News briefs for week of May 11, 2009

This week, an Islamic American Idol, an Islamic (inner) beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia, women-led protests against the Taliban in Pakistan, and a tour of female Muslim musicians concludes in Birmingham, England.
Moroccan mourchidates, female religious counselors, travel to Washington D.C. and New York next week for interfaith dialogues on women’s empowerment with religious, community, and government leaders.

The Arab world’s first Islamic pop music channel, 4shbab, launched an Islamic version of “American Idol” this season. The station aim’s to show the world that observant Muslims can have fun and be modern. A station founder, Ahmed Abu Heiba, say he would like to see female contestants on the show but believes some Arab “societies are not ready to accept it” just yet.

Pakistani women protest against Taliban’s brutal form of sharia but clarify the many versions of sharia and express their support of more Islamic forms.

Qanta Ahmed speaks out against Saudi judge’s approval of slapping spend-thrift wives and stresses King Abdullah’s very public stance against domestic violence and disapproval of backward thinking clerics.

Iran’s official list of presidential candidates will be released in coming days and may include a female contender, Rafat Bayat, a staunchly conservative elected representative of the Majlis (legislative assembly). She promises to push for women to be in high level decision-making positions. Bayat has also criticized Ahmadinajad’s lax imposition of the hijab.

Saudi Arabia launched a beauty pageant in Riyadh this week called, “Miss Beautiful Morals,” which is based exclusively on inner beauty. Pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak’s remarks criticizing western pageants’ sole concentration on physical beauty sparked some disagreement. American pageant officials stress good moral standards as important criteria. Nazanin Afshin-Jam, an Iranian Canadian, and former Miss. Canada, expressed she was able to use her fame to advocate against child executions in Iran.

The Missing Voices consortium concludes it’s European tour this week of Female Muslim Musicians. Music genres and ethnic roots of Musicians widely varied.
Shazia Riaz is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah.

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