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Islam, Women and Feminism ( 5 Jul 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Woman, Two Children Beheaded In Afghan “Honour Killing”

New Age Islam News Bureau

5 Jul 2012 

 Woman, Two Children Beheaded In Afghan “Honour Killing”

 'Sharia Harassment' Plagues Egyptian Women

 Saudi woman sparks 'right to drive' movement

 Pak Born Bollywood Actor Laila Khan and Her Family Shot Dead Last Year: Accused

 Women’s Rights Activist Shot Dead In Jamrud

 After The Islamist 18-Year-Old Somali Female Athlete Dares To Dream of Olympics

 Saudi women slam dunk sports taboo

 New study of Islamic headscarf controversy

Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

Photo: Woman, Two Children Beheaded In Afghan “Honour Killing”



Woman, Two Children Beheaded In Afghan “Honour Killing”

05 July, 2012

KABUL: A 30-year-old woman and two of her children were beheaded overnight in Afghanistan’s east, police said, in what appeared to be the latest in a rapidly growing trend of so-called honour killings.

Police said they suspected the woman Serata’s divorced husband of barging into her house in the capital of Ghazni province and murdering her, alongside their eight-year-old son and nine-year-old daughter.

“The children saw the killer take their mother’s head off, so he killed them too,” a local policeman told Reuters, adding that the attacker had spared Sereta’s two-year-old daughter.

Activists say there has been a sharp rise in violent attacks on women in Afghanistan over the past year.

They blame President Hamid Karzai’s waning attention to women’s rights as his government prepares for the exit of most foreign troops in 2014 and seeks to negotiate with the Taliban, Afghanistan’s former rulers.

Excluding Serata’s beheading, there have been 16 cases of “honour killings” recorded across the country over March and April, the first two months of the Afghan new year, according to Afghanistan’s Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC).

This compares to the 20 cases recorded for all of last year, said commissioner Suraya Subhrang, blaming increased insecurity and weak rule of law for the sharp rise. Since AIHRC started recording such killings in 2001, there have never been more than 20 cases a year.

“And there are many that go unreported. Men make a quick decision in their own courts to kill a girl and hold a prayer for her the next day,” Subhrang told Reuters.

Serata divorced her husband Mohammad Arif, 38, a year ago after enduring almost a decade of domestic abuse, said Shukria Wali, head of Ghazni’s department of women’s affairs, which is attached to the ministry in Kabul.

Police said they were still hunting for Arif. Violent crimes against women often go unpunished in Afghanistan, with activists blaming police carelessness, corruption and a growing atmosphere of impunity.

Officers investigating the case described it as an honour killing – a phrase used to describe the murder of mostly women and girls by people who accuse them of besmirching a family’s reputation.

Afghan women have won back basic rights in education, voting and work since the austere rule of the Taliban was toppled just over a decade ago, though fear now mounts that freedoms will be traded away as Kabul and Washington seek talks with the Islamist group to secure a peaceful end to the war.

Donors are expected to commit just under $4 billion in development aid annually to Afghanistan at a summit in Tokyo on Sunday, though the European Union – the biggest contributor – has said maintaining its support will be difficult if women’s rights are not protected.

During its five-year reign, the Taliban banned women from most work, denied them the right to vote and ordered that they wear a head-to-toe burqa when out of the house.

Despite more than 10 years of war and billions of dollars in foreign aid, the country remains desperately poor. Female illiteracy rates in rural areas are above 90 percent and child marriages are still widespread despite being illegal.



'Sharia Harassment' Plagues Egyptian Women

 Jul 4, 2012

Several areas in Egypt are currently witnessing a rise in the phenomenon some are calling "Sharia harassment." Veiled women and often men as well, intimidate unveiled women and girls for not wearing clothing in line with the rules of Sharia law.

El-Badil newspaper quoted women and girls who confirmed that they had been harassed and intimidated after the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi won the presidential elections. Yesterday [July 3], 100 human rights organizations and a number of parties and public figures expressed their deep concern over these acts of intimidation and accompanying verbal violence. They called these actions not only a transgression against women, but also an attack on Egyptian society as a whole.

The newspaper monitored the areas of Saida Zeinab, Saad Zaghloul and Nasiriyah, interviewing veiled and unveiled women. The newspaper pointed out that veiled women are criticizing other women and young girls for their clothing. Statements such as: "You will end up at home," "Here's someone who can make you wear the veil" and "Forget about pants, get ready for the veil," are common expressions being used against the non-veiled. These girls are also subject to insults and verbal abuse.

Aya Mohammed, a housewife, said that she has heard veiled women tell girls on the metro, "We'll see if Morsi will let you wear pants again." For her part, Rania Sayed, a student living in Heliopolis, said that a man intercepted her as she was traveling to Mansoura to see her parents. "Get ready to wear the niqab. You better pay attention to the street before you are forced to stay at home," he said.

Nibal Naji, a pharmacist, said that women are most often exposed to harassment in working-class areas.

El-Badil wrote, "It does not matter whether the harassment against women is being perpetrated by remnants of the old regime to spread fear about the rule of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, or being perpetrated by people ecstatic over the Islamist victory. Nor does it matter if it is the product of social hypocrites trying to terrorize the weaker party, which in this case is women. The threats, attacks and intimidation against women must stop.”

The situation seems to be spinning out of control. Violence broke out in Suez on July 3, where a young man was killed at the hands of bearded men dressed in Pakistani-style clothing riding a motorcycle. As they approached the man and his fiancee, they accused the girl of standing too close to him.

Another altercation took place on July 3 between three girls and Islamists in front of a juice shop in Paradise Street in Suez, when the bearded men objected to the girls' clothing.

In an article entitled "The Turkish veil and Iranian chador chasing Egypt's Women," author Ghada Maher, who is a member of the Al-Wafd party, recalls a speech by late president Gamal Abdel Nasser. In this speech, he recounts the details of his dialogue with former Brotherhood leader Hassan al-Hudaibi in 1953 about the imposition of the veil. Abdel Nasser said that Hudaibi told him, "As ruler in charge, you have to impose the veil." Abdel Nasser replied, "I know that your daughter is in medical school and she does not wear a veil. If you cannot impose the veil on your daughter, then how do you want me to impose it on ten million Egyptian women?"

According to Maher, this dialogue reveals that the Muslim Brotherhood deems the imposition of the veil a sacred task that must be carried out by Egypt's ruler. She added: "Despite the announcements made by [President Morsi] in his advertising campaigns and during television programs about not having intentions to impose a particular type of clothing on women, the Muslim Brotherhood’s history raises many fears and concerns ... All women who belong to the Brotherhood in Egypt wear the veil or the niqab, and often offer advice or encourage others to wear the veil as well, regardless of whether or not they know them.”



Saudi woman sparks 'right to drive' movement



But blazing new territory in women’s rights in Saudi Arabia fraught with danger, peer pressure for unwitting 33-year-old leader.

Manal Al-Sharif, the 33-year old Saudi woman who sparked a nationwide demonstration over the right of women to drive in Saudi Arabia last June, has unwittingly become the face of the women’s driving movement.

She was arrested and jailed, lost a plum job at Aramco and the house that came with the job. Although she frequently faces death threats, nothing has stopped Al-Sharif from realizing the goal of many Saudi women: to have the right to drive a car.

While there is no written law prohibiting women from driving, the government makes it impossible for women to drive. Saudi Arabia does not issue drivers licenses to women, and the law says all drivers must have locally issued licenses. Most religious authorities say that women driving is “haram” -- forbidden. Every woman, regardless of age, must also have a male guardian, and only 21 percent of Saudi women are in the workforce.

Al-Sharif is the lead advocate of the Internet campaign “My Right to Dignity” launched last year along with a petition to King Abdullah, demanding the right to drive. She was briefly arrested and promised that she would not attempt to drive again.

Her work has earned Sharif a spot on Foreign Policy magazine’s list of Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2011 and the Forbes list of Women Who (Briefly) Rocked in the same year. In 2012, The Daily Beast named her one of the Fearless Women of the Year, and Time magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2012. She was also one of the three people awarded the first annual Václav Havel Prize for Creative Dissent at the Oslo Freedom Forum.

In an interview with The Media Line, the activist says she does not want to overthrow the Saudi regime, but she will not give up her fight.

TML:   How is the petition this time different from all the previous ones?

MAS: The petition launched by the My Right to Dignity Campaign, also known as “Women2Drive,” not only asks the King and the government to allow women to enjoy their right to drive like women all over the world, but also demands the protection of women drivers so that they are not sued or harassed until they are issued Saudi driving licenses. The petition asks to allow women to get driving licenses in nearby countries and then allow them to drive here. The petition also seeks compensation for women and their families who paid a price for participating in the driving campaign and urges the development of a robust public transport system. It also asks the king to open driving schools in Saudi Arabia that can issue licenses to women. It thanks the king for giving women the right to vote in municipal elections starting in 2015.

TML:  How has the response to the petition been so far? How many have signed?

MAS: In just two weeks, we have had over 1,000 signatures on the petition. The ‘Women2Drive’ Twitter account has over 19,000 followers.

TML: How has your prominence in Saudi Arabia and high name recognition affected your life?

MAS: While there has been harassment from the police, there has also been much support, especially from the youth. None of my articles are published in the newspapers, my tweets are analyzed, and my religious inclinations are questioned. But I always knew there was a price to pay for bringing about any change.

TML:   Since there is no actual law against women driving, wouldn't one course of action be just to encourage women to drive as long as they have an international license?

MAS: This is exactly what we are doing. We are urging women to go to the traffic departments and apply for licenses in an effort to show that we are serious about driving.

TML:   How do you answer those who say that the time is not right for women to drive or that it is dangerous for women to drive alone? Even a woman in a car with her driver or guardian is not safe from the men on the road, who chase cars, make indecent gestures, block the woman’s car, etc. Wouldn't the situation be worse if the woman is driving all alone?

MAS: These are the same people who say that ours is a secure country. So when they say it is not safe for women to drive, they are contradicting themselves. Why not introduce laws to protect women? These people are punishing women by restricting them instead of punishing men who harass women. This shows they are really stupid people.

TML:  Since there is no explicit law banning women from driving, what is proving to be the biggest impediment to women's driving?

MAS: The officials themselves. The authorities say it is up to society, but punish women who drive. They should leave it to society and open driving schools for women. The other obstacle is from women themselves. They fear the consequences of driving, of being punished. We must prove we are serious about this. Unless there are large numbers of women involved, there won’t be any action.

TML: Have you received death threats from a section of society after the Oslo Freedom Forum speech? Is that why you cancelled your US trip?

MAS: Yes, but that is just one of the reasons. There were other personal reasons. I had to leave my company house then and so was tied up with the moving process. Although my family and I have been subject to threats for a long time, this time it was really intense. So I was keeping a low profile for my family’s safety. But that does not mean I am stopping. I will be attending the UN Watch conference in Geneva soon, in addition to several other conferences in Italy, London and Canada.

TML:  Some of the international media describe you as a “Saudi regime protester.” Would you agree with the description?

MAS: I totally disagree with that. The international media loves things like that. How can you be a regime protester when you are living in the same country? Even at the Oslo Freedom Forum in May 2012, I made it clear that my presence there was apolitical.

TML:  What are your work plans after you lost your job as a computer scientist at Saudi Aramco?

MAS: I know that if I take up another job, it will be used to pressure me. It is time to reorganize my life now. And yes, leaving the country can be one of the options.

TML:  Expatriate women who are dependent on their husbands are not allowed to work. And when they do, it is illegal. They need to hire a driver on the black market, who charge high fees. On the contrary, Saudi women can work legally and legally hire drivers. Do you think that expatriate women in Saudi Arabia are in a worse situation than their Saudi counterparts?

MAS: Expatriates, who make up 67 percent of the Saudi workforce, can hardly speak up for their rights. However, I feel expatriate women, who come to the Kingdom on work visas are in a better condition than Saudi women because they don’t need permission to work, are allowed to rent places, stay in hotels, etc.

TML:  What are some of the other issues that you see yourself campaigning for?

MAS: The My Right to Dignity campaign focuses on a number of issues such as full citizenship for Saudi women, removal of guardianship laws, issues related to marriage, divorce and custody of children, setting a minimum age for marriage, and justice for children sexually abused by family members. Our most important task is to spread awareness about women’s rights, challenge taboos and the misinterpretation of sharia (Islamic religious) laws. We are largely succeeding in doing so as more and more women are finding out about their rights. The social media has a big role to play in this. Additionally, we are soon launching a YouTube channel for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia.



Pak Born Bollywood Actor Laila Khan and Her Family Shot Dead Last Year: Accused

05 July, 2012

Pakistani-origin Bollywood starlet Laila Khan, who had been missing for the last 11 months, was murdered along with her family members in Maharashtra last year, the main accused in her kidnapping case has claimed.

During interrogation, main accused Parvez Iqbal Tak told police that Laila, her mother, sister and a friend were killed in Maharashtra in February last year, Deputy Inspector General (DIG), Doda-Ramban range, Gareeb Dass told PTI.

They were killed by gunshots, Tak, who is also a family friend, told interrogators, which also included Mumbai Police team of Crime Branch.

However, Mr. Dass said it was difficult to arrive at a conclusion as the bodies are yet to be found. “Unless we get the bodies, we cannot for sure say,” he said, adding, “We cannot give further details as the probe is in progress.” “We are working on other leads too,” he said.

Laila, whose real name is Reshma Patel, was last seen in a movie Wafa with actor Rajesh Khanna in 2008.

Mumbai Police had on Wednesday registered a kidnapping case against two persons in connection with the case. The case was registered on the complaint of Laila’s father Nadir Patel.

The accused duo of Parvez Tak and Aasif Shaikh have been booked under section 365 (kidnapping or abducting with intent secretly and wrongfully to confine person) and 34 (acts done by several persons in furtherance of common intention) of IPC.

According to the complaint filed by Mr. Patel, Laila, along with six other family members, including her mother Shelina Patel (50), elder sister Hazmina, twin siblings Zara and Imran, and a relative, were allegedly kidnapped by the two accused in February last from her flat in suburban Oshiwara.



Women’s Rights Activist Shot Dead In Jamrud

05 July, 2012

PESHAWAR: A young woman working for women’s rights in conservative tribal regions was killed on Wednesday in Khyber Agency bordering Peshawar, administration official and witnesses said.

Fareeda Kokikhel, director of Sewara – an NGO in Khyber tribal region, was on her way to office in Peshawar when she was fired upon. She received a bullet in head and two in neck.

“She was on her way to office when militants opened fire,” Jamrud political administration official Asmatullah Wazir told reporters. She was killed hardly a kilometre off her home in Ghundi area of Jamrud tehsil of Khyber tribal region, he added.

Witnesses said two motorcyclists intercepted Fareeda and fled after shooting her.

Unconfirmed reports said the political administration had arrested three suspects in connection with Fareeda’s killing.

The official said the Sewara director was transported to local hospital but she succumbed to wounds before any medical assistance could have been provided.

Fareeda told a Jamrud-based journalist a month ago that she was “under threat”. But she had not named the people threatening her.

Full report at:\07\05\story_5-7-2012_pg7_27




After The Islamist 18-Year-Old Somali Female Athlete Dares To Dream of Olympics

Clar Ni Chonghaile

4 July 2012

As Mogadishu breathes again after ousting Islamists, Somalis compete for two wildcard places at Games

Amal Mohamed Bashiir has risked her life to run. Now, the 18-year-old Somali hopes that determination will pay off with a place at the London Olympics.

In a cafe outside Mogadishu's airport, she described life as a female athlete when the Islamist rebels of al-Shabaab occupied parts of Somalia's capital.

"When al-Shabaab was in Mogadishu, I received many threats, phone calls from people saying they would kill me. I used to train inside a basketball hall and I used a different name," she said, wearing a long black veil with a lace band around her forehead. "But now I feel so happy because the security situation is changing. Things are easier," the 18-year-old added, speaking through an interpreter.

The al-Shabaab fighters, who impose a harsh form of Sharia in areas they control, pulled out of Somalia's capital last August, after months of fighting African Union troops building by building. But the group still carries out suicide bombings and assassinations in the city, and Full report at:



Saudi women slam dunk sports taboo

By Rima Maktabi, CNN

July 5, 2012

Each month, Inside the Middle East takes you behind the headlines to see a different side of this diverse region

Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (CNN) -- A group of women basketball players in Saudi Arabia has been defying stereotypes as one of the few female sports teams in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia practices an austere form of Islam in which women are forbidden from playing sport in public -- as well as driving, or travelling without the permission of a male guardian.

But Jeddah United, which has grown its membership over the past decade from a dozen to 350, mostly children of both genders, works around these restrictions by playing and practicing on a gender-segregated private court.

Conservative clerics in Saudi Arabia have argued there are religious reasons for excluding women from sport. Sheikh Adnan Bahereth, who preaches in the holy city of Mecca, told CNN that form-fitting athletic clothing was immoral and that women should be veiled and remains at home.

But the female athletes of Jeddah United, based in Saudi Arabia's second-largest city, say that, although sport remains a minority pursuit among women in their country, attitudes are slowly changing.

"Four years ago it was more of a taboo to talk about," said team captain Leena Al Maeena. "Today, there's more acceptance. There's a lot more companies willing to support us. So, I really think as a society we are evolving."

Perhaps the biggest symbol of this shift was Saudi Arabia's announcement last month that it would allow female athletes to compete at the Olympics for the first time at the 2012 Games.

Previously, the kingdom has been one of only three countries -- along with Brunei and Qatar -- that banned women from competing. All have now dropped the policy.

Full report at:



New study of Islamic headscarf controversy

July 5, 2012

(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - In her new book, The Headscarf Controversy: Secularism and Freedom of Religion, UCSB professor Hilal Elver tackles the issue currently affecting Muslim women – and courtrooms – around the world.

Elver, a global and international studies scholar, explains the legal and historical background of wearing headscarves in public places, specifically in Turkey but also in Germany, France, and the United States.

Elver believes that due to the recent "war on terror" in the Middle East, many Western countries have banned public use of the headscarf, supposedly in the name of women’s rights. But rather than helping women, she argues, the ban has had the disastrous effect of excluding pious Muslim women from society.

Full report at: