Asma Shuweikh stands alongside the father of the Jewish family she defended from antisemitic abuse while on the London Underground. Photo: Twitter.
• Woman Seeking Entry into Sabarimala Temple Attacked With Chilli Spray
• ‘My Faith Is What Drives Me to Do This,’ Says UK Muslim Woman Who Defended Jewish Family from Anti-Semite on London Underground
• French Laicite and the Battle against Muslim Women
• Hundreds of Sudanese Women March against Violence
• Stylish yet Modest Clothing Line From Muslim Fashion Designer
• An Attack Against Pregnant Woman In Australia Sheds Light On Hostility Towards Muslims
• Aussie Grandma Accused Of Drug Trafficking Escapes the Gallows
Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau
Woman Seeking Entry into Sabarimala Temple Attacked With Chilli Spray
Nov 26, 2019
KOCHI: Bindu Ammini, one of the two women who had scaled the Sabarimala hill+ and had darshan at the Lord Ayyappa temple earlier this year, was attacked with chilli spray near the city police commissioner's office on Tuesday morning.
Bindu had alighted from a car when a man wearing a saffron dhoti approached her with a can of what seemed to be chilli powder spray. The substance was sprayed on the woman's face even as she tried to resist. The attacker then fled the spot.
Kerala: Bindu Ammini, who had visited #Sabarimala temple in January, sprayed with chilli powder in front of Kochi c… https://t.co/daR9teu4ii
The accused was later arrested. The accused was identified as Sreenath Padmanabhan (28), a native of Kudiyanmala in Kannur.
According to sources, Bindu has been moved to General Hospital in Ernakulam for treatment. Bindu was at the Revenue Tower premises, (from where the commissioner office functions), to see a group of women led by activist Trupti Desai who reached Kochi on Tuesday morning to try and scale the hill.
The women, about seven of them, clandestinely reached Kochi on Tuesday morning. They are seeking entry into the temple as there is no stay on the Supreme Court order allowing temple entry for women of all ages. Bindu Ammini, who had darshan under police protection in January this year, is also accompanying Trupti.
The women reached the Cochin International Airport by an early-morning flight. However, they haven't made it clear about when they are planning to go to Sabarimala.
Sources said that Bindu has written to the government seeking permission to enter the temple.
"Sabarimala darshan is our right. We would go back only if the government give it in writing that we won't be allowed to enter the temple," Bindu said.
Trupti Desai while speaking to TOI said that the group of seven women includes five from Maharashtra, one from Delhi and Bindu.
"We had booked a taxi to Pampa but were stopped on the way and we are now at special branch office in Ernakulam, waiting for police protection to us to Sabarimala. Today is Constitution Day and government needs to protect our constitutional rights. It is our right to enter Sabarimala temple," Desai said.
‘My Faith Is What Drives Me To Do This,’ Says UK Muslim Woman Who Defended Jewish Family From Anti-Semite on London Underground
NOVEMBER 25, 2019
The brave Muslim woman who rushed to the defense of a Jewish family who was being harassed by an antisemite while traveling on the London Underground has been reunited with the family’s father, who gave her a bouquet of flowers in appreciation of her actions.
A man was arrested on Saturday evening after a viral video of the incident showed a Jewish family being harassed and “targeted with antisemitic abuse” on the London Underground, British Transport Police said.
In the video, a man is seen loudly reading a passage from the New Testament that addresses “them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not,” while pointing to a kippah-clad Jewish man who was traveling with his wife and three young children.
The man was then confronted by Asma Shuweikh — a 36-year-old Muslim woman who was on the same train — who acted, she later explained, because “I thought it is my duty as a mother, as a practicing Muslim, as a citizen of this country, to have to say something.”
In a statement released by the UK’s Campaign Against Antisemitism, the father of the family — who did not wish to be named — said he was “extremely grateful” to Shuweikh for stepping in.
“We are certain that without her intervention and distraction, he would have continued his abuse which could have escalated to physical violence,” he said.
“This Tube journey has left me with mixed feelings about society,” he added. “On the one hand my wife, my children and I were subject to vile abuse in a full Tube carriage, however I am grateful for those who stood up for me.”
Speaking to London’s Jewish News, Shuweikh described her meeting with the father as “lovely.”
“He came and gave me beautiful flowers and we sat down and had a coffee and we were talking about our experiences and our backgrounds,” she said.
Shukweikh added that she had previously faced Islamophobic abuse, describing an incident in which a motorist threw jelly beans at her face while she was driving.
“It hit me in the eye, and he swore at me,” Shuweikh said. “We get these things. It’s unacceptable, and I’m the kind of person that if I see that, I can’t be quiet. My faith is what drives me to do this.”
French Laicite and the Battle against Muslim Women
The French secularism that has marginalised many in the Jewish community is now working overtime to do the same to French Muslims.
“Is religion allowed in France?”
This is one of the first suggested search terms that appear on a Google search when putting France and religion in the same sentence. It serves as a good introduction to the confusing and often contradictory realm of French social politics and religion's place in the country.
The latest in a string of bans targeting, very specifically, Muslim women, the French senate voted to forbid veiled mothers from accompanying public school trips - a central pillar of the public school system (trips happen monthly).
Many French citizens I spoke with found the ban particularly absurd, and some recalled fond memories of Muslim mothers regularly participating in their own or their children’s lives. A former school teacher from a village near Toulouse said that in many cases, Muslim mothers seemed more engaged with school activities and their children’s education and progression.
This whole uproar started during an incident involving a National Rally politician and a veiled mother, named only as Fatima E, who accompanied her son and other children on a school trip to a regional political meeting.
During the meeting, Julien Odul leader of the political party in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comte region of France demanded she removes her “Islamic veil” in the name of the nation’s secularist principles.
Reports and the video show that “the woman was attending the meeting with a group of local schoolchildren – including her son who, in response to Odoul’s words, started to cry.”
She said, “They have destroyed all the work I was doing indirectly with this class, where children of immigrant roots often had an attitude of thinking France was against them.”
While some in the room came to her defence, others began to chant “secularism.”
Two weeks after this event, the nation’s senate passed a bill banning veiled mothers from attending school trips. This will be moved to the national assembly and needs to be approved before being implemented.
Laicite literally translated means secularism and is a political pillar in France and can be traced to around 1905 when the state and church formally separated. But politicians and lawmakers today seem to have forgotten the first article of this law which ensures free public expression of religion. It also states a formal de-funding of all religious institutions.
The second article states that the budget from de-funded religious will be reallocated to state services, once again to ensure the free expression of one’s religion.
Ultimately, it is not an aversion to religion but the public funding of it. Most importantly, this was done to end the control Christian religious institutions had on government.
Despite the nation’s formal separation from the Church, France somehow became home to the largest Jewish population outside the United States and Israel, as well as home to the largest Muslim minority population in Western Europe.
Historically, France was a (and still is) a vastly Christian-majority country inclusive of the different sects of these religions.
In effect, however, laicite has been distorted to ostracise religion.
The Jewish community in France has long faced discrimination. So much so, that many have left the public school system and moved to Jewish-only schools that often contain unregulated curriculum.
This phenomenon is now repeating itself with Islamic schools as well. The Jewish community has felt excluded from public life, and along with an increase in dangerous anti-semitic attacks, the community has been pushed into a corner.
One report from the JTA cites, “Whereas 30 years ago the majority of French Jews enrolled their children in public schools, now only a third of them do so. The remaining two-thirds are divided equally between Jewish schools and private schools that are not Jewish, including Catholic and Protestant institutions, according to Francis Kalifat, the newly elected president of the CRIF umbrella group of French Jewish communities. The change has been especially dramatic in the Paris area, which is home to some 350,000 Jews, or an estimated 65 percent of French Jewry.”
It must be noted, however, that while there is general discrimination against all religion, there are some contradictions. Take, for example, the staunch government position against the burkini in public swimming facilities. Politicians utilised the rhetoric of a religious take-over and mockingly anticipating requests for women-only hours at these public facilities – calling it sexual apartheid. The reality is that there are already municipal pools that facilitate this for the religious Jewish community, begging the question, why the outcry then?
Rather than nitpick over the small scraps offered by the government, minorities should be united in their effort to propel secularism which upholds freedom of religious expression.
Ultimately, the core of secularism holds to principals of non-discrimination, not exclusion. These policies are shifting not only demographics on a national scale, but influencing a sub-school system that operates unregulated by the government. This stands to isolate segments of the population from the general public.
Often religious discrimination, particularly in France, seems to fall, quite literally, onto the heads of women. Having pushed Jewish children, and their parents, away from participating in public life, it seems now there is a rejuvenated campaign to drive Muslim families out as well.
Hundreds of Sudanese women march against violence
26 November 2019
KHARTOUM: Hundreds of Sudanese women Monday marched in Khartoum to mark International Day for Eliminating Violence against Women, in the first such rally held in the northeast African country in decades.
Chanting “Freedom, peace, justice,” the catchcry of the protest movement that led to autocrat Omar Al-Bashir’s ouster in April, the demonstrators took to the streets in the Burri district, a site of regular anti-Bashir protests earlier this year.
Many women, dressed in orange, carried banners that read: “Women’s revolution continues” and “We are the revolution, we are the change.”
Many also carried banners such as “Stop rape of Darfuri Women,” as they called for justice for female victims of the war in the western Sudan region.
“There is an atmosphere of freedom now,” said 21-year-old university student Fatima, as others behind her whistled, clapped and ululated, an AFP correspondent reported.
“There is less violence now, but we still need to change the laws that are against us.”
Bashir seized power in an Islamist-backed coup in 1989 and since then the role of women had been severely restricted in Sudan.
During his 30-year-old rule, authorities implemented a strict moral code that activists said primarily targeted women, using harsh interpretations of Islamic sharia law.
Thousands of women were flogged and handed hefty fines under a controversial public order law for “indecent dressing” or consuming alcohol, which is banned in the country.
During the protests that rocked Bashir’s regime, women were at the forefront, demanding his ouster and an end to violence against them.
The army deposed him on April 11, and his overthrow has triggered hope that laws encouraging violence against women be scrapped.
“I came to demand an end to violence against women,” said, Adila Farouk as she marched in the capital’s streets.
“I have been subjected to sexual harassment, but it is nothing compared to what other women have faced.”
Stylish yet modest clothing line from Muslim fashion designer
By Alima Nadeem
A FASHION designer is breaking barriers with her modest clothing range and wants to get young people into sewing.
Rizwana Matadar runs Cover Me, a Bolton based modest fashion brand aimed at giving Muslim women the chance to look stylish and covered at the same time.
The mum of two designs all the clothes herself and shows them on her Instagram page, where she has over 16,000 followers.
Mrs Matadar said: “I found there was a massive gap in the market and if you wanted to buy an ankle length dress at the time you wouldn’t find one, and it gave me the idea.
“When you go on holiday as a Muslim woman, you don’t want to wear layers, you still want to wear trendy clothes without looking old and boring.”
At just 12-years-old, Mrs Matadar started sewing and found that she had a passion for it as she said: “It was trendy then, and I enjoyed it, spending long hours learning new patterns.
“But, I was not allowed to go to college, coming from a strict family, so went to work in a sewing factory.”
It was not until Mrs Matadar got married and moved to Bolton in 2000 that she opened her own fabric and tailoring store.
With a free hall, the fashion designer started to teach girls how to sew, with over 300 girls having been taught by her.
Mrs Matadar said: “That was an amazing experience, and I do not think I appreciated it at the time.
“I had no qualifications and I taught all these girls how to sew English and Pakistani dresses.”
But, the mum found that she could not move forward with the business so after three years went to university to study fashion design.
The designer said: "I wanted to expand the business but I couldn't find anyone else, and I didn't want to do it all alone.
"I also didn't want to be stuck there, I wanted to explore other things."
On leaving university, Mrs Matadar worked at three different menswear fashion places before opening her own studio in Bolton in 2015.
She said: “To be able to enjoy it you have to be good at it, but these days it’s not something girls or boys are interested in doing.
“I think the trend has gone for sewing and there aren’t any young people I know that do it, but I think it’s a life skill too and can be very therapeutic if they gave it a chance.”
On top of juggling a business, Mrs Matadar also looks after her two children, who are aged seven and 13.
She said: "It's all in good fun actually, it was only hard during the baby days but now my children are older so it's easier to work around them.
"I can still spend time with them and find time to work too.
"Sometimes I will take them too appointments, go see friends and then do some work in the evening, it feels good to have that level of flexibility in my work."
Cover Me also hold pop-up shops around Bolton from time to time.
To follow and keep up with the latest trends follow Mrs Matadar on her Instagram Covermec.
An Attack against Pregnant Woman In Australia Sheds Light On Hostility Towards Muslims
Rana Elasmar, 31, was sitting with her friends (all veiled) at a cafe in Sydney, chatting and having a good time, a 43-year-old man suddenly approached their table, made a brief chat and then repeatedly punched Elasmar and stomped on her head before she fell to the ground.
People at the cafe intervened to get him off, her friends tried to help her, shocked by the attacker behaviour, which apparently came without any provocation.
The attack has been condemned by Islamic institutions in Australia and Egypt. The Australian Federation of Islamic Councils described the attack as “racist and Islamophobic,” adding that the attacker was heard yelling at the victim and her friends with “anti-Islam hate speech.”
Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta condemned on Friday the attack, describing it as “abhorrent racism,” against Muslims and Islam, calling for “enacting laws that criminalise inciting hate and racist discrimination.”
Meanwhile, the CCTV footage of the attack went viral on social media, as users denounce the attack on a Muslim woman.
Australian police arrested the attacker, saying that the man was not known to the victim. The authorities said it is investigating whether the attack is racially motivated or not.
However, the victim opened up about the assault and posted a public post on Facebook on Friday. Elasmar said that she “experienced occurrences of verbal abuse and hate from other Australians in the past, but she “never thought physical abuse of this nature could happen” to her.
“It is not OK. How somebody feels like they have the right to abuse another human being baffles me. It shows a lack of humanity. It shows weakness,” Elasmar said.
“I call all Australians, Muslim or non-Muslim, of all faiths and cultures to come together, as you have already done for me and voice your solidarity in protecting innocent people from any future racial/religious attacks.”
She voiced her fears over the “world our children will grow up in if this issue is not addressed.”
“We are mothers, wives, daughters and we deserve to feel safe wherever we go. We deserve a night out to unwind without being fearful of an attack like this happening again.”
A study by Charles Sturt University which covered the two-year period of 2016-2017 showed that “Insults targeting Muslims’ religious appearance and religion was the highest in both reports online and offline, with almost all women respondents (96%) targeted while wearing hijab.”
“Vulnerable people, mostly women and children, were easy targets for perpetrators. Of the 113 female victims, 96% were wearing a headscarf (hijab), 57% were unaccompanied (in contrast to 6% unaccompanied males) and 11% were with their children at the time of the incident,” the study found.
On Muslim children, the study found that the experiences of Islamophobia start in pre-school years when they were accompanied by their identifiably Muslim parents.
“[They] continue in school years through multiple perpetrators in the school environment, such as school peers, teachers, school administration, other students’ parents or other adults targeting Muslim students on the way to school,” the study added.
The number of Muslims soared in 2016, and there are about 604,200 Muslims in Australia, 2.6% of the total Australian population according to the 2016 Australian Census.
Aussie Grandma Accused Of Drug Trafficking Escapes The Gallows
November 26, 2019
PUTRAJAYA: An Australian grandmother sentenced to death last year for drug trafficking escaped the gallows today after the Federal Court acquitted her of the charge.
A five-member bench chaired by Chief Justice Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat ruled that the conviction was unsafe.
Maria Elvira Pinto Exposto was arrested at KLIA in December 2014 with 1.1kg of crystal methamphetamine stitched into the lining of a bag given to her by a man in Shanghai.
Tengku Maimun said Exposto was proven to have had no knowledge of the drugs and was an innocent carrier.
Exposto, who remained calm throughout the hearing, was represented by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah while deputy public prosecutor Tetralina Ahmed Fauzi prosecuted.
She was found not guilty in December 2017 by the High Court in Shah Alam, which accepted the argument by the defence that she did not know the bag contained drugs.
However, the ruling was overturned the following year by the Court of Appeal which sentenced her to death.
Exposto maintained that she did not know about the stash of drugs, also known as ice.
She said she had been fooled into carrying the bag after travelling to China to see a person called “Captain Daniel Smith” whom she had met online.
After engaging in an online romance, Exposto travelled to Shanghai to see Smith, who claimed to be a US serviceman.
However, she was given the bag by a stranger who asked her to take it to Melbourne.
The drugs were discovered at KLIA when she voluntarily offered her bags for customs inspection.
Under the Dangerous Drugs Act, anyone caught with at least 50g of crystal methamphetamine is considered a trafficker and is subject to the death penalty.
Two Australians were hanged in Malaysia in 1986 for heroin trafficking – the first Westerners to be executed in the country – in a case that strained relations between the two countries.
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