News briefs for week of August 17, 2009

This week, a Singaporian model is caned for drinking alcohol, high female voter turnout in Afghani elections, Indian Muslim women are trained in boxing, and more burqini rage in France.
A Singaporian, Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, who models part time in Malaysia is set to become the first woman in the country to be caned for drinking alcohol in public during a work visit two years ago. Shukarno says that if the purpose of the punishment is to set an example for other Muslims then she wants the caning carried out in public. A lawyer from the sharia association explains that the recipient of the flogging is fully clothed and the flogger cannot raise his arm high. The six strokes will be delivered using a thin stick, so that they don’t break the skin.

Thursday’s elections resulted in a high female voter turn out in Western Afghanistan. Women were 60 percent of the voters at a polling station in Herat city’s Jibrail neighborhood, where many Shi’ite Hazara migrants live, Afghanistan’s third largest ethnic group. In many regions, women outnumbered the men in voter registration although their presence at voting booths in the Taliban-prevalent south was low.

The Fatma sisters, encouraged by their father and brother, are of 36 Muslim females coached by Sheikh Mehradjuddin Ahmed at a boxing club in KolKuta, India. From an impoverished and mostly Muslim neighborhood, Khidderpore, these girls aspire to one day compete at national and international levels. The publicity from which, they hope, will lead to job offers from the railway and police force which, in addition to reward money, can help them become financially independent. So far, only one of the Muslim women coached by Ahmed has competed at an international level.

The burqa and burqini controversy rages on in France and Nioucha Homayoonfar shares her unique experience of growing up in the eighties in the new Islamic Republic of Iran while spending her summers in France with her French mother. She describes the jarring experience of being reprimanded for wearing improper hijab in the streets of Tehran one month to encountering topless women on French beaches the next. In the end, she chose to oppose hijab and what it stands for but also criticizes the French for trying to control how women dress.
Shazia Riaz is Associate Editor of Altmuslimah

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