGM – it was already officially banned in the country during the mid-nineties – but with doctors continuing to perform the procedure on girls as young as five, Parliament felt it was necessary to intercede.

The new law stipulates a fine of 1,000 Egyptian pounds ($185) to 5,000 Egyptian pounds ($900) and a prison term of anywhere between three months and two years if caught performing FGM.

A doctor also could lose their medical license. In the case of Shakour, the doctor who performed the procedure languishes in prison after being convicted of manslaughter.



Arab women cry for end to harassment

Jun 12, 2012

By Andrew Bossone, Special for USA TODAY

CAIRO - After years of enduring vulgar and degrading comments or worse by men on the streets of Egypt's capital, Cairo University student Cherine Thabet decided she had enough.

"Do you know that it would be strange for a woman to leave her house and return without hearing two or three strangers' opinions about her chest, in all kinds of colorful language," she asked in a blog post. "Can you imagine that it is routine for a big man to stand quietly by as a woman gets groped?"

Her post received a torrent of comments from women throughout the Middle East who complained that they, too, are tired of a common practice of Arab men that is usually just whispered about by women.

"We should confront society [about this] as much as we can," said Thabet, 21, who has been campaigning online, on the street and on Egyptian television about the issue since her post. "We should talk and talk [about it], so everyone understands what the problem is."

The wave of recent revolts for democratic changes in the Middle East and North Africa known as the Arab Spring has not led to more leadership roles for women, who have traditionally been sidelined politically in this part of the world.

But the throwing over of old orders has inspired Arab women to try to change their old roles in society. That can't happen until women can at least walk the streets without being grabbed by men whose behavior is seen as acceptable, they say.

"Women are struggling for basic rights, for nationality rights, to end domestic violence, against rape and sexual harassment," said Farah Hobeissi of the Lebanese group Nasawiya ("feminism" in Arabic). "For us it's very clear that it's not an easy battle. We are facing a patriarchal society that uses sex and religious men to hold us back."

Hobeissi manages a campaign that includes TheAdventures of Salwa, a short series of cartoons about women who strike back against harassers. The aim is to encourage women not to remain passive in the face of such behavior.

Similar initiatives are popping up throughout the Arab world to provide support networks as women are often left to fend for themselves in public. A survey released in 2008 by the Egyptian Center for Women's Rights reported that 83% of women and 98% of foreign women had experienced harassment.

After an attack last year on CBS News reporter Lara Logan in Cairo, women journalists working in the Arab world reported having put up with harassment from Arab men on the street that would be considered criminal sexual assault in the USA. In Egypt, women have created a website called HarassMap where they can report incidents and warn others of where they took place.

"Our goal is to inspire and support others to take actions," co-founder Rebecca Chiao said. "We want to change the social tolerance for harassment."

"This is a global problem, and we are working on a global response to it," said Holly Kearl, founder of the U.S. movement Hollaback.

In another campaign called Nefsi (Hope), women and men held up signs on the streets of Cairo, reading, "I hope that you will respect me so that I may respect you."

Recently, women and men organized patrols of Tahrir Square- the center of last year's revolution - where sexual assaults have been happening with impunity.

Activists say they face an uphill battle. Harassers are rarely punished and when a woman objects, she is insulted and blamed for her appearance, Thabet says.

"It has nothing to do with clothes," she said. "The men who are harassing do it to anyone they see."

In Yemen, where most women are fully covered from head to toe, harassment can be just as likely as in Lebanon, where it is not unusual to see women wearing skin-revealing clothing. This has prompted initiatives in both countries such as the Safe Streets Campaign in Yemen, which maps reports of harassment.

"As a woman in Yemen, harassment is almost a given on the streets and on public transportation. It doesn't matter how you dress or behave, simply being a woman is reason enough to be targeted," said Sara Ishaq, a Yemeni filmmaker.

Nawal Saadawi, an Egyptian feminist author once jailed for writings that include criticisms of Islamic customs regarding women, said the Arab Spring has handed women an opportunity.

"Women are taking part in all the revolutions because they want to change patriarchy, to change history and to change the whole system," she says.

In May, a woman in Saudi Arabia challenged police who tried to throw her out of a shopping mall for wearing nail polish. "It's none of your business" she yelled in a confrontation filmed by camera phone and posted on YouTube. The video was viewed 1 million times in a few days.

By fighting back, women in the region hope that they not only can walk free from harassment but that such a change will usher in more rights and opportunities.

"I get sexually harassed because it's an issue of power," said Hobeissi of Nasawiya in Lebanon. "But women in leadership positions will transform how society perceives women in general."



Saudi woman bags first prize in Qur’an contest

 12 June 2012

Saudi Arabia’s Hasanat bint Ali Al-Harithy bagged first prize in Jordan’s Hashimiya International Holy Qur’an Competition for Women. As many as 33 contestants from 30 countries participated in the seventh edition of the contest, which concluded in Amman on Thursday. Saudi Arabia participated for the first time in the memorization, recitation and interpretation of Qur’an competition.

The general secretariat for the Qur’an competition at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, Endowments, Call and Guidance picked Hasanat, a student of the Charity Society for the Memorization of Qur’an in Madinah, to represent the Kingdom in the competition.

Hasanat expressed her extreme delight in winning the prestigious international contest. “I am presenting this great achievement to Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah, Crown Prince Naif, deputy premier and minister of interior, Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Saleh Al-Asheikh and my family. In the international competition, I represented the Kingdom of humanity where the Qibla of Muslims is situated and where all eyes of Muslims are turned,” she said, while noting that she was fully aware of her responsibility as the lone representative of the land of the Two Holy Mosques in the event.

Hasanat also thanked the Madinah charity society for its commendable efforts in helping young men and women learn and memorize the holy book. Ali bin Ahmad Al-Harithy, who accompanied his daughter Hasanat to Jordan, thanked Minister Al-Asheikh for his utmost keenness and sincere efforts that enabled his daughter to secure this remarkable achievement. He also commended Fahd Al-Zaid, the Saudi ambassador to Jordan, for his continuous support.

Mansour Al-Sumaih, secretary-general of the general secretariat for Qur’an competition at the ministry, said earlier that Al-Asheikh had received an invitation from his Jordanian counterpart to send a Saudi delegate to the competition. The general secretariat nominated Hasanat who won second prize in the local competition for Prince Salman prize, held in Madinah this year.

It was for the first time Saudi Arabia also took part in the judging panel of the competition. Al-Asheikh had approved sending Aziza bint Hussein Al-Yousuf, assistant professor at Taiba University in Madinah, to Jordan as a judge. Other members of the three-member judging panel included representatives of Jordan and the UAE.

The contest, organized by Jordan’s Awqaf and Islamic Affairs Ministry, aimed at encouraging women to strengthen their relation with the Qur’an and preparing them to raise generations familiar with the teachings of the holy book. There were three levels of contest — memorization of the holy book in full, 20 parts and 10 parts with interpretation and good presentation.



Single Women Gaining Limited Acceptance in Iran


June 13, 2012

TEHRAN:  When Shoukoufeh, an English literature student from a backwater town, set out to rent an apartment for her here in the capital, she first stopped at a jewellery store and picked up a $5 wedding ring.

Accustomed to living with lies to navigate the etiquette of Iranian society, where women are traditionally expected to live with their parents or a husband, the 24-year-old would prominently flash her fake white-gold band to real estate agents and landlords who would otherwise be reluctant to lease an apartment to a single woman.

“To them and my neighbours, my roommate and I are two married women away from their husbands to pursue our studies,” she explained. “In reality, we are of course both single.”

There are no official statistics on the number of women living by themselves in big cities in Iran. But university professors, real estate agents, families and many young women all say that a phenomenon extremely rare just 10 years ago is becoming commonplace, propelled by a continuous wave of female students entering universities and a staggering rise in divorces.

The shift has left clerics and politicians struggling to deal with a generation of young women carving out independent lives in a tradition-bound society, away from the guidance of fathers and husbands. Desperate to stop the trend, the government introduced a campaign to promote quick and cheap marriages — but it backfired, experts said, by cheapening an institution deeply anchored in Iran’s ancient culture.

That has left the young women to develop strategies to fend for themselves in a society where social codes are often based on deep suspicion of female sexuality. Shoukoufeh, who would not give her full name for fear of losing her lease, said that prying eyes often peek through the cracks of doors whenever she walks down the hallway. But she said she draws strength from her parents, who support her choice to live alone.

“They know I want to be independent,” she said decisively. “They understand times have changed.”

Full report at:



Lahore CJ takes suo motu notice of torture, killing of woman by her husband and in-laws

June 13, 2012

LAHORE, June 13, 2012: Chief Justice (CJ) Umar Ata Bandial of the Lahore High Court (LHC) on Tuesday took suo motu notice of death of a woman, Nazia Bili, who was subjected to physical torture by her husband and in-laws.

The judge directed Lahore district and sessions judge (D&SJ) to ensure fair investigation of the case.

Bandial took notice of the case on media reports regarding Nazia’s death.

It is the first suo motu notice taken by the chief justice since he took over the office. He directed the D&SJ to give appropriate directions to the investigating officer of the case to conduct fair investigation, secure complete evidence and file police report under section 173 Criminal Procedure Code within time in order to enable the court to deliver justice.

“The FIR was lodged under Section 324 of PPC (attempt to commit Qatal-e-Amd), which clearly tells that Nazia met an unnatural death, and as per contents of the FIR the case is required to be investigated for offence under Section 302 of PPC and others,” he said. According to a news report on Nazia’s death, she was tortured by her husband Maqsood and in-laws for not bringing money from her father. She was shifted to a hospital where she succumbed to her injuries. The Nishter Colony police had lodged the case.\06\13\story_13-6-2012_pg13_2



“Purdah Bagh” A Breath of Fresh Air For Muslim Women in Delhi


June 13, 2012

Yasmeen Khan dons her burqa and steps out of her house in the Nizamuddin neighbourhood of Delhi every evening to walk a short distance to a 10-foot-high stone wall. Behind the wall is paradise — a place where she can remove her burqa and hijab, enjoy cool fresh air in her hair, exercise and gossip with friends.

Hundreds of women regularly visit the “Purdah Bagh,” a park as large as a football field, exclusively for women and children. While there are other parks in the city marked only for women, particularly in Old Delhi, they are usually unkempt and frequented by men.

The women’s park in Nizamuddin is being maintained by the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, a non-profit group which has been working with the Municipal Corporation of Delhi to redevelop the Nizamuddin slum area for the past five years. “The concept of a ‘Pardah Park’ has existed in traditional Muslim societies across the world,” said Shveta Mathur, an architect and the program officer for the trust, “however, this is the first such park in Delhi that is well developed and extensively used by the community.”

Courtesy of Aga Khan Trust for CultureWomen and children come to relax at the ‘Pardah Bagh,’ in Nizamuddin in south Delhi.

Mrs. Khan said she used to feel locked up inside her one-room, ground floor house, because she would not leave her home alone. “I only went out when my husband came back home early in the evening,” she said. “I craved for some open air, as did my children.”

The Nizamuddin slum is a densely populated settlement that has spread across 13 acres of land in South Delhi, with 15,000 residents and a transient population of at least 10,000 more, according to a survey conducted by the Aga Khan Trust earlier this year.

Courtesy Aga Khan Trust for CultureThe open dumping ground which existed at the site of the park before it was developed.

Full report at:



Egypt women’s group delivers 50 female names to parliament for constituent assembly

Manar Ammar | 12 June 2012

CAIRO: The Egyptian Women’s Coalition said on Monday that it has provided a list of female candidates to the Egyptian parliament to include on the committee responsible for formulating the new Egyptian constitution.

“We took the initiative of sending a list of 50 female public figures from various backgrounds, including their resumes, and submitted [it] to the parliament,” read the statement issued by the EWC.

“We hope that the elected Parliament members show respect for the the role women played in the revolution and their part in resisting the old corrupt regime over decades,” it continued.

Full report at: