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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 4 Apr 2018, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Pedalling Against Patriarchy: Pakistani Women Cyclists Send Message on Two Wheels

New Age Islam News Bureau


4 Apr 2018


 Saudi Fathers Honoured To Teach Daughters as Driving Ban Nears End

 Jeddawi among All-Women North Pole Expedition Team

 British Museum Trains Iraqi Women to Save World’s Oldest Bridge in Girsu

 Muslim Women in UK Told To Hide Hijabs, Stay Indoors Ahead Of 'Punish A Muslim Day'

 Thousands of Muslim Women Protest against Triple Talaq Bill in Mumbai

 Female Suspect in YouTube HQ Shooting Was Iranian Animal Rights Protestor

 Women Will End One-Man Rule in 2019: Republican People’s Party Leader

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau




Pedalling Against Patriarchy: Pakistani Women Cyclists Send Message on Two Wheels

02 April 2018

Women of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi were on a roll, literally, when they took to two wheels for the third Girls on Bikes rally. The rally was organized by Girls at Dhabas, an initiative started in Karachi a few years ago encouraging women to reclaim public spaces in Pakistan.


ISLAMABAD: Women of Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi were on a roll, literally, when they took to two wheels for the third Girls on Bikes rally.

The rally was organized by Girls at Dhabas, an initiative started in Karachi a few years ago encouraging women to reclaim public spaces in Pakistan.

Although Pakistan’s bustling cities have no shortage of roadside chai shops, kabob houses or vendors selling paratha rolls, it is rare for women to take up seats laid by the side of the road.

There are no rules preventing women and girls from taking a seat, but a patriarchal culture that encourages women to stay at home has also led to harassment in public spaces. This has resulted in a general acceptance that female are patrons are not welcome in some places.

“The bike rally is a public intervention. It changes our streets and it changes reality,” said director Anam Abbas, who filmed the Karachi leg of the ride this year.

“However short term and symbolic it may be, at that moment there is a rupture in the constrictive male public space. It will embolden some riders to keep riding, and for the witnesses it is the vision of possibility.”

Girls on Bikes, like Girls at Dhaba, lets women know that the country’s roadside restaurants — and the roads, too — also belong to them.

“The rallies are primarily a symbolic gesture we do once a year to reach out to women who may have been inhibited in the past from cycling in public spaces,” says Meherbano Raja, an Islamabad-based member of the both groups.

After the first set of rallies organized in 2016, other independent Girls on Bikes groups were started in Karachi and Lahore, with female cycling enthusiasts getting together for monthly rides, she said.

In 2016, Lahore was the site of the first Girls on Bikes rally.

Group member Shmyla Khan said: “For several women, it was their first experience navigating the chaotic traffic from the vantage point of a cyclist. Some participants said they enjoyed chatting with pedestrians, motorcyclists and rickshaw-wallas as they drove along. Cars full of families waved enthusiastically, took pictures and one child even gave us a high-five.”

Zara Peerzada, who joined the Lahore leg, said: “It was amazing — everyone was positive, patient and helpful.

“Our route took us around the heart of the city. Cycling through so much traffic was a little unnerving, but it did not feel uncomfortable or unnatural — and that was empowering. Just seeing so many women having a good time together outside, in public spaces, felt great.”

In Islamabad, more than 70 women joined the ride.

Grace Louise, an avid cyclist who has not biked since moving to Islamabad, found the ride heartening.

“It felt fun, supportive and inspiring, particularly the teenage girls who were so assertive and angry about sexual harassment and the importance of claiming space,” she said.

Another participant, Zara Zaman Khan Afridi, said: “People were surprised, but took an interest in what we were doing because we were screaming, ‘humari sarkeh, humara shehr, (our streets, our city).”

However, the cyclists also faced occasional catcalls and aggressive behavior from men.

“At times we felt like we were part of the rhythm of the city, but at other times we experienced the harassment that is part of the experience of women in public spaces — stares, catcalls and deliberate disruption,” said Shymla Khan.

Women shared stories and swapped strategies on dealing with everyday harassment.

The symbolism of the cycle rallies was not lost on the women who took part.

“I cycle and I walk normally in my life,” said Afridi. “I am all for taking back public spaces for women. We must do (these rallies) for others who don’t have the same accessibility as us.

“Poor women have to walk, you never see them on a bike, so if they can’t afford transport, unlike their male counterparts they have no choice but to walk. So this is for them,” she said.



Saudi Fathers Honoured To Teach Daughters as Driving Ban Nears End

04 April 2018

JEDDAH: Ever since the royal decree lifting the ban on women driving was issued on Sept. 26 last year, Saudis have received the historic news in many different ways.

Perhaps the best reaction was fathers and daughters hitting the streets to learn how to steer the wheel.

In preparation for the long-awaited date of June 24, when the royal order will come into force, two Saudi universities, Princess Norah and Effat, announced the opening of driving schools for females.

Effat University recently teamed up with Ford Motor Company by hosting a special Driving Skills for Life program with Effat University.

On the more private and intimate side, some fathers chose to be part of their daughters’ first time behind the wheel.

A number of videos of fathers giving driving lessons to their daughters circulated on social media sites and apps, especially Snapchat, which has millions of users in the Kingdom.

A duty and a special experience

“For me, this decision was expected a long time ago and was just a matter of time,” Baleegh Basharaheel told Arab News on the royal decree. “We have a lot of our daughters and wives who are studying outside the Kingdom and they are driving in Europe, in the US, in Australia. I think it was a decision made to change our culture in Saudi Arabia, and the change is coming too fast.”

The 50-year-old father said that he is neither against nor totally with the decision. “I think there should be some rules, some actions that need to be taken to make the driving of women in Saudi Arabia safe and also practical.”

Speaking of how driving lessons came about, Basharaheel, a resident of Jeddah and a father of four daughters and one son, said: “At the beginning, there was an interest from my daughter is being taught how to drive. I tried with all of my daughters to drive outside Jeddah in some open areas.”

He said he wanted to see for himself which of his daughters has “some caution and is a little bit focused on driving alone, not on any other (distracting) things.

“When I tested all my daughters’ driving skills, I felt that (only) one of them, in the future, can drive easily but still needs more practice and needs to go to driving school to thoroughly learn about the signals, traffic rules and some basic driving tips,” he added.

Basharaheel believes it is a duty to teach his daughters how to be “careful and respectful” on the road. “It’s my duty to remind them about some the tips that they should follow if they are interested in driving in the future.”

Remembering his daughters’ first steps as babies, Basharaheel said there is little comparison between the two situations, but it was more difficult when they were babies.

“Of course, I was more worried about them when they were babies than now behind the wheel.”

First times and first experiences are always special, particularly with one’s own children. “Teaching my daughters to drive was something I felt was better coming from me. However, that doesn’t mean it is a must. There are some alternatives. Currently, we have drivers and companies that ease the task for fathers, but for me, it was a special experience to have to with my daughters,” Basharaheel said.

He concluded with a piece of advice to all fathers: “It’s a good practice and I advise each and every father to start practicing with their daughters. It should be conducted on a frequent basis to feel and see the progress.”

Basharaheel’s middle daughter said it was a great honor to have her father as her personal driving instructor. “Father is the best instructor ever, because you have a different dynamic with your father from the one that you can get with any other instructor,” said 24-year-old daughter Waad Baleegh.

Apart from the fun they have, Waad said with her father she has access to a massive amount of experience.

Waad, who had taken four or five classes over the past years with her father, said it is a totally different experience: “I never thought this day would come, but here it is! I’m very excited because my dad has always been supportive from the beginning.”

Since her father witnessed everything from the beginning, Waad said he will be the first person to get a ride when she officially hits the streets.

“Of course he will be there to see how I do it all by myself. It’s mandatory for him to be there for my first time. It will have some sentimental meaning to it and will be special.”

A lovely bonding time

Batoul Al-Jabri and her twin sister Rawan, 26, experienced the thrill with their father for only a few minutes behind the wheel and were still able to feel the strong connection this unique experience gives.

“This maybe doesn’t count. Dad is probably too afraid of us wrecking his car!” said Batoul, laughing.

On whether she would rather have her father as her driving instructor, Batoul thinks that the idea has its pros and cons.”

“Yes and no. Yes, because I have fun and regardless of what they might think of girls driving, they themselves have fun (teaching us how to drive).”

“They remember when they first started learning to drive and when they first bought their new car, and they tell you all kinds of stories,” added Batoul. “It is a really lovely bonding time.”

Batoul said that some fathers, in their heads, cannot wait to give their sons their first driving lesson. “To them, it’s a moment they have long been waiting for since the baby was born. They didn’t imagine it would be a girl (who will be receiving those driving lessons).”

She said she has always hoped her father would teach her his “amazing” driving skills. “Dad is an amazing driver, but he is a horrible teacher,” Batoul said jokingly.

“I’m not dissing my father, I’m just saying that he makes me nervous when I drive. You will hear him screaming ‘Watch out, watch out!’ and the car is a mile away. So for this very reason, I said ‘no’ earlier as I’m afraid I would get nervous (if I had my father as an instructor) and then give up driving for good.”

Ads promoting the motion

A couple of world-famous companies took part in the “father and daughter” motion and invested in successful advertisements to further promote it.

Coca-Cola released their ad on Nov. 2 last year under the title “Change is an opportunity, special moment” with the hashtag #ChangeHasATaste. The ad shows a father and his daughter practicing driving in the desert, with the drink as a motivation to master the task.

In another ad by Nissan a number of women were invited to a special driving lesson with an unprecedented instructor. The company brought the fathers, brothers and husbands of these women to give them their first driving lesson.

“I was a bit nervous at first. This was the first time I drove, but knowing my dad was with me I felt safe and comfortable,” said Bayan Ashor from the ad.

Nissan used the hashtag #SheDrives in their ad.



Jeddawi among All-Women North Pole Expedition Team

April 04, 2018

JEDDAH — An intrepid team of four women from the Middle East and seven from Europe are set to launch a daring adventure to ski over 100 km in treacherous conditions to reach the North Pole.

Mariam Hamidaddin, 32, from Jeddah, will be part of the Euro-Arabian North Pole Expedition 2018, spending 10 days on the shifting ice of the Arctic Ocean to reach the top of the world.

If successful she will be the first female from Saudi Arabia to ski the last degree to the Geographic North Pole.

“I applied for this expedition because it is a challenge and an opportunity. An adventure with a diverse group of women which is focused on community, personal growth and empowers people. Of course, yes,” said Mariam.

The expedition aims to foster greater dialogue and understanding between women from Western and Arabian cultures.

“We want to send a strong and positive message about gender equality and the need for greater cultural understanding,” said expedition leader, Felicity Aston MBE, from the UK. “The world is facing global problems – such as climate change – that can only be tackled with global solutions. That requires everyone talking to each other more.”

In 2012, Aston became the first person in the world to ski across Antarctica alone and without the aid of kites, machines or dogs — a journey of 1,744 km that took her 59 days to complete.

The Euro-Arabian team will be sleeping in tents on the ice when they are not skiing, and will haul in sledges everything they need to survive in the Arctic. As well as the perils of temperatures as low as -40C, other hazards the team will face include movements of the pack ice that may split apart to reveal open water or push together to form walls of ice that have to be crossed. There is also the threat of polar bears.

The team will head to the remote Arctic archipelago of Svalbard from where they will fly to the floating ice station known as ‘Barneo’. They will start their ski journey across the Arctic ice to the North Pole from the station. Preparations for the expedition have been ongoing for nearly two years including training expeditions in Iceland and Oman.

The team will be conducting two important science experiments during the expedition and will be sharing their experiences live from the ice with schools and via social media. Updates will be posted on

The expedition is sponsored by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Lab, as well as Engie, Poseidon Expeditions, OmanTel and I Feel Slovenia.

Kaspersky Lab CEO Eugene Kaspersky — who will fly to the North Pole to meet and congratulate the women upon their arrival — said the company was proud to continue its support of inspiring female adventurers like Aston and her team.

He said: “For me, Arctic adventuring isn’t just an exciting challenge, it’s a powerful motivation. People like Felicity and her team – determined and passionate – genuinely inspire me. They’re also role models for the younger generation – they help them to really go after what they want in life.”



British Museum Trains Iraqi Women to Save World’s Oldest Bridge in Girsu

April 4 2018

The British Museum will train a group of female archaeologists to help restore the world’s oldest bridge with the hope of bringing tourists back to Iraq.

The ancient Sumerian structure at the entrance to the 4,000-year-old city of Girsu in southern Iraq will be used as a training site for the eight women from Mosul.

It is the latest project from the museum’s Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme, which aims to protect ancient sites that have been damaged by Islamic State.

The museum hopes that restoring the bridge will be a potent symbol of a nation emerging from decades of war and that the site will eventually attract tourists from around the world. A bilingual visitor centre will be created at the site in…



Muslim women in UK told to hide hijabs, stay indoors ahead of 'Punish a Muslim Day'

April 3, 2018

Ahead of ‘Punish a Muslim Day’, women in the United Kingdom have been warned to hide their hijabs and avoid going alone to pick up their children from school, reported the Daily Mail.

Several WhatsApp messages circulating in Islamic communities have warned people about going outside and are encouraging them to lock their doors properly as April 3 is the day chosen to carry out acts of violence against Muslims.

Last month counter-terrorism police in the UK began an investigation after people across the country reported receiving an anonymous letter advocating violence against Muslims.

One WhatsApp message explained the shocking propaganda letter in full, including details about the ‘points system,’ encouraging torture, acid attacks, arson of mosques and assaults reported the Mirror.

“This is not a joke its sick plan they have a pointing system where they will be giving points and reporting on a site with videos etc punishments include taking off hijabs…beating up and even acid throwing,” the message read.

The points system detailed in the original letter said 10 points would be awarded if you “verbally abuse a Muslim”, or 2500 points for “nuking Makkah.”

Other sickening acts included 50 points for throwing acid in a Muslim’s face and 1000 points for bombing or burning a mosque.

The WhatsApp message further read, “even though police say they are acting on it.. leaflets have been posted through doors in east London and kids have heard about it.”

In another WhatsApp message, Muslim women were advised to walk in groups of three or four when taking their children to school. They were also asked to try and hide their hijab with a hat or coat as one act on the ‘list’ is pulling hijabs off women, the Mirror reported.

“Try as much as you can to hide the hijab with hats,” the message said, adding that they should “avoid stopping if someone asks a question, in particular if it is out of public view.”

Twitter was abuzz with reactions and here is what some people shared:



Thousands of Muslim Women Protest against Triple Talaq Bill in Mumbai

APRIL 04, 2018

Raina Assainar

Thousands of Muslim women from Panvel, Navi Mumbai and Raigad district gathered outside the Panvel Tehsildar’s office on Tuesday and held a silent protest against the triple talaq bill passed by the Lok Sabha.

Mufti Abdullah Dolare, president, Panvel Ulama Committee, said, “The Supreme Court has passed an order saying that triple talaq is unconstitutional. Then what was the need to criminalise it? If the man is arrested and put behind bars for three years, who will look after his family and provide them maintenance?”

Sumaiya Noumani, whose father is a member of the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB), said, “We believe that the Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2017, was passed in haste. It was processed without consulting religious scholars and intellectuals of the community. The Bill is against the Constitution, and is anti-women and anti-children. The matter is also anti-social as a civil contract is penalised by converting a civil matter into a criminal offence.”

Ms. Noumani said she was hurt that President Ram Nath Kovind said that ‘Muslim women were captive to political cause’ while addressing the joint session of Parliament. She said, “Such remarks are direct insult and attack on our community. We condemn the approach of the present government made through remarks of the President. We demand that the statement be expunged and government stop hurting the sentiments of the minority community. We believe in our Sharia law and trust the words mentioned in it.”

A charter of demands was handed over to the Panvel Tehsildar and copies of it will be sent to the Raigad District Collector, the President and the Prime Minister.



Female suspect in YouTube HQ shooting was Iranian animal rights protestor

4 April 2018

Gunshots erupted at YouTube's offices in California Tuesday, sparking a panicked escape by employees and a massive police response, before the shooter -- a woman -- apparently committed suicide.

Police said three people had been hospitalized with gunshot injuries following the shooting in the city of San Bruno, and that a female suspect was found dead at the scene.

"We have one subject who is deceased inside the building with a self-inflicted wound," San Bruno Police Chief Ed Barberini told reporters. "At this time, we believe it to be the shooter."

Two law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 39-year-old San Diego resident Nasim Aghdam, who is of Iranian origin.

Aghdam was quoted in a 2009 story in the San Diego Union-Tribune about a protest by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals against the use of pigs in military trauma training. She dressed in a wig and jeans with drops of painted "blood" on them, holding a plastic sword at the demonstration outside the Camp Pendleton Marine Corps base.

"For me, animal rights equal human rights," Aghdam told the Union-Tribune at the time.

Angry at YouTube

Her father has spoken out and said she was angry at the company because it stopped paying her for videos she posted on the platform.

Ismail Aghdam told the Bay Area News Group that he warned police his daughter, Nasim Aghdam, might be going to YouTube because she "hated" the company.

Ismail Aghdam said he reported his daughter missing on Monday after she did not answer her phone for two days.

He said the family received a call from Mountain View police around 2 a.m. Tuesday telling they found Nasim sleeping in a car and he warned them she might go to YouTube.

Mountain View Police spokeswoman Katie Nelson confirmed officers located a woman by the same name asleep in a vehicle asleep in a Mountain View parking lot Tuesday morning.

She says the woman declined to answer further questions. Nelson did not respond to a question about whether police were warned Aghdam might go to YouTube.

Frantic scenes

Employees recounted frantic scenes as they fled the headquarters of the Google-owned video sharing service near San Francisco, with one saying he saw blood on the floor as he escaped.

"We were sitting in a meeting and then we heard people running because it was rumbling the floor. First thought was earthquake," employee Todd Sherman tweeted.

Sherman said that as he headed for an exit "someone said that there was a person with a gun," and added "at that point every new person I saw was a potential shooter."

Sherman's tweets continued: "I looked down and saw blood drips on the floor and stairs. Peeked around for threats and then we headed downstairs and out the front."

One image posted by a Twitter user showed employees being led out of the building with their hands up, with no further explanation.

Another YouTube employee, Vadim Lavrusik, tweeted: "Active shooter at YouTube HQ. Heard shots and saw people running while at my desk. Now barricaded inside a room with coworkers."

Later, Lavrusik said he had escaped to safety.

Witnesses reported helicopters on the scene as well as police SWAT teams.

The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed and that his administration was monitoring the ongoing situation in San Bruno.

Google communications tweeted: "Re: YouTube situation, we are coordinating with authorities and will provide official information here from Google and YouTube as it becomes available."

YouTube headquarters is located some 30 miles from the main Google campus in Mountain View.



Women Will End One-Man Rule in 2019: Republican People’s Party Leader

April 03 2018

Criticizing the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) approach to women, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu devoted much of his weekly parliamentary meeting to hailing women’s struggle for rights in Turkey.

“Women are their [AKP] biggest fear. That’s why they are telling women to stay at home. Women will stay at home if they want and hit the streets to defend their rights if they want,” Kılıçdaroğlu said on April 3 at parliament in Ankara.

He started his speech by saluting the 88th year of a law that allows women to become local administrators, specifically referring to the first women to become a mayor in Turkey, Sadiye Hanım, who was elected as mayor of the northeastern province of Artvin.

“As the republic was a revolution for women, it will also be women who praise the republic with democracy in 2019,” he added, referring to local, parliamentary and presidential elections due to be held in 2019.

“We will demolish the one-man regime. We will overthrow the dictatorial administration and the dictator,” the CHP leader said, referring to President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

“You will not insult people. You will not put pressure on them. You will ensure gender equality. You will trust the women of this country to the end. If you don’t, the women of this country will bring you down from there,” Kılıçdaroğlu added.

March of three women

Women outnumbered men at the CHP’s meeting this week, where the party’s women associations and supporters were present. In particular three women - Hülya Kurt, Dilek Taş and Nursel Karagöz – who recently completed a long protest march were in attendance.

The three women arrived in Ankara on April 3 after a 30-day protest march starting in the northeastern province of Çanakkale to raise awareness of abuse of children, women, animals and nature.

“We are honored to host them here and their honorable march,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“Women will bring law and justice to this country. You are the ones who defend gender equality. Women will struggle in every aspect of life, they will exist in every aspect of life. Women will provide the construction of contemporary Turkey, I am 100 percent sure of it,” he said.

As the names of prominent female figures from Turkey’s early republican history were read out, women responded by saying “present” and chanted “women on stage,” criticizing recent reports that women were not allowed to go on stage for a theater performance last week at the Turkish Parliament.

“The women of this country want to live in peace. They want this country to be a contemporary state. They want a free, comfortable life. The women of this country want an independent Turkey,” Kılıçdaroğlu said.

“The women of this country want equality, the right to speak. They want the right to become deputies, mayors, to have a voice in politics. I trust the women of Turkey,” he added.




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