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Sunday, 25 December 2005

Newsletter 0059

This issue of CCN is kindly sponsored by

International Brands Factory Outlet



And thus the Journey of a Lifetime Begins....


THERE were emotional scenes at Brisbane airport on Tuesday as some 30 Hajjis and Hajjianis (many being young first-timers in the group) were farewelled by a large contingent of as many as a 100 friends, family and well-wishers.


Imam Yusuf Peer delivered a passionate and inspirational dua for the travelers who will be changing into their Ihrams in Singapore and meeting up with the rest of their fellow travelers before heading off for Jeddah.



Salma Yaqoob: A Woman of Respect

United Kingdom: FOLLOWING a vibrant election campaign in which Salma Yaqoob almost defeated a Labour MP in one of the safest seats in the country, Salma is continuing her Respect campaigning work with the people of Birmingham, UK.


The things that make this young woman so intriguing are precisely the things that make her just a normal person like you and me. We can all relate to Salma in one way or another. With an Asian background, British born and bred and a strong Muslim identity Salma is the positive face of the fusion of three cultures, Salma is a British Asian Muslim.


Being a member of a strong community, she is part of the picture that makes up the cosmopolitan and vibrant city of Birmingham. She is also a wife and a mother. She knows all too well about the struggles of daily life as well as the bigger problems that the national and global community face.


Perhaps thus it is not surprising that she is raising local issues which cause concern to residents such as the problem of rats, rubbish and drugs, as well as national and international issues. As Chair of Stop the War coalition she helped organise 16 coaches to the national demonstration on September 24th
demanding that British troops withdraw from Iraq and the government stop its attack on civil liberties here.


Post the horrific 7/7 London bombings, Salma has been working hard to promote community cohesion and understanding, organising and speaking at many public meetings. In addition to numerous radio and magazine interviews, she has also recently appeared on BBC talk shows. Salma responded to the following questions posed to her in an interview:


Tell us a bit about your ethnic and family background?
My parents are from Pakistan. I am from a family of seven children (four brothers and three sisters) and I  was born in Bradford but we left to live in Birmingham at a very young age. My husband’s name is Aqil Chaudary. He is a GP and we have three boys aged 2, 8 and 9.
How did you first get involved in the anti-war movement?
It was the events of September 11 that acted as the spur for me to get involved with the Stop the War Coalition. I felt the injustice of what happened to innocent people in the Twin Towers did not justify the most powerful country, bombing one of the poorest in revenge. I was deeply concerned the tide Islamaphobia, after the 9/11 attacks, would engulf all Muslims, both here and abroad. I was relieved therefore when I heard that anti-war activists, all non-Muslim, were openly and loudly proclaiming their opposition to any planned attack on Afghanistan in Birmingham city centre and were planning to set up an anti-war coalition. I attended the first meetings, and was somewhat reluctantly persuaded to take a prominent position as Chair of Birmingham Stop the War Coalition.

Have you always been active in politics?

No - my real passion is psychology and that’s why I chose to become a psychotherapist. I have always felt bad about the injustices in the world, but after 9/11 I decided that I wouldn’t be passive any more. However, I had not planned to play such a public role! Indeed, I was under real pressure not to speak out at all - I was told I would be putting my family at ‘risk’. Some people thought the ‘safe’ thing for us to do as a community was to stay quiet. My conscience would not allow that though and I am proud that through the efforts of thousands of ordinary people real debates began to happen and more people found out the truth of what was going on.

What was the initial reaction of Muslims to your efforts?
I received a lot of support from the youth. However there was a palpable sense of fear throughout the community and a reluctance to speak out. I understood the fear, and felt it myself as well. There comes a point however when recognising fear crosses over to cowardice. Gradually, however, through our efforts to build Stop the War both locally and nationally, more and more people felt confident about getting involved and we grew from being a fringe issue to becoming a central issue. There was also the fact that there were not many women who had played this type of role in our community - so there were some difficulties around that. But over time I feel attitudes have changed, and many people were just relieved someone was speaking up.

What was the initial reaction of non-Muslims to your efforts?

Overwhelmingly supportive. Over the last four years I have spoken to thousands of non-Muslims in trade union branches, Churches, public meetings, outdoor rallies, schools and universities and every time I get a very positive response. What is exciting about the political turmoil of the last few years is that people are more concerned about uniting around such common values, and less concerned about getting caught up on labels.

You’re a Muslim woman, a wife, a mother, a psychotherapist, an activist, how do you juggle and manage all these roles?

With great difficulty! I am lucky in that I have a very supportive husband and family who act as a support network to allow me the space to play the roles that I do. I also draw in help  from my friends and colleagues when it comes to babysitting! Without  that support I think it would be practically impossible for me to do my work. At the same time I think it is important to aim for a balance so that I can fulfill my different personal commitments (not an easy thing!)

As a Muslim, British woman, what do you feel are the key issues facing Muslim women in Britain today?

There are many cultural practices within the Muslim community which have hindered women’s participation. The difficulties in challenging such practices are compounded by the fact that they are often given a religious veneer despite the fact that such practices limiting women’s involvement in public life have no basis in Islamic theology. Conversely, such anti-women views can also be  challenged on the same ground: I persuaded my dad about my  right to go to university by quoting him sections from the Quran and Hadith about women’s right to education! Whilst it is true that there are some barriers within the community to enabling Muslim women to fulfill their true potential, things are changing. In fact a lot of young Muslim women are fed up with having to constantly deal with the stereotype that we are all oppressed by our religion or by Muslim men. I think therefore the main challenge that Muslim women face in Britain today is that we are trying to change attitudes both inside the community towards us, as well as change attitudes towards us in wider society.

What’s in the future for Salma Yaqoob?

I will continue to campaign for justice, both here and abroad, with my colleagues in Stop the War and Respect. There are many challenges ahead - especially after the terrible London attacks in July. I hope to I can rise to these, and be part of changing the climate of fear that is being created, to one of mutual solidarity, compassion and respect. Any message for our readers? Be confident about who you are. Hold on to your principles and they will guide you in whatever situation you find yourself in. Value your potential to contribute to others around you and act on it.


Source: Bolton Council of Mosques (BCOM BCommunity Newsletter)

Interfaith Trivia Night

In a small but significant effort to bring both the Muslim and Catholic communities together in a social setting an Interfaith Trivia Night has been organized for Saturday 11 February at the Souths United Soccer Club, Nathan Road, Runcorn.


The cost of entry is $15 per person and includes light refreshments. There will be loads of table prizes, raffles and auctions to help raise funds for several charities.


If you would like a ticket (only a limited number of seats are available) contact



Fulla has the Mid-East doll market covered

SHE is the must-have toy this festive season, flying off the shelves. But the season in question is Eid al-Adha next month, not Christmas. Santa Claus means nothing to her.


Fulla, the Muslim doll, is now thought to be the best-selling girl's toy in the Arab world, two years after she first came on the market, displacing her Western rival, Barbie, in shops across her native Levant.


With thick black hair and large dark eyes, Fulla is the physical antithesis of Mattel's blonde, empty-eyed icon of Western consumerism.


Compared with Barbie's improbably pneumatic curves and lanky legs, Fulla's assets are modest, and never officially on display. Although she is marketed with a range of funky clothes, furniture, jewellery and grooming equipment, to avoid offending Muslim modesty, she has no swimwear.


And when she steps outdoors, she hides beneath a white hijab scarf and modest ankle-length coat, or even an all-enveloping black abaya cloak. Like the little girls who play with her, Fulla must learn to lead a double life.


As the new role model Fulla hides her hair and figure and - judging from the slick adverts on Arabic satellite TV - has little to do but shop, hang out with her friends, Yasmeen (suspiciously blonde) and Nadia (a coppery redhead), or pray on her optional prayer mat.


As for romantic prospects, Fulla has no male friends at all, "though she might have angry brothers", as one joke has it.


Source: http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/a-muslim-barbie-doll/2005/12/22/1135032135918.html


The CCN Corner for Ladies Only

This summer you might want to consider wearing a burqini the next time you go out to the beach.

Find out how you can slip, slop, slap and cover-up all at once, by clicking on the image below.



Pakistan women in soccer punch-up

Pakistan's women footballers, used to battling hardline Islamists opposed to their activity, ended up fighting themselves in a landmark final.

A mass brawl broke out after the award of a penalty in the first final of the National Women's Football Championship in Islamabad's Jinnah Stadium.

The soccer federation dismissed the incident as a "football flare-up".

The football final was played between Punjab province and Wapda (Water and Power Development Authority).

The penalty led to the solitary goal in the game for Punjab.

A Pakistan Football Federation spokesman explained what happened: "Wapda goalie Azra Matloob stopped the penalty kick and Sheka Nazeer scored off the rebound, but since Azra got injured the Wapda players were furious."

There was a long delay before the match could be restarted with the Wapda players reportedly threatening to walk off.

Play resumed after Pakistan Sports Board director general Arif Mehmud Siddique intervened.

But the referee blew the whistle a few minutes early as tempers flared again.

The Daily Times said there was another scuffle after the game as Punjab celebrated.

"The girls of both teams freely kicked and punched each other. The catfight forced the tournament organisers to enter the ground and put an end to the brawl," it reported.

The women players were fully covered to avoid offending Muslim sensibilities and no male spectators were allowed.

Source: http://news.ibn.net/newsframe.asp?url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4511680.stm


The CCN Thought of the Week


“And in knowing that you know nothing,
That makes you the smartest of all ."

~ Socrates



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