The Muslim Women's Network gathers evidence about the experiences of Muslim women and girls on key issues affecting them
Women's Sport Week: Meet the 'Kick-Ass' Muslim Sporting Pioneers
Beijing's Female-Only Mosque Shows Islam with a Chinese Spin
Dead Female Militant at Atia Mahal Identified As Morjina
Malaysian PM: Special SOP Needed To Handle Sexual Crimes Involving Children
Sorry Ladies, You’re the Wrong Kind of Muslims
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Turkish woman assaulted for 'wearing shorts in Ramzan'
June 22, 2017
ISTANBUL: A Turkish man assaulted a young woman on an Istanbul bus for wearing shorts during Ramzan, images showed Wednesday.
University student Asena Melisa Saglam was travelling on the bus on June 14 when the man seated behind her struck her in the face.
She responded by chasing after him but he grabbed her and slung her to the back of the bus before running out of the vehicle.
Saglam said that throughout the journey the man had been verbally harassing her by saying she should not be wearing shorts during Ramzan.
The man was detained shortly afterwards but following questioning – in which he reportedly said he had been “provoked” – he was set free, causing a new outcry.
“The release of the attacker is a threat to all women,” the women’s rights organisation We Will Stop Femicide Platform wrote on Twitter. “We will wear whatever we want outside. We will not give up our freedoms.”
Following the outcry, an order was given to re-arrest the man. It later emerged that he had been held in jail since Sunday on separate accusations of committing a tax crime and is also wanted for drugs offences.
Saglam, 21, was quoted by the Hurriyet daily as saying: “From the moment I sat down he was making these remarks ‘you dress like this during Ramzan? You should feel ashamed to be dressed like that’.”
She said she put on her headphones and ignored him but then he got up, hitting her so the side of her jaw hit the bus window.
A man named Abdullah Cakiroglu who kicked a Turkish woman who was wearing shorts last year in a similar case is currently on trial and faces nine years in jail if convicted.
Women's Sport Week: Meet the 'kick-ass' Muslim sporting pioneers
June 22, 2017
Reshmin Chowdhury is a sports broadcaster, a Muslim and a mother of two. For Women's Sport Week she looked at projects which engage Asian women, and showcases those who are breaking down barriers and paving the way for the next generation to enjoy playing sport.
We Muslim women come in all guises. We come from different cultures, communities and backgrounds.
We have different tastes and preferences on how we live our lives and navigate our careers. Some of us wear hijabs, some don't. Some have families who are supportive, some who aren't and others that take a little more convincing.
I used my own personal experience as a starting point - the irony of being a sports broadcaster who never actually played sport.
I grew up in an extremely open-minded, progressive Bengali Muslim family and within a huge second-generation community where education, culture, religion and music were the cornerstones of my upbringing.
Despite watching so much sport, playing it was never seen as important. It wasn't until my mid-30s, two children later, when I changed my mindset.
What began as a vanity exercise has now become an integral part of my daily life. I go to the gym five times a week and I have benefitted mentally and physically in more ways than I can list. I have never looked back.
This was almost, but not quite, the same hook for our piece: introducing sport to a group of women who had never considered it in any form. In the case of the Muslim Women's Network, this applied to some women who had been victims of abuse.
When sports consultant Janie Frampton became a patron of the Birmingham-based charity, she and executive director Faeeza Vaid decided to introduce a sporting arm. The aim was to use sport as a vital component in the rehabilitation of victims.
With this summer's Women's Cricket World Cup as a springboard, they've arranged for their members to attend one of the showpiece matches - Pakistan against India on 2 July - and have launched a targeted scheme specifically designed to encourage participation.
So how about the women who didn't need encouraging?
We were fortunate to meet an inspiring few who never saw their uniqueness as a barrier to achieving top-level success. Yet the overriding sense was that in order to reach that higher level, the onus was on them to adapt to their environment.
First up was the Muslim Women's Sport Foundation's new trustee and former rounders international, Dana Abdulkarim.
Dana holds the honour of being the first hijabi athlete to represent England in any sport and then went on to become Britain's first hijabi PE teacher. She is challenging stereotypes at every turn and even adapted the rules of rounders to accommodate wearing a headscarf.
Cricket is certainly a sport in which several Muslim women have made their mark. Salma Bi was born into a cricket-mad family and is the first woman from the Islamic faith to be selected for Worcestershire.
Amna Rafiq, whose brother Azeem was the youngest player to captain Yorkshire, made it her mission to make the sport accessible to young Asian girls, when she became frustrated by a lack of infrastructure growing up. Both women have won accolades for their efforts.
Fast forward to the next generation and 16-year-old Anisa Ansar is breaking records in her category for Hampshire and England.
The challenges they have faced have been varied. However, they have all had to adapt to accommodate the sporting world, rather than the other way around. For Salma, the lack of female role models made her more determined to be a pioneer.
She used the fact that she looked different to her advantage, but admits having to work twice as hard. This was echoed by Anisa, who spoke honestly about the challenges of breaking into a sport which is still largely white and middle class, not to mention expensive.
Coming from a less-privileged background meant she encountered a very different, yet real, barrier to entry. Anisa also wore a headscarf, which she later adapted to a bandana, so she could wear a cricket helmet. Similarly, Dana had to get clearance to wear her hijab in rounders.
There is definitely a willingness from all sides to make sport more open to women across the board, the much-lauded This Girl Can campaign is testament to that. In the run-up to the World Cup, the ECB has launched the Women's Soft Ball Festival, a nationwide initiative to encourage more females to play.
This and many other programmes are much needed and so welcome. However, challenges remain for Muslim women who want to take sport to the next level.
They already face barriers from within their communities: unconventional career choices are never easy to explain and not everybody will immediately be on board, whatever the background.
However, in the wider world, there perhaps needs to be a more targeted approach when offering facilities and nurturing real talent to reach that elite level, more movement to find that halfway point.
This is no exact science and time could well be a factor, but the example of young Anisa only serves to reinforce the idea that top-level sport is still not seen as "normal" for Muslim women.
Sport has certainly advanced a great distance and this brand of "kick-ass" women is living proof of what can be achieved.
Of course, success breeds success and that is why I feel that celebrating both the difficulties and achievements of these brilliant Muslim women is so vital in moving forward.
I only hope that by the time my five-year-old daughter is old enough, she will be able to consider a career in a wide variety of sports without hesitation, as well as enjoy the benefits long before I ever did.
Beijing's Female-Only Mosque Shows Islam with a Chinese Spin
In a spacious prayer hall inside a mosque in Beijing's Xicheng district, more than 100 women in colorfully embroidered headscarves, young and old, were praying earnestly on the carpet.
Above their heads, the voice of a male imam leading prayer in another mosque nearby emitted from loudspeakers.
During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which runs from May 27 to June 26 this year, hundreds of women will attend religious services every day at a women-only mosque, just down the road from Beijing's most famous Muslim prayer hall at the Niujie Mosque. While Muslim women face restrictions in most mosques around the world, either being segregated by sex within the building or in some communities being banned from entering altogether, many Chinese Muslim women pray at institutions dedicated to serving their gender, a unique Chinese tradition.
"China's women-only mosques are the best representative of religion with Chinese characteristics. It's a signature building that shows our respect for women," Liu Jun, director of the Niujie Mosque, told the Global Times.
"Besides serving as a platform for Muslim women to pray and learn about the religion, women-only mosques now also have a new identity — a platform to forge international communication as women from Arab countries like to visit as their countries don't have such mosques," he added.
Beijing's first women-only mosque was built in 1921 in Xicheng's Shouliu Hutong. The mosque was destroyed in 1997 amid a wave of demolitions of buildings considered dilapidated by the local government. In 2005, the government rebuilt the new Niujie Women's Mosque, near its old location and the Niujie Mosque.
During Ramadan, Gui Jianrong hauls herself from bed at 2 am and rushes to the Niujie Women's Mosque for prayers.
Besides prayers, the 54-year-old and several other women also shoulder the responsibility of preparing meals for local men and women to break their daily fast.
Liu, referencing Chairman Mao's famous statement, said that Muslim women "hold up half the sky" and are encouraged to play a big part in community activities.
According to Liu, in some Muslim communities in China and abroad there are no women-only mosques and women have to pray at home.
There is no official data on the number of women-only mosques in China. Professor Shui Jingjun of the Henan Academy of Social Sciences wrote in her book The History of Women's Mosques In Chinese Islam that such mosques first proliferated in China's central plains which include parts of Henan, Hebei, Anhui, Shanxi and Shandong provinces. The Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region also has women-only mosques, but they have not been a traditional part of Islamic practice in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.
Liu said that the emergence of women-only mosques was a result of the intermixture of Chinese and Islamic traditions. Chinese Islam has been influenced by the dominant culture of the nation which has not traditionally barred women from public life, he said.
He noted that the largest single Muslim community in China is the Hui. The Hui largely claim descent from Arab traders who came to China as early as 13 centuries ago and settled in China, intermarrying with locals. This ethnic mixture is reflected in their religious practices. "So we have characteristics of Han culture, which is inclusive," said Liu.
Besides the influence of their mixed origins, Shui's book offers another explanation for the existence of women-only mosques.
When Muslims first came to China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), they were honored guests. But during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Chinese Muslims fell out of favor with the authorities and were subject to repression. Under this persecution, the Muslim community had to make the most of its resources to ensure its cultural survival, and hence Muslim women had to help bear the responsibility of transmitting the faith.
So as early as the middle of the 17th century, religious schools especially set up for educating female Muslims emerged. During the late Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), these schools developed into women-only mosques.
Ma Yun, 27, works in human resources in Beijing. She brings her 2-year-old daughter to the Niujie Women's Mosque during Ramadan to pray. In her hometown in China's northwest, her female family members pray at home as their area has no women-only mosque.
She first visited a women-only mosque when she visited Lanzhou, Northwest China's Gansu Province, at the age of 13. "While we could learn about the Koran and pray at home, I really liked the scholarly atmosphere at the mosque," she said.
Women-only mosques aren't only places for female Muslims to learn about their religion, but also an important resource for illiterate women, especially seniors, to learn basic knowledge, according to Ma.
In rural areas, some women often learn to read and write in their local mosque under the tutelage of a female imam, another unique feature of Chinese Islam.
Wang Jingxian, a Hui Muslim, first visited the Niujie Women's Mosque when she was 6 years old.
Back then, there was a female imam who taught them the Koran sentence by sentence and led their prayers.
This early childhood experience is still clearly remembered by 66-year-old Wang. "Although I couldn't quite understand what the imam said at such a young age, I was still empowered," she said.
According to Wang, she comes from a religious family which was quite prominent in Beijing's Muslim community back then. Several Beijing imams came from her family.
She may have followed in their footsteps to become an imam herself if the Cultural Revolution (1966-76) had not intervened.
During the Cultural Revolution, when people were encouraged to "smash the Four Olds," the mosque was shut down and the female imam fled. The Four Olds included old ideology, old culture, old habits and old customs.
"I then had to leave Beijing and went to the countryside in [Northeast China's] Heilongjiang Province," she said.
Religious practices of all kinds were banned during the Cultural Revolution. It wasn't until the 1980s that religion returned to public view and female imams reappeared.
After coming back to Beijing, Wang had no time to pursue her studies as the demands of work and domestic chores left her with no spare time.
She said she resumed studying the Koran just a few years ago, which gives her "spiritual fulfillment."
In the Niujie Women's Mosque, she has also made friends with other Muslim women and they regularly organize study classes. "I feel quite happy now. With the support of the Party, government and society, I now enjoy religious freedom," she said.
"But I would still prefer to have a female imam. It would be more convenient to learn from, talk with and practice with a female imam, to satisfy our craving for knowledge. We need to be more restrained when meeting a male imam," she said.
Liu, head of the Niujie Mosque, explained that because the Niujie Mosque already has 10 male imams they don't need a female imam.
Liu Jun told the Global Times that the wives of ambassadors from Arab countries, including Oman, like to visit the Niujie Women's Mosque during Ramadan.
"They show a strong interest in this kind of mosque which doesn't exist in their own country," he said.
Several days before Ramadan began, the mosque received thousands of Muslim tourists from Malaysia in one week who paid special visits to the women-only mosque.
Ma told the Global Times that these days young Chinese Muslims learn about the Koran from Islamic websites and books. But she feels that it's still necessary to have women-only mosques and female imams.
"It's still too difficult for me to process the information I read online and in books by myself," she said.
According to Liu and Wang, in the last two years they have seen more and more young Muslim women coming to the mosque for prayers, many of whom are college students.
Gui said that when she first came to the Niujie Women's Mosque in 2004, when she was in her 40's, she was the youngest woman there.
Liu attributes the growth in youthful enthusiasm for Islam to the greater promotion of the religion on social media, which has made young people feel closer to their faith.
But the latest developments also bring new challenges. Shui mentioned in her book that female imams, most of whom are now elderly, are unable to meet the demands of well-educated young Muslim women.
Traditionally, female imams have focused on the importance of prayers and have taught scripture in Farsi. But today female Muslims would rather learn scripture in Arabic, according to Shui's book, a language in which many female imams are not proficient. While teaching methods used by male imams have changed with the times, female imams have tended to be more conservative, which has posed difficulties to the development of women-only mosques, Shui wrote.
Wang said that the development of women's mosques first needs greater public understanding of female Muslims.
Many people, including people in Niujie, "like to question us about why we dress this way during the summer heat and look at us through colored spectacles, which discourages female Muslims from showing their presence in public life," Wang said.
Dead female militant at Atia Mahal identified as Morjina
June 22, 2017
Morjina is the sister of Jubaira Yasmin, the female militant arrested from Chittagong earlier in March
Police Bureau of Investigation (PBI) on Thursday said the female militant killed during “Operation Twilight” at Atia Mahal in Sylhet has been identified as Monjiara Parvin Morjina.
Md Sanwar Jahan, additional superintendent of Sylhet PBI, said: “We have received the DNA reports of the four killed militants in Sylhet. Morjina’s DNA matched with her relatives’ DNA. The rest three bodies are yet to be identified.”
Morjina is the sister of Jubaira Yasmin, the female militant arrested from Chittagong earlier in March.
Militant Morjina’s ID was used to rent the flat at Atia Mahal.
On March 24, Bangladesh Army commandos conducted 111-hour long “Operation Twilight” at Atia Mahal in Shibbari area of Sylhet which killed four militants, among eight, and left at least 40 people injured.
According to the PBI sources, DNA samples of Morjina’s father and brother were collected in Sylhet MAG Osmani Medical College on March 29. Later this week, during a test, Morjina’s DNA matched with her relatives’ DNA.
Besides, suspected militant Moinul Islam Musa, who during the raid is still unidentified as his DNA did not match with Musa’s mother Sufia Begum’s DNA. Other two bodies could not be identified as they were entirely distorted.
All the bodies were buried at Hazrat Manik Pir graveyard in Sylhet after the operation.
Malaysian PM: Special SOP Needed To Handle Sexual Crimes Involving Children
BY RAM ANAND
June 22, 2017
PUTRAJAYA, June 22 ― A special Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has to be formulated to handle sexual crimes involving children, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.
“I urge that a special SOP to handle sexual crimes involving children should be formed soon,” Najib said during his speech while launching the special court on sexual crimes against children here today.
Najib also said that with the formation of the special court, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, cases of sexual crimes involving children can be concluded in under one year instead of dragging on for a few years.
Najib said that a committee consisting of courts, the Attorney General's Chambers, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, including several NGOs should be formed into order to come with the SOPs.
“The SOPs should fulfil the needs and wants of child witnesses, in line with best practices that are implemented in other countries,” he said.
Najib also said that adequate training should be provided to the lawyers in the court so as to ensure ethical approaches while questioning child witnesses.
The first case is set to be heard at the special court on July 4 ― it is among the 56 cases from Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Selangor that has been transferred to the special court.
A senior Sessions Court judge from Klang will act as the judge for the court.
Sorry Ladies, You’re the Wrong Kind of Muslims
June 22, 2017
The two women invited to the Dirksen Senate Office Building last week seemed like the kind of expert witnesses any Democrat, especially a female Democrat, would love. Both have become respected academics, authors, and activists for women’s rights. Both are outspoken critics of religious extremism. Both are Muslims, and both are critical of Muslim extremism, and for way too many Democrats that point of view is not legitimate.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia to a Muslim family. As a young girl she suffered genital mutilation. Her family and friends followed such an intense form of Islam that in her teens she cheerfully looked forward to the day when the fatwa against author Salman Rushdie would be carried out at last. When her family tried to force her into marriage, she fled Africa for the Netherlands. There she met director Theo Van Gogh; together they made a film critical of extreme interpretations of Islam which sanction the abuse, degradation, even the killing of Muslim women. After the film was released, Van Gogh was murdered on a city street by a terrorist. Pinned to his clothes was a note declaring that Hirsi Ali would be next. Today, Ali is in the United States. She is a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. She is the author of two best-sellers, Heretic and Infidel. And she has renounced her Muslim faith. Because of all these factors, her life is in constant danger.
The other witness was Asra Nomani, a writer and activist for equal rights for women in Islam. She has taught journalism at Georgetown University. She was a correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. In 2002, she was on assignment in Karachi, Pakistan. A fellow WSJ reporter, Daniel Pearl, and his wife were staying with Nomani. In January of that year, Pearl was kidnapped by Muslim terrorists. Nine days later Pearl’s captors released a video in which Pearl addressed the world: “My name is Daniel Pearl. I’m a Jewish American from Encino, California, USA.” Then, on camera, the terrorists slit Pearl’s throat and cut off his head.
Like Hirsi Ali, Nomani is a heretic. In a Washington Post guest column she wrote, “I am a Muslim, a woman, and an immigrant. I voted for Trump.” This admission set off Professor Christine Fair, one of Nomani’s colleagues from her days at Georgetown. Taking to social media (where else?), Fair advised Nomani, “I have written you off as a human being.” Fair went on to denounce Nomani for “pimping yourself out” for media attention, and characterized her as a one-woman “fame mongering clown show.” Then, predictably, Fair added “F*** off” and “GO TO HELL.” Nomani filed a complaint with Georgetown’s Institutional Diversity, Equity and Affirmative Action organization. I’m sure the organization’s administrators will censure Fair most severely.
Ali and Nomani had been asked to address the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on a matter they both know intimately — the ideology of Islamic extremists. The New York Times reports that this was “the first time a Senate hearing was devoted to discussing the ideas motivating both violent and nonviolent Islamist movements around the world.” The first time? Really?!
Before the hearing opened a spectator, a gentleman wearing a Muslim prayer cap, stood up and shouted abuse at Hirsi Ali. Once the hearing was in session, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri tried to derail its purpose by asserting that the meeting was not legitimate because it had been called to attack a religion. McCaskill went on to deliver a lecture on the principle of freedom of religion in America. “No evil should ever be allowed to distort these premises,” she continued. “I’m worried, honestly, that this hearing will underline that.” Yeah. I know. What did she say? But don’t spend too much time trying to untangle the senator’s tortured syntax.
Nonetheless, Hirsi Ali took on the senator from Missouri, saying she wasn’t there to curtail anyone’s freedom to practice Islam. She was there to discuss an extremist, violent distortion of Islam. “We haven’t paid as much attention to those people who get into the hearts and minds of vulnerable people and turn them toward the idea that it’s OK to run your car over people, to kill homosexuals, to kill apostates,” Hirsi Ali said. “I came and accepted [Chairman Ron Johnson’s (R-WI)] invitation to only talk about that group, not to vilify or stigmatize those Muslims who accentuate their spirituality.”
Without mentioning names Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) implied that Hirsi Ali and Nomani were guilty of “anti-Islamic sentiment” and fretted that “The perpetuation of anti-Islamic attitudes undermine our collective values and it contributes to the undercurrent of xenophobia.”
Andy Ngo, writing for the Times, reported that in the days leading up to the hearing, Hirsi Ali and Nomani were attacked in social media and criticized in news articles. Ngo gave as an example a statement released by Jordan Denari Duffner, a researcher at the Bridge Initiative, a project of the Saudi-funded Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University. Duffner denounced the “anti-Muslim voices” that were about to be heard at the committee hearing.
Nomani suggested such statements play into the hands of the extremists who want to silence this conversation. “Ayaan and I are under attack constantly,” she said. “Between us, I don’t know how many death threats we have faced.”
The hearing lasted a little less than two hours. Testimony from Hirsi Ali and Nomani took about 15 minutes. During the question and answer period, none of the Democrats on the committee addressed a single question to Hirsi Ali or Nomani, not even the four women senators, McCaskill, Senator Kamala Harris of California, Senator Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, and Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, who you think would be eager to give the floor to two women of color who were advocates for women’s rights. To his credit Senator Johnson stood up for the two witnesses the Democrats deplored, then ignored. “I think the witnesses were very careful to distinguish between Muslims who practice their faith peacefully as opposed to political Islamists,” Johnson said. “They are bending over backwards to make that distinction.”
Sad to say, Hirsi Ali and Nomani have been dissed before, both of them by the solons of academia. In 2014, Brandeis University revoked an honorary degree it had awarded to Hirsi Ali and reneged on an offer to have her speak at commencement. The university administration concluded that Hirsi Ali’s activism against female genital mutilation, honor killings, and forced marriages are intolerable examples of “Islamophobia.” In 2015, Nomani was scheduled to speak at Duke University on her progressive, feminist interpretation of Islam. The Duke University Center Activities and Events canceled her talk after the school’s chapter of the Muslim Students Association claimed that Nomani was allied with “Islamophobic speakers.” When Nomani demanded evidence of her alleged Islamophobia, the Activities and Events people re-invited her and a spokesman for Duke expressed regret for the “misunderstanding.”
I’m not the first guy to ask these questions, but I’ll ask them anyway. How many little girls have to be blown up at a concert? How many pedestrians have to be mowed down in the street? How many more bombs have to go off at a marathon’s finish line before the academic and political poseurs admit that there are wild-eyed, merciless, bloody-minded radicals — and I emphasize the word radicals — all across this planet who believe that Allah is delighted every time they slaughter a non-Muslim. But the self-appointed brainiacs of Western society refuse to see much less admit that these killers exist. Lenin used to call such individuals “useful idiots.” St. Thomas Aquinas had a term for their mental condition: “invincible ignorance.”
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