New Age Islam News Bureau
2 Nov 2014
• 'Poppy Hijab' To Mark Muslim Soldier's Victoria Cross 100 Years On
• Iranian-British woman gets year in prison for trying to watch men's volleyball game
• The Story of Asia Bibi Does Not Matter In Pakistan
• Women Fail To Get Jobs at Fair in Saudi Arabia
• Jihadist Jane: Islamic State seeking out women
• Sisters In Islam: Does Helping 10,000 Muslim Women Deviate From Islamic Teachings?
• Saudi Women's Rights Activist Arrested For 'Insulting Islam'
• Seminar on Women Harassment In Pakistan
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Women Commandos to Fight Terrorism in KP, Pakistan
November 2nd, 2014
PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Department has decided to launch its first batch of women police commandos to extend support to the force in extreme emergency situations, cases of terrorism and to check women’s involvement in crimes in any part of the province.
Similarly, the police department is also about to inaugurate its first special combatant unit (SCU) of 150 commandos to give backing to the police force in serious nature cases like different kinds of human disasters in the province.
This was disclosed by Inspector General of Police, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Nasir Khan Durrani in an exclusive interview with Dawn. He said that the role of women police in crime control could not be ignored, but they were not given due attention in past.
“We have for the first time established women facilitation desks in the police stations to help the female complainants,” he said. The IGP said that the 40-member group of women commandoes would prove helpful in combating terrorism, extremism and normal crimes.
IGP says Peshawar vulnerable from all sides
About the SCU, he said that the personnel, selected from the already existing Elite Force, had been trained on the pattern of Special Services Group of the army to meet challenges.
The special contingent trained as paratroops and in amphibious operations would be equipped with sophisticated weapons which will have at its disposal the quickest possible means of mobility, including a standby helicopter facility, so that it would be available for immediate movement.
“The force can be deployed in any part of the province for sting operations, interdictions, counter-terrorism operations, helicopter and airborne operations and amphibious operations both independently and in support of other police units or law enforcement agencies,” the IGP said.
He said that the cases pertaining to kidnapping for ransom and extortion were carried out by terrorists for raising funds as they had suffered heavily in the military operation ‘Zarb-i-Azb’.
“Tehreek-i-Taliban Mohmand (TTM) has set up headquarters far away on Afghanistan border and the entire process of criminal activities is carried out through Afghan SIMs,” he said, adding that the Khyber Agency-based militant group Lashkar-i-Islam was the main intruder in Peshawar, but police could not chase them in Fata. He hoped that the military operation would help control the crimes in the settled areas as well.
Owing to its geographical location, he said, Peshawar was very vulnerable from all sides where terrorists could easily enter and mix with the population to evade their arrest. He said that in the past there was no law to check the residents of any locality.
However, the incumbent provincial government in consultation with police had approved several laws, including Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Hotel Restriction (security) Ordinance 2014, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Rent Restriction (security) Ordinance 2014 and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Sensitive and Vulnerable Establishments and Places (security) Ordinance 2014, which will help overcome the crimes.
The first two laws are meant to check misuse of the hotels, buildings, houses and shops by obtaining complete data regarding the tenants and all those staying in the hotels. “The main issues were created since the arrival of Afghan nationals as there was no data regarding them which caused the lawlessness.” With the approval of these laws, he said, work on data compilation of the people had been in progress which also helped in checking of crimes.
Referring to the poor investigation process, Mr Durrani said that in the past there were only two training centres – at Kohat and Mansehra – which could not cater to the current needs, but now two new training schools, one each in Malakand and Swabi, were approved to build capacity of the force.
“It is our credit to open one school of investigation at Hayatabad, one school of intelligence in Abbottabad, and four new schools, including the school for explosives handling, school for traffic management, and school for public disorder & riot management, will soon be set up in KP,” he said.
The main reasons for many sabotage acts, he said, were the lack of checking of people at Torkham border, free roaming of non-custom paid vehicles, unchecked Afghans, and excessive use of Afghan SIMs.
The IGP said that SMS complaint system would be inaugurated after Muharram and above all the citizens could personally contact him through SMS anytime.
'Poppy Hijab' To Mark Muslim Soldier's Victoria Cross 100 Years On
By Athar Ahmad
31 October 2014
A fashion designer has created a 'poppy Hijab' to commemorate the centenary of the first Muslim soldier being awarded the Victoria Cross for bravery.
Tabinda-Kauser Ishaq, a final year student at the University of Arts in London, also hopes the piece of clothing will give Muslim women a new way to mark Remembrance Day.
Born in what is now Pakistan, Sepoy Khudadad Khan was one of 1.2 million Indian soldiers and 400,000 Muslims who fought alongside British troops in 1914.
He was the sole survivor of a team assigned to defend vital ports in France and Belgium from being taken by German troops.
Despite being outnumbered, Khan managed to hold off the enemy advance long enough for British reinforcements to arrive.
On 31 October 1914, Khan of the 129th Baluchis regiment was presented with the Victoria Cross by King George V.
"Most people don't know how many Muslims fought for Britain a hundred years ago and it's important that we join together and look back at the shared history we've got," said Steve Ballinger from the integration think tank British Future, which helped Ms Ishaq design the Hijab.
The group carried out a survey tracking people's attitudes to the centenary of World War One and found only one in five Britons realised Muslims had fought for Britain - a lower level of awareness than that for the contribution of soldiers from other faiths.
"A million Muslims in Britain already wear poppies come Remembrance Day and this is another way for them to mark that; the poppy headscarf is a strong symbol of Muslim integration in Britain," Mr Ballinger added.
"Poppies are obviously the most prominent thing we associate with Remembrance Day and the Hijab is something which is commonly associated with Muslims, so we married the two together to try and produce something which hopefully people see as positive," said Ms Ishaq.
The 24-year-old, who herself wears a Hijab, felt it was important to create a headscarf which Muslim women would want to wear in public.
"We had around 30 or 40 designs and knew we wanted to go for something simple. Visiting the Tower of London where the poppy exhibition is currently happening helped with getting a feel for aspects like colour composition."
The designer worked alongside Islamic groups to create an item which would appeal to British Muslims and combat negative perceptions about the religion in light of issues such as fundamentalism.
"It's a way for ordinary Muslim citizens to take some attention away from extremists who seem to grab the headlines," said Sughra Ahmed, president of the Islamic Society of Britain.
"This symbol of quiet remembrance is the face of everyday British Islam - not the angry minority who spout hatred and offend everyone."
Proceeds from sales of the headscarf will go to the Poppy Appeal, and Ms Ishaq hopes the Hijab will help show many British Muslims are both patriotic and proud of their religion.
"There are a lot of misconceptions that Muslims don't remember those lost in war and we really want to tackle that idea.
"We've lost innocent lives so that other innocent people can sleep easily and so Remembrance Day is something close to my heart," she said.
Iranian-British woman gets year in prison for trying to watch men's volleyball game
Nov 2, 2014,
TEHRAN: An Iranian-British woman detained while trying to attend a men's volleyball game has been sentenced to one year in prison, her lawyer said Sunday.
Mahmoud Alizadeh Tabatabaei told The Associated Press that a court found Ghoncheh Ghavami, 25, guilty of "propagating against the ruling system."
Tabatabaei said he was shown the text of the verdict but is still waiting to officially receive it. He declined to immediately comment further.
Ghavami was detained in June at a Tehran's Freedom Stadium after trying to attend a men's volleyball match between Iran and Italy. Women are banned from attending male-only matches in Iran and Ghavami tried to enter the match with other women to protest the ban, according to Amnesty International.
Women who sought to attend the World League match in June were reportedly turned away from the stadium. Female photographers inside the complex were ordered to leave though none were arrested.
Ghavami was held for a few hours and then released but she was detained again a few days later. She stood trial last month.
Since her detention, Ghavami has been held in solitary confinement at Tehran's Evin prison, according to Amnesty, which has criticized her detention. She began a hunger strike earlier this month over her detention, Amnesty says.
Iran's judiciary spokesman, Gholam Hossein Mohseni Ejehi, has criticized reports linking Ghavami's arrest to volleyball, saying last month: "Her case has nothing to do with sports."
The Story of Asia Bibi Does Not Matter In Pakistan
November 2nd, 2014
Like all those accused of blasphemy by the twisted mullah-obsessed minds, Asia Bibi’s cry for justice has fallen on deaf ears.
For Pakistanis, Asia Bibi is a menace; another woman defaming the honourable men of this country, another figure challenging them to introspection, another symbol against the creeping social bigotry.
We are remarkably apt at constructing alternate narratives about our society, based on obscure conspiracy theories, aimed at upholding the ‘pureness’ of the land of the pure.
Also read: Asia Bibi losing hope on death row: family
Malala, Mukhtaran Mai and Abdus Salam would have been national heroes had they perhaps only been born to a society with the ability of holding a mirror to itself.
Except, they were not.
They were rewarded for their struggles by being condemned to the dark corners of history after being selectively erased out of textbooks so their stories may not be heard.
Also read: A letter from Dr Abdus Salam to Malala
Asia Bibi is no different. Having been on death row for over four years for alleged blasphemy, she has successfully been blacked out from major media coverage.
This media blackout is even more remarkable considering that the few voices that spoke out against the sheer injustice done to her, including the then governor of the Punjab province, have now been silenced with a few bullets.
For most countries the shame of a governor being assassinated by his own guard would have been almost unbearable. However in Pakistan, after publicly admitting to the assassination of the governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the assassin was accorded a hero's welcome when he made his first court appearance.
Also read: Mumtaz Qadri, Prison King
Perhaps, it is then no surprise that the Lahore High Court upheld the death sentence for Asia Bibi earlier this month. It is perhaps also not a surprise that no one has spoken up against the court’s decision, not even the so-called revolutionaries.
Women and minorities form the lowest segments of Pakistan’s society and a combination of the two results in the most vulnerable portion of the country’s population. Asia Bibi, therefore is a soft target for Pakistan’s religious right that has now found influence in the country’s prominent military, judicial and parliamentary quarters.
The irony of the matter is almost beyond belief. Those who continue to defame Islam, the Prophet and the Quran everyday by misleading people to the path of violence, hatred and anger are allowed a free hand, while those who are weak and vulnerable are dealt with an iron fist.
In a country where 97 per cent of the population is Muslim, laws need to be made to protect the minority from the majority and not the other way around.
Timeline: Accused under the Blasphemy Law
The foundation of Pakistan was laid on the principles of peace, tolerance and religious freedom and as a society it is our responsibility to uphold these values to protect the weak and the vulnerable around us.
The white on Pakistan’s flag was meant to represent the religious freedom for the Hindus, Christians, Sikhs and other minorities in the Pakistan.
So, the next time when, in your patriotic zeal, you decide to wave your flag vehemently, pause for a second and ask yourself:
“Does this flag really represent my country today?”
Women Fail To Get Jobs at Fair in Saudi Arabia
2 November 2014
A job fair recently organized in the Eastern Province witnessed a low employer turnout and a lack of new opportunities for women, according to organizers.
The female job fair day was held on the final day of the three-day event.
According to sources, the fair failed to provide opportunities for women in new fields in the private sector, with most jobs on offer in the usual administrative, sales or human resource domains.
Many companies didn’t even show up on the last day, claiming they lacked suitable jobs for women.
“The Human Resource Development Fund (HADAF) had stipulated that female job seekers at the fair should be unemployed for three months or more and not registered with social insurance,” said Abdullah Al-Bassam, HADAF’s representative during the event.
Naif Al-Shammari, representative of a training company, said that job opportunities depend on experience and English language skills.
“Some companies stipulate that applicants should also pass a personal interview,” he said.
The low turnout of companies was reportedly coupled with the fact that many companies are looking for short-term hires.
Several private telecommunication companies said they would only announce job opportunities at the beginning of the year, while representatives of the Saudi Cement Company claimed that they would only have openings by mid-2015.
During the scientific programs that accompanied the fair, Maher Al-Younes, employee affairs director, said Saudis form 47 percent of the total work force in the country.
Al-Younes added that in today’s Saudi employment market, the most sought-after skills are generally related to communications, analysis and computers, but that employers are also seeking employees who can adapt and be flexible to today’s fast-paced workflow.
Jihadist Jane: Islamic State Seeking Out Women
November 1, 2014
BEIRUT, Lebanon — As a growing number of women travel abroad to join the Islamic State, the militant group is using the female jihadists as a tool to expand its base in Western countries and bring new blood to their fight in the Middle East.
"The Islamic State is trying to promote the idea of a mixed society, one that is normal and includes both women and men," said Alain Marsaud, a French parliament member who was also a former counterterrorism judge. "Women are also used through their (presence) and messages on the Web to encourage men on the path of jihad."
Many of the women joining the militant group experience a strong desire to find an alternative to a world dominated by Western structures — mental, physical and political — that they believe to be profoundly unfair and exclusive, especially when it comes to Islam, said Geraldine Cassutt, a researcher at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland who studies female jihadists.
What's unclear — and for many people hard to fathom — is why women are joining an organization known for gruesome killings, systematic rape and the brutal subjugation of women.
The three American teenage girls caught en route to Syria last week are just the latest in a series of young women who attempt to — and sometimes succeed at — making the journey.
The Clarion Project, an independent, non-profit organization countering extremism, says about 60 women from the United Kingdom have traveled in the past year to join the group in Iraq and Syria — where the Islamic State has taken large swaths of land in recent months.
In France, 80 teenagers — both boys and girls — have attempted to join jihadist networks abroad since that country's civil war began in 2011, says Dounia Bouzar, an anthropologist who heads the France-based Center for the Prevention Against Sectarian Excesses Linked to Islam. Marsaud estimates that more than 100 women have traveled to Syria in the same time frame.
In September, the CIA estimated between 20,000 and 31,500 Islamic State fighters across Iraq and Syria. That wide range shows how little is known about the makeup of the Islamic State, yet female fighters are almost certainly — by design and demographics — a tiny percentage of Islamic State forces.
The growing role of female recruits led the Islamic State to create a female battalion in the Syrian city of Raqqa, which the group captured this year. The Al-Khansaa Brigade — which the militant group announced earlier this year, according to the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium — is exclusively made up of women 18 to 25 whose primary role is to search female residents of the town for weapons and make sure they dress and behave according to Sharia law.
The radical jihadi website Minbar al-Tawhid Wal Jihad provides guidelines for women participating in a jihadi war, saying they can only do so if accompanied by a male family member. It further stipulates their duties must be centered on catering to their husbands' needs, ensuring the families follow strict Islamic customs and encouraging their children to join the cause.
Despite those limiting rules, women's role within the Islamic State appears to be expanding, as the militant group uses them to "spread radical messages and attract new militants," Bouzar said.
The Gatestone Institute, an international policy council and think tank based in New York City, reported in September that several British women are engaged in Islamic State recruiting efforts both in the U.K. and abroad, using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to encourage a new wave of British jihadists to travel to Syria and Iraq.
Aqsa Mahmood, a 20-year-old woman from Glasgow who left Syria in November 2013, played an active role in recruiting for the militant group through Twitter, encouraging other British women take up jihad, according to the Clarion Project. Her account was later suspended. In one tweet under her account dubbed Umm Layth, Arabic for "Mother of the Lion," Mahmood called on Muslims to imitate those who murdered a British soldier outside his barracks in London last year.
Similarly, another woman, who goes by Waziristan on Twitter, retweets jihadi statements and pictures of disfigured Syrian children to show the violent repression of the Syrian regime while boasting the virtues of dying as a martyr.
Female jihadists' involvement in the Islamic State comes despite the militant group's dark history of how it treats women. In August, the U.S. confirmed the militant group kidnapped and imprisoned Yazidi women so they could be sold or married off to its fighters, the Associated Press reported.
"We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them," Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, told the AP. "We think that these women are going to be used in demeaning ways by those terrorists to satisfy their animalistic urges in a way that contradicts all the human and Islamic values."
In mid-October, Human Rights Watch reported hundreds of Yazidi men, women and children were still being help captive by the group in Iraq and Syria. The report noted the Islamic State had "separated young women and teenage girls from their families and has forced some of them to marry its fighters."
For Muslim women living in countries where Islam is sometimes misunderstood, joining the Islamic State or other jihadist groups is a tool for rebellion against the negativity directed toward them, Cassutt said.
"The women who embrace jihad generally include those who want to defend oppressed populations and seek to restore a certain of sense of justice," she said.
While religion can be a draw, Bouzar said a majority of the teenagers she meets who are interested in becoming jihadists are from non-religious families and have different motives for joining the extremist groups.
"They all want to be in altruistic professions like doctors or social workers, and they are initially indoctrinated through the humanitarian lens by radical groups," she said.
Another reason: For some women it's a way to find a "virtuous" husband. In July, a 19-year-old Denver woman was arrested on terrorism charges for allegedly plotting to travel to Syria and join an Islamist extremist she had met online and was planning to marry.
"Others who have a more romantic conception of jihad try to find ... a husband who is as virtuous in his fighting in Allah's name as he is in his married life," Cassutt said.
Sisters In Islam: Does Helping 10,000 Muslim Women Deviate From Islamic Teachings?
BY RAHMAH GHAZALI
November 2, 2014
PETALING JAYA: Sisters In Islam (SIS) is entitled to challenge the gazetted fatwa (edict) in Selangor that declared the group as deviating from Islam, according to its programme manager Suri Kempe.
Suri said the Muslim women's rights group was challenging the edict on constitutional grounds, which they were legally entitled to, despite Selangor Mentri Besar Azmin Ali’s call for the move to gazette the fatwa to be respected.
"With all due respect, what does it even mean to 'respect’ the fatwa? Perhaps he (Azmin) can enlighten us on the definition of 'liberalism and pluralism'," she said when contacted, Sunday.
Suri said the group has been reaching out to Muslim women who needed assistance in various circumstances.
"Does helping nearly 10,000 Muslim women who turned to us for legal help, and training over 4,000 women with knowledge that has empowered them to know their rights in Islam constitute liberalism and pluralism, and therefore deviating from Islamic teachings?” she asked.
On Friday, SIS had filed a judicial review on a fatwa made by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (Mais), which had declared them as subscribing to liberalism and religious pluralism, and therefore deviating from the teachings of Islam.
They named Mais, the Selangor Fatwa Committee and the state government as respondents in the review filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
However, on Saturday, Azmin said the decision on the fatwa had been made and that it should be respected, without elaborating further on the matter.
Saudi women's rights activist arrested for 'insulting Islam'
Nov. 01, 2014
DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has arrested a prominent campaigner for women's rights for insulting Islam, activists said on Saturday, accusing authorities of trying to crush all dissent.
Suad al-Shamari, a co-founder of a liberal human rights group, is being held in prison, according to two activists who did not want to be named.
Shamari recently posted pictures on Twitter of a man kissing the hand of a long-bearded Islamic cleric.
She commented on his beard and said: "Notice the vanity and pride on his face when he finds a slave to kiss his hand."
In another tweet last month, she said she had been called "immoral and an infidel because I criticized their sheiks," referring to religious or tribal leaders.
She recently appealed to King Abdullah and the interior minister over the case of two women who, she alleged, were arrested by religious police for taking a taxi driven by a man.
Ultra-conservative Saudi Arabia strictly segregates the sexes and women are not allowed to drive, although many do use taxis with male drivers, without incident.
In September a Saudi court upheld a sentence of 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for Raef Badawi -- who co-founded the Saudi Liberal Network with Shamari -- for insulting Islam.
Before Badawi's arrest in 2012, the network had announced a "day of liberalism" and called for an end to the influence of religion on public life in Saudi Arabia.
Shamari is "now in Jeddah prison, for insulting Islam," Badawi's wife Ensaf Haidar said on Twitter on Friday.
"This is the accusation they make against anybody defending human rights," said one of the activists.
London-based watchdog Amnesty International in October said Saudi authorities "have sought to stamp out all critical voices demanding peaceful reform."
Saudi Arabia's Interior Ministry spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Seminar on Women Harassment In Pakistan
November 02, 2014
LAHORE: Punjab University’s Institute of Social and Cultural Studies on Saturday organised a seminar on “The Protection against Harassment of Women at Workplace Act” in collaboration with the World Vision Pakistan.
Dean Faculty of Behavioural and Social Sciences Prof Dr Muhammad Zakria Zakir presided over the seminar while guest speakers including Chief Executive Director of Women in Struggle for Empowerment (WISE) Bushra Khaliq and Aurangzeb Khan. A large number of students and faculty members were also present on the occasion.
The speakers explained the Act at length by elaborating definition of harassment, common myths surrounding it and actual reported cases. They further elaborated the legal procedure, role of inquiry committee and information about the relevant government departments. –Staff Reporter