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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 10 March 2016, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Nuns, Muslim Women Join To Promote Peace in Indonesia

New Age Islam News Bureau

10 March 2016 

Photo: Nuns, Muslim Women Join To Promote Peace in Indonesia


 The Arab Women in Cairo Leading the Push for Workplace Equality

 New Jersey Muslim Women Say No One Intervened When Man Attacked Them

 Muslim Women Escorted Off Plane for 'Staring' At Crew Member

 Zoabi, a Member of the Knesset for the Joint List, Campaigns for Better Treatment of Arab Women

 Role of Saudi Women in Promoting Social Cohesion Highlighted on International Women’s Day

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Nuns, Muslim women join to promote peace in Indonesia

March 10, 2016

Sisterhood of Interfaith Women hopes to serve as model of tolerance for local residents

A group of Catholic nuns and Muslim women in Ungaran in Indonesia's Central Java province have formed the Sisterhood of Interfaith Women to promote tolerance and peace in the world's most populous Muslim nation. (Photo courtesy of Father Aloysius Budi Purnomo)

Hundreds of Catholic and Muslim women in Ungaran, Indonesia, have committed themselves to work together to promote peace.

The group formed the Sisterhood of Interfaith Women following their March 9 meetings held at Christ the King Church and Jami' Istiqomah Mosque, which sits adjacent to the church. About 400 women, including about 130 nuns, participated in the event.

"We, women from different religious backgrounds, realize that a true sisterhood is the desire of each person. Thus, we commit to move and to continue moving so as to become promoters of peace according to our own faiths, religions and beliefs," they said in a statement.

The meeting was facilitated by the Semarang Archdiocese's commission for ecumenical and interreligious affairs.

"As faithful from different religious background, we commit to keep learning, understanding and materializing our own religious teachings as good as we can and to live in harmony within our families and communities as well as the society and the nation," they said.

Divine Providence Sister Yulia Marselina Silalahi, who coordinated the meeting, said Catholic nuns and Muslim women are natural allies.

"We are actually the same. We both wear veils; we both have the desire of building a true sisterhood. That's why we hold such a dialogue. There's no way that we can respect our differences if we don't sit together in dialogue," she told

She noted that their Central Java region has a reputation for tolerance. Still the group hopes they can serve as a model in tolerance and acceptance for local residents. "Preserving tolerance isn't easy though. That's why this meeting is important," she said.

Misbahatul Hidayati from the Institute for Development, Democracy and Media, noted that many Muslims viewed Catholic nuns "as a group of exclusive women."

"There was no forum or situation which could unite us," she told

She suggested that the next meeting should embrace women from other religious backgrounds. "Such a wall emerges because we dont know each other. As a result, social conflicts can happen," she said.



The Arab women in Cairo leading the push for workplace equality


Om Waleed is a taxi driver. In fact she is the only woman driving a taxi in Cairo. She has broken a huge taboo and put up with repeated harassment to pursue her ambition of doing the job she wants in order to support her family of three.

Euronews took a ride with her through the capital with the constant traffic jams creating more problems on her daily trips. Her skill has won her special standing among her male colleagues.

“At first I faced a lot of problems with other drivers, because they were surprised by the presence of a woman driving a taxi, and were wondering, asking me are you driving a taxi? I was frustrated at the beginning but I started to learn not to care about their comments, refusing to listen to what they were saying or to take heed of the words I heard in the streets,” she told euronews.

A petrol station in the city has become the first in the country to hire women attendants. Eight girls work during daylight hours. They went through a training course which focused on how to deal with male customers who are usually surprised to be served by a woman. But not everyone filling up is shocked – the girls also get admiring glances especially from women who are impressed to see them there.

“My father rejected the idea at the beginning, asking me how I could would work in an open place like this, and why are women working in mens jobs! But when I started, I found it very easy and simple not as my parents had told me, and they became convinced after that,” said one of the girls, Hadeel Ashraf.

Om Khada supports her family forging metal. It is a tough job but the only one she could find to earn an income. She has broken through many barriers but believes people now believe in her and she has shown she can be as productive as men.

She says her life experience should be a beacon for other Arab women to overcome social and psychological barriers.

“It was very strange for many people to see a woman working in such a job and dealing with men in the street, they were asking me why do you work? After some years they started to get used to my work, people started to get to know me very well, I can tell you it’s not a shame at all that a woman works in any kind of job as long as it’s not illegal,” she explained.

Euronews correspondent in Cairo Mohammed Shaikhibrahim said: “With these examples which still remain very few and rare in Arab society, Arab women are proving once again their ability to break the restrictions which have been imposed on them But their dreams do not stop at this point, as the gap between reality and ambition to achieve substantial equality is still big.”



New Jersey Muslim Women Say No One Intervened When Man Attacked Them


A man allegedly spat at a group of Muslim female college students last week while aboard a New Jersey train, and addressed them with racial and gendered slurs. The women said no one on the train came to their defence.

Patrick Pietropaolo, 62, of Newark, was arrested for the attack on Thursday, a New Jersey Transit Police spokeswoman said. He was charged with simple assault, bias intimidation, theft of service (for not paying the train fare) and resisting arrest. He was taken to the Essex County Jail, where bail was set at $15,000.

Sara Ebrahim, left, and Yasmeen Alsaker say a man spat and cursed at them for being Muslim aboard a New Jersey train on Thursday March 3, 2016.

Three Muslim students -- 21-year-old Yasmeen Alsaker, 21-year-old Sara Ebrahim and 25-year-old Tania Khaliq -- were all wearing hijabs while riding the Newark Light Rail when they say the incident occurred. They say Pietropaolo shouted several obscene slurs at them, a number of which appear below.

"Funny story happened today," Alsaker wrote Thursday in a Facebook post. "I finished school and took the lightrail to get to [Newark] penn station with my two Muslim hijaby friends. We sat down, a man was sitting behind us. He started cursing us out. My friend turned around to see whats going on, and then turned back. The man stood up and said: why are you staring at me ha? Why are you staring at me you F***ing muslim B**ch, and then he spit on her."

She added that "no one in the light rail said anything."

Pietropaolo allegedly called Ebrahim a "fucking Muslim bitch." She recalled that he also used the words "motherfucker" and "cunt."

"I didn't stop staring at him," she said. "We thought he was going to really going to attack us."

Alsaker and Khaliq pushed Ebrahim to the front of the train, she said, and they opened the door to the train's operator so they could alert him to Pietrpaolo's behavior. However, the train operator closed the door on them, the women said. Ebrahim said she later realized it's probably illegal to open that door.

"I was in a bad state," Ebrahim said. "I was crying."

The operator called for assistance from the New Jersey Transit Police Department, according to the police spokeswoman. When the train arrived at Newark Penn Station, Pietropaolo "exited the Light Rail Vehicle, and the New Jersey Transit Police Department gave chase on foot for a short distance" until he was apprehended.

"They really were treating us so good," Ebrahim said of the officers, who took the women to the police station to file a report. "They calmed us down."

Ebrahim said police told the women that cameras on the light rail probably captured audio from the incident. She said they also her Pietropaolo was likely "mentally unstable." However, Ebrahim said she believes he meant what he said on the train.

Pietropaolo's arrest comes amidst a surge in anti-Muslim rhetoric and anti-Muslim hate crimes across the country.

He couldn't be reached for comment on this story. It is unclear if he has a lawyer.

Alsaker wrote in her Facebook post that she worries about where the U.S. is heading, especially when the front-runner in the Republican primary has proposed banning Muslims from entering the country.

"I was sitting in the police station and just thinking that this is just the beginning of something horrible," she wrote. "If Donald Trump wins, this will basically become legal, people today saw us going through this and did NOTHING, the man literally stood up and spit, like WHAT THE HELL WERE YOU WAITING FOR!"

Ebrahim is a U.S. citizen who was born in Egypt. She said she can understand why no one intervened on the train. After all, they couldn't have known if Pietropaolo was armed or would grow violent.

However, the incident has left her shaken.

"I'm feeling awful," she said, noting that she started "crying out of the blue" during a tutoring session on Friday.

"I'm used to people looking at me on the street," Ebrahim said, referring to what it can be like to walk around while wearing a hijab. "But I don't want to get used to people attacking me."

"I feel in this country, I'm odd," she continued. "People look at us as if we are aliens. I feel like I don't belong here. Sometimes I don't wanna be here... I'm tired of being odd."

Ebrahim cried while explaining that many of her Muslim friends were too frightened to continue wearing the hijab after the terrorist attacks in Paris in November. 

"I am tired of the hypocrisy," she added, explaining that you can't say the U.S. has freedom while "telling me to dress a certain way."

"You can't come and judge me," she said. "If I respect you, you have to respect me."



Muslim women escorted off plane for 'staring' at crew member

TNN | Mar 10, 2016

LOS ANGELES: In a shocking incident, two Muslim women were escorted off of a plane by police after a cabin crew member accused them of "staring" at her.

The pair had flown from Boston to Los Angeles in the US without incident but were singled out after the JetBlue passenger plane landed, witnesses said.

Passengers said they had heard a member of cabin crew tell a coworker that she "did not appreciate" being stared at by the women, "The Sun" reported.

"The flight attendant had casually relayed to a coworker that she did not appreciate being stared at - she did not seem rattled or scared - just smug," said Sharon Kessler, who was on board the flight.

"Then - after we landed - she announced that the authorities would be boarding the plane and to remain in our seats with seat belts," said Kessler.

A video of the incident was posted on YouTube.

"It was a terrible moment - honestly - these women sat quietly, watched movies - it felt like overkill from this flight attendant," Kessler wrote on her Facebook page.

In a statement, JetBlue said the flight attendant had been under the impression one of the women had been filming in-flight procedures.

"If a crew member believes a customer may be filming safety procedures, the crew member may report it for further review. In this instance, our crewmembers acted in accordance with security procedures. We appreciate our customers' patience and cooperation, and apologise for the inconvenience," the airline said.



Zoabi campaigns for better treatment of Arab women

Mar 10, 2016

On Tuesday, Zoabi held several meetings of Arab women in the North, aiming to provide them with more information about their rights as well as to offer them support.

Arab women suffer great difficulties as they join the workforce in greater numbers, Joint List MK Haneen Zoabi told The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

“This is an issue that has to be a top priority,” since employment provides Arab women with independence and security, she said.

Employment gives them “an entry ticket into the public sphere,” said Zoabi.

On Tuesday, Zoabi held several meetings of Arab women in the North, aiming to provide them with more information about their rights as well as to offer them support.

The widespread abuse and exploitation of women in the workplace is difficult to deal with because of the fear of being fired from their jobs, she said. This is especially the case with Arab women who have difficulty finding proper employment.

Increasing numbers of women working should lead to an improvement in economic conditions and help end the cycle of poverty, but these expectations are not met among working Arab women in general, and in the periphery specifically.

Many women make far less than the minimum wage, with some earning as little as NIS 8-13 shekels an hour.

Furthermore, much of the employment arrangements are made without the proper paperwork and lack pension benefits.

Another issue is the failure of employers to pay women travel expenses while demanding that they work on weekends and evenings when public transportation is unavailable.

“As Arabs they are discriminated against in the employment market and as women they are discriminated against once they are employed,” she said.

Recent research suggests that Arab women with advanced academic degrees suffer similar problems, Zoabi noted, arguing that a much firmer stance must be taken with employers.

Zoabi’s current campaign seeks to empower women and provide them with both information and practical support, such as referral to legal services.

The state also needs to do more, she added.



Role of Saudi Women in Promoting Social Cohesion Highlighted on International Women’s Day

Mar 10, 2016

RIYADH — On occasion of the International Women’s Day, the United Nations Country Team in Saudi Arabia and King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND), held panel discussions 

under the title “The Role of Saudi Women in Social Cohesion”.

The event, which was held at the UN Building, included screenings of award winning short movies that are produced locally with messages promoting peace and dialogue, and panel 

discussion on the role of Saudi women in promoting social cohesion.

The first panel discussion titled “The role of Saudi Women in Social Cohesion” included Dr. Omaima Al Khamees, who presented “us and the others” initiative highlighting the role of 

women in progress, Kawthar Al Arbash, who talked about her own personal experience in sending messages of peace and tolerance after the death of her son in Dammam mosque bomb 

blast last year, Dr. Maysoun Al Enizi who talked about social cohesion in a diverse society — success story from the northern region and Hamad Al-Kadi who discussed the  role of women 

in social cohesion in the Kingdom — the past and the future.

The second panel discussion titled “Saudi Women Nurturing Social Cohesion” had three panelists; Abdullah Al-Qahtani, who discussed social cohesion and how to start from within, Fatima 

Al Hussein Children’s literature to promote tolerance, Aljohara Al Ghusoun: Social cohesion within the family — a successful initiative.

The event also highlighted the example of the holy city of Makkah as a model city for social cohesion and tolerance in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the world.

In his opening remarks, the United Nations Resident Coordinator and the United Nations Development Program Resident Representative, said:

“Women are at the core for building harmony and social cohesion as they are often described as having abilities that naturally support and promote peace, especially in educating the 

next generation of children and passing on important values. The children and youth of today and tomorrow will learn much from their mothers and they have to take forward the mutual 

understanding and respect that mothers can impart to their children. Education plays a significant role in supporting social cohesion and is a core component of building peaceful 

sustainable societies.

Islamic teaching emphasizes the process of creating the strongest bond possible in order for people to live in harmony. The concepts of community, unity, family and social relationships 

are at the roots of Islamic teachings.”

He said: “With the support to member states, the United Nations is committed to doing its part to implement the Sustainable Development Goals, which will improve the lives of people 

everywhere, in particular women. The SDGs cannot be achieved without an inclusive approach and without social cohesion.  To achieve social cohesion women play a central role.”

Amal Al Moallimi, Head of the Women Branch, King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue (KACND), introduced the panel discussions saying, “In the beginning I would like to thank the 

United Nations Country Team for collaborating with King Abdulaziz Center for National Dialogue to celebrate this event, which embodies the concept of cultural exchange between Saudi 

Arabia represented in the Center and the international community represented in the United Nations.

It’s indeed a great celebration where panelists and attendees presented an extraordinary image for social cohesion and a refined Saudi way of thinking.”

The 2016 theme for International Women’s Day is “Planet 50-50 by 2030: Step It Up for Gender Equality”. The idea of this theme is to consider how to accelerate the 2030 Agenda, 

building momentum for the effective implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal No. five -Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls- and 

No. 4 –Ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning.




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