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Why These Christian, Muslim and Jewish Women Despair At Religious Dating Sites

New Age Islam News Bureau

25 Jun 2014

Religious Dating Sites


 500 Females Give Emergency Services in Haram

 Egyptian Women Dream to 'Crush' Sexual Harassment

 Morocco Women Protest PM’s Speech

 Bahrain's Gulf Air Names 1st Woman Captain

 The Saudi TV Anchor Who Boldly Confronts the Glare of Camera

 Little Headway in Child Marriage Laws in Pak Punjab

 Freed Christian Woman Rearrested Trying To Leave Sudan: Source

 Children of Saudi Women Married To Foreign Men May Get Scholarships

 PIA Plane Victim Was a Woman Returning From Umrah

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Why These Christian, Muslim and Jewish Women Despair At Religious Dating Sites

By Helen Coffey

24 Jun 2014

This is the question posed by the man opposite me, the man with whom I am on a date. A first date, I might add. In a trendy, Soho cafe, surrounded by people. Lots of people. With ears.

Pray? Here? Really? I look around nervously. Before I've had a chance to utter the words: “Don't, please, just…don't,” he has already placed a firm hand on my arm, bowed his head and proceeded to launch into saying grace, audibly enough that several other tables in the joint have turned to stare in bemusement.

I want to die. I want the ground to swallow me up. It is as cringe worthy to me as an episode of Fawlty Towers, with Basil running around beating Manuel senseless with a frying pan.

I suppose I brought this on myself – after all, I met the Public Praying Man (as he shall henceforth be known) on a Christian dating site. I succumbed for several reasons. Firstly, because my Christian faith is important to me, and I would ideally like to share that with the guy I end up with. Secondly, where else do you meet Christians these days? What with more female churchgoers than men, the odds are already stacked against women and sometimes you have no choice but to look outside your immediate pool. And thirdly, because I'd become really tired of trying to explain my faith to the atheists I was dating, who at best looked on it as a quaint eccentricity, and at worst just thought I was an idiot.

Unfortunately, as hit and miss as internet dating can be on mainstream, generic sites, it gets even worse on the niche ones, contrary to what you'd expect – at least in my experience and several other women I've shared tales of woe with.



500 females give emergency services in Haram

Zain Anbar

Okaz/Saudi Gazette

JEDDAH — A group of 500 volunteer women will provide emergency first aid and medical services to female Umrah visitors in the Grand Mosque.

The head of the group, Mashael Al-Shamrani, said these women have received intensive training on how to deal with emergency situations with female Umrah visitors of various nationalities.

She pointed out that the group which includes doctors, nurses, and pharmacists, will be dispersed in 10 locations inside the Grand Mosque, and will work until the 29th of Ramadan.

Over five million Umrah pilgrims have already arrived in the Kingdom and their number is expected to rise tremendously with the start of the holy month of Ramadan.



Egyptian women dream to 'crush' sexual harassment

June 25, 2014

She stopped and reprimanded the two young men. One of them looked at the other and exploded with laughter. He said to her: "Run, run … Don't you have a man to [take care of you]?" As for the second man, he was kinder and recommend that she head to the nearest clinic to undergo psychiatric treatment. But she didn't run, nor did she head to a clinic. Rather, she surprised them by resisting, not only to the obscene sexual words they said, but to the even more obscene way they were looking at her body. Here, the dialogue took a religious turn. The first man accused her of being a prostitute, saying that respectable girls wear a full face veil, or at least a Hijab. Meanwhile, the second began repeating that women "truly lack both brains and religion."

As for the rest of the scene, it was very stereotypical, but it also offered something new. The stereotypical part involved the advice given to her, and the attitude that her boldness in objecting through looks or words was a disgrace. Meanwhile, the new aspect's power resides in the forbidden — not that the two young men harassed her, but that she publicly objected to it.

Young men — who are the pillars of society and served as the spark for revolutions of change — are today being accused of harassment of various forms, numerous violations and varying levels of violence. While it's true that there are harassers over 40, and that those who are harassed belong to all socioeconomic groups, youths remain the primary culprits of harassment. Even worse, the phenomenon has expanded to include children harassers.

Harassers can be seen daily on the Nile Corniche in Cairo. A woman cannot walk by without being subject to harassing words, being groped, or even having a small stone thrown at her. The vast majority of women react in one of two ways: completely ignoring the situation as if nothing happened, or avoiding going to areas known for having harassers. In the rare instances where a woman dares to get angry or object, she will inevitably face more harassment, accompanied this time by a great deal of sarcasm and descriptions ranging from questioning her honor to claims of iniquity or immorality.

The dawn of the new Egypt, following the January 25 Revolution, led to something that women and girls did not want: an increase in harassment from thugs and the first and second generation of street children, in addition to harassment carried out by the Muslim Brotherhood and its affiliates, when the former was in power, with the purpose of scaring women and girls to keep them from heading to Tahrir Square to protest. Furthermore, there is the usual harassment from those who think it is their right to harass women. Some men go as far as to stress and swear that "flirtatious" expressions will delight any woman or girl, that they are "doing them a favor" and "raising their morale."

There is not much interest, time or effort invested in studying the psychological effects that harassment has on a girl. The same is true for studies of the causes for the explosion of harassment that is faced by the overwhelming majority of Egyptian women and girls.

The Egyptian women that expected the new Egypt — despite its slips and failures — to be a safer place and a more humanitarian refuge to accommodate them (after they had fallen victim to Islamist expansion for many years) were surprised that various parties agreed that they were "the weakest link."

Under new President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the "weakest link" had been promised a restoration of dignity and a return of their status. The latter has been seized by poverty, overstepped by unemployment and affected by the departure of families from education, as school teachers became involved in private lessons. Meanwhile, the state was preoccupied with corruption and protecting itself, opening the door for the Islamized parallel state to provide medical treatment, education and support through its own Islamic standards.

The debate that has been ongoing since the harassment incidents in Tahrir Square during Sisi's inauguration reveals how much sexual harassment has become a hot topic in society. There are those who mourn that chivalry has fallen by the wayside and no longer a characteristic of the youth today. Others plead for "family upbringings" that no longer exist. Some are surprised by the emergence of a second generation of street children, with whom there is no sense of shame or sin. Still others blame the girls who headed to Tahrir Square, as in their opinion proper girls don't frequent crowded places. And some gloated in what happened to these girls, believing that anyone who voted for Sisi or took to the streets to celebrate deserves to be crushed.

Crushing harassment is a dream of Egyptian women, but it will remain a dream until it is realized through learning the motivations behind harassment, far removed from the justifications of poverty and eternal unemployment or claims that it is caused by repression and innate desires, the Internet or pornographic films. Shehenda, 26, an Egyptian woman who has been a victim of harassment during two demonstrations in the past three years — in addition to normal everyday harassment — said, "Many countries suffer from the same conditions, but the door is not open for anyone to express his desires or disease on God's creation in the street. We have to face ourselves, our reality, no matter how painful or shameful."

The majority of young harassers do not admit that they are harassing. Their responses to accusations range from sarcasm to denial, throwing the blame on the girls. They say, "Their clothes have become extremely inappropriate," "They laugh loudly in the street" or "If girls are free to wear what they like and laugh as they like, I, too, am free to do what I want."

But there are two glimmers of hope on the horizon. The first comes in the newly passed law toughening the punishment for harassment, and it mentions the phrase "sexual harassment" for the first time ever in a law. The second comes from the young people themselves, but this time from those who object to harassment via youth initiatives and awareness campaigns. The latter began timidly a few years ago, but returned actively in light of the horrid cases of harassment in Tahrir Square. There is a renewed hope for the state to support a long-awaited confirmation that Egyptian women are full-fledged citizens entitled to all the rights and duties as men.



Morocco women protest PM’s speech

June 25, 2014

RABAT: Moroccan women protested outside parliament yesterday demanding the resignation of Islamist premier Abdelilah Benkirane after he urged women to stay at home and look after their families.

“Benkirane get out! Morocco is not for you!” were some of the slogans chanted by the protesters, who numbered about 100, and also waved placards and frying pans.

NGOs and opposition parties have condemned the prime minister’s comments, with some accusing him of blaming Morocco’s social problems on a “deterioration in moral values” that resulted from women working.

Amina Benameir, one of the protesters at yesterday’s demonstration, called his speech “irresponsible”, and accused the prime minister of swimming against the tide of history.

Gender equality is enshrined in the new constitution introduced by King Mohamed VI in 2011 in a bid to defuse Arab Spring protests.



Bahrain's Gulf Air names 1st woman captain


Bahrain's Gulf Air recently announced the promotion of Yasmeen Fraidoon to the rank of captain, making her the first Bahraini woman with that rank to fly a commercial aircraft. \

Fraidoon joined Gulf Air in 2008 as a trainee pilot after graduating from Qatar Aeronautical College and this year she successfully completed the flight hours required to become captain.

Fraidoon told Al-Shorfa her achievement is important for Bahraini women and reflects the level of development and success that Bahraini women have achieved in various arenas and professions.

Al-Shorfa: How do you feel about being the first female Bahraini captain to fly a commercial aircraft?

Yasmeen Fraidoon: It is a huge honour for me to become the first Bahraini woman captain. Since I was a child, I have been interested in the world of aviation, and this ambition helped me overcome several obstacles I faced throughout my career, until I managed to successfully attain the rank of captain.

Working as a pilot with Bahrain's national carrier was a dream I had and has now become a reality. It is a great honour for me to serve my country in this field and I hope to live up to everyone's expectations and fulfil the responsibility that has been placed on my shoulders.

Al-Shorfa: Where did your dream of flying start?

Fraidoon: I always have been interested in working at airline companies and this interest began to grow in 2000. At the time, it was not possible for women to study aviation due to the high cost and society's traditional view of women in the world of aviation. For this reason, I decided to study management information systems at Bahrain University and obtained my bachelor's degree.

The turning point that allowed me to realise my dream was when Gulf Air, the national carrier, announced it was looking for Bahraini candidates for its trainee pilot programme, which opens the door to employment with the airlines after successful completion of the requirements.

I took advantage of this golden opportunity and passed all the exams and interviews. After that, I went to the Qatari capital, Doha, to obtain my commercial pilot license from the Qatar Aeronautical College, which lasted for two years. I then returned to Bahrain to complete my training with Gulf Air for five years as assistant pilot and now, after this long period of time, I passed all the required tests and I have been promoted to captain.

Al-Shorfa: What are the main obstacles you faced?

Fraidoon: There were no real challenges, if I may say so, since Bahraini society is open in spite of the initial surprise and wonderment at seeing a woman wearing a pilot's uniform. But they soon get used to the idea.

Although I was the only woman at the Aeronautical College at the time, I received immense encouragement and support from society since the general atmosphere encourages women to advance in the aviation profession, especially since Gulf Air now has more than eight female assistant pilots.

Al-Shorfa: What was the reason behind your distinction in the world of aviation?

Fraidoon: My mother and father have been my biggest supporters since the very beginning of my endeavour to specialise in something unconventional. They accepted my choices with an open mind and motivated me to succeed in the profession I chose. I also have to mention my husband's support, as he stood by me from the beginning, and I also would like to mention the role of the training department at Gulf Air, which gave me confidence and taught me lots of skills.

Al-Shorfa: What are the key tasks awaiting you now that you have been promoted to captain?

Fraidoon: There is a huge difference between an assistant pilot and captain as the latter takes on the full legal responsibility in terms of guaranteeing the safety of the passengers, the flight crew and the aircraft in general. The final decision rests with me now, which is, without a doubt, a huge responsibility. But thankfully the airline has helped in giving me the necessary skills and putting me through rigorous testing in order to guarantee my worthiness.

I now fly Airbus 320, 321 and 319 as part of the Gulf Air fleet whose destination is to other Gulf countries, Cairo, Pakistan, India, Turkey and London.

Al-Shorfa: What advice would you give to other women who would like to enter the world of aviation?

Fraidoon: Although aviation is still a man's world, it does not prevent women who want to become assistant pilots or captains from applying. It is a huge responsibility and a long path but is worth it in the end.

The only thing women have to do is to remove any psychological barriers associated with society and embark on a global path towards leadership. There are no conditions for this profession that say only men are allowed to apply as anyone is eligible.



The Saudi TV Anchor Who Boldly Confronts the Glare of Camera

June 24, 2014

DAMMAM — Afaf Al-Mohaisin, a young Saudi woman, has achieved success both behind the microphone and in front of the camera. Her success did not come as a surprise to her because she loved her profession. "I never had big expectations but I have always dealt with my job with love and respect," she told Makkah daily.

Al-Mohaisin worked for Jeddah radio for a decade before joining Saudi TV as an anchor. "I am still working for radio Jeddah though I have joined the TV," she says.

"My first moments in front of the camera were hilarious. I never stop laughing when I remember how I was confused by the strong lights on my face," she said.

She added that she was not afraid of the camera which, for her, was just like the microphone that she was used to.

Al-Mohaisn said her relationship with the camera was not new because she had experienced it at the private studios of Jaafar Al-Bahrainin in Al-Ahsa during his production of a special film for the Health Ministry.

"Al-Bahraini was the first man to encourage and support me to stand in front of the camera. I will always be indebted to him," she said. She was also thankful to the cameramen for making her job a lot easier.

She said both Saeed Al-Yami, director of the Saudi TV station in Dammam and head of the Saudi Radio and TV Corporation Abdul Rahman Al-Hazza have also encouraged her to face the camera and become a noted TV personality.

Al-Mohaisin said she attributes her success to these three men who supported her career and encouraged her at every step.

Asked about the problems she faced behind the microphone or in front of the camera, she said she never likes the word problem. "The program presenter or the news reader will never face any problem as long as he or she is determined to positively confront them and find quick solutions," she said. Al-Mohaisin, however, said announcers and program presenters should continuously develop themselves through local and foreign training.

She said she does not like to specialize in presenting certain programs but can do whatever she is asked to do.

"However, I find myself in the cultural, social, heritage and national programs rather than the economic, sports programs or news," she said.

She advised men and women wishing to work in the visual media to love the business and to have confidence in themselves. "They should not focus on how they are appearing on the screen but on presenting viewers with something useful and interesting," she said.

Al-Mohaisin said the TV news readers and program presenters should not think of the camera so as to appear natural and spontaneous for the viewers.



Little Headway in Child Marriage Laws in Pak Punjab

June 25, 2014

LAHORE: Alliance against Child Marriages (AACM) representatives say despite a Punjab government’s package announced on March 8, there has been no legislation to check child marriages in the province.

They stated this on Tuesday at a meeting where parliamentarians, religious leaders, doctors, lawyers and reporters participated.

The meeting was organised by Rahnuma FPAP and Plan International from the platform of the AACM.

The AACM has made a draft bill but it has still not been passed by the assembly though Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif had announced in March the Child Marriage Restraint Act would be amended.

Activists say the original Child Marriage Restraint Act of 1929 is outdated and vague with soft punishment for families involved in underage marriage and it also absolves nikah-khwans (registrars) of all blames.

Some members of the Punjab Assembly Women’s Caucus said they were trying to move the bill through the assembly but it was not an easy process.

They assured that along with bills on domestic violence and home-based workers, this too was on their priority list.

Sindh Assembly’s recent passing of the Child Marriage Restraint Act of 2013 was held as a reference and benchmark.

Population Welfare Minister Begum Zakia Shahnawaz praised civil society for highlighting the issue at policy level, saying the Punjab government was interested in controlling child marriage in the province. A committee by the Social Welfare Department had been constituted to work on the Child Marriage Bill and the bill was at its final stages.

She also linked over population with early marriages, saying it was the time to progress thinking not just of one person’s benefit but for the benefit of the nation. Overpopulation was the effect of early marriages and resulted in issues related to health, education and economy.

Plan International representative Safdar said they were working in Rajanpur, Muzaffargarh and Vehari on this issue.



Freed Christian woman rearrested trying to leave Sudan: source

June 24, 2014

Khartoum: A Sudanese Christian woman was arrested Tuesday at Khartoum airport a day after a court annulled her death sentence for apostasy and released her from prison, a source familiar with the incident said.

“The National Security took her and Daniel,” said the source, referring to Mariam Yahia Ebrahim Ishag, 26, and her American husband Daniel Wani.

The status of their two young children, one a baby born in prison before Mariam’s release, was not immediately known.

The couple were detained, for reasons that are unclear, at about 1100 GMT as they tried to leave the country, said the source.

He could not give more details except to say they were taken to a facility of the powerful National Intelligence and Security Service (NISS).

“She has the right to leave the country,” the source said.

Her case sparked an outcry from Western governments and rights groups after a lower-court judge sentenced her to death on May 15.

Born to a Muslim father and an Ethiopian Orthodox Christian mother, Mariam was convicted under Sharia that has been in force in Sudan since 1983 and outlaws conversions on pain of death.

When Mariam was five, her father abandoned the family, and she was raised according to her mother’s faith.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Khartoum said she joined the Catholic church shortly before she married.



Children of Saudi women married to foreign men may get scholarships

June 25, 2014

RIYADH – The Ministry of Higher Education is considering to grant scholarships to the children of Saudi women married to non-Saudis, Makkah daily reported on Tuesday quoting informed sources.

The sources said there will be no problem in including this category of students in the scholarship program on condition that they meet the terms and conditions formulated by the ministry.

They, however, did not explain the terms and conditions. The Council of Ministers ordered that the children of Saudi mothers and foreign fathers should get the same treatment as original Saudis, especially in education, health and work.

According to some statistics issued by the Saudi Minister of Labor, 1,988 Saudi women married foreign men in 2011 — 548 from Makkah, 543 from Riyadh, and 490 from the Eastern Province.

The report revealed that Yemenis ranked first among foreign men who married Saudi women as their number reached 456, followed by Kuwaitis with 351 marriages, Qataris 247, Syrian 149, Emiratis 124, Egyptians 111, Lebanese 66, and Pakistanis with 46 marriages.

According to the report, eight Americans, seven Brits and Europeans, and three Turks married Saudi women in the same year.



PIA plane victim was a woman returning from Umrah

June 25, 2014

Peshawar- The woman, who was killed in firing on PIA plane last night, was returning home after performing Umrah.

The woman, Maqnoon Begum, was laid to rest here amid tears and sobs. Her funeral prayers were offered at Hayatabad Ladies’ Park.

According to reports, she went to Saudi Arab to meet her two sons and perform Umrah.

Last night, she was killed while two more passengers were injured after unknown gunmen opened fire on a Pakistan International Airlines flight PK756 --en route from Riyadh to Peshawar-- while landing at the Bacha Khan International Airport.