New Age Islam News Bureau
28 March 2013
Photo: A demonstration was recently held where approximately 800 protestors gathered in central Tunis to rally for a “secular state” against “the party of the brotherhood.” (AFP)
• Tunisia’s Women Caught between Burqa and Bikini
• Topless Tunisian Femen Protester Amina Tyler 'Is Home & Well'
• British Woman Who Stripped Off In Egypt Sent To Mental Hospital
• Women Face Bars to Voting in Landmark Pakistan Poll
• Malala Yousafzai Seals $3 Mn Deal to Publish Memoir
• 15 Year-Old Girl’s Flogging Sentence Maldives Authorities Contemplate Legal Reforms
• Rise in Egypt Sexual Assaults Sets off Clash over Blame
• Indian Woman Who Lost Her Memory Goes Home From Saudi Arabia
• Shoura Council Members Demanding Legislation to Ban Harassment of Women Commuters
• Lollywood Star Meera Decides To Contest Polls
• Two Men Arrested for Allegedly Raping, Murdering Six-Year-Old girl in Aceh
• Kuwait Finance House hosts students from Al Nuzha School for girls
• Convicted Nigerian terrorist, My Forever Guy: Wife
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Women’s Battle against Tyranny and Violence in Egypt Spans Centuries
26 March 2013
Both International Women’s Day and Egyptian Women’s Day take place in March. The latter commemorates the day in 1919 when women staged their first demonstration in the country’s history. That revolution saw women wave small flags as they called for freedom and independence, shouting slogans against the British occupation. Several of them were killed in the demonstration.
The struggle of Egyptian women dates back before 1919. When French troops arrived at Alexandria in July 1798, both male and female residents took arms against the invaders and gathered to defend the city.
After the withdrawal of the French in 1801, Egyptian women continued their struggle against tyranny as they took to the streets to protest against the financial policies of the Ottoman Empire. In 1806, the women from Damanhur in the Nile Delta took part in defending the city against the invasion of Mamluk leader Mohamed Bey al-Alfi. In Rosetta, women fought with men against the siege imposed on the city by British troops; in 1951 they launched an initiative calling for the boycott British goods; and in 1956 they courageously defended Suez Canal cities.
The struggle continues. Egyptian women played a major role in toppling the regime in the January 25, 2011 revolution in Egypt. But Egypt’s women could not have been aware at the time that the recent revolution was to be hijacked by people who would scorn and betray them. Yet they still persevere in their resistance.
Earlier this year, Muslim Brotherhood youths attacked male and female activists with cudgels and knives. During one protest, female activist Mervat Mousa was assaulted and slapped on the face.
The violent incident arose in the same month that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood sharply criticized an anticipated U.N. document on combating violence against women.
The U.N. document was criticized by the Muslim Brotherhood even before its conclusion was agreed, with representatives saying it was “deceitful”, clashed with Islamic principles, and undermined family values.
The International Union for Muslim Scholars, headed by Egyptian cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, on February 28 issued a statement condemning the U.N. document – which was not even up for discussion until March.
Critics of the document committed a grave mistake when they condemned the document before it was finalized. Objections raised focused on several points, including equality in marital rights, abolishing polygamy, and granting women the right to file rape and harassment complaints against their husbands.
The final U.N. code, however, skirted around such issues. And despite the fierce campaigns launched against the U.N. code, it was unanimously approved by all the countries represented in the commission’s meetings, including Egypt.
The U.N. code defines violence against women as any form of hostile act triggered by gender prejudice and which inflicts physical, sexual, or physiological damages on women. This includes threats to use violence and deprivation of freedom in both the public and private spheres.
It states that discrimination against women constitutes a violation of human rights and basic freedoms. According to the document, domestic violence is the most common form of violence to which women and girls are subjected. The document stresses the major roles played by education, especially in remote areas, and the elimination of adult illiteracy in the empowerment of women.
The U.N. Commission on the Status of Women called upon governments to denounce all forms of violence against women and girls, and not to justify violence by refering to religion or tradition. The commission also stressed the importance of the economic empowerment of women not only through equal distribution of resources, but also allowing women to take part in the economic decision-making process. The same, the commission noted, should apply to political participation.
On March 17, 2013, a leftist politician called Laura Boldrini was elected president of the Italian Chamber of Deputies with sweeping majority. This news makes revolutionary women, who are now being assaulted and humiliated, more hopeful about the future. Yet, with Arab and Muslim heads of state congratulating Italy in electing Ms Boldrini, the case also underscores a curious change of attitude among some of the people who attempt to hamper our women.
Dr. Azza Kamel is an Egyptian writer, feminist activist and director of the Appropriate Communication Techniques (ACT)
Tunisia’s Women Caught between Burqa and Bikini
27 March 2013
The two years since the revolution that toppled Tunisia’s dictatorship have seen some women enjoying the freedom to dress in traditional Islamic clothing, while others are worried about losing their rights, the BBC reported on Wednesday.
Arije Nasser, a 22-year-old English student, said she chose to wear the niqab, the full veil revealing only the eyes, after the revolution of 2011.
“I feel like a princess when I walk down the street wearing this. The niqab and even the Hijab were forbidden before the revolution, but now we feel more comfortable to practice our religious activities.” said Nasser.
More women have decided to wear the niqab, and other conservative Tunisians like her have benefited from their newfound religious freedom, she added.
However, many women worry that with an Islamist-dominated government, they may lose their freedom to dress as they please.
The former regime was aggressively secular, and encouraged women to wear Western-style clothes.
Nostalgia for a secular state
Some 800 people demonstrated recently in central Tunis, calling for a secular state.
“Tunisia has always been an advanced country in the Arab world when it comes to women’s rights, but now unfortunately our rights are threatened,” said one of the protesters, blogger Lina Ben Mhenni.
“Before the revolution we used to ask for more rights, for total equality, but now we’re just trying to preserve and keep the rights we already have.”
When former President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was in power, Tunisian women enjoyed more freedoms than others in the Arab world, the BBC reported.
The Tunisian government, dominated by the Islamist Ennahda party, has not taken away the rights that existed under Ben Ali, such as divorce on equal terms and a ban on polygamy.
The party “isn’t looking to impose a lifestyle on anyone. We’re here to defend freedom,” said Said Ferjani, a senior member of Ennahda’s political bureau.
“Just look at this girl who did a topless protest. We protect her rights, but we also protect the rights of women to wear the niqab,” Ferjani added.
Amina, the topless girl Ferjani referred to, created a Tunisian Facebook group for the international feminist movement Femen, which generally uses nudity as a form of protest.
The 19-year-old posted an image of herself topless on the page, with “my body is mine, not somebody’s to honor” written on her chest in Arabic.
Ennahda officials do not openly oppose Amina’s protest, but a prominent Salafist cleric has called for the young woman to be flogged and stoned to death.
“I think the situation for women in Tunisia now, two years after the fall of the regime, is mixed,” said Amna Guellali, director of Human Rights Watch in Tunisia.
Nothing has changed in terms of the legal status of women, but “big changes are happening deep in society,” she added.
“There are more hardliners, more of these so-called Salafist groups who tend to impose their own vision of society and religion. I think this might have a very strong effect on women.”
Topless Tunisian Femen Protester Amina Tyler 'Is Home & Well'
By Sara C Nelson
Femen leader Inna Shevchenko last week told The Atlantic she had received reports that Amina had been “delivered by her parents to a psychiatric hospital in Tunis.”
Shevchenko also said she had been alerted to a video in which Amina’s aunt claimed her niece had “decided to kill herself and so posted nude pictures of herself online.”
On Tuesday Hmida told AFP: “I spoke to her yesterday, Amina told me she was doing well and would be going back to school soon.”
In an interview with Tunisia Live she said her client was not missing “and has never been in a psychiatric facility.”
Huffington Post UK put the latest developments to Shevchenko who told us: “Rumors about Amina's case are coming out everyday.
“Since the day I lost connection with Amina we [have] got information from strangers that Amina is safe, in hospital, being raped in the street, with her family, having beer in a bar, that she has been arrested. But still no sound from Amina.
“I don't know too much about Amina, and less about her family, and I never heard anything about any lawyer.
“But I clearly remember our conversation with Amina about [the] reaction of her family, that was strongly negative. So that’s why Amina was staying at a friend's house for safety after posting the picture.
“We see that the family is trying to share news that Amina is safe and [that they] don't want any support campaign. The woman who calls herself [her] aunt claims that Amina has mental problems and that’s why she posted the picture. The lawyer is representing the interests of the family, but not Amina's.
“We still didn't hear [the] voice of Amina and didn't see her face. Until the moment we hear word of Amina about her safety we are searching for her and continuing our international bare breasts support.
“Amina's example is the voice of Arab spring that turned as cold Sharia’s winter. [An] Arab spring that can come back. Amina represents those who are going to break anti-human traditions that come from the Middle Ages but still are practiced today. For them it's easier to kill a woman then to agree that she has rights. “
The storm erupted when Amina posted a photograph of herself with the words "Fuck your morals" written across her chest, to the Femen-Tunisia Facebook page.
Another image showing her smoking a cigarette with: "My body belongs to me, and is not the source of anyone's honour", written in Arabic script across her bare chest, was also posted.
Tunisian newspaper Kapitalis quoted the Wahabi Salafi preacher Almi Adel, who heads the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, saying: "The young lady should be punished according to sharia, with 80 to 100 lashes, but [because of] the severity of the act she has committed, she deserves be stoned to death.
"Her act could bring about an epidemic. It could be contagious and give ideas to other women. It is therefore necessary to isolate [the incident]. I wish her to be healed."
If she committed the offence in Tunisia, Amina could be punished by up to two years in prison and a fine of 100 to 1,000 dinars [between £40 and £400], local media said.
On March 16, Amina appeared on the popular Tunisian talk show 'Labes' to discuss her desire to bring Femen to Tunisia, Jezebel revealed. (Scroll down for video)
Twitter user Saida Manoubia points out the programme host suggests committing Amina to an institution during the interview.
Hundreds of women have since submitted topless pictures of themselves to the Femen Facebook page supporting Amina. The organisation has had to blur the nipples of the women featured to comply with Facebook rules on nudity.
A petition and an international day of action on April 4 to highlight the threats against Amina have been organised by activists.
More than 94,000 people have signed a petition calling for those who have threatened Amina's life to be prosecuted.
An open letter calling for an International Day to Defend Amina has been signed by many feminist and atheist activists, including atheist Richard Dawkins.
The letter says: "On the day and beyond, groups and individuals can join in by highlighting her case, posting topless photos of themselves and their activism on social media sites, signing a petition, Tweeting #Amina, writing letters in her defence, and more.
"On 4 April, we will remind the Islamists and the world that the real epidemic and disaster that must be challenged is misogyny - Islamic or otherwise."
Social media accounts of the Tunisian branch of Femen have been reportedly infiltrated by hackers, with videos and pictures on the site being replaced by verses from the Koran.
According to International Business Times, the accounts have now been suspended.
One message read: "The page has been hacked and God willing, this debauchery will disappear from Tunisia."
Femen said in a statement they were furious about the "barbarian threats of the Islamists about the necessity of reprisals against the Tunisian activist Amina," .
"We are afraid for her life and we call on women to fight for their freedom against religious atrocities.
"Use your body as a poster for the slogans of freedom. Bare breasts against Islamism."
Femen was founded in 2008 in Ukraine. It claims to be active in 17 countries and to have more than 150,000 supporters.
British woman who stripped off in Egypt sent to mental hospital
March 28th, 2013
A female British tourist was sent to a mental hospital in Upper Egypt's Aswan on Tuesday after she reportedly removed her clothes in public.
The 31-year-old was arrested in Luxor by tourism police on Monday.
Al-Ahram Arabic news website said the woman was found "doing bizarre movements" whilst naked and she had escaped from two hospitals in Luxor before being sent to the mental hospital in Aswan.
Luxor, known as the world's greatest open-air museum, is witnessing summer-like weather with temperatures rising to 32-36 degrees over the past few days.
Women Face Bars to Voting in Landmark Pakistan Poll
March 28, 2013
With Pakistan facing landmark general elections May 11, cultural bars on women voting are so entrenched in conservative parts of the country that thousands of women are unlikely to vote, interviews show.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- With Pakistan facing landmark general elections May 11, cultural bars on women voting are so entrenched in conservative parts of the country that thousands of women are unlikely to vote, interviews show.
This is the first time in Pakistan's 66-year history that one civilian government will replace another through a vote.
Nevertheless, thousands of women, especially in restive Balochistan and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces, bordering Afghanistan, are unlikely to cast their ballots. Even the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) has done little to end the taboo, critics say, although interviews show Pakistani women are interested in taking part in the poll.
Full report at:
Malala Yousafzai seals $3 mn deal to publish memoir
PTI Posted online: Thu Mar 28 2013
London: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot in the head at point-blank range by Taliban for advocating girls' education, has become a millionaire by signing a deal for around USD 3 million to publish her memoir.
"The life story of a 15-year Pakistani girl who was shot by the Taliban will be published later this year, in a deal reported to be worth around 2 million pounds (USD 3 million)," the UK-based Guardian newspaper reported.
The book, titled "I am Malala", will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK and Commonwealth and by Little, Brown in the rest of the world, the paper said, adding that a spokeswoman for the publisher could not confirm reports about the value of the publishing deal.
Full report at:
15 Year-Old Girl’s Flogging Sentence Maldives Authorities Contemplate Legal Reforms
By Neil Merrett | March 27th, 2013
Attorney General (AG) Azima Shukoor has appealed a court decision to sentence a 15 year-old girl alleged to be the victim of multiple cases of sexual abuse to 100 lashes on charges of fornication, the government confirmed today.
The Juvenile Court sentenced the girl after she confessed to authorities of having consensual sex with an unknown man during investigations into a separate case of abuse against the minor. The abuse was alleged to have been carried out by her stepfather.
President Mohamed Waheed’s government has previously criticised the verdict, pledging back in January to review the use of flogging as a punishment for sexual offences – a practice it has alleged in some cases actually serves to punish victims of rape and abuse.
Sources on Feydhoo in Shaviyani Atoll, where the 15 year-old girl originates from, last week told Minivan News that concerns had been raised by islanders since 2009 that the minor had allegedly been the victim of sexual abuse not just by her stepfather, but by a number of other unidentified men on the island.
Full report at:
Rise in Egypt sexual assaults sets off clash over blame
New York Times
Mar 28 2013
Cairo: MAYY EL SHEIKH & DAVID D KIRKPATRICK
The sheer number of women sexually abused and gangraped in a single public square had become too big to ignore. Conservative Islamists in Egypt’s new political elite were outraged — at the women.
“Sometimes,” said Adel Abdel Maqsoud Afifi, a police general, lawmaker and ultraconservative Islamist, “a girl contributes 100 percent to her own raping when she puts herself in these conditions.”
The increase in sexual assaults over the last two years has set off a new battle over who is to blame, and the debate has become a stark and painful illustration of the convulsions racking Egypt as it tries to reinvent itself.
Full report at:
Indian Woman Who Lost Her Memory Goes Home From Saudi Arabia
28 March 2013
An Indian woman who had lost her memory and spent nearly 10 months in a psychiatric hospital in the Kingdom was finally repatriated yesterday.
Shanta Kumari, 48, is a native of the West Godavari district in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh.
She was found on the streets of the town of Khafji in the Eastern Province, unable to remember who she was and how she ended up where she was found. The Saudi Red Crescent Society brought Kumari to a psychiatric hospital in Dammam where she remained under medical care for almost 10 months. In the hospital, she remembered her name. Officials were able to decipher that she was from Andhra Pradesh based on her dialect.
Full report at:
Shoura Council Members Demanding Legislation to Ban Harassment of Women Commuters
Harassment of Women Commuters Foreseen
28 March 2013
Female Shoura Council member are demanding legislation to ban harassment of women who use public transportation in commuting.
The move anticipates women using the numerous public transportation projects under way now and will be the target of harassment my male commuters.
One Shoura Council member, Hayat Sindi, proposed the establishment of a safety department at the Ministry of Transportation chaired by a woman. “Women are more considerate to safety measures,” said Sindi, noting that 60 percent of world’s patents in safety fields are by women, such as air cushions.
Full report at:
Lollywood Star Meera Decides To Contest Polls
March 28, 2013
LAHORE: Stepping out of her comfort zone of glitz and glamour, Lollywood star Meera has decided to venture into politics.
Meera’s mother Shafqat Zarar Bokhari confirmed on Wednesday that her daughter will contest the May 11 general election for a provincial assembly seat. “I will file her nomination papers on Thursday (today),” she told The Express Tribune.
Meera will contest the elections from the platform of Justice Party, a little-known group recently formed by lawyers. “She will run for a Punjab Assembly seat, most probably from Lahore,” she said without naming the constituency. It is likely that Meera will hold a press conference soon where she will announce her plans. She is currently in India working on some projects. “She will definitely bring a change as a politician if she wins the elections. She will work for the betterment of the common people and women,” her mother added.
Two Men Arrested for Allegedly Raping, Murdering Six-Year-Old girl in Aceh
Jakarta Globe | March 27, 2013
Police in Aceh have arrested two men for allegedly raping and strangling a six-year-old girl to death.
Adj. Comr. Erlin Tangjaya, the head of the Aceh Police’s detectives unit, told Indonesian news portal Kompas.com that two men, aged 20 and 19, were arrested after the girl’s family reported her missing last week.
She was last seen on Friday, March 22, with a relative, identified as HSB, and his friend, identified as AM. They were reportedly taking her for a walk.
Both men have since been detained at the Kuta Raja police office.
“We arrested them because they took the victim for a walk the night she went missing,” Erlin said.
Full report at:
Kuwait Finance House hosts students from Al Nuzha School for girls
March 28, 2013
Kuwait Finance House 'KFH' hosted in its branch in Abdullah Al-Salem, Ladies Section, students from Al Nuzha School for girls, within the bank's efforts to acquaint them with the nature of Islamic banking, and to highlight the leading role that the bank plays.
The branch manager Rania Al-nasrallah gave the students information about KFH products and services, showed them the nature of Islamic banks and the differences between them and the traditional ones, and highlighted the bank's global status.
Full report at:
Convicted Nigerian terrorist, My Forever Guy: Wife
Okah My Forever Guy: Wife
BY DEVEREAUX MORKEL
27 MARCH 2013
Johannesburg — The wife of convicted Nigerian terrorist Henry Okah said on Tuesday that he was her "forever guy" and that she would stand by him despite his 24-year jail sentence.
"Henry is a forever guy. No matter what, he is stable and faithful to me and I don't care what anyone else says," a visibly emotional Azuka Okah told journalists outside the High Court in Johannesburg.
"We have this forever love," she said.
Okah was sentenced on Tuesday to in effect 24 years' imprisonment for 13 counts of terrorism, including engaging in terrorist activities, conspiracy to engage in terrorist activities, and delivering, placing, and detonating an explosive device in January.
"These are serious charges...," Judge Neels Claassen said in handing down sentence.
"The accused has not accepted any responsibility for the crimes committed, nor has he shown remorse."
Full report at: