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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 27 Apr 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Egypt’s ‘Farewell Intercourse’ Law with Deceased Wives Sparks Fury

New Age Islam News Bureau

27 Apr 2012

 Iraqi farmer marries two women in one night

 Fighting child marriage in Sudan

 India: Mangalore College bans burqa in class

 Female circumcision anger aired in India

 Indonesia: Six married students barred from exams

 Indonesian Women urged to stop using animal products

 Dutch burqa ban may go after govt falls

 Khalifa grants citizenship to 930 children of Emirati women

 1.6 million Saudi women jobless

 Indonesian teens defy re-education attempt

 Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi arrested

 Osama bin Laden's three widows and children deported from Pakistan

Photo: Egypt’s ‘Farewell Intercourse’ Law with Deceased Wives Sparks Fury




Egypt’s Controversial, Farewell Intercourse Law Sparks Fury

Apr 27 2012

London: Egypt’s new Islamist-dominated parliament is preparing to introduce a controversial law that would allow husbands to have sex with their deceased wives up to six hours after death.

Known as the “farewell Intercourse” law, the measure is being championed as part of a raft of reforms introduced by the parliament that will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 for girls.

Egypt’s National Council for Women is campaigning against the changes, saying that ‘marginalising and undermining the status of women would negatively affect the country’s human development’.

Dr Mervat al-Talawi, head of the NCW, wrote to the Egyptian People’s Assembly Speaker Dr Saad al-Katatni addressing her concerns.

Egyptian journalist Amro Abdul Samea reported in the al-Ahram newspaper that Talawi complained about the legislations, which are being introduced under ‘alleged religious interpretations’. The subject of a husband having sex with his dead wife arose in May 2011 when Moroccan cleric Zamzami Abdul Bari said marriage remains valid even after death.

He also said that women have the right to have sex with her dead husband, reported.

It seems the topic, which has sparked outrage, has now been picked up on by Egypt’s politicians.

TV anchor Jaber al-Qarmouty slammed the notion of letting a husband have sex with his wife after her death under the so-called ‘Farewell Intercourse’ draft law.

“This is very serious. Could the panel that will draft the Egyptian constitution possibly discuss such issues? Did Abdul Samea see by his own eyes the text of the message sent by Talawi to Katatni?” the Daily Mail quoted him as telling the website.

“This is unbelievable. It is a catastrophe to give the husband such a right! Has the Islamic trend reached that far? Is there really a draft law in this regard? Are there people thinking in this manner?” he added.



Iraqi farmer marries two women in one night

 Apr 27, 2012

Abdul Rahman Nayef al-Obeidi, a 22-year-old Iraqi farmer, fell in love with two women, but instead of choosing between them, he married both in one night in a small village in central Iraq.

The wedding ceremony for Obeidi and two of his cousins, Intidhar, 17, and Suad, 22, was held on April 6 at his family home in Al-Laqlaq village, north of Tikrit.

The ceremony was attended by the families of his two brides, relatives and friends, who were happy and surprised.

Obeidi, the youngest of five sons, said that he informed his parents about his plan to marry his two cousins in one night and they encouraged him, though many of his relatives were against the idea.

"It took me less than one month to make a final decision because the two families are my relatives and I love the two girls," Obeidi said.

The most important step was to persuade the two young women.

Intidhar said: "He told me, 'We will marry, me, you and Suad, in one night, so what do you say?' And I told him it is all right, if you treat us both the same way."

Islam permits men to marry up to four women, but stipulates that the wives must be treated equally.

Suad said she was surprised when Obeidi told her about his idea, but he persuaded her to go along.

Obeidi's older brother Salman played the role of mediator in the negotiations with the two families, and succeeded in making his brother's dream come true.

His father, Nayef Hamid said he feels proud of his son, although he is the only of the five sons to marry two women.

Hamid said that he is ready to support all his sons if they decide to marry twice.

Obeidi's mother, Rasmiya Mohammed too said she supported her son and did not want him to feel sad because he loves the two women.

Commentary on a picture of the married trio posted on Facebook was mixed, with men generally supporting the idea, and women against it.

"This man is a hero. There is no one who has done that before him, and this man should be put in Guinness Book of World Records," Ali Bassi Abbar wrote.

But Sara Yasser disagreed, writing sarcastically: "Poor guy; he did not want to break one of their hearts. He is really a nice man."

Another woman, Sara Saad, criticised the two new brides, writing that, "Any woman who agrees to such a marriage does not have any sense or dignity."



Fighting child marriage in Sudan

 Michael Petrou

 Apr 27, 2012

Asha el-Karib, a Sudanese feminist and activist, doesn’t think ten-year-old girls should marry, or that all women be required to have a male guardian. She’s presented some 120 articles of “alternative legislation” to the Sudanese public that would change these and other family and marriage laws now in effect in Sudan. For this, she’s been branded anti-Islamic and a tool of foreign states.

El-Karib is the founder of the Sudanese Organization for Research and Development, an NGO that receives some funding from the Canadian International Development Agency through the Canadian NGO Inter Pares. She spoke with Maclean’s in Ottawa, where she had come to meet with members of Parliament and staff at CIDA.

“In our view, the family remains an areas where the subjugation of women is reinforced,” she says.

El-Karib spent more than a year researching the effects that sharia, or Islamic law — which provides the basis for family law in Sudan — has on women’s health and education before designing something different. Her proposed legislation would raise the legal age for women to marry to 18, among other changes. Though secular, it is heavily influenced by laws in Muslim countries such as Morocco. Nevertheless, with few exceptions, the Sudanese government scorns el-Karib’s work.

“They never discuss the laws with us. They just say you are anti-Islamic and you are following a Western agenda,” she says.

El-Karib does get support from some Sudanese journalists, including time on television to talk about her ideas. Recently, during a television call-in show, a viewer berated the host for allowing el-Karib to appear on the program. Like many of her opponents, he said she was a pawn of the West.

“I said, ‘I don’t get my legitimacy from you. This is an issue that concerns me and I have full rights as a Muslim to talk about the law that governs me.’”

Accusations of being a Western lackey don’t offend her, says el-Karib, but she finds them frustrating. “I do feel sometimes a bit of anger for not being understood right. I’m known in Sudan for being a women’s activist and for coming from a progressive family. These are not ideas coming from the West. They’re part of my heritage.”

El-Karib doesn’t expect any of her proposed laws to be adopted as long as Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is in office. She’s waiting for a change in government. “What we’re hoping to do is inspire people that there is an alternative,” she says. She doesn’t want Sudanese women to think they’re doomed forever to live as they do now.



India: Mangalore College bans burqa in class

 Apr 27, 2012

MANGALORE: A Mangalore college has banned women students from wearing the burqa in classrooms, laying down the law in its prospectus. The diktat that is likely to trigger a debate criss-crossing gender and sectarian lines, was meant for undergraduate courses at the St Aloysius Pre-University College.

"Students must be neatly dressed in accordance with the rule of approved etiquette. Girls are not expected to wear burqa in the classrooms and in the examination halls. The decision of the principal in this regard is to be accepted," reads the first condition in the general regulations, a copy of which is with TOI.

At many places in UP's Muslim-dominated areas, students routinely wear the burqa but most take it off inside classrooms although there is no fiat against the full-body dress. In New Delhi's Jamia Milia Islamia, a central university, there is no restriction on students wearing the burqa to classes.

Internationally, France, Italy and Belgium are among countries that have banned the burqa to empower women and ensure personal identification among other reasons. Many other European nations may follow suit.

St Aloysius registrar AM Narahari told TOI on Thursday the college didn't object to girls wearing burqa on campus and in the corridors. However, "girls are not allowed to enter classrooms and exam halls wearing burqa." Narahari said lecturers found it difficult to teach students in burqa and it was mandatory for students to show their face during exam.



Female circumcision anger aired in India

Apr 27 2012

Eleven years ago, Farida Bano was circumcised by an aunt on a bunk bed in her family home at the end of her 10th birthday party.

The mutilation occurred not in Africa, where the practice is most prevalent, but in India where a small Muslim sub-sect known as the Dawoodi Bohra continues to believe that the removal of the clitoris is the will of God.

"We claim to be modern and different from other Muslim sects. We are different but not modern," Bano, a 21-year-old law graduate who is angry about what was done to her, told AFP in New Delhi.

She vividly remembers the moment in the party when the aunt pounced with a razor blade and a pack of cotton wool.

The Bohra brand of Islam is followed by 1.2 million people worldwide and is a sect of Shia Islam that originated in Yemen.

While the sect bars other Muslims from its mosques, it sees itself as more liberal, treating men and women equally in matters of education and marriage.

The community's insistence on "Khatna" (the excision of the clitoris) also sets it apart from others on the subcontinent.

"If other Muslims are not doing it then why are we following it?" Bano says.

For generations, few women in the tightly-knit community have spoken out in opposition, fearing that to air their grievances would be seen as an act of revolt frowned upon by their elders.

But an online campaign is now encouraging them to join hands to bury the custom.

The anti-Khatna movement gained momentum after Tasneem, a Bohra woman who goes by one name, posted an online petition at the social action platform in November last year.

She requested their religious leader, the 101-year-old Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, ban female genital mutilation, the consequences of which afflict 140 million women worldwide according to the World Health Organisation.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin is the 52nd Dai-al Mutalaq (absolute missionary) of the community and has sole authority to decide on all spiritual and temporal matters.

Every member of the sect takes an oath of allegiance to the leader, who lives in western city of Mumbai.

When contacted by AFP, Burhanuddin's spokesman, Qureshi Raghib, ruled out any change and said he had no interest in talking about the issue.

"I have heard about the online campaign but Bohra women should understand that our religion advocates the procedure and they should follow it without any argument," he said.

But over 1 600 Bohra Muslim women have since signed the online petition.

Many describe the pain they experienced after the procedure and urge their leader to impose a ban.

"The main motive behind Khatna is that women should never enjoy sexual intercourse. We are supposed to be like dolls for men," 34-year-old Tabassum Murtaza, who lives in the western city of Surat, told AFP by telephone.

The World Health Organisation has campaigned against the practice, saying it exposes millions of girls to dangers ranging from infections, haemorrhaging, complicated child-birth, or hepatitis from unsterilised tools.

In the Middle East, it is still practised in Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Jordan and Syria.

"It is an atrocity committed under the cloak of religion," says Murtaza, who along with her husband was asked to leave their family home when they refused to get their daughter circumcised.

"My mother-in-law said there was no room for religious disobedience and we should move out if we cannot respect the custom," she explained. "It is better to live on the street than humiliate your daughter's body."

Asghar Ali Engineer, a Bohra Muslim and expert on Islamic jurisprudence, has known the dangers of fighting for reform.

He has authored over 40 books proposing changes, particularly around the status of women, and has been attacked by hardliners inside a mosque in Egypt and had his house trashed by opponents.

While both France and the United States have laws enabling the prosecution of immigrants who perform female circumcisions, the practice remains legal in India and Engineer expects this to remain the case.

"Female circumcision is clearly a violation of human rights, the Indian government refuses to recognise it as a crime because the practice has full-fledged religious backing," he said.

"No government has the courage to touch a religious issue in India even if the practice is a crime against humanity."

He says many fathers are simply unaware of the damage they are doing by following the custom.

"I prevented my wife from getting our daughters circumcised but in many cases even fathers are not aware of the pain their daughters experience," he says.



Indonesia: Six married students barred from exams


Six junior high school students in Kutai Timur regency, East Kalimantan, were disqualified from participating at the National Examinations (UN) this week for being married.

Imam Hidayat, an official for the regency’s education agency, said that he was disappointed in the students’ decision to put marriage ahead of education.

“They still have future, why do they choose to be married now?” he said on Wednesday, as quoted by

But he also said that the local administration could not intervene in the personal decisions of each of student.

The local education agency’s decision is controversial, as many of its neighboring counterparts have allowed married, and even pregnant, students to take the test.

A total of 3,653 junior high-school students sat the exams this week, while 66 others were disqualified for various reasons.

The exams run from April 23 to 26, consisting of four subjects including Bahasa Indonesia, English, Mathematics and science. (asa/dic)




Indonesian Women urged to stop using animal products


International animal protection group ProFauna wants Indonesian women to stop using beauty products that contain animal elements, in a bid to stop the killing of wild animals.

A campaign on the issue took place in Malang, East Java, on Thursday, with models posing on sidewalks while holding a banner saying, "Beautiful without killing wildlife".

"It is uncivilized for a human being to kill an animal just to look prettier," ProFauna Indonesia chief Rosek Nursahid said, as quoted by

Rosek said turtle shells were one animal product that was commonly used in jewelry and crafts.

Such products are common in market shelves in Jakarta, Bali and Yogyakarta.

"These crafts include bracelets, necklaces, fans, jewelry boxes and earrings," Rosek said.

People continue to use turtle-shell accessories, despite of the 1990 Law on Wildlife Conservation, which carries a maximum five years’ imprisonment and Rp 100 million (US$10,900) in fines for those who found guilty of killing turtles, she said.

Rosek also called on women not to keep endangered animals, such as eagles and primates, as pets.

"The more the women care about animals the better, especially because women are close to children and thus they have the opportunity to teach their kids about the value of conserving Indonesian wildlife," Rosek said.



Dutch burqa ban may go after govt falls

 Apr 27, 2012

AMSTERDAM: With the collapse of the Dutch center-right government, the Netherlands may now drop some of its most eye-popping proposals aimed at Muslims and other immigrants and could soften its strong anti-immigration rhetoric.

A ban on burqa is less likely to go ahead after the government collapsed at the weekend.

The minority Liberal-Christian Democrat coalition's alliance with Geert Wilders' Freedom Party (PVV) fell apart when they could not reach agreement on crucial budget cuts. An election has been called for Sept.12.

In return for Wilders’ support in Parliament, the government had proposed a number of laws, including bans on Muslim face veils and on dual nationality.

If it appears clear that there is no longer a parliamentary majority in favor of such proposals, they could soon be taken “off the table”, said Maurits Berger, professor of Islam in the contemporary West at Leiden University.

“These policies were driven by PVV but also by this government in order to maintain their relationship with PVV. They have turned Holland into a pariah,” Berger said. “These are the legacy of the PVV.”



Khalifa grants citizenship to 930 children of Emirati women

25 April 2012

ABU DHABI — The President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has issued a decree granting citizenship to 930 children of UAE women married to foreigners who satisfied requirements for citizenship by virtue of the supreme order to grant citizenship to eligible children of Emirati women.

The committee tasked with implementing directives of the President on children of UAE women married to foreigners had presented to Shaikh Khalifa a list of names it approved in its last meeting.

The meeting was chaired by Ahmed Juma Al Za’abi, Deputy Minister of Presidential Affairs, and attended by representatives from the Ministry of Presidential Affairs, Ministry of Interior, the Higher National Security Council and State Security Authority in the context of finalising legal procedures for granting citizenship.



1.6 million Saudi women jobless

 Apr 27, 2012

There are more than 1.6 million unemployed Saudi women, a senior official from the Labor Ministry told a number of local dailies on Wednesday.

Fahd bin Sulaiman Al-Tikhaifi, assistant secretary of the Ministry of Labor for development, said some of them possess high educational qualifications including Ph.D.s and Master's.

"These unemployed women have submitted their CVs to the ministry’s employment sites applying for suitable jobs," he said during a presentation at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Al-Tikhaifi explained the applicants included 78 holders of Ph.D. degrees and fellowships, 2,250 with Master's, 11,000 with high diplomas and more than 380,000 with bachelor’s.

He said women with diplomas number 74,000 and those with high secondary school certificates were more than 530,000. He added there were 224,000 with intermediate school certificates and 240,000 elementary school certificates.

"More than 178,000 could be considered illiterate," he said.

The official said 16,000 women have applied for jobs in the construction sector, 78,000 in the security sector and 113,000 in the hospitality and services sector.

He described the employment of Saudi women in the private sector as very weak and said large companies sometimes had zero female staff.



Indonesian teens defy re-education attempt

 Apr 27, 2012

Punks who had their heads forcibly shaved, return to Aceh's streets in protest against "injustice".

Dozens of punk rockers in Indonesia were arrested and had their mohawks shaved by security officers last December.

They were also forced to undergo a so-called re-education programme in Aceh - the only province in Indonesia with Islamic law.

But now the punks are back on the streets in what they say is their way to protest against "corruption" and "injustice".

Al Jazeera's Step Vaessen reports from Aceh, Indonesia.



Iranian human rights activist Narges Mohammadi arrested


Mohammadi, who was taken seriously ill after being detained previously, now has to serve six years in jail

An ailing human rights activist whose contribution to the campaign against juvenile executions in Iran is internationally recognised has been arrested to serve her six-year prison term.

Last month an appeal court in Tehran reduced Mohammadi's earlier 11-year jail sentence to six years after finding her guilty on charges of spreading propaganda against the ruling system, acting against national security and membership of Iran's Defenders of Human Rights Centre (DHRC).

As the deputy head of the DHRC, the 39-year-old activist and journalist was a close colleague of the Nobel peace laureate Shirin Ebadi who presided over the organisation.

Mohammadi has developed an undiagnosed epilepsy-like disease since her previous arrest in 2010 when she was kept in solitary confinement in Tehran's Evin prison for a month. Her illness makes her lose control over her muscles temporarily during the day.

Several other leading Iranian human rights activists are also being held in Evin, including the lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh, who has represented several political activists and protesters arrested in recent years.

Mohammadi, a mother of two and winner of the 2009 Alexander Langer award, is the wife of Taghi Rahmani, a political activist, who has spent a third of his life in jail. Rahmani has recently fled Iran in fear of further persecution.

Mohammadi's arrest has sparked outrage among international human rights groups and organisations. The press watchdog Reporters Without Borders has strongly condemned her conviction.

"She was detained in the northern city of Zanjan on 21 April after receiving an intelligence ministry summons and was transferred to Tehran's Evin prison to serve a six-year jail sentence," read a statement published on the RSF's website.

"Mohammadi's husband, fellow journalist Taghi Rahmani, told Reporters Without Borders he is very worried about her deteriorating health," it said. "Rahmani, who has worked for many media since 1981, has also been constantly harassed by the security services and has spent a total of 14 years in Iranian prisons. He finally fled the country earlier this year."

Speaking to the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran (ICHRI), a US-based non-governmental organisation, Rahmani said: "Everyone is concerned about our two young children, and I worry a lot about them, too. But I know that my mother, my sisters and Narges's sisters will look after them.

"More than the kids, right now I worry about Narges's illness. She has muscular paralysis, which is exacerbated under stress and pressure. I don't know what prison would do to her."