• Switzerland Parliament Kills Headscarf Initiative
• 509 Nigeria Female Pilgrims Return from Saudi Arabia after Detention over Male Escort Rule
• Nigeria Suspends Hajj Flights over Women Deportation
• Parties Shoot Down Pro-Women Voters Proposal
• A Young Lucknow Woman Creates Comic Strips That Talk Rights To Muslim Girls
• High-Heel Female Fight in Saudi Kingdom Mall Leave Cops in a Fix
• Woman Exercises Her Rights – And Some Lefts – Against Iran’s Veiling Law
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Photo: Switzerland Parliament kills headscarf initiative
Switzerland Parliament Kills Headscarf Initiative
Sep 28, 2012
The House of Representatives has voted against banning burqas worn by Muslim women from public spaces in Switzerland, sounding the death knell for an initiative put forward by the canton of Aargau several years ago.
Following a March Senate vote with the same result, the house decided by 93 votes to 87 that the initiative would not go through.
Speaking for the majority, centre-right Radical Party parliamentarian Hugues Hiltpold said banning the head covering would be excessive and would encourage tourists from Muslim countries to have negative opinions of the country.
“Today in Switzerland, wearing this type of clothing for religious reasons doesn’t pose any problems in daily life and is a rare practice in the Swiss Muslim community,” Hiltpold added.
“Banning the niqab or the burqa in Switzerland would have adverse consequences for Swiss Muslims.”
Those supporting the initiative argued that a ban would encourage equality between men and women and would strengthen security.
The Senate also left it up to individual cantons to decide whether to take security measures against protesters who conceal their faces.
Traditional head coverings have their origins across the Muslim world. The burka and niqab, frequently worn in Afghan regions, cover all but the wearer’s eyes, while the hijab is a scarf worn only over the head. The tschador, traditionally Iranian in origin, covers the entire body except the face.
Muslim traditions in Switzerland have been a hot topic since the country voted to ban the construction of new minarets in November 2009. Neighbouring France has continued to wrestle with the issue of headscarf bans, a debate sparked by a 2004 law against religious symbols in schools.
509 Nigeria Female Pilgrims Return from Saudi Arabia After Detention Over Male Escort Rule
By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS SEPTEMBER 27, 2012
LAGOS, Nigeria - An official says 509 Muslim female pilgrims are returning to Nigeria from Saudi Arabia after being stopped from proceeding with their pilgrimage.
Uba Mana, a spokesman for the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, said Thursday that Saudi immigration officials at King Abdul-Aziz Airport in Jeddah refused the women entry, saying they were not travelling with a husband or male relative.
Mana said some did travel with their husbands and that a lone male passenger was on the returning flight after refusing to be separated from his wife.
He said Nigerian pilgrimage officials have typically stood in for a male relative or husband, but that the sudden rule change means hundreds more women are likely to return.
Saudi authorities could not immediately be reached for comment.
All able-bodied Muslims who can afford it are expected to perform the Hajj pilgrimage at least once.
Nigeria Suspends Hajj Flights over Women Deportation
27 September 2012
Nigeria has suspended all Hajj flights to Saudi Arabia after the authorities there deported more than 170 women who had arrived without a male escort.
About 1,000 Nigerian women intending to make the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca have been detained since Sunday.
A Nigerian government delegation is going to Saudi Arabia to complain.
There has been an understanding in the past that Nigerian women are exempt from travelling with a male relative - a requirement for women on the Hajj.
Nigerian diplomats say the agreement between the National Hajj Commission of Nigeria and the Saudi authorities allows visas to be issued for Nigerian women going to Mecca as long as they are accompanied by Hajj committee officials.
BBC Nigeria correspondent Will Ross says it is not clear if this action was taken as part of an effort to clamp down on people entering Saudi Arabia illegally to work.
Since Sunday, hundreds of Nigerian women - mainly aged between 25 and 35, according to Nigerian diplomats - have been stopped at the airports in Jeddah and Medina.
Bilkisu Nasidi, who travelled from the northern Nigerian city of Katsina, told the BBC that hundreds of women had been sleeping on the floor did not have their belongings and were sharing four toilets at the King Abdulaziz International Airport in Jeddah.
She said she was part of a group of 512 women being deported to five states in Nigeria on Thursday.
With many of them now facing deportation, she said the atmosphere at the airport was not good, and the women felt "victimised".
The main problem was that their surnames did not correspond with those of their husbands or male guardian on visa documentation, she said.
It is a common practice for Muslim women in Nigeria not to take their husband's name.
"Honestly both governments are to blame, ours and theirs. They're telling us that our government has been aware of what are the requirements for the visa application and granting our visas," she told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme
"We're not happy about the situation - other than the Hajj we would not be interested in coming back to Saudi Arabia but unfortunately it is the holy land to us Muslims and we will have to look beyond the treatment and come back."
Nigeria's vice-president met the Saudi ambassador to Nigeria on Wednesday and gave him a 24-hour ultimatum for the situation to be resolved, the BBC's Chris Ewokor reports from the capital, Abuja.
The deportations have heightened concerns that the situation is threatening to develop into a diplomatic showdown, he says.
Nigeria's speaker of the House of Representatives is leading a government delegation - to include the foreign affairs minister - to Saudi Arabia in an attempt to resolve the situation.
More than two million Muslims are due to converge on Mecca for this year's Hajj, which is set to culminate over a four-day period somewhere between 24-29 October depending on lunar observations.
The Hajj is one of the pillars of Islam, which every adult Muslim must undertake at least once in their life if they can afford it and are physically able.
Parties Shoot Down Pro-Women Voters Proposal in Pakistan
By Irfan Ghauri
ISLAMABAD: September 28, 2012, A proposal to make a minimum turnout of 10% of women voters mandatory at every polling station seems to have hit snags before making it to parliament – with political parties rejecting the initiative.
Leaders of the political parties on Thursday appeared to have rejected outright the proposal tabled by the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) to encourage the participation of women in the upcoming general elections.
The ECP had prepared a draft legislation calling on parliament to enact a law cancelling the results of any polling station where less than 10% of the total number of registered women participated in voting. After the cancellation of the results, re-polling could be organised, the draft further suggested.
The ECP had forwarded the draft to the ministry of law and justice to place in parliament.
The commission, however, received a rather cold response over the proposal during a consultation meeting with leaders of the mainstream political parties on Thursday.
The political parties, including the Pakistan Muslim League-Quaid and others, raised objections over the proposal, saying it was not practical.
Party leaders were of the view that the initiative would face technical and social hindrances. They said that, in some areas, due to local customs and long distances between peoples’ houses and polling stations, the compulsory 10% women votes could not be achieved.
Sources privy to the meeting told The Express Tribune that some parties fear that the turn out in militancy-hit areas might not cross even 20%, making the 10% women votes an impossible option.
Meanwhile, political parties also expressed reservations over the lingering issue of giving overseas Pakistanis the right to vote from the countries they live in.
“Unless a credible mechanism is developed, it would open up gates for rigging. There is a need to have some foolproof mechanism to ensure that these votes are not misused,” said, Pakistan People’s Party-Sherpao’s Anisa Zaib Kahirkheli during the meeting.
Some parties, including the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, are strong advocates of giving overseas Pakistanis the right of vote. The commission, however, told participants that, until a mechanism is devised, overseas Pakistanis will only be able to vote if they are in Pakistan at the time of elections.
There are 3.7 million overseas Pakistanis registered on the electoral rolls, but they would not be able to cast their votes in the forthcoming general elections, unless they ensure their physical presence in the constituency they are registered in.
A Young Lucknow Woman Creates Comic Strips That Talk Rights To Muslim Girls
Generations of Indians have grown up seeing the daily trials of The Common Man, sketched by legendary humorist-cartoonist R.K. Laxman. His cartoon strip ‘You Said It’, which first appeared in 1951, has motivated scores of people to face their everyday challenges with a smile and also helped them understand their political and social environment a little better.
For countless marginalised Muslim and Dalit girls and women in districts across Uttar Pradesh, Hameeda Khatoon is their Laxman — her comic strips introduce them to their rights and are a window into their hearts and minds. And why not?
The 25-year-old Hameeda was once where these girls are today. She knows their lives and constraints. “The Urdu and Hindi cartoons I create are not just a way to express my inner feelings, they are a means to spread the knowledge of rights, leadership and adolescence issues among less-privileged girls and women,” says Hameeda, whose hands are always busy sketching on paper.
A native of Faizabad district, about 160 km from Lucknow, Hameeda grew up in a poor family that included six siblings and elderly grandparents. Hameeda’s father was a weaver who made cotton-wool quilts. Like many who work with cotton, he suffered from tuberculosis. After she turned 10, she dropped out of school and took to selling flowers on the streets with her sisters and grandmother. “Within a few weeks, after working for a few hours every day, I managed to earn enough to be able to go back to school. I was never ashamed of my work even when my friends saw me selling flowers,” says the gutsy young woman.
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High-Heel Female Fight in Saudi Kingdom Mall Leave Cops in A Fix
By Staff, September 28, 2012
Several Saudi women were slightly injured during a fight that involved high-heel shoes at a key shopping mall in the Gulf Kingdom as police watched helplessly.
Police men said they could not intervene to end the scuffle in the eastern town of Dhahran as they are not allowed to touch women in the conservative Muslim country. Instead, they phoned police women who came a bit late.
“The fight lasted nearly half an hour until a force of police women arrived…they succeeded in ending the fight, which resulted in slight injuries among women.”Ajel newspaper said the scuffle coincided with celebrations marking the country’s national day.
Woman Exercises Her Rights – And Some Lefts – Against Iran’s Veiling Law
Stephen Brown Bio28th, 2012
A woman in the Iranian city of Shamirzad, angered earlier this month by a cleric who told her she was insufficiently covered, decided that enough was enough with such religious street harassment and took matters into her own hands. Or rather her fists and feet, to be more exact.
Women in Iran are required to be covered up in public in accordance with a law introduced after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, causing most never to leave home without first wrapping themselves up in a body-encompassing black hijab. Women appearing in public deemed improperly covered are warned, and sometimes even beaten, by an assortment of morality guardians that include a morality police, regular police, busybody clerics or general, run-of-the mill religious fanatics.
But this apparently fed-up Iranian female was obviously not in the mood for any more religious street bullying, at least on this particular day. After the admonishment about the state of her dress, she abruptly told the intrusive cleric, Hojetoeslam Ali Beheshti: “You should close your eyes.”
“Not only didn’t she cover herself up, but she started shouting and threatening me,” said Beheshti after the brush off.
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