Tag Archives: Hijab

I had to take off my Hijab because society refused to accept me

By Ayesha Umair

Out of the 50 Muslim majority states in the world, Pakistan ranks second in the list with a Muslim majority population of 97 per cent. And it was among these Muslims that I felt discriminated for donning a hijab.

I began the practice of hijab during my second year in art school. Initially, most of my friends did not pay attention to my additional piece of clothing and encouraged the practice. Eventually, however, I realised that while all my relatives, friends and acquaintances professed to be Muslims, very few supported my choice to wear a hijab.

Read more » The Express Tribune
See more » http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/29961/i-had-to-take-off-my-hijab-because-society-refused-to-accept-me/

Sharia doesn’t ask women to cover face, hands or feet: Council of Islamic Ideology

ISLAMABAD: The Council of Islamic Ideology (CII) continued its tradition of focusing on issues concerning women at its 200th meeting, on Monday.

The meeting, chaired by Maulana Mohammad Khan Sherani, ruled that covering the face, the hands up to the wrists and feet was not mandatory for Muslim women.

Incidentally, some of the more liberal members of the CII, including Maulana Tahir Ashrafi and Allama Amin Shaheedi, did not attend the first sitting of the two-day meeting.

Read more » DAWN
See more » http://www.dawn.com/news/1214319/

What we can learn from Turkey

Smokers’ Corner: Cold Turkey

By Nadeem F. Paracha

I’ve twice been to Turkey in the last three years. My second trip there coincided with the 2011 election. Recently I have come across various conservative and pro-establishment personalities, politicians and media men in Pakistan praising the Turkish model of democracy and economics.

For example, Imran Khan just returned from Turkey and sounded extremely impressed by that country’s people and politics.

The reason why you might now be hearing more and more Pakistanis singing praises of Turkey is due to the fact that a determined political party with an Islamist background has been winning elections and forming governments there ever since 2001.

It is a good sign that to some of our conservatives the Turkish social and political model now seems more charming to emulate than the puritanical authoritarianism of certain oil-rich Arab states. However, the fact is they may really be over-romanticising their Turkish experience. Either they haven’t understood the dynamics of Turkey’s political and social milieus, or they are only seeing what they want to see: i.e. a conservative Islamist party at the helm in what was supposed to be a secular country.

Only recently I heard a TV commentator suggest that Turkish prime minister, Recep Erdogan’s AK Party, has been winning elections due to its popularity among the rural and semi-rural Turks. This is a rather simplistic understanding of what is actually a complex consensus that the AK Party has struck with almost all sections of Turkish society.

Erdogan’s multiple electoral successes have more to do with his emphasis on economic growth, reform and his all-out efforts to help Turkey become part of the European Union (EU) than on the usual stern moralistic and anti-West stances that most Islamist parties are stuck with in most Muslim countries. During my trip to Istanbul when the campaigning for the 2011 elections was in full swing, not even once did I hear Erdogan (whose wife adorns a hijab) mention the word Islam.

Continue reading What we can learn from Turkey

Pakistan still global jihad hub

By

PESHAWAR: Pakistan is still a major destination for radicalised Muslims bent on a life of jihad, despite hundreds of US drone strikes, the death of Osama bin Laden and the fracturing of Al-Qaeda.

New battlegrounds have sprung up in Africa and the Middle East, but the number of foreign recruits smuggled into the northwestern tribal belt is increasing and they come from more diverse countries.

Since the 1980s “jihad” to expel Soviet troops from Afghanistan, Muslim fighters from all over the world have lived and trained on the Afghan-Pakistan border, moulded into Al-Qaeda and a host of spin-off militant networks.

After US-led forces in late 2001 evicted the Taliban in Kabul for sheltering Al-Qaeda, Afghan Taliban fled across the border into Pakistan.

But Washington and Nato will end their combat mission in Afghanistan next year and these days the Taliban say their foreign allies are drawn to other conflicts, despite their support networks in a region outside direct government control.

“Al-Qaeda is shifting its focus to Syria, Libya, Iraq or Mali,” one member of the Afghan Taliban told AFP on condition of anonymity in northwest Pakistan.

Local officials estimate the number of Arab fighters has fallen by more than a half or two thirds in the last 10 years, to below 1,000.

In the last two years, some Al-Qaeda Arabs, particularly Libyans and Syrians, left to take part in the civil war in Syria and the violent uprising that overthrew Libya’s dictator Muammar Qadhafi in 2011.

Others migrated to Iraq in 2003, and others to Somalia and Yemen.

But Saifullah Khan Mehsud, executive director of the Fata Research Center, a think-tank focused on the tribal belt, says uprisings in the Middle East have had a minimal effect on the Arab presence in Pakistan.

“Arab fighters are not leaving in big numbers,” he told AFP. “They have been there for 30 years and it continues,” he added.

The number of fighters from other countries is also rising, say witnesses in Miramshah, the main town of North Waziristan — the district with the largest concentration of Taliban and Al-Qaeda fighters.

“The overall number of foreign jihadis has increased in the last two years. Every week we see new faces,” says one regular visitor.

There could be around 2,000 to 3,500 foreign fighters in the border areas from around 30 different countries. During the 1980s, the number was also estimated to have been several thousand.

More nationalities, same problems

Most of the current crop are Turkmens and Uzbeks, numbering between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters according to local officials, who have fled authoritarian secular regimes in their home countries to set up their own groups.

The Islamic Jihad Union, which splintered from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, is based in Pakistan’s border areas. It is committed to toppling the government in Uzbekistan, and fights alongside insurgents in Afghanistan.

It has also plotted an attack in Germany, which was foiled.

US officials say covert drone strikes have played a huge role in destroying training camps and disrupting Al-Qaeda in Pakistan.

According to the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 362 US drone strikes have been reported in Pakistan since 2004 — 310 of them since US President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

Although North Waziristan locals say the strikes kill more Taliban than Al-Qaeda operatives, they have condemned foreign fighters to a life underground.

“They are low profile, they dress like locals, they avoid big meetings and above all they move all the time,” a local journalist told AFP.

Mehsud says that foreigners are coming from a more diverse number of countries than in years past.

“A few months ago, we even welcomed some (two or three) people from Fiji for the first time!” says the Taliban member who spoke with AFP.

“There are more nationalities because they face the same problems. They tell us that they feel left aside by capitalism and discriminated by unfair laws, like the Swiss one on minarets or the French one on hijabs,” he adds.

Local and Western officials say the number of Western militants have fallen to dozens compared to the several hundreds of a few years ago.

A Canadian, who uses the name Mohammad Ibrahim, told AFP that he had been in Pakistan for three years but was now preparing to leave to wage jihad at home.

“Foreigners are now afraid to come to Pakistan because of the drone strikes,” he says, putting the number of his compatriots at 14, compared to “60 to 85 three years ago”.

A mechanical engineer by training, he says he works in “technical and logistic affairs” but does not elaborate further.

“I often met British, Spanish, Italians, Algerians and Germans. But now…our movements have been limited because of the drone strikes,” he says.

Courtesy: DAWN
http://dawn.com/2013/01/27/pakistan-still-global-jihad-hub/

“Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

Chris Selley: Don’t worry people, there is no Muslim Tide

Canadian journalist Doug Saunders’ new book, The Myth of the Muslim Tide (Knopf), promises and delivers an impartial examination of the notion that Muslim immigration urgently threatens Western civilization. Balanced as it is, though, it reads mostly as a thorough, fact-dense and convincing debunking of that notion. For those inclined to be reassured, it does so very efficiently.

Continue reading “Fear not, America, for there is no Muslim Tide”

Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns & bombs

Lal Masjid: rewarding an insurrection

By Pervez Hoodbhoy

The honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan says he is losing patience with the Capital Development Authority (CDA). In a court-initiated (suo motu) action, he wants a quick rebuilding of the Jamia Hafsa madrassa, flattened by bulldozers in 2007, after it became the centre of an insurgency. A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court, headed by the CJ, is now dragging procrastinators over the coals by issuing notices to the CDA chairman, Islamabad’s chief commissioner and the interior secretary. The Court has also expressed its “displeasure” over the status of police cases against the Lal Masjid clerics and ordered the deputy attorney general to appear before it next week.

It is dangerous to comment on Pakistan’s highest level of judiciary. So let me solemnly declare that the highest wisdom must lie behind this extraordinary judicial activism. Nevertheless, I must confess my puzzlement because — as was seen by all — Lal Masjid and the adjoining Jamia Hafsa had engaged in a full-scale bloody insurrection against the Pakistani government, state, and public. Hundreds died. That those who led the insurrection should be gifted 20 kanals of the choicest land in sector H-11 of Islamabad is, I think, slightly odd.

Such thoughts crossed my mind last week when a flat tyre occasioned me to walk along the outer periphery of the freshly-painted and rebuilt Red Mosque. I momentarily stopped to read a large wind and rain-weathered monument which, placed on the government-owned land that Jamia Hafsa once stood upon, declares (in Urdu) that “The sacred Islamic worship place here was destroyed by a tyrannical ruler to prevent Sharia from becoming the law”.

The story of the insurrection and its tragic end is well-known. In early January 2007, the Lal Masjid had demanded the immediate rebuilding of eight illegally-constructed mosques that had been knocked down by the CDA. Days later, an immediate enforcement of the Sharia system in Islamabad was demanded. Thereafter, armed vigilante groups from this madrassa roamed the streets and bazaars. They kidnapped ordinary citizens and policemen, threatened shopkeepers, and repeated the demands of the Taliban and other tribal militants fighting the Pakistan Army.

At a meeting held in Lal Masjid on April 6, 2007, it was reported that 100 guest religious leaders from across the country pledged to die for the cause of Islam and Sharia. On April 12, in an FM broadcast, the clerics issued a threat to the government: “There will be suicide blasts in the nook and cranny of the country. We have weapons, grenades and we are expert in manufacturing bombs. We are not afraid of death….”

Lal Masjid was headed by two clerics, the brothers Maulana Abdul Aziz and Maulana Abdur Rashid Ghazi. They had attracted a core of militant organisations around them, including the pioneer of suicide bombings in the region, Jaish-e-Muhammad. Also on April 12 2007, Rashid Ghazi, a former student of my university, broadcast the following chilling message to our female students:

The government should abolish co-education. Quaid-e-Azam University has become a brothel. Its female professors and students roam in objectionable dresses. They will have to hide themselves in hijab otherwise they will be punished according to Islam…. Our female students have not issued the threat of throwing acid on the uncovered faces of women. However, such a threat could be used for creating the fear of Islam among sinful women. There is no harm in it. There are far more horrible punishments in the Hereafter for such women.”

For months, unhindered by General Musharraf’s government, the Lal Masjid operated a parallel government that was barely a mile or two away from the presidency and parliament. Its minions ran an unlicenced FM radio station, occupied a government building, set up a parallel system of justice, made bonfires out of seized cassettes and CDs, received the Saudi Arabian ambassador on the mosque premises, and negotiated with the Chinese ambassador for the release of his country’s kidnapped nationals. But for the subsequent outrage expressed by Pakistan’s all-weather ally, the status quo would have continued indefinitely.

Nevertheless, our courts say that they cannot find any evidence of wrongdoing during the entire six-month long saga. They say there are no witnesses or acceptable evidence. Abdul Aziz and Umme Hassan (his wife, who heads Jamia Hafsa), therefore, stand exonerated. Also lacking, they say, is proof that the Lal Masjid accused possessed heavy weaponry.

But Islamabad’s residents know better. When the showdown came in July 2007, machine guns chattered away as mortars and rocket launchers exchanged their deadly fire. Copious TV coverage shows armed madrassa students putting on gas masks to avoid the dense smoke. The final push left 10 of Pakistan’s crack SSG commandos dead, together with scores of defenders. A tidal wave of suicide attacks — as promised by the clerics — promptly followed.

Some speculate that the land gifted to Aziz and Hassan is actually the price for keeping hornets inside their nest. This is not impossible because suicide bomb attacks inside Pakistan’s major cities have decreased dramatically in the last two years. The authorities claim credit, saying the reason is better intelligence about violent groups and better policing. But anyone driving through Islamabad knows how trivially easy it is to conceal weapons and explosives; the security measures are certainly a nuisance to citizens but hopelessly ineffective otherwise. So, could the H-11 land offer be part of a much wider peace deal with various militant groups?

The temptation to make deals has grown after the battle for Lal Masjid. It is clear who won and who lost. Even as they fought tooth and nail against the Pakistan Army, the madrassa clerics were never dismissed and continued to receive their full government salaries. On the other hand, General Musharraf — who acted only after things went out of control — now sulks in exile. All madrassa curriculum reform plans are dead; the government does not talk about them anymore — let the clerics teach what they want.

Appeasement is the hallmark of a weak state and dithering leadership. Once again, Pakistan is showing its helplessness in the face of those who carry guns and bombs. For a country alleged to have the world’s fastest growing nuclear arsenal, this is surely ironical.

Courtesy: The Express Tribune, May 21st, 2012.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/381761/lal-masjid-rewarding-an-insurrection/