New Age Islam News Bureau
10 Aug 2014
• Saudi Women Turn To YouTube to Showcase Acting Talent
• Fatwa in Indonesia Unlikely To Make Women Throw Away Their Jeans
• Islamic Militants Hold Hundreds of Women Captive in Iraq, Official Says
• Muslim Conservatives Boo 'Jilboobs' In Indonesia
• Indian Women Bangle Workers Gen Secy Zehra Khan Demand Facilities
• Aussie Muslim Woman Receives Rights Award
• Study on Larger National Role for Qatari Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Women Stoned To Death in Syria for Adultery
Aug 10, 2014,
BEIRUT: A cleric read the verdict before the truck came and dumped a large pile of stones near the municipal garden. Jihadi fighters then brought in the woman, clad head to toe in black, and put her in a small hole in the ground. When residents gathered, the fighters told them to carry out the sentence: Stoning to death for the alleged adulteress.
None in the crowd stepped forward, said a witness to the event in a northern Syrian city. So the Jihadi fighters, mostly foreign extremists, did it themselves, pelting Faddah Ahmad with stones until her body was dragged away.
"Even when she was hit with stones she did not scream or move," said an opposition activist who said he witnessed the stoning near the football stadium and the Bajaa garden in the city of Raqqa, the main Syrian stronghold of the Islamic State group.
The July 18 stoning was the second in a span of 24 hours. A day earlier, 26-year-old Shamseh Abdullah was killed in a similar way in the nearby town of Tabqa by Islamic State fighters. Both were accused of having sex outside marriage.
The killings were the first of their kind in rebel-held northern Syria, where jihadis from the Islamic State group have seized large swaths of territory, terrorizing residents with their strict interpretation of Islamic law, including beheadings and cutting off the hands of thieves. The jihadis recently tied a 14-year-old boy to a cross-like structure and left him for several hours in the scorching summer sun before bringing him down - punishment for not fasting during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
The group has also brutalized Shia Muslims and others whom it views as apostates. In neighbouring Iraq, Islamic State militants have driven members of the Yazidi religious minority out of a string of towns and villages. Thousands of the fleeing Yazidis have been stranded on a mountaintop for days, a humanitarian crisis that prompted the US to airlift aid to them this week.
On Friday, Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's human rights ministry, said hundreds of Yazidi women under the age of 35 are being held by the Islamic State group in schools in Iraq's second largest city Mosul, which the militants captured in June.
The stonings in Syria last month were not widely publicized at the time, but in the following days three photographs appeared online which appeared to document the grisly spectacle and were consistent with other AP reporting.
The pictures posted on a newly-created Twitter account showed dozens of people gathered in a square, a cleric reading a verdict through a loudspeaker and several bearded men with automatic rifles either carrying or collecting stones.
"A married woman being stoned in the presence of some believers," read the caption of the photographs on the Twitter account, which has since been suspended.
Abu Ibrahim Raqqawi, the activist who witnessed Ahmad's stoning, said locals where angry to see foreign fighters impose their will on the community.
"People were shocked and couldn't understand what was going on. Many were disturbed by the idea that Saudis and Tunisians were issuing (such) orders," he said in an interview via Skype. Ahmad, he said, appeared unconscious, and he had overheard that she was earlier taken to a hospital where she was given anesthesia.
The stoning took place after dark, he said, at about 11pm. He could not see blood on the body because of the black clothes she was wearing. Ahmad did not scream or shake, and died silently. "They then took the dead body in one of their cars and left," he said.
The two cases were first reported by the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which collects information through a network of activists around the country. Bassam Al-Ahmad, a spokesman for the Violations Documentation Center, a Syrian group that tracks human rights violations, also confirmed the stoning.
An activist based in the northern province of Idlib, who collects information from other activists in northern Syria, said Ahmad was a widow. A man who asked to be identified as Asad for fear of repercussions, said that in the other stoning, in Tabqa, residents also refused to take part, and that the act was carried out by Islamic State members.
The US Embassy in Syria, in a statement posted on its Twitter account, condemned the "barbaric stoning" of a woman in Tabqa.
International human rights groups did not report the stoning, and Human Rights Watch said it had no independent confirmation.
"It is a very worrying trend if true," said Human Rights Watch researcher Lama Fakih.
The Islamic State group has "imposed incredibly restrictive rules on the civilian population which have served to make women and girls particularly vulnerable and to quite clearly discriminate against them," she said, adding that the reports of the stoning were the first the group had received out of Syria.
"This is just a more sort of extreme manifestation of those restrictive rules which are all in violation of international" human rights law, she said.
Such acts have alarmed members of mainstream Syrian opposition groups fighting to remove President Bashar Assad from power since 2011.
"These behaviours have nothing to do with the nature and mentality of Syrian society," said Abdelbaset Sieda, a senior member of the main western-backed Syrian National Coalition. He said the group had no official confirmation of the stoning cases although he did not rule it out. "We expect such acts to be carried out by the Islamic State," he said.
The Hazm Movement, another rebel group active in northern Syria, said the stonings did take place. It added that such acts "contradict the principals of the revolution" and encourage the world to refrain from giving any support to the rebels.
"The world should know that every day they delay real support to active moderate groups is direct support to extremist factions," the group said in response to written questions from Associated Press.
Saudi Women Turn To YouTube to Showcase Acting Talent
10 August 2014
Many local women have taken to YouTube to showcase their acting talents, breaking new ground in hitherto untapped terrain.
The advent of social media has helped many of these women find a platform to make their voices heard.
Twenty-two-year-old Ghadeer Abdullah, a Jeddah resident, said that she always wanted to be an actress and that many doors have opened up for young women such as herself with rising number of local video channels and theatre productions in the city.
“We are all residents of different nationalities who live and work here who now have a chance at empowerment with recent media and societal changes,” she said.
Ghadeer works with the “Bambi” program on YouTube, which sheds light on community issues, and takes part in various stage plays and comedy clubs in Jeddah.
Nasreen Tabara, another YouTube actress, echoed her views.
“Plenty of female roles have popped up with the explosion of programs on YouTube. People have responded favourably to the concept of these programs and to the idea of cause-driven programs.”
“Growing support within society has helped us to depict Saudi culture and traditions to the world in a positive light,” she said.
With the growing number of programs, plenty of talented actors who used to take up acting as a hobby have since been able to make a living from this line of work.
With no restrictions online, digital media has brought in a new wave of youngsters to create short videos and make their opinions heard, said Mohammed Sohail, digital media officer.
Their videos and direct interaction with millions of viewers has helped many transform into production houses, he said.
“Similarly, several companies promote their brands using their popularity, helping them rake in more income. This industry is slowly being built from the ground up. Saudis and expats are ready to be socially interactive and share their views more freely,” said Sohail.
Dareen S., a writer and producer, said that such support from the community gave them the best chance to develop and create work that reflects a diverse and colorful society.
“By showcasing their talents, girls have opened up new horizons for themselves,” she said.
Fatwa in Indonesia Unlikely To Make Women Throw Away Their Jeans
10 08 2014
Could it be that the “Jilboob,” a slangy term used by some to describe Indonesian women who pair their modest Muslim headscarves with tight jeans and sexy blouses, could be on her way out? If the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), has its way, that will be the case.
The Jilboob, or sometimes “Jilbabe,” gets her name because in Indonesia the full-body Burqa seen in Afghanistan or the Abaya in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere, is rarely adopted. Rather than using a black tent to hide a woman from society’s prying eyes, observant Indonesian Muslims prefer the Jilbab – or Hijab in Malaysia. The scarf usually covers the hair and neck but leaves the rest of the wearer’s wardrobe up for grabs.
The devout might combine the Jilbab with modest long dresses and blouses, but many women use the “Jilbab and jeans” look to maintain their sex appeal while giving in to whatever pressure or devotion motivates them to cover their hair – often family insistence or to please husbands who want a religious spouse.
Some websites in Jakarta call the sexy Jilbab look, the “Jilboob,” because it often consists of make-up, jeans a tight shirt and high heels. There is a Facebook page devoted to discussing the pros and cons of the Jilboob look and plenty of web sites and twitter feeds – #jilbabseksi is one — that show off selfies of young women in their Jilbabs, some of which leave little to the imagination. Many stores and boutiques cater to making the “Muslim look” sexy. Women are even seen wearing the head covering with a miniskirt on occasion.
The clerics, who have little real power despite nominally being Islam’s ruling body in Indonesia, have had enough. MUI issued a fatwa, or religious ruling, on Thursday and said there will be no more Jilbabes and Jilboobs henceforth. It is unlikely to be taken seriously; the MUI has previous banned all manner of things, from gyrating dangdut dancers to western movies, only to be blithely ignored.
The trend combining the Jilbab, or Muslim headscarf, and tight-fitting clothes that accentuate women's assets has drawn the ire of conservatives and a religious edict from the country’s highest authority on Islam.
Islamic militants hold hundreds of women captive in Iraq, official says
August 08, 2014
BAGHDAD – Hundreds of women from the Yazidi religious minority have been taken captive by Sunni militants with "vicious plans," an Iraqi official said Friday, further underscoring the dire plight of Iraq's minorities at the hands of the Islamic State group.
Kamil Amin, the spokesman for Iraq's Human Rights Ministry, said hundreds of Yazidi women below the age of 35 are being held in schools in Iraq's second largest city, Mosul. He said the ministry learned of the captives from their families.
"We think that the terrorists by now consider them slaves and they have vicious plans for them," Amin told The Associated Press. "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."
The U.S. has confirmed that the Islamic State group has kidnapped and imprisoned Yazidi women so that they can be sold or married off to extremist fighters, said a U.S. official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the information came from classified intelligence reports. There was no solid estimate of the number of women victimized, the official said.
Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled when the Islamic State group earlier this month captured the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar, near the Syrian border. The Yazidis practice an ancient religion that the Sunni Muslim radicals consider heretical.
The extremist group's capture of a string of towns and villages in the north has sent minority communities fleeing for their lives. The Islamic state views Yazidis and Shiite Muslims as apostates, and has demanded Christians either convert to Islam or pay a special tax.
About 50,000 Yazidis — half of them children, according to U.N. figures — fled to the mountains outside Sinjar where many of them remain, trapped and running out of food and water. Late Thursday, the U.S. military cargo jets dropped humanitarian aid to the mountains.
Amin's comments were the first Iraqi government confirmation that some women were being held by the group. On Tuesday, Yazidi lawmaker Vian Dakheel made an emotional plea in parliament to the Iraqi government to save the Yazidi people, saying the "women have been sold in a slavery market."
President Obama said the humanitarian airdrops were made at the request of the Iraqi government as the Islamic State militant group tightened its grip on northern Iraq. In his remarks late Thursday, he mentioned "chilling reports" of fighters with the group "rounding up families, conducting mass executions, and enslaving Yazidi women."
Muslim conservatives boo 'jilboobs' in Indonesia
Aug 10th, 2014
JAKARTA, Indonesia - In Muslim-majority but secular Indonesia, the government does not regulate clothing for Muslim women the same way Islamic countries do. You can find Muslim women either fully covered from head to toe, dressed in a revealing tank top and miniskirt, or somewhere in between.
But a trend combining the conservative and the revealing dubbed “jilboobs” has drawn the ire of conservatives and a fatwa, or religious edict, from the country’s highest authority on Islam.
Drawn from the words jilbab, or the Muslim headscarf in Indonesia, and, well, boobs, the word refers to a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf and a tight-fitting shirt or dress that emphasizes their assets.
While Muslim women in Indonesia have been dressing this way for years, a Facebook account called Jilboobs Community created in January 2014 put a spotlight on the trend, triggering heated discussions online and offline. The account, which a user named Michael Brain claims to have created to showcase the influence of Western culture on Indonesia’s morals, features 26 photos of women in the so-called jilboobs fashion.
A user named Mita Maharani Bahriah commented that the phenomenon showed moral decadence. "The jilbab is meant to cover, to wrap, to protect the body, not to expose it. What you are doing here is dressing but (looking) naked," she said.
Another user, Nadiya Ahyati, responded and encouraged people not to judge others by what they wear.
She quoted Mufti Ismail Musa Menk, an Islamic scholar, as saying: "When you see a female dressed in a manner that is unacceptable in Islam, do not for a moment think that she is lower than you spiritually. If you do that, you are lower than her ... She might have a heart that is tons better than yours. She might have one weakness that is outward, and you may have 50 weaknesses that are hidden.”
Indonesia has a young population, with around half below 30 years of age and 37% below 20 years old, according to 2010 figures. This young generation is growing up in an increasingly cosmopolitan Indonesia, where major international clothing companies like Zara, Forever21 and H&M are popular.
The issue went mainstream on Thursday, Aug. 7, when the Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI), the country’s highest authority on Islam, waded into the issue and issued a fatwa against jilboobs.
"There is already a MUI fatwa on pornography. This means you cannot show the shape of your body, wearing a jilbab but with tight clothing. MUI strictly forbids it," MUI vice chairman Ma’ruf Amin said, as quoted by the Globe Journal.
A fatwa, however, is not legally binding. In Indonesia, only the province of Aceh imposes the Islamic Sharia law, and there women whose attire are deemed improper – like tight jeans – can be punished by up to 6 lashes if caught by the morality police.
But Hidayat Nur Wahid, a politician from biggest Islamic party, Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said people should not react so negatively to the jilboobs phenomenon.
The fact that people, especially young teenagers, are willing to wear a hijab is a small step that should be appreciated, he said according to Detik.com, adding that it was understandable that they still want to look trendy.
“Wearing a jilbab in Indonesia is also a part of fashion,” Hidayat said. "However, they should have a commitment to fully cover the body, to gradually dress with the hijab better, as it is originally meant to be.” – Rappler.com
Indian Women Bangle Workers Gen Secy Zehra Khan Demand Facilities
Aug 10th, 2014
HYDERABAD: The Home-Based Women Bangle Workers Union held a demonstration outside the local press club here on Saturday to press the government for acceptance of their demands.
They carried banners and chanted slogans in favour of their demands.
Leading the protest, Home-Based Women Workers Federation general secretary Zehra Khan and union’s Hyderabad chapter general secretary Jamila Abdul Latif appealed to the government to increase wages of workers, register them with the social security department, provide facilities of health and education to their children, remove hurdles in the issuance of computerised national identity cards (CNICs) of women workers, ensure proper supply of power, water and gas to their localities and revamp the sewerage.
Know more: ‘95pc of home-based women workers without legal protection’
They said that around 600,000 women workers of the glass bangles industry were suffering from diseases including cancer, blindness, TB, rheumatism and skin problems because of poisonous chemical used in bangle-making. They said thumb impressions of a number of workers had disappeared due to the chemical and they were facing problems to get their CNICs.
They appealed to the government to raise their wages and save their families from starvation. They said glass bangles home-based industry produced profit of millions of rupees annually, but their workers were deprived of basic facilities and they were eking out a miserable existence owing to financial problems.
Aussie Muslim Woman Receives Rights Award
10 08 2014
“The award gives special recognition to a person who has made lasting and meaningful contributions to the advancement of human rights in NSW,” Dominello said during the event to honor Maha Krayem Abdo OAM, a post on his Facebook page read on Thursday, August 7.
“Krayem Abdo is a most deserving winner of this award. The judging panel found her to be a standout among a field of high-caliber candidates, commending her as a champion of multiculturalism and advocate for the elimination of racial and gender discrimination.”
Krayem Abdo, Executive Officer of the Muslim Women’s Association, was honored as the winner of this year’s NSW Human Rights Award during a ceremony at State Parliament.
During the ceremony Dominello presented Ms Krayem Abdo with a specially-struck medal and a $5,000 cash prize.
He has also praised her work over quarter a century to empower young women and promote harmony.
“She is a renowned Muslim leader and mentor and has worked tirelessly over the past 25 years to empower young women and promote harmony between multicultural communities,” the minister said.
“She has taken a leading role in working with religious leaders from other communities in NSW to support inter-faith initiatives which foster greater understanding and tolerance.
“In recent years Krayem Abdo has been a highly effective community advocate on a number of complex issues including facial identification, female genital mutilation, human trafficking and underage forced marriage.
After decades in Australia, Krayem Abdo proved to be a successful example for Muslim integration in the community.
“Krayem Abdo, who migrated to Australia from Lebanon during the 1960s, established the Muslim Women’s Support Centre, a refuge for women escaping family and domestic violence,” minister Dominello said.
“In 2008 she was awarded an Order of Australia medal for her work in this field.
“She will serve as Human Rights Ambassador for 12 months and through the Community Relations Commission, the NSW Government is proud to support her work to promote human rights issues at events, schools and conferences,” Dominello added.
Attendees included Federal Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane, 2013 winner and Australian Indigenous Education Foundation CEO Andrew Penfold AM, State MPs and Consuls General.
This year’s judging panel consisted of Mick Gooda, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Vic Alhadeff, CEO, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Ainslie van Onselen, Chief of Staff, Australian Financial Services, Westpac Banking Corporation.
Muslims, who have been in Australia for more than 200 years, make up 1.7 percent of its 20-million population.
Islam is the country's second largest religion after Christianity.
Source: On Islam
Study on larger national role for Qatari women
10 August 2014
A research team from Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q) is conducting a study, “Qatari Women: Engagement and Empowerment”, seeking to uncover ways in which Qatari women empower themselves.
Through a survey, which involves 1,000 Qatari women, and in-depth ethnographic research, the investigative team from NU-Q expects to shed light on how national women may take on larger roles in the rapid development of their nation, guided by Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 and the Qatar National Development Strategy.
The team comprises 15 female students, 11 of whom are Qatari, overseen by three faculty members.
“Although Qatari women outnumber men in terms of higher education graduate figures, they still do not make up 50% of the national workforce,” said Mitchell Jocelyn Sage, primary investigator and assistant professor in liberal arts.
This imbalance is one of the reasons why the team is seeking to investigate the factors that could affect highly educated national women actively in contributing to the development of their nation.
“We see a lot of hindrances to full female participation and involvement within the Qatari community; so, we began the research by asking what the reasons behind the social and economic obstacles are and subsequently, what helps Qatari women become more involved in their society and economy,” explained Mitchell.
Joining Mitchell on the research team is Christina Paschyn, lecturer in journalism, and Kirsten Pike, assistant professor in communications. Besides, there are faculty mentors Tanya Kane, adjunct anthropology lecturer at Texas A&M University at Qatar and Virginia Commonwealth University in Qatar (VCUQatar); Justin Gengler, senior researcher at the Social and Economic Survey Research Institute of Qatar University; and Sadia Mir, assistant professor of English at VCUQatar.
Comprising a survey and ethnographic research, the results of which could assist the government in future policy-making, the “Qatari Women: Engagement and Empowerment” study was recently awarded a one-year grant through the Undergraduate Research Experience Programme from the Qatar National Research Fund, established by Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in 2006.
The survey follows the ethnographic research conducted earlier this year that saw student researchers engage Qatari women in typical majlis (the Arabic word for an informal gathering) settings.
“The majlis is known to be a male social activity but there are also majalis for females, and these gatherings are an important but understudied and overlooked area of female engagement,” said Mitchell. “Through the majlis, we are able to explore not only the issues discussed during these gatherings but also the ways in which the women empower each other.”
Mitchell and her team sought to investigate what role the majlis plays in the life of a Qatari woman. “Is it an area where women are able to learn skills that would enable them to participate more in their social and economic choices? Is it a place where they are sharing information and creating awareness by discussing common issues? A place where the women encourage each other to solve a problem?”
“Through the observation of the majlis setting, we are exposed to social and behavioural attitudes of Qatari women, which we believe has a connection to their greater engagement within the wider community.”
Tied to the Human Development goals of QNV 2030, the study seeks to support the government in understanding the obstacles and drivers of national women’s engagement in society.
With 50% of the local population being female, ways in which to engage women become essential to national development, stressed Mitchell.
“The female labour force participation rate is not a dire situation as increasing numbers of the younger generation of women are getting more involved,” she said. “However, about 66% of the Qatari workforce is male, and ideally that should be an even split. So, through studies such as ours, we are able to contribute to the continued improvements of this situation by letting Qatari women’s voices be heard.”
Through the combination of the survey and ethnographic research, set to be presented not only through academic papers but multimedia as well, Mitchell and her team believe that the insights gained through the study could pinpoint specific issues currently hindering national women’s engagement in society.
“Our study could reveal social indicators that we can highlight to the government. It might also lead to friendlier working hours or workplace childcare that would enable Qatari women to contribute more to the development of their nation,” she said.
Mitchell also believes that the diverse methods through which the team will present the research, via museum installations and a documentary, for example, will attract a wider audience in Qatar and abroad.
“In the wider world, there is a stereotypical perspective that Gulf women are silent, oppressed and passive members of society. However, people who live in this region are well aware that this is not true because Qatari women, for example, are very vocal, passionate and active in their societies when they want to be,” she said.
“Therefore, combating a misunderstanding such as this is inherently interesting to the outside world.”