Serein Tamimi, who broke a historic barrier as the first Palestinian-American
woman and hijab-wearing police officer
Muslim Religious Bodies to Oppose New Bill on Triple Talaq
Fast and Strong Manal Rostom on Wearing the Hijab While Running Marathons
Kashmiri Woman Awarded ‘Influential Personality in Muslim World’ Is a Teacher
of Life Lessons
Year On The Road: Saudi Women Create First Women’s Car Club In The Kingdom
Tops Silicon Valley, London for Female Startups
Jersey Woman Admits Role in Smuggling $2 Million In Airplane Parts To Iran
Procession Showed Iranian Women’s Resilient Spirits
Of Yemeni Women Arrested By Houthis In 'Political' Anti-Sex Work Campaign
by New Age Islam News Bureau
Serein Tamimi, Hijabi Police Officer Recognized As A ‘Leader Among Peers’ At
Academy Graduation in the City of Paterson
Paterson police recruit called a “leader among peers” at the Bergen County
Police Academy was named the recipient of the graduating class’ Role Model
Serein Tamimi, who broke a historic barrier as the first Palestinian-American
woman and hijab-wearing police officer in the City of Paterson, received the
award at graduation Thursday night in Hackensack. The vote by academy instructors
officer displayed excellent characteristics of leadership,” said Officer Daniel
Solares, an academy instructor who introduced her for the award. “She from Day
One until today always had a positive mental attitude, always led by example,
always volunteering for extra duties.”
achievement comes at a time of growing anti-Muslim bias and negative
stereotyping about Muslims, especially those who wear the hijab. The rise in
Islamophobia, seen in politics, media and hate crime reports, comes even as
more Muslim Americans take on roles in government and public service.
in North Jersey’s diverse police class, the hijab barely registered as Tamimi
quickly stood out, serving both as a platoon leader and an emergency medical
technician in the class of 91 men and women.
six months of rigorous physical and academic training, she not only excelled
but also drove others to be their best, said instructors and fellow officers
who described her as “always smiling” yet “tough” and “determined.”
admire her so much,” said Paterson recruit Gabriela Toribio. “She never fell
back from any run. When I messed up my leg [during our physical exam], she saw
that I was falling back, and she pushed me and that’s why I think I made it.
know she’s going to do amazing great things for Paterson. I don’t have any
doubt about that.”
Jason Love, the commanding officer at the police academy at the Bergen County
Law and Public Safety Institute, said instructors had a “very brief discussion”
about who should get the award and that she was the clear favorite.
was a natural leader,” he added. “She was a confidant to many at the academy.
She was the go-to person. She was physically fit. She was an all-around model
moment and every opportunity she had, she stood out,” he said.
she sets her mind to’
family moved to the United States when she was less than a year old, and she
was raised in South Paterson, home to a large Muslim community including many
Palestinian Americans. During high school at Passaic County Technical
Institute, Tamimi ran track in winter and spring.
hijab and long pants and sleeves were not a hindrance and she never complained,
said Jeff Cioletti, a track coach at the high school. He described her as
upbeat and hardworking, with many friends.
she ran a race, there’d be a line of people cheering her on, because she was
there for them and did the same for them,” said Cioletti.
started Montclair State University as a biology major but switched to justice
studies after taking a criminal justice class that she loved. Her academic
adviser and teacher, Gabriel Rubin, said Tamimi was outgoing, well liked by
classmates and engaged in her studies.
someone everyone sees as a friend and good person,” he said.
college, Tamimi worked as an emergency medical technician — a skill she put to
use at the police academy by treating recruits who had injuries, cuts and
shortness of breath during intense physical training.
it all, the hijab was not an obstacle, Tamimi said. The hijab, which covers the
head and neck, is worn by Muslim women for different reasons; some believe it
shows their devotion to God or fulfills God's commandment for modesty. Others
wear it as an expression of their Muslim identity.
said the hijab made her feel empowered because it would compel people to focus
on her and not her appearance.
ask me, ‘Aren’t you hot?’ No, not really. I love what I’m doing, so it doesn’t
matter what I’m wearing,” said Tamimi, who was sworn in as a Paterson police
officer on Tuesday.
Tamimi’s parents worried about her career choice to work as a police officer in
a high-crime city, but they supported her, expressed their pride and cheered
older sister, Tamara Tamimi, said she showed determination, rising early every
day, going to the gym at 5 a.m. and timing her runs to improve her speed.
she sets her mind to, she has done,” she said. “This is something we just
encouraged and hoped for the best.”
the end, Tamimi went beyond the requirements to become a police officer. On her
physical exam, she ran a mile and half in 11 minutes, 8 seconds; performed an
18-inch vertical jump; did 42 push-ups in a minute; and 51 sit-ups in a minute.
requirement to pass is 15 hours, 55 minutes; a 15-inch vertical jump; 24
push-ups; and 28 sit-ups.
we do physical training, a lot of people can’t keep up. She never fell out a
run. Nothing really slowed her down,” said Paterson Officer David Affinito, an
instructor at the academy, describing her as a "gifted athlete."
was also a smart student and proficient shooter who volunteered for committees
to create video, pamphlets and other materials for the class, Affinito said.
She was pleasant, respectful and always seemed happy to be at the academy, even
in the toughest moments, he said.
across the board, we went for Tamimi, not because of the hijab but because
she’s an outstanding recruit,” said Affinito, talking about the instructors’
vote for the 200 Club Role Model Award.
she’s the first hijabi to become a police officer in Paterson, she is not the
first in the state.
Heba Alateek, who wears a hijab, has been a Jersey City police officer since 2017.
In Edgewater, Salua Kharoufeh works part time as special officer, which is an
officer with limited enforcement powers and no firearm.
Thursday, Tamimi was one of a few Muslims in the police academy’s graduating
class. They include another woman, Jersey City Officer Wafana Bori, who came to
the United States from India as a toddler and was drawn to police work as a way
to help the community. She does not wear a hijab.
said her peers at the academy were like a family, pushing each other to do better,
without regard to one’s ethnicity or faith.
this profession, I don’t think it matters,” Bori said. “I think everyone is
looked at as one.”
echoed that sentiment in an interview, saying, "We're all Americans at the
end of the day. It doesn't matter, our religion or faith. We're all one
handful of other cities across the nation have had policewomen who wear hijabs,
including New York City, Philadelphia, St. Paul and Dearborn, Michigan.
Jersey has no written policy for religious wear for recruits, said Peter
Aseltine, a spokesman for the state Office of the Attorney General. The Bergen
County Police Academy grants waivers on a case-by-case basis to its uniform
policy, if they determine that the request won’t impact requirements of the
officers already serve in many police departments across New Jersey, but it’s
the hijab that makes the wearer known to the public as a practitioner of the
faith. Affinito said Tamimi’s presence in the department could help foster
understanding and trust among Muslim residents, especially women who may want
to confide in someone.
her work, Tamimi also hopes she can dispel negative stereotypes about Muslims.
want to show them that we're not what the media portrays us to be," she said.
"We’re friendly people, we love what we do and we are there for the
hopes to also inspire other young women to go after their goals.
want to show them it doesn’t matter what your religion is,” she said. “If
you’re really passionate about something, you should go and do it, especially
if you’re helping others out. Especially if it makes you happy.”
the fresh bill to ban instant triple Talaq all set to be introduced in the
ongoing Monsoon session of Parliament, Muslim religious organisations have made
it clear that the legislation in its present form will not be acceptable to
the All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) was against the bill from the
outset, it is the opposition by the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board,
initially in favour of the law, which has surprised many. “I have been one of
the harshest critics and opponents of the instant triple talaq and was the
first one to hail the ban. But we were against the jail term of three years for
offenders without exhausting other means for reconciliation and patch-up
between the couple,” said Shaista Amber, president of the women’s body.
previous bill on TT to convert the earlier ordinance, issued in September 2018,
was cleared by the Lok Sabha in December but could not be passed by the Rajya
Sabha when Parliament was dissolved ahead of general election 2019.
Subsequently, it lapsed as it could not be cleared in the Rajya Sabha. On June
12, the Union cabinet again approved a fresh bill banning the practice of instant
triple talaq after the controversial original bill was held back by the
said the bill in the present form was not acceptable to them and she had
written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invite religious scholars
and bodies like the AIMPLB, Jamat-e- Islami and Jamait-i-Ulema Hind for
discussion before giving a nod to the new bill. The AIMPLB, which had launched
a campaign against the proposed bill and managed to get the old bill stalled in
the Rajya Sabha with the help of the Congress and all other non-BJP parties,
says its stand remains the same. “We are keeping a watch on the developments;
the AIMPLB has tasked one of its members Qasim Rasool Ilyas to study the
revised draft and give his feedback, after which we would formulate our
strategy,” said AIMPLB secretary Zafaryab Jilani.
Muslim Women (Protection of Rights on Marriage) Bill, 2019 replaces an
ordinance issued in February after the previous bill lapsed. The so-called
triple talaq bill was one of the signature legislative initiatives of the
previous BJP government, but was stuck in the Rajya Sabha following the
opposition’s demand for closer scrutiny by a select committee.
Manal Rostom. A Dubai-based, everyday athlete, hailing from Alexandria, Egypt,
who has an unwavering commitment to pursue non-conventional sports like
mountaineering and running in the region. She is also a Hijabi woman. Her Hijab
has never stopped her from dressing for the sport. She steps out in leggings,
performance material work out tops and her trusty Nike Pro Hijab. She ran three
international marathons including the Dubai Marathon, the China Wall Marathon
and the New York City Marathon, as well as plenty of local ones in her hometown
has aspirations of leading a generation of unstoppable female athletes to step
into their own crazy dreams. Especially young muslim women, who may believe
that dressing modestly and exercise cannot go hand in hand.
trailblazer is the first Hijab wearing Nike running coach and was the first
woman to complete an international marathon in her hijab. “The hijab never
limited me, it is the fear that limits us,” Manal affirms.
continues to carve the way for athletes from the desert throughout the globe,
evident in the unstoppable growth of her Facebook community “Surviving Hijab”
with 600k+ members. Propelling forward the inclusion of Muslim female athletes
in sports around the world, Rostom is already on her way to accomplishing her
crazy dream to become the first Egyptian to complete all six major marathons
and climb all seven major mountain summits (of which she has already completed
two) by 2020.
on Finding her athletic spirit
I was younger, I experimented with other sports, but I was either too short or
didn’t have the right coach - until I found running. It was as if the sport
chose me, I could train myself and work as hard as I needed to on my own. It
became part of my identity and the track was no longer just a place for me to
have an outlet for my energy, it was my independence. It became where I found
peace, growth, and stability in difficult times,” she said to Gulf News.
important for me to run because I’m not just running for myself, I’m running
for all of the young, aspiring, hijabi, female athletes that need a role model.
I want young Arab girls to see that there are women who look like them, and
dress like them that are chasing their crazy athletic dreams too.
Representation is so important, and throughout my athletic journey I never saw
images of runners that looked like me and I thought to myself, I need to be
that hijabi runner in the pictures that little girls can look at and feel
empowered and good about themselves.”
on the rush of running
love the way running makes me feel, it’s the most freeing feeling in the world
and it just makes me feel invincible. Running has made me the confident woman
that I am today, to know that no matter what barriers are in my way, not just
in sport, but in my life - I can always push past them with hard work and
dedication. For me, running has become my healthy addiction. It is an outlet
for me-- whenever I’m upset or stressed out, I go for a run and leave my
problems in the dust. Sometimes it subconsciously releases my fears and doubts
about myself, because I am constantly surprising myself with new heights I can
reach, both physically and mentally.”
grew up in a family that wasn’t particularly conservative. “I did face
resistance with my parents when I decided to wear the hijab,” she told Gulf
News. They were concerned that she did not understand the responsibilities that
come with being a hijabi. “But I had actually been contemplating it for over a
year while learning about the Quran during my time away at university. I did
encounter challenges with my family accepting my identity as a hijabi,
especially as an athlete - it was a lot changes for them to take in at one
time. Looking back, even though it was difficult, I now realize it would have
been even harder for me not to wear the hijab as it would mean I was not being
true to my personal beliefs. It was just a lot of changes for them.”
some muslim parents restricting their daughters
Muslim parents out there, discourage their daughters from participating in
sports, due to the need to wear aerodynamic clothing or moving in un-modest
ways. “I think a lot of Muslim parents fear that when you are participating in
sports you have to compromise your modesty, because most athletic wear for
women is usually form fitting or cropped to allow for more movement. I think
this is one of the main reasons why some Muslim parents might not encourage
their daughters to take up a sport-- and again, that is why it is so important
for me to continue doing what I am doing because Muslim, veiled, athletes need
more representation so that we can get rid of misconceptions like this,” Rostom
explains to Gulf News.
started playing sports at a young age, but believes it is never too late to
start. “When I was in high school, I would always see the older girls
participating in after school sports like volleyball and basketball and I would
just think to myself, “wow I would really love to do that too” and I really
loved Sports Day at my school because I got to compete athletically in
different sports and I would excel in almost all of them so I knew I had a
passion for it.” It was important for her to experiment with all the different
types of sports, but running ultimately chose her. “It was the sport that made
the most sense to me. I was too short for basketball and not agile enough for
volleyball, but when it came to running, there was no height requirement or
anything.” Manal believes that the sport that is meant for you will always find
you somehow, “ and do not be discouraged until it does,” she exclaims.
am just so happy that the sports performance hijab was created. I was one of
the athletes lucky enough to be a part of the creative process, pre and post
launch. When they designed the Nike Pro Hijab they designed it with the help of
my and other hijabi’s feedback. So we really felt like it was made just for us
and that was incredibly empowering.
It was not easy for Dr Mubeena Ramzan to start a madrassa for Kashmiri girls
and women in Kashmir. She was opposed by many religious leaders and clerics,
who questioned how a woman could run an institution of Islamic learning.
now their perception has changed, as we are successfully running three branches
now,” she says today, proud of her work that has been recognised
internationally. In October last year, Dr Mubeena Ramzan was awarded as
“Influential Personality in the Muslim World” by The Royal Islamic Strategic
Studies Centre, an independent research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal
al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought based in Amman. Dr Ramzan is only the
second Kashmiri to have received this recognition, after Mirwaiz Umar Farooq.
Ramzan’s mission is to educate and empower the women of Kashmir. She runs the
Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat, based in Sopore and with branches in Srinagar,
and also heads a socio-religious organisation, the Ansar un Nissa. The former
institute graduates aalimahs (religious scholars) whilst the latter provides a
helping hand to the needy, would-be brides, widows, orphans, and also
establishes vocational training centres.
her childhood, Dr Ramzan, who is a native of Sopore town, was interested in
activism and religious teaching. After her initial schooling at Islamia High
School in Sopore, she graduated and then did research in Islamic studies with
specialisation in Islamic Law, Jurisprudence (Fiqh), and Orientalism.
Ramzan was well settled with a teaching job, but during her research on
Kashmiri society and its social evils, she realised that she needed to do
something for women.
always wanted to help other women but the idea of setting up an institute for
women came to me when I was doing my research. The idea was so strong that it
motivated me to quit lecturer-ship in a BEd college in Kupwara. I started the
Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat under the aegis of Mahdul Muslimat Educational
Trust in 2002, from a rented building in Sopore. It took eight years to
purchase land and build a proper girls-only seminary-cum-skill school there,”
she told Kashmir Reader.
the Jamia Islamia Mahdul Muslimat, the thrust of teaching is on religious
scriptures, with subjects like Quranic exegesis, science of Hadith,
Jurisprudence and History, but modern subjects of Science, Mathematics and
English are also taught.
the seminary, girls are taught languages of Arabic, English, and Urdu and are
also trained in computers, stitching and designing skills to help them become
competent and self-reliant, Dr Ramzan said.
want women to get evolved in every aspect, whether it is in their social or
professional life. I believe when we move in the right direction, everything
else becomes easy,” she says.
2013, Dr Ramzan floated the idea of setting up a women’s welfare organisation.
“In 2013 we called a meeting of women from different walks of life. About a
hundred of them gathered in Sopore, where we decided to start some welfare
initiatives for women. As a result, in March 2014, we started the Ansar un
Nissa,” Dr Ramzan says.
says that only better upbringing of children can lead to a better society. “It
is important to have a balanced approach where woman and man both take care of
their roles and responsibilities,” she says.
Ramzan is hopeful that she will able to open more such institutions in Kashmir,
where a large number of women and girls are deprived of education. “It is my
mission. I want to do so in whatever way I can. For this I need help from all
sections of society, so that women of this place don’t remain uneducated,” she
first Women’s Car Club has been created in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,
celebrating a year on the roads since the driving ban was lifted on 24 June
first anniversary is a milestone for women across the country, and with almost
50,000 driver licences issued so far it was only a matter of time before a
dedicated car club was formed.
to the creation of the club has been Volkswagen enthusiast, Ammal Farhat, also
known for being one of the first Careem captainahs in Saudi Arabia.
single mother of two and a business owner who resides in the city of Jeddah,
Ammal has always felt passionate about the equality of women and the car club
represents exactly that.
aims to build friendships, break boundaries and offer new possibilities by
bringing women together.
were given the opportunity to drive a year ago and what a difference that year
has made for thousands of women across Saudi Arabia.
Volkswagen Women’s Car Club unites us in a way that we never thought possible
before. Now that we can get behind the wheel, we feel more empowered and have a
greater sense of independence and control over our own lives,” says Ammal.
up in the morning, getting into the car and being able to go where we need to
has been life changing. My son had a bad accident two days before I got my
driver’s license and I felt helpless as I couldn’t drive him to the hospital.
that’s no longer the case and I can’t put into words what a relief it is
knowing that if I need to go somewhere or get something done, I can.
aim to continue growing the women’s car club and host events that will bring
more of us together to share our unique experiences and to have fun. It’s an
exciting time for everyone involved,” she added.
popular brand in Saudi Arabia, Volkswagen Middle East expects the club to grow
from strength to strength. As new women get involved, the club plans to host
frequent occasions, bringing families together and engaging with women across
the region and even internationally.
Papke, Managing Director, Audi Volkswagen Middle East said: “Having the
opportunity to meet up with likeminded women to talk about their passion for
driving, and simply their daily lives has meant that real, genuine friendships
have been forged. The Volkswagen brand is all about bringing people together
and car clubs like these truly are our heart beat. This particularly special
club is yet another milestone in the history of women driving in Saudi Arabia,
further cementing their road to empowerment.”
is one of the top 10 startup ecosystems with the largest share of female
founders, according to the 2019 Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER).
report, produced by StartUp Genome in partnership with the Global
Entrepreneurship Congress, revealed that, with 18 per cent of its startups
founded by women, Bahrain topped even internationally recognised startup hubs
such as Silicon Valley at 16 per cent and London at 15 per cent. The report
also lauded Bahrain as one of the top 10 ecosystems to watch in FinTech in
Europe and the Middle East; and a top 15 Global Ecosystem for affordability of
Al Rumaihi, chief executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, said:
"In a very short time, Bahrain has emerged as a leading ecosystem with
particular strength in FinTech. With both female founders and women taking
leadership roles throughout the ecosystem, Bahrain is a dynamic and diverse
market at the head of new trends that are shaping the way society and business
Ebrahim Mohammed Janahi, chief executive of Tamkeen, said: "Over the past
decade, Bahrain's startup ecosystem has made significant progress where
startups can access a global network of partners to scale up and capture
opportunities in Bahrain and the region."
Janahi pointed out one of Bahrain's key competitive advantages in the region,
which lies in its firm belief in the importance of women as an active player in
shaping Bahrain's economic future. "In line with these national
objectives, Tamkeen has launched a number of ad-hoc programmes to foster the
development of female-owned businesses in addition to Tamkeen's flagship
programmes supporting individuals and enterprises," he added.
to Dr Janahi, to date, more than 59 per cent of women have been served as part
of Tamkeen's micro finance support, while more than 50 per cent were served
within the business development program, which offers a co-financing service to
cover 50 per cent of business equipment.
Kingdom has a long history of women in senior leadership positions. Currently,
a group of female leaders in FinTech is helping to steer the country's FinTech
strategy. Leading female Bahraini startup founders include Hala Sulaiman and
Ameera AlQubaiti - co-founders of Alrawi, a successful audiobook startup and
Pitch@Palace Global 3.0 People's Choice 2018 Winner. Furthermore, Bahrain's Al
Waha Fund of Funds, a $100 million fund set up by the Bahrain Development Bank,
has an all-female leadership.
2018 Bahrain launched FinTech Bay, the Middle East's leading FinTech hub. The
Kingdom is rapidly gaining international recognition as a FinTech leader thanks
to forward-thinking regulation introduced by the Central Bank of Bahrain, including
the region's first regulatory sandbox and advanced rules for next generation
technologies such as cryptocurrencies and open banking. Just last month, Visa
became the latest financial services company to partner with FinTech Bay.
boasts one of the most skilled and entrepreneurial workforces in the region,
over 60 per cent of which work in the private sector. Meanwhile, Amazon Web
Services' AWS Educate training scheme is providing Bahrainis with the necessary
skills for cloud-based jobs. Interestingly, it's estimated that more than 60
per cent of computer science students at the University of Bahrain in 2018 were
women. Bahrain's tax regime - the most liberal in the Gulf - and wage subsidies
for new employers also emerged as real differentiators among the key draws
highlighted in the report.
N.J. – A Morristown woman pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring with an Iranian
national to smuggle thousands of airplane components – worth an estimated $2
million – to Iran.
Eliabachus, also known as Joyce Marie Gundran Manangan, 52, pleaded guilty in Newark Federal Court to one
count of conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act
in connection with her role in an international procurement network.
alleged ringleader of that network, Peyman Amiri Larijani, was charged Tuesday in
connection with the scheme, U.S. Attorney for New Jersey Craig Carpenito said.
33, a citizen and resident of Iran, was charged with one count each of
conspiracy to violate Iranian transactions and sanctions regulations,
conspiracy to commit money laundering and conspiracy to smuggle goods from the
was also charged in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia in two
separate indictments unsealed June 4, 2019.
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guilty plea by Eliabachus and the charges unsealed against Larijani follow a
joint investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Homeland
Security Investigations and the U.S. Department of Commerce Office of Export
over two years, Eliabachus illegally engaged in aircraft component sales to
Iran, a nation listed by the United States as a state sponsor of terrorism,”
Brian Michael, HSI Newark special agent in charge, said. “This potentially
endangered U.S. security, particularly as one of the Iranian companies sold to,
does business with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, a military unit tied to
terrorist acts around the world."
to court documents, Eliabachus was the principal officer and operator of Edsun
Equipments LLC, a purported New Jersey-based aviation parts trading company run
out of her Morristown residence.
arrest will cut off a key supplier to a proliferation network which illegally
sold U.S. origin items to Iran," said special agent in charge Jonathan
Carson, of the Office of Export Enforcement.
was the owner of an Iran-based procurement firm and served as operations and
sales manager of a network of supply and engineering companies in Tehran, Iran,
and Istanbul, authorities said.
May 2015 through October 2017, Eliabachus, Larijani, and their conspirators
facilitated at least 49 shipments containing 23,554 license-controlled aircraft
parts from the United States to Iran, all of which were exported without the
required licenses, court documents show.
admitted she used her company to finalize the purchase and acquisition of the
requested components from the various U.S.-based distributors. She repackaged
and shipped the components to companies in the United Arab Emirates and Turkey,
where Larijani and other Iranian conspirators directed the components to
locations in Iran.
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obscure the network’s procurement activities, Eliabachus told authorities she
routinely falsified the true destination and end-user of the components she
acquired. She also falsified the true value of the components to avoid filing
export control forms.
illegal network’s client list included Iranian airline companies, several of
which have been officially designated by the United States as a threat to
national security, foreign policy, or economic interests.
count of conspiracy to violate IEEPA, to which Eliabachus pleaded guilty,
carries a maximum potential of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
sentencing is scheduled for Sept. 24.
Larijani, the conspiracy to violate the ITSR carries a maximum penalty of 20
years in prison and a $1 million fine.
women turned the funeral procession of political prisoner Alireza
Shir-Mohammad-Ali into an occasion to seek justice for innocent victims of
persecutions in Iran.
Friday, June 14, 2019, the funeral procession and burial of political prisoner
Alireza Shir-Mohammad-Ali was held at Behesht-e Zahra cemetery south of Tehran.
21-year-old political prisoner was viciously stabbed to death on June 10, 2019,
in a premeditated plan by two inmates recruited by authorities of Greater
Tehran’s Penitentiary, aka Fashafouyeh Prison.
funeral procession of Alireza Shir-Mohammad-Ali was held under repressive
conditions as a large number of security forces and plainclothes agents were
present at the cemetery. In addition to the victim’s family, however, a group
of mothers of martyrs and political prisoners participated in this ceremony.
Some women asked Alireza’s mother to be brave and stand up to uphold the flag
of her slain son, by joining the Call-for-Justice movement of mothers of
of the women participating in this funeral procession, told Alireza’s bereaved
mother, “Aren’t you proud (of your son)? You are not alone. You are not on your
own. Look at Sattar Beheshti’s mother. Look where and how she lives. What is
her source of income with that skinny figure? I urge you to become a mother
like the mother of Sattar Beheshti if you want to keep your son’s blood from
being wasted… When you are strong, when you stand upright like a cedar, when
you become one like the mother of Mostafa Karimbeigi, or like Gohar (mother
of Sattar Beheshti), then you can rest assured that throngs of people come
fellow countrymen, my fellow citizens who speak the same language and believe
in the same religion, I urge you to not just gather here, regret the death her
son, just ask God to have mercy on him. No! Death comes for all of us and
nothing gets right with regrets. When a mother, like you, stands up, a little
sapling like me can become a cedar and protect you under my shade. But if you
break, I become nothing. Do not ever doubt this.”
Sattar Beheshti, 35, was a worker and a web blogger who wrote articles critical
of the government. He was arrested at home on October 30, 2012, and killed
under torture after only four days. Ever since Sattar’s death, his mother and
sister have become outspoken critics of the large number of executions in the
country and the absence of freedom of expression.
Mostafa Karimbeigi was slain on December 27, 2009, on the streets of Tehran at
the climax of anti-regime uprisings that year.
of Yemeni women arrested by Houthis in 'political' anti-sex work campaign
of women in Yemen are currently languishing in Houthi jails accused of
prostitution, despite a longstanding taboo in the conservative country against
there are thought to be 182 women in prisons run by the rebel group.
Campaigners say the Houthis accused the women of engaging in sex work - but in
reality, the arrests are political.
are 100 innocent Yemeni women inside three rooms in a Houthi prison in Sanaa,"
tweeted Ishraq al-Maqtari, a member of the National Commission to Investigate
Alleged Violations to Human Rights, a governmental institution.
Houthis arrested the women to pressure their families because of political and
said some had been seized in front of schools, while others were taken as they
carried out aid work.
than those held in Sanaa, there are 70 women imprisoned in north Yemen's Amran
and 12 in the Red Sea city of Hodeidah, according to Maqtari. She called on
women's rights activists to extend their support to those women.
many families would rather not speak about the detentions, a few have started
to discuss their situation on social media, pushing for their relatives'
family of the activist Enas al-Sofi, 32, said on social media that the young
woman was seized near her house in Sanaa on 26 June by the Houthis due to her
human rights activism.
said they had not heard from her since.
member of the National Commission to Investigate Alleged Violations to Human
Rights told Middle East Eye the Houthis used "savage" methods against
Houthis are accusing their female opponents of being sex workers to extort
their opponents by creating a stigma around the women’s families," the
source, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, said.
said that most of the women were members of families opposing the Houthis, and
some of them are aid workers.
campaign of detention has intensified since December 2018, targeting women
between 16-74 years," she said.
the threats of the Houthis, the women were forced to admit doing sex work that
they did not do in order to avoid torture inside prisons."
source, who is a lawyer, said were the accusations to be serious, they should
at least go through the judicial system so the women can have lawyers to defend
them. Instead, she said, "detainees have no fair trials".
women have confessed to involvement in sex work, but the source pointed out
that “if you are a detainee inside a dark room, you will be willing to admit
anything for the sake of freedom".
women have admitted accusations and signed commitments not to return to sex
work just to be freed,” she said, adding that some paid money to be released.
is illegal in Yemen and, prior to the beginning of the war in 2015, was
punishable by death.
the last four years, female sex workers have been increasingly visible in
Sanaa's streets, and studies conducted by UNAids, the UN organisation
responsible for monitoring the spread of HIV/Aids, suggested there were 54,000
sex workers in Yemen in 2016. The head of the Yemeni Organisation for Combating
Human Trafficking, Nabil Fadhel, said earlier to MEE: “Sex work has become a
lucrative trade for criminals and gangs, who have their workers trapped in a
is a conservative society, so gangs exploit needy women, leading them to
prostitution and then threaten to ruin their reputations if they disobey their
commands," he added.
are more women working in prostitution and with gangs because of the economic
crisis that hit Yemen, but those cases were not recorded because of the issue
officer in Sanaa's Criminal Investigation Unit (CIU) denied there was a
political element and put the detentions down to a recent crackdown on sex
work. He said more than 100 women had been arrested in areas of particular
residents know very well that the number of women involved in sex work has
increased, and we as authorities are responsible for fighting this problem, so
we did,” the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told MEE.
women are facing fair trials, but we preferred not to make the trials public
because this is a sensitive issue.”
officer argued that leaving the issue unchecked would encourage more sex work
and lead society towards "immoral disaster".
religion and nationality force us to stop prostitution, which has increased
during the first years of war, and I confirm that there are no fake accusations
against any women in the CIU," he said.
accusations are proved, the women will be punished according to Islamic laws.”
officer said there may be some women who were arrested for other reasons, but
they are not being held by the CIU and they may be in other prisons.
of Sanaa have become increasingly unhappy with the increasing number of sex
workers in their neighbourhoods, whom they view as immoral.
Najib, a 46-year-old resident of Haddah Street, said the sight of men
soliciting women in the street has become commonplace.
have witnessed negotiations over money between women and men in modern cars.
This happens every day in Haddah Street and it is not a secret,” Najib told MEE.
said he believed sex workers' visibility would lead the youth towards
from different areas of Sanaa come to this street to meet women working in
prostitution," he said.
heard that authorities have started campaigns to arrest those bad women and I
hope that soldiers can spread in this street and completely stop this
added that sex work only began to spread recently amid a lack of oversight by
some residents were supportive of the Houthis' campaign, others accused the
movement of exploiting the issue to arrest its opponents.
sex workers are still in the streets and the Houthis themselves see them every
day, moreover some Houthis may be involved in this work,” Hamed, a Sanaa
resident critical of the rebels, told MEE.
Houthis left the sex workers and detained their opponents' women and accused
them of prostitution. If they were arresting prostitutes, we would not see
anyone in the streets - but that does not happen.”
hopes that activists and international NGOs can help the women in prisons.
hope that NGOs intervene to help women even just to receive their right to a
fair trial," he said.
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