Friday, July 29, 2016

Dr. Abdus Salaam: Islam and Value of Education in Pakistan

By Asif Merchant, New Age Islam
29 July 2016

Dr Abdus Salam Nobel Prize winner
I had the privilege of seeing and hearing Dr. Abdus Salaam during the Indian Science Congress in Bombay. This was in December 1959 or maybe January 1960. I was a graduate student of Physics at that time. I had come across references to papers by Dr. Abdus Salaam, and realized that he was to Science in Pakistan what Dr. Homi Bhabha was to Science in India. All of us were very proud of both these scientists.
Dr. Salaam’s talk was held at one end of the Oval Maidan in front of a packed audience. Both Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr. Homi Bhabha were present as befitting such an auspicious occasion.
He opened with a very memorable declaration. “Ever since it became known that I was going to India, everyone has told me just one thing: ‘Give the people of India our regards, and tell them that we all desire that both countries should live in peace.’ No one in Pakistan wants war, and I am sure no one in India wants war”. This was twelve and a half years after the bitterness of Partition.
Dr. Salaam was a man of peace, just like Pandit Nehru and Dr. Bhabha, who were sitting before him that night.  Some years later, Dr. Abdus Salaam was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics, making all of us who had heard him that night feel honoured.
Around then I came to know that Dr. Salaam was an Ahmadiya. Like most mainstream Muslims, I had a negative view of Ahmadiyas even though I knew practically nothing about them. The knowledge that a man of such intellect subscribed to this faith made me take a fresh view.
Dr. Salaam is the only Nobel Laureate in Physics from Pakistan. That he had to leave his country and stay in exile indicates the value placed by the Pakistanis on education. The emphasis placed on education in the Quran, the Holy Prophet’s own exhortation to go to the ends of the earth in the pursuit of knowledge, have all come to naught before the sort of religious values the current lot of Pakistanis are learning.
 The purpose of religion is to teach people to live together in peace and understanding. Religion is supposed to help us grow to our potential to the benefit of mankind. As I see it, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Regardless of what there is in the religion, if its followers are unable to live together in peace and understanding, if the followers are unable to grow to their potential to the benefit of mankind, the religion has failed in its purpose. The converse is also true, and the success of a religion can be gauged by the followers. From this point of view, the Ahmadiyas are following a good religion.
There is no record of Ahmadiyas attacking places of worship unlike those so-called Muslims who attacked the Ahmadiya places of worship during peak prayer times to cause maximum casualties.
This sort of behaviour is in keeping with the illiteracy-worshiping people who exiled the one scientist who could have been an inspiration for all students. Instead, the Pakistan of today deserves the kind of scientist who has been busy trading nuclear secrets on the sly.
Asif Merchant is an independent thinker, based near Panchgani, Maharashtra, India He writes an occasional column for New Age Islam

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The Hijab Does Not Impede Muslim Women from Doing Their Job: New Age Islam's Selection, 29 July 2016

New Age Islam Edit Bureau
29 July 2016
The Hijab Does Not Impede Muslim Women From Doing Their Job
By Yara Al-Wazir
In Lebanon, All Are Responsible For The Presidential Vacuum
By Nayla Tueni
Fact-Checking Saudi and Iranian Statements On Terrorism
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
The US, the Peshmerga and Mosul
By Michael Knights
All Life Same In Fight Against Terror
By Bikram Vohra
Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau
The Hijab Does Not Impede Muslim Women from Doing Their Job
By Yara al-Wazir
28 July 2016
Earlier this week, Kevin MacKenzie, former editor of The Sun questioned whether it was appropriate for a Muslim anchor that wears the hijab “to be on camera when there had been yet another shocking slaughter by a Muslim”. The woman he was referring to is Fatima Manji, an award-winning journalist who covered the attacks for the UK’s Channel 4.
Although the Independent Press Standards Organization (Ipso) received over 1,700 complaints about MacKenzie’s column in The Sun, including one by Fatima Manji herself, the thoughts and sentiments he shared in the column, including that the Hijab was a “sign of slavery” could not be farther from the truth. Conceding to MacKenzie’s desire of all women to conform to his idea of what a female news presenter should look like, including deconstructing her belief system, which form a basis of her personality and the way that she presents herself, would in fact be a form of slavery.
Manji’s hijab is not what made MacKenzie, and those who share his thoughts, uncomfortable. The image of a strong powerful female Muslim who is successful, true to herself and her religion is what made them uneasy. Had Malala Yousafzai been presenting the news, would he have chosen to publish his column? Unlikely.
The Hijab Discussion at EU Courts
After a woman who wears the Hijab claimed unlawful dismissal due to religious discrimination in Brussels, the issue was taken to the EU court. In May, a top EU court advisor backed a workplace ban on Hijabs, as long as it is in line with an outright ban on religious symbols for all employees.
The public must understand that there is no single definition of the relationship that someone can share with his or her religion, and so it cannot be “checked at the door”. Some see it as something they were born into and born with, much like their gender, whereas others see it as something private.
If a court can even suggest that it should have the authority to stop its employees from visual representations of their religion, then what is next? Will women have to wear sports bras to hide the fact that they are women? Will people be asked to not wear their wedding rings to work to hide their relationship status? Will men have to speak with a softer voice to hide the fact that they are men?
The mere suggestion that whether or not a woman covers her head has the power to stop her from doing her job is ludicrous, unless perhaps she’s a hair model. Attempting to stop people from visual representations of their religion can be seen as a violation of their personal freedom and an attack on free speech. The hijab may be a piece of cloth that doesn’t make a sound, but the symbol roars so much so that even in this day and age, when the rate of hate crimes against Muslims in London has doubled over the past two years, women are standing up as icons of strength and allegiance.
My hope for Muslim women everywhere is that one day the Western world will treat them with as much respect of their ideas, ethics, and intelligence as it does with Malala.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories.
In Lebanon, All Are Responsible For The Presidential Vacuum
By Nayla Tueni
29 July 2016
Lebanese Christian leader Amin Gemayel has said that Samir Geagea’s endorsement of Michel Aoun for the presidency will only increase his stubbornness, since Aoun’s obstruction of presidential elections is based on Christian help he has never dreamed of.
Geagea has provided Christian cover out of good intentions, but has prolonged the presidential vacuum and given Aoun an excuse to cling to his policy of “me or nobody else.”
Aoun is not convinced that his chances of becoming president have decreased, and that if he does become president it will be at the expense of the state, its institutions and people. He is not yet convinced that he will be unable to reform what he contributed to destroying and corrupting by obstructing the election of a president for more than two years now, and to restore soured relations between Lebanon and the world, particularly the Arab world.
MP Suleiman Franjieh is also nominated for the post, and he does not make concessions unless according to a set of conditions. He insists on remaining a candidate, thus obstructing a settlement on an alternative candidate.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah insists on making March 14 parties accept its candidate Aoun. Hezbollah asks the Future Movement why it rejects him for the presidency, but it does not question its self-granted right to impose its will on others.
Hezbollah has never referred to the democracy that obliges the party to attend parliament sessions to elect a president - any president who can garner the majority of votes - especially since the competition is now limited to two candidates who are both its allies. This means it does not want to facilitate the election of a president because it benefits the most from an incapable government and paralyzed parliament.
The Future Movement hangs on to the possibility of nominating Franjieh for the presidency to sideline Aoun. This resembles Druze leader Walid Jumblatt’s plan to nominate MP Henri Helou. It is within this context that the Future Movement and Jumblatt do not spare a chance to hold democratic elections in parliament.
Their relatively weak argument contributes - even if in a small way - to delaying an agreement. However, both parties are always present in parliament, and both are convinced that they will not be able to get their candidates to the presidential palace.
Other parties do not have an answer to any of this, and have not taken any stance. They just act according to whatever is planned for them, until the time comes when a foreign agreement imposes a settlement on us. They thus confirm to the Lebanese people that despite their loud rhetoric and threats, those in governance await signals from foreign parties and put their interests above the country’s.
Nayla Tueni is one of the few elected female politicians in Lebanon and of the two youngest. She became a member of parliament in 2009 and following the assassination of her father, Gebran, she is currently a member of the board and Deputy General Manager of Lebanon’s leading daily, Annahar. Prior to her political career, Nayla had trained, written in and managed various sections of Annahar, where she currently has a regular column.
Fact-Checking Saudi And Iranian Statements On Terrorism
By Dr. Majid Rafizadeh
29 July 2016
According to Iran’s state-owned news outlet Press TV, Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi has warned Saudi Foreign Minister Adel al-Jubeir to think twice about "the repercussions of his statements.”
Al Arabiya News Channel aired Jubeir’s recent statement that was in response to earlier remarks given by Iran’s General Consul, accusing Saudi Arabia in a way that I believe was unsubstantiated, regarding an event on terrorism held by the Belgian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brussels on July 21, 2016.
It is worthwhile to fact-check the statements.
Harboring, supporting and sheltering terrorism
Since the Iranian revolution in 1979, Iran’s military, financial, and sanctuary support for terrorist groups, as well as Iran’s direct or indirect involvement in terrorist attacks across the globe in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and America have been well-documented by many credible intelligence reports across the world, as well as various news outlets.
On a diplomatic level, several members of the international community have also accused Iran of being responsible for terrorism from India to the US, by sponsoring, training, funding, arming or giving sanctuary to terrorist groups and individuals.
Iran’s support, which is confirmed by Iranian leaders, or the leaders of the allied groups, is not limited to Shiite-designated terrorist groups such as Hezbollah or Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq.
The current narrative is that Iran wants to defeat ISIS and al-Qaeda leaders and that Tehran and Washington have mutual interests. However, Iran’s relationship with al-Qaeda and ISIS has a long history and their ties are more complicated than the mainstream narrative.
Iran is believed to have maintained its ties with al-Qaeda since the early 1990s. According to multiple intelligence reports and external experts, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) gave shelter, protection, assistance, Iranian passports to many senior a;-Qaeda members, including the founder of al-Qaeda in Iraq (Abu Musab Al Zarqawi), the predecessor to ISIS, when the US was looking for him.
Most recently, three senior al-Qaeda members, who have been added to the US government’s list of designated terrorists, are believed to have been “located in Iran” at some point. Al-Qaeda senior members have been capable of escaping US drones by living in Iran, using Iranian passports and being used as a pawn to advance Iran’s foreign policy objectives. Hiding some of these figures has been instrumental in giving birth to ISIS. According to a report by the Claremont Institute, which cites German intelligence, being a Shiite government has not stopped Iran from partnering up with al-Qaeda, which brands itself as Sunni. According to the US Treasury, Iran has even helped al-Qaeda fighters enter Syria.
In addition, an audio message from Bin Laden’s son Hamza, which was released in recent weeks, points to the “continuation of Iranian sponsorship” within al-Qaeda, according to a report by a US-based think-tank. Declassification of 113 hand-written messages also revealed, according to the report, that Bin Laden said Iran is “the chief pathway for our money, men, communiqué, and hostages” and he urged his group “not to start a front against Iran.”
The US State Department has released its latest annual report related to terrorism and global terrorist activities, in which it stated: “Iran remained the foremost state sponsor of terrorism in 2015, providing a range of support, including financial, training, and equipment, to groups around the world – particularly Hezbollah. Iran continued to be deeply involved in the conflict in Syria, working closely with the Assad regime to counter the Syrian opposition, and also in Iraq where Iran continued to provide support to militia groups, including the Foreign Terrorist Organization Kata’ib Hezbollah. In addition, it was implicated for its support to violent Shia opposition group attacks in Bahrain. Iran was joined in these efforts by Hezbollah, which continued to operate globally, as demonstrated by the disruption of Hezbollah activities in Peru in 2014 and Cyprus in 2015.”
Three crucial pillars that Iran relies on are the IRGC, the intelligence wing of the IRGC and Iran’s proxies.
In addition, judicial and intelligence evidence has pointed to Iran’s connection with al-Qaeda in the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Earlier this year, US District Judge George Daniels in New York ordered the Islamic Republic to pay more than $10.5 billion in damages to the estates and families of people who died at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
The court held that “Iran furnished material and direct support for the 9/11 terrorists specific terrorist travel operation” and the “facilitation of al-Qaeda's operatives' travel to training in camps in Afghanistan was essential for the success of the 9/11 operation.” It also stated that a “terrorist agent of Iran and Hezbollah helped coordinate travel [for the hijackers].”
Expansionism and exportation of Iran's revolution
In his statement last week, Jubeir asked: “Doesn't the Iranian constitution say "export the revolution"? Didn't Iran create Hezbollah? Didn't Iran attack more than a dozen embassies in Iran in violation of all international laws?”
A central part in Khomeini and Khamenei’s ideology is exporting their revolution, which is emphasized in Iran’s constitution. Article 11 states that the constitution “provides the necessary basis for ensuring the continuation of the Revolution at home and abroad” and “will strive with other Islamic and popular movements to prepare the way for the formation of a single world community.”
According to article 144, Iran’s constitution delegates to its military the fulfillment of these goals: “The Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran must be an Islamic Army, i.e., committed to Islamic ideology and the people ... It will be responsible not only for guarding and preserving the frontiers of the country, but also for fulfilling the ideological mission of jihad in God's way; that is, extending the sovereignty of God's law throughout the world.”
With regards to Iran supporting groups, which are designated as terrorist by the international community, not only is the evidence overwhelming, but Iranian authorities or leaders of these groups have also publicly admitted their involvement, such as the leaders of Hezbollah have done.
In closing, Iran’s funding, arming, supporting, training and giving sanctuary to terrorist groups is well-documented.
Although at the end of his speech, Jubeir extended his hands and hoped that Iran will change its behavior, as long as Iran pursues its deep-rooted ideological and revolutionary beliefs of achieving regional hegemony and preeminence - through exporting its revolution, relying on hard power, and supporting terrorist groups - Tehran will not be a constructive and rational state actor for either the region, or for its own citizens.
Dr. Majid Rafizadeh is an Iranian-American scholar, author and U.S. foreign policy specialist. Rafizadeh is the president of the International American Council. He serves on the board of Harvard International Review at Harvard University and Harvard International Relations Council. He is a member of the Gulf 2000 Project at Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs. Previously he served as ambassador to the National Iranian-American Council based in Washington DC.
The US, the Peshmerga and Mosul
By Michael Knights
29 July, 2016
On July 12, the United States signed a memorandum of understanding with the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) regarding US-Kurdish military cooperation in the next stage of the war against the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).
On the Kurdish side, the agreement was signed by acting Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Karim Sinjari, and the US side was represented by Elissa Slotkin, the acting assistant secretary of defence for international security affairs.
After the agreement the Kurdish leadership met on July 14 with US Central Command commander General Joseph Votel, followed by a visit to Erbil by US Secretary of Defense Ash Carter on July 24.
Battle on the horizon
The meetings are a further indication that the battle of Mosul is fast approaching, and that the Iraqi Kurds are expected to play a critical role in the encirclement, liberation and subsequent stabilisation of the city.
On the symbolic front, the US leaders have recently expressed gratitude for the sacrifices of the Peshmerga, who have suffered 1,466 killed, 8,610 wounded and 62 missing in their war against ISIL, according to a June 14 press release by the KRG.
This was important because Kurdish leaders have often complained that the US has shown a preference for arming and equipping the federal government's Iraqi army rather than the Peshmerga.
On the symbolic front, the US leaders have recently expressed gratitude for the sacrifices of the Peshmerga, who have suffered 1,466 killed, 8,610 wounded and 62 missing in their war against ISIL, according to a June 14 press release by the KRG.
According to officials that I talked to on both sides of the deal, the agreement will also release new US aid to the Ministry of Peshmerga Affairs.
Though the KRG asked for $197m per month to cover incremental war costs, the Pentagon rationalised this figure down to around $60m.
This is not an open-ended arrangement: It will only cover the operating expenses of the Peshmerga forces involved in the Mosul operation for the duration of their involvement, totalling around $415m.
Military equipment also continues to flow into Kurdistan, including planeloads of German, US, French, British and Hungarian munitions, weapons and non-lethal supplies.
But these imports are not "direct arming" of the Peshmerga of the kind called for by US legislators, but blocked by the Obama administration in June 2015.
Though aid is now being flown direct into the KRG, the manifests of aircraft are approved by the Iraqi Ministry of Defence.
Intensive training
If anything is changing, it is the scale and effectiveness of the anti-ISIL coalition effort to train and equip the Peshmerga.
Since January 2015 the coalition has run the Kurdistan Training Coordination Centre (KTCC), a 300-person training mission manned by German, Italian, British, Finnish, Dutch, Norwegian, Hungarian and American troops.
From January 2015 to April 2016 the KTCC trained nine sets of Peshmerga troops at five KRG bases, graduating roughly 500 troops each time. Though useful, this training was only four weeks long and mainly focused on squad and platoon-level tactics involving fewer than 40 soldiers.
The new Modern Brigade Course (MBC) training offered since April 2016 is a big step forward.
The training is 10 weeks long, allowing units to build greater skills and cohesion, and giving time for advanced training in battlefield life-saving, anti-tank operations and defence against chemical weapons.
The MBC training also allows larger company-sized units - of around 100 soldiers - to practise coordinated operations in realistic urban warfare environments resembling Mosul.
The two 600-men MBC courses that were completed so far have also seen the fielding of US brigade equipment sets, as opposed to the mishmash of equipment used by previous sets of trainees.
Kurdistan is now receiving the equipment allocated under the KRG's $353.8m share of the $1.6bn Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) approved by the US Congress in November 2014 (PDF).
Each MBC course sees the Peshmerga receive 36 mortars and around 160 tactical and engineering vehicles. Training is also being provided to maintain the new equipment.
What's after?
Yet, while these steps are positive for the Kurds, it is harder to know whether the train-and-equip effort will be sustained after Mosul.
In one scenario the coalition packs up and goes home, leaving the Peshmerga once again isolated from international military assistance.
This might be the preference of Baghdad and of regional players such as Iran.
Indeed, Peshmerga spokesman Jabar Yawar was quick to refute the idea of permanent US military bases in the KRG when he spoke to Rudaw on July 20, possibly mindful of sensitivities in Tehran and Baghdad.
In another scenario - for instance triggered by the election of a Kurd-friendly Donald Trump - the US security cooperation effort in Kurdistan could become even larger and more permanent.
For the Kurds, the only near-term option is to maximise the goodwill of international players by treading a fine line, supporting the Mosul battle while simultaneously reassuring regional actors in Tehran and Baghdad.
Michael Knights is the Lafer Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. He specialises in the politics and security of Iraq. He has worked in every Iraqi province and most of the country's hundred districts, including periods embedded with Iraq's security forces.
All Life Same In Fight Against Terror
By Bikram Vohra
29 July 2016
In his latest book Daniel Silva talks of Daesh's long-term plan to try and get the United States to commit troops to Syria. Albeit a writing of fiction, the plot deals with a scenario where Daesh would like to create a major issue before Obama's term ends because this is the indecisive period of an American administration. And it stigmatizes the tenure.
Not just that but Daesh is losing territory and without territory you are on the back foot. In its relative despair it may try to up the stakes.
It says something for the polarization of the price on life that the blasts in Baghdad do not get the same global attention and are sort of taken as par for the course. Unless the global media begins to focus the same level of attention and bring things on an even keel where death and destruction are concerned there is always going to be less consequence for every such attack in the Middle East, be it Baghdad or Damascus. Think for a moment how much attention was paid to the 330 civilians who died in the twin blasts earlier this month and how it played in the world's media?
While comparisons are odious and there is no intent to do that the imbalance reflects a dangerous mindset in that shock and horror are proportionate to where the atrocity takes place.
This attitude is an intrinsic weakness in the fight against terror. A whole swathe where it is, ironically, most intense is downplayed.
While the western world might find it valid to up its alert levels there is a certain mind-game being played. It is a fitting reply given by Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Al-Jubeir to those threadbare accusations of Saudi funding for terrorists and this disinformation tactic does not even need an answer now. After the release of the 9/11 documentation and the fact, as the minister puts it, that Saudi Arabia is at "forefront of fighting extremism and terrorism in the region, and in the world" leaves that accusation out in the cold.
Few leaders have been so powerful in their condemnation than Al-Jubeir when he says, ""Why would we support an ideology whose objective it is to kill us? We are the target of extremists.
"[Daesh] wants access to Mecca and Medina, and so we have suffered in terms of terrorist attacks, we have suffered in terms of loss of security personnel trying to defend the innocent, we are on the forefront of fighting extremism and terrorism in the region, and in the world."
For relevance, perspective and logic it is difficult to beat. Not only is Saudi Arabia seeking out the men who pick up guns but also following the money trail. It is an easy statement to make even if it is careless and is not predicated to any evidence because there will be takers for it.
And it is these takers, falling back on false perceptions, who are doing the biggest disservice to the fight against terror.
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Terror in Afghanistan: Unwelcome Guests

The Economist
Jul 30th 2016
EVEN for a country as inured to war as Afghanistan, the strike on a crowd of peaceful protesters in Kabul on July 23rd was shocking. Bombs killed 81 people, perhaps the deadliest such attack in the capital since the civil war two decades ago. Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility, saying it had sent two suicide-bombers to “a Shiite gathering” (the protesters were mainly Hazaras, a Shia minority). It hinted it would attack again should Afghan Shias keep travelling to Syria to fight on the side of its president, Bashar al-Assad.
The Afghan government said it thought IS was indeed guilty. The group published photos of two men they said were the bombers, and details of the attack bear IS’s hallmarks. But as with massacres in Europe, it seems likely that the culprits were inspired by IS’s propaganda rather than following direct orders. Though the exact number of self-styled IS fighters in Afghanistan is disputed, their ranks remain small and are not obviously growing. The group is opposed by the Taliban (which looks askance at its Arab origins). A cluster of fighters in Nangarhar, an eastern province, looks fairly well contained.
All this is no comfort to Afghanistan’s battered citizens. Civilian casualties have risen every year since the UN started counting in 2009 (during which time nearly 23,000 have been killed). On July 26th the government said it had cleared IS fighters from parts of Nangarhar. But it said something similar four months ago, and that did not prevent the bloodshed in the capital.
The Hazaras commonly face discrimination; they had gathered to protest against the planned rerouting of a power line around the Hazara-dominated province of Bamiyan. Security forces were present, but focused mostly on keeping protesters away from the city centre; they blocked roads with shipping containers.
Such marches are an increasingly popular way for young Afghans to exercise political rights; many now shun older politicians, whom they associate with tanks and guns. And for all its violence Afghanistan has managed to avoid the kind of sectarian bloodletting that afflicts neighbours such as Iraq. Afghans of all ethnicities are loudly decrying the attacks. That is some small solace, at least.
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Democracy in Turkey Is Under Threat after Failed Coup

By Mohammad Behzad Fatmi
29 July 2016
The failed military coup in Turkey has been widely hailed as a triumph of democracy. The courage that thousands of Turks have shown to thwart an effort by a section of the armed forces to oust a democratically elected government and president is commendable. Has their protection protected the democratic values in the country? The answer is “no”.
Though this is not to suggest that the situation would have been better otherwise, there is hardly any doubt that the survival of the Erodogan government has led to a further deterioration democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Turkey.
About 15,200 education ministry employees, 8,000 policemen, 3,000 judges, 3,500 soldiers, and 100 generals and admirals have been sacked or detained within a few days on charges of plotting the coup.
This swiftness suggests mala fide intentions. If the government is competent enough to identify such a large number of coup plotters within days, how did it have no idea whatsoever of their planning? Or if the government knew that these officials were planning a coup, why was no action taken to pre-empt it?
This is not the first time the Turkish government is purging officials of their positions. Over the past three years, thousands of government officials have been relieved of their duties and arrested on charges of being members or sympathisers of what the government calls a “parallel state” (the name it has given to the Gulen movement).
Twenty independent news websites have also been shut down in the immediate aftermath of the coup attempt. It has banned dozens of online portals, including social media websites like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube many times in the past.
In other words, almost all those institutions, establishments and professionals who keep a check on the power of the executive were already being targeted and their independence had long been substantially eroded.
Now with this failed coup attempt, Ankara is trying to further muzzle opposing voices.
A blanket ban on all academicians from travelling abroad has been enforced and the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) has been suspended.
Following the declaration of a state of Emergency, 15 universities, 934 schools, 104 foundations, 109 dormitories, 35 hospitals, 1,125 associations and 19 unions have been shut down. The government is also mulling reintroducing the death penalty in the country.
The properties of the sympathisers of the Gulen movement have been vandalised, a school belonging to the movement has been set on fire, and many restaurants have displayed banners saying “parallel state” sympathisers are not allowed.
All of these are happening despite the fact that the leader of the movement, Fethullah Gulen, condemning the coup attempt and rejecting the government’s accusation. The government has produced no hard evidence yet to corroborate its allegations. Gulen is a Turkish Islamic scholar living in the US since 1999.
The Turkish government started openly targeting him and his sympathisers since a huge corruption scandal implicating President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s inner circle became public in 2013.
The government had then accused Gulen’s supporters in the judiciary and police of attempting a “judicial coup” and now it is accusing them of attempting a military coup. However, in both the cases the government’s allegations have hardly stood scrutiny.
What has survived in Turkey is a deeply authoritarian government, not democratic values.
Mohammad Behzad Fatmi is an associate fellow at Turkey Institute, London.
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Pakistan Needs a Special Institution to Protect Women from Their Own Families

By Umar Riaz
29 Jul 2016

“We do not want to have two dead bodies coming out of our home,” they said. A young girl had been killed by her brother and the family was insisting on closing the matter. It was an open-and-shut case with the weapon of crime seized and the accused confessing rather boastfully. “Do you not love your daughter?” the bereaving mother was asked. Her tears gave away the answer, but she did not want to lose her son after losing her daughter, even though he was her killer.
The story is painful but familiar, and often repeated. In the last five and half years, around 1,500 women and girls have been killed in the name of honour in the province of Punjab. The annual number is in the range of 300 to 375. This means a woman is killed in the name of honour almost every day. But such murders are not restricted to women. A large number of women are killed along with their life partners – the men they had chosen to spend their lives with, against the will and wishes of their family. The figure is however far lower – 88 in 2014 and 46 in 2015 as compared to 312 and 347 respectively for women.
Murder cases are contested vigorously in Pakistan. Many do end in compromises, as per Islamic law, but a large percentage of ordinary murder suspects spend years in prisons waiting for the victim’s family to pardon them. The pardon usually comes at a heavy price, often involving millions of rupees, and that too after lot of entreating. One in four cases end in death sentences, with appeals taking years.
But no such vigour is shown in honour killing cases. There have been only 79 convictions in such cases in the last five and half years – a tiny 5 percent of the total. The rest of the suspects were exonerated at various stages. In 2014, for example, 145 out of the total 390 registered cases were decided, and a majority of the accused were acquitted, either due to a compromise, or because the witnesses backed off. Only seven of the cases ended in convictions by trial courts. One of those seven cases was the murder of Farzana Parveen, which made headlines because it happened right outside the gates of Lahore High Court. Four members of her family were sentenced to death, only because her husband fought the case and refused to compromise.
Judges Are Bound By Prevalent Rules of Evidence
Qandeel Baloch’s death has shaken us all, but even in that case, predictably, her father Muhammad Azeem was made the complainant. He is the eyewitness, and her mother Anwar Bibi is only a co-witness. Both her brothers are the accused. The investigation has led to the apprehension of a male cousin as well. The state, which initially left the matters of prosecution in the hands of her beleaguered parents, has now become involved with the addition of Section 311 of Pakistan Penal Code – a provision that is supposed to prevent a religious compromise or pardon.
But past record tells us that this would hardly be enough. The exit options for honour killers are too many. The courts have been blind to out-of-court settlements and pressures on the witnesses, over the years. In this case, even if there is no public pardoning, the parents will only have to change their statements and the accused would go free. How long they are going to hold ground can be anybody’s guess.
The state has promised new legislation, which would ensure that the accused in honour killings are not allowed the benefits of pardon under religious law, and judges would treat such cases as ‘Fasad Fil Arz’, or social unrest. But those judges are still bound by the prevalent rules of evidence, which provide an opportunity of a legal exit for the accused. The state and the prosecution would be interested in a case as long as it is in the news, which is never more than few weeks.
Honour killings have been consistent in the last decade, despite the fact that the overall homicide rate is falling (with a marked decline after the resumption of death penalty executions). This menace cannot be stopped until we can protect women from their so-called protectors, and punish the perpetrators who are invariably closest relatives. This is not possible unless a separate, independent and empowered institutional structure is set up for the prosecution of such cases, just like there are special laws and institutions to deal with corruption, narcotics and terrorism. The state owes this to Qandeel Baloch and hundreds of other women.
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Old Age: Burden or Blessing?

By Roshan Shah, New Age Islam
29 July 2016
Not all of us will live to ‘a ripe old age’, but today, when the average life expectancy has increased, many of us might. There are fundamentally two ways of viewing life, and they offer two distinct ways of viewing old age.
One way of viewing life is the materialistic way. According to this view, we are just the body—a collection of some billion molecules of matter—and when we die, that is the end of us. Accordingly, for materialists’, life has no real or ultimate purpose, or, if one has to find a purpose to live for in order to remain sane, it is to ‘enjoy’—to maximize the stimulation of the five senses as far as possible.
The second way of viewing life is the religious or spiritual. According to this view, we are spirit beings or souls that happen, for a temporary period, to inhabit physical bodies. When our term on this earth comes to an end, our bodies go back to the earth while our spirit or soul lives on. Accordingly, for religious or spiritually-minded people, life has an ultimate purpose—and that is, the development or realisation of the true nature of the spirit or soul, generally in relation to God.
These two distinct and mutually contradictory views about life—the materialistic and the religious/spiritual—give rise to two very different ways of handling old age.
In his 80s, X may not be a self-confessed atheist. He may even claim to believe in God. Yet, God and religion hardly play any role in his life. For all practical purposes, X’s ‘god’ are the club that he haunts and the beer-guzzling friends he spends every second night out with. He loves partying, and every now and then he flies off to this or that country for a holiday. “I know that I’ve very little time left,” he thinks. “So, why not make merry while the sun still shines?”
Z is an 84 year-old grandmother. From morning to evening, she’s after her son’s children, doing things for them even though she needn’t because they are old enough to do these for themselves. She irons their clothes, packs their school-bags, makes breakfast for them and walks them down to the school-bus. When they are back from school, she even volunteers to do their homework for them. While they are away at school, she is busy on the Internet, searching for recipes of ‘exotic’ dishes to make for them. She’s constantly heckling the children: “Do this!” “Don’t do that!” “What time will you come back?”, “Have you washed your face?”, “Have you done your homework”, “Wear your socks!” “Comb your hair!” “Have you put away your books?” “What will you have for lunch tomorrow?” “Will you have scrambled egg or omelette?” “Do you want butter or cheese on your toast?”
“I don’t know what I would have done with myself if I didn’t have my grandchildren,” Z says. “Because they are there, at least I have something to do, to keep busy with.” She dreads the day when her grandchildren will no longer be around. “What will I do then? I might go literally mad with boredom, with nothing to do!”
In his late 70s, T spends most of his time at home. For much of the day, he is glued to the TV. He watches mostly violent films, and is also hooked to news channels that specialize in sensational debates, exposing this or that politician or scandal—which only makes him more aggressive and negative. “It’s important to know what’s happening in the world,” he says in his defence, even though he doesn’t care to know what’s happening in the lives of his own children.
T also loves sleeping, and that’s generally what he does when he’s not watching TV. And if he is doing neither of these, you will probably find him grumbling about this or that or backbiting his neighbours, his home-help and even his own children, which seems to give him a particularly malicious delight.
For X, Z and T, old age, even if they may not admit it, is a terrible burden that they are simply forced to put up with. They lack a higher purpose to live for. Time, for them, is something to be ‘passed’ somehow or the other, otherwise, they fear, they would simply lose their minds. And so, they while away their time doing the sorts of things they do just to keep themselves ‘busy’.
In contrast to them are people for whom life is not just ‘time-pass’, but, rather, a God-given opportunity for their spiritual development. Such people think of old age as a blessing from God, each moment a valuable treasure to be carefully spent in order to please God and do God’s Will. For such people, old age is an opportunity, rather than a burden. It provides them the opportunity to strengthen their relationship with God, through prayer, meditation and reflection, and to seek forgiveness and make amends for the wrongs they may have done in the past, thus helping to smoothen their impending departure from this world and their entry into the eternal Hereafter.
S is a 90 year-old religious scholar. He is economically very comfortable, and, if he had wanted to, could have led a quiet, relaxed retired life. But no! He continues to be super-active as the head of a spiritual organization, writing articles and books, delivering discourses, and attending interfaith conferences. He regularly meets people, listens to their problems and provides them spiritual guidance. Promoting God-consciousness is his mission, which he continues to be busy with even at his age! He is about the most God-intoxicated people I have ever met!
In her late 60s, P is a retired teacher. She identifies herself as a ‘spiritual universalist’, appreciating the goodness in all religions. Her day is punctuated with prayers at regular hours, and she spends much time reading spiritual books. “I also do my household chores, like cleaning and cooking, and I consider these to be service to God,” she says. “I love chatting with God. I try to think of Him when I am at work. I love seeing Him everywhere around me—in a plant, in a bird, in a fellow human, in the breeze. I love singing songs to Him.”
Every now and then, P visits different spiritual retreat centres, where she spends a few days. “It’s wonderful to be in a spiritual atmosphere, along with like-minded people, to think of God and to prepare to meet Him,” she says. “I’d love to die in that state.”
R is in his mid-80s, but that hasn’t sapped his enthusiasm for helping people in need. Twice a week, he volunteers at the help-desk in a charitable hospital. He also occasionally helps out at a home for mentally-challenged people. He is part of a group that gets together once a week to cook food for people living on the streets. “Serving God’s creatures is a way to serve God,” he explains. “Given my age and state, I may not be able to serve as much as I might want to, but I try to avail of every opportunity I get. Like, for instance, when I go to the park, I take along some bread, to feed to the dogs or birds, and if I see a plant that hasn’t had water in a while, I help relieve its thirst if I can,” he says.
“For most of my life, I led a very sinful life,” R explains. “God has enabled me to live so long, and so I’d like to use this time He has blessed me with by trying to make up for all the wrongs I did in the past by serving others for God’s sake and pleasure. I hope God will accept my offering. This is what gives me meaning and joy.”
Like any other phase in life, old age can a burden or a blessing. It all depends on what you want to make of your life and what you see as its purpose.
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Our Reactions to Terror Are a Litany of Hypocrisies: Muslims are the Greatest Victims of Radical Islam

By Kabir Taneja
About 3000km across the Arabian Sea from India's western coast, a conflict has been raging far away from eyes of the world. The civil war in Yemen, the poorest nation in the Middle East, has seemingly fallen through the cracks of global diplomacy, and the country despite having a half-hearted peace process, seems to have largely been left to its own devices.
Yemen was, and perhaps still is, a stronghold of Ansar al-Sharia, also known as the Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). However, the current crisis in the country is between the Saudi Arabia-backed government in the capital Sana'a and the Zaidi Shia rebels known as the Houthis, which are known to have the support of Iran. At the peak of the conflict, India evacuated more than 4000 people from Yemen, including more than 900 foreigners from 41 countries.
Today, violence in the country continues, but remains unrepresented in global headlines due to other, larger conflicts and issues such as Syria, Iraq and now the increasingly frequent terror strikes in Europe.
Thousands of innocent victims are left un-mourned by the wider public, as if their being killed in a particular geography makes their death somehow acceptable.
Terrorism and its place in public discourse, as a subject to be absorbed and understood by the masses, is possibly one of the most under-studied topics today. With the rapid rise of social media over the past few years, consumption of information relating to issues such as terrorism, specifically in complex regions like the Middle East, is not limited to a select few. However, this information is also being used to propagate the increasingly divisive politics of the left and right.
Social media reactions to terrorism or acts of terror make for very interesting case studies. Never before have the masses been able to opine with such freedom on platforms that allow millions of others to read and share their views. News channels, newspapers and so on today are being challenged by people directly as the internet, often via Smartphones and tablets, offers unprecedented, and often alternative and raw access to information.
However, such access and fluidity in information flow comes with certain shortcomings. The role of radical Islam as a driving force in global terror is un-contestable, but who its victims are also needs to be put in proper context. In the recent past, the horrors of terrorism have been condemned in a very selective manner. Thousands of innocent victims are left un-mourned by the wider public, as if their being killed in a particular geography makes their death somehow acceptable.
There is scarcely any recognition in Western and even Indian discourse that Muslims are the greatest victims of radical Islam.
Of course, it is understandable why terror strikes in European centres such as Paris and Brussels caused such an outcry worldwide. The Middle East has struggled with intense violence for decades now, while such attacks are a shocking new reality in Europe. Today, the people in the continent are often sympathetic to the plight of the incoming refugees from countries such as Syria but also harbour immense reservations. "I really don't want our lifestyle to change," a prominent German journalist told me last month during a discussion of how Islam is challenging the "European way".
It is not just the Syrian crisis which is causing great discomfort in Europe, so much so that the very idea of the European Union is coming under duress due to the hundreds of thousands of incoming refugees. It is imperative to remember that millions of Europeans are also disillusioned by the fact that a crisis like Syria has been raging for years now without an end in sight. Hundreds of thousands of people have perished in the conflict, reduced to mere numbers in historical logbooks.
More than 100 dying in Baghdad, more than 80 Hazaras being killed in Kabul or the Syrian crisis getting so out of hand that the United Nations has to call for weekly 'time-outs' from war in order to deliver humanitarian assistance are matters that are as important as the spike in pro-Islamic State attacks in Europe. Terrorism needs to be understood and condemned in the sternest manner as a political problem with socio-religious connotations.
Why are popular monuments around the world lit up in the colours of the French or Belgian flags, but never in those of Afghanistan or Iraq?
So, why is it that Paris and Brussels get much more sympathy than Aleppo or Baghdad? Why are popular monuments around the world lit up in the colours of the French or Belgian flags as a gesture of solidarity after terror attacks, but never in those of Afghanistan or Iraq? Why don't you and I feel as appalled by the daily death tolls in Mosul and Qamishli as we do by the lone wolf attacks in Munich or Normandy? Many theorize that the reason is that such acts are just not expected to happen in free and liberal Europe. But again, it needs to be understood, that the West's interests in the Middle East have almost never brought any stability, instead creating deep social and political vacuums where today terror outfits like the Islamic State thrive. Freedom and liberty do not automatically translate to peace and security -- it depends on who the freedom is being delivered to, and often, at whose cost.
The public discourse on the issue of Islamist terrorism is very fragile in itself. Not only is the understanding of political Islam, with all its parts and pieces, pedestrian at best, there is also a sense that the people in the Middle East have made their own mess, never mind that many prevailing problems are rooted in colonialism. There is scarcely any recognition in Western and even Indian discourse that Muslims are the greatest victims of radical Islam. The discursive construction of terror has taken on an inward, collapsing form rather than an outward expanding one where knowledge and information play crucial parts. And perhaps this is also a big reason why, along with global political failures, we are collectively failing to tackle this problem.
The question that this piece is attempting to raise is not new, but it bears repetition. I may also be accused of succumbing to "whataboutery", which is a phenomenon when people ask others why in condemning one wrong, they aren't condemning other atrocities as well. The answer to this question is very simple. Idealism, morals, ethics are all secondary to the debate on terrorism. That's because this debate is primarily political in nature and if one is partaking in it, one should be aware, at least on a basic level, of what exactly is going on. This is necessary for public discourse to be meaningful rather than for it to slip into predictable political banter over a few beers for the middle classes.
Kabir Taneja Journalist, scholar and researcher
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British-Saudi Dual Citizen Amina al-Jeffrey Taken to Saudi Arabia and Locked in a Cage

Amina Al-Jeffery shown in a school yearbook photo

Shisha Smoking by Saudi Women Leading To Divorce
Man Strangles Teenage Niece for 'Honour' In Mansehra, Pakistan
200 Saudi Women Allowed By Courts to Travel Alone
Behind Closed Doors: Virginity and Hymen Reconstruction in Morocco
Beat That! Egyptian Women Are World Leaders in Assaulting Husbands
African Girl, 16, Rescued From Early Marriage
Compiled by New Age Islam News Bureau

British-Saudi Dual Citizen Amina al-Jeffrey Taken to Saudi Arabia and Locked in a Cage
July 28, 2016
Amina al-Jeffrey was born in Swansea, UK, and taken at age 16 to Saudi Arabia by her father, who disapproved of her Western lifestyle.
Now 21, she is fighting a court battle in the High Court in London against her father to be allowed to return to the UK.
She alleges that her father, Mohammed al-Jeffrey, put "metal bars" on her bedroom and described being a "locked-up girl with a shaved head."
Still a judge in the High Court, Justice Holman, has asserted, "We have to be careful about asserting the supremacy our cultural standards."
Holman also said that it is unclear whether or not Britain had jurisdiction in the matter since al-Jeffrey was an adult with dual Saudi and UK citizenship.
Al-Jeffrey said her father hit her, deprived her of water and forced her to urinate in a cup.
Although "metal bars are no longer in her room" according to her lawyers, "she is still locked up in the house" and "not allowed to use the phone or internet."
"Steps need to be taken to ensure Ms. Jeffery is returned to the UK where her safety can be guaranteed," the Foreign Office Forced Marriage Unit said in a statement.
"Her treatment has extended to depriving her of food and water, depriving her of toilet facilities, physical assault and control of her ability to marry who she wishes and creating a situation in which she feels compelled to marry as a means of escape," Henry Setright, a lawyer acting on behalf of al-Jeffrey said in a statement.
He described the situation as a "fundamental breach of human rights."
Saudi Arabia does not recognize al-Jeffrey's British citizenship. They are also paying for her father's legal fees.
"Regarding returning Amina back to the UK, I am unwilling to do this as I fear she will go back to her old destructive lifestyle," her father said in a letter submitted to the court.
"As her father, I fear for her health and safety and only want what is best for Amina, so she may focus on her education."
"She is a normal Welsh girl and still has her Welsh accent," said Anne-Marie Hutchinson, from the Academy of Family Lawyers who is representing al-Jeffrey.
“She wants to return home so she can have control of her own life and make her own choices.”

Shisha Smoking by Saudi Women Leading To Divorce
29 July, 2016
ABHA: Preacher Ahmad Al-Ma’bi warned against the increasing popularity of smoking Shisha among Saudi women, citing a number of cases in which marriages were dissolved once men discovered their wives smoked Shisha.
Al-Ma’bi said that statistics reveal that Shisha and cigarettes are becoming popular among Saudi women in backyards or roofs of homes after work, as they find a place for relaxing and retiring to these places.
Azizah Nawfil, a journalist with Laha magazine, said that the smoking of shisha or hookah has become very popular among young Saudi women in the last five years, either in cafés, or at home. Many Saudi women do not mind smoking, even with family.
Seen as a way to attract customers, Nawfil said dealers have introduced a new form of commercials into the market such as showcasing shisha in attractive colors and fancy bags.
Aisha Al-Omari, a housewife, said: “I started smoking after I tried the taste of shisha with one of my friends.” She said that her friend encouraged her to smoke this and now it has become a habit. However, she smokes shisha not in front of her family members, but with a group of friends. “I faced difficulty in finding a place to smoke shisha. But when my husband came to know that I smoke shisha and I can't do without it, he allowed me to smoke inside home.”
Amir Ali, one of the owners of a shisha shop, said that many women regularly come to his shop to purchase items to smoke hookah. He said that the price of hookahs is between SR200 and SR1,000, depending on the shape and specifications. He said that there are innovative forms of women’s shisha, as well as specific types of scented tobacco which women want like melon, strawberries and loban.
Ali Zairi, a psychologist, said that statistics reveal that 5.7 percent of the total population of women in the Kingdom smoke shisha and/or cigarettes. This is a large percentage compared to other Gulf countries.
A Ministry of Health report said that 16 percent of female students in the Kingdom have experimented with smoking. Eleven percent of women use tobacco. Out of them, 7.2 percent are students. More than 9 percent use different other forms of tobacco products. The ratio of smokers among girl students is around 3.7 percent.
Sabah Zahhar, a sociologist at the Saudi German Hospital in Asir, said that girls are attracted to hookah because they think this is the in-thing, or the latest fad.
They also think that through this they achieve equality with men in all aspects of life. This is also a behavior which indicates their rebellion against society and tradition.
Dr. Khalid Jalban, a family medicine expert at King Khalid University, said smoking adversely affects the mother, the child and a woman's fertility.

Man Strangles Teenage Niece for 'Honour' In Mansehra, Pakistan
29 July, 2016
MANSEHRA: A teenage girl was strangled to death by her uncle for ‘honour’ in a remote village of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P)’s Mansehra district, police sources said.
The suspect, who has been arrested, had initially tried to make the killing appear as suicide; however, post-mortem examination of the victim revealed she was strangled to death, sources told The Express Tribune.
Misbah Bibi, a 9th grade student, left her home for half an hour on Wednesday afternoon for an unknown reason. However, her uncle Khan Muhammad suspected she went to meet her alleged boyfriend from the same village, Lassan Nawab Sahib Police said.
Muhammad first beat his niece and later strangled her to death before escaping from the village, police sources added.
After the news of Misbah’s death broke out in the village, the family initially tried to give an impression of suicide but torture marks on her body helped police crack the case.
According to the doctor who carried out Misbah’s post-mortem examination, her body carried marks of torture which suggested she had been mercilessly beaten before death.
The accused was later arrested from a nearby village as police carried out an intelligence-based raid during the early hours on Thursday. A local magistrate has handed him over to the police on a two-day physical remand while further investigations are underway.

200 Saudi Women Allowed By Courts to Travel Alone
29 July, 2016
JEDDAH: At least 200 Saudi women were permitted by courts to travel without guardians once or several times for the purpose of study, treatment or tourism.
More than 350 Saudi women had applied for travel permission in cases where they have custody of children or no longer have guardians.
The Human Rights Society received complaints and requests for intervention from 100 women who had been denied permission to travel by their guardians or ex-husbands.
Other requests were filed by widows whose sons denied them permission to travel.
Article 8 of the Travel Documents Regulations stipulates that a Saudi woman is to be granted a passport and, in the case of husband’s death, a legal document indicating the legal guardian is needed for travel.
Over 100 requests were filed with the Family Court by women in Jeddah alone.
The court requires two witnesses and it verifies the purpose of travel before granting permission. If there is no legal guardian, regulations stipulate that the woman is to be issued a passport in her region.
Meanwhile, the Justice Ministry is preparing to launch the electronic marriage contracts early next year.
The system, to be implemented in coordination with the national information system, will allow for marriage contracts to be authenticated at ministry courts immediately after being completed by the ma’zoun (sheikh overseeing the wedding).
Fingerprints of parties involved will be authenticated immediately, thus eliminating any potential contractual issues.
Legal sources say the system aims to “protect the rights of women, facilitate procedures, and prove their rights concerning inheritance and husbands’ non-compliance with the marriage contracts”.
Judges will be able to identify the rights and entitlements of women and other conditions stipulated in the marriage contract, such as marriage dowry, employment and other matters.
Lawyer and legal advisor Yousef Al-Jabr said implementation of the e-marriage contract is a strategic move that eliminates excessive amount of paperwork and maintains important information.
The new system will also help guarantee that contracts are properly written, as per the regulations, and in legible script, and are easily accessible if needed.

Behind Closed Doors: Virginity and Hymen Reconstruction in Morocco
29 July, 2016
Rabat – In a culture that expressly values female virginity, to not be a virgin at the time of marriage is grounds for divorce, shame, or even violence. If the fact that a woman is not a virgin comes to light, then her marriage could be rendered void and she, as well as her family, would receive great shame and scrutiny from the community. Noticeably, the sexual history of a man is rarely questioned or considered in marriage, and in fact there is encouragement of adolescent sexual activity through a narrow, virility-defined notion of masculinity.
The hymen is a thin membrane that partially covers the opening of the vagina and usually remains intact before sexual intercourse, though it can also be ruptured by extreme physical activity, a blunt force strike, or even just a simple bike ride.
Usually— though not always —the Hymen releases some amount of blood when it is broken. In traditional Moroccan culture, a women’s “purity” is, therefore, established on the first night of intercourse when the sheets are stained with blood. If that doesn’t quite cut it, a woman can receive a “virginity certificate” from a gynecologist to further make the case for her decency and purity prior to a marriage. Or, if the woman is comfortable with a little illusion, she can opt to buy a fake hymen for an affordable amount all over Morocco.
Although some more liberal Moroccan bachelors report that the issue of virginity is not important when considering marriage, the problem of establishing virginity at marriage remains a huge concern to many women. At risk is their social value, marriage prospects, family honor, and life as a functioning woman in Moroccan society.
The answer? Just put it all back together.
Hymen reconstruction is a short, relatively simple procedure that repairs the membrane. According to Dr. Mansur, a physician at the Hospital De Maternité Universitaire Souissi, who started to perform the procedure in 2000, the process is easy: “in a half hour, they have fixed a big problem in their life. In 90% of cases the operation is a success,” according to the Spanish daily El Pais.
In many parts of world, discreet hymen reconstruction procedures are rising at an incredible rate. Clinics openly advertise in Europe and North America, and clinics clandestinely operate all over the world from India to Argentina.
And yet despite the demand, information about hymen procedures is relatively non-existent or inaccessible at most health clinics in Morocco. It remains heavily stigmatized, with many doctors speaking up about it only on conditions of anonymity. Furthermore, it lies in a legal grey area. Although voluntary abortion is prohibited under Moroccan law, hymen reconstruction falls into a discreet category, according to a gynecologist in Casablanca. In her own words, “we do not scream from rooftops.”
Despite— or perhaps because of —the lack of publicity and stigmatization of the procedure, the internet has become the go-to source for all things related to hymen reconstruction. With a couple of key strokes, one can find information about local clinics, doctors, prices, and even connect with other women that have gone through the procedure. There are even tiers of operations, with a temporary— around two weeks —fix costing around €200 and a long-term fix costing between €500 and €800.
Even the healthcare providers themselves refuse to discuss details in person, instead directing potential patients towards their computers. Kamal Iraqui, a plastic surgeon in Casablanca whose clinic is repeatedly mentioned on dozens of online forums, refused a request for information by the Spanish Newspaper El País and just said “it is all online.”
The issue of establishing virginity will not be leaving Moroccan bedrooms or health centers anytime soon. Hymen reconstruction is placed squarely on the forefront of the contemporary culture debate surrounding sexuality, feminism, marriage, and a whole range of other social issues.
While that debate rages, the internet represents a gateway for potential patients to connect with professionals, seek answers, and find community. A necessary thing, for as long as the Janusian standard of virginity between men and women remains unchanged then the need will still be there lurking just out of sight.

Beat that! Egyptian women are world leaders in assaulting husbands
29 July, 2016
Cairo: While women in several male-dominated Muslim states live in deplorable conditions, their position is slightly different when it comes to Egypt.
Figures obtained from the Family Law Court in Egypt has revealed that nearly 28% of the Egyptian women beat their husbands.

African Girl, 16, Rescued From Early Marriage
29 July, 2016
A sixteen-year-old school girl has been rescued from potential forced marriage in Kumasi.
The student, who would be referred to as Zahra for the purpose of protecting her identity, was saved when the Department of Children got wind of his marriage and moved in to stop it.
Speaking to Joynews, Zahra who is in her first year in Senior High School says she has on several occasions opposed her parents desire to get her married to a Muslim cleric rather than attend school.
She says the only time she realised her parents were serious was when the man came to their house and requested her hand in marriage in front of her.
“I told my parents and the man I was not interested but they insisted I do it,” she said.
Joynews investigations reveal the parents had taken the bride price without the knowledge of the student.
The ceremony to bond her to the supposed husband was scheduled for Sunday, July 24 but had to be called off following the intervention of the Department.
The Regional Director of Department of Children explained a Good Samaritan hinted them resulting in their timely intervention.
 She said Zahra has been kept at the Kumasi Children Home for three days to enable her to continue her education.
She says the Department has handed her to one of the uncle’s who is angry with what the parents wanted to do in Obuasi.
Friends and school authorities say the state intervention is timely to an event that could have truncated the aspirations of Zahra who wants to become a broadcaster.
One of the teachers who spoke to Joynews says the student has “potential to further her education and the marriage could have truncated her education.”
If Zahra had gone through the marriage process, she would have joined hundreds of thousands of girls who have fallen victims to what many people consider retrogressive cultural practice- early in a marriage.
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