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Ansam Manuel Iskandar Dead Iraqi Woman Wins Parliamentary Elections, Social Media Goes Berserk

New Age Islam News Bureau

18 October 2021

• 'No Woman Safe In Pakistan': Thirty-Five Percent Of Pakistanis Say In Survey

• Qatar Emir Appoints Two Women To Advisory Council After Men Sweep Polls

• ‘Honour Killing’: Pakistan Man Kills Wife, 2 Daughters Over Suspected Theft

• Iranian Regime’s Misconduct  - Iran Security Forces Cover Up Shooting Of Young Women On Bikes

• Activists Call Tunisia's First Female Prime Minister Mere Distraction

• 'Never Give Up': UAE's Female Astronaut Tells Of Setbacks In Her Journey To Space

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Ansam Manuel Iskandar Dead Iraqi Woman Wins Parliamentary Elections, Social Media Goes Berserk

By Sakina Fatima

15th October 2021


Ansam Manuel Iskandar


Baghdad: An Iraqi woman who passed away two months ago has won the country’s parliamentary election that took place on Sunday, October 10, the local media reported.

The independent candidate Ansam Manuel Iskandar’s name appeared amongst the list of winners in the elections this week. She obtained 2,397 votes and won one of the five seats reserved for the country’s Christian community under the quota system.

However, as per the media reports, Iskandar’s victory sparked astonishment and controversy among Iraqis on social media platforms as they expressed their anger over a dead woman contesting for a seat.

However, her family clarified in a Facebook post that she had announced to contest the elections before. The family said that she died on August 24, 2021 after being infected with the COVID-19.

The family said that some voters did not know of her death and voted for her. “She was elected because she had a rewarding career in her field of work and was a decent humanitarian,” her family said.

Legally speaking, she will now be will be replaced by the candidate who came second in terms of number of votes.

In the Iraqi elections held on October 10 which had a record low voter turnout of 41 per cent, Iraqi Shia cleric Muqtada Al-Sadr led the vote and won most of the parliamentary seats. Parliament Speaker Muhammad al-Halbousi came in second place and the State of Law bloc led by former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki came in third place.

It should be noted that according to the announcement of the cabinet secretariat, 97 women have won in the parliamentary elections all over Iraq.

Source: Siasat Daily


'No Woman Safe In Pakistan': Thirty-Five Percent Of Pakistanis Say In Survey

Oct 17 2021

As much as 35% of Pakistanis believe that no woman is safe in Pakistan, 43% believe that the women are safe to some extent, while only 20% believe that the women are safe in the country, a survey conducted by Pulse Consultant has revealed.

At least 18,000 Pakistanis shared their views in the survey conducted by a Karachi-based market researcher, Pulse Consultant.

Most of the Pakistanis who view women as completely unsafe in the country were from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where 40% of the survey respondents vouched for women to be unsafe.

The survey showed that 35% of citizens of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa consider women safe to some extent in Pakistan, while only 19% consider them completely safe.

Similarly, 35% of people in Punjab saw women as unsafe in Pakistan, 41% saw them safe to some extent, and 21% saw them completely safe.

The rate of people who consider women unsafe in Pakistan from Sindh was 26% in the survey, while the rate of those who consider them safe to some extent was 49%. Meanwhile, 24% of the survey respondents considered them to be completely safe in the country.

The survey showed that most Pakistanis who see women safe to some extent in Pakistan are from Balochistan, where 74% of people vouched for it.

Whereas, 19% of citizens of Balochistan saw women as unsafe in Pakistan. Only 7% of the respondents from the province saw them as completely safe.

The statistics compiled in the survey based on social status suggested that 45% of people from the lower class believe that women are not safe in Pakistan.

The rate of people who saw women as unsafe from the lower middle class was 35%, 30% from the middle class, 29% from the upper-middle class, while 34% from the upper class.

Meanwhile, statistics based on gender showed the women were more positive than men when it came to their safety in Pakistan.

As many as 29% of women believe that they are safe outside the home, while only 22% of men vouched for it.

Source: Geo Tv


Qatar emir appoints two women to advisory council after men sweep polls

October 14, 2021

DOHA, Oct 14 (Reuters) - Qatar's emir named two women among his new appointments to the Gulf state's advisory Shura Council on Thursday, after partial elections held for the first time earlier this month saw not one of the more than 20 women candidates secure a seat.

In what was Qatar's first legislative election, candidates competed for 30 of the 45 seats on the council. The emir continues to appoint the remaining 15 members of the body, which has limited sway over policies in the monarchy, which bans political parties.

Dashing hopes for a stronger voice for women in the Gulf monarchy, voters elected an all-male line-up for the council which has included a small number of women in the past. read more

A statement by the office of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani listed two women -- Sheikha bint Yousef Al-Jufairi and Hamda bint Hassan al-Sulaiti -- among the newly appointed members.

Neither woman ran in the elections.

While Qatar has introduced reforms to women's rights in recent years, including allowing women to independently get a driving license, it has been criticised by rights groups for issues like the guardianship system, where a woman needs male permission to marry, travel and access reproductive healthcare.

Kuwait has been the only Gulf monarchy to give substantial powers to an elected parliament, although ultimate decision-making rests with its ruler, as in neighbouring states.

Source: Reuters


‘Honour killing’: Pakistan man kills wife, 2 daughters over suspected theft

Oct 17, 2021

A 50-year-old Pakistani man allegedly shot dead his wife and two daughters on Sunday suspecting them of thievery, in the latest incident of 'honour killing' in the country, police said.

The shooting occurred under the jurisdiction of Kalu Khan Police Station in Swabi district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, officials said.

Jan Bahadur suspected his wife and daughters of stealing a newborn from the Mardan Medical Complex, a related FIR was also filed.

Bahadur, along with his nephew Tayyab Jan, allegedly gunned down the three women, whose names and other details have been withheld.

The women died on the spot, while the accused manage to flee the scene.

The police have registered a case and investigation is underway. The police raided hideouts in the area in connection to killings.

Such killings in the family are common in tribal parts of the country. Over 1,000 women and nearly 600 to 800 men are killed in Pakistan in the name of 'honour killing' every year.

Source: Hindustan Times


Iranian Regime’s Misconduct  - Iran Security Forces Cover Up Shooting Of Young Women On Bikes

OCTOBER 16, 2021

The security forces of the Islamic Republic of Iran aided a man in his release who reportedly shot three young women in the back, in the city of Isfahan while they were riding bicycles in August.

Persian language media outside of Iran reported on Wednesday about the alleged Iranian regime’s misconduct.

The US government outlet Radio Farda reported, “According to the mother of one of the shot girls, the officers first asked them not to leak the news so that they could find out which person or group did that. In less than 48 hours, the accused is identified and arrested; a 35-year-old man, according to the victims. However, according to the family of one of the victims, the security officials advised not to sue him, and at the hospital when they settled the bill, they said that if you want the hospital to pay the cost of the hospital, you have to consent.’

Al Arabiya Farsi wrote the alleged suspect “was arrested with the help of security forces in 48 hours, but was released on bail in less than a month. Shargh newspaper wrote in a report that a man shot several women and at least one man in Isfahan on August 19. Three young women were shot at the street and all three said they were shot in the back with a rifle, apparently a hunting shotgun, so that they had to go to medical facilities.”

Al Arabiya added, “While attending the hospital, one of the families found out that at least five people had been hospitalized for this reason. The report states that the bad behavior of the shooter’s family on the one hand, and the history of such violence in Isfahan on the other, led several families to seek legal attention to the incident” in the media.

Sheina Vojoudi, an Iranian dissident who fled to Germany to escape persecution, said the “Basij attack civilians on the streets, especially women, if according to them the women don’t have a proper hijab.”

The Basij is a paramilitary force of young and fanatically pro-Iranian regime men.

Vojoudi continued, “No one in Iran can do something like that and be released on bail except when they are allowed by [Supreme Leader Ali] Khamenei to fire at will, or Basij or somehow related to one of the Islamic Republic’s organs. When there is a private complainant, it is impossible to be released without their consent. Only someone related to the regime can commit a crime like this and then force the complainants to consent.”

Vojoudi added, “In a speech on June 7, 2017 Khamenei gave full power to his supporters to act ‘independently like they are in a battle field, fire at will.”’

She noted that Khamenei said, “Sometimes key think tanks and cultural and political institutions fall into disarray and stagnation, and when that happens, commanders of the soft war should recognize their duty, make decisions and act in a fire at will manner.”

Radio Farda reported, “In recent years, many women have been arrested by the police or attacked by other groups for failing to comply with the law on compulsory hijab in Iran, the most famous case being the acid attack on women in Isfahan. In September of 2014, after some religious figures in the city of Isfahan called for confronting the ‘unveiled,’ several motorcyclists in the city sprayed acid on the faces of girls and women. Since then until a few years later, judicial and security officials repeatedly spoke of pursuing the case and trying to arrest the accused. But in July 2018, the lawyer for the victims of the Isfahan acid attacks announced that the case would be closed without finding the accused or defendants. The victims of this incident have been paid from the fund of the Beit al-Mal by court order.”

Beit al Mal is an Arabic phrase and means “house of wealth,” which provided compensation for the injuries to the women who suffered acid attacks.

In 2014, a European Union Parliament lawmaker statement noted, “Acid attacks against women have occurred again in Iran; this time at least 12 young girls have been attacked in the city of Isfahan. The attackers’ motives are supposed violations of the female dress code in Iran, which requires women to cover their hair in public with a veil. All of the victims were young women who were driving with their veil down. One of them has lost an eye and has very serious burns all over her body.”

Separately, an Iranian opposition Telegram news channel reported that Iranian Vice President Mohsen Rezaee warned that Iran will take actions against “the 10,000 Jews living in Iran” if Israel “makes a mistake.” The Middle East Media Research Institute on Tuesday posted a  translation of the threat targeting Iranian Jews.

Source: The Jerusalem Post


Activists call Tunisia's first female prime minister mere distraction

Elizia Volkmann

October 18, 2021

When Najla Bouden was pronounced Tunisia’s first female prime minister in a decree by President Kais Saied on Sept. 29, her appointment was initially heralded as a milestone in Arab politics.

Bouden is the first female prime minister not only in Tunisia but in the wider Arabic world. Until now, she will be joined by nine more female ministers in the 25-member cabinet. However, she will not have the executive control that previous heads of government wielded. Executive, legislative and judicial powers lie firmly in the hands of Saied under another decree made Sept. 22.

In a country famed for its strong feminist movements and progressive pro-women legislation, the appointment seems on the surface another milestone for Tunisian women.

The United States has welcomed the development. US State Department spokesperson Ned Price expressed the caveat that there should be “a rapid return to constitutional order.”

However, leading feminists, female politicians and civil society members have mixed feelings and some have gone so far as to accuse Saied of “pinkwashing” his politics to curry favor among foreign donor states such as Germany and the United States to secure much-needed funding.

Oumaima Jabnouni, a member of the steering committee of the Tunisian League for Human Rights who has held several meetings with the presidency over recent human rights infractions, told Al-Monitor, “It is not a perfect parity, but it is the first time there have been so many women in the cabinet.”

She stressed that Saied needs to take human rights and women’s rights seriously as well as relations with the international community, saying that Western donor states “have invested into the democratic transition and made a great investment into civil society, elections, security and reforms of system justice.”

Sayida Ounissi, a member of the still-frozen parliament representing Tunisians living in France for the Ennahda party, is sharply critical. She told Al-Monitor, “She is legitimizing the coup." Saied, she said, is "trying to convince us it is progressive. Why is he enforcing this perception of women being like decorations, something pink and fluffy? Is he trying to pinkwash?” 

Many secular feminists welcomed Saied’s July 25 seizure of power that put an end to what they saw as Ennahda’s control.

Saloua Guiga of Femwise, an African Union committee working on women, peace and security, said that she is conflicted about Saied’s regime. “I’m both for and against,” she said. “Political Islam poses the biggest danger for the country.''

Guiga sees Bouden’s appointment as positive but said it's necessary to apply the constitution, which prescribes equality between men and women, something she personally fought for in 2012, when Ennahda proposed a constitutional article that spoke about women as "complements" to men (as opposed to equals).

Historically Saied is not known to be a feminist ally but rather a religious conservative who opposes fundamental feminist issues, going so far to lecture a state ceremony on the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2020 that under Islamic law, inheritance issues do not treat men and women as equals.

Guiga supports some aspects of Saied’s actions but warns, “If we Tunisian women do not agree with something we go into the street and demand our rights. We are a force and we fight.”

Guiga says the constitution still stands and Saied must not go back on his promises: “When he takes a decision he cannot go back; if he says he is with women then he cannot go back.”

The founder of the feminist organization Aswaat Nisaa, Ikrem ben Said, took a different view in her opinion piece titled, “Having a seat at the table doesn’t mean you have a voice.” Ben Saied illuminates the feminist elephant in the room: that idea that criticizing the new prime minister makes one a bad feminist. “For me, this ‘historic, symbolic’ Sept. 29 nomination sounds like throwing Tunisian women under the bus! I asked myself, 'What makes a woman accept such a responsibility knowing that according to the same Decree 117 she could not even choose her ministers?’”

Leading feminist thinker and economist Sameh Krichah takes a more moderate line. “I cannot make assumptions about her as we have not seen what she is capable of,” she said. “I wish her to be independent and free and to do what is best for the country and have the courage to negotiate with the president.”

Saied’s anti-corruption narrative is already being undermined by fears of incompetence. Like many of the ministerial nominees, Bouden is an former academic: both as a geologist and as a professor of engineering. Her previous bureaucratic position in the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research involved managing a higher education development project funded by the World Bank.

However, according to a 2019 investigation by Tunisian journalist Khaola Bou Karim for the Tunisian news website Daraj, the project came under scrutiny by both the Ministry of Finance and the World Bank for failing to advance the project and spend the funds appropriately.

Bouden scarcely spoke publicly after her appointment. Her speech announcing the new government was brief. “She focused more on values, the same values insisted on by Saied,” said Krichah, adding, “She only took two weeks to put her government in place, so it is unrealistic that she has a plan.” 

Bouden may not have said much but Ounissi told Al-Monitor that her body language spoke volumes. “Her nomination will make us lose more time in terms of convincing us that we as women have our place in these spheres. All she does is sit in front of her professor and just nods.”

Despite Saied’s effort to author a clean government, he has not eliminated questions about talent, competence and favoritism. With the presence of so many longstanding bureaucrats, it cannot be called revolutionary.

Bouden may well take some of the heat off Saied in terms of international pressure, but she is responsible for rolling out Saied’s coffee shop politics to be tested in the real world. The general labor union UGTT has already spoken with Bouden, outlining the catalogue of changes required to alleviate entrenched poverty and unemployment as well as pull Tunisia’s economy out of its current tailspin.

Jabnouni said the government should be aware that civil society “will continue our monitoring over Decree117. We still are concerned that this decree could still allow a transition into an authoritarian system.”

She went on, "This government will be scrutinized and tested after raising public expectations so high between Saied and Bouden, who will garner the plaudits for successes and who will shoulder the blame of failures."

Source: Al Monitor


'Never give up': UAE's female astronaut tells of setbacks in her journey to space

Sarwat Nasir

Oct 18, 2021

Nora Al Matrooshi, the Arab world’s first female astronaut, has encouraged young people to "never give up", after revealing she was rejected by the nation’s space programme in 2018.

The 28-year-old was speaking on the first day of the Space Week at Expo 2020 Dubai. American and Japanese astronauts were also in attendance.

Ms Al Matrooshi, who has a background in mechanical engineering, became part of the nation’s astronaut corps earlier this year, along with Dubai Police helicopter pilot Mohammed Al Mulla.

“I actually did apply to the first batch, but unfortunately I didn’t make it. The second batch was my second chance. It was my opportunity to achieve the dream that I wanted since I was a child,” she said.

“I’m sure you know how powerful the imagination of a child is and that power inspired me to want to become an astronaut. As I grew up, that dream started to build and I started to think how I can do it.

“I did some research and what I needed to do. At that time in the UAE, there was no astronaut programme, but children tend not to look at boundaries, they believe all is achievable.

"So, on December 6, 2019, it was announced that the UAE was looking for the second batch of astronauts.”

Hazza Al Mansouri became the first Emirati in space in 2019, after flying to the International Space Station on a Russian rocket for an eight-day trip. Sultan Al Neyadi was his backup.

Both of them have completed their year-long training at Nasa’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston this month.

Ms Al Matrooshi and Mr Al Mulla will begin their training in Houston in January, including learning the Russian language, learning how to perform spacewalks and mastering the systems of the space station.

Ms Al Matrooshi also revealed some of the challenges she faced during the selection process.

“First, there were the online interviews. I think I got a bit unlucky on that part because the cameras were not working for the people interviewing me, so it was a bit awkward talking to a blank screen,” she said.

The second part involved general and advanced medical tests, where the candidates underwent colour blindness examinations and scans where Ms Al Matrooshi said she could hear blood pumping through her jugular vein.

“That was really interesting and very weird to hear at the same time,” she said.

The final interviews were her “favourite part” because she met Emirati and Nasa astronauts.

She said she was unaware that Maj Al Mansouri, Dr Al Neyadi, and US astronauts Jessica Meir and Anne McClain would interview her.

“I was star struck at that point because I really wanted to become like the astronauts in front of me," Ms Al Matrooshi said.

"I never thought that I'd actually get to meet them that soon.

"I couldn’t stop smiling throughout the interview."

After the interviews and fitness examinations, the two newest members of the UAE’s astronaut corps were finally selected.

“I was ecstatic. This was a dream I had since I was 5 or 6-years-old," Ms Al Matrooshi said.

"The team grew from two to four and all of us come from different backgrounds and all of us had different journeys, but we all managed to reach this point in our careers."

It is unclear when Ms Al Matrooshi will fly to space, but after she and Mr Mulla complete their 30-month training at Nasa, they would qualify for future missions.

If selected, the astronaut would have to complete mission-specific training, which could stretch up to a year.

Source: The National News



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