New Age Islam News Bureau
13 May 2015
Oman women’s team members pose with their medals after winning the team silver at the ISSF International Tennis Championship in Indonesia. Photo – Supplied
• Three British Girls Married To Jihadis 'On the Run' From Islamic State
• Child Brides' Boom in Derna As Record Number of Girls Married Off To Jihadi Fighters
• Muslim Group to Consult On Plans for Britain's First Women's Mosque
• French Muslim Girl Returns to School in 'Banned' Skirt
• Muslim Women’s Football Team to Play Historic Curtain-Raiser at MCG
• Scotland's First Muslim Woman MP
• Omani Girls Win Silver in Tennis at Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Tourney
• 92% of Married Women in Egypt Have Undergone FGM
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Women Told to Hide “Shining Eyes” in Raqqa
13 May, 2015
One day in late December, Yara and her cousin decided to go the nearby grocer’s shop to buy a few items. It was a rare outing they looked forward to as a way of relieving some of the frustrations of a life increasingly restricted for women, especially in a small town like Tabaqa, part of Islamic State-controlled Raqqa.
The girls were careful to put on full “Sharia-compliant” dress that concealed their entire bodies apart from their eyes. The street was empty of mujahedin fighters, which slightly eased their nervousness. Their trip to the shop passed without incident, but things took a turn for the worse as they made their way back home.
They were surprised by the sudden sound of a car pulling up nearby.
“You and her, stop!”
Yara froze on the spot, pulling at her cousin’s hand. Two men in Afghan-style dress and carrying automatic weapons got out of the car. They had long hair and beards and spoke with Saudi accents.
“Where have you been?” one asked.
The question both stunned and frightened Yara. The men’s intimidating appearance added to her nervousness, and she was reluctant to reveal that they had been to a shop.
“We were at our aunt’s house,” she said.
“At your aunt’s house, huh?” said one of the men. “Where are your deraas?” A “deraa” is a piece of black cloth worn over the “Abaya” cloak as further concealment of a woman’s figure.
Stuttering, Yara answered, “Our house is close to here, Sheikh.”
The armed men continued to fire off questions. “I swear your eyes are shining… how dare you greet men with such an appearance?” one said.
Yara and her cousin clutched at each other’s hands and cast about them with frightened looks, searching for someone to save them. Although the street was full of passers-by, they felt utterly alone and abandoned.
Then the bolt descended from the blue – the sheikh had made his decision. “Get in the car, now,” he said.
“Why, where are you taking us?”
“To the hisbah [morality police].”
“Sheikh, please, we swear we just went to the shop to buy some things.”
“You’ve just said you were at your aunt’s house, and now you were at the shop? Go on, into the car.”
“We won’t go with you,” the girls said.
It was as if they had slapped him. He cocked his weapon, ready to fire, pointing it at their faces.
“Into the car!” he screamed.
Oh God! Was he really pointing his weapon at their faces? They could hardly believe what was happening, and clutched one another in abject terror.
“Sheikh, please, we haven’t done anything wrong.”
“The Hisbah will decide when your guardian arrives.”
These words gave Yara an idea. She remembered that her house was nearby.
“We won’t go with you without a Mahram [close male relative]” she said. “Our house is nearby. Take us home.”
They climbed into the car and headed to Yara’s home, the girls’ tear-filled eyes cast down and their movements shaky with the humiliation. The trip home did not take very long, but the terror and worry they felt, and the hate-filled looks they were getting from the mujahidin, made it feel like an age.
Yara’s older brother was outside, standing next to the front door. When the car stopped, they got out and stood behind him.
“What’s going on, Sheikh?” he asked.
“Are you their guardian?”
“I’m their brother.”
“This won’t do at all. How can Muslim women go out like that?”
Yara, sobbing, interrupted him, “We were at the store buying some things. Here they are!”
She pulled the groceries out to show everyone, but her brother began admonishing her in front of the mujahidin, making her cry even harder. She justified his behaviour to herself by thinking that he didn’t want to enter into an argument with the Mujahideen and make the problem worse. But she wanted him to take her side and fight for her rights, because she had done nothing wrong.
“Next time, they should not be allowed out into the street unless they’re wearing a Deraa and their eyes are covered up,” said the Mujahid, ending the conversation and climbing back into the car.
A painful silence descended on Yara as her brother screamed at her, ordering her back into the house. Her heart was brim-full with sadness.
Three British Girls Married To Jihadis 'On the Run' From Islamic State
13 May, 2015
Three British teenage girls were reported to be on the run from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant raising fears it might be the London schoolgirls who fled there earlier this year.
An unofficial monitor in Iraq claimed the terror group was hunting for three British Jihadi brides who had fled after being married off to Isil militant.
They were said to be aged around 16 and that Isil was “thoroughly searching for them" in Mosul.
The report, from the Mosul Eye Facebook page, said the identity of the girls was not known.
It raises fears it could be Shamima Begum and Amira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, who left Bethnal Green in February to follow a friend to Syria.
Last month they were believed to be in the Syrian city of Raqqa but Mosul is only a six hour drive over the border.
Police and security sources were aware of the report.
It was released on the Facebook page of Mosul Eye, who purports to be a blogger in Iraq, and set up the page "to communicate what's happening in Mosul to the rest of the world, minute by minute from an independent historian inside Mosul".
He opposes Isil and remains anonymous, writing in detail in both English and Arabic about the inner-workings of the group, their execution of civilians and casualties they suffer from coalition air-strikes.
On May 2, Mosul Eye posted: "Three girls, (Foreigners - British) married to Isil militants, reported missing, and Isil announced to all its check points to search for them. It is believed that those girls have escaped."
In a later post he added: "The latest info I got on them is they are still on the run, but still in Mosul, and Isil is thoroughly searching for them and hasn't captured them yet.
"They are Brits, not immigrants, and they are very young teens (around 16 years old). That's all I have about them for now."
Shamima, Amira and Kadiza were all from Bethnal Green Academy and flew to Turkey, before crossing the border into war-torn Syria.
It is understood they were following another 15-year-old girl who travelled there in December.
In March a High Court judge confiscated the passports of four other pupils at the school after concerns were raised by Tower Hamlets Council.
Scottish girl Aqsa Mahmood, 20, was accused of encouraging at least one of the girls to go to Syria, which she denied.
It is feared more than 600 people from the UK have gone to join Isil in Syria and Iraq, including young women.
They include Manchester twins Salma and Zahra Halane who sneaked out of their home during the night while their family slept in July last year.
The 16-year-old college students then boarded a flight to Turkey before crossing into Syria where they are feared to have joined their brother, believed to be fighting with Isis.
They are understood to have married Isil militants out there; though there were reports at least one of the husbands had been killed.
In earlier postings Mosul Eye warns of Isil carrying out mass searches of homes, looking for laptops, mobile phones, tablets and other devices, warning: "Please delete all your browsing history from anything related to politics, ISI, adult content, music, movies, pro-government pages.
"Please spread this around.”
In his latest postings, on May 7, the historian behind Mosul Eye talked of Isil militants plundering money from locals, whipping a young man 60 times for not closing his shop during prayer time and the public executions of civilians for minor transgressions of Sharia law.
Child Brides' Boom In Derna As Record Number Of Girls Married Off To Jihadi Fighters
13 May, 2015
Child marriage has boomed in the Libyan city of Derna since it was taken over by the Islamic State (Isis) group, with girls as young as 12 married off to jihadist fighters, often in exchange of protection and power, local doctors have confirmed.
The number of under-age girls forced to marry has increased 15 fold since an IS local branch seized large part of the coastal city in October last year, local doctors told The Times.
"Just in the clinics that we are able to monitor, we are seeing four to five cases of under-age brides every week and it's getting worse," Asmaa Said, a local activist who drew up a report on the practice based on data secretly passed on to her by doctors operating in Derna, told the British newspaper.
"There is also the spread of STDs and the growing prevalence of miscarriages, premature and stillbirths".
Said brought the account of a 12-year-old schoolgirl who was married off to a jihadist and suffered irreparable damage to her reproductive organs after a miscarriage that followed repeated rapes by her husband.
The distressing situation many children are facing in Derna was confirmed by local gynaecologists who said they are treating sex-related injuries in an increasing number of girls with no knowledge of sex.
"They come into the clinic playing with their dolls," the doctor, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The Times.
Another Derna activist, named only as Abdel-Rahman, said parents were in many cases giving away their child daughters to fighters, mainly foreigners from Arabic-speaking countries, as marital status is perceived as a form of protection for them and by reflex for the whole family.
"Some of them get nice cars and nice houses, too," he told the newspaper.
Libya has been embroiled in fighting since the overthrow of late dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Battling for control of the country currently involves pro-government forces, Libya Dawn, an umbrella group including radical and moderate Islamists, and an IS local offshoot that recently infiltrated several coastal cities.
In the areas it controls, IS enforces a reign of terror based on its strict interpretation of Sharia law.
Over the last few months, the extremist group has released two separate videos showing the beheading of 21 Coptic Christians and of 30 Eritrean migrants on a beach near Tripoli.
Under the jihadi group's rules, purported un-Islamic activities, such as smoking and playing instrumental music, are also banned.
Muslim group to consult on plans for Britain's first women's mosque
13 May, 2015
A Muslim group seeking to establish Britain’s first female-led mosque is to consult on its plans for a prayer space “managed by women primarily for women”.
The Muslim Women’s Council (MWC), which was founded after a series of informal conversations with women in Bradford, believes that women have traditionally been marginalised in places of worship.
During the initial consultation, the aim is for various options for the women’s mosque to be discussed with both locals and international Islamic scholars. MWC says the facility would be open to Muslim and non-Muslim communities.
However, the organisation has said in a statement that it disagreed with the view that women can lead a mixed congregational prayer, saying “this will not take place under the MWC umbrella” and adding that their intention was not to “go against the values and principles of Islam”.
Early plans include facilities specifically tailored for Muslim women to cater for their religious beliefs including services for divorce, bereavement, legal advice, parenting, and feeding the homeless.
The organisation seeks to also promote Islamic education and scholarship for British Muslim women in order to tackle social issues such as radicalisation and lack of social cohesion and says: “in the current context the role of British Muslim women has never been more important”.
Bana Gora, the founding member and chief executive of MWC, said access was the biggest problem that female worshippers face, according to a local audit of mosques her organisation had carried out.
Gora said the findings highlighted that many of the local mosques followed a “patriarchal model” and that “women’s representation on governance structures was nonexistent, on committees and boards”.
She added that gender segregated spaces, which are traditionally how many UK mosques are structured, were “dated and unwelcoming”.
She said: “The alienation that women feel has profound consequences for younger generations who are taught that Islam treats both men and women as spiritual equals, yet the practice within mosques contradicts the principles.”
Gora went on to say that the MWC wanted to provide a safe space for young women to question, learn and grow, have an opportunity to make informed choices and to appreciate their heritage at a time when “many young people feel that their faith is no longer relevant, or are going to extremes”.
The focus is initially on Bradford, where there are 110 mosques and where a quarter of the population say they are Muslim.
The MWC has previously organised meetings with party political leaders, challenged volunteers to climb Mount Snowdon for charity, and hosted events to celebrate the lives of women in the community.
Congregations in mosques are led by imams who are traditionally male, yet women can lead other women in prayer according to some Islamic schools of thought.
There are female imams and women’s mosques, or nüsi, in China, with Wangjia Hutong Women’s Mosque of Kaifeng, which dates back to 1820, being the oldest surviving one.
Dr. Amina Wadud, a 62-year-old African-American professor, made headlines when she led Friday prayers to a mixed congregation of men and women 10 years ago.
French Muslim girl returns to school in 'banned' skirt
World Bulletin / News Desk
13 May, 2015
Sarah K, the 15-year-old school girl who was banned from attending classes for wearing long skirts, sparking an uproar in France and the world over, has returned to school in her characteristic outfit.
Sarah stepped into the Leo Lagrange junior-high school in northeastern France Monday, wearing a grey floral printed skirt, confident as ever that her skirt choices had nothing to do with the business of the state.
Last month, the French Muslim student of Algerian descent had been suspended from school by the headmaster, Maryse Dubois, for wearing a similar long skirt and was asked to change her outfit and then come back to school.
In the letter sent to her family, Dubois had said that Sarah's long black skirt allegedly reflected her religious beliefs and breached the strict secular rules of France. The headmaster further said that the skirt was "too openly religious."
Speaking with the Anadolu Agency Monday while she was on her way to school, Sarah said: "I did nothing wrong, I'm respecting the law as I always take off my headscarf before I enter the school; so there is no need for me to change what I wear. I'll continue to dress the way I please and receive my education."
While Sarah was not denied entry to the school this time Monday, it didn’t necessarily mean that the discrimination that girls like her face had come to an end in France. Anadolu Agency has learnt that there are several other girls like Sarah, who too had been suspended at the same school for wearing long skirts.
When Muslim girls like Sarah take off their headscarves before entering school, they in fact comply with the 2004 French law that bans students from wearing any "conspicuous signs" of religion, such as headscarves, skullcaps or crucifixes at schools.
When asked why Muslim girls were being targeted while their non Muslim students did not face similar discrimination at the school, the headmaster refused to give a comment to Anadolu Agency.
French Minister of Education Najat Vallaud-Belkacem had backed the school's decision to sending Sarah home to change her outfit, denying that it was based on "the length or color of the student's skirt."
Instead Vallaud-Belkacem told the French radio RTL on April 30 that the decision was based on the student's "behavior," something that Sarah's family strongly denied.
"That's not true. There is nothing wrong with my daughter's behavior, and even the letter that we received [from the school] mentions clearly that Sarah was sent home because of the way she dressed," Sarah' s mother Ourida told Anadolu Agency Monday.
The mother said that the school headmaster’s attitude changed only after the episode of discrimination went viral globally. She added that the family was later contacted by the school, asking them to meet in the presence of an inspector from the ministry.
"The decision of the school was based on discrimination; it was made on the basis that my daughter is a Muslim," Ourida added.
"From now on, I won't attend any meeting without the presence of a lawyer, as they (school administration and ministry of education) keep changing facts," she added.
Many people in France and abroad agree that Sarah’s case was an issue of discrimination and not a case of unruly behavior by a school student as alleged.
Ahmed Nadi, 46, a local dentist of Moroccan origin, said: "It is nonsense. I don't see how a simple skirt could be considered a religious symbol. Any girl from any religious background could have worn it, but since this girl is a Muslim, it is being declared as against secularism of the country," he said.
"I consider myself a secular, my daughter does not wear a scarf, but this is about having the freedom to choose to dress the way you desire," he added.
Mongi, a 38-year-old teacher, who was sitting next to Nadi, said: "This is really alarming. Where are we going with this madness in France? Day-by-dayMuslim rights here are being narrowed down; today the problem is a long skirt, tomorrow it can be shirts with sleeves, and (I wonder) what next?"
Thalia, 42, an owner of a local bar in the city, said that the incident had become the talk of the town for days.
"The majority of the people here are against this decision. We can't understand how a teenager can be deprived of her right to receive education just because she put on a long skirt," she said.
"It is really illogical, I can't find any other words to describe the situation," she added.
Muslim Women’s Football Team to Play Historic Curtain-Raiser at MCG
13 May, 2015
A WOMEN’S footy team made up predominantly of Muslim players will help break down cultural barriers when it plays a historic curtain-raiser at the MCG next month.
The Auburn Giants — a club started five years ago in the soccer and rugby league heartland of western Sydney — will take to the field before Collingwood’s clash with Greater Western Sydney on June 14.
It will be the first time a Muslim women’s team has played before an AFL crowd at the MCG.
AFL chief Gillon McLachlan shared the news with Auburn Giants founder and player Amna Karra-Hassan in Melbourne yesterday.
“To have an opportunity to play at the MCG, even if it is a curtain raiser, is something most people would dream of,’’ she said.
“But for a Sydney girl who didn’t grow up with a love of the game but has a love of the game now, I’m blown away.’’
Ms Karra-Hassan did not know what a forward pocket was when she started the team, sending a message to every female in her phone to come and try.
Now she tells girls they have not played sport until they have played Aussie rules, and says the game is helping society.
“There is no doubt in my mind that for every negative story about Muslim people there needs to be 10 more that are positive to counter that,’’ she said.
“And to be part of the positive narrative, for media to be interested and for people to want to hear something other than all the negative stuff inspires hope.’’
Scotland's first Muslim woman MP
World Bulletin / News Desk
13 May, 2015
Scotland’s first female Muslim MP is hoping to be a voice for Muslims across the U.K., she told Anadolu Agency in an interview four days after her election victory.
Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh won the Ochil and South Perthshire seat for the Scottish National Party (SNP) candidate in last week’s general election, becoming the first Muslim to represent the party at Westminster.
"Just elected few days ago but I am hoping to engage with people across all Muslim communities in the country,” she told Anadolu Agency. “Hopefully they can see me as a point of contact, somebody who will stand up and always speak for equality, fairness and prosperity.
"So I am looking forward to engaging with all communities and hope they do contact me."
Ahmed-Sheikh, a 44-year-old mother-of-four, is the only Muslim MP in Scotland and is part of a wave of SNP candidates who unseated Labour and Liberal Democrat lawmakers to take 56 of Scotland’s 59 constituencies.
"More than 50 percent of the people in Scotland voted for the SNP, this is important,” Ahmed-Sheikh said during an interview on Monday. “With 56 MPs, its historical for us in terms of our numbers. All eyes are on us to make a difference on the ground and that is the job that we are going to do."
She is also one of six new Muslim MPs at Wesminister, taking the representation of Muslims to its highest level with 13 MPs. There are 2.8 Muslims in the U.K., according to the Muslim Council of Britain.
Ahmed-Sheikh emphasized the SNP’s opposition to the welfare cuts planned by the Conservative, or Tory, government.
"We are the anti-austerity party,” she said. “We are disappointed that we have a Tory government. So, I believe the SNP will be the voice of opposition and the voice of change and the voice of fearless."
Ahmed-Sheikh’s constituency contains pockets of deprivation, with, according to her, one-in-four children living in poverty in Clackmannanshire borough.
"Anti-austerity is on our agenda because austerity is not working for the people of Scotland. We need to invest in our economy, boost jobs and stop the dreadful thing that people rely on food banks. These are our priorities."
On the issue of Europe, Ahmed-Sheikh believes in Scotland’s continued membership of the EU. Prime Minister David Cameron campaigned on the promise of holding an in-out referendum on Britain remaining in the bloc.
"We will be working to ensure Scotland stays within the EU," she said.
Omani Girls Win Silver in Tennis At Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation Tourney
13 May, 2015
Muscat: Oman women's team won the silver medal in the team competition of the ongoing Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF) International Tennis Championships in the Indonesian city of Palembang.
The Omani girls settled for silver after losing their final tie to eventual gold winners Indonesia.
In the first singles, Samar bint Madani Al Bakri lost to Indonesia's Iah by 0-6, 0-6.
In the second singles involving, an injured Fatma Al Nabhani conceded the match to Lavina Trenta. The Indonesian was leading 6-2, 2-1 when Fatma pulled out with a hand injury.
Meanwhile, action began in the men's singles competition where two of the Omani players suffered first round defeats.
Saleh bin Ghazi Al Zadjali lost to Syria's Amer Al Nawah 1-6, 1-6 while Fawwaz bin Al Al Manzari was handed a 3-6, 1-6 defeat by by Indonesia's Fahi.
Oman's Younis bin Tufail Al Rawahi and compatriot Omran bin Mohammed Al Balushi received a bye into the second round.
92% of Married Women in Egypt Have Undergone FGM
13 May, 2015
Egypt’s Minister of Health Adel Adawy announced on Sunday that 92 percent of married Egyptian women have experienced female genital mutilation.
The latest results were announced at a conference held to reveal the results of the 2014 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS).
According to the Minister, 92 percent of women aged between 15 and 49 who are or have been married suffer from genital mutilation.
The majority of females undergo genital mutilation between the ages of nine and 12, with only 31 percent of the operations run by doctors, said the Minister of Health.
The Minister of Health added that FGM in rural areas is as high as 95 percent, compared to up to 39.2 percent in urban cities.
The 2014 EDHS further found that more than 50 percent of married women in Egypt favor female genital mutilation and is in accordance with religious teachings, while 30 percent believe it should be banned. FGM is normally carried out by traditional midwives and ‘health barbers’.
Despite a large number of women surveyed believing that FGM is condoned by Islam, Egypt’s top Islamic authority has condemned the act as ‘un-Islamic’ and ‘barbaric’.
Moreover, Egypt banned female genital mutilation in 2008. Article 242 of Egypt’s Penal Code criminalizes the circumcision of girls The punishment for performing FGM is a prison sentence ranging from three months to two years or a fine of 5,000 Egyptian pounds.
In January 2015, an Egyptian court imprisoned the first doctor ever brought to trial in Egypt on FGM charges that resulted in the death of 13-year-old Sohair al-Bata’a.
The doctor was sentenced to two years in prison with hard labour for manslaughter and three months for performing the banned practice. The doctor also received a fine of EGP 500 ($US 68).
The father of Sohair was also sentenced to three months in prison for FGM.
According to the World Health Organization, Egypt, Somalia, Guinea, Djibouti and Sierra Leone have the highest rates of FGM. A 2013 UNICEF report found that Egypt has the world’s highest total number of FGM sufferers, with 27.2 million women having undergone FGM.