Archive for the Activists Category

Pakistani Poetess Celebrated in Documentary

Poster for the film SalmaPieces of paper tucked between the layers of folded piles of jewel-coloured saris flowed with poems describing her forced marriage and life behind locked doors. It was only when her mother smuggled the poems out in the laundry basket and sent them off to a publisher in Chennai that Salma’s voice was heard.

Salma was trapped by her family and then, after agreeing to an arranged marriage, by her husband, locked away behind barred windows, unable to continue her education and forced to write her heartfelt words in secret.

This sounds like a brutal and ancient tradition but the practice continues to this day and the poet, 46, who is known all over India by just her first name, now devotes her time to campaigning for women’s rights and education for young girls.

Her story is an incredible turn of events that saw her released from her home and elected village leader, going on to become the voice for other women imprisoned by the same fate.

Read the rest: Pakistani Poetess Locked Away by Family

More about the film Salma.

CAIR Reacts to Hirsi Ali

Brandeis Disses Hirsi Ali

ayaan-hirsi-aliAyaan Hirsi Ali, an advocate for women’s rights and outspoken critic of Islam, sharply criticized Brandeis University today for abruptly withdrawing its offer of an honorary degree.

Facing public [Muslim] pressure, the Waltham university announced late Tuesday it would not honor the Somali-born activist, a week after announcing she would receive a degree at next month’s graduation ceremony.

[ . . . ]

A former member of the Dutch parliament who has spoken out against female genital mutilation and honor killings, she said she was “completely shocked” when Brandeis President Frederick Lawrence told her the university was rescinding its offer, just a few hours before issuing a public statement.

 “I assumed that Brandeis intended to honor me for my work as a defender of the rights of women against abuses that are often religious in origin,” she wrote. “For over a decade, I have spoken out against such practices as female genital mutilation, so-called “honor killings,” and applications of Sharia Law that justify such forms of domestic abuse as wife beating or child beating. Part of my work has been to question the role of Islam in legitimizing such abhorrent practices.”

Read the rest: Brandeis Caves to Islam and Uninvites Hirsi Ali

This is dhimmitude, bowing to Islam and its sharia law.

Has Brandeis no shame?  It certainly has no honor or courage.

Muslim Women Challenge 1,400 Years of Islamic Ideology

Zainah AnwarIf a Muslim woman opens up the text of the Holy Qur’an and leafs through its pages until she reaches chapter 4, which is titled “The Verse of Women,” and continues on until she reaches verse 34, she will find the following proclamation: 

“Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance — [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed, Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.”

Growing up in Pakistan, I remember reading the verse myself, from a copy of the Holy Qur’an that belonged to my grandmother. I remember my twisted set of feelings that followed — confusion, betrayal, and disappointment.

Read the rest of this amazing article:  Muslim Women Challenge Islamic Patriarchy.

Zainah Anwar and her activist colleagues seek to clarify the language of the Quran and challenge the 1,400 year old gender discrimination deeply embedded in the “DNA of patriarchy” in the doctrine of Islam and its sharia law.  I sincerely hope that they succeed but doubt that they will be able to do so and fear that they will be declared apostates (who can be killed according to sharia law) if their campaign grows.

Muslim Women Stand Naked and Unadorned in Paris

Nude Muslim women protest in ParisOnly in France!

Paris police say they arrested six women Saturday for baring their breasts and more outside the pointy-pyramid entrance to the museum in front of dumbstruck, applauding tourists. They were released after identity checks.

Protest organizer Safia Lebdi says the demonstration was connected to International Women’s Day. She says the women waved flags of Tunisia, Algeria, Egypt and Iran to highlight the many legal and cultural restrictions imposed on women in the Muslim world.

Read more: Naked Muslim Women Protest in Paris   See more: Gallery from Protest of Nude Muslim Women.

Honor Diaries – the Film

Honor Diaries is the first film to break the silence on ‘honor violence’ against women and girls. Honor Diaries is more than a movie, it is a movement to save women and girls from human rights abuses – around the world and here in America.

Go to the website to learn more: Honor Diaries Website


Taslima Nasreen On Fatwas, Women and Free Speech

Taslima NasreenA meeting between Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal and Islamic cleric Maulana Tauqeer Raza has sparked a controversy. Taslima Nasreen on Tuesday criticised Kejriwal for meeting Tauqeer Raza.

Meanwhile, Raza and Kejriwal denied that the fatwa, that had been announced against Taslima, had been issued by him.

Taslima, reacting to the meeting on Tuesday, tweeted, “A politician asks for support from anti-women, anti-free speech, Muslim fanatic, who illegally sets price on people’s heads.”

In another tweet, she noted, “The criminals who issue fatwas against women don’t get punished in India.” In a third tweet, she wrote, “Politicians should go to ordinary Muslims if they need their votes, not to Muslim fanatics who are responsible for Muslim community’s backwardness.”

Read the rest: Taslima Nasreen Denounces Fatwa.

Taslima Nasreen, from Bangladesh,  was sentenced to death by fatwa for the blasphemy of telling the truth about Islam.  She is now fair game to kill for jihadis, an apostate who denied her religion and culture in order to be a witness for the higher laws of life that govern all free humans and their expression.  Read her book “Shame” Taslima is perceptive and brave.  She is a female treasure.

Activists Launch Campaign Against Stoning of Women

hand-holding-stonesWomen’s rights activists have launched an international campaign for a ban on stoning, which is mostly inflicted on women accused of adultery. They are using Twitter and other social media to put pressure on the United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, to denounce the practice.

“Stoning is a cruel and hideous punishment. It is a form of torturing someone to death,” said Naureen Shameem of the international rights group Women Living Under Muslim Laws.   “It is one of the most brutal forms of violence perpetrated against women in order to control and punish their sexuality and basic freedoms.”

She said activists will also push the UN to adopt a resolution on stoning similar to the one passed last year on eradicating female genital mutilation – another form of violence against women often justified on religious and cultural grounds.

Stoning is not legal in most Muslim countries and there is no mention of it in the Koran. But supporters argue that it is legitimised by the Hadith – the acts and sayings of the Prophet Mohamed. Stoning is set out as a specific punishment for adultery under several interpretations of sharia or Islamic law. In some instances, even a woman saying she has been raped can be considered an admission to the crime of zina (sex outside marriage).

Campaigners say women are more likely to be convicted of adultery than men because discriminatory laws and customs penalise women more for extramarital sex.

If a man is unhappy with his wife he can – depending on the country – divorce, take other wives or marry another woman temporarily. A woman has few options. She can divorce only in certain circumstances and risks losing custody of her children. Men accused of adultery are also more likely to have the means to hire lawyers, and their greater physical freedom makes it easier for them to flee in situations where they risk extrajudicial stoning.

Activists say trials are often unfair. Convictions are frequently based on confessions made under duress. As adultery is difficult to prove, judges in Iran can also convict on the basis of gut feeling rather than evidence.

Read the rest of this excellent and comprehensive article: Campaign to End Stoning of Women.

Afghan Singer Who Wants Women’s Rights Receives Death Threats

Aryana-SayeedJudges on TV talent shows always attract controversy for making or breaking the careers of desperate wannabes – but for a glamorous 28-year-old female singer, the job is also a fight for Afghanistan’s future.

Aryana Sayeed is a judge on worldwide hit series The Voice that launched in Kabul in May, immediately attracting huge audiences and an array of angry critics.

As a symbol of female independence in a strictly conservative Islamic country, Aryana receives regular death threats and lives in fear of being kidnapped by religious extremists.

On the set outside Kabul where the show is filmed for private channel Tolo TV, armed guards outnumber contestants and have machine guns held at the ready.

“I’m here to make a difference for women,” Aryana told AFP. “I want women to have rights, to talk freely, to walk freely, to be able to go shopping when they wish. I’m not saying that they have to take their clothes off, or even remove their head scarfs. Freedom is being able to live as a human being.”

As contestants belt out songs that could propel them to stardom, Aryana nods encouragingly and sways gently – acutely aware that her every move is studied across the country.

“I have to be so careful as they’re constantly checking what you are doing, what you are saying, even how you laugh,” she said.
Read the rest: Female Afghan Singer Advocates Women’s Rights, Faces Death Threats  

Muslim Women and the Mosque Prayer Space

NorthAustinMosque2“Where’s my space to pray in this mosque?” inquires Muslim feminist Hind Makki in a post about her bold project, Side Entrance, which calls out mosques for their successes and failures when it comes to making adequate and equal provisions for women.

Side Entrance is a Tumblr blog and Facebook page that tackles the issue of women’s prayer spaces in comparison to men’s with reader-submitted photos from all over the world that show the often drastic difference in quality between the two. The blog’s introduction says simply, “Photos from mosques around the world, showcasing women’s sacred spaces, in relation to men’s spaces. We show the beautiful, the adequate and the pathetic.”

Hind Makki explains the reason behind the project:

I was moved to write a piece about women’s mosque experiences during Ramadan 2012, when my friend was berated and nearly kicked out of her mosque for daring to pray in the half-used 2nd floor of a multi-million dollar mosque, behind the male congregants. She prayed upstairs because the women’s area in the basement was hot, loud and moldy. That incident spurred me to start this Tumblr, though I’ve had idea of showcasing the differences between men and women’s prayer spaces in mosques for a long time.

There are many mosques around the world that boast incredible space for female congregants. Yet, in my experience, there are many more with inadequate or bad spaces for women. Still, other mosques bar women from entering altogether. The prayer experiences of many Muslim women are too often frustrating; mosques seem to be built to cater only to the male experience. Yet it is my optimistic belief that as more people see photos of the spaces women must pray in, and hear our stories, we will gain more male allies, who will collaborate with us to improve the situation.

Makki also posts quotes from readers and articles that relate to the ongoing debate about the role of women in the mosque, often revealing the frustration and sadness felt by women who are barred from fully participating in the religion they earnestly practice.

Ruwaida Gafoor comments, “I feel that many women in my community don’t attend the Jummah salaah be

cause we have been conditioned not to do so. Also, the masjid is designed in a way that deters women from attending.”

Evidently, there must be a change in mental attitudes as well as physical spaces to properly make a difference.

Read the rest:  Discrimination in Mosque Prayer Spaces for Women