Mohammadzadeh, 30, rides a bike from the first private bikeshare company to
rent bicycles to both men and women in Tehran, Iran.
Banned In Tunisian Government Offices
Orange Bikes Help Women Break Barriers in Iran
School Makes Muslim Girls Remove Headscarves
Tunisia, More Women in Office Can Make All the Difference
This Photo of a Politician with Malala Is Being Criticised
Bikini Day 2019: How Burkini Continues To Spark Gender Debates across World
Hindu Girl Taken To ‘Madrasa’, Family Kept Off
Her Daughter, Two, Despite Calling for a Caliphate – And Insists: 'I Never
Woman Vies For Miss Muslimah USA Crown
Women In Mideast Try To Be The Heat, Modestly
Women Training In Israel To Help Their Community Cope With The Trauma Of ISIS
Haya Could Flee What Many UAE Women Cannot
of 'Women's Universities' in Turkey Receives Full Support from Scholars
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Recording Her Boss’s Lewd Call, She, Not He, Will Go To Jail
Richard C. Paddock and Muktita Suhartono
— A school bookkeeper in Indonesia who recorded her boss’s lewd phone call as
proof she was being harassed must serve at least six months in prison for
distributing obscene material, the country’s Supreme Court has ruled.
Maknun, 41, who worked as a part-time bookkeeper at a high school on the
religiously conservative island of Lombok, said on Friday that she was
disappointed by the court’s ruling, which she called an “obvious injustice.” It
was her final appeal in a case that has been closely followed across the
country, and which became an issue during the recent presidential election.
as a woman, should be protected, but then I was the one who became the victim,”
she said in a telephone interview. “People should know that when we get
harassed, there is no place to take refuge.”
boss, who goes by the single name Muslim, as is common in Indonesia, was the
principal at Senior High School Seven in Mataram, Lombok’s largest city. Ms.
Nuril recorded him using explicit language and hounding her to have an affair.
He was never punished for harassing her and instead has been promoted
case has highlighted the common problem of workplace harassment in Indonesia.
President Joko Widodo said in the run-up to his re-election that he would
consider granting clemency to Ms. Nuril once her legal appeals had been
Friday afternoon, the president told reporters in Manado, a city on Sulawesi
island, that he would not comment on the Supreme Court ruling, but that Ms.
Nuril should apply for amnesty as soon as possible so that his office could
assume legal authority over her case.
the beginning, my attention to this case has never diminished,” he said. “If it
gets to me, then it will be under my authority, and I will use the authority I
in Indonesia, a predominantly Muslim country, have little legal recourse and
are expected to tolerate harassment and sometimes sexual relations if they want
to keep their jobs, women’s rights advocates said.
Nuril was acquitted at trial but prosecutors appealed the verdict.
three-judge panel found her guilty last year and imposed a sentence of 6 months
and a fine of about $35,000, a huge amount for her family. If she does not pay
the fine, she must serve an additional three months.
the ruling released on Thursday by a different three-judge panel, the court
denied her request for a review of the case.
problems for Ms. Nuril, a mother of three, began in 2013 when Mr. Muslim took
over as principal of the high school where she worked.
made vulgar remarks and a rumor spread that they had been carrying on an
to disprove the rumor, she recorded one of his calls and played it for her
husband and a teacher.
learning of the recording’s existence, Mr. Muslim filed a police complaint
against Ms. Nuril for criminal defamation.
the police investigation, she was arrested and jailed for a month.
prosecutors rejected the defamation complaint but charged her with distributing
trial, she denied distributing the recording and testified that a colleague,
Imam Mudawin, downloaded it from her phone while she was in another room.
the Supreme Court sided with prosecutors, who contended that she gave Mr. Imam
the indecent recording for distribution.
attorney, Joko Jumadi, said she would apply for amnesty next week, but that she
would not seek a presidential pardon because she was not guilty of any crime. A
grant of amnesty would expunge her criminal record.
stand firm that Baiq Nuril is not guilty,” he said, using a local honorific.
“Even though she has to go to prison for this fight, she is ready.”
online fund-raising campaign had raised more than $26,000 by midday on Friday
to help pay her fine.
Nuril said she was proud to fight for her “dignity as a woman” but questioned
why she was being sent to jail when it was Mr. Muslim who made the obscene
the person has admitted that it was his voice, admitted that he was the one who
called me, admitted that he was the one who said things that were inappropriate,”
can he just casually walk around,” she asked, “while I, as the victim, am the
one being punished?”
Minister Youssef Chahed decided on Friday to ban the niqab for women in
Tunisian government offices “for security reasons,” his office said.
said Chahed signed a government circular “banning access to public
administrations and institutions to anyone with their face covered... for
ban on the niqab, which covers the entire face apart from the eyes, comes at a
time of heightened security following a June 27 double suicide bombing in Tunis
that left two dead and seven wounded.
interior minister instructed police in February 2014 to step up supervision of
the wearing of the niqab as part of anti-terrorism measures, to prevent its use
as disguise or to escape justice.
niqab and other outward shows of Islamic devotion were not tolerated under the
regime of longtime autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali but have made a comeback
since he was toppled in Tunisia’s 2011 revolution.
Alirezaei was riding a bright orange bike along one of Tehran's main,
tree-lined boulevards when a male flower seller noticed her labored breathing
and offered a word of encouragement: "Don't be scared. Biking is
easy," he called out.
image of a woman on a bicycle along a busy road in Iran's capital could become
far more common with the launch of Bdood, the first private bike-share company
that rents its signature clunky, orange bikes to both men and women. An earlier
bike-share initiative was run by the city government and was available only to
a 27-year-old Iranian who develops game apps for phones, enjoyed cycling as a
girl, she said. But after she turned nine -- the coming of age for Muslim girls
in Iran -- she dropped the hobby. Now that she has taken it up again, she
explained that she was woefully out of practice.
was stressed and excited" to take a Bdood bike for a ride, she said.
"The last time I had ridden was about 17 years ago."
Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, the country has lived under Islamic guidelines
that, among other things, govern what women wear and how they behave in public.
Women were barred from many activities outside the home, including events at
stadiums and singing.
as reform-minded women and politicians have looked for ways to push back
against the government restrictive guidelines, change has come, even if very
gradually. The long black veil that nearly every woman wore in the early years
after the revolution has slowly given way to colorful blouses, worn long and
loose over long pants or long skirts.
the shifting view on bikes -- and Bdood's inclusion of women -- has come
quietly. Its proponents note that the victory could be fleeting.
make changes, sometimes we campaign to let the policymakers hear us or to
increase awareness. But sometimes, we just keep doing what we want without
shouting it out, and it slowly leave conservatives no way but to accept
us," said Niloofar Hamedi, 26, an Iranian journalist who covers women's
issues and women's athletics.
recently, cycling on Tehran's bumpy streets was reserved almost exclusively for
men. In 2016, Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khameni issued an official
position on the subject. "Women biking in public areas and where they
might be seen by unrelated men is 'haram' (religiously forbidden)," he
ruled, according to his official government website.
others, notably the current mayor of Tehran, have encouraged the idea as a way
to help reduce the city's chronic congestion.
shares have exploded in popularity in recent years in cities around the world,
which advocates say can help reduce the number of vehicles on the road and encourage
exercise and reduce stress.
idea of women biking is as much a gender issue as it is an environmental
one," Hamedi said.
which is a private company, rents bikes for about 10 cents per half an hour,
which women say is considered affordable. The company's presence has encouraged
biking more broadly.
used to bike with my husband outside of Tehran, but, recently, seeing women
riding the orange Bdood bikes, I am thinking of riding by myself in the
city," said Saba Javid, 28, a marketing content developer.
said she mostly rides on the weekends for fun. "It helps me feel safer
when there are more women riding bikes on the street," she added.
are also challenges.
Hosein, who is 27 and works as a journalist, wears headphones in one ear when
she rides, in order to block out the comments that male drivers and passerby
shout out at her.
would mock me, or discourage me with loud laughter," she said.
can't block the heckling out altogether though because, she said, she needs to
be aware to safely navigate Tehran's streets.
not clear that the rest of Iran is ready to follow Tehran's lead.
May, the local prosecutor in the historical city of Isfahan banned women from
biking because the activity had led to "harassment." The prosecutor
ordered police to issue warnings to women bikers and seize their ID cards. He
told the Islamic Republic News Agency that if women are found to be biking
after receiving a warning, then "they must be confronted based on the
in Isfahan responded by posting photos of themselves riding bikes on social
headscarf crisis festered Friday after footage emerged online of school guards
and teachers ordering Muslim girls to remove their headscarves before entering
a school compound in the southwestern town of Ibadan.
video sparked outrage on social media as Nigerians took sides mostly along
religious lines over a topic that has become the subject of a long-drawn legal
45-second clip was filmed at The International School, Ibadan.
them go to hell!" a teacher was heard shouting at one student’s mother,
who said the school’s action was a recipe for a national crisis.
people are just looking for a problem," she jeered as her daughter was
directed to pull off her hijab.
teachers, however, said the children were free to wear the headscarves outside
the school premises.
Kakanda, a public affairs analyst, said the action taken by the school amounted
to "targeted discrimination".
video of students of The International School, Ibadan being forced to take off
their hijabs before entering the school premises is dangerous in a world
fighting to accommodate harmless differences. Banning headscarves is a targeted
discrimination," he tweeted.
New York to London, the world is making laws to accommodate diversity and
recognize faith-based differences, [while] some local 'international' school in
Ibadan is making a law to ban the hijab…We keep creating problems where there
Hebrymore, another commentator, disagreed with Kakanda.
is not mosque or church. Dress with your school uniform and go to school. When
you go out from school, you can continue with your faith."
a landmark judgment in 2016, Nigeria's Appeal Court ruled that the hijab
qualifies as a constitutional right and should be allowed in school or
anywhere, striking down the ruling of a lower court that had upheld its ban in
southwestern Lagos state. The government has since appealed the ruling.
hijab crisis at the Ibadan school has also become the subject of litigation.
Quebec education minister is being criticised for posting a photo with
education campaigner Malala Yousafzai.
Nobel Peace Prize winner, who wears a headscarf, would not be able to teach in
the Canadian province.
recently passed a controversial law barring some civil servants, including
teachers, from wearing religious symbols at work.
Roberge said he discussed access to education and international development
with Ms Yousafzai.
was shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012 for daring to go to school
and has since been recognised internationally for her work campaigning for
June, Quebec passed secularism legislation that prevents civil servants in
positions of "authority" from wearing symbols like such as the
kippah, turban or hijab while at work.
Coalition Avenir Quebec's (CAQ) bill covers judges, police officers, teachers
and some other public figures.
secularism bill sparked protests and much debate in the province.
say the law is a reasonable step towards enshrining the separation of Church
and state in Quebec.
the legislation does not single out any specific religion, critics argue it is
discriminatory and say it unfairly targets Muslim women in the province who
wear hijabs or other head-coverings.
online commentators called the minister a hypocrite for posing with Ms
Roberge, who met Ms Yousafzai while he was in France, defended the law when
asked on Twitter by journalist Salim Nadim Valji how he would respond if Ms
Yousafzai wanted to teach in Quebec.
would certainly tell her that it would be an immense honour and that in Quebec,
as is the case in France (where we are now) and in other open and tolerant
countries, teachers cannot wear religious symbols in performing their
duties," he said.
debate over Burkini or full-body swimwear was re-ignited in France last week
with a group of Muslim women entering a public pool in Grenoble wearing the
garment in defiance of a municipal ban. The pool mandates women to wear bikinis
or one-piece, while Burkinis cover a woman’s arms and legs revealing only their
face, hands, and feet. The women, who called themselves ‘Muslim Rosa Parks’
after the American civil rights activist, were eventually thrown out and fined;
the pool was closed for two days even as temperatures in the city soared to a
International Bikini Day, which is celebrated on July 5, let’s take a look at
the Burkini’s origin, its rise and how it remains at the centre of heated
debates, especially in France where all forms of the veil have always triggered
for comfort but raises eyebrows
designed in 2004 by Aheda Zanetti, a Lebanese-born Australian fashion designer,
a Burkini is a play on two words — burqa, which is a body and head covering
garment worn by Islamic women in public, and bikini. It was essentially
designed so that Muslim women, who choose to wear a head cover like the hijab,
could participate in water activities and other sports.
looking like a burqa nor a bikini, the swimwear rather resembles wetsuits with
a hood attached. Burkini was popularly in headlines when, a few years ago,
English TV personality and food and gourmet writer Nigella Lawson wore the
“modesty-covering” Burkini on Australia’s Bondi beach to protect her skin from
the sun, according to a report by The Telegraph.
designer reportedly said, “I hope that they understand that it’s not something
that symbolises anything – that anyone can wear it, that it’s not harming
anything in any way. The Burkini was designed for freedom, flexibility and
confidence. It was designed to integrate into Australian society,” she said,
adding, “I don’t understand why a piece of fabric is taking over all of these
really important issues?”
had reportedly designed Burkini to cheer her niece, who was playing netball
wearing something totally inappropriate for a sports uniform — a skivvy,
tracksuit pants, and her hijab. She then decided to launch a sportswear for
Muslim women so they don’t feel restricted.
had also told a news agency that they have sold Burkinis to not just only
Muslim women but also to Jews, Hindus, Christians, and those women with body
issues. Zanetti’s designs, however, aren’t the only option — many brands based
around the world now make Burkinis.
March 2016, popular British retailer Marks and Spencer began selling Burkinis
to appeal to women across countries and the swimsuits started flying off the
shelves and came into the mainstream. More and more Muslim women took a shine
to the garment — which, they said, was covering yet liberating simultaneously.
at the Rio Olympics 2016 wore the Burkini while participating in events. Doaa
Elghobashy from Egypt who played beach volleyball in a Burkini made headlines
for her attire than for her aptitude at the game. Kariman Abuljadayel, first
Saudi Arabian woman to compete in the 100m event, also wore a similar attire.
2016, a number of cities in France debated banning the Burkini, arguing that
the body-covering swimwear wasn’t in line with France’s secular views. France’s
highest court ultimately ruled in 2016 that a Burkini ban was unconstitutional.
banned Burkinis in 2017. But owing to the defenders of the garment in Europe, a
school in Germany purchased Burkinis for students to wear in swim class in
2018. Some lawmakers protested, but a minister supported the school’s decision.
American model Halima Aden’s Burkini photoshoot
Aden, a Somali American and Muslim model, became the first woman to pose in a
Burkini for American magazine Sports Illustrated‘s swimsuit issue earlier this
year. The magazine received mixed reactions with several people expressing
dismay while others appreciated her move.
made headlines at age 19 when she was the first woman to wear a hijab in the
Miss Minnesota USA Pageant, where she made it to the semi-finals in 2016.
it is the Burkini, bathing suit, beachwear or bikini, each of them have had
their own history and continue to spark debate from time to time.
is a quick lowdown on other types of swimwear.
a strapless top, bandeau bikini tops usually comprise of a portion of fabric
that covers the bust area. They may sometimes include straps to help offer
extra stability and support.
triangle top is a classic, timeless bikini top that has always been in vogue.
The triangles slide along the bottom string so that one can adjust the coverage
asymmetrical bikini, the one-shoulder top has a strap going over only one
of tying your bikini behind your neck and at your back, you can tie these in
two-piece top that looks just like a sports bra works well for swimming laps or
generally being active in water.
suits fit closely to the neck and don’t plunge.
cut of suit has a crop top like feel, hitting a little lower on the rib cage
than most other bikinis.
a suit that covers your top and bottom in just one piece.
are a hybrid of one- and two-piece swimsuits.
for water activities, this suit helps because of its ability to stay in place
and be aerodynamic.
bikini bottom style is perfect if you want to make your legs seem longer and
show off a bit of skin.
bikini bottom has straps on the side, making it easy to adjust. This is the
perfect bikini bottom style when you want to tan as it will give you less
shorts, they are great for sport activities like playing beach volleyball.
Protests have erupted in Sindh province of Pakistan following the alleged
abduction of an 18-year-old Hindu girl by her Muslim teacher.
family members of the girl, Payal, claim that they were not being allowed to
meet her, but she was produced by her teacher Kamran Somoor in a ‘madrasa’ to
record her statement. Meanwhile, the Pakistan Muslim League (N) member national
assembly (MNA) Khealdas Kohistani has sought protection of minority communities
from Imarn Khan-led Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) government. Kohistani is MNA
from Jamshoro in Sindh.
July 3, Payal was abducted when she had gone to her class. The incident
happened almost three-and-half months after two Pakistani Hindu girls Reena and
Raveena were allegedly kidnapped and converted to Islam in Ghotki district of
abduction of the two girls in March this year had led former external affairs
minister Sushma Swaraj to seek a report on the incident from Indian High
Commission in Islamabad. This had triggered a Twitter war between Sushma and
Pakistan’s then federal minister for information and broadcasting, Chaudhary
have been forcible conversions of as many as 30 Hindu girls since March,” said
Kohistani while talking to TOI over phone from Thatta on Friday.
also traced Rakesh, the girl’s brother, who runs a pesticide shop in Thatta.
“We are told that she and her abductor appeared in a madrasa where she gave
some statement,” said Rakesh.”
used to give tuitions to the girl at her home when she was in Class IX. At
present, he’s her class teacher in a college, added Rakesh.
asked whether there was a possibility that the girl went willingly with Kamran,
Rakesh said, “Had that been the case, she would have not left her gold
ornaments and her savings, she would have carried her dresses and they would
have produced themselves in the court on the very same day. But she left home
wearing ordinary clothes and chappals.”
Irish soldier who joined ISIS in Syria says she should be allowed to return
home With Her Daughter, Two, Despite Calling for a Caliphate – And Insists: 'I
Never Killed Anyone'
former Irish soldier, who joined ISIS after becoming radicalised in Syria, has
denied fighting for the militant group but says she wants to see a caliphate.
Smith, 37, who moved to Syria after her divorce, also denied training young
girls to fight for the terrorist group and says she's 'never killed anyone'.
Prime Minster Leo Varadkar has previously said he would allow the mother, and
her two-year-old daughter back to the country, but she must be ruled out a
security risk first.
to BBC Radio 4, from the refugee camp in Syria where she lives, Lisa said: 'I want myself an actual caliphate, as in a
Muslim country. Not like a group, or a brutality group'.
said that she was never asked to fight, and even if she had wanted to, she
wouldn't have been allowed as she had her daughter.
County Louth native added that she accepts that there was 'a lot of brutality
within the Islamic State' but refused to answer when asked if she'd thought IS
soldiers should face punishment because she 'doesn't know who's telling the truth
and who's lying'.
added she doesn't have any plans to hurt everyone and just wants to bring her
daughter to Ireland so she can get an education.
March, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said it
would be the 'right thing to do' to allow her to return to Ireland. She will
need to be deemed 'not a risk to security' before returning.
told the BBC that the FBI had been to visit her twice and have taken her finger
prints and DNA.
to the Irish Daily Mail in April, Lisa said: ‘I want to go back to my country.’
wasn’t a mother when I left. I came as a single person and I thought if I died
here, I died, but when I had a child I became different, you know,’ she
have to take your child and look after your child, you know. She’s my No.1
priority now; that’s why I want to leave and take her home with me and get her
educated. People here are not educated.’
strongly denied that she had fought with Isis, claiming she never even owned a
gun despite her husband offering to buy her one for self-defence.
think anyone that knows me, you know, in the Army or outside the Army or
anywhere in my life, will know that they know me, that I wouldn’t pick up the
weapon and fight and stuff like that,’ she said.
didn’t do it. I didn’t own a rifle. I didn’t teach them anything.
was actually women teach[ing] their husbands like how to have classes, you
know, of how to use the gun, how to do this, how to do that.
went to one class just to see how the woman was teaching, you know. Just to see
what the woman was teaching, and she reminded me of what I used to know because
I forgot everything, you know. But I didn’t fight...
husband many times said to me, “You want me to buy you one?” I said no. He said
“It’s just for self-defence”... I said: “I don’t want, I don’t want.”
don’t want to cause problems for anyone. I don’t want to mix.
still me. I’m still like a good neighbour. I’m still a good friend. I’m just
still me. I’m not, like, out to kill anyone. I don’t believe in suicide attacks.’
whether she would travel again to such a state, she insisted that she wouldn’t
as it was her ‘biggest mistake’.
described Lisa as 'a party girl who
enjoyed a good time' before she went through a bad breakup, converted to Islam and
2013 she had converted to Islam in Dundalk where she apparently began attending
the local mosque and bringing much younger relatives along for the
Facebook page is also said to have undergone a transformation, from 'cute
animal' photos to pictures of her wearing a veil and posts appearing to praise
to Extra.ie, friend Carol Duffy said she had tried to keep Smith from turning
Muslim community in Ireland had 'strongly rejected' her extremism, she said,
adding that she would have reported her if she had known the extent of her
friend told The Sun: 'She was a party girl in the sense that she enjoyed going
out, drinking and having a good time.
was really sound, a really nice girl and someone who was always there for her
started suffering from depression after a bad break-up and she was introduced
to Islam by a close associate. She really got into it and became really
she reportedly described Western culture as 'dirty' saying that her friends had
been 'brainwashed' into standing by it.
is believed to have left Ireland in 2013 or 2014, apparently travelling to
Bizerte in Tunisia where she met her husband.
2016 photos from Syria had appeared on her Facebook page and rumours that she
had travelled there via Turkey had reached her friends in Dundalk.
now Smith has lost her husband and is living in the al-Hol refugee camp in
Syria with her two-year-old daughter.
fled the terror group's last holdout in Baghouz and is one of hundreds of women
and children at the camp.
to CNN, she said not everyone at al-Hol was a 'terrorist' and said prison in
Ireland would be no worse than her life in Syria - as the Irish government
confirmed it was trying to bring her home.
said: 'I think that people should just realise that all the people here are not
terrorists. I want to go home.
know they'd strip me of my passport stuff, and I wouldn't travel and I'd be
watched, but prisons? I don't know. I'm already in prison.'
July 18, Madison’s Rahma Mohamed will be one of fifteen contestants vying for
the title Miss Muslimah USA when the third annual pageant is held at Dearborn,
Michigan’s Ford Community and Performing Arts Center.
17-year-old UW-Madison freshman is already a remarkable woman, and her
ambitious goals are supported by other remarkable women, like Fartun Osman, her
mother, and Maghrib Shahid, CEO of the Miss Muslimah pageant.
decided to participate in the pageant for young Muslim women because it “is the
first of its kind” and will “bring positive change to the image of Muslim women
in America and provide a platform that gives Muslim women the opportunity to
change misconceptions about them,” she says.
has always been that kind of role model. “I get a lot of my values from my
religion, how I should be helping others and giving charity or even advocating
of her advocacy is her involvement with the gun control movement. She is part
of the organization Save our Students and gave a speech to a crowd of about
6,000 on the Madison campus as part of last winter’s March for Our Lives.
the rally, Rahma spoke about how her mother brought her young family to the
United States to escape the violence at home in Somalia. “She brought her
children here to give them a better, safer life. But even in the U.S., people
still face gun violence like that in Somalia.”
the Miss Muslimah pageant, Rahma will give a five-minute speech about how
“Muslim women are phenomenal and very capable of doing anything they put their
minds to, just like any other woman.” She firmly believes that “the hijab is
not a barrier but rather a motivator to succeed while representing who I am
prove her point, Rahma plans to start a non-profit organization to educate
women in Somalia and help them start businesses and careers.
rather than making this one of her future, post-graduation dreams, Rahma is
already taking steps. “I took a semester off,” she says, and “went to Somalia .
. . to survey their needs.” Rahma plans to open her non-profit in the summer of
2020. “We’re going to start a project in a region away from the capital – a
training school for women in Galmudug,” an autonomous region in Somalia.
become a remarkable young woman like Rahma takes support and the right kind of
nurturing. Fartun Osman, Rahma’s mother, initially emigrated to the United
States to study, first at San Diego Community College and then San Diego State.
She majored in international business and conflict resolution and worked for a
time training welfare case managers in how to minimize conflict.
says she had “never been to a snow place” before moving to Green Bay when her
oldest child, her daughter Buruj, was accepted into college there at the age of
children have a way of being academically accelerated. Rahma’s acceptance into
UW at age 16 prompted the family’s move to Madison. Buruj is currently teaching
and studying in Spain.
believe that if you have education, you can contribute a lot to your community
– and that’s what we have done, my daughters and I,” says Fartun, who also has
a son, Nasrudin, 13.
actually sacrifice for [my children]. I think about their education and
well-being,” Fartun says. She moved to the U.S. to study while pregnant with
Rahma, nine-month-old Buruj in tow. Being a single mother completely on her own
(her own mother remains in Somalia; her seven siblings live in Europe) was not
easy, but she was sustained by her faith, by being “a religion person,
connected with our defined creator.”
she says, is a “gift from God.” Her name means “mercy” in Arabic. “She’s very
sweet and kind. She’s very intelligent – more than me and my other kids,”
Fartun says with a smile. “Everything she does is complete and amazingly perfect.”
remarkable young woman also needs a showcase for her talents and
accomplishments. That is why another important woman in Rahma’s life is Maghrib
Shahid, the Miss Muslimah Pageant CEO and founder. “Rahma Mohamed has been
amazing,” Maghrib says. “She’s very professional. If we ask for an assignment,
she turns it in before the deadline. She’s very compassionate. She has a strong
passion” for her mission of starting an organization to help Somali women to
become educated and achieve.
is the founder of the Chimiwear line of modest women’s clothing. She started
Chimiwear in 2013 because of the lack of plus-sized, modest fashions, “or
modest fashion, period,” she says. All the clothes were custom made. “I had so
many orders I was doing, like, 60 garments a week,” mostly special occasion
dresses, Maghrib says.
then in 2016 came the Trump presidency, and everything seemed to change.
a Muslim woman and a hijabi, I was being harassed,” Maghrib says. At her local
Kroger’s supermarket, “this Caucasian lady cut right in front of me” in the
checkout line and said, ‘“I’m tired of seeing people like you in this type of
Maghrib knew she was not alone in experiencing a change in attitude toward
Muslims. In Dearborn, which has the largest Muslim population in the United
States, “women were getting their hijabs pulled off in grocery stories. So it
was coming very hard.” Maghrib decided to create the Miss Muslimah USA pageant
as a platform for Muslim women, that says, “We have your back. We are here for
you,” that both “celebrates Muslim women” and “changes misconceptions about
pageant’s slogan, Maghrib says, is “modesty and inner beauty.” It’s about “your
character, your personality, how you carry yourself.” Contestants compete in five
categories: best abaya; Burkini; special-occasion modest dress; a talent
portion to consist of Koran recitation or singing, a women’s empowerment poem
or cultural dance; and finally, a speech. There will also be a Q&A on how
each contestant would use her title if she were named Miss Muslimah.
year, the pageant will include entertainment from two celebrity guests, Karter
Zaher from Deen Squad and Zak Baalbaki. “This is allowing us to sell more
tickets, faster,” Maghrib says. Sponsors are still being sought for stage sets
Ford Community and Performing Arts Center holds table seating for 1,200.
General admission for the pageant is $40, including dinner, desert, and
beverages. Attendees in the past have been mostly women with a handful of
brothers and fathers. And, Maghrib says, there are three “amazing judges – all
women. They’re not celebrities,” but “very professional women in their field.”
the pageant’s emphasis is on modesty and inner beauty, Rahma Mohamed is clearly
a beautiful young woman. When I met her at the Islamic Resource Center in
Milwaukee, she was wearing an outfit she had made, including a long, green,
belted skirt that made her look both modest and business-like. But what struck
me about Rahma Mohamed, especially in contrast to her extroverted,
light-hearted mother, is her seriousness. Rahma creates the impression that
what she sets her mind to, she will achieve.
is often synonymous with less clothing to cope with the summer heat. For
religious women who dress according to modesty precepts, this is not an option.
warmer months pose the hurdle of staying cool while covering up – even more so
in hotter regions such as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
Orthodox Jewish women, tzniut, or modesty, involves wearing shirts that cover
the collar bone and have three-quarter sleeves past the elbows. Their dresses
or skirts have to be at least knee-length. In addition, married women cover
their hair, either with a scarf or a wig called a sheitel.
Muslim women also wear a head scarf, commonly called the hijab, but which has
different names throughout the MENA region depending on the style and country.
generally wear clothes that cover their entire body except the hands and face.
Some observant Muslim women also wear a full-length robe over their clothes,
sometimes called a jilbab. In other countries, a full-body robe called a chador
(Iran) or burqa (Afghanistan) also covers the face.
Ben-Haim, an Israeli clothing designer for Orthodox women, says: “It can be so
hot in summer and our clothing cannot be open…. I like the challenge.”
Ben-Haim, the type of material is key.
think about the fabric a lot and how to be more comfortable in the summer,” she
says. “I use a lot of cotton because the fabric doesn’t absorb the sun.”
addition to cotton – the material of choice for most women in the area –
Ben-Haim uses certain types of Lycra.
mostly Arab East Jerusalem, Amina, who runs an embroidery store and declined to
give her last name, said other popular alternatives include polyester and
believes the world has the wrong impression of Muslim women because of how they
think that Muslim women don’t have freedom, that they don’t represent
themselves. They believe her husband is forcing her to do things, like wearing
a hijab. (But) I can go everywhere,” Amina says.
the owner of the nearby New Style Store, who declined to give her name at all,
summer fashion is preferred over winter fashion.
the summer, everything is better. The clothes are lighter, more colorful,” she
many other shops in the area, her store imports clothing from Turkey due to its
proximity and the quality of the clothing available there.
the closest hub for Arab clothing and the fabric is much better than in China,”
religious women wear specific clothing that is appropriate for the summer
weather, being modest can still be uncomfortable.
wear flowy clothes like bell skirts,” says Li-or Cohen, a Jerusalem resident.
“Sometimes it’s hot, but air conditioning helps.”
Rajabi and Sudqia Nassaw, employees at the Banateen Boutique in East Jerusalem,
say they are used to the heat, adding that one way they cool off is by taking
according to co-worker Riham Ayyabi, there is nothing they can really do to
gain relief from the hot Middle Eastern summers.
dress this way because we are Muslim, not as a fashion statement,” she says.
some religious women, being too warm is an afterthought. Jerusalemite Rivka
Berger says: “God wants me to (dress modestly). It’s not really a question of
whether it’s comfortable.”
while there is no end in sight to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, religious
Muslim and Jewish women can find at least some common ground in trying to stay
cool while still dressing with modesty.
hard to look Lamiya Aji Bashar in the eyes. Through them you can see the hell
this young Yazidi woman has went through, not to mention her scarred face. The
eyes of our Kurmanji translator fill as she translates from this Kurdish
dialect into English, proving a little distance from the story of a girl who
was taken captive by the Islamic State at age 15. But not enough.
rare face-to-face meeting took place, surprisingly enough, in central Israeli
Bar-Ilan University’s psychology department. Aji Bashar is the only member of
her delegation from Iraq who can reveal her face and name. That’s because she
now lives in Germany, as part of a special rehabilitation program for 1,100
women and children who survived Islamic State captivity.
of the 15 or so women in the delegation are Yazidi, but a few are Christian.
And aside from Aji Bashar, they will return to Iraq following a special
two-week course that was developed for them in Israel on coping with complex
post-traumatic stress disorder – a term used for extreme cases of ongoing
trauma, like captivity and severe abuse.
of the women are active in various aid agencies. Their goal is to use some of
the tools acquired during their brief training in Israel to help others ease
the deep emotional wounds left by Islamic State’s occupation of northern Iraq,
especially among the Yazidis.
come from a variety of professions – computers, finance, teaching, medicine.
None of the women have any training in psychotherapy but because of their work
in aid agencies, they have heard the atrocity stories and are trying to help
didn’t really have a choice,” said Dr. Mirza Dinnayi, a Yazidi doctor and
social activist who lives in Germany and is the driving force behind several
projects to aid the women and children who survived Islamic State’s captivity.
“The whole issue of psychological treatment is very uncommon in Iraq, like in
other Arab countries. There’s roughly one psychologist or social worker for
every 300,000 people in Iraq. Therefore, we have to use what we have.”
the 500,000 Yazidis who lived in northern Iraq near the Syrian border, mainly
in the town of Sinjar and nearby villages, most fled after it was captured by
the Islamic State in August 2014. They were housed in improvised camps
consisting of tents with no infrastructure.
6,500 women and children were taken captive by the Islamic State. Some managed
to escape or were liberated when the area was retaken from the organization in
2018. But around 3,000 are still missing.
is hardly the first conflict to leave ruin in its wake but the Islamic State’s
brutality made psychological trauma – both personal and collective – the major
challenge for the Yazidis’ rehabilitation.
15, 2014 is a day engraved in Aji Bashar’s memory. It was the day Islamic State
soldiers overran her village, Kocho. According to news reports at the time, they
massacred 80 men and took about 100 women captive.
Bashar and her family were captured as they tried to flee. “My father and two
of my brothers were executed immediately,” she said. Aji Bashar was separated
from her mother, older sisters and cousins.
two days in the Iraqi city of Mosul, Aji Bashar was taken to Syria, initially
to an Islamic State base housing 60 men. That’s when the 15-year-old first
experienced sexual abuse.
came to the base and demanded that the captives convert to Islam, Aji Bashar
recalled. “When we refused, they beat us for two days.”
afterward, she was sold for the first time. “They collected all the captured
girls and put us into a kind of big pit. It was like a market. Men came,
looked, chose the girls they wanted and took them.”
Bashar was bought by a Saudi national who had joined Islamic State. A few weeks
later, by chance, he also bought her sister.
didn’t offer detailed descriptions of her daily regime of humiliation,
violence, rape and abuse. Nor did anyone ask. Even the imagination fails.
her three months in Syria, Aji Bashar tried repeatedly to run away. Then her
captors sold her to an Iraqi, who took her back to Mosul – without her sister.
first I was glad, both to return to Iraq and because the person who bought me
was an Iraqi with a family,” she said. But her joy proved premature: There,
too, she suffered violence, humiliation, slavery and sexual abuse.
returning to Iraq, Aji Bashar tried to run away four times. She was sold repeatedly.
last man to buy her was a hospital director who had joined the Islamic State.
He liked sex slaves and bought two other Yazidi girls.
cell phone Aji Bashar obtained from one of her captor’s female relatives
enabled her to call own relatives and plan another escape attempt, this time
with two fellow captives. To pay the smugglers, relatives of the girls had to
raise $10,000 for each of the women.
were picked up by car and taken to a local safe house, where they escaped the
Islamic State’s door-to-door search. Then they went on foot to a
was in winter, on a dark, rainy night,” Aji Bashar said. “To bypass the Islamic
State checkpoint, we had to go through a minefield. The two men who guided us
told us to walk exactly in their footsteps.”
one girl slipped, and her foot hit a mine. “All I remember is that I flew in
the air, landed and lost my vision,” Aji Bashar said. Later, she discovered
burns and other injuries on her face.
called out to her friends, but no one answered. “For 10 minutes I called them.
I thought I heard one of them. But the guides wouldn’t tell me what their
condition was. To this day I don’t know if they survived, if they were wounded
or dead and left there,” Aji Bashar said.
have to tell our story'
the last three years, she has lived in Germany, near Stuttgart, as part of the
Yazidi rehabilitation program. Aji Bashar underwent a series of treatments and
operations that restored her eyesight but the scars the land mine left on her
face are still being treated. She learned German and now plans to finish the
years of high school she lost. Two of her sisters and one brother are with her.
think we have to tell our story,” she said. “I don’t want things like this to
happen to others.”
2016, Aji Bashar received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for her work
in human rights.
the prizes the West grants survivors of the Islamic State can’t heal the severe
trauma carried by Aji Bashar and many like her – and especially not those who
remain in northern Iraq, where they have no system of support and psychological
began working in Iraq a month after the Islamic State invaded, in September
2014,” said Yotam Polizer, co-chief executive officer of IsrAID. “And we immediately
understood that the thing we could help most with was in the field of trauma
treatment and psychological help, for which there was enormous need.”
the past few years, the organization has sent some 20 Israeli experts with dual
citizenship to Iraq to help treat these psychological wounds.
years ago, the organization was contacted by three members of Bar-Ilan’s
faculty – Dr. Yaakov Hoffman, a clinical psychologist and researcher, Prof.
Amit Shrira, a psychologist and Prof. Ari Zivotofsky, a brain researcher. All
were studying trauma among Yazidi women, and Zivotofsky had even visited Iraq.
proposed offering training in treating complex PTSD to people who deal with the
traumatized population. Their plan was to adapt a therapy method known as
STAIR, which was developed by Prof. Marylene Cloitre of California.
was born a joint venture that, with Mirza’s help, brought 15 young women from
Iraq for training in Israel. The semi-secret operation required complex
preparations, including giving the Foreign Ministry detailed information about
each of the women months in advance.
worked for a year and a half to build the infrastructure for this and learn
about Yazidi culture,” Hoffman said. “We tried to build an optimal model for
effective training in these situations, but in the end, the people undergoing
the training aren’t psychologists and mental health experts. So we can’t know
what contribution the training will really make.”
the last two weeks, the women have taken classes in dealing with depression,
anxiety, nightmares and other sleep disturbances. They also visited the beaches
in Tel Aviv, the Western Wall, and Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial center.
Regardless of the value of the professional training they received, it seems
they also needed a vacation. They are returning to an extremely tough
30-year-old Christian woman from a village near Mosul, whose identity will
remain anonymous, works for two aid agencies.
of my work was with Yazidis who had to flee and leave their homes,” she said.
“The initial period, before the aid agencies entered the picture, was chaos.
Entire families lived for months under trees or in streets behind businesses,”
great many people were killed. Men were executed, and hundreds of women and
children were taken captive. They turned the women into sex slaves and
brainwashed the children to turn them into fighters.”
she moved from her logistical job into “trauma therapy.”
I’m a therapist, my patients have become my friends,” she said. “There are
masses of Yazidi women who endured the Islamic State’s atrocities in the area
where I work. I’m exposed to a lot of stories of brutal rapes.”
of the worst was of a girl who refused to have sex with a man, and to punish
her, he raped her 9-year-old sister in front of her. Those are the kinds of
scars we’re dealing with,” she said.
as it sounds, rape isn’t always the hardest thing in this situation,” she
continued. “There are worse things. We’re talking about people who have lost
their families, their roots, the whole framework of their life. Family is a
sacred value for us, and the moment you’re completely disconnected, and on top
of that carry a personal trauma, it’s very hard to recover.
of the women still have children in captivity and don’t know what has become of
them. One of them was watching the Islamic State’s YouTube channel and saw her
son, aged 14, blow himself up in a suicide attack after being brainwashed.”
25-year-old doctor from Sinjar Munir discusses her work at Yazidi villages and
camps in the Sinjar Mountains.
not just the abductions, the fighting and the rape,” she said. “After five
years in tent camps in lousy conditions, you meet a lot of people with severe
depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and general despair.”
though the Islamic State has withdrawn from the area, the families are still in
camps, she noted. “It’s hard to go back. There are destroyed homes and damaged
infrastructure. There are no medical services, and in some places, they planted
mines and booby-trapped homes. The government isn’t rushing to deal with this
far-off place, so the families remain in the camps.”
some of the Yazidi women who were taken captive by the Islamic State have
entered Mirza’s rehabilitation program. Some started but chose to return to
Iraq while others couldn’t be included because the quota was full. Mirza has
been trying to get the quota raised, but so far, his efforts have been
women who survived Islamic State captivity and are now living in camps [this]
is a catastrophe,” he said. “They have almost no chance of recovering without
Israelis behind the project, primarily Hoffman and Zivotofsky, have developed a
strong relationship with the Yazidi people over the years. They’re excited that
it has finally gotten off the ground and hope their efforts will make a
difference. But given the situation in Iraq, they know this a small goodwill
gesture tossed into a world of chaos.
Haya could flee what many UAE women cannot
Princess Haya Bint al-Hussein's flight from her home in Dubai with her two
children to London has once again thrust the United Arab Emirates and their
discriminatory laws against women into the limelight.
Haya's husband, Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum, is the ruler of Dubai.
a legal battle between the two royals reportedly gets underway in a London
court, one cannot help but think of Maktoum's adult daughters from different
marriages, Sheikha Latifa and Sheikha Shamsa, who were apparently forcibly
returned after attempting to flee Dubai on separate occasions. The two women
remain trapped in the Emirates.
well-being and wishes will remain unknown until they are able to speak freely
and make their own decisions - including the right to leave their country when
spare a thought too, for all the women - Emiratis, non-nationals, and migrant
domestic workers - in the UAE who often do not have the resources or
connections to successfully flee a country whose laws discriminate against them
status laws in the UAE deny women the right to make independent decisions about
marriage. For a woman to marry, her male guardian must sign off on her marriage
contract. Once she is married, the law requires her to "obey" her
woman may be considered disobedient if she works without her husband's consent.
She can lose her right to financial support if she has no "lawful
excuse" when she refuses to have sex with her husband, refuses to travel
abroad with him, "abandons" the home, or prohibits her husband from
a woman decides to divorce her husband, she has to apply for a court order
while men have the right to unilaterally divorce their wives.
though divorced women may have their children live with them up to a certain
age, 11 for a boy and 13 for a girl, the legal guardianship of the children -
such as the control of their education and finances - generally remains with
the father or passes to one of his male relatives.
woman may also not travel with her children outside the UAE without their
while, at least for the moment, Princess Haya's 11-year-old daughter and
7-year-old son are with her, the same cannot be said for many mothers in the
UAE who have lost the fight to keep their children with them.
there has been no suggestion of violence in Haya's case, Human Rights Watch has
documented cases in the UAE in which
police failures to properly investigate allegations of domestic violence
may have led to court decisions not in the best interests of the children.
British woman lost a case to keep her 3-year-old son with her in August 2012,
in a hearing in which she could not present evidence of two complaints of
domestic violence she had filed in Dubai.
second British woman lost a case to keep her 8-year-old daughter in May 2014,
despite her three complaints of domestic violence against her husband. Both
children were of an age at which, under UAE law, children generally live with
the mother in divorce cases.
a strong law and effective procedures to respond to domestic violence, the UAE
not only fails abused women, but their children as well.
government has yet to enact legislation on domestic violence despite being
pressed to do so nearly a decade ago by the UN committee tracking how countries
fulfill their international legal obligations to protect women against
discrimination. The UAE ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms
of Discrimination Against Women in 2004.
personal status laws compound women's second-class status in the UAE and can
trap them in abusive relationships. UAE's allies should push the authorities to
reform these laws, and allow women - including Sheikha Latifa and her sister -
to travel freely outside of the country
if they wish.
recent idea of establishing universities specifically for women in Turkey,
which was suggested by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, received full support
from scholars, who interpreted the act as a move that should be made as soon as
a female academic, I believe that it is a quite good idea. Turkish women should
be more modern, educated and equipped. These women's universities are a great
opportunity for that purpose," said professor İlkay Erdoğan Orhan, the
dean of the Faculty of Pharmacy at Gazi University.
to Sabah daily on the matter, Orhan said there are many fields where women are
needed the most. "In my opinion, it is very beneficial for women to be
experts in these areas," she noted, adding that across the world, there
are various women's universities.
Japan last week to attend the G20 summit, Erdoğan delivered a speech at a
Mukogawa Women's University where he received an honorary doctorate. During his
speech, the president indicated that Turkey will use Japan as an example for
the country's women's universities and will establish similar ones. He even
called on the head of the Board of Higher Education (YÖK) to start such
there are more than 80 women's universities and colleges in Japan, where higher
education is provided to female students. Most of these universities are
private universities, although some receive funding from the state as well.
Yet, women's universities are not just available in Japan. Many countries have
women's universities, including the U.S. with 34.
Bayram University Faculty of Communication Dean Zakir Avşar pointed out that
this kind of higher education concept is not new for Turkey.
were 'İnaf Schools' in the Ottoman era. This is a concept that we [Turkey] have
had for 700 years," Avşar said, adding that with the foundation of the
republic, many other women-only schools have been established specific to each
profession, such as women's teaching schools and women's technical schools.
schools and the women who have been trained in these schools have contributed
to the development of the republic and today's modern intellectual women,"
also indicated that it is not fair to interpret the issue as an end to
coeducation. "These are the schools that [the founder of the republic
Mustafa Kemal] Atatürk gave major significance and marked their stamp on an
era," he said.
to figures released by the Turkish Statistical Institute (TurkStat) in March,
women, who make up 49.8 percent of the population, do not fare better than
other women in the world in terms of employment. Still, the proportion of women
in upper and middle-level management positions was 17.3 percent, TurkStat
reported, based on 2017 statistics. Unfortunately, the female employment rate
was less than half of the male employment rate, according to figures from 2017,
the latest year with available statistics. The employment rate for men was 65.6
percent, while it was only 28.9 percent for women. Statistics show that the
higher the educational status of a woman, the more likely she is to participate
in the labor force. The labor force participation rate for women who graduated
from universities was 72.7 percent, while it was only 27.7 percent for those
who only completed high school. The highest female employment rate was in the
service sector. It was lower in industry and agriculture compared to men.
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