ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — A Pakistani court ordered the police to withdraw blasphemy charges against a Christian teenager on Tuesday, lawyers said, bringing an end to a contentious case that had gripped the country and sown fear in its Christian minority population.
The girl, Rimsha Masih, who comes from an impoverished family of sweepers, was arrested in August after Muslim accusers said she had been holding a burned copy of the Noorani Qaida, a religious textbook used to teach the Koran to children.
Relatives and human rights workers have said that the girl, 14, has Down syndrome and should therefore be exempt from the blasphemy laws.
On Tuesday, Justice Iqbal Hameed ur Rahman, who heads the Islamabad High Court, stated in his judgment that there was no evidence for the charges against Ms. Masih. In his 15-page judgment, he urged extreme caution in matters related to blasphemy and criticized the practice of fake blasphemy accusations against non-Muslims.
“The case against Rimsha Masih is finished,” said Tahir Naveed Chaudhry, one of her lawyers. “Justice has been served.”
CAIRO – In an effort to clear misconceptions about the term of jihad, a group of British Muslim women have initiated a new campaign to fight against all types of violence, terrorism and domestic abuse.
“People think ‘jihad against violence’ is a contradictory statement but our jihad is for peace,” Sara Khan, the director of Inspire campaign, told The Guardian on Monday, June 6.
Themed “Jihad against Violence”, the campaign, launched on Sunday, aims to fight all forms of violence.
It focuses on combating crimes, including terrorism, domestic abuse and female genital mutilation that some perpetrators attempt to justify in the name of Islam.
The Arab revolutions are not only shaking the structure of tyranny to the core – they are shattering many of the myths about the Arab region that have been accumulating for decades. Topping the list of dominant myths are those of Arab women as caged in, silenced, and invisible. Yet these are not the types of women that have emerged out of Tunisia, Egypt, or even ultra-conservative Yemen in the last few weeks and months.
Not only did women actively participate in the protest movements raging in those countries, they have assumed leadership roles as well. They organised demonstrations and pickets, mobilised fellow citizens, and eloquently expressed their demands and aspirations for democratic change.
Like Israa Abdel Fatteh, Nawara Nejm, and Tawakul Karman, the majority of the women are in their 20s and 30s. Yet there were also inspiring cases of senior activists as well: Saida Saadouni, a woman in her 70s from Tunisia, draped the national flag around her shoulders and partook in the Qasaba protests which succeeded in toppling M. Ghannouchi’s provisional government. Having protested for two weeks, she breathed a unique revolutionary spirit into the thousands who congregated around her to hear her fiery speeches. “I resisted French occupation. I resisted the dictatorships of Bourguiba and Ben Ali. I will not rest until our revolution meets its ends, for your sakes my sons and daughters, not for mine,” said Saadouni.
Whether on the virtual battlefields of the Internet or the physical protests in the streets, women have been proving themselves as real incubators of leadership. This is part of a wider phenomenon characteristic of these revolutions: The open politics of the street have bred and matured future leaders. They are grown organically in the field, rather than being imposed upon from above by political organisations, religious groups, or gender roles.
London, England (CNN) – The ban imposed by French President Sarkozy on wearing a face-covering veil, or niqab, is simply dangerous gesture politics, representing little more than pandering to the far right in France.
The full force of the state is coming down on fewer than 2,000 Muslim women out of a population of 6.5 million French Muslim citizens. For what purpose? We are told it is for security, the preservation of “French values” and to alleviate the oppression of women.
For security purposes, women who wear the veil should be ready to remove their face covering in places where security and identity checks are necessary, such as airports. The argument that criminals could abuse the niqab is not compelling enough to deny the fundamental freedom of religious expression to a group of French citizens — or indeed visitors to France.
The Associated Press Sunday, January 9, 2011; 4:30
AMAFGOYE, Somalia — Dr. Hawa Abdi has treated sick and wounded Somalis since 1983, through famine and civil war. But it only took one day for Islamist rebels to wreck her life’s work. And only a week for her to rediscover an older, more civil Somali society that has survived despite the horrors that have beset her east African homeland.
Speaking to The Associated Press, Abdi recalled the attack in stark detail:
It was the morning of May 5. Bullets from automatic rifles tore through the concrete walls and woven grass screens. A woman crawled away from her bed in the middle of giving birth. Another burst her stitches from a Cesarean birth as she ran, blood spilling from her body. Mothers were forced to tear IV tubes from their babies’ arms as they fled into the thorny bush.
“They just started shooting,” she said. “There was screaming everywhere.”
Last month, I climbed out of my “lap” and wore a hijab, the Muslim headscarf. I thought this temporary modification of my appearance would bring me closer to an understanding of the Muslim community, but in retrospect, I learned more about my place in the world.
Simplified, one piece of fabric is all it takes to turn perspectives upside-down.
The hijab is a contested, sacred and sometimes controversial symbol, but it is just a symbol. It is a symbol of Islam, a misconstrued, misunderstood religion that represents the most diverse population of people in the world — a population of more than one billion people.