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Riyadh Set To Become Capital Of Arab Women 2020

New Age Islam News Bureau

8 Feb 2020

Saudi Arabian women apply for a job during a career fair in Riyadh on Sep.28, 2017. (Photo: AFP)


• Oak Lawn High School Students, Faculty Wear Headscarves in Solidarity With Muslim Classmates On World Hijab Day

• Pak Court Says Marriage with Underage Christian Girl Valid as She’s Had Her 1st Menstrual Cycle

• Belgium to Hire Female Theologians To Assist Muslim Women

• Stop Associating Hijab with Insecurity, Terrorism, Groups Warn

• German Authorities, Politicians Divided On Niqab, Burqa Ban

• BJP Karnataka Takes 'Kaagaz' Jibe at Muslim Women Standing At Delhi Poll Queue

• Gulf Women Dominate Shooting Competition At Arab Women Sports Tournament

• Malala Is My Hero, Says Her Father Ziauddin Yousafzai

• Egypt Frees Doctor Who Performed FGM On Girl Who Bled To Death

Compiled By New Age Islam News Bureau




Riyadh Set To Become Capital Of Arab Women 2020

February 7, 2020

RIYADH — The 39th session of the Arab Women’s Committee, which will begin here on Feb. 9, will declare Riyadh as the Capital of Arab Women 2020.

Several ministers and senior officials representing the Arab countries as well as Arab and international organizations and women’s bodies will participate in the two-day event. Saudi Arabia will chair the committee, which is an affiliate of the Arab League, for one year.

The first day of the session is dedicated to the regional preparatory meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women 64 (CSW), which will review the 25-year long activities and performance of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the Beijing +25 Regional Review Meeting.

The Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action 1995 was the most ambitious road map for the empowerment of women and girls everywhere.

The second day will witness the 39th session of the Arab Women’s Committee to discuss a number of topics on the agenda. This session will start with a discussion of the General Secretariat’s activity report between the previous session and the current session.

The session will review the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Empowerment of Women in the Arab Region, in addition to following up the recommendations of the Ministerial Conference on “Strengthening the role of women in Arab societies: Lessons learned from around the world” through enhancing cooperation with relevant international organizations, and to review the topics submitted by member states.

Secretary General of the Family Affairs Council Dr. Hala Al-Tuwaijri stated in a statement that the Kingdom’s hosting of the 39th session of the Arab Women Committee under the slogan of “Empowering Women ... Development of Society” comes within the framework of the Kingdom’s efforts to serve Arab issues and support the development march in all Arab societies.

“Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the meeting comes at a time when the Kingdom is witnessing many reforms related to empowering women in accordance with the ambitious Vision 2 030 that had a direct impact on supporting and empowering Saudi women at various levels through a host of decisions and legislations that support her career and enhance her position,” the statement added.

Dr. Hala pointed out that this meeting will witness the launch of Riyadh as the capital of Arab women for the year 2020 under the slogan of “Women is a nation and ambition” in addition to the Kingdom’s presidency of G20, and the subsequent meetings that confirm the international role played by the Kingdom at all levels.

This role also constitutes a regional dimension in which the Kingdom shares the international community with the most important issues that affect the participation of Arab women in development and contributes to disseminating their voices.



Oak Lawn High School Students, Faculty Wear Headscarves in Solidarity With Muslim Classmates On World Hijab Day


FEB 07, 2020

The sight of female students traversing the halls of Oak Lawn Community High School in headscarves has become increasingly common in recent years.

Samantha Razik, a school counselor for English language learners, estimated that about one-quarter of Oak Lawn’s student body is Muslim, and that the vast majority of female Muslim students wear the hijab, a traditional head covering associated with modesty.

On Jan. 31, in celebration of World Hijab Day the following day, Oak Lawn’s non-Muslim students, both female and male, were given the chance to try on hijabs during lunch periods throughout the day and learn more about why some Muslim women wear the coverings.

The event, organized by Razik and the school’s Muslim Student Association, was a smashing success, they said.

“We did not expect as much participation as we got,” said Razik, who estimated that dozens of students and faculty tried on hijabs throughout the day and that virtually all of the 25 or so coverings that had been donated were in use by day’s end.

“Every time people walked into the lunchroom, a bunch of people were trying them on right away,” she said. “People wanted to wear them for the day.”

Razik, who is Muslim but does not normally wear the hijab, said she came to students with the idea of holding the event after speaking with friends who had experienced harassment for choosing to cover their head.

“A friend of mine had said that somebody had called her a ninja and she also said that she’s heard that her friends have been called terrorists just because they wear it, so I wanted to bring a level of awareness with the hijab, that it’s not associated with that, but with the woman’s modesty,” Razik said. “I think some of that ignorance and some of those misconceptions have to be cleared up.”

While Razik said she hadn’t witnessed or heard of any sort of harassment of that sort at the high school, she believed it was important to hold the event to spread awareness and dispossess students of negative stereotypes associated with Muslims who wear the hijab.

Sophomore Nisma Sulieman, who is Muslim but does not currently wear the hijab, said she was encouraged by the amount of interest other students and faculty took in the event.

“We had a lot of people try it out, even men, and it was cool to see a lot of people come and show support,” she said.

Lilian Fariz, a junior who said she wears the hijab as a daily reminder of her faith and believes it represents her strength and dignity, praised last week’s event and the student body’s response, saying it left her feeling empowered.

She said non-Muslim students seemed excited to learn more about Muslim culture and that Muslim students who might otherwise feel hesitant to open up about their beliefs felt comfortable speaking their mind.

World Hijab Day, started in 2013 as a way of encouraging religious tolerance and allowing non-Muslims to experience the hijab for a day, has spread quickly around the world and is now celebrated in many American schools.

Harold L. Richards High School, located just down Central Avenue from Oak Lawn Community High School, has observed World Hijab Day for the past three years.

While some Oak Lawn High School faculty have worn the hijab Feb. 1 in years past to signal solidarity with Muslim students, this was the first time students organized an actual event to celebrate the day, Razik said.


Pak Court Says Marriage with Underage Christian Girl Valid as She’s Had Her 1st Menstrual Cycle

08 FEBRUARY 2020

Karachi, Feb 8 (PTI) The parents of a 14-year-old Pakistani Christian girl, who was abducted, forcibly converted to Islam and married off to her abductor, will approach the Supreme Court after a lower court ruled that marriage with an underage girl is valid as per the Sharia law if she has had her first menstrual cycle.

Huma was 14 when she was abducted in October last year and forced to marry her abductor Abdul Jabbar after being converted to Islam, according to her parents Younis and Nagheena Masih.

Their counsel Tabassum Yousuf on Friday said they would seek justice from the Supreme Court after the Sindh High Court, as per the Sharia law, said earlier this week that even if the girl, Huma, was found to be underage, the marriage between her and her alleged abductor, Jabbar, would be valid as she has already had her first menstrual cycle.

After they approached the Sindh High Court to see their daughter, the court, in a hearing on February 3, ordered the police to oversee the tests to confirm her age.

However, Judges Muhammad Iqbal Kalhoro and Irshad Ali observed that under the Sharia law, the marriage would be valid even if Huma was underage.

Tabbasum said that the ruling was not in accordance with the Sindh Child Marriage Restraint Act passed in 2014 which outlawed marriages of girls under 18 years, in a bid to stop forced marriages of minors in the province, primarily of Hindu and Christian community.

"The girl''s parents were convinced that the police investigating officer was supporting Abdul Jabbar and his family. They also fear that the test results of Huma''s age could be falsified and she might be sent with her husband," the lawyer said.

The parents had requested to keep Huma at a women''s shelter away from her alleged husband until her age was determined.

Tabassum said the parents produced documents including church, school documents confirming Huma''s age to be 14.

On the website of the Independent Catholic News, the girl''s mother has appealed to the international community to support them.

The latest case has emerged amidst an increasing number of forcible conversions of girls belonging to the minority communities in Muslim-majority Pakistan.

In the last one month, at least two cases of forced conversion and marriage of Hindu girls after abduction have emerged in the province. PTI CORR CPS AKJ CPS



Belgium to Hire Female Theologians To Assist Muslim Women


Female theologians will soon be able to assist Muslim women in Belgian mosques. The Muslim Executive of Belgium (MEB) plans to hire 18 female theologians and preachers for this plan.

According to Belgian newspaper RTBF, the procedure is underway. These women will be responsible for «spiritually accompanying and assisting women and girls from the Muslim community, but that is not everything».

«The project started several years ago», said Salah Echallaoui from MEB. «We realized that many young girls were affected by the phenomenon of radicalization and that there was a lack of supervision within the Muslim community in general, but among women and girls in particular», he said. He explained that these women would be «almost the same as imams, except for leading prayers».

«These theologians and preachers will participate in the religious life of the community, they will be in and around the mosques, and they will be able to deliver lectures, participate in religious ceremonies such as circumcisions and weddings. They will also be listening to people and solving their couple problems from a religious and theological perspective», he added.

RTBF reported that these theologians and preachers would not depend on a particular mosque; they will be visiting several mosques in the three Belgian regions.



German Authorities, Politicians Divided On Niqab, Burqa Ban


Christoph Hasselbach

There are very few women and girls in Germany wearing a full-face veil such as the niqab or the burqa —  most likely a mere two-digit number. A recent verdict handed down by a Hamburg court, however, has sparked a fierce debate with surprising front lines: feminists, at least partially, find themselves on the same side as political right-wingers. And Germany's Green party is particularly divided on the issue.

Recently, the Hamburg court backed the case of a student's mother. According to the ruling, her 16-year-old daughter is allowed to wear the niqab in class. The school authority had attempted to ban her from wearing the garment during lessons. Veils like the niqab and the burqa cover a woman's entire face, sometimes even the eyes.

In their ruling, the judges in particular invoked the girl's "right to unconditional protection of her freedom of religion." Limiting that freedom, they added, was only permissible on a legal basis, which does not currently exist in Hamburg's education legislation.

Education laws made at state level

Since German education laws are made at state level, it is up to every single state to provide its own laws for schools and universities. Lower Saxony's education laws, for example, have been stipulating since 2017 that "female and male students are not allowed to significantly hamper communication with those involved in school life by means of behavior or clothing." This outlaws full-face veils. Similarly, students in Bavaria must "not cover their faces, except when this is required by school rules."

There are regulations at the federal level, too — for example, female federal officials and female soldiers are not allowed to cover their faces when they're on duty. Members of the public must not wear full-face veils when they drive a car. Likewise, the niqab and the burqa must be removed when authorities examine a woman's identity.

Unlike in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Austria and Denmark, Germany has no general ban on wearing full-face veils in public

Closing the legal loophole

Hamburg's government, made up of Social Democrats (SPD) and Greens, will now make an effort to close the gap in the city-state's school legislation. Ties Rabe, the senator responsible for Hamburg's schools, has already announced an imminent ban on full-face veils: "In school, teachers as well as pupils should have an open, unobstructed face. It is the only way schools and classes can function," he said.

Hamburg's deputy mayor Katharina Fegebank from the Green party agrees. "The burqa and the niqab are, for me, symbols of oppression," she said. Her position is also relevant ahead of the February 23 Hamburg elections. According to the latest opinion polls, the Greens are only slightly less popular than the SPD — which means Fegebank does have a chance to win the city-state's top post. The opposition parties in Hamburg's parliament, the Christian Democrats (CDU), the Free Democrats (FDP) and the far-right AfD, also support banning niqabs and burqas from classrooms.

Other German states are following suit. In the southwestern state of Baden-Württemberg, which is governed by a coalition of Greens and Christian Democrats, Culture Minister Susanne Eisenmann (CDU) has also announced a ban on veils through adjustments to schools legislation. "Teaching is based on open communication, which also manifests itself via gestures and facial expressions. A covered face prevents such open communication."

Freedom of religion, she added, had its limits if teachers and students were "no longer able, literally, to look in each other's faces." Baden-Württemberg's state premier Winfried Kretschmann (Greens) agreed: "I believe that, in an open society, people should show their faces."

Bans counterproductive?

In the Green camp, such clear statements have, however, been controversial. Like their fellow party member Fegebank, Baden-Württemberg's Green party leaders Sandra Detzer and Oliver Hildenbrand call the burqa and the niqab "symbols of oppression". Simultaneously though they're accusing Education Minister Susanne Eisenmann of "pursuing an agenda which ultimately only strengthens the far-right."

Filiz Polat, migration policy spokesperson for the Greens' parliamentary group, believes that it is one of the features of a democratic society that people can wear religious symbols — or choose not to do so. In her view, the constitution does not allow for a general ban. By the same token, it was also constitutionally required that Germany does not bar devout Muslims from access to its educational system by implementing a ban on veils. The Greens' parliamentary group in another northern German state, Schleswig-Holstein, had argued along those lines in the state parliament before voting against a full-face veil ban at universities.

Danger of marginalization

Bernhard Kempen, the president of the German Association of University Professors and Lecturers (DHV), has an equally differentiated view. For him, it is out of the question that women wearing full-face veils participate in seminars, which are usually made up of small groups of people. He would, however, have no such reservations with respect to large-audience lectures. The German Philologists' Association (DPhV), by contrast, advocates a ban on niqabs and burqas both in schools and universities.

Seyran Ates, a campaigner for women's rights and the co-founder of the liberal Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin, would prefer, for the sake of peace in schools, to remove all religious and ideological symbols from classrooms — not only those referring to Islam. Islam scholar Riem Spielhaus, meanwhile, warned that marginalizing those who wear burqas and niqabs was conducive to radicalization of Muslims. Instead, they should be invited to a dialogue.

It remains a fact that there are very few women in Germany who wear full-face veils. Therefore, Germany's other northern city-state of Bremen, for example, sees no reason to modify its school legislation. There was not a single known case, according to Bremen's school authority — so therefore there was no requirement to change any laws.



BJP Karnataka Takes 'Kaagaz' Jibe at Muslim Women Standing At Delhi Poll Queue

February 8, 2020

As the voting for the Delhi Assembly election commenced at 8 am on Saturday, long queues were seen at polling booths where of enthusiastic voters waiting to exercise their franchise.

Several social media posts have surfaced where people can be seen waiting in long queues to reach the EVM machines and cast their vote.

To one such video, in which Muslim women can be seen standing in an unending queue flashing their voter-ID and waiting to cast their vote in the Delhi Assembly election, the official Twitter handle of BJP's Karnataka unit has taken a "Kaagaz nahi dikhayenge jibe".

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Karnataka's official Twitter handle posted the video of Muslim women waiting in a queue flashing their voter-ID cards allegedly at a polling booth in Delhi and has captioned it saying: "Keep the documents safe, you will need to show them again during NPR [National Population Register] exercise".

BJP Karnataka


"Kaagaz Nahi Dikayenge Hum" ! ! !

Keep the documents safe, you will need to show them again during #NPR exercise.#DelhiPolls2020

Embedded video


12:45 PM - Feb 8, 2020

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The NPR is a register of the usual residents of the country. It contains information collected at the local (village/sub-town), subdistrict, district, state and national level under provisions of the Citizenship Act, 1955 and the Citizenship (Registration of Citizens and Issue of National Identity Cards) Rules, 2003.

The "Kaagaz nahi dikhayenge (won't show papers)" slogan has been a common at the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protests across the country.

The anti-CAA-NRC-NPR protesters have captured the streets across India vowing to not co-operate with the government by submitting their documents to prove their Indian citizenship.



Gulf Women Dominate Shooting Competition At Arab Women Sports Tournament

February 07, 2020

SHARJAH: Day four of the Arab Women Sports Tournament (AWST) in Sharjah saw a strong contest in the shooting, as well as in the volleyball and table tennis.

In the 10m air rifle team competition on Friday, the Bahraini team clinched the gold medal with 1,849 points. The silver went to the Omani team after accumulating 1,821.1 points, while the UAE shooters bagged the bronze with 1,778.1 points.

In another impressive achievement, Bahraini shooters nailed all three medals in the 10m air rifle individual competition. Sara Al-Dossary won the gold medal with 244.1 points at the end of the competition.

The silver went to Marwa Al Amiri with 243.6 points, and one of the two bronze medals awarded to Safa Al-Dossary with 221.3 points. Omani shooter Siham Al-Hassania also received a bronze after accumulating 191.1 points.

In the volleyball, the UAE’s Al Wasl players took on Syria’s Taldara Club in a thrilling match, which finished 95-77 to the Emirati side.

In the second match, Jordan’s De La Salle Club secured a valuable win against Bahrain’s Al Ahli Club, by three sets to nil.

After securing the silver medal in the table tennis individuals’ competitions, Algeria’s Association des Sports Féminins snatched the gold medal in the doubles tournament on Friday. Algerian Kateba Kasasi and Mleesa Nasiri won 3 – 1 against Kuwaiti sisters Mariam and Fatima Abdullah from Al Fatat Sports Club, who went home with a silver medal. The bronze went to Zanata Waterfalls Club from Morocco which secured the third place with a win against UAE’s Sharjah Women’s Sports Club, 3 – 1.

The fifth edition of the AWST finishes on Feb. 12.



Malala Is My Hero, Says Her Father Ziauddin Yousafzai

February 8, 2020

Ziauddin was in Dubai to promote 'Let her Fly', his book that traces the inspirational journey of Malala's father.

Most people know Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in 2012 by the Taleban for demanding girls' rights to education, but few have heard of the playful squabbles she has with her brothers or the doting relationship she shares with her parents.

Malala's mother Toor Pekai Yousafzai and father Ziauddin Yousafzai provided a peek into the family's lives beyond the fame and humanitarian work to a captivated audience at the Emirates Airlines Festival of Literature on Friday.

Ziauddin was in Dubai to promote 'Let her Fly', his book that traces the inspirational journey of Malala's father from a boy in Shangla in Pakistan to a man who broke with tradition and proved there are many faces of feminism. He was joined by his wife Toor Pekai and the session was moderated by founder of the Cross Red Lines dialogue series Manal Omar.

Family of feminists

A family of feminists, the Yousafzais vehemently believe that prosperity in a home and the society-at-large can happen only through women's education. Their daughter Malala is now in her final year of studies at Oxford University and continues her work with the Malala Fund, a non-profit organisation that advocates human rights and education of women and children.

Ziauddin said: "I am an equal partner of Toor. I have two feminist sons and a feminist daughter. In a patriarchal society such as ours, daughters are known by their fathers. I am proud to be known as Malala's father."

A woman who has been largely in the shadows since the now 22-year-old made global headlines, Toor Pekai spoke in her mother tongue Pashtun. However, she introduced herself to the audiences by speaking in English. "I am Toor Pekai. I have three children; two sons and a daughter. He's my husband (pointing to Ziauddin), he's a very nice man," she said with rousing laughter from the audience.

In response to their style of parenting, Toor Pekai said: "I've always told my children to tell the truth and to stand for what is right. Boys and girls are equal and though people might be of different colours and races, everyone is equal." She advised parents to listen to their children. "When children get scared, they don't say what they feel," she said.

Meanwhile, Ziauddin called the Yousafzais a family of five that is rich in terms of moral value where love, respect and empathy is very important. "We came from a lot of adversity and poverty. We would've never thought we'd reach where we are today.

When a lot of people ask me what I do right in raising my daughter, I tell them about what I did not do. I did not clip her (Malala's) wings."

Patriarchal society

Speaking about the state of education for girls in Pakistan, Toor Pekai said she regrets not going to school. "With education, I could've been anything. But we couldn't get the same opportunities due to lack of education."

Both Ziauddin and Toor Pekai were critical of the patriarchal system that has not allowed girls' education in the Swat Valley. "The government at that time, even today, is very patriarchal. There are a lot of opportunities for men, but very little for women." Toor Pekai said she did fear for the family's lives when they were outspoken against the Taleban, referring to the conflicts in 2012. She said: "But I realised, if I didn't raise my voice, then who would."

'We want to visit India'

Ziauddin also expressed his desire to visit India, a country that he said is a major beneficiary of the Malala Fund. He said: "When Malala got it (the Nobel Prize) with Kailash Sathyarthi, who has hugely contributed to freeing children from labour, he had told Malala - 'you are more popular than me in India'. We do plan to go to India. The highest number of champions for girls' education are from India."

Commenting on what Malala would like to do in the future, Ziauddin said: "A lot has changed since her time in Oxford. She has changed a lot socially, and I am so happy for her. What she wants to do with her future is her decision. She's an adult, she has her own dreams."



Egypt Frees Doctor Who Performed FGM On Girl Who Bled To Death

08 FEBRUARY 2020

Cairo, Feb 7 (AFP) An Egyptian court released on bail Thursday a doctor who was detained for performing a genital cutting procedure on a 12-year-old girl who bled to death last month.

The gynaecologist was bailed for 50,000 pounds (USD 3,000) by the court in Manfalout, about 400 kilometres (249 miles) south of the capital Cairo.

He said he conducted the illegal procedure alone in his clinic "without any anaesthetic or nurse present", according to prosecutors quoted in local media.

The girl bled to death shortly after the operation, commonly referred to as female circumcision.

Her father filed a police complaint against the doctor after his daughter''s death in late January.

Police arrested the doctor, the parents and an aunt of the victim, before freeing the relatives days later.

Known by her first name Nada in local media, the victim''s death sparked an outcry online and in Egyptian media.

The National Council for Women, which first received the complaint from the authorities, called for the "maximum punishment for all who participated in this crime".

The doctor''s release on Thursday coincided with the International Day of Zero Tolerance for Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Dar Al Ifta, the Egyptian body tasked with Islamic religious edicts, released a statement Thursday condemning FGM, deeming it "forbidden" in Islamic law.

Egypt first banned FGM in 2008, but the practice remains rife in the conservative country with many believing it promotes women''s chastity.

A 2016 survey by the United Nations Children''s Fund showed that nearly 90 per cent of Egyptian women and girls aged between 15 and 49 had undergone the procedure.

Doctors found guilty of performing FGM in Egypt can face seven years imprisonment but the law is not strictly enforced. (AFP) RUP




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