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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 3 Jul 2014, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Young Iranian Women Pictured With Plunging Necklines and In Strapless Dresses

 New Age Islam News Bureau

3 Jul 2014

  ISIS Wanted To Take Us to Mosul, We Refused, Say Stranded Indian Nurses In Tikrit

 Pir Beats Woman To Death While ‘Saving Her From Demons’: Pakistan

 Feeling ‘Reborn’ As a Muslim, Ex-Playboy Bunny Insists On Keeping Chinese Name

 US Woman Accused Of Supporting Insurgents in Iraq and Syria

 Nurse in Trouble over Sexual Assault Complaint against J&K Official

 Women-Only Beach to Open In Bahrain

 5 Saudi Women Agree To Marry AIDS Patients

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau






Young Iranian Women Pictured With Plunging Necklines and In Strapless Dresses

July 3, 2014

Six teenagers are pictured drinking shots of vodka at a house party - another is photographed smoking a marijuana joint in a city park.

There would be little out of the ordinary about this set of photographs, except that they were taken in the cities of Iran - a country run by a strict Islamic government.

The images reveal how some of the country's teenagers really live, hidden from the disapproving eye of the country's hard-line regime.

They are seen partying, blowing their wages on plastic surgery... and rolling marijuana joints from pictures of the Ayatollah.

Behind closed doors, teenage children of the country's elite - who live and study in cities such as Tehran, Shiraz, Esfahan, Busher, Kerman and Ahwaz - are behaving in ways that, until recently, were considered un-Islamic.

Young people meet each other in the hidden corners of city parks, throw parties in the privacy of their homes and find ways to travel out of the city centre - moving out from the government's oppressive reach.

Some girls wear make-up. They push their veils farther and farther back on their heads showing some of their hair, which conservative Muslims consider risqué. Unmarried couples hold hands in public. Teenagers listen openly to Western pop music.

The changes are subtle, in a country where Iranian men and women still must abide by a strict Islamic code.

Women must wear the familiar, frumpy chador, a black flowing robe which translates into English as 'tent' - though when they are at private gatherings, as some of these images show, they dress in revealing western-style clothes.

At these secret meetings girls dress freely, alcoholic drinks are poured and drugs - which are becoming increasingly common in the country - are shared.

And, while men are still officially prohibited from accompanying women other than their wives and female relatives, the photos show groups of young male and female friends mixing freely.

Facing family pressure at home and government punishment on the streets, young Iranians turn to the internet to escape.

It is while they are online that they are exposed to - and virtually explore - a more progressive global culture.

Something that is striking in the photos is the teenagers' pride in their appearance. In one image, two women are pictured browsing make-up stands, while in another a woman is seen applying glossy red lipstick - her eyeliner and mascara already carefully applied.

One man is pictured with a bandage on his nose - a small reminder of his recent plastic surgery operation.

Plastic surgery in Iran is popular among young men and young women, despite the fact that every operation costs around five or six times more than the average monthly salary.

In several of the images, women are pictured with their heads uncovered. Though control over the wearing of headscarves - policed by Special Forces in Iran's cities - has decreased since the election of President Hassan Rouhani, it is still considered risque by conservative Muslims.

These images are just one example of young - and bold - Iranians flaunting the rules.

Last month, a group of Iranian dancers were arrested for making a 'vulgar clip' to Pharrell Williams' hit song Happy. They were later released on bail.

The friends were arrested after police took offense at the video, which shows three men and three unveiled women dancing in the streets and on the rooftops of Tehran.

This sparked the creation of the Twitter hashtag #freehappyiranians and finally Iranian authorities caved to the pressure. It's not clear how much longer the director will be detained.

The video titled 'Happy in Tehran' features the group dancing in various locales just as in the original and is one of hundreds of covers of the hit made by fans around the world.

But after the video hit YouTube and racked up close to 200,000 views with the help of Western news sites like the Huffington Post, authorities hunted down its stars, interrogated them in footage seen across the country and threw them in jail.

Islamic law stipulates that women must cover themselves in public. The video appears to show three women dancing exuberantly to the hit on Tehran rooftops, sans headdress.

The arrests occurred despite Iranian President Hassan Rouhani speaking publicly in support of loosening the state's censorship of the internet.



ISIS Wanted To Take Us to Mosul, We Refused, Say Stranded Indian Nurses In Tikrit

July 3, 2014

Armed representatives of the Sunni militant group ISIS, which is currently fighting Iraqi forces, have made an attempt to take away 46 Indian nurses stranded at a hospital in Tikrit to Mosul, another Iraqi city which is under their control.

BuTwo of the nurses told The Indian Express from Tikrit that the representatives of the “new government”, which has taken control of Tikrit, approached them on Tuesday. “When two buses came to the hospital, we thought Red Cross men have come to take us to safe places. t they told us they were the representatives of the new government and wanted us to work in a hospital in Mosul,” one of the nurses said.

They said the men were dressed in black and were carrying guns. They told the nurses it was not safe to stay at the hospital since the Iraqi military may target it in an attempt to regain control of Tikrit. “They wanted us to communicate our decision in an hour. However, we consulted the Indian embassy officials, who advised us to stay back at the hospital,” the nurse said.

The nurses said it was not safe to move along with the ISIS men to Mosul as there was the risk of attacks by the Iraqi military in transit. “Since, we were not ready to move out, they took away the vehicles,” said a nurse.

The nurses, who were stranded in the basement of the Tikrit Teaching Hospital following heavy bombing by the Iraqi forces in nearby areas, returned to their respective rooms on Wednesday after the situation improved after three days of intense fighting. “We were told to move to the hospital basement after a building near the hospital caught fire. The ISIS men approached us for our safety. As the situation is now almost calm, we all have returned to our earlier stay facilities in other floors. After three days, we slept yesterday.”

The nurses said daily supply of provisions has not been affected so far at the hospital, which is under the control of the ISIS. “Their men are everywhere at the hospital, but they have always been cordial towards us. We are allowed to move within the hospital building. Daily supply of provisions has not been hit so far.”

They said they were concerned about the delay in payment of salary. “Thirty-one of us have not got a single month’s salary. Fifteen others have been denied salary for two months,” said one of them. “We have left for this strife-torn region only to feed our family. We are pleading the Indian government to help us get the arrears.”



Pir beats woman to death while ‘saving her from demons’: Pakistan

July 3, 2014

FAISALABAD: A woman was beaten to death by a ‘pir’ who claimed to be exorcising the “demons tormenting her”.

City Police Officer Dr Haidar Ashraf took notice of the incident on Wednesday and constituted a committee to arrest Afzal within 48 hours. Dr Ashraf directed the D-Type Colony SHO to complete investigation quickly so that the accused could be brought to justice without delay.

Her nephew, who had referred her to the pir, had been taken into custody, D-Type Colony police said. Ashraf, a relative of the woman, said Zeenat Bibi,24, a resident of Lahore, had been suffering from a chronic ailment for a long time. He said her family had taken her to many doctors but her condition had not improved. He said her nephew, Shahbaz, took her to Pir Afzal in Murad Colony, Street 6.

Ashraf said the pir told Shahbaz that Zeenat Bibi was being tormented by demons and that he would have to exorcise her to “save her soul”.

He said Pir Afzal proceeded to tie up Zeenat Bibi with ropes and beat her with a stick. He said Shahbaz was present in the same room. “When Zeenat Bibi started screaming in pain, Shahbaz tried to stop him but the pir told him that the blows were not hurting her.”

Zeenat Bibi fainted from the severity of blows soon after and all efforts to revive her were unsuccessful. He said after some time Pir Afzal told Shahbaz to take her to a hospital for treatment.

Shahbaz took her to the hospital where she succumbed to her injuries, Ashraf said.

D-Type Colony SHO Mehr Riaz said they had registered a case against the pir and taken Shahbaz into custody. He said Shahbaz would be questioned and would be part of the investigation. He said they were looking for Pir Afzal but he had so far evaded arrest.



Feeling ‘Reborn’ As A Muslim, Ex-Playboy Bunny Insists On Keeping Chinese Name

July 3, 2014

Felixia Yeap, the former Playboy bunny who announced last Friday that she was embracing Islam, said she felt “born again” on her birthday today when her conversion would be made official.

The 28-year-old, however, said she would fight to keep her Chinese name given by her mother.

"My Chinese name means tranquility and elegance," said Yeap, who said she would take the Islamic declaration of faith in front of family members and close friends.

“Today is not just my birthday, but also the day that I am born again. The day that I finally return after 28 years of finding the way home,” wrote Yeap in her soul-baring posting this morning.

Yeap said her conversion was the result of a seven-month quest to learn about Islam, after she took to wearing the hijab, a decision which attracted criticism from her fans.

“From the moment I pledged to wear the hijab, even though I was not a Muslim at heart, until this moment (July 3, 6am) where I am a Muslim at heart who only waits for the official pronouncement, I have gone through many trials and tribulations,” said the Ipoh-born former kindergarten teacher, who once worked at The Playboy club in Macau.

Yeap, saying she had persevered months of insults and alienation because of her decision, however, paid tribute to her mother who she said bravely endured sarcasm from their relatives.

“She did not object (to it), in fact she gave her blessings when I told her that I was learning about Islam and intended to embrace the faith.

“Many converts are disowned by their families for making the same decision. Some of them hide their identities as Muslims from their family members for fear of being alienated and disowned,” she wrote.

She said when she asked her mother why she supported her decision, her mother had replied in Cantonese, "Sang seng jor lor, dai gor nui la... kwai jor hou dor" (You are grown up already, more mature ... a good girl).

“My mother smiled and I fought back my tears,” said Yeap, who also said the support and her own "stubbornness" helped her get through negative remark hurled at her.

“I admit, there were times I felt crushed and defeated.

But I firmly stood my ground and did not take off my hijab. I continued my struggle.”

When the story of her love for the Muslim head dress made headlines in December last year, many of Yeap’s 148,000 fans left her Facebook page, accusing her of a publicity stunt.

Some non-Muslims, said Yeap, had said she was doing it to marry “a rich Datuk”. 

But Yeap told The Malaysian Insider last year that she could have found a rich husband a long time ago through her successful modeling career.

Of her past, Yeap said it made her realise how some considered hedonism and materialism as happiness.

“Most of the people around me judged their happiness based on their boyfriends' wealth, the happening parties they went, or how they were happy as long as they got drunk, and how much money they could scalp from their boyfriends.

“Most hungered for wealth and they searched for it without caring for their dignity.

“But for me, that was not the wealth that I longed for. For what is the point of being wealthy when your life feels empty, meaningless and drowned in sin. That is not the happiness I seek.”

Yeap, who started modeling in 2005, had bagged top prizes in a slew of contests and pageants.

She first broke the news of her conversion in front of some 2,000 people at an event ahead of the holy month of Ramadan in Shah Alam, last Friday.



US Woman Accused Of Supporting Insurgents In Iraq And Syria

3 July 2014

DENVER: Federal authorities in Denver have arrested a woman accused of providing material support to insurgents fighting the governments of Syria and Iraq, and of conspiring to commit an offense against the United States, officials said Wednesday.

According to a criminal complaint filed with US District Court in Colorado, Shannon Maureen Conley, born in 1996, attended military training with the US Army Explorers earlier this year, before trying to fly to Syria to meet a co-conspirator only identified as Y.M.

Y.M., whom Conley met online last year, told her he was an active member in the insurgent group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, also known as ISIL or ISIS, which recently shortened its name to “Islamic State.” The Sunni Muslim militant group is an al Qaeda offshoot which wants to re-create a medieval-style caliphate from the Mediterranean to the Gulf and deems Shia Muslims to be heretics deserving death.

Her case had been sealed until last Friday when a federal judge ordered most of the records made public. Some details, apparently including names and addresses, were redacted from the criminal complaint provided by federal officials on Wednesday.

Court documents said Conley and Y.M. shared a view of Islam “as requiring participation in violent insurgency against any non-believers,” and said they decided to get engaged.

Agents arrested Conley at Denver international airport in April as she prepared to board a flight to Germany, court papers said.

Before traveling to Syria, the court papers said, Conley was to obtain additional skills and training to provide support to the insurgents, and to fight herself if deemed necessary.

Authorities say the certified nurse's aide and convert to Islam underwent training at the US Army Explorers (USAE) in Texas in February.

In an affidavit in support of the criminal complaint, a Special Deputy US Marshal assigned to an FBI Joint Terrorism Taskforce said Conley was interviewed in mid-2013 after being spotted acting oddly outside a church in Arvada, Colorado.

The church was the scene of a mass shooting in 2007, and staff became suspicious, Christian Byrne said in his document.

In a second interview in December 2013, she told FBI agents she joined USAE to be trained in military tactics and firearms, and that she “intended to use that training to go overseas to wage Jihad,” the affidavit said.

“When asked if she still wanted to carry out the plans, knowing they are illegal, Conley said that she does,” it said.

If convicted, Conley faces a maximum sentence of five years in prison, a $250,000 fine, or both.



Nurse in Trouble over Sexual Assault Complaint against J&K Official


July 3, 2014

In an unusual practice, Jammu and Kashmir Police have sought prosecution of a female nurse who had filed a complaint of sexual assault against senior officials of her department including Director of Health Services Dr Saleem-ur-Rehman.

“We have dismissed her complaint and approached Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) for criminal proceedings against her under Section 182 RPC (Ranbir Penal Code),” Sub-Divisional Police Officer of Shaheed Gunj Police Station Imran Farooq said. According to him, the police are bound by law to initiate suo motu proceedings against the complainant if it is convinced that a baseless complaint has been filed with the intention of damaging someone’s reputation.

The SDPO, however, admitted that such kind of a proactive legal or criminal action was being taken against a complainant after a long time. According to him, in over 90 per cent of the cases the parties reach a compromise and the police is not left with much ground for initiating action.

The CJM is expected to issue an order, in favour of or against the police plea, after ascertaining on the file whether the investigation had been carried out properly. It is part of the Ikhtitami (closure) as sought by the investigating agency after failing to find merit and substance in the nurse’s complaint.

Commissioner-Secretary Health, Gazanffer Hussain, has already closed the departmental inquiry against Mr Rehman and sought “severe disciplinary action” against the nurse. On June 5, the nurse had filed a complaint of sexual assault against Mr Rehman alleging that he attempted to rape her in his office. She complained to the police that three subordinate officials of Mr Rehman had also made similar attempts on her twice in March. Police filed the FIR on July 6 and closed the investigation on Saturday.



Women-only beach to open in Bahrain

July 03, 2014

A WOMEN-ONLY beach is due to open in Bahrain in November.

It will be located at the southern end of a new public beach currently being developed in Askar.

Guards will be deployed to keep men away, Southern Municipal Council chairman Mohsin Al Bakri told the GDN.

The women's beach is part of a longer stretch of public coastline undergoing a BD1.5 million development.

"The women's section, which will be the southern part of the new Askar coast, will be open at all times - but will be guarded to ensure no males trespass or peep," said Mr Al Bakri.

"We haven't decided yet what types of partitions will be used, but the place will be secure.

"The council and the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry want to provide a suitable environment for women to enjoy their time in line with Islamic values and traditions.

"It is the first coast of its type in Bahrain that is women-only and we want it to come out in the best shape possible, since others could be interested in having one in their governorates."

The Southern Municipal Council said it came up with the idea after women complained that men bothered them whenever they went to a public beach.

It was approved by the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Minister Dr Juma Al Ka'abi.

"Even in public places some privacy is needed, especially when there are parasites searching for entertainment or to hook up with someone," said Mr Al Bakri.

"Women feel offended and they either decide to go when there are few people, or don't go at all and sit at home.

"The new beach will be open daily and women can come at any time with assurances that their privacy will be protected.



5 Saudi women agree to marry AIDS patients

July 3, 2014

DAMMAM – Five healthy Saudi women have expressed their readiness to marry men who are AIDS patients with the approval of their parents, the Makkah daily reported on Wednesday.

Their marriages had been prevented by the health condition of the grooms.

The executive director of the Saudi Society for Combating AIDS in Jeddah, Mousa Hayazea, expressed astonishment at the young women’s “adventurous” decision.

Hayazea said the number of AIDS patients registered with the society has reached 700. Since its establishment, the society has been able help 140 men and women with AIDS to get married, he said, adding there are 50 others on a waiting list of AIDS patients wishing to get married.

Hayazea said 95 percent of the marriages were successful and the couples were leading a stable life.

“Many of these patients object to marry young women registered with the society because of their age, nationality or social status because the majority of the women are divorcees,” he said.

One of the patients registered with the society was a Saudi student who was sent on scholarship to study design engineering in Australia.

He said he discovered that he had AIDS after reaching Australia in late 2009. It was a big shock for him and he did not disclose it the Saudi cultural attache’s office fearing his scholarship would be withdrawn. He, however, informed his parents and brother, who understood his situation.

He said an Australian charity paid for the medicines he was taking. However, this stopped after an Australian government decision banned spending money for the treatment of non-Australian AIDS patients. Eventually, he had to inform the Saudi cultural attaché, who agreed to bear the expenses of his treatment until he completed his studies.

The scholarship student expressed fears about returning to the Kingdom where he said it would be difficult for him to find a job and get married.

Despite the increased awareness on the way the disease is spread, AIDS patients are still subjected to discrimination in hospitals, as most health practitioners refuse to treat them the moment they know that have AIDS, Hayazea said.

The patients do not complain against these health practitioners because of the social stigma, he said.

Hayazea said many AIDS patients were suffering because companies do not want to employ them and this has forced many of them to slip into bad habits, including drug abuse. He considered this as marginalization of AIDS patients by society as drug abuse.