Khpelwak Photographer: Mohammad Jawad/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Photo
College Golfer In Hijab Out To Blaze Trail For Muslim Women
Iraq, Tribal Traditions Rob Women, Girls Of Rights
Mosque of Canada launches in Toronto
Women Demand Equal Representation In Peace Process
Embassy in Georgia Says Passports of Runaway Sisters Are Valid
Far-Right Extremist Attacks Muslim Woman Wearing Headscarf In Berlin
by New Age Islam News Bureau
won't be silenced,' Afghan female musicians tell Taliban
from a sold-out concert tour of the U.K. and Sweden, Afghanistan’s first female
conductor is convinced music can help deliver peace to her war-torn country. If
only the Taliban would listen.
just 22, Negin Khpelwak has already stared down threats and intimidation from
her conservative relatives, who wished she would take on any career but music.
Now, like many of her fellow citizens, she is watching peace talks between the
U.S. and the Taliban with growing alarm.
can bring freedom, peace and honor to Afghanistan,” said Khpelwak, who leads
the country’s the first all-female Zohra Orchestra who’ve played classical
Western and Afghan music at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Women can’t go
back to the dark days -- they can break our instruments, they can ban the
music, but they never take it from our hearts.”
Taliban, who control or contest half the country, banned all forms of music during
their brutal regime that ran from 1996 to 2001. Even now, when the orchestra
played its last concert in Kabul in February, most of the 700 guests had to
pass through as many as 10 security check points protected by armed guards and
U.S. reached a draft peace agreement with the insurgent group in January that
may eventually lead to a withdrawal of foreign troops and a Taliban pledge not
to allow terrorists to use the country. Talks aimed at bringing an end to 18
years of war were scheduled to begin again over the weekend, but appear to have
been stalled. After being initially excluded from the U.S.-led talks, the
Afghan delegation was set to include 52 women, up from just a handful in
country’s key demands in the dialogue include preserving the current government
system under “Islamic Republic of Afghanistan,” holding elections and retaining
the current constitution. U.S. Special Envoy Zalmay Khalilzad is leading the
negotiations. He’s hoping to finalize a deal this year before presidential
elections slated for September.
women have repeatedly voiced concerns about the lack of female representation
at the peace talks, particularly given what is at stake.
have won hard-fought gains in politics, business and education since 2001,
pushing back against the country’s male-dominated society. Last year about 400
female candidates contested in 68 seats reserved for women in the parliament,
while hundreds of women run small businesses and teach at schools, and more
than 3.5 million girls are now in education.
Wardak has been fighting for women’s rights in Afghanistan for eight years.
Last October she stood for a seat in the parliamentary elections in Kabul, the
results of which have yet to be announced -- sweeping aside concerns for her
safety and about entering the hyper-masculine, deeply corrupt world of Afghan
highly doubt peace will come at the cost of our rights because the women today
are not the women of 1996, neither are the Taliban,” said Wardak, whose late
father and brother were Afghan generals, noting she is sure Afghan women will
be part of the wider negotiations.
much at stake for Afghan women after the “horrors” they experienced during the
last period of Taliban rule, said Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for
South Asia at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington.
with U.S. President Donald Trump last month calling the war “ridiculous,” many
analysts believe the Washington is ultimately unconcerned with protecting the
relative gains for women in Afghanistan as it tries to extract itself from the
seemingly unending conflict. Some also doubt the Taliban’s lip-service towards
Taliban claims to be a more moderate outfit than it was in previous years,”
said Kugelman. “If it truly does represent a new and more conciliatory Taliban
2.0, then one would expect it to welcome Afghan women in negotiations.
Unfortunately to this point there’s no indication this is happening.”
now, the group still condemns and punishes anyone playing music, but said it
would review its position and make a decision based on "the verdict of
Islam" if it returns to the country after a peace deal, their spokesman
Zabihullah Mujahed said in a message, without providing more detail. The
group’s current position banning all forms of music is also based on the
verdict of Islam.
also: Women singers test limits, signal Afghanistan's changing times
was just a baby when the Taliban took over the country in 1996 and immediately
banned women from attending schools or leaving home without a partner. Now she
is at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music, that world is alien to her.
is part of our life and music is our passion,” she said at the school, urging
both Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s government and the U.S. to convince the
Taliban not to harm musicians.
founder and director of the school music -- who himself survived a Taliban
bombing in 2014 at a concert in Kabul -- said the days of the militant group
ruling the country as a dictatorship have now gone.
youth of Afghanistan today are a totally different force than the youths of
1996,” Ahmad Naser Sarmast, 56, said at his office adorned with musicians’
portraits and trophies lining the shelves. He said the new generation won’t
allow the Taliban “to come and turn the wheel of history backward.”
has flourished in Afghanistan since 2001, and now hundreds of students -- male
and female -- are learning the craft in Sarmast’s school, which has represented
Afghanistan’s music in more than 35 countries since its inauguration in 2010.
some female musicians worry the Taliban will forcibly push them to quit and
stay at home.
the Taliban comes back, it might be a great danger for us,” said violinist Gul
Mina, who is in grade 11 at the school and hopes to become a violin teacher in
order to change other girls’ lives. “Their return could be a huge disaster to
our lives and musical works.”
college golfer in hijab out to blaze trail for Muslim women
Ahmed outwardly lives her Muslim faith, and even growing up in a state as
diverse as California she says she encountered hostility on the street, in
school and on the golf course.
of the top junior golfers in Northern California coming out of high school,
Ahmed was a starter in her first year at Nebraska and the No. 2 player most of
this spring. She is believed to be the only golfer at the college level or
higher who competes in a hijab, the headscarf worn in adherence to the Muslim
in Lincoln two years ago, Ahmed sensed hesitancy from teammates mostly from
small Midwestern towns and unaccustomed to seeing a woman in a hijab. She
didn't feel embraced until an unfortunate yet unifying event roiled the campus
midway through her freshman year.
video surfaced of a student claiming to be the "most active white
nationalist in the Nebraska area," disparaging minorities and advocating
violence. The student, it turned out, was in the same biology lecture class as
offered to walk with her across campus, and one who would become her best
friend, Kate Smith, invited Ahmed to stay with her. She didn't accept but was
heartened by the gesture.
Smith said, "was when she realized how much each and every one of us care
for her on the team, that it wasn't just like, 'Hey you're our teammate.' No,
it's 'We want you to be safe, we want you to feel at home here."'
grown up in the post-9-11 era, Ahmed, like many Muslims in the United States,
has been a target for bullying and verbal abuse. She began wearing the hijab in
the course, in an airport or even walking across campus she can feel the long
stares and notices the glances. She said she has never been physically
threatened — "that I know of" — and that most of the face-to-face
insults came before she arrived at Nebraska.
media breeding ground
of the venom spewed at her now comes on social media. She has been the subject
of several media profiles, and each sparks another round of hateful messages.
She acknowledges she reads but doesn't respond to messages and that an athletic
department sports psychologist has helped her learn how to deal with them.
been called every racial slur in the book," she said. "I've been told
explicitly that people who look like me don't play golf, we don't have a right
to exist in America, you should go home. It would definitely faze me a little
bit, but it never deterred me. I'm really stubborn, so I'm going to prove you
wrong, just wait. When people think they're dragging me down, it kind of fuels
the fire in me that I'm going to be a better golfer, I'm going to be a better
student, I'm going to keep climbing up the ladder."
daughter of Egyptian immigrants is from a close-knit family in Folsom,
California, and she steeled herself for the cultural adjustment she would have
to make at Nebraska.
dealt with loneliness and anxiety, especially her freshman year. She had
difficulty finding a support network. There is a small Muslim community on
campus, but she didn't immerse herself in it. The demands on athletes are
great, and they are largely segregated, eating and studying in facilities
separate from those used by regular students.
would Coach bring someone like that on the team?'
coach Robin Krapfl said she was initially concerned about how teammates would
react to Ahmed. Krapfl remembered meeting with her golfers and telling them
could tell by a couple of the looks and maybe even a comment or two that they
weren't 100 per cent comfortable with that," Krapfl said. "A lot of
our girls come from small-town communities that are very limited in their
ethnicity. It's just the fear of the unknown. They had just never been exposed
to being around someone from the Muslim faith."
said she saw a golfer or two roll their eyes, another shook her head. "I
overheard, 'Why would Coach bring someone like that on the team?' "
when she got here people could see her for who she was and the quality of
person she was," Krapfl said. "It took a while. It really did. You've
got to get to know somebody, who they really are and not just what they look
said she sometimes cringes when she and Ahmed are in a group and the
conversation turns to politics, immigration or even fashion, like when someone
innocently or ignorantly tells Ahmed that she would look good in a short dress
or a certain hairstyle.
can never wear a short dress, so why would you want to depict her as
that?" Smith said. "You have to respect her beliefs and why she's
doing it. Also, I think a lot of things are connected to women's beauty
standards and how people don't think she can look beautiful when she's covered.
I think she's a really beautiful girl no matter how much skin she's
all the challenges Ahmed faced, there have been positives. Some people have
complimented her for living her faith as she sees fit, a Muslim teen who golfs
in a hijab and lives in the United Kingdom wrote to says she draws inspiration
from her, and a player for another college team approached her at an event to
tell her she recently converted to Islam and just wanted to say hi.
remember going and crying and, wow, I'm not alone out here," she said.
said she's naturally shy and a bit uncomfortable with the attention, but she
hopes Muslim girls coming up behind her are watching.
grew up never seeing anyone like me," she said. "Honestly, I didn't
realize how much grief I was carrying, having never seen an image of myself or
someone who looked like me in popular American culture. It's a big deal.
are basketball and football so heavily African American? If I were black and I
saw people who looked like me competing in that sport, that's probably the
sport I would choose. I think it's really important when we're talking about
trying to make golf and other sports and other areas in American culture
diverse, how important it is to see someone who looks like you and how it will
fuel other people's interest."
started playing golf at 8, and her parents encouraged her to take the sport to
the highest level possible. Wearing the hijab has never interfered with her
game and she has never considered not wearing it on the course.
think Muslim women who choose to observe it or choose not to observe it have
the right to exist in any space they want to be in," she said, "and I
would feel like I would be sending a message that the hijab doesn't exist in
this place or it shouldn't, and I don't feel comfortable with that."
Iraq, tribal traditions rob women, girls of rights
Iraq: Two weeks into Mariam’s forced marriage to her cousin according to Iraqi
tribal custom, she desperately doused herself in fuel, flicked on a lighter and
attempted suicide by self-immolation.
22-year-old spent three days in hospital in Iraq’s southern Misan province last
summer before succumbing to her wounds, recalled sheikh Haydar Saadoun.
university classmate from a different tribe had proposed, but her relatives
refused,” said Saadoun, an official from the Bani Lam tribe in the town of
Amarah in Misan.
said they had rights over her because of ‘nahwa’,” he said, referring to a
tribal custom that authorizes the men of a clan to reject marriage proposals to
a female member.
arranged for her to wed her cousin instead.
was already married, had fathered multiple children and was illiterate, while
Mariam was going to university,” Saadoun said.
a modern three-piece suit under a traditional cape, he told AFP he tried to
dissuade Mariam’s fiance but was overruled.
told me: ‘I’ll break her nose. I’ll marry her and rub her face in it’,” Saadoun
society remains largely conservative, bound by tribal traditions and customs
practiced from its sprawling capital Baghdad to far-flung rural provinces.
the country of nearly 40 million, clan names can carry weight in securing work,
a spouse and even votes.
often trump government institutions, as tribes look to their own mediation
methods to resolve disputes instead of the official court system.
and girls often suffer under these patriarchal systems, with many forced to
marry against their will, subject to domestic abuse and deprived of an
southern provinces of Misan and Basra, where tribal influence is widespread,
have the highest rates of child marriage in Iraq, the UN’s children’s agency
UNICEF said in 2018.
Misan, 35 percent of married women between 20 and 45 said they wed as
teenagers, and in Basra the rate is 31.5 percent.
one tribal custom known as “fasliya,” women are married off as restitution for
blood spilt between two tribes.
Al-Tai, a women’s rights activist in Misan, said the custom had ravaged her own
years ago, a conflict broke out between my tribe and another. During the
fighting, a man from the other clan was killed,” said Tai, 50.
for a truce, Tai’s tribe offered “five virgins” to the opposing tribe —
including her cousin, Sahar, who was married off to the victim’s brother.
“20 years of hell” Sahar was bullied and harassed by her husband’s family, Tai
recalled. Even her children were publicly branded “children of the fasliya.”
when Sahar asked her family for help, said Tai, “her relatives would tell her,
‘you’re a fasliya. Accept your fate’.”
is still being practiced. In 2015, a tribe in the southern province of Basra
married off 50 girls and women to another tribe under a truce.
no family support or access to outside help, some Iraqi women and girls have
turned to suicide.
study of 62 attempted self-immolation cases in Basra found that family
problems, including marital issues, were the precipitating factor in 80 percent
of the cases.
in Misan said 198 women had attempted suicide over the past two years, and 14
of them lost their lives.
details are scarce. Mental health problems in Iraq remain taboo, and efforts to
discuss them with tribal leaders have seen little success.
Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the top religious authority for most Iraqi Shiites,
called last year for an end to “nahwas” and other tribal practices, to no
customs were criminalized in Iraq’s 1959 personal status law, which was
strictly implemented under Saddam Hussein’s brutal rule.
a woman by force under “nahwa” is punishable by three years in jail for a
cousin and 10 years for a more distant relative.
as the central government lost influence across swathes of Iraq following the
2003 US-led invasion, tribal power structures took precedence.
“this law is not applied because no woman would file a complaint against her
own family,” said lawmaker Intissar Al-Juburi.
efforts to introduce tough laws to protect women have been hampered by
political stalemates and an emphasis on security and economic issues.
tribal customs are becoming further entrenched, according to Maytham Al-Saadi,
a professor at Misan University.
the past, fasliyas would be proposed only in cases needing blood money, but in
recent decades they’ve been used to end the simplest disputes between tribes,”
new mosque was launched in Toronto on Friday with the core concept of for women
Paul’s United Church played host to the first Friday prayers held by the
Women’s Mosque of Canada.
we’re doing here today is really re-asserting that women have a role in faith
and they have a role in faith leadership,” said Rev. Dr. Cheri DiNovo.
Farheen Khan said the idea has been a long time coming. The group welcomed not
only Muslim women but also members of communities from across the Greater
been talking about this for a number of years. I’ve had conversations with lots
of different women and imams and community members to say ‘is this something we
can do?’ and there’s always been mixed reaction,” she said.
Levine-Rasky was among those in attendance. She is the co-founder of Sisterhood
of Salaam Shalom, an organization that strives to nurture relationships between
Muslim and Jewish women.
to their website, their mandate revolves around building bridges and fighting
hate. It also states that they currently have 150 chapters.
this is the beginning of opening up those spaces and opening up the possibility
for Muslim women to feel more comfortable in their places of worship, to make
their own spaces,” said Levine-Rasky.
Khan told Global News that going forward, they will aim to hold prayers every
other week and try to amass a congregation by travelling around the Greater
eventual goal is to launch a campaign to raise funds for a mosque, which will
serve as a permanent place to worship.
women are demanding equal representation in a United Nations-led peace process
aimed at ending the country’s devastating four-year war.
UN's special envoy to Yemen Martin Griffiths helped broker a deal between
Yemen’s internationally recognised government and Houthi rebels in Sweden last
December that agreed to a ceasefire in the port city of Hodeidah and a prisoner
the agreement is yet to be implemented, the government says because of rebel
violations. Yemeni women say it failed to include their perspective.
parties included in the process “must consult regularly with women, and to
ensure women’s meaningful inclusion," Muna Luqman told the UN Security
Council this week. Ms Luqman is the co-founder of the Women Solidarity Network
that is assisting Mr Griffiths' group of women advisers.
women advising the UN envoy have set a number of objectives aimed at ending the
fighting, building peace, improving living conditions and amplifying women’s
voices and participation in negotiations and peace-building.
they feel that their voices need to be further enhanced and included in the
heart of negotiations.
is no excuse any more for continuing to exclude women except a poorly designed
peace process,” she told the Security Council.
Luqman, known as one of Yemen’s leading peace activists, became the third
Yemeni woman to brief the council this week.
are frustrated because women’s role in peace building continues to be
ridiculed, and women who are the real peace makers, continue to be excluded in
the ceasefire and peace process,” she said.
the success of the Stockholm Agreement in bringing the two sides together, it
failed to include a substantial number of women delegates.
excluded women and also led to a gender blind agreement,” Ms Luqman said.
is only one woman on the negotiating table: Rana Ghanem – a member of the government
participation has placed intense pressure on her to represent all of aspects of
Yemen’s female population.
the only woman among the delegates, I feel that I have to carry a lot of
responsibilities, including the status and situation of women," Ms Ghanem
told The National during the last round of talks in Sweden.
women have been leading efforts to bring peace to Yemen and hold communities
together with limited resources, Ms Luqman said, adding that talks have been
set up with Houthi women.
[Houthi women] expressed their readiness to participate in peace negotiations.
And it is not impossible to include them.”
went on to say that she is a survivor of the war in Yemen, explaining that her
home in Taiz has been destroyed.
Luqman mediated the evacuation of children from an orphanage stormed by Houthis
seeking to position snipers in Taiz.
death in Yemen is increasingly becoming difficult,” she said, noting that four
months after the signing of the Stockholm Agreement, armed clashes continue in
Hodeidah, more families are being displaced and people are deprived of food,
medicine, fuel and electricity.
his part, Mr Griffiths expressed gratitude for Ms Luqman’s efforts and called
for a greater woman’s participation in the talks.
is no doubt we can all do a lot better when it comes to the inclusion of women
and other sectors of civil society indeed in the political process,” Mr
UN envoy said Ms Muna encourages “us to do better in our efforts to include
women, both in the formal delegations that come to rounds of formal
consultations, but also in those much more extensive consultations that will
help refine the issues we put before the parties.”
Mashhour, a former Yemeni human rights minister who advised a group of women
who assisted Mr Griffiths, praised the UN’s efforts to include women but argued
that more needs to be done.
want to see many women involved in all peace process mechanisms including
consultation, dialogues, negotiations and in the post war phase,” Ms Mashhour
told The National. “In this phase we are much looking forward for applying a
transitional justice approach.”
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Georgia stated on Friday that the passports of
citizens Maha and Wafa Zayed are valid, adding that any allegations that the
passports are canceled are incorrect.
sisters, identified as Maha al-Subaie, 28, and Wafa al-Subaie, 25, traveled
from Riyadh to Istanbul and then went to Georgia by land.
and Wafa claim that they were physically abused by their family, and they
applied for asylum in Georgia.
an attempt to get a visa for Australia failed due to what they said were
“passport issues,” they took to Twitter to appeal for help.
Thursday, Georgia’s interior ministry said that there were no relatives in the
country who posed danger on the two women, after one of the sisters posted a
video on twitter saying that their father and brothers arrived in Georgia and
are looking for them.
suspected far-right extremist verbally and physically assaulted a Muslim woman
at a Berlin metro station, police said on Monday.
incident was the latest in a string of xenophobic attacks in the German capital
in recent months targeting people of foreign appearance, including Muslim women
with headscarf or Jews wearing a kippah.
33-year old Muslim woman told police on Sunday that a man uttered racial slurs
and later assaulted her at the Greifswalder metro station.
suspected far-right extremist showed the illegal Nazi salute before running
away from the scene, she said.
woman received medical treatment for her injuries, according to the police.
has witnessed growing violence by far-right extremists in recent years, fueled
by the propaganda of neo-Nazi groups and the Islamophobic AfD party.
day, at least three people become a victim of far-right, racist or xenophobic
acts of violence in Germany, according to the VBRG, an umbrella group of
counseling centers for victims of right-wing violence.
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