Friday 31 August 2012

11-year-old girl married to 40-year-old man

Before their wedding ceremony begins in rural Afghanistan, a 40-year-old man sits to be photographed with his 11-year-old bride. The girl tells the photographer that she is sad to be engaged because she had hoped to become a teacher. Her favorite class was Dari, the local language, before she had to leave her studies to get married.
She is one of the 51 million child brides around the world today. And it's not just Muslims; it happens across many cultures and regions.
Photographer Stephanie Sinclair has traveled the world taking pictures, like the one of the Afghan couple, to document the phenomenon. Christiane Amanpour spoke with Sinclair about a book which features her photographs called, "Questions without Answers: The World in Pictures by the Photographers of VII."
Amanpour asked Sinclair if the 11-year-old Afghan girl married in 2005, and others like her, consummate their marriages at such an early age. Sinclair says while many Afghans told her the men would wait until puberty, women pulled her aside to tell her that indeed the men do have sex with the prepubescent brides.
Sinclair has been working on the project for nearly a decade. She goes into the areas with help from people in these communities who want the practice to stop, because they see the harmful repercussions.
In Yemen, a similar picture. Tehani and Ghada are sisters-in-law photographed with their husbands, who are both members of the military. Like most of the girls, Tehani didn’t even know she was getting married, until the wedding night. She was six years old.
Tehani describes how she entered the marriage, “They were decorating my hands, but I didn’t know they were going to marry me off. Then my mother came in and said, ‘Come on my daughter.’ They were dressing me up and I was asking, ‘Where are you taking me?’”
Sinclair says, “This harmful, traditional practice of child marriage is just so embedded in some of these cultures that the families don't protect them as they should.”
The subjects do know they’re being photographed and Sinclair tells them the topic she is working on. She does tell them that there is teen pregnancy in places like the U.S., but for the societies she’s photographing it’s even worse that 13-year-old girls are pregnant and unmarried.
Another one of the photographs Sinclair took is of a Yemeni girl named Nujood Ali. In a rare turn of events, Ali managed to get a divorce at age 10.
“A couple months after she was married, she went to the court and found a lawyer – a woman named Shada Nasser and asked her to help her get a divorce, and she was granted [it],” Sinclair says. “It's definitely rare and Nujood became kind of an international symbol of child marriage, because she was able to do this. And I think she's inspired a lot of other girls and other organizations to support these girls, to have a stronger voice.”
Sinclair has documented the practice outside of the Muslim world. In a Christian community in Ethiopia, she captured the image of a 14 year-old girl named Leyualem in a scene that looks like an abduction. Leyualem was whisked away on a mule with a sheet covering up her face. Sinclair asked the groomsmen why they covered her up; they said it was so she would not be able to find her way back home, if she wanted to escape the marriage.
Sinclair travelled to India and Nepal, and photographed child marriages among some Hindus.
A five-year-old Hindu girl named Rajni was married under cover of night: “Literally at four o'clock in the morning. And her two older sisters were married to two other boys,” Sinclair says. “Often you see these group marriages because the girl and the families can't afford to have three weddings.” In the five-year-old girl’s case, Rajni will continue to live with her own family for several years.
Girls aren’t always the only ones forced into marriage. Sinclair wanted to photograph child marries in India and Nepal, because sometimes the boys entering a marriage are also young. “And often they're victims just as much of this harmful traditional practice,” she says.
Sinclair told Amanpour that she hopes her photographs would not only highlight the problems to westerners, but also show people in the areas where this takes place that  if the girls continue to be taken out of the population to forcibly work at home, that their communities suffer as a whole.
“It's a harmful traditional practice that is slowly changing. We just want to have it change even faster.”

Wednesday 29 August 2012

French woman in custody fight with Saudi Prince dies in fall

Suspicions have been raised about the apparently accidental death of a French mother who was gaining ground in a lengthy child custody battle with a Saudi prince.

French authorities insisted yesterday that the death of Candice Cohen-Ahnine, 35, in a fall from her fourth floor apartment in Paris, bore all the signs of an accident. However, friends and her lawyer say she had spoken of a feeling of being under threat in recent days. Despite a previous suicide attempt, they are convinced that she would not have killed herself just weeks before she was due to travel to Saudi Arabia to visit her 10 year old daughter for the first time in four years.

"She was in a state of exaltation, very determined, delighted," said her lawyer, Laurence Tarquiny-Charpentier. "There was a great deal of progress in her case in recent times."
Ms Cohen-Ahnine published a book last year on her struggle to recover her daughter, Haya, who has been held – allegedly in captivity – by her father, Prince Sattam al-Saud of the Saudi royal family, since September 2008.
She fell from the window of her fourth-floor apartment in the eighth arrondissement of Paris, apparently while trying to clamber into the flat next door. Although there was no obvious sign that she had been attacked, friends have suggested to the French media that she might have been trying to flee an assailant. The results of a post-mortem examination released yesterday failed to clear up the mystery. Officials said the autopsy showed that she died as a result of injuries from the fall. "The accident theory appears to have firmed up," one official said.

A French court ruled in January that Haya be restored to her mother's full custody and ordered Prince Sattam to pay child support of €10,000 (£7,800) a month. The prince rejected the ruling but agreed recently that Ms Cohen-Ahnine, who was of French-Jewish origin, could travel to Saudi Arabia to see her daughter next month.
The couple met in London in 1997. After an on-off love affair, Haya was born in November 2001. The prince allegedly refused to marry Ms Cohen-Ahnine because she was Jewish but asked her to remain as his mistress after he married his cousin.
In her book Rendez-moi ma fille ("Give me back my daughter"), she claimed that she was held captive in a palace in Riyadh after taking Haya to visit her father in 2008. She refused to leave without the little girl but, according to her account, the prince's family threatened to bring charges that she was a Muslim who had converted to Judaism – an offence punishable by death under Saudi law. She took fright and, with the help of the French embassy, escaped and returned to France.

Her lawyer said: "This was no suicide. The pain of her separation from her daughter had left its traces but she was also a great fighter, convinced that she would see her daughter again."
The journalist and author Jean-Claude Elfassi, who co-wrote Ms Cohen-Ahnine's book, criticised the French authorities for not fighting her case more strenuously. "Fate was against her," he said. "She promised her daughter the day that she left her: 'I will never abandon you'. And to her last breath, she fought for Haya."

Monday 27 August 2012

Say Alhamdulilah!

When you are hurt by the people who share blood relations with u, recall Yusuf (A.S) who was also betrayed by his brothers..

When you find your parents opposing you (in deen) recall Ibrahim (A.S) who was burnt by his own father..

When you are mocked and abused by your own relatives just cause you adopted deen over dunia, recall Rasool (SAW) who faced the same..

When you are stuck into some problem and find no way out recall Younus (A.S) who was stuck into a whale's stomach..

When you fall ill and your whole body cries with pain, recall Ayoob (A.S) who was more ill than you..

When you see some physical fault in yourself, recall Moosa (A.S) who could not properly speak..

When someone slanders you, recall Ayesha (R.A) who was also slandered through the whole city..

When you feel lonely, recall how Adam (A.S) would have felt when he was sent to this earth alone..

When you cant see any logic in whats going on and your heart asks why is this happening, recall Nooh (A.S) who made the biggest ship without questioning....

SubhanAllah Allah put all those great personalities in trials, so that some day someone like You and Me, if faced by any calamity should not question WHY ME??

Just say Alham'dulillah

Saturday 25 August 2012

Anders Breivik jailed for 21 years

Comment: still not a terrorist though...


Anders Behring Breivik has been convicted of terrorism and premeditated murder for bomb and gun attacks that killed 77 people and sentenced to a special prison term that would allow authorities to keep him locked up for as long as he is considered dangerous.

Breivik, a self-styled anti-Muslim militant, looked pleased as Judge Wenche Elisabeth Arntzen read the ruling, declaring him sane enough to be held criminally responsible for Norway's worst peacetime attacks.
Lawyers for the 33-year-old Norwegian said before the decision that Breivik would appeal any insanity ruling but accept a prison sentence.
Going against the recommendation of prosecutors, who had asked for an insanity ruling, Arntzen imposed a sentence of "preventive detention", a special prison term for criminals considered dangerous to society.
She set the minimum length of imprisonment to 10 years and the maximum at 21 years, the longest allowed under Norwegian law.

However, such sentences can be extended under Norwegian law as long as an inmate is considered dangerous.
Wearing a dark suit and sporting a thin beard, Breivik smirked as he walked in to the courtroom to hear his sentence and raised a clenched-fist salute.
Breivik, 33, confessed to the attacks during the trial, describing in gruesome detail how he detonated a car bomb at the government headquarters in Oslo and then opened fire at the annual summer camp of the governing Labour Party's youth wing.
Eight people were killed and more than 200 injured by the explosion.
Sixty-nine people, mostly teenagers, were killed in the shooting massacre on Utoya island. The youngest victim was 14.

Wednesday 22 August 2012

The rise of the affluent Muslim traveller

Muslims are predicted to make up almost one in three of the world's population by 2025, and increasing numbers of well-heeled, well-educated Muslims are already seeking out goods and services that meet their needs - not only at home, but also when they travel.
An early morning call from Malaysia. It's an old friend enquiring about London's best halal hotel.
Enthused by the coverage of Queen Elizabeth's Diamond Jubilee, the London Olympics and Mo Farah's double gold wins, he has decided to visit London with his family as soon as Ramadan finishes this month.
He would like to stay in a Muslim-friendly hotel, do I have any suggestions?
I ask a few friends and search some Muslim websites - only to draw a blank. The closest London can offer is a vegetarian-friendly hotel. But it's not just the assurance of halal food that my friend is hoping for.
He'd like to go somewhere which is considerate of his family's other needs as Muslims, such as guidance on finding the direction of Mecca inside the hotel room for prayer times, alcohol-free dining areas, perhaps separate spa facilities for men and women.
My friend is part of a growing worldwide trend. Global urban Muslims, highly educated, well-travelled, often with families spread across different continents, they are increasingly seeking out goods and services that respect and reflect their needs as Muslims.
And this is no narrow niche - the worldwide Muslim population of around 1.8 billion is growing rapidly and is predicted to reach 30% of the global population by 2025.
Urban Muslims like my friend are increasingly flexing their consumer muscles and travel is just one sector where their money is beginning to count.
A recent study conducted by Dinar Standard, a US-based consultancy that tracks the Muslim lifestyle market, found that Muslims spent about 102bn euros (£85bn, $126bn) during their travels last year.
In 2020 the corresponding figure is reckoned to reach 156bn euros (£122bn, $192bn).
The favourite destinations have been predominantly Islamic countries, such as Egypt, Malaysia, and Turkey. But now non-Islamic countries such as Australia are also waking up to this group of tourists.
Fazal Bahardeen, founder and CEO of Crescentrating, a Singapore-based organisation which ranks hotels and airports for their Muslim-friendly facilities, points out that Muslim travellers tend to travel in larger family groups, stay longer and spend more.
No business can afford to ignore them.
With 60% of its population Muslim, Malaysia has taken a global lead in promoting halal goods and services.
When I visited Kuala Lumpur in April for its annual world halal week I was astonished to see the range of non-food items being showcased: from glamorously packaged French perfume and fashion through to halal paintbrushes and chinaware.
But one of the biggest revelations was to visit a holiday resort in the seaside town of Port Dickson which is crescent-rated five, indicating that it offers a really Muslim-friendly holiday experience.
The Balinese-style luxury villas in the hotel complex reach out on stilts over the turquoise waters. Overlooking the Malacca Straits, with palm trees and golden sands all around, it's a picture postcard paradise.
Each villa has an arrow on the ceiling indicating the direction of Mecca, and Korans are readily available. The hotel restaurant is not only halal, it does not serve alcohol either.
The deluxe villas come with their own private indoor pool so Muslim women don't have to use the public pool.
There are prayer rooms on site as well as lots of wholesome family-friendly activities - and no adult movies on the in-room entertainment.
The resort offers special Ramadan packages, with the pre-dawn breakfast and a buffet in the evening to end each day's fasting.
Not surprisingly the hotel is attracting Muslim holidaymakers from all over the world.
Britain could do a lot better. East London is home to the Olympic Stadium, and other icons of the amazing games we have just witnessed.
Its surrounding five local authorities are also home for almost half of Britain's 2.1 million Muslims. With all this next to Europe's largest shopping mall, there are great opportunities to develop the area as a perfect destination for a Muslim-friendly holiday.
Just for starters, how about the Mo Farah London Bus Tour? source

Monday 20 August 2012

Eid Mubarak!

Eid Mubarak all my brothers and sisters. Please remember those who are not fortunate enough or do not have the luxury to celebrate in safety, peace and freedom. 

Tuesday 14 August 2012

Karachi heroin addicts: Cold turkey the only cure

 The UN estimates there are around half a million chronic heroin users in Pakistan, with many living in the country's biggest city Karachi. But help for addicts is in short supply, and locking them up is one of the only forms of treatment.
The street outside Zainab market in Karachi is a great place for people-watching. Everyone has a story. A moment of eye contact can inspire an entire imagined history. Traders, customers, students - and heroin addicts.
It is here I talked to 26-year-old Hussain. With him there is no need to imagine. All dark skin and scars, Hussain has been plagued by addiction most of his adult life.
His face is resigned, as if the universe has conspired against him. He is at an all-time low in a life that has already reached some very dark depths.
"I want to be the man I used to be, to be happy again," he cries. "What am I supposed to do? I just want to die."
When I first met Hussain a few weeks earlier, things seemed more hopeful. He and his brother Yusaf were at a rehab centre run by the Edhi Foundation - a Karachi based charity.
Hussain said his addiction had ruined everything, so in an attempt to get his life in order he had summoned all his strength to drag himself and Yusaf into rehab.
"I have a son. He gets angry and calls me a druggy. I have to give up for him," he told me.
"My family have said I have to choose between heroin and them. I've told them I'll give up heroin."
Yusaf is like Hussain's shadow. Speaking to them together, Yusaf nods when his brother does and often repeats the end of Hussain's sentences.
The first day I meet them they are both going through withdrawal. Their bodies shake and they tell me they feel like they are covered in "fire and needles".
"There is pain for a few days, but it has to be done," says Hussain. "God help me, the pain in my body will go away."
The Edhi Foundation offers addicts a free rehabilitation service and runs six centres in Karachi with around 4,500 patients receiving care at any one time. Treatment is basic.
"We don't have the resources or the funds for things like methadone," explains Dr Ayaz Memom, the clinic's lone medic. Instead the centre provides a drug-free environment."
What this means is a system of enforced "cold turkey", with only sedative injections and paracetamol tablets offered for pain relief.
Many of Edhi's patients - most of them men - are admitted by their families, against their will. Once in a clinic, they are locked behind bars.
Patients are housed in four distinct sections, marking progressive levels of heroin dependency. As I walk through the centre, the men inside push against the bars to tell me they are "completely better now".
One pleads with me to shake his hand. As I did so, he gave me a small rosary and asked that I pray for him.
I spent several weeks in Karachi and each time I visited the Edhi centre I saw men trying to convince family members that they are ready for release.
Staff tell me they see a constant stream of patients leave and return within weeks - sometimes even days. There is little they can do to stop family members taking patients home midway through the withdrawal process.
"Withdrawal makes good people lie. These people will say whatever they need to get out," says Dr Ayaz. "If they return in a week or a month, we'll treat them again."
Some patients I met were on their sixth round of treatment.
The scale of the foundation's struggle to reduce heroin addiction in Karachi can be appreciated when driving through the city. One afternoon I ask the Edhi staff if I would be able to meet addicts on the city's streets.
An ambulance driver takes me on a tour of various districts - Esa Colony, then onto Liyari and Maleer. I see groups of men injecting openly in the middle of the street. They share needles and look on as children pass, returning home from school.
The war in Afghanistan has seen opium poppy cultivation spiral and Karachi's port is a hub from which heroin is shipped around the world. As a result heroin here is readily available and, addicts tell me, is often cheaper than food.
The addicts I speak to have a shared experience of poverty. Men without work, prospects or hope, dive into heroin use as an escape.
After eight days in rehab, Hussain and Yusaf decided they were ready to start their new lives and left the centre, claiming the Edhi Foundation had "saved them". As they had checked themselves into the clinic, they were free to leave.
Hussain told me he could not wait to see his wife and son and was optimistic about his future, but his return home did not produce the welcome he had been expecting.
His years of heroin abuse have frustrated his wife beyond redemption. She no longer trusts him.
Distraught, Hussain tells me his wife has asked him for a divorce and has refused to let him into the family home. She wants to move on with her life and concentrate on raising her son.
At their family home, she tells me she is unconvinced his spell in rehab will work.
"As soon as he gets out he'll start taking heroin again. What kind of father is he?" she asks and recalls one of the most traumatic phases of her husband's addiction.
"He said 'I'll sell our son, who can stop me?' That's wrong. I'm a mother, I can't tolerate this.
"He's just a heroin addict. That is all he is."
With nowhere to live, Hussain now sleeps on the street, and survives by working his way through Karachi's soup kitchens.
To make matters worse, his brother Yusaf has run off, having stolen his phone and his last 500 rupees. For the first time in his life, he is all alone, the lust for heroin even overwhelming brotherly love.
For now, though, Hussain is at least drug-free, but whether this will last is anyone's guess.
The Edhi system of rehab may not be ideal and little is known about the charity's success rate. Its team of staff and volunteers often seem swamped by the scale of addiction they are dealing with in Karachi.
But the foundation offers a single lifeline for desperate people and is the only form of support for many addicts in a city that can sometimes feel like it is floating on a sea of heroin.  Source

Monday 13 August 2012

Pakistani wife in disputed marriage gunned down in court by her brother

 A new low for Pakistan:(

So-called honour killings by families who believe their daughters have disgraced them are increasingly common in Pakistan. But the gunning down last week of a woman by her brother, a lawyer, in front of dozens of witnesses in a packed courtroom in the bustling city of Hyderabad marks an alarming new low.
The family of 22 year-old Raheela Sehto had already made their fury at her marriage to Zulfiqar Sehto – a love match struck without their permission – abundantly clear. They reacted by filing a claim with local police that their daughter had been kidnapped by her 30-year-old husband, a life-long neighbour who had wooed Raheela over the years, although largely through clandestine mobile phone conversations.
Her uncle had tried to throttle her with a scarf at an earlier appearance at the high court in Hyderabad in July. The couple had petitioned the court for its protection and to try and have the kidnapping charges thrown out.
But Sehto, a university graduate working for the local electricity company, said they felt they had no reason to fear for their lives in court, even when in the earlier part of the morning he was sitting almost directly in front of his wife's eventual killer, Javed Iqbal Shaikh, her brother.
Shortly after the two judges had returned to their seats after a break, Shaikh, dressed in the black suit and tie of his profession, produced a gun he had smuggled into court, lunged at Raheela and shot her point-blank in the left side of the head.
"Before she fell to the ground, my wife was looking straight at me," said Sehto. The gunman, Shaikh, then tried to shoot Sehto, but was overpowered by police.
Although furious families have succeeded in killing their daughters in police custody before, it is the first time such an incident has occurred in open court.
The killer managed to evade security checks, including two sets of metal detectors and body searches, because he was one of the country's obstreperous lawyers – an entitled group that has been known to assault policemen violently.
"The lawyers, they don't like to be searched," said Amjad Shaikh, a police superintendent in Hyderabad, the main city in Pakistan's southern province of Sindh. "Security is a little bit of a problem there."
Apparently unrepentant, Shaikh gave interviews to journalists later, while in custody, saying he had "lost my mind".
"I did that in rage because she had dishonoured the family," he said to a Pakistani newspaper. Four other family members who accompanied him in court have also been charged over the killing.
"Everyone is very shocked by this because it happened in an educated family," said the police officer. "Normally, honour killings happen in the rural areas where people are not educated."
In the countryside such crimes can even be given the imprimatur of local "jirgas", informal and illegal justice systems run by communities that enforce tribal law.
The superintendent added that the involvement of the Shaikhs was also unusual, saying they are known for being "peaceful".
The Shaikhs of Sindh, originally migrants from neighbouring Punjab, tend to enjoy high levels of education, are traditionally involved in trade and are little connected with tribal custom.
According to the latest survey of violence against women by the Aurat Foundation, a rights group, there were 2,341 honour killings in 2011 in Pakistan – a 27% jump on the year before. The report also said there were more than 8,000 abductions and 3,461 rapes and gang rapes.
But the figures were just "the tip of the iceberg", it warned, saying researchers relied on those cases that were reported in the media only.
Amar Sindhu, a professor of philosophy at Sindh University and a women's rights activist, said the phenomenon was less to do with "cultural and social practices" and more to do with "the complete absence of the rule of law".
"Even in the 19th-century, the colonial authorities were able to reduce these crimes by enforcing laws when social, cultural and religious practices were just as male dominated and anti-woman as they are today," she said.
Sehto struggled to speak as he described the loss of his young wife, whom he had known for almost his entire life, growing up in the small town of Behlani.
"She was my neighbour and we went to each other's home since we were children," he said. "We began to fall in love more than 18 months ago, but they kept refusing my family's request to marry her."
Raheela agreed to elope with Sehto only after her father attempted to marry her off to a Shaikh from Punjab whom she did not know, he said.
His family has now left Behlani, and he said he will never return.
"All I want is justice, I want the court to convict Javed and his accomplices with the death penalty," he said.