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Ban lifted on Sisters in Islam book in Malaysia

By M. Mageswari (

[The Star Online]

KUALA LUMPUR: The SIS Forum (Malaysia) succeeded in throwing out the Home Minister’s order banning its 215-page book, Muslim Women and the Challenges of Islamic Extremism.

High Court judge Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof on Monday ruled that the book is not a threat to public order.

He said the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia’s (Jakim) objection to the book was that it could confuse Muslims, especially those who with only a superficial knowledge of their religion, as the publication explains Islamic teachings according to the writers’ own views.

“Can this disrupt public order? I think not.

“Only seven pages out of 215-page book are said to have offended the guidelines by Jakim, and those came from only two of 10 articles published in the book.

“I fail to find objective evidence to support the facts (to ban the book),” he said.

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AQSAzine Writers Salon Feb 3!

Submission Deadline for AQSAzine Issue #3 My Islam is fast approaching

Want to submit to AQSAzine but nervous about your work? Come to our Writers Salon! Share your work and get peer support

Feb 3rd, at the Centre for Women and Trans People University of Toronto 563 Spadina Avenue, Room 100 6 -8 pm

AQSAzine Writers' Salon will be a opportunity for Muslim women and trans people to spend a evening together focusing on our writing and art. It will be a supportive environment in which we can provide one another with peer feedback and support to create stronger pieces for submission to AQSAzine Issue #3. Information on submission guidelines here

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Open Letter to Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: All Human Rights Defenders must be Released Immediately

[From FIDH]

Open Letter to Dr. Mahmoud Ahmadinejad ,

President of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Your Excellency,

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), wishes to welcome the release on bail on January 14, 2010 of Ms. Atieh Youssefi , member of the “One Million Signatures” Campaign , Ms. Noushin Ebadi, medical lecturer at Azad University of Tehran and sister of Ms. Shirin Ebadi , and of Mr. Hassan Rasouli , Deputy Secretary General of the Cultural Foundation Baran.

Nevertheless, the Observatory deplores that Ms. Youssefi and Ms. Ebadi remain prosecuted, and calls upon the Iranian authorities to put an end to the judicial harassment against them.

Furthermore, the Observatory fears that other “One Million Signatures” Campaign members, including Ms. Bahareh Hedayat , Ms. Shiva Nazarahari , Ms. Mansoureh Shojaie , also founding member of the Campaign and of the Women’s Cultural Centre, Ms. Samieh Rashidi , Ms. Maryam Zia , Ms. Mahsa Hekmat , Ms. Parisa Kakaï , all arrested at the end of December 2009 and on January 1 and 2, 2010, as well as Ms. Bahman Ahmadi Amoui , arrested in July 2009 and sentenced on January 4 to seven years and four months’ imprisonment, remain in detention as to date, as no information to the contrary could be obtained [1] .

Additionally, the Observatory fears that Mr. Emad Baghi , journalist, founder of the Society for the Defence of Prisoners’ Rights and winner of the 2009 Martin Ennals Award, Mr. Heshmatollah Tabarzadi , student activist and former leader of a student NGO, Mr. Mashaollah Shamsolvaezine , Spokesperson for the Association for the Defence of Freedom of the Press, Mr. Alireza Beheshti , Director of the website kalameh , journalists Mostafa Izadi , Morteza Kazemian , Nasrin Vaziri , Keyvan Mehregan , Mr. Mahin Fahimi , peace activist, Mr. Mehdi Arabshahi , Adwar Tahkim NGO member, Ms. Zohreh Tonkaboni , member of the organisation Mothers for Peace, and Mr. Morteza Haji , Secretary General of Baran , also remain arbitrarily detained following their arrest in the aftermath of the December 27 demonstrations.

Accordingly, the Observatory urges the Iranian authorities to guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of the aforementioned human rights defenders, as well as to release them immediately and unconditionally since their detention is arbitrary as it seem to only aim at sanctioning their human rights activities.

The Observatory further calls upon the Iranian authorities to cease the repression and prosecution of all human rights defenders in Iran, and to immediately and unconditionally release those who are still detained , so as to conform with the provisions of the Declaration on Human Rights Defenders adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 9, 1998, with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by the Islamic Republic of Iran .

We express our sincere hope that you will take these considerations and requests into account.

Yours sincerely,

Souhayr Belhassen Eric Sottas

FIDH President OMCT Secretary General



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Iran threatened by female activists

By Michael Theodoulou, The National

Iranian security forces recently beat and arrested some 30 “mourning mothers” holding a peaceful weekly vigil in a Tehran park to demand news of their sons and daughters who had been killed, disappeared or detained in the unrest following June’s disputed presidential election.

The shocking scene encapsulated an acute quandary for the regime. It has a tight grip on the levers of repression – but one of the most potent threats it faces comes from unarmed women protesting peacefully.

The authorities feared female activism long before the President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s re-election, viewing women’s demands for equal rights as inseparable from a wider drive for greater democracy.

“If the regime accepts the principle that women have equal rights, it has to revise and re-think its entire ideology, which is based on the pre-modern interpretation of Islamic law,” Ziba Mir-Hosseini, a senior research associate and legal anthropologist at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said.

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Mourning Mothers Arrested in Laleh Park, Tehran


On Saturday afternoon (9th January) a number of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were once again arrested in Laleh Park in Tehran.  According to one of the Mourning Mothers, around thirty women were arrested. (Change for Equality)

“A number of us fled.  They stopped the cars of those who had cars and who had gone towards them.  The families of those arrested went to the Vozara Detention Centre in order to inquire about their condition.  One mother commented that "they read the names out at Vozara.  Tomorrow at 9 a.m. all the families and friends are due to meet at Vozara and the judge who is supervising the case will also come."

The Campaign for Human Rights in Iran has demanded the release of the Mourning Mothers in a statement, in the following words:

"Today at sunset thirty of the Mourning Mothers and their supporters were arrested in Laleh Park and its environs after an assault by over one hundred members of the security forces and plain clothes officers, after which they were transferred to the Vozara Detention Centre."

Hadi Ghaemi, spokesperson for the Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, said:

"In no culture is it acceptable to deal with mothers in such a way, let alone when those who claim to be the defenders of morality are dealing with mothers who have seen their children become victims of injustice.  The Islamic Republic of Iran must recognize that the Mourning Mothers and their supporters will be not be satisfied except by an appropriate response to their demands."

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Call for Writers: AQSAzine Issue #3: My Islam

Dear friends, lovers, sisters, allies, revolutionaries

Submit and spread the word about the AQSAzine Issue #3 MY ISLAM "because Allah gave you the right to figure it out"


Because you’ve asked the question “what is my Islam and what does it mean to me?” Because you constantly explore it, navigate it, confront it, take it apart, or reject it. Because you’ve been excluded from it. Because you hold it close, embrace it, own it. Because you’ve been attacked for believing in it. Because you are tired of defending and defining it.
Because you feel Islam has been used misused and abused, helping some gain illegitimate power and others rationalize oppression. Because you feel that despite this, it is a quest for humanity and peace of mind, body, soul that is at its core.
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Islam and Trans / gender / sexual / vestite...persons

By Mohammad Hashim Kamali


ISLAMIC jurisprudence provides only some detail on the treatment of persons who combine the characteristics of both sexes: transgenders and hermaphrodites (khuntha), and men with innate effeminate tendencies (mukhannath). Issues of concern over their inheritance rights, qualification as witnesses, and rules of female privacy (satr) are discussed.
I shall review some of these, but then also pose the larger question of fairness over the stigma and prejudice that such persons face in our midst. Some of these were highlighted in a New Straits Times editorial (Dec 20), and several interviews and responses given by religious leaders and others on the subject.

Both khuntha and mukhannath are qualified to be witnesses if they are upright (‘adl) and do not actively exhibit or exaggerate their masculine or feminine tendencies, but not so if they do, as that would undermine their rectitude.

Yet the leading schools of Islamic law have differed due to a renowned hadith proclaiming that “Muslims are upright in relationship to one another”, which means that people are presumed to be upright unless proven otherwise.

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Sexy Violence in the Pentecostal Hell House

For two primary reasons, I generally avoid writing about the American Moral-Majority-type Evangelical Christian movement.  First, I think they already get overwhelmingly more attention than they deserve, and second, I don't want to humor the part of their binary-based ideology that classifies every person as either (a) Christian or (b) sexually liberal, and defines both camps in part by their mutual enmity.  But I'm going to break my own boycott for a moment, because I was that enthralled by This American Life's recently repeated episode featuring Hell House.

As Ira Glass explains about ten minutes into the episode:

In 1999, documentary filmmaker George Ratliff read about a church in Cedar Hill, Texas, which is a suburb of Dallas, that was staging a re-creation of the Columbine Massacre.  That church, Trinity Church, was putting on a haunted house, called Hell House.  They'd been doing it every year for years, each Halloween.  The Columbine scene was just one scene of about a dozen.  There was also an abortion scene, there was a scene where a gay man dies of AIDS, and a scene where a mom meets a man on the internet and then deserts her family for that man...  And the point is: Devils are around us, trying to trip us up, every day.  Sin is real; the devil's real; so you better get right with God.

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Armenian Radio Show About Sexual Minorities 11-4-09

British Council Armenia presents Wo/Men in Politics' Black & White
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
4:00pm - 5:00pm
Radio Hay: (104.1 in Yerevan, 106.6 - Gyumri, 106.3 – Vanadzor)

As part of the British Council's committment to Equal Opportunities and Diversity our next programme on Wednesday, 4 November will be addressing the issue of sexual orientation, discrimination and stereotypes against sexual minorities in Armenia.

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Rahim Mohammadi Executed in Iran for A Homosexual Act - Lavat (October 14, 2009)

On October 6, 2009, Rahim Mohammadi was executed in Tabriz, a city in northwest Iran, after being convicted of sexual abuse and rape during sexual relations between males (a homosexual act called Lavat).

According to Rahim’s lawyer (here), Mr. Mohammad Mostafayi, there was not enough evidence presented to the court to prove such accusations; the court nevertheless decided that once a person is convicted of Lavat, he must be executed.  Mostafayi, who had not been informed of the court’s decision once it was handed down - and was only contacted after his client Rahim had been executed - wrote a letter of further explanation to the authorities.

"Rahim Mohammadi was first arrested for blackmail in June 2008; over the years, due to financial problems, he had used his wife to seduce men, inviting them to their house in order for them to have sex with her.  He would record the encounters on tape and use these tapes to blackmail them.  There was no witness or evidence to prove that Rahim had committed a homosexual act; a complainant who had claimed that he’d been raped by Rahim withdrew the charges," says Mostafayi.  In Iran, in the case of an accusation of Lavat (based on the Islamic punishment code stated here), even if there are no witnesses or evidence, the judge can decide at his own discretion to condemn the accused.

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