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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 26 Jul 2022, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Women's Morocco Football Team Africa Cup Success Led To Natural Disasters: Preacher, Hamza Elkhaldi

New Age Islam News Bureau

26 July 2022

• Iranian Women under Pressure As Raisi Stiffens Hijab Mandate

•  Twenty-Four of the 34 Provinces in Indonesia Impose Repressive Dress Codes for Women and Girls, Including Christians

•  Houthis Abduct Up To 100 Women over Prostitution Claims

•  Police: Woman Opened Fire in Dallas Airport; Cop Shot Her

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Women's Morocco Football Team Africa Cup Success Led To Natural Disasters: Preacher, Hamza Elkhaldi


The Moroccan women's team made it to the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations [Anadolu via Getty]


25 July, 2022

A Moroccan preacher has sparked controversy by linking the success of the women's national football team to natural disasters and other hardships in the country.

The Moroccan women's football team made history by reaching the finals of the Africa Cup of Nations, before losing to South Africa on Saturday. The run has been hailed as a milestone in Arab women's football and coincides with the Women's European Championships.

The remarkable run has been widely celebrated in Morocco.

Before the match, preacher Hamza Elkhaldi said women's football matches were "undoubtedly forbidden", partly because their clothing is 'impermissible' for Muslim women.

He said the watching and broadcasting of women's football matches, as well as Morocco's hosting of arts festivals, invoked the wrath of God.

The preacher pointed to the wildfires that tore through parts of the country and high prices of staple goods as consequences of the women's football success.

He appeared to double down on his comments in a Facebook post, saying "everyone who watches women's matches is without a doubt a sinner".

Though some preachers backed Elkhaldi's comments, others said he was being a killjoy.

"Unless these demeaning perceptions of women are abandoned... we will, unfortunately, hear more of these voices that try to spoil and annoy every joy," The Independent's Arabic-language service reported Rafiki Abu Hafs, a preacher known for making statements in defence of gender equality, as saying.

Women's football continues to gain an increasing platform worldwide, with tournaments like WAFCON and the ongoing Euro 2022 winning bigger viewerships than ever.

Source: The New Arab


Iranian Women under Pressure As Raisi Stiffens Hijab Mandate


Women pose for a photo along the bank of the Zayandeh River in Iran's central city of Isfahan on May 15, 2022. - ATTA KENARE/AFP via Getty Images


Kourosh Ziabari

July 23, 2022

As the administration of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi faces discontent over increasingly difficult economic  conditions, the government is ratcheting up agitprop around compulsory hijab, the Islamic dress code, in what many Iranians say is a bid to divert public attention from the nation’s day-to-day hardships.

The government's efforts to enforce hijab rules are divisive in Iranian society with its outward-looking young population and liberal-minded middle class.

On July 12, as the government hyped “chastity and hijab week,” thousands of Iranian women pushed the envelope of their traditional social roles and recorded themselves walking around the streets of Tehran and other cities with their headscarves removed, risking stern police warnings and arrest. The women’s collective action was a bid to express their unhappiness with the authorities' increasing pressure over hijab compliance. The videos have gone viral on social media accompanied by hashtags defying the ironclad mandate.

Last month, Shargh Daily reported on what is believed to be the most violent encounter so far between the morality police enforcing the hijab mandate and ordinary citizens. In early June a 22-year-old officer shot a former boxing champion at least four times after he intervened to prevent his wife from being harassed over her dressing style while the couple were on a stroll at Pardisan Park in Tehran. 

The Initiative for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, whose namesake in Saudi Arabia has seen its powers substantially curtailed since 2019, has introduced new regulations that will beef up surveillance over female employees at government agencies and stipulates the dismissal of administrators whose staff don’t strictly observe the hijab codes. The Raisi administration has allocated a budget of $3.8 million to the powerful religious entity.

An entire department of Iran’s police called “Gasht-e Ershad” (guidance patrol in Persian) is tasked with enforcing the government’s compulsory hijab codes. The unpopular vice squad arrests hundreds of women every year for dressing in ways deemed insufficiently Islamic, though the hazy requirements are quite arbitrary and the officers decide who to chastise and who to let go on a whim.

Saudi Arabia, one of the most conservative Muslim nations, has ditched its hijab orthodoxy and is granting increased freedoms to women. Iran remains one of the last Muslim-majority countries in which the Islamic dress code is compulsory and the government resorts to force to perpetuate. Although there are nuances, all women must wear headscarves and be covered with full-length attire at all times.

Shortly after the 1979 revolution, hijab was declared obligatory and over time, women who defied the establishment’s dress codes or were seen not to following them strictly were disenfranchised, denied social rights and employment opportunities. 

Although the chieftains of the Islamist uprising had promised there would be no such coercion, they drew back from that commitment, and it was incorporated in Iran’s Islamic Penal Code that the crime of violating hijab can carry a sentence of up to two months in prison.

Different Islamic Republic administrations have approached the enforcement of hijab laws differently. Reformist President Mohammad Khatami, an advocate of civil liberties, abstained from intrusion into lifestyle issues, and during his tenure in the late 1990s, there was noticeably more tolerance for women’s personal choices. 

Hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is credited with upping the stakes over the dress code after he communicated a national directive to several government agencies in January 2006 markedly toughening the regulations. As part of the directive, the Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, police forces, Ministry of Culture, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, Ministry of Education, Islamic Development Organization and a catalogue of other institutions were assigned different responsibilities for promoting and enforcing hijab.

Although Iran's hijab rules are stringently enforced and all Iranian women must abide by them, whether they are religious-minded or don’t wish to be veiled, hard-line clerics, government-affiliated ideologues and the state media continue to lecture the public about the need for these standards and complain about laxity in their observance in the public spaces, saying it does society ethical harm.

Elham Gheytanchi, an associate professor of sociology at Santa Monica College, argues that in Iran, “hijab has nothing to do with morality, religion or ethics” but is “what the political elite wants, and it is how they came to power.”

“Making hijab mandatory for all means that the regime governs your most private realm and is present everywhere. If it had to do with religion, it would have been a private matter between women and their God. But the Iranian government has declared itself as the force of God and their legitimacy depends on it,” she told Al-Monitor.

Every year, multiple national events, conferences, music and film productions, hundreds of hours of TV programming and online campaigns are devoted to proselytizing on an issue the Iranian government has made into a national security matter. In 2017, the noted human rights lawyer Nemat Ahmadi said a staggering sum of $193 million is spent on hijab-related promotional activities every year.

Iran's morality police are often accused of using excessive force against women deemed to be in violation. Self-appointed vigilantes and religious traditionalists who are not commissioned by the government but feel empowered by its discourse also approach women on the street to aggressively correct their dress code compliance.

The government’s hijab rhetoric has become decidedly more aggressive under Raisi, pitting groups of people against each other and fueling hostile debates on social media. Some Iranians say the Islamic Republic has invested so heavily in the issue that it has aligned its legitimacy with women keeping their headscarves on. Others argue because the administration is unable to address the country’s economic and foreign policy deficiencies, it has taken to distracting the people by amplifying a minor issue.

The patriarchal nature of Iranian society also plays a role in the pressure against women.

Zahra Tizro, a senior lecturer in psychology at the University of East London, told Al-Monitor that many Iranian women have resisted these oppressive policies over the years since the revolution, but with little support. "We often hear how families themselves, especially the males, enforce a system of command and control on female members of their families, sometimes using more aggressive behaviors such as domestic violence, honor killings and so on, and there are no strong reactions against such inequalities,” she said, concluding, “It seems to me that religious traditionalism is deeply rooted and entrenched in cultural and social discourses and practices.”

Source: Al Monitor


Twenty-Four of the 34 Provinces in Indonesia Impose Repressive Dress Codes For Women And Girls, Including Christians

By Anugrah Kumar

JULY 26, 2022

Twenty-four of the 34 provinces in Muslim-majority Indonesia impose repressive dress codes for women and girls, including Christians. Many who do not comply face consequences and bullying, according to women who spoke with an international human rights group.

"Nearly 150,000 schools in Indonesia's 24 Muslim-majority provinces currently enforce mandatory Jilbab (hijab) rules, based on both local and national regulations. In some conservative Muslim areas such as Aceh and West Sumatra, even non-Muslim girls have also been forced to wear the hijab," reads a recent report from Human Rights Watch.

Millions of girls and women in the Southeast Asian archipelago have to wear hijabs, the female headdress covering hair, neck and chest. Hijabs are typically worn with a long skirt and a long sleeve shirt.

"The officials who issued the decrees contend the Jilbab is mandatory for Muslim women to cover intimate parts of the body, which officials deem to include the hair, arms, and legs, but sometimes also the woman's body shape," the report says.

HRW interviewed more than 100 women who have experienced abuse and often long-term consequences for refusing to wear the hijab. The dress codes, inspired by Sharia law, have impacted not only schoolgirls but also teachers, doctors and other professionals.

Two of the women interviewed say they received death threats on social media.

"Since grade four, my stepmother forced me to wear the jilbab," Sheilana Nugraha, a 25-year-old Christian and graduate student at Gadjah Mada University in Yogyakarta, said.

She told HRW that she entered high school in 2012 and was asked to wear a headscarf. In 2013, she was paralyzed in a motorcycle accident and went to live with her biological mother, a Christian.

"My birth mother is Christian. My father is Muslim," she said. "I took off my jilbab, wearing short-sleeved shirts to school, although my mother still took me to Islamic prayer and study sessions. I was the only Muslim student who did not wear the jilbab at the school. There were Christian students, the number was small, fewer than 10 people in the school, and none of them wore headscarves."

"Once [in first year of high school in 2012], I was approached by a history teacher, a woman wearing a headscarf, who was also my neighbour. She scolded me, swearing that I 'wouldn't be successful without the Jilbab and would go to Hell.' I cried, felt humiliated, and this was witnessed by many students, since it took place in front of the class near the whiteboard and the classroom door. I was shamed. I was crying, depressed."

Nugraha said that for four days in a row in 2012, three female teachers and a male Islamic teacher "bullied" her.

"The Islamic religion teacher did not make me cry, but he was sarcastic. The math teacher was also my homeroom teacher. My grades were affected, screwed up [by the resulting psychological distress]," she said. "The principal did nothing to protect me."

HRW urges Indonesia's Interior Ministry, which oversees local governments, to invalidate the more than 60 local dress code laws nationwide. While Indonesia's central government doesn't have the authority to repeal local laws, the Home Affairs Ministry can nullify local executive orders that contradict national laws and the Indonesian Constitution.

"President Joko Widodo should immediately overturn discriminatory, rights-abusing provincial and local decrees that violate the rights of women and girls," said HRW's Acting Asia Director Elaine Pearson. "These decrees do real harm and as a practical matter will only be ended by central government action."

Indonesia, which is home to the world's largest Muslim population, has 20.4 million Protestants and 8.42 million Catholics. Together, these two groups comprise 10.58% of the total population of 272.23 million, according to the latest data from the Directorate General of the Department of Population and Civil Registration of the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Indonesia's Constitution is based on the doctrine of Pancasila — five principles upholding the nation's belief in the one and only God and social justice, humanity, unity and democracy for all.

But many extremist groups in Indonesia oppose Pancasila and target the Christian minority.

Churches often face opposition from groups that attempt to obstruct the construction of non-Muslim houses of worship. HRW previously reported that more than 1,000 churches in the archipelago had been closed due to pressure from such groups.

Source: Christian Post


Houthis abduct up to 100 women over prostitution claims

July 25, 2022

AL-MUKALLA: The Iran-backed Houthis have abducted up to 100 women from their homes over prostitution allegations since the beginning of July in Yemen’s northwestern province of Hajjah, Yemeni activists and rights groups warned on Monday.

The Geneva-based SAM Organization for Rights and Liberties said that it received information that Houthi authorities in Hajjah city, capital of Hajjah Governorate, aggressively raided homes in the city, arresting about 60 women and throwing them in prison.

“We stress that what happened with the women is a full-fledged kidnapping crime that does not take into account the legal controls imposed by the law,” the organization said. “We call on the Houthis to immediately and unconditionally release the women.”

SAM said that several Houthi officials, including the city’s security chief Mohammed Salbah and another figure called Hisham Wahban, conducted the raids on women’s gatherings and homes in Hajjah.

Yemeni officials and human rights activists put the number of abducted women at about 100, warning that the Houthis falsely accused the captives of prostitution without offering evidence to support their allegations.

Many of the abducted women have suffered from intense social stigma as a result of the arrests, with some ostracized by family members.

Hadi Wardan, a lawyer and a member of the National Committee for Allegations of Human Rights Violations in Yemen, told Arab News that armed Houthis stormed homes and female student accommodations in Hajjah city and arrested at least 95 women, including many displaced people from the neighboring Haresh and Abes districts. The militia placed the women in prisons and secret detention cells in the city, Wardan added.

“They frightened people and said that these women practice adultery, prostitution and immoral acts. They did not catch a single case red-handed,” Wardan said, adding that no men were man arrested during the raids.

The Houthis also rejected a mediation proposal by local dignitaries and tribal leaders who tried to secure the release of the abducted women, the Yemeni activist said.

Activists believe that the Houthis launched the raids after growing local anger over the group’s morality crackdowns, which targeted women who allegedly violated Islamic dress codes or socialized with men.

Wardan said: “How can that number of women be involved in prostitution and why didn’t they arrest any men?”

Due to the raids, some husbands have divorced their abducted wives while other women have been made social outcasts.

“Many women now prefer staying in the prison to going back to their houses after the Houthis distorted their reputation. In one case, they arrested a mother, her daughter and her daughter-in-law,” Wardan said.

Wardan accused provincial Houthi operatives, including Naif Abdullah Abu Khorfesha, Hajjah province security chief; Mohammed Salbah, Hajjah city security chief; Sadeq Al-Gailil, an officer; and Mohammed Al-Madwami, deputy director of criminal investigation in Hajjah city, of masterminding the raids.

Source: Arab News


Police: Woman opened fire in Dallas airport; cop shot her

July 26, 2022

DALLAS: A 37-year-old woman fired several gunshots, apparently at the ceiling, inside of Dallas’ Love Field Airport on Monday before an officer shot and wounded her, authorities said.

The woman was dropped off at the airport at about 11 a.m., walked inside near the ticketing counters and entered a bathroom, Dallas police Chief Eddie Garcia said at a news conference. She emerged wearing a hooded sweatshirt or some other clothing that she hadn’t arrived in, pulled a gun and fired several shots, apparently at the ceiling, he said.

“At this point, we don’t know where exactly the individual was aiming,” Garcia said.

An officer nearby shot the woman in her “lower extremities,” wounding her and enabling her to be taken into custody, Garcia said. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

“No other individuals were injured in this event other than the suspect,” Garcia said.

Police later identified the woman as Portia Odufuwa, 37, and did not speculate as to her motive.

“We wanted to ensure that our community knows that this is not an active situation,” the chief said.

Karen Warner told The Dallas Morning News that she was checking in for her flight when she heard a loud argument about 20 feet (6 meters) behind her, followed by a gunshot. Then she started running.

“I heard about 10 more shots while I was running away,” said Warner, who couldn’t discern what the argument was about.

Love Field, which is one of the Dallas-Fort Worth area’s two major airports, suspended airport operations after the shooting but said at around 3:45 p.m. that they had resumed. The Federal Aviation Administration held up flights for a couple of hours while police investigated, but flights were cleared to resume around mid-afternoon.

A spokesman for Southwest Airlines, which uses Love Field as a hub, said the airline canceled most of its flights that were scheduled to depart or arrive at Love Field before 6 p.m. CDT. Southwest canceled 85 flights at Love Field on Monday, according to the flight tracking website FlightAware.

The shooting wasn’t the first violent incident at the airport.

In 2016, a police officer shot and wounded a man outside of Love Field after police said he advanced toward the officer with large landscaping rocks in his hands after battering his ex-girlfriend’s car with a traffic cone and rocks as she dropped him off at the airport.

Source: Arab News




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