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Loujain al-Hathloul, Female Saudi Activist , Jailed since 2018 On Hunger Strike To Protest Detention Conditions

New Age Islam News Bureau

28 October 2020

• Australian Woman Recalls ‘Terrifying’ Moment Female Passengers Strip-Searched in Qatar

• Saudi Women Achievers Make A Pitch For Kingdom’s First Female-Only Golf Tourney

• Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Association Cleanup Recently Adopted Highway In Bradford

• As A Scientist, Woman, Arab American, I'm Voting For A President Who Respects All Three

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



 Loujain al-Hathloul, Female Saudi Activist , Jailed since 2018 On Hunger Strike To Protest Detention Conditions

27 October 2020


Al-Hathloul has been in jail since 2018 [Getty]


A prominent female Saudi activist, who has been jailed in the kingdom since 2018, launches an indefinite hunger strike in protest at her detention conditions, especially a ban on her receiving regular calls and visits from her family.

Loujain al-Hathloul’s sister told Reuters on Tuesday that she had started her campaign a day earlier.

She “told [our parents] she is exhausted of being mistreated and deprived from hearing her family's voices," Lina al-Hathloul cited her as saying.

Hathoul last went on a hunger strike for six days in August after being allowed to take no more than one family phone call and two visits throughout six months.

The 31-year-old graduate of University of British Columbia in Canada is being held at the capital Riyadh's al-Hair prison. She has been one of the staunchest supporters of removal of the kingdom’s ban on females’ driving and its high-handed male guardianship laws.

She was arrested that year alongside at least a dozen other women activists surprisingly after the kingdom’s ambitious Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was reported to have canceled the ban and relaxed the guardianship system.

Al-Hathoul had first been detained in 2014 and held for more than 70 days in custody after attempting to drive from the neighboring United Arab Emirates to Saudi Arabia.

According to her family and rights groups, Loujain and two other of the female activists faced solitary confinement as well as sexual harassment and torture during interrogation.

Saudi officials have denied torture allegations and said the arrests were made on suspicion of “harming Saudi interests and offering support to hostile elements abroad.”

Bin Salman has been trying to project himself as the champion of reformation in the kingdom. His 2017-present tenure as the country’s heir to the throne has, however, witnessed sweeping arrest campaigns, including against activists, dissidents, and clerics.

In 2018, the crown prince’s incumbency witnessed its yet most gruesome Saudi-linked atrocity that featured assassination of dissident journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul.

Turkish officials say Khashoggi’s body was dismembered upon his assassination and his remains are yet to be found. In the aftermath of the killing, a CIA report said that the Saudi crown prince had ordered the assassination of the journalist, who was an outspoken critic of bin Salman.


Australian Woman Recalls ‘Terrifying’ Moment Female Passengers Strip-Searched in Qatar

October 26, 2020


Australian Foreign Minister Marine Payne speaks during a press conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Monday, Oct. 26, 2020. (AP Photo)


LONDON: An Australian woman has recounted the moment female passengers were removed from a Qatar Airways flight in Doha to be strip-searched without permission in an airport carpark.

Kim Mills said she was “terrified” after she and eight other women were asked to leave the plane, bound for Sydney, on Oct. 2 without explanation, as authorities tried to identify the mother of an infant who had been found abandoned in the toilets at Hamad International Airport.

Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the incident was “a grossly, grossly disturbing, offensive, concerning set of events.”

After boarding the flight and changing into more comfortable clothing in order to sleep, Mills said the aircraft was delayed without the crew being able to give the 34 passengers any details as to why.

“Every hour, the captain or the co-pilot came on (the intercom) and apologized for the delay, saying that he was waiting for permission to taxi,” Mills told Guardian Australia.

“And I just went back to sleep. I was finally woken, I guess it was three hours later, by the head steward actually shaking me awake. He said I had to get my passport and leave the plane,” she added.

“I thought: ‘What are you talking about, what’s going on?’ He said: ‘The police need to talk to you, and you need to get your passport and come straight away’.”

She said she was led off the plane with the other female passengers, and when she asked a female guard what was happening, she was told: “You’ll find out when we take you downstairs.”

Mills continued: “They took me downstairs in a lift which felt like you were going down to the bottom of the airport. And then I came out of the lift and there were two officers … I thought: ‘What are they doing with me, where are they taking me?’ All of these things are going through my head. I still didn’t know the reason … I noticed they had at least two ambulances lined up … I thought: ‘Oh, they’re going to do a coronavirus test, they must be doing all the females first.’

Mills added: “They told me to step forward, to go into the ambulance, and as I stepped forward another officer … stood in front of me and said: ‘No, no, you go, you go.’ As I was standing there with this officer telling me to go, a young lass came out of the ambulance, and she was crying and distraught.

“I just turned around and started walking with her trying to comfort her. I said: ‘What’s wrong, what’s going on?’ And she told me that they’d found a baby in the bathroom at the airport and they were examining all the women.

“I was the luckiest one on the whole flight because I have grey hair and I’m in my 60s. They probably looked at me and thought: ‘Well, that’s impossible, it could not be her’.”

Afterward, Mills said, they were taken back upstairs to an interview room to provide their flight details, before being put back on the plane to Sydney.

The airline staff were “absolutely horrified” when they learned what had happened, she added.

“My legs were just wobbling; I was just so pleased to be back on the plane because I was terrified they were going to take me away somewhere … Why didn’t they explain to us what was going on? It was horrible, not knowing, to me that was one of the worst parts of it.”

Mills said the crew apologized to them over the intercom upon the plane’s arrival in Sydney. She added that the women involved discussed what had happened as they waited for 90 minutes to travel by bus from the plane to the airport terminal.

Some of them revealed that they had been instructed to remove their underwear in order to be examined.

One of the women collected the contact details of her fellow passengers to hand over to Australian police.

“It was absolutely terrible,” Mills said of the ordeal. “I can’t imagine what it was like for those poor young girls, it must have been horrendous … I don’t know why they had to put (the other women) through that, I really don’t.”

Payne said: “We have made our views very clear to Qatari authorities on this matter. This is an extraordinary incident and I have never heard of anything occurring like this in my life.”

She added that Australia’s government has formally raised the issue with the Qatari ambassador, along with a demand for an investigation to be launched.


Saudi women achievers make a pitch for Kingdom’s first female-only golf tourney

October 28, 2020

JEDDAH: Inspirational Saudis who overcame gender barriers to achieve a string of firsts for women in the Kingdom have reflected on the groundbreaking nature of their feats, in a new video series heralding the country’s first all-female golf tournaments.

Dalma Malhas, Saudi Arabia's first female Olympic medalist, Mariam Fardous, the first Saudi woman to deep dive in the Arctic Ocean, Nelly Attar, founder of Move Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s first dance studio, Maram Al-Butairi, general manager of Eastern Flames, the first Saudi female football team, and DJ Cosmicat, the Kingdom’s first female DJ, came together to share what it means to them to have been a “first woman” in Saudi Arabia.

The initiative was organized by Golf Saudi as a means of illustrating the milestone of next month’s debut Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the Public Investment Fund (PIF) — the Kingdom’s first ladies golf tournament, and only the second ever international, women-only professional sports event held in the country.

Fardous — who was only the third woman to deep dive in the Arctic when she took the plunge in 2015 — said: “I believe that everyone should make their own mark in life. This is my one rule. I wanted to make a mark — one mark that could be seen and felt by everyone.

“I hope to be a source of inspiration for women, especially girls who don’t believe that we can achieve the impossible. I imagine that our vision — and the fact we have achieved something — will make girls see that they can overcome anything and achieve their dreams, and that they can think outside of the box in creative ways. We can be poster women for our country,” she added.

“These famous golfers who are coming to Saudi Arabia have certainly had their own difficulties, but we can see how they’ve managed to succeed and how they were able to make their own mark in life. They are all great achievers. I’m so excited to learn more about golf here in Saudi Arabia, in my own country, and see these inspirational female athletes compete.”

The five-part video series — which launches Tuesday on the event’s official Twitter and Instagram channels (@saudiladiesintl) — invited each of the five women to share their journey to creating Saudi history.

They each explained what drove them to shatter the glass ceiling above them, and how they saw their achievements inspire other women across the Kingdom, the wider Middle East and the world.

Malhas said: “Representing Saudi Arabia at the Youth Olympic Games and winning a bronze medal was a moment that was full of honor, pride and glory — and it definitely changed my life. I think it is very important for young girls to see women achieving their goals and pursuing their dreams. It just raises an awareness that it is now possible for them to do the same.”

The new tournament has been orchestrated by Golf Saudi, who are hoping this will drive more Saudi women to take up golf. As announced last week, the governing body will also make golf free for up to 1,000 women from next month, when they launch their Ladies First Club membership.

Golf Saudi CEO Majed Al-Sorour said: “The Aramco Saudi Ladies International, presented by the PIF, is yet another significant and historic step forward for Saudi Arabia, and is the latest on the same path these five women and thousands more have helped carve throughout the Kingdom in recent years.

“Our two tournaments next month will be only the second and third international, professional women-only sports events to ever be held in our country. We feel that’s something of incredible impact, and in celebrating it, we are highlighting the pioneering Saudi women who have helped make it possible,” he added.

“This unique video series does that, and it is our honor to have these exceptional women encapsulate the ethos of the Aramco Saudi Ladies International — and the excitement around it — in this way.”

The $1 million prize tournament takes place Nov. 12-15 at Royal Greens Golf & Country Club in King Abdullah Economic City (KAEC), and will be followed two days later by the unique format of the Saudi Ladies Team International,  Nov. 17-19, where teams of four players will battle together for a share of $500,000.

Both events will feature more than 100 female European Tour golfers, including Solheim Cup heroes Georgia Hall and Charley Hull, and a host of other top names.


Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Association cleanup recently adopted highway in Bradford

28 October 2020

The ladies of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Association were out Sunday afternoon, collecting garbage found along Sideroad 5 in Bradford, as part of their initiative for a cleaner community.

Just this past summer, the association adopted two sections of roadways in Bradford, one along Yonge Street from Line 8 to Line 12, and another on Sideroad 5 from Line 12 to Highway 89, as part of the Adopt-a-Highway program through Simcoe County. Adopted roadway sections are usually anywhere from two to five kilometres in length.

The program allows volunteers to pick up litter along certain county road rights-of-ways with residents, community organizations, private business and industry contributing to a cleaner, healthier environment.

Under the program, groups and individuals agree to adopt a section of a Regional right-of-way and keep it clean. In addition to the satisfaction of creating a cleaner environment, the volunteers are recognized through signs erected on the adopted roads.

On Sunday, 14 members of the assosciation collected garbage along  5 Sideroad in between Line 12 and Highway 89, between Bradford and Innisfil. Once garbage bags were full, the women set them on the side of the road for the county to come pick up.

"We believe that “cleanliness is half of faith,"said Sadaf Naseem, outreach secretary for Ahmadiyya Muslim Women Associationn, Bradford.  "This inspired us to take on this project as a way to give back to our community by keeping it clean."

The group had previously cleaned up their adopted roadway section along Yonge Street, and were happy to be out on the weekend to clean up Sideroad 5.

Throughout the pandemic, the group has been unable to gather in congregational prayers. They miss their weekly and monthly events in the Ahmadiyya Muslim community. Instead they have been meeting online through Zoom calls.

"Our members are working on adopt-a-road while keeping the social distancing protocols," said Naseem. "We missed celebrating the Muslim heritage month in the Library Zima room and at our schools. I hope we will be able to do so next October."

As a scientist, woman, Arab American, I'm voting for a president who respects all three

26 October, 2020

On 5 November 2016, the day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, I stayed home from work.

I was overwhelmed with a paralysing sense of fear; one that manifested as a constant stream of tears and inability to sleep. I reached out to my friends, many of whom are women, LGBTQ+, and members of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour) communities.

Their fears mirrored mine. I remember intimate conversations sharing our fears about what this election meant for them, and for me. As a scientist. As a woman. As an Arab American.

My anxieties have continued throughout this administration. As a scientist, I have been infuriated and heartbroken watching them ceaselessly sabotage scientific integrity. In their coronavirus response, this administration has put American lives at risk by blatantly lying about its danger and dismissing peer-reviewed and scientifically accepted mandates like mask usage, social distancing, and self-isolation practices.

In their climate response (or lack thereof), the Trump administration has gutted necessary regulations to curb greenhouse emissions and limit pollution. They have pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, dismissing global warming as a "hoax". They have gutted agencies like the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in a coordinated effort to cripple science in public health discussions and decisions.

The science denialism that has become a hallmark of this administration is intimately tied with their complicity in racism. Within days of taking office, President Trump enacted the Muslim Ban, and its chilling effects were felt by thousands of Arab Americans, including in the scientific community. His administration embraced an isolationist foreign policy strategy that directly impacted the United States' competitive status as a leader in science.

A diluted but equally concerning rule was proposed on 24 September 2020, when the Department of Homeland Security suggested restricting the tenure of international students in the United States. This science denialism directly undermines the Arab culture and scientific presence in the United States.

As a woman, I have watched in fear as the Trump administration undermined my rights. Most recently, President Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill Ruth Bader Ginsburg's seat on the Supreme Court. Her position on the Court will realise the very real threat of overturning Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that legalised abortion.

Her career and statements on religious liberty paint a picture of a Supreme Court hostile to the rights of women and LGBTQ+ folks. President Trump's nomination of Judge Barrett is only the most recent blow to women's rights, and its impact will be felt most directly by Brown and Black women.

It is impossible to separate these actions from the racist framework that they uphold. Efforts like dismantling abortion coverage, undermining health and reproductive provisions in the Affordable Care Act, halting equal pay, weakening the Title IX Amendment, and rolling back overtime protections disproportionately affect marginalised communities and women of colour.

For example, the United States leads the developed world in maternal and infant mortality, and Black women are four times more likely to die in childbirth than white women. By stripping away reproductive rights and diluting - or flat out overturning - provisions to protect women, this administration is complicit in a system that endangers some of the most vulnerable members of our community.

As I cast my vote for the 2020 presidential election last week, I reflected on the last four years of the Trump administration. I reflected on the experiences of my fellow scientists, afraid of being banned from the country they call home, no longer able to do their research. I reflected on the experiences of my Black friends, fearlessly leading the Black Lives Matter movement against systemic racism in America.

I reflected on my LGBTQ+ friends, who have faced an onslaught of discriminatory policies from the Trump administration. And I reflected on the countless others who have suffered at the hands of an administration that prioritises the rights of white, straight, able-bodied, cisgender, men above the most vulnerable among us.

I have never felt more empowered and ready to cast my vote for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. I am tired of watching the Trump administration systematically strip the rights of marginalised people in our communities. I am tired of watching the administration denounce science-backed policies, especially those that directly impact American lives and the global community.

When I cried casting my ballot, they were tears of relief mixed with profound sadness about all that we've endured over the last four years. They were tears of hope, too. Hope in a future - and an administration - that embraces science, dismantles the racist structures upholding privilege in our society, and protects the lives of all Americans.




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