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Reform or Repression: Saudi Government Says It Supports the Empowerment of Women

New Age Islam News Bureau

24 Jun 2020

Saudi Government Says It Supports the Empowerment of Women


• SadafHaq is the First Muslim Woman Ever to Run for Frisco City Council

• Women Joining Aidiladha Prayers In Perak Mosques Must Be Accompanied

• Egyptian Stars Yousra, Asser Yassin’s ‘Saheb El Makam’ To Be Released in July

• Google Doodle Pays Tribute To Pioneering Egyptian Feminist Huda Shaarawi

• Black Arab Women Tackle Long-Standing Discrimination

• Minor Hindu Girl Forcibly Converted, Married to Abductor in Pakistan's Sindh

Bengal Woman Held for Let Links Was Part of Pakistan WhatsApp Groups: Report

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau



Reform or Repression: Saudi Government Says It Supports the Empowerment of Women

18 Jun 2020

Just how free are women in Saudi Arabia today? The Saudi government has said it supports the empowerment of women and young people. While there have been reforms, including lifting the ban on women driving in June 2018, the arrest and detention of women speaking out against the government appear to have continued.

Al Jazeera World looks at the individual cases of five Saudi women currently in detention, or who have fled the country following apparent harassment for their political views. It asks whether Saudi Arabia is publicly championing the rights of women while privately punishing those who challenge the status quo.

In this film, the family of one detainee makes serious allegations of torture during her imprisonment, while others give testimonies about random arrests and arbitrary detention at Dhahban prison near Jeddah. According to Human Rights Watch, and following international pressure, the Saudi Human Rights Commission carried out an investigation into conditions at Dhahban and found no evidence of torture.

This film examines the consequences of activism in Saudi Arabia, hearing from women detainees and international human rights organisations, as well as seeking responses from those at the heart of decision-making within the country. 


SadafHaq is the First Muslim Woman Ever to Run for Frisco City Council

by Annette Nevins

June 24, 2020

It’s a stressful time to be a candidate for city office, as Frisco Place 6 candidate SadafHaq can attest. Up until cities and counties across the country began ordering residents to stay home to isolate in the midst of a pandemic, she was knocking on doors and attending meet-and-greets to campaign to get her message out.

Now she, and all residents, are staying home in response to the spread of COVID-19 as city council and school board elections have been rolled into the November 3 presidential election.

Haq wishes it could be sooner.

“A race in November is going to cost probably ten times as much as a race in May,” she says.

Depending on when isolation orders can be lifted, she would rather see the municipal and school elections moved to July 14 if possible, when the May 26 primary runoffs are now scheduled, to help cities who need to get voter approval for bonds and initiatives.

Everything is evolving in these unprecedented days when restaurants and businesses are being forced to close temporarily in response to the spreading COVID-19 virus.

“I haven’t been out in public because I’ve been taking heed to CDC guidelines,” she says.

For Sadaf, a 41-year-old health care administrator and mother of three, this is personal. Her husband, Adeel, is an emergency doctor and she is not only concerned about the safety of residents but the entire healthcare community.

“Although there will be economic impacts, we cannot put livelihoods before lives,” she wrote in a post on Twitter.

She says she respects the challenging position that local and state officials are in — where business owners are vocal and upset about the pain of revenue loss.

“Of course you must continue to support small businesses the best you can,” she wrote. “There are lots of great ideas circulating online about how to best do that in our community. While we can easily correct for revenue loss, we can’t easily correct soaring mortality rates.”

Haq, a familiar face around City Hall but a political newcomer in the race, is running on a platform of “inclusion, service, and a new voice.”

Also running for Place 6 are Sai Krishna, an immigrant and health insurance case manager, and three-year incumbent Brian Livingston, a bank senior vice president and restaurant owner.

In February, before the shelter-in-place orders took effect, a diverse gathering of neighbors mingled in a home in a Frisco cul-de-sac to meet Haq.

They tasted appetizing samosas, fried triangular pastry with a spicy filling of potatoes, onions, and peas. Shoes lined the entryway. Some men in business suits, others in casual clothes, and a few women in colorful flowing silk sarees greeted each other in stocking feet.

But the real savory conversation on that recent Sunday afternoon revolved around Frisco’s changing demographics and a city council candidate they hope can lead them into the future.

“People come from all over the world to live in our community,” said Indira Bommareddy, 47, who moved 10 years ago to Frisco where her two children go to school. “We’re looking for leadership as we continue to grow.”

A man in a white kurta shirt called attention to the front of the room. Everyone shuffled to find a seat in a folding chair.

“I could say I want to meet the first Muslim city council candidate for Frisco but she is so much more than that,” he said. “More importantly, she’s an innovator, a concerned citizen, a great leader.”

He introduced Haq, whose pink campaign signs have popped up around town like spring flowers.

But it’s not the hijab she wears as a Muslim woman of faith that should draw attention, Haq says.

“Let’s talk about issues and working together, not our differences,” she told the standing-room-only crowd in the Frisco home off Coit Road.

She credits her work with the Frisco Interfaith Alliance for setting her apart from other candidates but also providing her with a unique and valuable perspective. ”Frisco’s houses of worship are coming together and embracing that which is positive in all of us,” she continued.

Haq, who helped form the city’s first diversity and inclusion committee, says she wants voters to notice her experience and passion for shaping the growing city of about 200,000 residents where 20 percent were born outside the United States and more than 70 languages are spoken.

Since 1990, Frisco’s population has grown by more than 450 percent. This growth also attracted a large number of Muslims families to Frisco. The Islamic Center of Frisco, a Masjid that is the center of community activities and education, was established in May 2007 to fulfill community needs of Muslims living in Frisco and Collin County. Muslim students at Liberty High School in Frisco have used a vacant classroom for prayer services initiated and led by the students.

A growing Indian population—spurred by Frisco’s schools as well as industrial and commercial development in Collin County—also played a part in the 2015 establishment of the $10 million-plus 34,000-square-foot Karya Siddhi Hanuman Temple in Frisco, which draws as many as 1,200 worshippers on a given day.

About 14 percent of Collin County’s population is Indian, according to county data. The Association of Religion Data Archives showed the Hindu population in Collin County approaching 15,000 just 10 years ago, and growing.

“That diversity of thought is not always around the table when decisions are being made at City Hall,” Haq says. “I think it is crucial that for Frisco to innovate and continue to succeed, we have to get some different thinking in the room.”

Traffic congestion and the need for affordable housing, issues that often plague larger urban centers, must also be addressed in growing suburbs like Frisco, one of the fastest growing communities in the nation, Haq says.

She leads the 2020 Frisco Census Committee, a city project that oversees efforts to ensure Frisco’s full participation in the upcoming U.S. Census.

Frisco, which straddles Collin and Denton counties, is growing, no doubt about it. Haq points out that she has seen more traffic moving north through Frisco as it prepares to welcome a new PGA facility and a University of North Texas campus that will bring in residents and visitors from across the globe.

“Everyone wants to get behind the wheel of a car at any time, and get everywhere as quickly as they could 10 years ago when there were 70,000 fewer people here,” she says.

She calls for education and awareness to continue bringing some of the most cutting-edge technology to alleviate congestion and reduce traffic for the growth that is here and on the way.

Livingston, who agrees that Frisco is more diverse than when he moved here 10 years ago, counts lower taxes, lower housing density and law enforcement as his top issues.

“What is amazing to me is that the level of volunteerism and passion is the same among all demographics,” he says. “My kids will grow up in a much different world than I did and are fortunate to meet and know people of varying backgrounds.”

He voted against multi-family units due to proximity to existing houses and voted twice for new homestead exemptions. He continues to push for more resources for first responders in the city that has been named one of the fastest growing communities in the nation.

Krishna’s website lists parks, security, education, and more entrepreneurship for women as some of his platform issues. He could not be reached for comment.

Haq says she has always been interested in civil engagement.

After obtaining a Bachelor of Science degree in biology and a Master of Public Health degree from the University at Albany, the New York native began working in behavioral and public health with the State Department of Health and other research centers.

She moved several years ago to Frisco where she co-founded a medical practice with her husband.

It didn’t take her long to get involved in community service programs in her new Texas home.

Her work has not gone unnoticed as community activists encouraged her to run for council.

“Frisco cannot change until we change our storytellers,” one resident said.

Haq brings a new kind of energy to Frisco leadership, says Yasin Ali, a former Democratic Party chair who attended Haq’s campaign event.

“She offers a fresh approach for Frisco as we grow,” he said.

Haq’s work with the Social Services and Housing Board and the Collin County Impact Council that deals with mental health has made her aware of the growing needs of residents who are facing homelessness as they look for work or a place they can afford to stay.

Haq is a 2019 graduate of Leadership Frisco, a 2019 graduate of Frisco Citizens Police Academy, a member of the Frisco Women’s League, and a member of the Frisco Education Foundation Advisory Board. She has contributed to children’s physical education plans, strategies to increase parks and trails, and efforts to improve adolescent mental health.

The city is gearing up for more and more entrepreneurship opportunities, she says, especially in pursuance of a venture capitalist possible headquarter.

“Frisco’s residents are diverse in so many more ways than just ethnicity,” Haq says. “We come from dozens of faiths, from every kind of education background and profession, from every socioeconomic level, from every kind of upbringing and personal challenge.”

In addition to Place 6, voters in Frisco will go to the polls to elect a mayor and a council member for Place 5.


Women joining Aidiladha prayers in Perak mosques must be accompanied

24 Jun 2020

IPOH: Muslim women attending Hari Raya Aidiladha prayers in mosques and surau must be accompanied by a mahram (kin).

Perak Islamic Religion and Malay Customs Council chief executive officer ShahrulAzamShaari said this when he announced that women would be performing the prayers at specially-prepared spaces within mosques or surau.

He said since the celebration fell on July 31, a Friday, the Friday prayers were obligatory for all Muslims in line with the decree of ulilamri (Ruler).

"The Aidiladha prayers are allowed to be held as a congregation at all mosques and surau in the state.

"The number of people allowed to have Friday and Aidiladha prayers at mosques and surau will also be based on the capacity of the prayer hall and according to standard operating procedure (SOP) of maintaining a 1m social distance from one another," he said in a statement Wednesday (June 24).

"The prayers are only open to Malaysians, whereby their identities will be checked and recorded down before being allowed into the prayer hall," he said, adding that the Sultan of Perak Sultan NazrinMuizzuddin Shah had consented to this after consulting the state fatwa committee.

As for the korban (sacrificial) activity from July 31 to Aug 3, ShahrulAzam said it could only be held at mosques and surau by the respective committees.

He said approval would also be limited and based on applications made to the state religious authority and Veterinary Services Department.

"Only Malaysians are allowed during the activities. They will be checked and (their particulars) recorded down before being allowed into the butchering and distribution area," he said.

"The state Islamic Religious Department will distribute a set of guidelines to the respective committees on the Aidiladha prayers and korban activities," he added.


Egyptian stars Yousra, Asser Yassin’s ‘Saheb el Makam’ to be released in July

Jun. 23, 2020

CAIRO – 22 June 2020: Egyptian superstars Yousra and Asser Yassin co-star in the Egyptian movie ‘’ Saheb el Makam’’ which is expected to be released in July, few days preceding Eid el Adha.

This decision came after Egypt’s Prime Minister MostafaMadbouli announced Tuesday a bundle of measures – including the cancelation of the partial curfew - aimed at co-existing with COVID-19 that will go into effect on Saturday among them that Cinemas, theaters, and entertainment venues will operate with 25 percent capacity.

Yousra appears throughout the events of the film to Yassin who embodies the role of a wealthy businessman, in the form of a spirit and chases him.

Beside Yassin and Yousra, the movie stars Amina Khalil, Riham Abdel Gahfour, BayoumiFouad, Nesrine Amin among others. ‘’ Saheb el Makam’’ is written by Ibrahim Eissa, directed by Mando el Adl and produced by Ahmed el Sobky.

Egypt’s Minister of Social Solidarity NevineKabbagehonored Egyptian star Yousra and famed Egyptian director Mohamed Samy on their last Ramadan series ‘’ KheyanetAhd’’ ( Ahd Betrayal) and ‘’ El Brince’’ respectively.

" Yousra is an Egyptian actress, singer, United Nations good will ambassador and an internationally acclaimed artistic icon.

She is one of the most prominent actresses not only in Egypt but in the Arab region.

Yousra was born on March 10, 1951 as Sevin Hafez Nesim. In 1980, she debuted in the film “Athkiya' LakenAghbiya” (Smart yet Stupid).

Yousra performed in numerous movies such as “KasrFelHawaa” (Castle in the Air), “Fatah Tabhath Ann al-Hob” (A Girl Looking for Love), “Alf BossaWaBossa” (A Thousand and One Kisses), and “EbtessamaWahedaTakfi” (One Smile is Enough).

Yousra formed a successful duo with superstar Adel Emam, the matter that resulted in a number of successful films that enriched the Egyptian cinema such as “ShababYarkossFawk al-Nar” (Youth Dancing on Fire) , “Al-EnsanYaeesh Mara Waheda” (Man Only Lives Once) , “Ala Bab al-Wazeer” (At the Door of the Minister) , “Al-Avocato” (The Lawyer) , “Al-Ins Wal-Gen” ( The Human and the Goblin) , “KarakounFelShareih” ( A Police Station in the Street), “Al-Mansi” (The Forgotten), “Al-IrhabWalKabab” (Terrorism and Kebab), “Toyour Al-Zalam” (Birds of Darkness), and “Bobos” among others.

Yousra was included by Arabian Business among The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women and by The Middle East among the 50 Most Influential Arabs.

In 2015, she was awarded the Achievement in Cinema Award at the Arab Women of the Year ceremony in London.

Throughout her artistic career, Yousra was granted more than 60 local, regional and international awards, most prominently at Cannes Film Festival and Venice Film Festival.

Yousra's cooperation with the internationally acclaimed director Youssef Chahine greatly influenced her career.

Among her important movies with Chahine are “HaddutaMasreya” (An Egyptian Tale), "Iskendereya Kaman we Kaman" (Alexandria More and More), and "Al-Mohager" (The Immigrant).

After a long career, including 85 films and 20 television series, Yousra started to dedicate some of her efforts to social issues, particularly human trafficking.

She engages in humanitarian and advocacy work for women and children.

Yousra participated in the World Economic Forum’s sessions in Switzerland, Jordan and Egypt because of her humanitarian work.

She is currently a goodwill ambassador for many United Nations institutions, including the United Nations Development Programme, UNAIDS and the joinwt United Nations program on HIV/AIDS.

She was the honorary president of Cairo International Film festival in 2017.

In honor of Yousra's rich artistic career, one of El-Gouna city streets was named after the Egyptian superstar.

On 2019, Yousra, famed producer and head of Cairo International Film Festival Mohamed Hefzy and acclaimed director AmrSalama were chosen as members to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Yousra was the first Egyptian and Arab female filmmaker to attend Oscar ceremony and walk on its red carpet.


Google Doodle pays tribute to pioneering Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi

By AngyEssam

Jun. 23, 2020

CAIRO - 23 June 2020: Google Doodle pays tribute to pioneering Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi celebrating of what would have been her 141st birthday.

Pioneering Egyptian feminist Huda Shaarawi (1879-1947) chronicles much of her early life portraying the limited role women played behind wooden lattice screens where they could look outward without being seen.

Shaarawi spent her childhood growing up in the segregated world she calls harem before she was married off to her cousin at the age of 13, and they separated merely months thereafter when she learned he was expecting a child from a slave girl.

Many of the female characters in her life, fellow members of the last generation growing up in those confines, led similarly unhappy private lives. A family friend, AtiyyaSaqqaf, suffered “grief and desperation... that [undermined] her health” as her unfaithful husband took on marriages so numerous “he couldn’t count them, nor did he know the number of children he had.”

Shaarawi’s mother, a woman of Circassian descent, is described as melancholic, often carrying a profound sadness.

Shaarawi herself is betrothed against her will to the relative referred to as “lord and master of all,” despite her being “deeply troubled by the idea of marrying her cousin whom she had always regarded as a father and family member deserving her fear and respect.”

Rigid gender norms characteristic of the turn of the 19th century into the 20th are clear in almost every line of Shaarawi’s narrative, where she grows from a somewhat passive woman often forbidden by her husband from visiting friends or other relatives, to a nationalist and a driving force of the flourishing feminist movement.

At the age of 44, she was elected as the president of the first Egyptian Feminist Union she co-founded in 1923, and activism became central to her later life.

Upon her return from attending an international feminist conference in Rome alongside Nabawiya Musa, the first Egyptian woman to earn a secondary school education, and SeizaNabarawi, the younger daughter of a late friend of Shaarawi at the time, the pioneering feminists drew back the veil from their faces in a revolutionary act that signaled the end of the harem system.

Other women imitated, keeping only the veil on their heads and long black cloaks that were customary at the time.

With this incident, the first layer unraveled of a culture of seclusion where women, particularly in wealthier circles, were entrapped in guarded walls and kept separated from men, covering their faces in the few instances where they left their homes.

Peasant women had long uncovered their faces before unrelated visitors and strangers of the opposite sex as the practice was deemed unrelated to Islam.

Shaarawi’s returns to her husband in her 20s after a seven-year separation, and as the dual struggle for the liberation of Egypt and women heightens, their relationship grows stronger.

“My attention was drawn from my private life to serving my country'' Shaarawi said.

''The Egyptian national movement brought my husband and me closer to each other,” she previously stated.

A man who had once clapped his hands in indication of his presence in the women’s quarters, who Shaarawi mentions as being “stern,” and one she had been “determined not to return to . . . whatever happened,” became her partner in fulfilling her newfound purpose.

she muses over why her half-brother, Ismail, who she has a close and affectionate relationship with, is treated differently than she is, particularly given his illness at the time.

His mother, Umm Kabira, then tells her, “But you are a girl and he is a boy . . . when you marry you will leave the house and honor your husband’s name, but he will perpetuate the name of his father and take over his house.”

While Shaarawi recounts this explanation was satisfactory at the time, her more egalitarian mindset and actions are clear with the foundation she sets in adulthood for a later generation of Egyptian feminists.

In the first year of the movement, the feminist union’s achievements included passing legislation to have a minimum marriage age set by law. By 1924, the first secondary school for girls opened in Shubra and soon, Egyptian women were permitted to obtain a postgraduate education. Shaarawi’s activities were also key to founding the Arab Feminist Union.

Shaarawi’s intellectual development is a critical aspect of her formative years, where she spent time learning music, languages, fine art and Arabic gram mar as a child and teenager. She played the piano long into the night as a catharsis to emotional pain and attended concerts at the Khedival Opera House.

She developed an interest in French literature, invested in deep friendships with peers she discusses cultural matters in the company of, and eventually played a role in organizing the first public lectures for women.

By the age of 9, Shaarawi had memorized the Quran, although she had been condescendingly told by one tutor that it wouldn’t be necessary for her to learn Arabic, given the limitations her gender entails.

Her journey is one of emancipation from social convention, and the beginning of this path is most apparent with her drive to establish the Intellectual Association of Egyptian Women in 1914.

Initial members included Lebanese-Palestinian poet Mai Ziyada, founder of "Fatat al-Sharq" (The Young Woman of the East) magazine LabibaHashim, and Luxembourgian women’s rights activist Marguerite Clement.


Black Arab Women Tackle Long-Standing Discrimination


AMMAN - Black Arab women are drawing inspiration from global anti-racism protests to fight back against long-standing discrimination and Middle Eastern beauty standards that favour light skin and straight hair.

Black Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, who descend from sub-Saharan Africans, suffer social marginalisation and unequal job prospects, and are often subjected to racist abuse and derogatory portrayals in the media.

Black women, some of whom are African migrants, suffer a double discrimination, activists say.

"The standard of beauty in our society is to be white," said KhawlaKsiksi, a feminist and anti-racism activist who co-founded the Voices of Black Tunisian Women group.

"Black women are pressured to straighten their hair, get rid of their curls and to whiten their skin in order to be accepted by society and fit in by its standards," Ksiksi told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Emboldened by the global Black Lives Matter movement, she said Black Arab women wanted to highlight the day-to-day racial prejudice and abuse they face in a region where there is widespread denial about the issue.

Somali-Yemeni activist Amna Ali founded the Black Arabs Collective this month, an Instagram platform that aims to raise awareness about race and racism in the region.

She recalled watching adverts for whitening cream on TV showing women growing happier as their complexion gradually became lighter.

"It's so damaging to brown and Black girls that watch that and think my skin colour is bad and if it's lighter, it's better," she said by phone from Dubai.

Whitening creams

A surge of global criticism about whitening creams has forced brands to react, however.

Johnson & Johnson said on Friday it would stop selling its range of such products in Asia and the Middle East.

In Tunisia, leading sanitary pad brand Nana caused outrage on social media after sharing a post on June 9 meant to celebrate diversity that featured a white, blue-eyed model painted in different skin-tone shades.

Nana Arabia, which swiftly replaced the controversial post, said it was "strongly against any form of racism."

"We promote diversity in all areas and we support women in following their individual dreams," it said in an emailed comment.

But Ksiksi said the use of blackface makeup showed that Black women "are perceived as not beautiful."

"(Brands) would rather use the image of a white woman and paint her face."

Besides racist beauty standards, she said Black Arab women are frequently taunted over stereotypes that they have high sex drives.

In Tunisia, as elsewhere in North Africa and the Middle East, they are also disproportionately poor and suffer worse job prospects as well as increased sexual harassment at the hand of employers, or while out in the street.

"Economically and socially Black women are at the bottom of the pyramid. So if someone harasses a Black woman, he knows she has no connections... and this makes it easier for her to be harassed," Ksiksi said.

Tunisia became the first Arab country in October 2018 to criminalize racial discrimination, with the first conviction under the law taking place in February 2019.

'Proud of my colour'

But from Egypt to the Palestinian territories, deep-rooted racist views are coming under attack.

Earlier this month, Egyptian actor and singer Mohamed Ramadan called out a woman who commented on a photo of his son to say it was unfortunate the boy turned out Black like his father instead of inheriting his mother's lighter skin.

"I'm proud of my color... and I'm happy my children will grow up to be anti-racism," Ramadan wrote on his Facebook page.

In a viral Instagram video, Palestinian actress Maryam Abu Khaled said she hoped future generations would not endure the anti-Black comments she grew up hearing, such as parents warning their children to avoid the sun so they would not look like her.

For Ali, who was often told she was "pretty for a black girl", the protests sparked by last month's killing of Black American George Floyd by a white Minneapolis police officer had triggered some long-overdue soul searching closer to home.

"People are starting to understand that 'okay, maybe now I should be more socially aware of my anti-Blackness'," she said.

"This is a huge change from the race conversation completely not existing in the Arab world to people now calling each other out." (Reporting by Ban Barkawi @banbarkawi; Editing by Helen Popper. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly.


Minor Hindu Girl Forcibly Converted, Married to Abductor in Pakistan's Sindh

Jun 23, 2020

Ankita Bhandari

Sindh: In another shocking incident, a minor Hindu girl has been abducted from Pakistan`s Sindh province, converted to Islam and married off to her kidnapper. The minor named Reshaman from Jacobabad in Sindh who was kidnapped and converted to Islam, was married off to her abductor WazirHussain on June 18.

However, the girl has submitted an affidavit claiming to be 19-years-old and having converted to Islam on her own free will.

Abduction and forced conversions of Hindu minor girls is rampant in Pakistan and has exposed the tall claims by the Imran Khan government of security and safety of minorities in the country.

According to the affidavit, Reshaman`s new Muslim name is Basheeran.

There have bee been numerous cases of forced conversions involving Christian and Hindu girls, mostly minors, across Pakistan who are then married to Muslim men in Pakistan.Even police and politicians ignored their grievances and left the minorities to live a miserable life.

According to a Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) report, at least 1,000 non-Muslim girls have forcibly converted to Islam in the country annually. Many of these girls belong to the Hindu community in Sindh, where about eight million Hindus live.

Pakistan is a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states that the right to freedom of religion includes the right to change one`s religion and that no one shall be subject to coercion to change their religion.

Despite these many cases of forced conversions, the country till now has turned down two bills. The bills tabled in 2016 and 2019 demanded that the minimum age for changing one`s religion be set to 18 years, jail terms be sanctioned for anyone guilty of coercion, and a 21-day period in a safe house be mandated for the person seeking conversion to ensure that the decision has been taken out of the free will.

While rejecting the bill in 2016, former Sindh governor Saeeduzzaman Siddiqui, said: `When Hazrat Ali [the fourth caliph in Sunni sect, and the first Imam for the Shia] can convert to Islam at a young age [9 years], why can`t Hindu girls?`This kind of resistance has also been seen during attempts to eradicate child marriage in Pakistan. The Council of Islamic Ideology cited Prophet Muhammad`s marriage to six-year-old Aisha, as narrated in hadiths (compilations of the prophet`s sayings).

Though the country was finally able to pass legislation against child marriage in 2019, the courts still allow forced conversions and marriage of underage girls like in Sindh where the Child Marriages Restraint Act has been in place since 2013.

According to Dawn, the Sindh government attempted to outlaw forced conversions and marriages twice. Though the bill was unanimously passed by the Sindh Assembly, religious parties objected to an age limit for conversions and threatened to besiege the assembly if the bill received the approval of the governor. This resulted in the Governor refusing to sign the bill into law.In 2019, a revised version was introduced by the Sindh government, but again the religious parties protested.

A sit-in was organised by PirMian Abdul Khaliq (MianMithu), a political and religious leader who has participated in many cases of forced conversions of underage Hindu girls in Sindh. He and his group claim the girls are not forced, but fall in love with Muslim men and convert willingly.

In March 2019, nearly 2,000 Hindus staged a sit-in to demand justice for two sisters, who they claimed were forcibly converted and married. The Islamabad High Court, however, ruled the girls had willingly converted and married the men.


Bengal woman held for LeT links was part of Pakistan WhatsApp groups: Report

Jun 13, 2020

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said the 22-year-old woman, who was arrested in West Bengal in March for alleged links with Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT), used WhatsApp number of Pakistan, news agency ANI reported on Saturday.

Tania Parvin, who was taken into custody by the agency on Friday in the state capital of Kolkata for questioning, had been a part of several groups on the social messaging site, according to ANI.

She was arrested on March 19 from her residence at the Bangladesh-bordering Malayapur village, within Baduria police station jurisdictions in Basirhat police district.

Police had said in March that Parvin, a first-year masters’ student, was trying to honey-trap Indian soldiers using Facebook and WhatsApp.

“Her direct connection with LeT operatives based in Pakistan has been established. She was using the dark web to interact with them. We expect her interrogation to provide us with further leads in busting the whole network,” Ajay Kumar Nand, inspector general of STF, said.

LeT, which is led by Hafiz Saeed and responsible for the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, is one of the deadliest anti-India terror groups.




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