Photo: Horror in Moscow as Burqa-Clad Babysitter 'Decapitates Girl in Her Care' – Then Walks
British Muslim Girls Being Forced Into Marriage via Internet
Bosnia Mulls Courtroom Headscarf Ban for Muslim Women
Non-Sharia Conforming Fashion Show Disbanded in Aceh
Sharmeen Obaid Wins Second Oscar Award, Makes Pakistan Proud
UK Launches Free English Lessons for Muslim Women
How Arab Women Fought Female Genital Mutilation in Israel
350,000 Saudi Women Are Employed In Private Sector
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau
Horror in Moscow as Burqa-Clad Babysitter 'Decapitates Girl in Her Care' – Then Walks Through Streets Carrying Her Severed Head and Shouting 'Allahu Akbar'
By JULIAN ROBINSON FOR MAILONLINE
29 February 2016
A Burqa-clad babysitter decapitated the little girl in her care before walking through Moscow carrying the child's severed head, police say.
The woman shouted 'Allahu Akbar' as she appeared near Oktyabrskoye Pole metro station in the northwest of the Russian capital and threatened to blow herself up.
It came hours after officers found the headless body of a child when they were called to a fire at a block of flats in the city.
The victim was a girl identified as Nastya M - and the child's 38-year-old nanny Gyulchehra Bobokulova, from Uzbekistan, has been arrested.
The woman was seen pulling the severed head out of a bag and walking around near the entrance to the metro station as police moved in.
She is then said to have shouted that she had killed the child and was seen praying shortly before officers swooped.
According to local reports, she later told police she killed the girl because of her own husband's infidelity. Investigators immediately ordered a psychiatric test of the woman in a bid to understand her motives.
One eyewitness at the underground station told MK how the woman screamed: 'My child was killed…I will blow up everyone.' She also shouted: 'I hate democracy'.
A journalist working for RBC daily, said she had heard the woman screaming 'Allahu Akbar" (God is Great).
'I was on my way to the metro station from home,' Polina Nikolskaya, the reporter said.
'She was standing near the metro entrance and caught my attention because she was screaming Allahu Akbar. I saw that she had a bloodied head in her arms, but I thought it was not real. People in the crowd said it was real.'
In further footage from the scene, the woman can be heard shouting about the end of the world while proclaiming herself a terrorist.
The station was closed to passengers for some time, but no explosives were found on her.
Dramatic footage shows the moment police sprinted in towards the woman and tackled her to the ground.
Emergency services had earlier been called to an apartment nearby amid reports of black smoke billowing out windows.
Firefighters rescued four people and put out the blaze - but then found the child's beheaded body.
Investigators claim that the babysitter waited until the parents of an older child had left the apartment before carrying out the murder and starting a fire.
The source in the Investigative committee told TASS: 'She waited until the parents with the elder child left the flat, then for unknown reason she killed the child, set fire to the apartment and left the scene.
'She was detained at the metro station Oktyabrskoe Pole.'
The dead girl, who is said to have had learning difficulties and could not walk, had a 15-year-old brother. Her family, from the Oryol region, was renting the apartment.
The girl's mother, who works in a wedding shop, was rushed to hospital in an unconscious condition after learning of her daughter's death. Her father is a technician at a mobile phone company.
The parents told police the nanny had been working for them for 18 months and a source told Interfax that she was 'drugged'.
Sources say the babysitter told interrogators she did not want to hide from police, and aimed to draw maximum attention to what she has done.
She had not intended to ignite the flat deliberately and destroy evidence, she said, according to the source, and wanted the parents to know who had killed their daughter.
The woman had a valid residency permit for Russia but was working illegally. She had no work permit, said officials.
Police are not currently treating the incident as terrorism.
British Muslim Girls Being Forced Into Marriage via Internet
PTI | Feb 28, 2016
LONDON: Minor Muslim girls in the UK as young as 11 are being forced to marry men living abroad via the internet notwithstanding a ban on forced marriage in the country.
Imams in the UK and abroad have been conducting ceremonies using Skype -- so girls can be married remotely before "being put on a plane and consummating the marriage at the earliest opportunity", according to Freedom, a charity.
The marriage is often conducted with the promise of a visa to the UK for their new husband, it said.
"The reason is to curb the behaviour of their children when they become 'too western'," charity founder Aneeta Prem was quoted as saying by 'The Sunday Times'.
"Once married, there is enormous pressure to get a spouse visa. The hope is the girl will visit (country of husband's origin) and fall pregnant to make the union seem more legitimate before bringing the partner back," she said.
In one case, an 11-year-old home-educated girl from London was married on Skype to a 25-year-old man in Bangladesh.
She contacted Freedom in November after reading a book about forced marriage that her older brother was given at school.
"She hadn't understood at the time but later realised the Skype call was a marriage ceremony. The plan was for her to meet her 'husband' at a later date and hopefully fall pregnant.
In the meantime, she was at home learning to cook and clean," said Prem, the author of 'But It's Not Fair' - an account of forced marriage.
"We see cases from many communities including those from Hindu, Sikh, Jewish, and Mormon backgrounds. No religion accepts forced marriage but some parents are using it as a method of control," she added.
Forced marriage was made illegal in England, Wales and Scotland in 2014 but there has been only one conviction and it did not involve a child.
Karma Nirvana, a charity that runs free workshops to raise awareness of forced marriage, said in a two-month period at the end of last year it had received 38 referrals from 14 schools, including 11 from one school in Birmingham made the day after it gave a presentation.
The UK Department of Education said: "We trust teachers to know what their pupils will benefit from most, rather than prescribing a one-size-fits-all approach".
Bosnia mulls courtroom headscarf ban for Muslim women
29 February 2016
Authorities are embroiled in an intense headscarf debate in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Muslim women who work in courts and wear headscarves for religious reasons may not be able to do so in the future.
Bosnien und Herzegowina Laden mit Hijjab
Aldina Suljagic-Piro has worn her headscarf for 20 years. The 33-year-old holds a diploma in law and lives in Tuzla, in eastern Bosnia. She is openly fighting for her right and the right of other Muslim women to wear their headscarves in courtrooms in the face of a potential ban. In October 2015, the highest judicial council of Bosnia-Herzegovina decided to ban "religious symbols" from courts and other legal institutions.
It's a slap in the face for Suljagic-Piro and her headscarf-wearing colleagues, especially because no public debate on the issue took place. "I am sorry that the council did not deem it necessary before making a decision to allow for the possibility of becoming acquainted with people who wear headscarves and to convince themselves that there is no reason or cause for such a degrading act," Suljagic-Piro told DW.
Though the ban covers all religious symbols, including Christianity's cross, Muslims seem the most upset by it. Suljagic-Piro said her headscarf was not a mere "symbol," but the "identity of a Muslima" and an Islamic obligation.
This courtroom in Sarajevo could someday be headscarf-free
'Conditions of inequality'
Dzevada Susko, director of the Institute for the Bosniak Islamic Tradition, fears that women with headscarves could lose their jobs. Susko, a historian and political scientist, said she knew of at least 20 women whose jobs would be threatened by the ban. Still, she said she was glad that a discussion about headscarves had been initiated. "If we live in a democratic state, then it is important to have a public debate about an issue that obviously relates to the status of religious communities in public spaces," Susko said. She said debate over the headscarf in a plurality-Muslim country such as Bosnia-Herzegovina was distinct from such discussions in places like Germany, where many consider Islam a more recent - or even foreign - phenomenon. The debate in Bosnia-Herzegovina has an additional historical context because for several decades the country was part of socialist Yugoslavia. "In Bosnia-Herzegovina, there is an understanding that religion should not be visible in public spaces," she said.
That secular view of religion's role in public society is shared by Jasna Samic, a specialist in Middle East studies who has lived between Sarajevo and Paris for decades. She supports banning religious symbols from public offices and, in particular, legal facilities. "Religion should finally be confined to private spaces," Samic said. She feels that the contemporary headscarf in Bosnia-Herzegovina is copied from Saudi fashion, is closely connected to Salafist groups and represents a "return to a system that deprives people of their freedom - or a return the dark ages."
Armina Omerika, a German scholar of Islam, said banning religious symbols would not create equality in Bosnia-Herzegovina or contribute to the country's secularization. "Women have a hard time getting jobs," Omerika said. "If a group of qualified woman is marginalized explicitly for their outward appearance, then the current conditions of inequality have only deepened." Omerika noted that similar debates in Germany had shown that such bans in fact hindered equality efforts: "Young women are acquiring qualifications, they have an education, and now they are denied access to the work market."
The lawyer Suljagic-Piro refuses to give up her headscarf. "I will personally not back down because of a decision made by the high judicial council, nor will I abandon my plans for my own law firm," she said. "Actually, these unpleasant events are additional motivation to justify my headscarf and to make my profession even better and more professional."
Non-Sharia Conforming Fashion Show Disbanded in Aceh
February 29th, 2016
TEMPO.CO, Banda Aceh-Aceh municipal government has disbanded a talent show called “Indonesia Model @Hunt” on Sunday, February 28, 2016 at Grand Naggroe Hotel, Banda Aceh considering it has violated the Islamic laws (sharia).
The disbandment was carried out by the Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) and Wilayatul Hisbah (sharia police) after received reports from a number of residents beforehand. Banda Aceh Mayor Illiza Saaduddin Djamal also oversaw the disbandment. “I have received reports from residents, there’s an illegal fashion show. I came with Satpol PP and immediately disband the show,” said Illiza in his statement to the media.
According to Illiza, the talent show was disbanded because it has not obtained license and recommendation from Ulema Deliberation Council (MPU) of Banda Aceh. In addition, the wardrobe presented in the show has violated the sharia law. Illiza said that he saw a participant in the fashion show who did not wear hijab. “There’s also a participant who even wore a mini skirt. This is definitely against the implementation of sharia law in Aceh,” he said.
After being disbanded, participants and organizers were brought to the City Hall to be educated. The organizing committee had promised to compensate for the entire registration fees of the respective participants and the agencies.
The Chairman of the Contest’s Organizing Committee, Pandapotan Siahaan, said that during the technical meeting all participants were wearing hijab and dressed according to sharia. However, some showed up on the stage without hijab. Some were even wearing shorts and tank tops.
According to him, the organizing committee had not made any instruction to remove the hijab. Last year, similar contest were also held, but all participants were wearing hijab and dressed according to sharia on stage.
Sharmeen Obaid Wins Second Oscar Award, Makes Pakistan Proud
February 29th, 2016
The filmmaker won for her documentary A Girl in the River, which sheds light on honour killing in Pakistan
Just minutes ago Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy made history as the only Pakistani to win two Oscar awards.
Sharmeen was awarded the Oscar in the category Best Documentary - Short Subject for her documentary A Girl in the River, which follows the life of an 18-year-old girl who is a survivor of an honour killing attempt.
Wearing a floor-length black Sana Safinaz coat over a matching dress, Sharmeen had earlier walked the red carpet with her mother and the SOC Films team.
"I have another one!" said Sharmeen as she took the stage to accept the award, her second after she won an Academy Award for Saving Face in 2012.
“This is what happens when determined women get together," continued Sharmeen. "From Saba, the girl in my film who remarkably survived honour killing and shared her story, to Sheila Nevins, Lisa Heller from HBO and Tina Brown who supported me from day one. To the men who champion women, like Geof Bartz who has edited the film to Asad Faruqi, to my friend Ziad who brought this film to the government, to all the brave men out there like my father and husband who push women to go to school and work and who want a more just society for women!"
"This week the Pakistani PM said he would change the law on honor killing after watching this film -- that is the power of film!" said Sharmeen in closing.
Sharmeen has been in Los Angeles for the past week in preparation for the Academy Awards, arguably Hollywood's biggest night of the year. Sharmeen had previously said that while she was excited by the prospect of winning another Oscar, she would consider her work on the documentary a 'real' success if she managed to help convince stakeholders to pass the Anti-Honour Killing bill.
Sharmeen definitely caught the government's attention with A Girl in the River -- the film was screened at the PM House in Islamabad just last week. Following that, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that honour killing was a critical issue and voiced his government’s determination to eradicate this practice from society.
Just a few hours before her win Sharmeen had stated in a Facebook post: "In just a few hours the team of A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness will walk the red carpet at the Oscars! Whether we win or lose today we should be very proud of the fact that this film has ignited a national discourse about honor killings in Pakistan and has spurred the government to work on tougher legislation! That achievement shows that we are maturing as a democracy and today I'm so very honored and humbled that we have been able to move the needle on this issue."
Sharmeen has gone a long way to make Pakistan proud.
UK launches free English lessons for Muslim women
29 February 2016
Britain is to fund free English language lessons for vulnerable Muslim women in a bid to curb extremism, Prime Minister David Cameron said Monday.
The prime minister said women from migrant communities suffered discrimination because of their poor language skills and this could lead to some becoming radicalized and exploited by extremist groups.
More than a fifth of Muslim women - 22 percent - speak little or no English, he said.
“If you have people growing up in a house where no one speaks English then they're less able to talk to the school, they're less able to communicate with the local GP [local doctor], they're perhaps less able to communicate with others at the mosque or elsewhere,” he told BBC radio.
He added: “I'm not saying there's some sort of causal relation between not being able to speak English and becoming an extremist, of course not. That would be a ridiculous thing to say.
“But if you're not able to speak English, not able to integrate, you may find therefore you have challenges understanding what your identity is and therefore you could be more susceptible to the extremist message that comes from Daesh.”
Shuja Shafi, secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, offered a cautious welcome to the 20 million pound ($28.5 million) scheme. He said Cameron was “absolutely right” to want English to be taught more widely.
“But the prime minister's aim to have English more widely spoken and for better integration falls at the first hurdle if he is to link it to security and single out Muslim women to illustrate his point,” Shafi said.
“Muslims are only one third of the minority population. Reports suggest a significant proportion of immigrants from Eastern Europe struggle with English.”
How Arab women fought female genital mutilation in Israel
February 29th, 2016
By Eli Aminov
Half a century ago, one didn’t need to go all the way to Kenya to research the phenomenon of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM): you could do so in Israel. The practice was common among some of the Bedouin population in the Negev, and this was 40 years after the majority became Israeli citizens.
A number of years ago, Dr. Haim Balmeker, a psychiatrist from Ben-Gurion University Medical School, gave an interview to Ynet’s Avital Lahav about his research project from 1993, which revealed that six Bedouin tribes in southern Israel practiced FGM by cutting off the woman’s clitoris:
My research was based on two sources. One was a poll in which women were asked if they had undergone FGM, and a gynecological examination. The examination took place for health reasons that were not connected to the research, but we asked for the women’s permission to allow the doctor to check whether they had undergone mutilation. We found six tribes in which all the women had undergone cutting.
According to Dr. Balmeker, the research briefly made waves. “Bedouin doctors attempted to fight against the phenomenon,” he says, “but they quickly came up against stubborn opposition based on tradition and closed tribal norms.” And just like that, after 15 years, researchers returned to those same six tribes in 2009 and did not find a single woman under the age of 30 who bore scars.
Members of the tribes offer up no explanation for the phenomenon. “There are processes that simply cannot be expressed with language, like the loss of tradition,” Balmeker told Ynet. Most of the time they deny the existence of the practice with the same fervor with which they defended it just 15 years prior. “Women who took part in the previous study claimed that this was an important tradition, and that they would not give up the right to cut their daughters. It seems like time is stronger than any declaration.”
“This is an example of modernization among the Bedouin population in the Negev,” Balmeker sums up. “There is no downplaying this development, although it is unclear who should receive credit for it,” added Lahav.
‘A backwards tradition’
It is time, then, to reveal exactly how and why this dramatic change took place: a feminist Palestinian organization, Al-Fanar, exposed the phenomenon to the public and went to war against it.
Al-Fanar was established by Palestinian women from Israel, with the goal of struggling against the ills of Palestinian society and the Israeli authorities that cultivate them for their own reasons. Al-Fanar’s main struggle was against the murder of Arab women, what is often called “honor killings” — a codename for crimes committed in the name of maintaining male supremacy. The organization also fought against a series of injustices, whether they stemmed from Arab patriarchy or the Jewish state.
The fight against female genital mutilation among these Bedouin tribes was one of Al-Fanar’s most important struggles. In June 1992, the organization distributed flyers in Arabic condemning the phenomenon, criticizing the silence around it, and calling for an end to FGM. The decision to act came following the results of the study, which were published in a “Harefuah” medical journal the same year.
The flyer, under the headline “Put an end to female genital mutilation,” read as follows: “Recently four doctors published a study revealing another custom by the patriarchal, backwards traditions of Palestinian society, a custom that left and continues to leave many victims that no one talks about.” The flyer also attacked the silence surrounding the practice: “Quietly, away from the public eye and human morality, Bedouin teenagers are being attacked. They are being stripped of their bodies and their mental health, and are becoming handicapped due to their families, in the name of tradition and customs from the dark ages.”
The flyer goes into detail about just how female cutting handicaps these young women: “These teenage women undergo a horrifying and humiliating surgery whose purpose is to prevent them from enjoying sex and a fulfilling married life… and no one says a thing. This barbaric act turns the Bedouin teen into a container for the man’s desires and an unemotional birth machine… it makes her more vulnerable to diseases and turns her life into one of suffering.”
‘It’s just a piece of skin’
As part of its struggle, Al-Fanar turned to various bodies, including the Israeli attorney general, the police, children’s rights groups, the Palestinian leadership, members of Knesset, and others.
Dr. Manar Hassan, one of the founders of Al-Fanar who teaches at Ben-Gurion University, told me that it was the Israel National Council for the Child, which immediately enlisted in the fight against the phenomenon. Members of the Council met with Bedouin social workers, agreeing the the Council would be willing to “lend a helping hand in collecting and going over information on this painful subject.” The members also expressed their willingness to “assist with legal aid in order to protect girls from these kinds of acts.”
But not many groups agreed to be associated with Al-Fanar in this struggle, and some even supported harming these young women. In June 1992, the newspaper Al-Sinara published an interview with Dr. Abed Asli, one of the four doctors who took part in the study published in Harefuah. In the interview, Asli explained that the “purpose of the study was solely medical and scientific.” Asli described FGM as practiced by the Bedouin tribes as follows: “It’s no more than a small wound, a removal of a piece of skin.”
When Asli was asked about the effects of FGM on women’s sexual pleasure, he responded that the practice is done in Africa “in order to ensure male domination of the woman when it comes to sex,” since “removing the clitoris prevents a woman from succumbing to her sexual desires.” Asli then immediately claimed that this diagnosis does not apply to the Bedouin tribes in Israel. Here, he says “no one shown that female cutting harms girls’ sexual pleasure or that it is meant to control women.” Furthermore, he added, “we must confirm whether or not the clitoris causes women to reach orgasm.”
The apex of Asli’s medical, scientific study is his recommendation to conduct female genital mutilation against girls under “medical” and “scientific” supervision as a “first step,” rather than “at the hands of unprofessional women with no medical training — medical and scientific supervision that will take place in clinics, so as to avoid complications.”
The women of Al-Fanar demanded to publish a response to the interview in Al-Sinara, but the newspaper refused. Instead the organization published it its journal under the headline “Silencing the victims,” which praised that the study “for the first time ever put Israel on the list of countries where this horrible practice takes place.” The article also condemned “Dr. Asli’s unwillingness to take responsibility for exposing this criminal phenomenon, which leads him to defend and prop it up.”
The doctor’s suggestion of “carrying out the deed in appropriate medical conditions” was condemned and rejected. According to Al-Fanar, the suggestion “is nothing more than an attempt to grant legitimacy and perpetuate the crime.” The group further wrote that “female genital mutilation is a heinous crime against helpless girls. Governments under which this procedure takes place, as well as doctors who do not report these crimes, are nothing more than criminals.”
Dr. Balmeker, who describes how his study led to minor controversy, was probably not aware of what was happening in Arab society in those years. In 1992-1993, the issue of FGM was one of the most important topics among Arab citizens of Israel.
Exposing the Jewish population to the issue surely helped, with Israeli feminist organizations supporting Al-Fanar’s demands vis-a-vis the authorities once there were reports in the Hebrew press. Six months after Al-Fanar’s declaration of war, the Knesset established a committee to promote the status of women. Immense pressure was put on the Bedouin tribes from both the authorities and the Arab leadership.
The pressure was extremely successful, and we must try to understand why, even if we do not have clear answers. According to the feminist activists, the success was due to the fact that only Bedouin women really cared about the custom, while the men had already understood that expressing an opinion on the matter was beneath them. Since the Bedouin patriarchal structure preferred to ignore the issue, the pressure was able to convince the women. But we must remember that none of this would have been possible without the hard work of the Palestinian feminists from Al-Fanar.
350,000 Saudi women are employed in private sector
29 February 2016
JEDDAH: Recent statistics from the Ministry of Labor show that the Saudi private sector employed more than 350,000 women at the end of 2015, and the figure is expected to reach 450,000 by the end of 2016, a local publication reports.
According to sources quoted in the local media, the increase in female employment has been ascribed to the response made by specialized educational institutions to the needs of the labor market. These institutions introduced a set of programs and curricula capable of meeting the needs of the market. The content of their courses was chosen to conform to the needs of the market with a particular emphasis on women’s goals.
According to Hala Halawani, the director of an institute of design in Riyadh, the main objective of the institute is to enable women to receive qualitative knowledge so they can get the required skills to become international designers, and meet the needs of the Saudi labor market. “Overall, the aim is for them to become professionals in the industry,” she concluded.
Speaking about the general curriculum of study and the links with the needs of the labor market in the Kingdom, she said: “We continuously introduce international educational programs to provide women with the necessary skills to enter the labor market and compete in the world of entrepreneurship. This will help to support the national economy and provide job opportunities for girls after graduation. Recently, we opened a laboratory for jewelry design which follows international specifications for quality, for example, and we also developed a photography laboratory in line with international standards.”
She said that her institute offers training in fields required by the labor market that are not based on studies alone but on the realities on the ground. “We receive many requests for employment for our students while they are still studying. International forecasts indicate that the design industry ranked third on the list of the expected international demand for specializations by 2020,” she added.
On the social responsibility of her establishment, she added: “Although it has been only a year since we established the business, we began from the first day of operations by assuming our social responsibility and allocating study positions free of charge for talented students.”
The Ministry of Labor said in a recent report that securing suitable jobs for women was one of the most important goals for Saudi society. The ministry said it works with its partners in the labor system to provide a work environment that is safe for women and compatible with Sharia standards.
Confirming this, the ministry recently held a training workshop at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry during which it reiterated that the labor system — represented by the Ministry of Labor, the Human Resources Development Fund (HADAF), the General Organization for Technical Education and Vocational Training and the General Organization for Social Insurance — works as one unified system to support the employment of Saudis in the private sector.