police have been ordering women to comply with a law making the veil obligatory
(Image: GETTY [stock image])
Arabia Could Soon Appoint Women as Judges
Lawyers Rejoice Over Growing Legal Role in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Female Director Keen to Film Back Home
Must Lead Iraq's Anti-Corruption Fight, Baghdad Mayor Says
Johnson: Muslim Women Wearing Burqas ‘Look like Letter Boxes’
Abu Dhabi Girl Hasn't Stepped Out Of Her Tin-Roofed Home in Years
Salafists Start Offering Marriage Counselling
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Women Fight Back Against Veil-Filming Attacks from ‘Vice Police’ and Posting
#MyCameraIsMyWeapon movement emerged in Iran where the Gasht-e-Ershad vice
police have been ordering women to comply with a law making the veil obligatory
which was introduced by the Islamic Republic in 1979.
#MyCameraIsMyWeapon movement was launched by journalist and activist Masih
Alinejad – who currently lives in New York City.
is encouraging Iranian women to film scenes of daily life where they are
sexually harassed, assaulted or arrested for not wearing the veil - and then
publish their videos on social networks.
a series of online videos Ms Alinejad says even without the debate about sexism
and female oppression the Islamic government – which s battling an economic
crisis - is wasting huge amounts of money paying the vice police.
of her videos show women the vice police consider ‘badly veiled’ or immodestly
dressed assaulted and thrown to the ground.
Alinejad has been fighting for women’s rights in Iran – especially against
wearing the mandatory veil - since she was a teenager.
went to prison, and had to flee her country before going into exile in London.
success of her campaign however has turned her family against her and family
members have appeared on TV to denounce her.
Alinejad said: “At first, tears rolled down my eyes when the program began.
Islamic Republic is using my family in an Orwellian attempt to shame and
humiliate me because of my political beliefs.
program has torn our family apart. My parents have so far resisted all the
pressures to take part in any propaganda programs against me. My mother is
still under pressure.
mother was in tears when I spoke to her and told me she just wants all the
pressures to stop. I’m extremely worried about my mother’s life.
a personal level, I am immensely proud of my mother for resisting the pressures
to appear on these fake news programs to denounce me. I am angry at the
pressure brought on my family.
the Islamic Republic has an issue with me then they should fight me and not
bring my family into it.”
Saudi Arabia could soon appoint women as judges if a recommendation by Shura
Council members successfully goes through the process.
150-member council is currently in summer recess, but will in four weeks look
into the recommendation “to empower competent Saudi women who are legally and
religiously qualified to hold judging positions”, Saudi daily Okaz reported on
recommendation, presented by Members Faysal Al Fadhel, Lateefa Al Shaalan and
Atta Al Subaiti within the Islamic Affairs and Judicial Committee, calls upon
the justice ministry to help with the appointment of women as judges.
rationale for their recommendation included the availability of legally
competent Saudi women with full merit for judicial functions, a shortage of
judges and vacant judicial positions, the members said.
appointing women in the judiciary is incompatible with the Kingdom’s Vision
2030 which calls for empowering women and investing in their potential and
aptitudes, they added.
have been recently allowed to work as investigators at the Public Prosecution
Office, they added.
recommendation included scholarly references arguing that there were no religious
texts that barred women from becoming judges as well as references to other
Arab and Islamic countries that had appointed women as judges.
Algeria, Morocco and Sudan had women judges since the 1960s while Jordan
appointed its first woman judge in 1996, Egypt in 2003 and Bahrain in 2006,
Saudi judiciary system does not specify gender in the requirements to be
Shura Council comprises 30 women
– Obstacles facing Saudi women lawyers have become a thing of the past. Female
lawyers have now become part and parcel of the Kingdom’s judicial system as
they practice the profession alongside their male counterparts.
don’t face any problems and difficulties in carrying out our duty with
responsibility,” said Bayan Zahran, a lawyer, while speaking to Okaz/Saudi
Gazette. “The situation of women lawyers is totally different from what was
five years ago and we defend our clients inside the courts,” she added.
referred to some of the difficulties female lawyers had to face five years ago,
especially when they applied for license. “Officials used to express surprise
when we applied for license. We have been successful in removing their
apprehensions through hard work.”
about major cases being handled by women lawyers, Zahran said: “We have been
handling cases related to divorce, rights of divorcees, payment of alimony,
reconciliation between couples, payment for housing and furniture, and issues
related to married life.”
Qassim, also a lawyer, said women lawyers must be allowed to take part in
reconciliation sessions, especially when married life becomes impossible for
couples and when there are reports of family violence, which makes
for children must be ensured by the father before divorcing their mother to
ensure stability in their life,” she said. Qassim called for electronic
recording of court proceedings. “It will enable women lawyers to make
corrections in their defense statements before court endorsement,” she added.
Al-Raheeli, a trainee in legal practice, highlighted the remarkable progress
achieved by the Kingdom’s judicial system over the past few years. However, she
called for increasing the number of workers at courts to ensure speedy justice.
Al-Qahtani spoke about difficulties being faced by women lawyers to find
training offices. Some offices insist that the trainees should not receive any
salary. The authorities have demanded that bachelor degree holders in law
should get training for three years.
women lawyers in remote regions face difficulty to attend legal courses and
have to travel long distances to reach law colleges in major cities,” she
training charges are another major problem, Al-Qahtani said. “Sometimes the
amount will reach SR2,000 daily,” she told Okaz/Saudi Gazette.
Al-Qarni stressed the need to reduce protracted court hearings, as this would
delay other cases.
Al-Atwi emphasized the capability of women lawyers to do their duty in a
professional and responsible manner.
can also educate the community on rules and regulations as well as their rights
and duties,” she added.
emphasized that women lawyers should get proper training in order to defend
cases of their clients successfully without incurring any losses.
— Fresh from shooting her first film in English, Haifaa Al-Mansour plans to
return to her native Saudi Arabia next month for her new project — but this
time, she won’t be directing out of view by walkie-talkie from the back of a
I started making films — I started in 2005, when my first short came out —
people didn’t believe in cinema in Saudi Arabia — films were illegal, the
country was very segregated, so it was like ‘a woman making films, oh!’,” the
43-year-old director told AFP in an interview.
Saudi Arabia has changed,” Mansour said.
last year a decades-old ban on cinemas was lifted.
Arabia this year made its first official appearance at the Cannes film festival
with its submission of a series of short films.
was the first woman to shoot a film in the country, the critically acclaimed
“Wadjda” from 2012 about a girl who dreams of riding her own bike.
the filming, she often had to direct her team via walkie-talkie while keeping
out of sight in a van, since she could not be seen in public alongside male
actors and crew members.
don’t think I will be in the van anymore,” she said.
we have a film fund and they are supporting my next project, which is called
‘The Perfect Candidate’, about a young Saudi female doctor who decides to run
for an office in a municipal election,” she said. “It will be wonderful to be
part of the evolution of film in the country,” she added.
Shelley”, her biopic of the 19th-century author of the horror classic
“Frankenstein”, is now hitting screens worldwide.
Wollstonecraft Shelley was just 18 when she traveled to Lake Geneva in 1816
with her future husband, the poet Percy Shelley, and their son to vacation
alongside friends including Lord Byron.
inside for days by heavy rains, they challenged each other to write a ghost
story, sparking the Gothic tale of “Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus”,
which was eventually published in 1818, but without Mary Shelley’s name on the
her, to come and write something so original and not to have her name on it, I
could not not tell that story. I felt just like, ‘this is definitely a Haifaa
film’,” Mansour said.
offer to direct the film, starring Elle Fanning, came as a surprise — not least
because Mansour had previously filmed mainly in Arabic.
having studied literature at the American University in Cairo and film at the
University of Sydney, she was ready for the challenge of working in English.
did a lot of rewriting on the script — it’s not only a love story,” she said.
filming the movie in Ireland, Luxembourg and France, Mansour said she was eager
to work again in her native Saudi Arabia. “I think it is very important to make
films there, especially with Saudi Arabia embracing films and allowing film
theaters. It will be wonderful to be part of the evolution of film in the
country,” she said.
think it will have a great impact on young professional women.” — AFP
she was a top civil servant, Zikra Alwash worried about education.
as mayor of the nation's capital Baghdad, it is corruption that dominates her
the city's first female mayor, she is in office at a time of public disdain for
many politicians. Last month, people took to the streets to protest against
corruption, particularly in southern Iraq, and the need for better public
services and government.
the capital still the nation's power centre, she has made the battle against
corruption — and women's role in it — her biggest campaign.
50-year old civil engineer, mayor since 2015, has given herself a decade to not
only revive the war-torn city but to achieve gender equality and place women at
the heart of central government.
'women united against corruption' campaign was launched by a number of Iraqi
females aiming to fight corruption and fraud," she told The National.
can safely say that women's involvement in this matter has been very
limited," she said.
government has been central to Iraq's dire problems, with international
monitors routinely putting the country near the top of the list of failing
Iraqis believe that they live in the world's most corrupt country —
Transparency International placed it the 169th worst nation of 180 — on its
Corruption Perceptions Index last year.
Alwash also chairs a national committee for women's advancement in Iraq. As
such, reversing decades of endemic corruption, she says, offers an opportunity
to boost women's involvement in a fragile political system.
efforts towards equal pay for equal work, as well as leadership and management
positions can be heavily hindered by fraud, she said.
the first female mayor in the Iraqi capital's history she has crossed such
barriers, although the task of governing a war-broken city remains mammoth,
regardless of gender.
infrastructure was hindered by a 13-year international embargo against Saddam
Hussein's regime. The 2003 US-led invasion that toppled him saw buildings
flattened. The subsequent years of sectarian violence and the rise and fall of
ISIS has added to the dysfunction.
Baghdad has more than seven million inhabitants — an increase of 45 per cent
since 2015, a year after ISIS seized a third of Iraq and triggered a rural
has been on the decline for decades, with many districts abandoned. Yet a
rising population has coincided with chronic traffic jams that pump out
are under way to improve the services across the capital, particularly the
city’s infrastructure following the increase in population," Ms Alwash
mayor has set her sights on reducing the municipality's expenditure and
ensuring that institutions are self-reliant. She also aims to attract foreign
investment, to increase the capital's income.
made do not cover our staff salaries and the municipality's allocations. We
have taken into account the economic crisis the country is going through as
well as its brutal war against ISIS," she said.
mayor said that city officials had found alternative solutions to ensure basic
services were distributed around the capital.
the challenges, Ms Alwash vowed to "maintain the existing infrastructure
of Baghdad and to facilitate projects that will cater to the inhabitants".
former director general at Iraq's higher education ministry, the mayor was
appointed by Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi, and took over from a predecessor
long embroiled in corruption allegations.
still deters the progress that women have made in attaining equal rights to
their male counterparts, she said.
representation in government
number of women in the central government remains low but Ms Alwash has vowed
to address the issue.
are always calling on the government to increase women's representation in
holding leadership roles in ministries and legislative bodies."
cabinet is the place where women can impose their presence, she said, while
highlighting the importance of the government in supporting women by setting up
training courses on project or business management.
have proven that women in legislative bodies are excellent in their positions
but women need to be empowered economically through workshops and programmes
carried out by the government and international bodies," she said.
Alwash warned that security would be critical for achieving such goals, and
that while ISIS had been defeated, countering the group's ideology would be a
ISIS invaded Iraq, the group had a huge impact on women, they left them
displaced, widowed, they violated their basic rights and in some cases even
municipality fears an ISIS-led resumption of attacks on Baghdad's inhabitants
as well as its staff.
Baghdad was going through security challenges, "we had many employees
under attack, many of them were martyred", she said.
somehow the capital is still managing to go through a transitional period of
reconstruction and investment.
staff are on high alert, we are managing to offer services and to achieve
former foreign secretary came out against calls for a ban on the face-covering
veils in public places, but described them as “absolutely ridiculous” and
compared their wearers to rebellious teenagers. His comments, in response to
the introduction of a Burqa ban in Denmark, sparked an angry response from
Muslim organisations and MPs, who accused him of stoking Islamophobia for
political gain. The assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of
Britain, Miqdaad Versi, said Mr Johnson was “pandering to the far-right”, while
Labour MP David Lammy branded him a “pound-shop Donald Trump”.
representing asylum seekers facing eviction to launch court challenge Labour’s
Jess Phillips said she would report Mr Johnson to the Equality and Human Rights
Commission. Denmark last week followed France, Germany, Austria and Belgium in
banning face-covering garments like the Burqa and Niqab in public places. A fine
of around £120 has already been imposed on a woman wearing a Niqab in a
shopping centre in the town of Horsholm, after another woman reportedly tried
to tear it off. Downing Street confirmed that the Government does not support a
ban in the UK. Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Mr Johnson said he felt “fully
entitled” to expect women to remove face coverings when talking to him at his
MP’s surgery, and said schools and universities should be able to take the same
approach if a student “turns up ... looking like a bank robber”. “If you tell
me that the Burqa is oppressive, then I am with you,” he wrote. “If you say
that it is weird and bullying to expect women to cover their faces, then I
totally agree - and I would add that I can find no scriptural authority for the
practice in the Koran. “I would go further and say that it is absolutely
ridiculous that people should choose to go around looking like letter boxes.”
Businesses and government agencies should also be able to “enforce a dress code
that enables their employees to interact with customers”, including by allowing
them to see their faces, said Mr Johnson. But he added: “Such restrictions are
not quite the same as telling a free-born adult woman what she may or may not
wear, in a public place, when she is simply minding her own business.”
total ban would give a boost to radicals who claim there is a “clash of
civilisations” between Islam and the West, fanning the flames of grievance and
turning women into “martyrs”, he warned. And he said that a ban on Burqas could
lead to “a general crackdown on any public symbols of religious affiliation”.
Mr Johnson wrote: “Like a parent confronted by a rebellious teenager determined
to wear a spike through her tongue, or a bolt through her nose, you run the
risk that, by your heavy-handed attempt to ban what you see as a bizarre and
unattractive adornment, you simply stiffen resistance... “If Danish women
really want to cover their faces, then it seems a bit extreme - all the caveats
above understood - to stop them under all circumstances. I don’t propose we
follow suit. A total ban is not the answer.” Mr Versi responded on Twitter:
“Boris Johnson says a woman in niqab is ‘looking like a bank robber’ or
‘looking like letter boxes’. “Is this language anything other than pandering to
the far-right? Deeply disappointing that (the) Telegraph platforms this
disgusting language.” And Mr Lammy said: “Muslim women are having their Burqas
pulled off by thugs in our streets and Boris Johnson’s response is to mock them
for ‘looking like letter boxes’. “Our pound-shop Donald Trump is fanning the
flames of Islamophobia to propel his grubby electoral ambitions.” Labour MP
Stella Creasy said voters in a potential Conservative leadership contest should
note that Mr Johnson appeared to be positioning himself as a figure in the
mould of US right-winger and former Trump aide Steve Bannon. She warned he was
in danger of “going full Morrissey”, in reference to the singer who has been
mired in controversy over comments on immigration, and said her advice to Mr
Johnson was that “being a buffoon, not being a racist and misogynist, (is) more
British”. Prime Minister Theresa May’s official spokesman said: “The
long-standing Government position on this is clear, that we do not support a
ban on the wearing of the veil in public. “Such a prescriptive approach would
be not in keeping with British values of religious tolerance and gender
Read more at:
10-year-old girl has never stepped out of her tin-roof home in Abu Dhabi City
for the most part of her life. She had to stop schooling in Grade 2 and has got
no friends. And the saddest part is she has seen her parents being often
outside world is dangerous. I never go out. I am happy with my friends inside
this laptop cartoons. I haven't seen my mother for long. I hope she will be
back to take care of me," Maleha said.
is the daughter of Indian expats Faizal A. and Bindu - parents who had
well-settled jobs. But the lure of business and the incompetence to run it saw
them spend more time in jail than with their daughter. Her mother is jailed for
years now over cheque bounce case. Her father is out of jail but his visa
expired seven years back. Maleha has a valid passport but no visa or Emirates
ID. Daily existence is a struggle for this family but Maleha's main concern is
to see her mother. And amnesty scheme has given the family new hope.
came to the UAE in 1995 and worked as an engineer for nine years. It was a
chance meeting and interaction with Bindu, then a pharmacist, which resulted in
marriage in July 2004.
was Hindu and she embraced Islam. She was also a divorcee with a girl child. We
faced snub from our families over this decision. Everything was fine until we
decided to start a business. We started with the sale of animal drugs. But
Dubai real estate boom lured us to construction," Faizal said from his
then their trouble started.
2007, a Dh400,000 cheque got bounced and I was jailed. Bindu was pregnant and
then a friend helped us with construction projects. He introduced Bindu to
B.P., a man who promised to help get me out of jail."
claimed the man was given two signed blank cheques by Bindu to get money from a
pawnbroker but no money was given. "He said both cheques were missing. We
didn't suspect anything fishy as he was introduced by a friend. Luckily we got
a big project in Dubai and with the first payment from that, I was out of jail.
Then we bagged some good projects in Abu Dhabi. Life was like a dream until
everything crashed in 2008 with the economic slowdown. Our payments stopped and
we couldn't cope with pressure mounting from our clients."
claimed B.P. presented one of the blank cheques with an amount of Dh900,000 and
then filed a case. We went into hiding in Ajman and later in Dubai, but a
friend informed authorities about us. We were arrested in front of our
daughters. With different cases, I was kept in Dubai jail and my wife in Abu Dhabi.
I was out in a few months and raised Dh200,000 to get bail for Bindu. However,
in 2013, B.P. presented another cheque of Dh10 million and Bindu is still in
jail," Faizal said.
2 daughters and a room
is a struggle since then. We are living in this one room stuffed with clothes
and other things. We are surviving on help from like-minded people. A few years
back, I send our elder daughter Ashwathy to India due to lack of money. She
stays with a relative in India but her studies too couldn't continue beyond
school. Maleha's studies were stopped as villa schools were shut and she didn't
have any valid documents. My visa expired seven years ago and I am not working
anymore. I am scared if I will be arrested then what will happen to Maleha. She
doesn't know the outside world. She doesn't know good or bad strangers. We, as
parents, have been a failure. I am clueless but hope we will get a respite
during this amnesty period. I am counting on Indian Embassy to help us out. I
need to save my daughter. I want to raise my daughters in a proper
manner," Faizal said.
— Egyptians in general welcome premarital education for Muslim couples, in
light of the country's high divorce rate. But courses offered strictly to young
women by Salafi groups are raising controversy for their claims that women are
solely responsible for their marriages' success or failure.
a statement published July 20 in Egyptian newspapers, Salafi preacher Sameh
Abdel Hamid called on the Egyptian government to entrust every authorized
marriage officer to propose counseling courses to couples wishing to marry. But
reactions were largely unfavorable to an ad distributed in the streets of Cairo
for courses targeting only young women. The Qurrat Ayun (Joy of the Eye)
association, which organized those courses, ended up canceling classes
scheduled for Aug. 2-5. The group cited reasons “beyond its control.”
ad announced three pre-marriage courses to be held at Qurrat Ayun’s office in
Mansoura, in Alexandria governorate, for 100 Egyptian pounds ($6) per course.
The courses could be taken remotely via teleconference programs and were to
focus on Salafi ideas about how to manage marital life. Salafism is a
fundamentalist branch of Sunni Islam.
thought promotes a number of ideas that many citizens see as being against women’s
rights. Salafism is known to promote early marriage, polygamy, the husband's
right to beat his wife or prevent her from working, as well as the prohibition
of birth control. Egyptian women's rights institutions have been struggling to
root out these ideas and practices.
Salafi courses are organized by seven men — and one woman whose photo didn't
appear in the ad. Instead, the group used a picture of a rose. In the
parliamentary electoral campaigns in 2011 and 2015, the conservative Nour Party
— a Salafi group — also used pictures of roses instead of the faces of its
courses have gained attention as Egypt's divorce rate rises. Egypt's Central
Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics said in its annual report, issued
in July 2018, that the country's 2017 divorce rate in urban areas was 54.6%,
while it stood at 45.4% in rural areas, indicating an overall increase of 3.2%
over 2016. The overall 2015 divorce rate in the United States, by comparison,
was estimated at 42-50%, the lowest in 40 years.
advertised Salafi training courses, some say, represent an attempt to undermine
the pre-marriage courses organized by the state. Egypt’s ministries of Health
and Religious Endowments agreed last year to organize pre-marriage courses for
men and women. The first session was held in January. Dar al-Ifta, Egypt's
official religious institution tasked with drafting edicts, has offered similar
courses regularly for several years.
the Christian sphere, the Coptic Orthodox Church of Alexandria imposed a
marital counseling course in July 2017 on couples wishing to get married. A
couple must pass the course to obtain the church's "no-objection"
certificate as a prerequisite for marriage. A marriage preparation course is
widely required in the United States to marry in a Catholic church.
the youth committee of Egypt’s National Council for Women launched in 2017 an
awareness-raising initiative dubbed "Together to Stay,” offering
counseling courses for prospective couples in a bid to curb divorce rates.
Mohammed al-Bastawisi, the official in charge of the premarital courses
organized by the Ministry of Religious Endowments, welcomes premarital courses
but noted they must abide by the curriculum set by the ministry and Al-Azhar.
must let go of the Salafi nonsense ideas and practices, such as early
marriages, that they are trying to pin on true Islamic religion and for which
they invoke false evidence,” he told Al-Monitor. “The ministry is offering its
courses to both sexes, not only to girls. The success of a marital relationship
is the responsibility of both women and men. Limiting premarital courses to
girls gives the impression that they are responsible for the high divorce
added, "This is absolutely not true."
stressed the need to review the courses offered by these associations.
Bastawisi added that these associations should only be allowed to offer their
courses if their content is changed so as not to entrench what he said are
false religious concepts.
al-Saeed, head of the Cairo Foundation for Development and Law, pointed out
that allowing Salafi associations to organize premarital courses could pave the
way for legitimizing fallacies in the name of religion. According to her, the
Salafi curriculum is full of misconceptions and is hostile to women. “This was
evident in numerous initiatives launched by this religious current,” she told
recalled female Salafi activist Ranya Hashem launching an initiative asserting
that polygamy is compliant with Sharia. Saeed said, “The social media pages and
accounts of Salafi figures promote several misconceptions against women in the
name of religion.”
also referred to a Facebook post by Hashem about how the wives of the Sahabi
(the companions of the Prophet Muhammad) accepted being battered by their
husbands and, because of their religious commitment, did not seek divorces.
said, “These ideas cannot be allowed within the premarital courses for girls.
This would mislead them into thinking that their husbands have the right to
batter them and that they are religiously bound to tolerate these behaviors.”
further pointed out that holding courses just for girls who are about to get
married consecrates the idea of women's inferiority and portrays women as
responsible for Egypt's high divorce rate. “This is unreasonable,” she said.
“Premarital courses are necessary to build happy families. But this must be
based on the principle that marriage is a partnership between men and women
where affection, compassion and peace of mind prevail. It is not a relationship
of submission by a woman to a man, where only the latter has all the rights
while the woman is left to assume all duties and be liable for the failure or
success of the relationship.”
al-Jundi, undersecretary of the parliamentary Religious Committee, pointed out
that such courses are deceiving. Jundi told Al-Monitor, “Premarital courses
must be subject to a permit from Al-Azhar and the Ministry of Endowments and their
content must be in line with the curriculum set by the ministry.”
warned that there are many different institutes to certify Salafi preachers.
The courses offered by some of these institutes, he said, contained extremist
ideas and numerous misleading, irregular religious opinions by nonqualified
instructors that were not based on any sound religious grounds.
said prospective couples should not fall for these courses and urged them to
choose official centers for taking premarital courses. These centers are those
affiliated with the Ministry of Endowments and Dar al-Ifta and offer religious
content based on valid evidence from Sharia, he added.
Ayun association officials refused to comment for this story.
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