A Coptic priest’s comments about women’s clothing
being too revealing in churches has sparked a heated debate this week among
Egyptian Christians. (File/AFP)
India Follows West Example to Ban Burqa, Here’s why Hindu Women Will Pose a
London Muslim Woman in Niqab Told ‘There Was No Need for Al-Qaeda in the Area’
Emirati Woman Lawyer in UAE Raises The Bar
Quotas a Solution to Feminising Senior Roles in Saudi Government
856,000 Domestic Violence Injunctions Issued In 27 Months
by New Age Islam News Bureau
URL: URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam,-women-and-feminism/new-age-islam-news-bureau/debate-rages-in-egypt-as-priest-tells-christian-women-to-cover-up/d/118568
Rages in Egypt As Priest Tells Christian Women to Cover Up
A Coptic priest’s comments about women’s clothing being too revealing in
churches has sparked a heated debate this week among Egyptian Christians, the
largest religious minority in the Middle East.
Daoud Lamei, a well-known parish priest in an upmarket Cairo suburb with a
sizeable social media following, lambasted Christian women for attire that he
are girls and women even coming to church if they’re wearing revealing and
inappropriate clothes?” he said in a widely-shared video.
who does, will be judged,” he added. “I personally think any man, who agrees to
his wife leaving her home in that way, will be judged before God.”
made the comments in an April 30 sermon marking Orthodox Easter, which is
celebrated by Egypt’s Coptic Christian community.
least during Christmas we don’t have to worry about racy clothes because it’s
cold... we want it to be cold always,” joked the popular priest.
Christians make up around 12 percent of the conservative country’s population of
100 million, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim.
remarks sparked a mixed response from women in Egypt, with some criticizing his
stringent tone while others praised the priest for giving worshippers
is condemning these women... instead of explaining the appropriate dress code
and attitude in church in general — for everyone,” said Sandra Awad, a
22-year-old student who has attended Lamei’s church in the past.
another woman, writing on Facebook, said the priest “spoke with complete
respect... so they can wake up and revere the church they’re entering.”
debate comes in the wake of a controversial online campaign calling on
Christian women to “cover up, so we people can pray.”
parallel drive urging Egyptian women to cover up for Ramadan, the Muslim holy
month, also appeared this week with users drawing similarities between the two
in the sexist language employed.
has denied on social media that he endorsed any online drives and did not
respond to AFP’s requests for comment.
Mark’s Church in the Heliopolis district, where he delivered the sermon, on May
6 published a link on its Facebook page to the full Easter speech.
Coptic Church has become increasingly political under the leadership of Pope
Tawadros II, an enthusiastic supporter of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
has also taken on a more active role as the sole representative for Copts in
public life as a discriminated minority.
clergy are role models for the community who see them as the guardians of their
community, its traditions and its faith,” said Elizabeth Monier, an expert on
Coptic affairs at the University of Cambridge.
is strongly the case when a community feels that it is under threat,” she told
attacks on Coptic traditions or teachings are likely to lead Copts to rally
around their clergy and uphold traditions more strongly,” said Monier.
group of worshippers at a church in Upper Egypt started an online campaign last
week urging fellow young women to dress modestly, which was vehemently
criticized by Facebook users for its conservative language.
Sedhom, 28, a lawyer in Alexandria who took issue with Lamei’s sermon, told AFP
“women in the church need to speak up more against retrograde and male-centric
is one of the worst offenders worldwide for sexual harassment — endured by more
than 99 percent of women in the county according to a 2013 United Nations
Ibrahim, a researcher with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, said he
regarded such rhetoric as hardening attitudes that “justify harassment” toward
a crisis in clerical education so clergy end up tying piety to modesty,” he
Islamic attire of ‘Burqa’ has become the topic of debate and controversy ever
since our neighbour Sri Lanka banned full face covering in public spaces after
the terror attacks in hotels and churches on Easter Sunday, April 21. Burqa is
a female attire worn over ordinary clothing and it covers a female head to toe,
barring a small portion around the eyes.
home too, some voices arguing for a similar ban have been raised, citing
security concerns. Among them was the Shiv Sena, an ally of the ruling BJP, a
lawmaker of the saffron party and a Hindutva group.
the world, many countries have passed laws that prohibit full face veils. The
Kerala Muslim Education society that runs 150 colleges and institutes has also
banned any attire that covers the face. Though this diktat came into attention
recently, it was issued before the Lankan bombings.
the enforcement of full face veil bans has evoked controversy and the
implementation has been patchy in the western world. While in countries like
Denmark there is a complete ban on full face veils, Netherlands has imposed a
partial ban in public transport and public hospitals or government buildings.
concerns globally have been around security and terrorism. France became the
first country in Europe to ban full face veils in public spaces, and there is
prohibition on any religious symbols in public schools, underlining on the
absolute separation of the church and the state. Some regions of Switzerland
have banned full face covering, which includes any masks.
deployed in the legislation of most countries bars full face veils or covering.
In many western countries, it includes certain kinds of helmets and head gear
that cover the face completely. In none of the western democracies, the law
bans ‘Burqa’ per se but rather a full face veil that includes the Burqa.
language is important here because while the legislative intent may be targeted
towards Burqa, neutrality is deployed to escape the scrutiny of the courts.
Laws specifically targeting a certain form of attire are likely to fall foul of
basic tenets of liberty, democracy and the right to free conscience. It is only
the overbearing public order or national security concern that allows
governments to frame such laws and policies.
such a step possible in India with its diversity and multi-religious
identities? Is it possible to ban religious symbols in public places in a
country like India?
is not the only form of full face veil practiced in India. India faces a
peculiar situation as not only certain members of minority community wear full
face veils, sections of the majority community also practice ‘Purdah’ or wear a
‘Ghoonghat’ in different forms and in varying degrees. There is no law that
bans or criminalises a full face veil, which is deeply embedded in the majority
and minority community as part of the culture.
is no law in India which commands any citizen to dress in any particular or
forbids any form of dressing. Religious institutions like mosques and
Gurudwaras have had their dress code which they have enforced in religious
places and institutions. Muslim personal law is mostly uncodified in India and
most practices are personal and subjective to community and families including
dressing. It is the vast diversity and lack of homogeneity in belief and
practice that makes any form of regulation tricky in India.
various aspects of Hindu personal law were reformed, ‘Purdah’ despite strong
social movements against it was never penalised or criminalised primarily
because the Indian constitution guarantees liberty and right to practice one’s
religion as a fundamental right (with reasonable restrictions).
only time that the courts or law can interfere is when the beliefs fall foul of
public order, public health or morals, largely on grounds of public policy.
Religious or personal laws are not subject to the test of fundamental rights in
there cannot be a rights-based challenge to any form of dressing argued to be
regressive. The only argument that has been made in most countries, apart from
France, is largely about security and terror attacks.
tone and tenor of the argument made by Shiv Sena also revolves around public
security. If India mulls to take any step towards banning full face veils, it
will face formidable challenges from majority and minority community. The need
for a religion neutral language in legislation will ensure that the
ramifications are not just on the minority community but also for large
sections of Hindu women.
from the religious concerns or a backlash from the traditionalists, such a
legislation will also have to pass the test of proportionality, which means
that the government will have to establish that a certain form of dressing
poses a substantial threat to bypass the concerns of individual liberty and
freedom of religion.
rise of the right-wing politics across the world is characterized by the
assertion of local, regional and religious identities. Often this identity
politics is fuelled by the ‘security’ concerns and one of the common perceived
threat has been the rise of Wahhabism in Islam.
this conservative ideology asserts itself to be the ‘real’ face of Islam, many
well educated women have ascribed to full face veils and arguments wrapped
around multiculturalism have guarded ‘tradition’ from reform even in the
one juxtaposes this identity assertion which arguably is a conservative one,
against the rising security threat that world faces from the so called Islamic
terror - a conundrum emerges. So while none of the bombers in Sri Lanka were
clad in a Burqa, the country nevertheless enforced a ban on it.
least in the case of Sri Lanka, there is a complete absence of a causal
relationship between the Burqa ban and the security threat. This problem has
been witnessed in many other countries’ legislations.
assertion of identity has also been seen in countries like India, especially in
the state of Kerala where some local surveys suggest that in the Muslim
dominated districts, the number of women wearing Burqa has risen over the last
is also linked to radicalization in modern discourse and politics because it’s
seen largely as a part of extreme orthodox views. Though it’s a symptom and not
the cause. The reform of orthodoxy in any religion is part of a larger
dialogue, political and legislative process, the argument of ‘security threat’
to implement politically contentious reforms in a knee-jerk reaction not only
fuels orthodoxy but also disarms the reformists.
group of teenagers threatened a Muslim woman in a Niqab and told her she was
“not welcome” and that “there was no need for al-Qaeda in the area” in a
residential car park in east London.
to Tell MAMA, the woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, described the moment a
group of 7 to 8 youths, all in helmets who stood next to their mopeds,
threatened her as she returned to her car.
incident took place on April 26.
Metropolitan Police investigated the Islamophobic incident but then closed the
case, citing a lack of evidence and witnesses.
MAMA has continued to document the often-disproportionate abuse, discrimination
and violence directed at Muslim women who wear the niqab, which is an affront
to their fundamental right to freely practice their religious beliefs and wear
religious clothing, regardless of how conservative some interpret it.
abuse and acts of discriminatory behaviour have impacted Muslim women at
open-days for schools or in their interactions with Transport for London (TfL)
staff. One Muslim woman told Tell MAMA that a TfL driver said: “I can’t hear
you, I don’t want to speak to you with that thing on your face”, after
enquiring if her child could also board the bus despite losing their Oyster
recent examples include threats or abusive comments following the comments made
by the former Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, last year.
Emirati women lawyers are not only storming into what was once a resilient male
bastion, they are also doing it with aplomb. The latest Emirati woman lawyer
making waves in UAE legal circles is Maha Bin Hendi.
one year after she launched the Maha Bin Hendi Law Firm, the business entity
has already topped the Nafes Top 100 Law initiative issued by Dubai Courts for
the first quarter of 2019.
on a performance indicator that measures the time it takes a firm to obtain a
final decision, the Nafes initiative aims to encourage counsel to speed up the
legal process through various relief avenues during a trial.
boutique law firm took an average of 36.07 days per case to conclude commercial
litigations — a remarkable feat considering that each case typically drags on
for up to 12 months from the date of filing. The law firm ranked last on the
Nafex index took around 100 days per case.
are very proud of our achievements; hard work pays off,” says Maha, who was one
of the first batch of students to receive the prestigious EDAAD scholarship
from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and
Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
completed her Bachelors of Law LLB (Honours) from the University of
Westminster, London, before doing her Masters at Fordham University, New York.
look up at His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum as a role model
and find inspiration in his words. His quote ‘Dubai will never settle for
anything less than first place’ is the moto I aspire to fulfil and live by. If
my leader and city won’t settle for anything less, why should I?,” says Maha, who
operates out of Dubai Design District (d3).
isn’t her law firm a misfit in glitzy d3, which is essentially home to luxury
fashion brands and art galleries?
not. We are a young and vibrant boutique law firm that specialises in
commercial and corporate matters as well as litigation. We provide legal
services in various fields which include art, fashion and intellectual property
law. D3 reflects our energy and the work we do,” she says. “Much for the same
reason we have given a contemporary look and feel to our office. A law firm
office doesn’t necessarily have to be dreary and boring,” she adds.
reckons Dubai Courts initiatives such as Nafes could go a long way in restoring
public confidence and trust in the legal system. “Many lawyers charge by the
hour and often prolong cases to squeeze money out of clients. As a result,
people remain reluctant to seek legal advice. But now, Dubai Courts are closely
examining the performance of law firms to enhance their operational
efficiencies. The government’s vision is to make the Dubai judicial system one
of the leading justice systems in the world. This is why they have given
advocates tools to shorten the litigation process or nip potential lawsuits in
the bud by resolving long-standing disputes out of court while displaying the
highest level of competency, due process and, above all, fairness. It was this
vision that inspired us to the raise the professional bar and resolve complex
cases in the quickest time.”
does the Nafes initiative work?
performance indicator measures how long a full and final decision is obtained
12 months from the date of filing. The average number of days across all
commercial cases by a certain law firm is then calculated to give an advocate
their ranking. The ‘Nafes Top 100 Law Firm’ list is regularly updated to
provide the public with a list of firms that have outclassed their peers during
is an EDAAD scholarship?
programme under the Knowledge and Human Development Authority which offers
opportunities to UAE nationals who have demonstrated leadership potential and
strong academic achievements to pursue postgraduate education in the world’s
empowerment of women in Saudi Arabia appears to be a classic case of two steps
forward, one step back. Despite the unfortunate detention of several women
activists, the appointments of Hind al-Zahid and Princess Reema bint Bandar bin
Sultan to key positions in the Saudi government represent an important landmark
for the country.
is the kingdom’s first under-secretary for women’s empowerment and Princess
Reema, who will represent the kingdom in the United States, is Saudi Arabia’s
first female ambassador. Their appointments fired the ambition of many Saudi
women who want to represent the country in government but they also highlight
the growing disparity in gains made by women workers in the kingdom’s private
and public sectors.
Vision 2030, the government has implemented programmes that have achieved some
success in feminising the kingdom’s private sector workforce. These efforts
have not been mirrored in the public sector.
the government is trying to shrink its payrolls as it transitions from a
state-led to a market-driven economy. However, the drive should be balanced by
a concerted effort to increase women’s representation in the state bureaucracy,
especially in its upper echelons. The Saudi government can achieve this by
imposing a gender quota system.
the results of the kingdom’s push to replace expatriate workers in the private
sector with Saudi nationals have been mixed, Saudi women have, under Vision
2030, made unquestionable gains.
2011, the private sector employed 90,000 women. Today, that figure is 600,000,
equivalent to 31% of all Saudi private sector workers. More remarkably, this
figure is rising despite the marked economic slowdown that has accompanied new
austerity measures, including steep rises in the price of electricity, water
and gasoline, the loss of cheaper expat labour and the imposition of a 5% value
the private sector, Saudi women own 39% of all small and medium-sized
enterprises. Many others occupy senior roles with real decision-making power.
This is especially true in banking and finance, health and human services,
journalism and business, including colossal family-owned conglomerates such as the
government’s decision to amend the kingdom’s labour policies is partly
responsible for the increase. Under Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud,
the kingdom opened many retail industries previously closed to Saudi women,
such as grocery stores, clothing shops, cosmetic stores and pharmacies, to
King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud’s government accelerated the process by
relaxing workplace gender segregation laws, ending the women’s driving ban and
discontinuing regulations that prevented women from owning a business without
the consent of male guardians.
Saudi government also introduced programmes designed to increase the number of
women working in the private sector. The Hadaf Joint Training Programme teaches
women (and men) hard (e.g., computer programming and English language) and soft
(e.g., communication and customer service) skills and assists them in finding
jobs that match their skill sets.
major programmes include Wasoul, which provides transportation stipends for
working women, and the Qura Initiative, which subsidises childcare.
Government-run universities, such as Effat and Dar al-Hekma, offer women’s
entrepreneurship training as does King Saud University, which in 2017 opened
the King Salman Institute for Entrepreneurship on its women’s campus.
Saudi women have been the private sector’s biggest winners, they are arguably
the public sector’s biggest losers. Under Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia pledged to
decrease the size of the civil service by 20% by the end of 2020. Saudi women
have borne the brunt of those cuts, with the number of female government
employees shrinking from almost 724,000 in 2016 to 521,343 in 2018 -- a drop of
28% in two years.
addition to the rapid decrease in the number of female bureaucrats, just 1.3%
of Saudi women occupy senior positions in government, the lowest percentage in
the G20. There are no Saudi women governors, ministers or senior advisers.
have been elected to municipal councils and make up 20% of the Shura Council, a
quasi-parliamentary consultative body, but neither institution wields real
decision-making authority. Tamader al-Rammah, the deputy minister for labour
and social development, is the highest-ranking woman in government -- and the
only woman deputy minister.
government is in a bind. On the one hand, it needs to wean Saudi nationals off
state-sponsored employment. On the other hand, empowering Saudi women who wish
to work is essential to implementing economic transformation. Introducing gender
quota systems in government may be the best way to balance these competing
half of the world’s countries mandate some type of quota for female
representation in government. This list includes many Arab states. In the
United Arab Emirates, for example, 50% of seats in the Federal National Council
(a quasi-parliamentary body) are to be allocated to women in the next election.
the Saudi government will need to proceed cautiously if it wishes to avoid
charges from conservatives, who cheered the detention of women driving
activists, that it is purposefully “Westernising” the bureaucracy.
the government can reasonably argue that employing women in the private sector
is the only way to create the viable market economy and national labour force
the kingdom needs to survive, no such rationale exists for government jobs.
the kingdom should aim for a much more modest quota than the United Arab
Emirates. Ensuring that women are represented in all sectors of government is
more important than imposing gender parity.
the kingdom needs to slowly elevate more women to positions of authority in
accordance with Vision 2030, which aims to increase female representation in
senior government jobs to 5%.
the power and influence of Saudi conservatives is waning, it has not vanished,
neither have the social and cultural barriers they imposed for decades. Under
these conditions, quotas are the best way to guarantee Saudi women a voice in
government and in their country’s future.
courts have granted 856,020 injunctions protecting domestic violence victims in
the past 27 months, according to the head of the first civil chamber of the
Ankara regional courts of justice.
38-39 percent of women are exposed to violence [in Turkey] at some time during
their lives,” said Zeynep Öksüzoğlu during a presentation to the Turkish
Parliament Committee on Equality of Opportunity for Women and Men.
constitute 82 percent of all domestic violence victims, children, 6 percent;
and the rest are men, she said. The number of protective domestic abuse injunctions,
such as change of address or identity, was 50,758 in 2017, 47,715 in 2018 and
11,211 as of April 1, she reported.
are enormously big numbers and really increases the burden of the courts. The
Justice Ministry is even thinking of establishing domestic violence courts.
That also has its positive and negative sides, and I think our ministry is
discussing this issue,” said Öksüzoğlu.
prosecutor in Ankara that deals with combating domestic violence estimated that
every prosecutor in Turkey has over 10,000 cases of domestic violence.
is a big demand for the electronic bracelets [for the perpetrators]. But, it is
said to be an expensive method. It is mostly members of families which have
substance addicts and mentally ill that suffer the most. Substance addiction is
awful. First of all, an effective combat against drugs is necessary,” said
Ankara prosecutor Emine Avcıoğlu during her presentation for the parliament
children really get damage [due to domestic violence incidents]. You look at a
5-year-old child, their psychology is completely ruined, as their mothers and
fathers are in a conflict. Adults in some way raise their voices, but the child
is very much the one who suffers,” she said.
in Turkey complain about the media’s presentation of domestic violence cases.
media has to change its method regarding the handling of domestic violence
cases,” said Öksüzoğlu.
example I have watched one [domestic violence news story] on the TV the other
day. The channel showed the women having dark eyes [due to beating], her arms
and ribs broken, and also told the audience in which room of which hospital she
was being treated. The next morning the case came to me. So [the news] says to
the husband as if ‘Come and kill this woman,’” said Öksüzoğlu. She added that
not the victim, but the perpetrator, should be “exposed.”
Second Family Court Judge Ramazan Karakaya also touched upon the media’s
handling of such news during his presentation.
one hand, there is the option of [the media] writing: ‘He did not forgive his
wife that cheated on him,’ and on the other hand, there is the option of: ‘He
killed his wife and became a murderer.’ In the first one, there is a
subconscious praising; that is important,” said Karakaya.
against women is a recurrent issue in Turkey. In addition to domestic violence,
several hundred femicides are recorded each year.
Cinayetlerini Durduracağız Platformu (We Will Stop Femicides Platform), an
association that monitors cases of violence against women, counted 440 murders
of women by men in 2018.
to another report prepared by the Umut (Hope) Foundation, a prominent
nongovernmental organization dedicated to reducing personal gun ownership, the
number of women murdered in 2018 in Turkey was 477.
this number, 120 were killed with guns, 89 with rifles and 132 with sharp
objects, while the remaining 136 were either choked or beaten to death, the
Umut Foundation said, basing the figures on news reports.
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