Jumu’ah dispatch #3 – Friday news updates

As always, Muslimah Media Watch brings us the latest in news from the Muslim world, focusing on women’s issues. Check out this week’s (very thorough) update. Some selections:

* Women have started a group called Sisters Against Violent Extremism. The idea? Courageous dialogue will not just transgress national boundaries – but mobilize women to make positive change. They’re redefining the conversation from Sri Lanka to New York. Stay updated by subscribing to their newsletter.

* If you’re already at the Women Without Borders website, you’ll see a link to Men for Change. They feel that “to be free means being equal in every way” – and they’re taking on issues from honor killings in Pakistan to domestic violence in the United States. Mashallah.

* Iran steps up threats against Shirin Ebadi.

* A community in Uganda has banned female genital cutting. Community leaders are petitioning the country’s government to ban the practice nationwide. They’re not waiting around for the United Nation’s goal to “significantly reduce” female genital cutting by 2015.

* A Muslim woman was brutally attacked on her campus in Chicago. This follows a string of anti-Muslim incidents at the school, including the vandalism of the young woman’s locker with hate speech.

Check out the rest of MMW’s weekly links here.

News roundup – with the help of MMW

An image from the Egyptian campaign to promote hijab
"You won't be able to stop them, but you can protect yourself" - Egyptian hijab campaign in which men are flies and women are lollies.

As always, Muslimah Media Watch delivers a comphrehensive list of media about women and Islam in their Friday Links post. This week, I’m sharing with you those stories about Muslim women and men taking action against gender-based injustice.

* Arab news reports on the Saudi debate about women becoming muftis. The Grand Mufti of Syria has already opened some doors for women. The Council of Senior Islamic Scholars’ Sheikh Abdullah Al-Munai says that in Shariah regulations “the woman is like the man”, with “the exact same thinking and brain”. That’s not something we usually hear about Shariah law, now is it? He rejects the idea that women shouldn’t speak in public, and reminds us that during the time of the Prophet (pbuh) there was a “huge group of Muslim women who were considered among the Islamic scholars.”

* Noted Islamic scholars in Bangladesh call on Muslim leadership to work for women’s rights.

* Young Egyptian women and men ages 14-24 fight back against sexual harassment. The basic ideas? Not only should women and girls not be blamed for the harassment and assaults they’re targeted with, but they also need to be able to defend themselves. The campaign also believes that real men – those who don’t harass women – still exist. If you need proof, these guys are demanding that men “stand up to” those who harass women rather than ever letting their behavior slide. Men are literally calling on other men to “chase down” harassers!

* Saudi Arabia considers legislation against child marriage. It’s about time! While some leaders don’t quite seem to get it, others remind people that for a marriage to be valid, the female must express real consent.

More. About. Hijab. Swanky hijab this time.

Yes, another post about hijab. I can’t help myself – Muslimah Media Watch started it!

IslamOnline published an article this month about the hijab going mainstream. It was a truncated version of the Telegraph’s piece on the headscarf making a fresh foray into fashion. The piece in the Telegraph opens with the journalist feeling none-too-happy with her “babushka” appearance as she tries on a headscarf. (Sidenote: the scarf was Hermes. If she’d care to donate her castoff Hermes to me, I’d be more than happy to show her that there is no reason to feel frumpette in those threads, wallahi!)

Anyway, Dolce & Gabbana, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Vera Wang and other designers are jumping into the  market, looking to “liven up” the headscarf and “introduce it to a younger generation.”

This isn’t anything entirely new. Top-notch designers have been designing abayas for years and selling them to the Middle East’s upper crust. Rummaging through a friend’s closet recently – looking for something to wear to a party we’d be attending – I had my pick of abayas: stunning purple, gilded turquoise – from Lolita Lempicka to Dior. (To my chagrin, my feet were too puny for her Louboutins.) In her closet, modesty met fashion, for sure. But wait – if it’s a flagrant display of cha-ching, is it modesty at all?

What is new is the 21st century push to revive the headscarf in the West. Sure, Grace Kelly rocked it. So did Audrey Hepburn. It’s even shown up on runways over the past 5 years — but hasn’t made its way into the fashion rags as an “it” trend.

Faith at Muslimah Media Watch has posted an insightful and interesting commentary about this, which I recommend you read here.