New Age Islam News Bureau
19 December 2020
• Arab Spring: Remembering the Women Who Gave Their Lives for Change
• Gal Gadot ‘So Honoured’ To Appear as Wonder Woman on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa
• US: Michigan Prisons Sued Over ID Photos of Muslim Women without Hijab
• Woman in Hijab Assaulted In 2nd 'Hate-Motivated' Attack in Edmonton This Month
• Top Panelists Highlight Best Practices In Combating Violence Against Women
• Doha Forum Holds Webinar On Empowering Afghan Women
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Somaliland Cans Female Football Tournament as Un-Islamic
December 17, 2020
Players fight for the ball during Sudan's first women's league soccer match at the Khartoum stadium, Khartoum, Sudan September 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah
GAROWE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Somalia’s breakaway region of Somaliland said on Thursday it had cancelled its first women’s football tournament as it fell foul of Islamic values, sparking outrage among women’s rights groups.
The Somaliland Women’s Football Tournament, featuring six female teams representing Somaliland’s six divisions, was expected to begin on Thursday in the capital Hargeisa.
But Abdirashid Aidid, director of sports at the ministry of youth and sports, said authorities had opted to can the seven-day event as it was un-Islamic.
“We cancelled it because it is not in line with Islamic values and norms,” Aidid told a news conference.
“After public anger, including from the sheikhs, we agreed to suspend it. Everyone saw our women playing during the training sessions on TV and social media platforms. We don’t want that at all.”
Amoun Adan - an athlete, women’s rights advocate and businesswoman - who organised the tournament, said authorities had first given her the go-ahead earlier this month.
They were later swayed by complaints from religious leaders after pictures were broadcast of the players training, she said, adding that all had been appropriately dressed.
“Such a decision is a denial of our rights as women. We didn’t do a sinful thing. What we did in the training is not something new. Women were fully covered,” Adan told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone.
Adan is co-founder of Ubah Inspire and Fitness Center in Hargeisa, a health and recreation centre that aims to empower women and girls through physical exercise.
She said Somaliland was an outrider in the Muslim world.
“Women’s football tournaments happen in other Muslim countries. I encourage the government to reconsider so that women can play sports and enjoy their rights freely.”
With a population of about 4 million, Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 following civil war, but is not internationally recognised as a country.
In other regions of Somalia, women are permitted to play football and do other forms of sport in private places only.
Like much of Somalia, women in Somaliland face a barrage of challenges - largely due to poverty, conflict and a clan-based culture that promotes a strict male hierarchy and authority.
Somalia has high rates of rape, female genital mutilation and child marriage, and women’s access to justice is restricted, according to UN Women.
The cancellation of the tournament prompted swift criticism from women’s rights campaigners on social media.
“The governments decision to ban the #Somaliland national women’s football tournament is a clear reflection of the gov’ts position towards women,” tweeted Maria Gaheir from the Center for Policy Analysis in Horn of Africa.
“It is also a result of the lack of women’s representation in the gov’t, who can speak & express the woman’s stance on issues like these”.
Saudi Arabia launched a women’s football league in November, two years after women were first allowed to watch football matches in stadiums in the Gulf kingdom.
In 2019, Iran also lifted a ban on women watching football matches, after FIFA threatened to suspend the country over its controversial stadium restrictions.
Arab Spring: Remembering the Women Who Gave Their Lives for Change
18 Dec 2020
Of course it was women who were front and centre – so many had nothing to lose (Picture: LWPP)
Soon it will be a decade since the smoke from fire raging in Tunisia reached Cairo, the city I call home. In December 2010, a trickle of protest in a small city in Tunis quickly became a flood, engulfing North Africa and the Middle East almost entirely, becoming known as the Arab Spring. As a Somalian activist committed to securing greater rights and freedoms for women and girls, the energy and determination of the young people leading it reminded me of Somalia’s revolt against our own dictator nearly 20 years earlier. The ongoing impact of the 2007-8 global financial crisis had hit hard, and many protestors had grown up in countries led by the same regime, and often the same man for decades – dictators and authoritarians who had never faced a fair election. The young people of the Arab region felt they had no future, so they took the streets to protest.
The story we must remember from that time, however – one it has been convenient for many to forget – is that from Tunisia to Egypt to Yemen, it was often women who were leading the protests and were the most powerful and persuasive voices. Women like Amal Basha from Yemen, a prominent advocate for human rights, who opened the eyes of the world to violations carried out during the Yemeni revolution, she reported on them from the streets. Like Mouna Ghanem, who co-founded a movement – the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace (SWFP) – and became a powerful voice for peace and women’s participation. And Zahra’ Langhi, a peace advocate who formed one of the first campaigning groups for Libyan women, the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP). Of course it was women who were front and centre – so many had nothing to lose. Women were not only facing the same economic hardship as men in the late 00s due to the worldwide economic downturn, but they weren’t seen as equal in the eyes of the law in most Arab countries at the time. They could not receive an equal share of inheritance for instance, and, in Yemen, their testimony in court counted only for half of a male witness’. From girls excluded from getting an education, to women politicians denied the chance to stand for election, they were discriminated against in almost every aspect of life with all sorts of violence permitted against them. Up until 2017, in Lebanon, Jordan and Tunisia, a convicted rapist could walk free if he married his victim. The protests that started in 2010 offered a chance to address these injustices and inequalities, but it was chaotic. To stabilise and smooth the course of the revolutions, it was clear that the network of women’s rights groups I belonged to had to help. I first met Libyan human rights lawyer and activist Salwa Bugaighis in Cairo in October 2011. I was immediately enthralled: she was brilliant, articulate, wise, funny, passionate, and so stylish. Salwa had a vision for her country of democracy, justice and equality, and even through the suffocating grip of former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi, she had managed to become an internationally recognised advocate for Libyan women. Together, we joined a group of others to launch the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP), a group that put women’s rights on the national agenda and successfully lobbied for increased women’s political participation.
Salwa’s activism went in tandem with her political aspirations, which saw her resign from one of Libya’s governing councils in protest at the poor representation of women. The dreams of a peaceful and democratic Libya were becoming more distant as the country slipped toward civil war – Salwa, though, kept her faith. On the day of the last general election to be held in Libya, 25 June 2014, Salwa urged her supporters to the polls. As she returned home from casting her own ballot, four armed men stormed in after her, shooting Salwa in the head, and abducting her husband Essam never to be seen again. Nothing has ever hit me like her murder. It felt as though they had not murdered one person, but the hopes and dreams – my hope and dreams – of women across the Arab region. Salwa was the embodiment of so much of what we had spent years campaigning for and showed undeniably that there were women who had the skills, determination and the courage to build equal and just societies in our troubled lands. Her murder proved that there were forces who would stop at nothing to crush them. There are thousands of stories of women who rose to the occasion during the Arab Spring and were prepared to grab the opportunities it presented with both hands. So when I look back over the last 10 years, I see the positive potential for so much. From the initial uncertainty and hope of the Arab Spring came the incredible energy of women struggling toward shared goals, knowing full well the scale of the task but finding strength in our solidarity. As time passed, however, the odds against us mounted, and in its wake has come an appalling sense of loss and devastation. So many women were beaten, raped and sexually assaulted during the revolution. Women like Mona Eltahawy, sexually assaulted and beaten on the streets of Cairo. Or Loujain al-Hathloul, one of many voices for women’s rights imprisoned in Saudi Arabia for their activism. Only last month, another outspoken Libyan woman – Hanan al-Barassi – was shot dead in Benghazi. To this end, no one would argue that the revolutions lived up to the promise of an end to corruption and for people to have a say in how they are governed. Conflicts rage on, authoritarians tighten their grip, hard-won gains are under threat. Influential lobbies in parliaments plot to reverse progress, moving to abolish protections for women, like reducing the legal age of marriage to just nine years old, as was proposed in Iraq in November 2017. However, there has been progress, especially for women. It was female voters in Tunisia who became a critical electoral bloc and secured a victory for Beji Caid Essebsi in the 2014 elections. Under his leadership, the country passed some of the most progressive laws to protect women and girls from violence ever seen in the Arab region. Though he has been criticised for not going far enough, it has demonstrated that progress can be made through women’s activism and political engagement. Women’s groups have mobilised to abolish discriminatory laws.
Women like Salwa Bugaighis dedicated their lives to achieving dignity; they saw a chance to build the future they wanted for themselves. For me, this is the legacy of the Arab Spring. Salwa’s message of justice was so powerful that her enemies knew they had nothing to counter it but fear and violence. She led the way to ending discrimination and violence against women and girls – now we just have to find them, support them, and protect them. I remain hopeful, and defiant. Joined by a new generation of brilliant young women, I and others like me are determined to learn the lessons of the Arab Spring to bring our communities with us to an equal and just future.
Gal Gadot ‘So Honoured’ To Appear as Wonder Woman on Dubai’s Burj Khalifa
December 16, 2020
DUBAI: Ahead of what is for many the most anticipated film of the year, Wonder Woman herself took over Dubai’s Burj Khalifa on Tuesday night, two days before the theatrical release of “Wonder Woman 1984” in both the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Stars Gal Gadot, Chris Pine and Kristen Wiig all appeared on the world’s tallest building as part of a unique video experience created for a one-time-only event. Inspired by the film’s 1980s setting, the video made use of a static glitch effect that echoed the aesthetics of the time period, while also incorporating footage from the film’s trailer.
Gadot, ahead of her appearance on the Burj Khalifa, spoke to Arab News about the special occasion.
“I’m so excited! Please take a photo and send it. I saw the model of what it should be looking like and it’s insane. I’m so, so honored,’ Gadot told Arab News.
Gadot also expressed her thanks to the people of Dubai for giving her the chance to appear on the iconic structure, expressing her wishes to visit the UAE as soon as she’s able to.
“I would love to (visit Dubai) and I wish all of you guys happy holidays and I wish you all health and happiness,” said Gadot.
Gadot also stressed the cultural significance of the character, a female role model who projects both strength and moral courage for young girls across the world. Having hero like Wonder Woman projected onto the Burj Khalifa, for example, lets young girls looking up at the image know that there is no limit to what they can become themselves.
“I realized the power of these movies. I’m a big believer that when you see it, you think you can be it, and then you become it. I didn’t have the opportunity to see all of these strong female characters (growing up). Now I’m seeing the way that it affects my daughters, and also boys and men, and all different type of people. It’s so powerful, and it’s so strong, and I feel very grateful that I have the opportunity to be a part of this,” says Gadot.
While Jo Blankernburg’s theme from the initial “Wonder Woman 1984” trailer, entitled “The Magellan Matrix” accompanied the Burj Khalifa display, the film itself is scored by Academy Award-winning composer Hans Zimmer.
Zimmer replaces the composer Rupert Gregson-Williams, who scored the first Wonder Woman film in 2017. Zimmer has a long history in the DC Comics world, scoring Christopher Nolan’s entire Dark Knight Trilogy, Man of Steel (2013), and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), which itself marked the debut of Gadot as Wonder Woman.
“I loved working with Rupert Gregson-Williams. There was nothing wrong with [him], my first experience was incredible. But we’re working with Hans’s themes so much,” said Patty Jenkins, referring to the film’s use of the music Zimmer created for the character in “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.”
“Hans really is, I think, the greatest composer of our times. Getting him to take on his own theme and this new shape of the world was just something I couldn’t pass up. We had a great time. He’s a genius. When he puts his spirit onto something, what comes out of him is pretty incredible. What a thrill! Watching him, he took the Wonder Woman theme that he had written, which is very ‘battle cry’, and he actually morphed it into this grand heroic superhero theme, which I didn’t think he could do, but he proved me wrong. So getting him to do that as well was pretty amazing,” Jenkins continued.
US: Michigan Prisons Sued Over ID Photos Of Muslim Women Without Hijab
December 18, 2020
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organisation, has filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the Michigan Department of Corrections (MDOC) over allegedly forcing female inmates to remove their hijabs for their ID photos.
The lawsuit comes after more than 15 women claimed they were forced to remove their headscarves for booking photos. The inmates include Muslim women and those belonging to the Moorish Science religious movement.
An attorney for the Michigan chapter of CAIR, Amy Doukore, said the state's prison policy was not just a violation of religious rights but women's rights too.
"It's embarrassing, it is humiliating and it is degrading for Muslim women," she said. "The stripping of the hijab for a Muslim woman is equivalent of making a non-Muslim woman walk around topless or shirtless in front of men and then publishing them to a website."
The photos were not only displayed on the women's prison ID cards but also made publically available on the MDOC website.
Doukore has said that CAIR had tried to reach out to MDOC officials on more than one occasion since 2017 when the organisation started to receive complaints about the photograph policy from women housed at Huron Valley Correctional Facility.
"We have a dedication to our Muslim brothers and sisters facing incarceration to protect their religious liberties," she said. "They shouldn't have their religious freedoms taken from them. We take these issues very seriously, as this is important regardless of whether someone is incarcerated or not."
In a press release on Monday, CAIR Michigan's Executive Director Dawud Walid said MDOC's procedures for booking photos are a violation of the inmates' religious beliefs and freedoms, which are supposed to be protected under federal law.
"It is unfortunate and ironic that MDOC, which holds Americans in its custody for legal violations, is not following the law when it comes to reasonably accommodating the religious rights of Muslims."
The statement further explained that the lawsuit alleges that MDOC had violated the Muslim and Moorish Science women's rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment, Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA) and the Michigan Constitution. The women are seeking declaratory relief, a permanent injunction against MDOC's discriminatory photograph policy and damages.
Woman in hijab assaulted in 2nd 'hate-motivated' attack in Edmonton this month
Dec 16, 2020
Edmonton police are investigating after a woman wearing a hijab was assaulted Tuesday at the Southgate LRT station — the second high-profile attack in seven days against Muslim women wearing headscarves.
Both attacks were at Southgate Centre, a mall at 51st Avenue and 111th Street in south Edmonton. On Dec. 8, two women wearing hijabs were assaulted in the parking lot.
Premier Jason Kenney condemned the assault on Twitter, saying it is "completely unacceptable, it is revolting, it is un-Albertan."
Leela Sharon Aheer, minister of culture, Kaycee Madu, justice minister, Rajan Sawhney, minister of community and social services and the Alberta Anti-Racism Advisory Council issued a joint statement condemning the incident.
Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson denounced the assaults as "heartbreaking" and said "the responsibility to condemn racially motivated behaviour falls on all of us."
A 32-year-old woman has been charged with assault with a weapon in Tuesday's unprovoked attack at the mall's LRT station, police Chief Dale McFee said Wednesday.
McFee said the victim — a 23-year-old Black woman — had just entered the southeast doors of the Southgate LRT station around 10:45 a.m. when she was accosted by a stranger.
The accused repeatedly tried to strike the victim in the head with a shopping bag while yelling racially-motivated obscenities at her, McFee said.
The victim ran away while the attacker tried to "thwart her escape," McFee said. A transit peace officer at the scene intervened and called police.
Hate crimes unit investigating
The Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council received a letter from Edmonton police on Tuesday, confirming an investigation by the EPS hate crimes unit.
In the letter, which was obtained by CBC News, police said the attack "appears to be racially and hate-motivated."
Rene Ladouceur, 32, is charged with assault with a weapon and nine outstanding warrants for unrelated charges.
In a statement issued Wednesday, police said the EPS Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit is also recommending that Section 718.2 of the Criminal Code of Canada be applied in this case, allowing the courts to consider increased sentencing when there is evidence the offence was motivated by hatred.
Police said the two incidents at the Southgate Shopping Centre are not believed to be related.
McFee denounced the latest attack and said police are working with the victim and her family.
"It's not something we ever want to see in our city," he said. "This will now proceed before the courts and hopefully we'll see this dealt with accordingly.
"These things will never will be acceptable and those who choose to do this to other members our community are going be held accountable."
Attacks 'happening out of hate'
Council president Faisal Khan Suri, president of the Alberta Muslim Public Affairs Council, said the council has also been in contact with the victim of Tuesday's attack, and her family.
"The suspect had swung at the individual," Suri said. "She kind of ducked out of the way, so she did not get hit. But there was ... one or two tries, attempts to assault the individual."
He said there has been a troubling rise in Islamophobia and racism in the city.
"They're being targeted by their identity, what they show," he said. "These are hijab-wearing women whose identity is very visible, and what is happening is happening out of hate."
In the Dec. 8 incident at Southgate Centre, Edmonton police officers responded to an assault in progress in the parking lot around 3:40 p.m.
Officers were told that a man approached two Somali women wearing hijabs sitting in their vehicle and began yelling racially motivated obscenities at them.
Witnesses told police the man then punched the passenger-side window, shattering the glass. Fearing for her safety, the passenger ran from the vehicle and the man chased her, then pushed her to the ground and began assaulting her.
The second woman tried to help and was also shoved to the ground before bystanders intervened and stopped the attack.
Following an investigation by the Hate Crimes and Violent Extremism Unit, Richard Bradley Stevens, 41, was charged with two counts of assault and one count of mischief.
Police said the investigation into the Dec. 8 case is ongoing.
In a statement on Facebook on Tuesday, the Muslim affairs council thanked the Edmonton Police Service for its "prompt action" in the latest investigation and urged community members to be vigilant of their personal safety.
Edmonton's Muslim community is on edge, Suri said.
"These are a couple of utterly unprovoked incidences," he said. "Unequivocally horrendous and horrific for anyone to experience."
"There's definitely fear because this could be anyone's daughter, sister, mother."
Premier, mayor condemn attacks
On Twitter, Kenney said it is "frustrating to see another instance of hate-motivated violence" in Edmonton.
"As the legal process takes place, we hope to see justice swiftly rendered for the victim of this crime," the premier said.
During a news conference Wednesday, Iveson described the attacks as heartbreaking and unacceptable. "I condemn these assaults in the strongest terms," he said.
The mayor said the city remains committed to improving commuter safety with additional security officers, surveillance cameras and new crime reporting tools. However, he said low ridership during the pandemic has brought added challenges.
When the system was full, Iveson said, there was "natural accountability."
"In addition to all of the cameras, you'd have literally the eyes of Edmontonians on each other. And that does create a certain amount of accountability and compliance."
Iveson said the city will continue to work with community leaders in an attempt to confront racism in all its forms.
'It is heartbreaking because it is not my idea of Canada, and it is definitely not my idea of Edmonton. But that hatred does linger and fester in all communities and needs to be called out for what it is."
Top Panelists Highlight Best Practices In Combating Violence Against Women
December 18, 2020
RIYADH — Saudi Arabia’s Human Rights Commission (HRC), in cooperation with the US Embassy to Riyadh, conducted a joint virtual panel discussion entitled “Best Practices in Combating Violence Against Women.” The event included four high-profile panelists from Saudi Arabia, the US, and the international community.
Sarah Al-Tamimi, the vice-chair of Saudi Arabia’s National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, introduced the event by reflecting that, “Violence against women both shapes and is shaped by broader gender inequality in society” which is why, “the Kingdom has undertaken a series of critical measures in prevention, protection, and prosecution.”
Kathy Abizaid, the wife of US ambassador John Abizaid and a longtime educator and family support advocate, echoed the need for adopting a comprehensive approach in her opening remarks, “Eliminating this violence requires all of us — women and men, governments, civil society, and religious-based organizations — to take action and demonstrate through words and deeds that this violence has no place in today’s society.”
The first panelist was Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri, the secretary-general of the Saudi Family Affairs Council, who provided an overview of the Kingdom’s efforts to combat this crime including the passage of both the Anti-Abuse Law and Child Protection Law in 2013, the launch of a dedicated call center to receive domestic violence complaints (dial 1919) in 2016, and the passage of an anti-harassment law 2018. She also discussed the Kingdom’s network of shelters and other services for victims of abuse.
Dr. Manal Benkirane, representing UN Women, discussed international and regional case studies and best practices while touching on the important work the UN Women’s regional office has done in productively engaging with government stakeholders.
Dr. Maha Almuneef, the founder of the National Family Safety Program and professor at King Saud bin Abdulaziz University for Health Sciences, discussed the importance of data collection in prevention measures. She also highlighted the important roles that actors in the public, private, hybrid, and civil society sectors play. She especially highlighted the efforts of the National Family Safety Program in building capacity and raising awareness.
Meanwhile, Debby Tucker, the president of the Board of Directors at the US National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence, shared valuable insights from her 30-year career in the field, emphasizing the need to engage with not only victims but perpetrators of abuse if one is to fully address this problem on a societal level.
Al-Tamimi concluded by stating that, “Combating violence against women is a pre-requisite for empowering women — a central plank of Vision 2030.”
Doha Forum Holds Webinar On Empowering Afghan Women
17 December 2020
Doha Forum, in collaboration with The Wilson Center in the US, hosted a virtual webinar that addressed the topic of empowering Afghan women’s rights in light of the ongoing Afghan peace negotiations.
The session hosted a group of the most prominent Afghan women who play an important role in shaping the current Afghan-Taliban negotiations.
The session was moderated by Congresswoman Jane Harman, CEO of The Wilson Center.
During the panel, Fatima Gailani, member of the Afghanistan negotiating team and former president of the Afghan Red Crescent Society, stated that “Taliban is very focused on tradition, which is why their women are not well represented within their society. There are many examples of female representation in Islams history. This is why religion should not be used an excuse to alienate women”.
She also added that “Islam should not be confused with tradition. Our religion is very progressive, and it was the first to grant women the right to inheritance”.
Habiba Sarabi, former Afghanistan Minister of Women’s Affairs and former Minister of Culture and Education, pointed out that “the new team representing Afghanistan is very diverse. We have men and women and people from different political parties and religious backgrounds”.
Roya Mahboob, an Afghan businesswoman and entrepreneur, highlighted the bright side as she explained that today’s Afghanistan is not the same as 20 years ago. She added, the younger generation wants more and is willing to work for it.
During the pandemic, a group of Afghan teenagers worked with MIT engineers to design an open-source ventilator.
The session dealt with several topics, the most prominent of which was the importance of the leadership role of women in the future of Afghan peace and security.
In addition, the panel shed light on the importance of dealing with women’s issues as core issues in the Afghan-Taliban talks and in the future of Afghanistan in general.
The session was concluded with the panellists stressing the importance of women’s participation and inclusion in the political process, and their aspiration towards a future that includes all spectrums of the Afghan people.
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