News briefs for week of February 22, 2010

Saudi religious police crackdown on Valentine’s Day merchandise, Three Malaysian women are caned for extramarital sex, Saudi to permit female lawyers to argue cases, New Jersey Muslim man throws baby over a bridge, and Baltimore sixth-graders go on a field trip to an Islamic center.
Red-colored and heart-shaped items become contraband as February 14th nears each year in Saudi Arabia, reports the Associated Press. The religious police carry out the nationwide crackdown by confiscating all red items from gift and flower shops. Valentine’s Day is celebrated in other parts of the middle east including Dubai and Egypt where hotels and restaurants are heavily decorated in red and offer special packages.

Three Malaysian Muslim women were caned for having extramarital sex, reports the Associated Press. The identities of the women, who are the first females to receive such a punishment under Islamic law, will not be revealed. Last year’s highly publicized caning sentence for the Muslim woman seen drinking beer has not yet been carried out. Officials explain the punishments are meant to be symbolic rather than to elicit pain.

The Justice Ministry of Saudi Arabia is drafting a law that will allow female lawyers to argue cases in court for the first time, reports Maktoob News. Female lawyers currently only work in government and court offices. This new legislation will allow them to argue cases on family-related matters such as child custody and divorce in court.

Shamsiddi Abdur-Raheem, a 21-year-old father admitted to an imam and police authorities to have thrown his baby over a bridge in New Jersey, reports the Associated Press. Abdur- Raheem abducted his infant daughter from her maternal grandmother’s home while the baby’s mother was at court obtaining a restraining order against him. After committing the crime he drove to an Imam to receive consult who contacted the police.

Sixth graders from the Friends School in Baltimore went on a field trip to the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C, reports NPR. The girls wore colorful headscarves and sat to the right of the boys. The students learned about the basic tenants of Islam and were given an explanation about gender segregation in mosques.
Shazia Riaz is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah.

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