News briefs for week of October 5, 2009

This week, in Egypt, bans on virginity kits and burqa cause a stir. In Canada and Italy, burqa bans were also proposed. And in a Lebanese paper Naomi Wolf asserts that Muslim women are not in need of being saved by the West.
Religious leaders in Egypt have called to have the Chinese artificial virginity kit Gigitmo banned from Egyptian markets, claiming that it will encourage promiscuity. The kit is placed inside a woman and pops with fake blood when it is punctured.

Egypt’s Al-Azhar University issued a statement this week banning women from wearing niqab in female-only classrooms and dormitories. The ban is meant to prevent the niqab from being imprinted on young girls’ minds. The niqab has grown increasingly popular in Egypt in recent years, worrying the government because the practice is associated with the conservative Salafi school of thought.

In Canada, the Muslim Canadian Congress called for a ban on burqas, stating that the burqa marginalizes women. “The burqa has absolutely no place in Canada,” said Farzana Hassan of the Congress.

In Italy, the conservative Northern League party called for an amendment to a 1975 law prohibiting guerillas from covering their faces that would make it possible to prosecute Muslim women in Italy who wear the burqa. The current law punishes violators with hefty fines and up to two years in jail.

And finally, a piece by Naomi Wolf appeared in Lebanon’s “The Daily Star” boldly proclaiming that Muslim women are not asking the West to save them. In the article Wolf details the bravery and courage of some of the women she has met during her travels to the Muslim world, particularly citing the women of Jordan as archetypes of what a strong, liberated Muslim woman looks like.
Rabea Chaudhry is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah.

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