New Age Islam News Bureau
12 May 2012
• Sudan: Our Women in Prisons for brewing alcohol, while Jihadi Arabs Are Drinking Alcohol
• Modernizing Modesty: the Hijab and Body Image
• Islam critic Hirsi Ali wins German media prize
• Young Muslim woman's fierce passion for learning sparks big changes
• Call centres effecting Muslim girls’ character, creating problems of alliance
• Women on Egypt's protest frontlines
• In Lebanon, Women Fight To Keep A Fragile Peace
• Top Egyptian feminist says 'nothing has really changed' since revolution
• NATO summit must protect Afghan women: UN
• Video of Malaysian woman beating child goes viral a year after the event
Complied by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Saudi women check travelers' papers at passport control at a border crossing
Women join Saudi security forces for the first time
May 12, 2012
Women have joined the military for the first time in Saudi Arabia.
Thirty women were recruited as privates at the Passport Department’s offices at border crossings like King Fahd Causeway and Salwa border point in the east of the Kingdom.
A recent study of Naif University for Security Sciences’ Studies and Research Center showed that Saudi women have been embarking on security work as volunteers. The study "Women Police in Arab Countries" indicated a real potential for an effective women police force in Saudi Arabia. If that were to be implemented, the study said, all segments of society should encourage it, especially as policewomen would be dealing exclusively with cases involving women, in compliance with religious and traditional ethos.
Saqr Al-Muqaiyed, who conducted the study, said that about 4,000 women have attended courses and education lectures on issues related to security, including fire extinguishing, after assistant minister of interior for security affairs had approved it.
Head of Saudi General Intelligence Prince Muqrin said that (Saudi) women play an important role within the department. “We have a group of women that every Saudi should be proud of. Their reports, analyses and suggestions are far better than a lot of the men’s,” he said.
Gen. Ali Al-Harithi, director general of prisons in Saudi Arabia, said the role of women in women's prisons is essential. Whether they are military officials or prison guards, their tasks include preserving prisons’ and inmates’ security, as well as implementing rehabilitation programs.
Al-Harithi said female guards are trained on the job as per plans drawn by a department for training and rehabilitating prison officials. “They are trained to deal with all eventualities.” Women officials in women's prisons arrange guard shifts, supervise rehabilitation programs for inmates, escort inmates who have to appear in court or other government departments, and they arrange for conjugal visits.
Women prison officials’ military ranks are currently limited to private and noncommissioned officer, he said, adding that there are plans to expand women’s work and duties in prisons. Women who apply for a job as a military officer must be a Saudi, have a secondary school certificate, have no criminal record and be at least 17 years old.
Samiha Al-Thaqafi, ladies’ branch director at the Passport Department in Jeddah, said she and her employees are civilians, appointed to the department by the Civil Service Bureau. Al-Thaqafi’s duties include supervising the section and monitoring the workflow “to serve women who follow up their paperwork themselves and have their paperwork processed as quickly as possible.” The section contains eight employees — some of them process paperwork and some supervise the waiting room.
In addition to having a college degree and knowledge of computers, the nature of the job requires a woman to have certain personality characteristics to work at the Passports Department. “She must have a strong character, be diplomatic, patient, and sometimes she would need wisdom and have some knowledge of other languages,” she said. “It has become necessary to have women inspectors to inspect women; for instance, at border crossing points during the Haj season to avoid the infiltration of women who have no Haj license and to discover men wearing abayas to hide from the authorities,” she added.
In Saudi Arabia, women working in the military and in security are civilians. They do not wear a uniform except in places where only women work. Some Arab countries allow military women to wear uniforms at work.
Sayedati Magazine recently did a survey and asked 100 men about women in the military. Eighty percent said the nature of the job would not affect her femininity, while 10 percent said it would, especially for those working in prisons. Ten percent said they do not care.
All men said they would marry a military woman; 90 percent said a military woman’s personality would not be reflected in her upbringing of children while the rest said it would.
Sudan: Our Women in Prisons for brewing alcohol, while Jihadi Arabs Are Drinking Alcohol
BY MOLANA BOL MADUT
12 MAY 2012
The civil war in Sudan which took 2.5 millions of lives and displaced thousands of people to the neighbouring countries and abroad, while the other majority in the northern part of the country as Internally Displaced Persons(IDPS).
The southern IDPS in the north are treated by northerners as if they were not human being, and to make things worse is the imprisonment of our innocent women who ran to Khartoum to save their lives during the war, the south Sudanese who ran to Khartoum did not went there because of their interests or the goodness of khartoum but because of war. The good number of our women are now imprisoned in Kobar and Omdurman prisons by the security agents of the national congress party(NCP), they were arrested and detained in those prisons not because they committed any crime/offences but because of brewing alcohol which is a crime under the Islamic sharia'a law. And i don,t know any legal system in the world that consider alcohol as a crime.
For my surprise,it was yesterday evening from Konyokonyo_malakia road that i met two drunkard Arabs from the north working on the road as if their heads were beaten, the men were moving on the road without fearing that they will be knocked down by the cars, and were so happy singing the songs that i failed to understand followed by some quotations which sound in Arabic"El Hama Dhulai" followed by certain word that sounded strangly "Junub na El Habib el hakedher" i don,t know whether the guys were trying to say "our beloved green south sudan" any way am poor in Arabic language i cann,t translate it correctly.
This shows to the international community and the world at large that South Sudan is the place where everything is possible even an Arabs from the republic of Sudan who declared jihad on South Sudanese are enjoying their freedom to drink as much as they want in the cities of South Sudan, they (Arabs) are enjoying equal rights with the nationals(south Sudanese) while their president bashir is calling South Sudanese as insects who he can just buy an insecticide and spray on them till death.
After seeing those drunkard Arabs from the north, it came to my mind that why Arabs imprisoned our women in kobar and Omdurman prisons because of alcohol? What is the different between the drunkards and alcohol brewers? How can Islamic Sharia'a law punished those who make alcohol and exempted those who drink it? where is the rule of law in that way? Who is now the real offender, non Muslim who made alcohol? or an Arab Islamist who breached his Islamic sharia'a Law of his religion by drinking alcohol prohibiten by his sharia? why do Arabs jailed our innocent women in the north while their fellow brothers are drinking seriously in Juba and the rest of south Sudan towns?
I wish i met an Arab legal practitioner that day to ask him/her whether he/she is going to sue his/her fellow Arabs to court? What is sharia'a law that punished those innocent women and leave the real offenders who are going against their Islamic Sharia'a law? Hence, that was the reason why i have been saying that there is no Islamic Sharia"a and Islamic religion in sudan and there are no Arabs even in sudan but those who pretend themselves to be Arabs, and that is why they are abusing the rule of Sharia'a law by punishing innocent people and leave those who are guilty of drinking alcohol prevented by Sharia"a law.
Therefore, am appealing to sharia'a Law practitioners in khartoum to release those innocent women from prisons, if not the should issue an arrest warrant for their brothers who are drinking alcohol in Juba and bring them to book because they are going against islamic sharia'a law.
Modernizing Modesty: the Hijab and Body Image
By Mariam Sobh
12 MAY 2012
Recent trends in Hijab fashion modernize a form of modest dress once defined by local traditions. In seeking self-expression, however, Muslim women find themselves targeted by a media industry with its own taste for female objectification.
“It’s two-sided,” says Aisha Ahmad, 30, a health care administrator from Ft. Lauderdale. “On the one hand, it’s nice to see that we can achieve a 'high fashion' look while still wearing hijab. On the other hand, it puts you right back in the same place. ... Not all of us look like these models, nor will we ever look the way they do."
Hijab refers to modest dress in general and head-covering in particular. The Islamic requirement is to loosely cover all but the face, hands and feet, avoiding sheer angles and revealing little of the body. Across the world, local variations on this theme prevail: the long Abaya gowns of the Gulf region, the Jilbab in Syria and Jordan, and the Burqa in Afghanistan. In Iran, there is the Chador.
But as new generations of Muslim women came of age, they found ways for hijab to complement, rather than stymie, a growing desire for self-expression. And with them came a new breed of designer and entrepreneur—many of them women—whose specialization in “hijab fashion” came to prominence in the mid-2000s.
As a result, muslim women now have more to choose from, with mainstream retailers producing maxi dresses and maxi skirts which Muslim women adore: long and loose and perfectly in line with the latest trends. It's even made modestly itself fashionable: able to express themselves creatively with it, more Muslim women now say they do or want to wear hijab.
Designing and selling clothing that breaks the stereotype of drab Muslim clothing, however, has a tricky side.
Turkey, one of the first Islamic countries to have “hijab fashion shows”, fills the catwalks with models in from nearby European countries. Marketing often highlights a peculiar combination of physical attributes all-too familiar to Western fashionistas and critics alike. Advertising targets a nascent market from every glowing screen.
In an ironic twist, Hijab-wearing Muslim women are falling prey to the same thing their choice of garb ostensibly protects them from: a relentless bombar of distorted female body images.
"I feel that women may be encouraging it.,” said Inaya Shujaat, who converted to Islam more than 12 years ago. “When we have female celebrities whose only accomplishments are being hot or gorgeous, I wonder what sort of message that sends. We are living in the post Women's Liberation era, yet I feel that women are being portrayed in a more negative way today.”
Shujaat likes the idea of hijab fashion, but takes issue with the polarizing choice, between the new and the old, which has emerged.
"I don't like that it seems to be appropriate only for one particular age group and dress size,” Shujaat said. “I am a 36 year old mother of two. I do not wish to dress like a 21 year old college student, nor do I have the body of a 21 year old college student. Hijab fashion needs to be all-inclusive, bearing in mind that Muslim women come in many shapes, sizes, ages, etc. It really irritates me that I basically have two choices when it comes to hijab fashion: ethnic, or trendy. There is no in-between."
Like Ahmad, Woro Hapsari sees benefits both in hijab fashion and Muslim women flexing their marketing muscle. Moreover, Hapsari, who works for Nokia Siemens Networks in Indonesia, said she doesn't necessarily feel like she has to live up to the image set by models: “Yes it affects me, but not as much now since I wear a hijab. You can say that now those models influence me to look healthy and to dress nicely but still in modesty.”
As the whirlwind of fashion marketing grows, however, so does a new pressure to conform.
“I often struggle to find that balance in my work attire when I compare my look to what I see on TV, print ads, and in the stores,” Ahmad said. “Being pretty and thinner than I am are always on my mind. Whether I want to admit or not, I take cues from what I see in the media as what I should look like and then find myself buying accessories to look like what I see in the media.”
In particular, Muslim women say the use of tall caucasian models to market fashionable hijab is misleading: the products look amazing on the clothes horses, and less so on average women. Plus ca change.
"Instead of making women feel proud of their Muslim identity they make women feel like they should try to imitate and look like the these models,” said Sarah Gil, a 20 year-old fashion, marketing and design student in Bogota, Columbia.
Gil decided to wear hijab as a way to honor her Muslim identity and to escape the “scrutiny” of other women.
While encouraged by the choice and satisfied with her “hijabi skin”, she still feels critical of herself and fears that it's not enough to protect her from the relentless marketing of body images: “I think the media portrays women as nothing more than a tool to draw attention … there is nothing positive about that.”
Jana Kosaibati, hijab fashion blogger and medical student, said these companies are simply trying to live up to the standards of advertising that mainstream companies use, because they feel consumers want that.
“Even within the hijab and Islamic fashion market, there is a large variation in the type of advertising they use,” Kosaibati said. “Many will not show models' faces, and some won't even use models at all. If a company chooses to use glammed-up models, I don't think this is misleading. Most consumers are savvy enough to look beyond the adverts.”
Kosaibati added, though, that it would be refreshing to see more effective, creative advertising that did not simply look like glossy magazines with the addition of headscarves: “hijab fashion companies have a great opportunity here to showcase women of different shapes, sizes, ethnicities and ages, if they do choose to use models. … they [could] make their clothing feel a lot more accessible and wearable for all women, and this helps to counteract the negative messages that mainstream advertising may be sending out."
Whether from a secular or religious standpoint, women in Islamic culture are finding that self-expression comes hand-in-hand with how their bodies are represented in the media and by the international fashion industry. While it's good to see more options for Muslim women who want to dress modestly, I've concluded that as long as we put our beauty and bodies first, we will never be happy.
That said, it would be refreshing to see more professional models who look more like the rest of us. After all, we are the ones buying the stuff.
Islam critic Hirsi Ali wins German media prize
12 MAY 2012
Dutch writer and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali is to receive a special award by German publishing house Axel Springer to honor her outspoken attitude and commitment to women's rights.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch writer and outspoken critic of Islam, has been awarded a special achievements prize worth 25,000 euros ($32,375) by German publishing heavyweight Axel Springer.
The prize, which she will receive at a ceremony on Thursday night, honors her "commitment to freedom and her courage to have unconventional views," according to Axel Springer.
Director Marc Thomas Spahl said the panel awarding the prize was particularly impressed with Hirsi Ali's uncompromising fight for Muslim women's rights and that "she always found brave words even if it meant putting her own life at risk."
Somali-born Hirsi Ali, who came to the Netherlands in 1992, is a former Dutch member of parliament and best-selling author of the autobiography "Infidel: My Life." The book gives a graphic account of the violence she was subjected to in Somalia in the name of Islam and her subsequent rejection of her faith.
She also wrote the script and provided the voiceover for Theo van Gogh's "Submission," a film showing Muslim women suffering abuse.
After receiving numerous death threats from Muslims in Europe she moved to Washington in 2006, where she lives under protection.
The Axel-Springer prize has been awarded to young journalists in German-speaking countries since 1991 and it is designed to show journalists and publishers that it is worth fighting for a cause and that their voices are being heard.
Young Muslim woman's fierce passion for learning sparks big changes
12 MAY 2012
PHAUNG DAW PYIN, Myanmar, May 11 (UNHCR) - With her quiet voice and demure manner, 21-year-old Rozeya is not an obvious pioneer. But over a large swathe of Myanmar's northern Rakhine state, this young Muslim woman's steely determination to overcome obstacles is convincing many fathers and religious leaders of the importance of educating girls, and has turned her into a role model for teenage girls.
"It's always been common for boys to get education, but not girls," says Rozeya, the first resident of UNHCR-sponsored girls' hostels to pass the national matriculation exam. "But now it's changing."
Rozeya, like many people here, goes by only one name. Along with her two older sisters, she was passed over for education and stayed at home in the hamlet of Phaung Daw Pyin while her two younger brothers were sent off to school.
Her father, a 55-year-old basket maker and widower who struggles to support his family on the equivalent of 60 US cents a day, saw no point in educating girls. Even if they go to primary school, by tradition Muslim girls here have to drop out at puberty, stay behind closed doors and wait to get married.
Awli Ahmed's change of heart came one day in a market while trying to buy the raw material for his bamboo baskets. He could speak only his local dialect and the vendor could speak only Burmese. They finally found an educated girl to interpret.
Full report at:
Call centres effecting Muslim girls’ character, creating problems of alliance
12 MAY 2012
Hyderabad, May 11: A number of girls today are working in call centres, where they mingle with non-mahrams, which has become a common thing. It is not thought to be morally wrong, while the fact is, these affairs are against Shariah.
Girls have to work in the night in American and Canadian companies setup in Hyderabad, or any other place for that matter. A day before, a concerned father of a girl working in call centre, informed ‘my daughter is MBA and working in a call centre; she earns a handsome salary. Her office cab picks her up at 6 pm and drops in the morning. Initially good proposals came for her but when the boy’s family enquired in the neighbourhood they were told that the girl goes in the cab at night and returns in the morning. Listening to this the boy’s family rejected the proposal. Eventually we had to settle alliance for her in the family itself.’
Full report at:
Women on Egypt's protest frontlines
By Jessica Grey
12 MAY 2012
CAIRO, May 11 (WOMENSENEWS) --Female protesters continue to participate in pro-democracy demonstrations that remain deadly more than a year after President Hosni Mubarak was overthrown.
Primary school teacher Reham El Hakim, for instance, was on the front lines on May 5 when the 12th person was killed during demonstrations against the military government in Abbasaiya in front of the Ministry of Defense. Hundreds were detained and although many have been released, Associated Press reports paint a grim picture of the harassment, molestation and threats of increased sexual violence these men and women faced in custody.
Read more from Women's eNews
El Hakim wasn't among the detained, but still felt fear in her heart when she saw tear gas and water cannons and heard gunfire rip into the crowds. She said it was her duty, though, as an Egyptian and a woman to be part of the movement against the military.
Full report at:
In Lebanon, Women Fight To Keep A Fragile Peace
12 MAY 2012
Women's hard-won pragmatism contends with men's impulsive belligerence in Where Do We Go Now?, the second feature directed by Lebanese actress Nadine Labaki. It's the sort of well-meaning fable that's ultimately more admirable than persuasive.
Filmed in three small Lebanese villages, the movie never locates itself in a particular country. But, as in last year's similarly cautious Incendies, the place must be Lebanon; there are few places in the Middle East where Christians and Muslims mingle the way they do in this story.
Near the movie's opening, black-clad women march to the local cemetery, chanting, slapping their chests and swaying together, a striking moment that plays like something from an avant-garde production of an ancient Greek tragedy. The mourners are unified in grief until they reach their destination. Then they separate by religion, just the way the burial ground is divided.
The graves are full of young men, the sons and husbands of such women as Amale (played by the director), a Christian widow who runs the local cafe. People of both sects meet at her place, and Amale is trading glances with Rabih (Julian Farhat), a Muslim who's taking his time painting the interior. In a fantasy sequence, their mutual attraction becomes a song-and-dance routine that's much less somber than the earlier one.
Full report at:
Top Egyptian feminist says 'nothing has really changed' since revolution
Faisal Al Yafai
May 12, 2012
The microphones have been switched on backstage and we hear her before we see her. When Nawal El Saadawi finally emerges on the stage at the Emirates Literature Festival in Dubai earlier this year, the crowd stands to applaud her. She is smiling broadly and moves with a swiftness that belies her age: Egypt's most famous feminist will turn 80 in October.
El Saadawi evokes deep affection in her audience, many of whom are young women. For them, as indeed for women of other generations, she is something of a lodestar for dissidence and activism, a celebrated writer and thinker, a woman who has written dozens of books and has even been imprisoned for her writings.
Since the Egyptian revolution last year, El Saadawi has emerged as one of the most eloquent speakers about the uprisings, in part because of her extraordinary enthusiasm for what she experienced in Tahrir Square.
So often the revolution in Egypt is painted as a step, a part of a political story, a move towards something greater. El Saadawi shows that, at that moment - and maybe only at that moment - it was a real revolution, a revolution of ideas, of heart and soul. Her audience feels the pull and the possibility of that moment. When she tells them about how she slept in Tahrir Square, they applaud. "I was changed by the revolution," she says.
A few days later, El Saadawi spoke to The Review from Cairo. We are meant to talk about women in the Arab world after the Arab Spring, but it is soon clear that El Saadawi does not like neat political boxes.
Full report at:
Nato summit must protect Afghan women: UN
May 12, 2012
KABUL: The upcoming Nato summit in Chicago must ensure that special measures are taken to protect the rights of Afghan women as US-led coalition forces prepare to pull out, UN organisations said Saturday.
There is widespread concern that gains women have made in the 10 years since the overthrow of the brutal Taliban regime could be lost in government attempts to reconcile with them when Nato troops withdraw in 2014.
“Now is the time to deal with the longer-term security and protection needs of Afghan women who have long borne the brunt of the war in Afghanistan,” said Jan Kubis, special representative for the UN secretary general in Afghanistan.
“Women’s specific protection needs should be central to plans being made as the Afghan national army and police prepare to take an increasing lead in security operations and the Nato-Isaf mission evolves from combat operations to training and assistance to Afghan forces.”
Kubis’s remarks came in a joint statement by the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan, UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund ahead of the summit on May 20-21.
Full report at:
Video of Malaysian woman beating child goes viral a year after the event
12 MAY 2012
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (CNN) -- A video of a teenage Malaysian mother beating her baby daughter has generated a storm of outrage online a year after it was filmed, prompting the Malaysian Police to announce that the woman is already serving an 18-month prison sentence for the offense.
In a post on their Facebook page this week, the Malaysian Police said they had received hundreds of complaints and comments about the case after the four-minute video of the mother repeatedly striking the baby with her hand, her foot and a pillow went viral.
The video fueled anger and disgust among Internet users from Malaysia to Massachusetts, where local news broadcaster WWLP-22News reported receiving "many emails" about the footage.
The mother was 18 years old when she inflicted the beating on her 10-month-old child in May 2011, according to Arjunaidi Mohamed, the chief of police in Petaling Jaya, the suburb of Kuala Lumpur where the attack took place.
A friend of the mother, who had become concerned after witnessing her beating the child previously, filmed the violence and took the video evidence to the police the same day, Arjunaidi said.
Full report at: