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Religious and Cultural Interpretations

USA: Chicago Islamic leader uses education as weapon against terrorism and discrimination

May 30, 2012

Education is the weapon of choice for an area Islamic leader in his fight against the radicalization of Islamic youth and the discrimination of American Muslims.

Dr. Sabeel Ahmed, 36, is the director of the Gain Peace project, an Islamic outreach program based in Chicago. Ahmed blames misinterpretations of the Quran and Islam for the dual extremes of Islamophobia and violent Islamist radicalism. He sees education as the way forward to both break down stereotypes and counter terrorist groups looking to recruit Muslim-Americans to commit acts of violence.

United Kingdom: Pressures and Resistance to Polygamy

May 31, 2012

When Dr Zabina Shahian married Pervez Choudhry she thought he would be the man with whom she would settle down for the rest of her life and start a family.

But she did not know the former Conservative party leader on Slough Borough Council was still married.

Choudhry, 54, who claimed he did not realise the marriage in Pakistan was legally valid in the UK, was given a community order after admitting bigamy.

South Africa: Campaign tackles myth of girl brides as fabled HIV cure

May 27, 2012

KwaCele, South Africa - The landscape of the rural Eastern Cape in South Africa has a haunting beauty. A myriad of round turquoise huts scatter across the land in a series of endless villages.

Yet these villages are also home to a terrible and devastating traditional practice that destroys children's lives and tears families apart.

In these villages, girls as young as 12 are kidnapped by older men and forced to 'marry.' It is accepted as part of the Xhosa people's culture. It has continued unabated for decades.

India: Jamiat wants property rights for women

May 21, 2012

NEW DELHI: Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, which runs the largest number of madrasas across the country, has sought inheritance rights for Muslim women through amendment of existing laws.

"According to the law of our country, women are denied right to inheritance in agricultural land. This is against the law of Islamic inheritance. So, the existing law should be amended to ensure her rights," JuH leader Mahmood Madani told TOI.

India: Imams meet to 'introspect' on giving women their due

May 16, 2012

The biggest group of imams in the country, the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, is taking the first tentative steps towards addressing issues faced by Muslim women.

At its two-day conference beginning here tomorrow, one of the resolutions before the thousands of imam delegates who are expected to participate is “introspection” on how the community treats its women folk and on giving “women their due”.

Afghanistan: Women push for rights behind the wheel

May 15, 2012

(Reuters) - The morning after the Taliban fell Shakila Naderi shed her head-to-toe burqa, sat behind the wheel of a car for the first time and asked her husband to teach her how to drive.

Now Kabul's only female driving instructor, she teaches women a rare skill that confronts harsh opposition in ultra-conservative, Muslim Afghanistan.

Egypt: New Al-Azhar document to safeguard women's rights

May 13, 2012

“Al-Azhar, the country’s highest religious institution, intends to prepare a new document to safeguard women’s rights, as enshrined in the Islamic Sharia,” said Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar.

Kuwait: Bill proposed to prohibit female judges

May 14, 2012

KUWAIT: Five lawmakers proposed amendments to the current law that governs judiciary work in Kuwait, which if implemented, will disqualify female citizens from being appointed as judges or prosecutors.

The draft law presented by MPs Khalid Al-Sultan, Ammar Al-Ajmi, Abdullatif Al-Omair, Nayef Al-Merdas, and Dr Mohammad Al-Kandari, includes an amendment to Article 19 of Law Number 23/1990. This is to change item (A) which states that a member must be ‘a Kuwaiti Muslim,’ and add the term ‘male’ to the statement.

Pakistan: Helping Women with Career Building and Empowerment

May 14, 2012

Saima Anwar lives in the Swat area of northern Pakistan. Her family was poor and couldn't pay for her education, so she worked a part-time job to get through school. But when she wanted to become a lawyer -- a profession she's "crazy about" -- she had to find a different way.

Activism Under the Radar: Volunteer Health Workers in Iran

May, 2009

Few would disagree that the 1979 Iranian revolution, despite the massive participation of women, rapidly became a catastrophe for women’s legal status and social position. Under the Shah, Iran had a mildly forward-looking family law limiting men’s rights to polygamy and unilateral divorce, and, at least theoretically, basing child custody on the best interests of the child. Within two weeks of the revolution, this legislation was annulled, on the grounds that it was against the shari‘a. The new Islamic Republic introduced retrograde laws that, among other things, valued a woman’s life at half of a man’s, and considered two women witnesses to be the equal of one man. The age of marriage as well as maturity for women was reduced to nine. At the same time, the regime promoted motherhood as the only viable life option for women and dismantled the family planning unit the Shah’s regime had founded. In 1989, concerned about the burgeoning population, the Islamic Republic made a volte face and introduced one of the most successful family planning programs in the developing world. In the process of transmitting health messages, however, these volunteers continuously found ways to redefine their mandate and expand their position in other areas of the public sphere.

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