New Age Islam News Bureau
Women from the Philippines sent their picture to show how they are celebrating World Hijab Day. —
• Fatima, 18, an Aspiring French ‘Hijabi’ Journalist
• Women across the Globe Celebrate World Hijab Day
• Three Divorces an Hour in Saudi Arabia
• The Shadowy World of Sex Trafficking On US Shores
• French Girl indoctrinated via Wahhabi websites Goes to Syria for War
• Pregnant Mom of Four, Sentenced to Military Prison for Refusing to Serve in Iraq
• Two Saudis among Top 20 Muslim Women Scientists
• Girls from Ethnic Minorities at Risk from Genital Mutilation, MSPs Hear
• Kashmiri Girl Students Develop Android App
• French Woman, Indonesian Maid Held in Malaysia on Drugs Charges
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
UAE Forces New Mothers to Breastfeed by Law
February 1, 2014
Women in the United Arab Emirates must breastfeed their children, or their husbands could sue them, according to a new law.
The legislation passed this month, requires all able Emirati women to breastfeed their children for at least two years.
The Federal National Council included a clause in the new Child Rights Law which states that it is a human right for a child to be breast fed, and that nursing is now mandatory.
However, the UAE’s Minister of Social Affairs, Mariam Al Roumi, said the fact that breastfeeding is now forced upon women, could lead to husbands suing their wives if they do not follow the law.
‘This part of the law can be a burden,’ Ms Al Roumi told The National. ‘If the law forced women to breastfeed, this could lead to new court cases.’
The Child Rights Law was passed by the National Federal Council earlier this month, and the breastfeeding clause added once it was put up for review.
The Council said that it was the right of all children to be breastfed up to the age of two, and that it is a duty and not an option for any woman able to do so.
The decision was backed up by research which show that breast feeding is beneficial both for a child's future health, but also for the bond between mother and baby, while other members referred to parts of the Koran which states that a mother should nurse.
If a mother is unable to breastfeed for a biological reason, the state should support her by providing a wet nurse, but it has not been explained how this system is to be implemented.
Several groups supporting new parents reacted strongly to the new breastfeeding law, including Out of the Blues, a Dubai organisation helping mothers suffering from postnatal issues.
'As a group we wholeheartedly agree that breastfeeding should be encouraged and that the sentiment is a good one that clearly follows international guidelines,' the group wrote in an open letter in The National.
'However, as many of the new mothers we encounter are already under significant pressure, we are concerned that enacting a law that leaves mothers facing potential punishment could be a step too far.'
The group also pointed out that is has not been made clear who will be responsible for assessing who is and is not able to breastfeed, especially as lactation specialists can be hard to find in the UAE.
Fatima, 18, an Aspiring French ‘Hijabi’ Journalist
February 1, 2014
I am Fatima, an 18 year old girl living in France. I always wanted to wear Hijab. My father is a great man and he did not want me to wear the Hijab only because all my cousins were wearing it. He taught me to think about the true meaning of Hijab, and then wear it.
I have been blessed with the decision of wearing it at the age of 16. My mom is a revert to Islam and she does not wear the Hijab, neither does my sister. However, they have supported tremendously.
Here in France, the conditions for Hijabis (women who wear Hijab) are very particular. We cannot wear the headscarf in schools and finding a job is almost impossible. In fact, many women have to remove the headscarf in order to earn money, or even to be present in their children’s school life. I remember when I was in school; my heart broke each day when I had to show my hair. I felt naked.
I now study journalism in Paris. I am the only Hijabi in my university. To get the same results as the others, I have to work two, three, and four times harder; finding internships and asking people for an interview, wearing the Hijab.
Everything becomes more difficult. People do not see me simply as a student of journalism. They see me like the Hijabi studying journalism. I have been told that Islam would influence my writing. Well, it is who I am. Islam is a part of me. It would be the same if I was Christian, Jewish or atheist. Everyone has an influence.
But Alhamdulillah (praise be to Allah), this only makes me stronger. I do not feel different. I feel French; a Muslim French obviously, but still French. Many people ask me, “Why don’t you go study in London? You will have much more opportunities there.”
My dream is to present the news one day. I have a 1% chance to succeed here but I will not give up. I used to think I would travel to the UK, but I I changed my mind. I should not have to leave this country. This is my country too; I will succeed here. Things have to change.
World Hijab Day is an excellent event to spread awareness about Hijab. My message to all girls out there, Hijabi or not, do not put limits for yourself. Be proud of who you are. Be strong, be confident, smile and keep your head up.
Love yourself and the world will love you. We cover what’s ON our heads, not what’s IN our heads.
Women across the globe celebrate World Hijab Day
February 1, 2014
Today, February 1st, women from all regions of the world are celebrating World Hijab Day.
Awareness events are being held at schools, universities, and places of worship where women are coming together, wearing the hijab (headscarf), and spreading understanding of what the hijab really represents. Muslim women who have not taken the step to wear the hijab and even non-Muslim women will wear the hijab for just one day, in solidarity with their sisters across the world who do wear the hijab.
The goal is to dispel the common stereotypes about the hijab; that it oppresses women and limits them and that women who wear the hijab are repressed, docile, passive, and have no say in their lives.
The idea is that before non-covering women make judgments about covering women, they should try covering up for one day and they will discover that women shrouded in the headscarf and loose, flowing clothes are surprisingly strong, determined, active, and extremely decisive of how they choose to lead their lives. Muslim women wear the hijab or headscarf in adherence and devotion to their faith.
The hijab in the past was not foreign to followers of other religions. The headscarf was a requirement in many other religions, such as Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism. The headscarf has faded in most other cultures and lived on to the modern day mainly among Muslims. However in America, women in Amish and Mennonite communities cover their hair to this day.
The message of one woman celebrating World Hijab Day in Asia is, “I wear hijab because it is part of my faith and I feel liberated with what protects my modesty.”
A beautiful Christian woman married to a Muslim said that she will wear the hijab for a day in support of the Muslim women who wear it every day.
Female staff and students at Pleckgate High School in East Lancashire in the UK celebrated World Hijab Day last year and are celebrating it again today. Teachers and girls of all faiths wore the hijab for one day to understand and appreciate the culture of their Muslim friends.
Shahiesta Raja, at Pleckgate High School, said: “Staff and pupils, Muslim and non Muslim wore the hijab all day as a way of increasing understanding and promoting the spiritual, moral, cultural and social awareness of our pupils.”
A group of students, from diverse backgrounds, majoring in religious studies at Nelson and Colne College in the UK also took part in the hijab awareness day.
To share your story of how you are celebrating World Hijab Day, go to www.worldhijabday.com
Three divorces an hour in Saudi Arabia
February 1, 2014
In the past, arranged marriages were the cultural norm for many young men and women in Saudi Arabia. Whether or not the union ended up being successful depended on sheer luck. Girls over 18 years of age used to accept the first bridegroom who knocked on their family’s door, whether or not he had all the qualities necessary to make him a good husband.
Today, the situation has changed because our lifestyles have changed with the times. A young woman today will think twice before marrying the first man who proposes to her. A young man will do the same and will insist on a lengthy engagement period to get to know his future wife. Luck is no longer a factor; careful decisions and thinking are of paramount importance.
However, despite such changes which might be thought to indicate that most of today’s marriages stand a good chance of lasting and not tragically ending in divorce, the rate of divorce is, unfortunately, still high. Recently, Al-Eqtisadiya daily published a report on divorce for 2013. The report said that the number of divorces was increasing each year and that in 2013, there were 82 divorces every day – that is 3.4 every hour!
This is clearly a catastrophe which calls for the full attention of all citizens, society and government. We need to conduct exhaustive and extensive studies and research in order to find the reason for such a large number of failed marriages. We need to find a solution to this frightening problem.
Some social experts have blamed husbands for the high rate of divorce, citing causes such as cheating, neglecting their wives, and spending most of their time with their friends. On the other hand, some experts have blamed women. They say women have become more demanding and more selfish because they only care about finding ways to satisfy their social needs.
However, blaming men only or women only will get us nowhere in terms of finding a way to deal with this problem. I attended a course on the mistakes women make when dealing with men. I came out with the realization that most women do not understand men and vice versa. I learned that wives should appreciate their husbands’ efforts to make them happy even if such efforts fall short of their hopes and expectations. If men are appreciated by their wives, they will work hard to match their partners’ expectations in the future.
My advice to men and women who are going to get married soon is to attend courses on marriage and read up on the subject to learn more. Remember it is not easy to understand how men and women think. Some have paid a high price because they were clueless about this fact. Problems and stress can sometimes take a heavy toll on a married couple who do not understand how each other’s minds work.
The shadowy world of sex trafficking on US shores
AFP | Feb 1, 2014
WASHINGTON: "Are you Shandra? Yes, I am." With those few words, a young Indonesian with big dreams of a better life found herself catapulted into the murky underground world of sex slavery and violence.
But Shandra Woworuntu, then 25, was not trapped in a sordid brothel plying clients in some far-flung Asian tourist hotspot.
Instead the college graduate and young mother was whisked away from New York's busy John F Kennedy airport with a gun to her head by an organized gang working in the heart of the world's economic superpower.
Nothing had prepared the slight, softly spoken, shy woman to become one of the thousands of men, women and children lured into the hidden world of sex trafficking and forced labor in the United States every year.
After losing her job as a financial analyst in a bank in the chaos unleashed by Asia's economic crisis, Shandra replied to a newspaper ad for temporary work in a hotel in Chicago.
In 2001, having passed a test, and armed with a visa from the US embassy, she left her young daughter, promising to return home soon.
"I was excited — I thought this was the American dream. I will earn some money and I will go back after six months," she told AFP.
But on her very first night on US soil, she was put to work in a New York brothel, before being passed from pimp to pimp — a Malaysian known as Johnnie Wong, a Taiwanese guy, a man who only spoke Cantonese, and even an American.
"They put a gun on my head, and I just think I have to save my life," she said in somewhat broken English, her voice at times dropping to a whisper.
"Maybe I have been kidnapped, I didn't know exactly. What I need to do is life survival."
Many of the girls and women she encountered working in the brothels had also been lured from abroad, some from her native Indonesia. She was the oldest of the group. Most were just teenagers.
One young girl, whose age she guessed at as between 10 to 12, did not speak any language Shandra recognized. "I never knew where she came from," she said sadly.
She was forced to work through the night in casinos and hotels where clients would pick from the girls lined up in front of them or would telephone for services.
"The phone was always ringing," remembered Shandra, who said the women were often denied food, but were presented with tables laden with alcohol and drugs.
Moved many times in vans with tinted glass and held in rooms with shuttered windows, and barred by beefy bodyguards, Shandra lost all notion of time. And she was told that she had to work to repay a $30,000 "recruitment fee."
To this day, she can't say how long she endured captivity, knowing only she arrived in spring and it was turning cold that same year when she escaped.
"This is not the job that they promised," she said, without a hint of irony.
An open bathroom window, two floors up, gave her her chance. Persuading one other girl to go with her, they jumped, and miraculously survived unscathed.
After weeks of living rough, with the police, church, and the FBI all refusing to believe her story — and even falling into the hands of another pimp — Shandra, whose passport and all documents had been stripped from her on day one, finally found help with a victim's agency called Safe Horizon.
While her tale might sound incredible, agencies say it is very common. And it doesn't just concern foreigners — young American runaways all too often put themselves in dangerous situations wooed by tales of modeling careers and lucrative music contracts.
The Alliance To End Slavery and Trafficking estimates about 14,000 to 17,000 men, women and children are smuggled illegally into the US every year to work in the sex trade or in factories, farms and bars as forced labor.
"This is organized crime and they are very organized. And what we see is that they are increasingly more sophisticated in how they are committing this crime," said the alliance's director, Melysa Sperber.
The group is calling for greater government controls on the recruiters who lure vulnerable people to US shores every year.
In its 2013 global Trafficking in Persons report, the State Department recognized that the United States is "a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children — both US citizens and foreign nationals — subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, involuntary servitude, and sex trafficking" with victims mainly coming from Mexico, Thailand, the Philippines, Honduras and Indonesia.
While prosecutions by federal agencies were on the rise due to greater awareness of the problem, the report recommended that funding should be increased to agencies providing victim services, and there should be greater oversight on contractors hiring foreign laborers.
Legislation is now pending in the House of Representatives sponsored by congressman Ed Royce seeking to close such loopholes, such as requiring foreign hirers to be registered with the Labor Department.
It would also ensure foreign labor contractors would have to provide the names of the employers and recruiters and a signed contract.
The bill "provides the tools needed to avoid the scams of unscrupulous labor recruiters who force workers into slave labor or sexual slavery once they enter the US," Royce said when he introduced the bill in October.
"The human cost of trafficking is painfully high — we must act." Although still emotionally scarred by her past, Shandra, who helped law enforcement agents bust at least one of the networks which brutalized her, is now proudly putting her experiences to use to try to fight human trafficking.
"If I don't stand for them who live in the shadows, become a voice of the voiceless... the government, the community will not know that it's happening," she told AFP.
"I hope I can do more to help them identify the victims ... because I believe with my connection, with all of us together, we will fight modern-day slavery."
French Girl indoctrinated via Wahhabi websites Goes to Syria for War
February 1, 2014
Anissa, a 20-year-old French girl, was never religious. However, during 2013, she became indoctrinated via Wahhabi websites that advocate Jihad. She got married to a Belgian who is conducting Jihad in Syria and then decided to join him. This report discusses this issue, as her mother tries to prevent other young French people from following her path.
Pregnant Mom of Four, Sentenced to Military Prison for Refusing to Serve in Iraq
February 1, 2014
Private First Class Kimberly Rivera — a conscientious objector and pregnant mother of four — has just been sentenced to military prison for refusing to serve in the Iraq War. Rivera was on a two-week leave in December 2006 when she decided she would not return to Iraq for a second tour of duty. She and her family fled to Canada in February 2007, living there until their deportation back to the United States last year. On Monday, a military court sentenced her to 10 months behind bars. Her fifth child is due in December. We’re joined by Mario Rivera, Kimberly’s husband and now the primary caretaker of their four young children, and by James Branum, a lawyer who represents Kimberly and dozens of other conscientious objectors.
TRANSCRIPT:AARON MATÉ: We turn now to the case of Private First Class Kimberly Rivera. She is a conscientious objector and a pregnant mother of four children, who has just been sentenced to military prison. Rivera first deployed to Iraq in 2006. During a two-week leave back in the U.S., she decided to refuse a second tour of duty in Iraq. In January 2007, Rivera and her family packed up their car and crossed the border into Canada. She was later charged with desertion and faced up to five years in prison if convicted. Well, on Monday she was sentenced to 14 months. Under a pretrial agreement, she will serve 10 months of that sentence.
This is Kimberly Rivera speaking late last year about her case.
KIMBERLY RIVERA: If you want to know, my biggest fear is being separated from my children and having to—having to sit in a prison for politically being against the war in Iraq.
AMY GOODMAN: Since their arrival to Canada in early 2007, Kimberly Rivera, her husband and two children settled in Toronto. She had two more children there and made several attempts to legally immigrate. Canada’s War Resisters Support Campaign championed the case, drawing endorsers including Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu. But Canadian officials refused. In August, they ordered the Rivera family to leave the country or face deportation. A provincial lawmaker representing Rivera’s Toronto district, Cheri DiNovo, condemned the order.
MPP CHERI DINOVO: As the member of Parliament for Parkdale-High Park, which is home to a number of war resisters, I know Kimberly personally. I see her in our—in our neighborhood, see her with her family. I know that she participates in the community. She’s a volunteer. She works with children. And she is a person who has shown great integrity and courage and principle. Surely, she is exactly the kind of person that we want to embrace and welcome here in Canada. Canada has a proud history of welcoming conscientious objectors from other wars in the past. Why not now? Especially given that this is a war that Canadians are proud not to have participated in.
AMY GOODMAN: That was Ontario lawmaker Cheri DiNovo speaking last August.
Kimberly Rivera turned herself in at the U.S.-Canadian border just days later. She’s now on her way to a military prison for 10 months. Her fifth child is due while she’s behind bars.
Well, we’re joined right now by her husband, by Mario Rivera. He will now become the primary caretaker for their four young children. We’re also joined by James Branum, the defense attorney who represented Kimberly during her court-martial yesterday, Monday, at Fort Carson. He’s also represented dozens of other conscientious objectors, is legal director for the Oklahoma Center for Conscience and Peace Research. They’re speaking to us from the Tim Gill Center for Public Media in Colorado Springs, home to Rocky Mountain PBS and KRCC public radio.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Mario, you’ve just come out of the court yesterday. Can you respond to the sentencing of your wife Kimberly to 10 months in jail for refusing to return to Iraq and go to Canada instead?
MARIO RIVERA: I think it was severely harsh, and I personally feel that the judge already made up his mind before the trial had even started. It’s just too much. The kids need her.
AARON MATÉ: Mario, tell us about the reaction of your children. How have they handled this whole ordeal? And what did they say yesterday?
MARIO RIVERA: As soon as they found out yesterday, they broke down into tears. Just the thought of being away from their mother for—sorry, for 10 more months; they’ve already been gone for eight months out of her life, so it’s difficult.
AMY GOODMAN: Mario, how old are your kids, and what are their names?
MARIO RIVERA: Christian is 11, Rebecca is eight, Katie is five, and Gabriel is two.
AMY GOODMAN: James, James Branum, you’re her attorney. When she was in Iraq, she turned to a chaplain to say she could not do this, that she could not, when she looked at Iraqi children, she said, open fire?
JAMES BRANUM: Yes, she talked to the chaplain, expressed her concerns. She said that she didn’t think she should—could pull the trigger, if asked to. And this is a critical issue, because she was a gate guard at FOB Loyalty in Baghdad. Her job was a critical—critical thing, as far as security coming on and off the base. And so, she felt that she morally could not do what she was asked to do; at the same time, she realized that she would put other soldiers in danger if she didn’t pull the trigger when the time came. She talked to a chaplain about it. The chaplain largely pushed her aside, did not give her the counsel that she really needed. And so, when she came home on leave, she took other steps. And it’s unfortunate that she did not get the legal advice and information she needed to seek status as a conscientious objector.
AMY GOODMAN: So when she—
JAMES BRANUM: That said—
AMY GOODMAN: James Branum, so when she said this to the chaplain, he didn’t say, "There’s a way you can legally do this: You could apply for a CO status"? Instead he argued with her?
JAMES BRANUM: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: So she didn’t know the process?
JAMES BRANUM: The chaplain was very, very resolute that Kim—that she needed to stay there, she needed to fulfill her mission, instead of giving her the spiritual counsel she needed at that moment. Instead, this chaplain told her basically, "Suck it up. Continue on." And that was—that was not the advice she needed at that moment. She needed to know her rights. She needed to know AR 600-43 gives her the right to seek status as a conscientious objector. She didn’t know that.
AARON MATÉ: James, so 10 months in prison—how does this sentence compare to sentences to other resisters? And is there an exception here, by given the fact that she’s pregnant and is due in December? How does that factor in?
JAMES BRANUM: We don’t know. The judge doesn’t really give the rationale for why he made the decision he did. We do know there have been some resistance cases that have received greater sentences. As long as 24 months has been given. But many other resisters receive little jail time or no jail time. And people that desert, generally, over 90 percent do no jail time at all. And so, we feel that Kim was singled out.
Another thing, the prosecutor at trial said that he asked the judge to give a harsh sentence to send a message to the war resisters in Canada. And we feel that was—the Canadian government, in deporting Kim, said she would not face any serious punishment because of her political and conscientious objection to war. And in reality, that’s exactly what happened. That was the prosecution’s argument, that because she spoke out against the war, she therefore should be punished.
AMY GOODMAN: Mario, you live in Colorado, is that right, with your four children?
MARIO RIVERA: No, the four children are in Texas right now. I came up here in March, originally, because that was when the trial was supposed to have been. Unfortunately, my mom fell ill, and it was pushed back until yesterday.
AMY GOODMAN: So, how will you raise the four kids alone? How are you going to do this over the next 10 months?
MARIO RIVERA: I don’t know. It’s going to be difficult. I’m just going to have to do my best and try to keep it together and keep them together and just help them be strong.
AMY GOODMAN: I want to thank you both for being with us, and Mario especially. I know this was very tough for you to come on today. Mario Rivera, Kimberly Rivera’s husband—she serves her 10-month sentence; he becomes the primary caretaker for their four young children. She will be serving that time—where? In California?
JAMES BRANUM: We believe it will be in Miramar. One other critical thing to mention is there is an ongoing campaign to have her released on clemency grounds. Information on that—
AMY GOODMAN: We’ll link to that website at democracynow.org.
Two Saudis among top 20 Muslim women scientists
February 1, 2014
Muslim Science, a UK-based online magazine, has named two Saudis in its top 20 list of most influential Muslim women in the scientific field.
The two women are Samera Ibrahim Islam and Hayat Sindi.
Samera Islam, the drug safety advocate, is a board member of the Arab Science and Technology Foundation and head of the medicine unit at King Fahd Center for Medical Research at King Abdul Aziz University.
She is the first Saudi woman to earn a doctoral degree in philosophy and the first Arab and Muslim woman to receive the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization Award for Women in Science. She is also the regional consultant for the World Health Organization’s medicines program.
Hayat Sindi is described as an innovator.
A panel of judges drew up the top 20 from an international list. It focuses on Muslim women who have achieved scientific and technological advances and helped achieve social justice in their countries. The magazine said women play an important role in developing a knowledge economy in the Muslim world.
Girls from Ethnic Minorities at Risk from Genital Mutilation, MSPs Hear
February 1, 2014
GIRLS from ethnic minorities in Scotland are at risk from the abusive practice of female genital mutilation (FGM), a Holyrood committee has been told.
MSPs are considering a potential inquiry into the practice in Scotland based on anecdotal reports.
The World Health Organisation says FGM is mostly carried out by traditional circumcisers in Africa.
Fatou Baldeh, of the Dignity Alert and Research Forum, who told The Herald she survived the practice, spoke to Holyrood's Equal Opportunities Committee.
"We do know that children are at risk," she said.
"We do know that women from practising communities - some women - do still support the practice of FGM.
"Research in other parts of the UK indicated that many young girls themselves have had to undergo FGM either in the UK or being taken out of the UK. That is evident.
"We also have to consider that practising communities really protect FGM.
"I get emails from people telling me I'm talking too much about our personal things to other people."
It is hard to get people to speak out, she said.
The Scottish Refugee Council says there are no clear figures for the prevalence of FGM in Scotland but that anecdotal reports suggest it is a significant issue. The council points to census details from 2011 showing at least 2403 girls have been born in Scotland to parents from FGM practising countries since 1997.
Jan Macleod, manager of the Women's Support Project, said much of the concern stems from a TV interview from 2012 when a girl said the practice is happening in Glasgow.
She said: "But there has not been any hard evidence found. It would be fair to say our view is that on one hand it's hard to believe it's happening here and yet no child has ever presented at hospital or GP.
"On the other hand, when you look at the numbers of families that traditionally practice FGM, and when you look at the motivations and pressures sometimes on parents to carry on the tradition, then it's hard to believe it's not happening.
"The answer is we don't know. There's a gap in our knowledge there."
Mukami McCrum, of the Kenyan Women in Scotland Association, said: "We never get to the person who actually saw it happen. It's not to say it's not happening, but I think it doesn't help to hype the situation and make it sound as though Scotland has become the place everybody is coming to for FGM."
Kashmiri girl students develop Android app
February 1, 2014
A group of four Kashmiri girls, studying engineering in a Punjab college, claim to have developed an Android application (app) that will help their institution become a paper-free campus.
The girls, pursuing an engineering degree course in Aryans College of Engineering near here, said official notices and other communication meant for students can be accessed by students of the institution from the app instead of checking the paper notices.
The students -- Rumaisa, Zeenat, Sadiya and Yusra, all Bachelor of Technology students at Aryans -- are from the Kashmir Valley. They developed the app under the guidance of their teachers, especially head of department, projects, Manpreet Mann.
"Notices intended for students belonging to the college will be uploaded in students' login. This has eliminated the need of notice boards in the college. All the official notices for the staff will be uploaded in the staff login.
"The outsiders will be able to see all the necessary information about Aryans Group of Colleges and the updates about the events happening in the college," the girls told media here.
Called the 'Aryans Android App', it can be downloaded on mobiles having Android version 2.3 and above.
Complimenting the students for developing the app, Aryans Group of Colleges chairman Anshu Kataria said the students would be encouraged further for technological development.
Kataria announced that the college has decided to sanction an amount of Rs.1 lakh to the students for any other joint project.
French Woman, Indonesian Maid Held in Malaysia on Drugs Charges
February 1, 2014
Kuala Lumpur. A French woman, an Indonesian maid and three others detained in Malaysia on suspicion of growing cannabis could face the death penalty after police said Saturday they were “very likely” to be charged with drug trafficking.
The French woman, an Indonesian maid and three Malaysian men were arrested on Wednesday in a raid on two luxury apartment units in the capital of eastern Sabah state on Borneo island, state police chief Hamza Taib said.
Police seized 36 cannabis plants and half a kilogram (1.1 pounds) of processed cannabis from the units, Hamza said.
Malaysia is known for its strict anti-drug trafficking laws, and the offense carries a mandatory sentence of death by hanging upon conviction.
Hamza said police were investigating those detained for illegally growing the plants and drug trafficking.
“We will finish our investigations and submit the papers to the attorney general’s office. It’s very likely that they will be charged,” Hamza told AFP.
He added the French woman, in her 30s, had been in Malaysia for a year but declined to name her or give further details.
Hundreds of people are currently on death row in Malaysia, mainly for drug-related offenses.
Since 1960 nearly 450 people have been executed, although the Southeast Asian country has carried out few hangings in recent years.
Two Australians were put to death in 1986 for heroin trafficking — the first Westerners to be hanged.