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Monday, June 14, 2010

Pakistan Christians are victims of more attacks

In Punjab a group of Muslims attack a Protestant pastor and his pregnant wife, injuring her in the stomach. In the province 250 Christian families have fled their homes, because they reported sexual abuse against women. Christian couple accused of blasphemy in Karachi.

Khanewal (AsiaNews / Agencies) – There are still cases of religious persecution in Pakistan, a large majority Muslim nation where religious minorities are often victims of abuse and violence. In Punjab a group of 14 Muslims attacked a Protestant pastor and his wife who was expecting a baby. In a district of the same province, the Muslim village chief has ordered 250 Christian families to flee their homes because "Christian women and girls have reported repeated sexual abuse." In Sindh province, finally, a couple was indicted for blasphemy and threatened with the death penalty.

International Christian Concern (ICC) reports that on 3 June in Sahiwal, Punjab, 14 Muslims attacked a Protestant pastor, his pregnant wife and his brother. At the base of the attack were charges of "evangelizing" against Mumtaz Masih, pastor of the Full Gospel Church of Pakistan and his wife Noreen. Imam Ahmed Maqsood led the punitive expedition, injuring the man's legs, and his wife in the stomach and hand. His brother was assaulted while trying to help his relatives. The couple complained to the police, but the police do not want to open an investigation.

Jonathan Racho, ICC chief for South Asia, strongly condemns "the violence against pastor Mumtaz and his family." He adds that Pakistani Christians are victims of assault "because they express their faith in Christ", but the faithful want to stay "with vigour" in their homeland "despite the persecution."

In Khanewal district, also in Punjab, the chief of a village with a Muslim majority has ordered 250 Christian families to leave the area because "they are too vigorously denouncing sexual violence by Muslims against women and girls”. Most Christians in the area are labourers on Muslim owned land and the women domestic servants in homes. The abuses were occurring in homes, almost "daily." "Christians - denounce the displaced - are totally at the mercy of the will of Muslims."
Finally in the town of Gulshan-e-Iqbal, a suburb of Karachi (Sindh), two Christians couples must answer charges of blasphemy. A crowd of Muslims ransacked the garbage of the four, saying they had found torn pages of the Koran. The court issued an arrest warrant and the police started searches. The two pairs of Christians have abandoned the rented house and are still at large. Christian sources complain that officials have threatened the family, to reveal the place where the four are hidden. In Pakistan the crime of blasphemy carries life imprisonment or even death.

49 year old Nigeria Senator Marries 13 Year old Girl

'Child bride' inquiry in Nigeria

Nigeria's Senate has ordered an investigation into reports that one of its members has married a 13-year-old Egyptian girl.

Ahmad Sani Yerima, 49, is alleged to have married her at the national mosque in Abuja several weeks ago.

Senators called for the investigation after receiving a petition by protesting women's groups, who believe Mr Sani has broken the law.

The senator has not spoken publicly about the reports of his marriage.

The BBC's Caroline Duffield, in Lagos, says Nigeria's human rights commission has already begun an investigation.

Mr Sani was the governor of Zamfara state, where he oversaw the introduction of Sharia law - for the first time in a northern state - in 1999.

Legal action

Our correspondent says reports of the marriage - appearing in newspapers - are creating a storm among human rights groups.

“ This very evil act should not be seen to be perpetrated by one of our distinguished legislators ”
Mma Wokocha Women's Medical Association head

The female senators, lawyers and doctors who are protesting say that they fear for the child's health.

"What we are concerned with is that our minors, the girl child, should be allowed to mature, before going into marriage," Mma Wokocha, President of the Women's Medical Association and one of those behind the petition, told the BBC.

"This very evil act should not be seen to be perpetrated by one of our distinguished legislators ... that is what we are saying.''

The senator is reported to have paid a dowry of $100,000 (£66,000) to the child's parents - and to have brought the girl into Nigeria from Egypt.

The women's groups want Mr Sani to be taken to court, to face a fine and a jail sentence.

Our reporter says the whereabouts of the teenager are unknown - and it is not clear whether she has any parent or guardian with her.

Newspaper reports have also accused the senator of having previously married a 15-year-old girl in 2006.

The investigation is to be carried out by a Senate committee.
Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2010/04/28 16:34:22 GMT


Two brothers charged with premeditated murder of their sister - Honor Killing

By Rana Husseini

AMMAN - Two brothers were charged on Saturday charged with the premeditated murder of their married sister in the latest so-called honour murder to occur this year, official sources said.

The 19-year-old victim, who was not identified by officials, was reportedly shot in the head by her 20-year-old brother in a bus on the way back to Amman from her husband’s house in Irbid, one official source said.

The suspects were immediately arrested by a police patrol unit that happened to be in the area at the time of the shooting, the source added.

The victim’s 20-year-old brother claimed family honour as his motive because his sister married a man against her family’s wishes, while her 18-year-old brother denied any involvement in the murder, but Criminal Prosecutor Aktham Dababneh still charged him with complicity in premeditated murder, according to the source.

A second source told The Jordan Times that the victim wanted to marry her 19-year-old cousin but her family refused.

“After the family repeatedly turned down his marriage proposal, the two decided to marry on their own and moved to Irbid almost 10 days ago,” the source said.

The family knew where their daughter resided and on Saturday night, they took her from her home in Irbid and on the way back, her brother reportedly drew a gun and shot her to death, the source added.

A team of government pathologists comprising Issa Gheishan and Shadi Maaytah performed an autopsy on the victim and established that she died of two gunshot wounds to the head.

Dababneh issued orders for both suspects to be detained for 14 days at a correctional and rehabilitation centre pending further investigation into the case.

The victim was the second woman to be killed for reasons related to family honour during the month of June, and the seventh since the beginning of the year, according to medical sources.

On June 1, two men were ordered detained after allegedly stabbing their female relative to death in the street after learning that she was pregnant out of wedlock.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Iran to intensify clothing curbs, citing ‘Islamic values’

women "laughing to loud" is against the law in Iran! that's crazy! dolly p.

by Bloomberg
Thursday, 10 June 2010

DRESS CODE: Iranian authorities increase their enforcement of the women’s dress code annually to prevent them from abandoning Islamic dress.

Iran will step up measures to force retailers selling clothing to comply with “Islamic values,” according to the police.

“Producing and distributing inappropriate clothes, those not complying with Islamic and Iranian culture, should be avoided,” Abbas Miraei, who heads the Office of Supervision of the Public Sphere for the Iranian police, was cited as saying today by Iranian Labour News Agency. Further details weren’t immediately available.

Iran has set aside $1.5 billion to promote “moral conduct,” including enforcement of its dress code for women, “to solve the cultural and social ills” in society, Interior Minister Mostafa Mohammad-Najjar said on May 10. His comments followed the introduction of a code of conduct at Shiraz University of Medical Sciences that bans loud laughter, nail polish, high heels and immodest clothing for women and men.

Since the revolution that brought Shiite Muslim religious leaders to power three decades ago, women in Iran have been required to cover their hair with scarves and obscure the shape of the body with loose-fitting coats. The government, which sees the U.S. and its influence on culture as a threat to Iranian society, also seeks to prevent young women and men from following the West’s pop culture and fashion trends.

The police will “deal firmly” with violators of Iran’s laws on moral conduct, Mohammad Najjar said last month. A cleric at Tehran’s main Friday prayers, Iran’s largest, said in April that women who dress immodestly cause earthquakes.

Iranian authorities increase their enforcement of the women’s dress code annually to prevent them from abandoning Islamic dress amid summer temperatures that can reach 42 degrees Celsius (107 Fahrenheit) in Tehran.

Under Shiraz University’s code, in effect since Feb. 20, women must wear loose, long coats in subdued colors that go below the knee. Men aren’t permitted to wear jewelry, except for a wedding ring, nor short-sleeve shirts, and their trousers should be loose. Shoes shouldn’t have pointed toes, make noise or have heels higher than 3 centimeters (1.2 inches).

Friday, June 11, 2010

Saudi Clerics Advocate Adult Breast-Feeding

OK all, this is just wierd, if a woman breastfeeds a grown man than he will become her "family" allowing him the rights of her immediate male family members. Dolly P.

(June 5) -- Women in Saudi Arabia should give their breast milk to male colleagues and acquaintances in order to avoid breaking strict Islamic law forbidding mixing between the sexes, two powerful Saudi clerics have said. They are at odds, however, over precisely how the milk should be conveyed.

A fatwa issued recently about adult breast-feeding to establish "maternal relations" and preclude the possibility of sexual contact has resulted in a week's worth of newspaper headlines in Saudi Arabia. Some have found the debate so bizarre that they're calling for stricter regulations about how and when fatwas should be issued.

Sheikh Al Obeikan, an adviser to the royal court and consultant to the Ministry of Justice, set off a firestorm of controversy recently when he said on TV that women who come into regular contact with men who aren't related to them ought to give them their breast milk so they will be considered relatives.

"The man should take the milk, but not directly from the breast of the woman," Al Obeikan said, according to Gulf News. "He should drink it and then becomes a relative of the family, a fact that allows him to come in contact with the women without breaking Islam's rules about mixing."

Obeikan said the fatwa applied to men who live in the same house or come into contact with women on a regular basis, except for drivers.

Al Obeikan, who made the statement after being asked on TV about a 2007 fatwa issued by an Egyptian scholar about adult breast-feeding, said that the breast milk ought to be pumped out and given to men in a glass.

But his remarks were followed by an announcement by another high-profile sheik, Abi Ishaq Al Huwaini, who said that men should suckle the breast milk directly from a woman's breast.

Shortly after the two sheiks weighed in on the matter, a bus driver in the country's Eastern Region reportedly told one of the female teachers whom he drives regularly that he wanted to suckle milk from her breast. The teacher has threaten to file a lawsuit against him.

The fatwa stems from the tenets of the strict Wahhabi version of Islam that governs modern Saudi Arabia and forbids women from mixing with men who are not relatives. They are also not allowed to vote, drive or even leave the country without the consent of a male "guardian."

Under Islamic law, women are encouraged to breast-feed their children until the age of 2. It is not uncommon for sisters, for example, to breast-feed their nephews so they and their daughters will not have to cover their faces in front of them later in life. The custom is called being a "breast milk sibling."

But under Islamic law, breast milk siblings have to be breastfed before the age of 2 in five "fulfilling" sessions. Islam prohibits sexual relations between a man and any woman who breastfed him in infancy. They are then allowed to be alone together when the man is an adult because he is not considered a potential mate.

"The whole issue just shows how clueless men are," blogger Eman Al Nafjan wrote on her website. "All this back and forth between sheiks and not one bothers to ask a woman if it's logical, let alone possible to breastfeed a grown man five fulfilling breast milk meals.

"Moreover, the thought of a huge hairy face at a woman's breast does not evoke motherly or even brotherly feelings. It could go from the grotesque to the erotic but definitely not maternal."

Al Nafjan said many in the country were appalled by the fatwa.

"We have many important issues that need discussing," Al Nafjan told AOL News Friday. "It's ridiculous to spend time talking about adult breast-feeding."

Unlawful mixing between the sexes is taken very seriously in Saudi Arabia. In March 2009, a 75-year-old Syrian widow, Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi, living in the city of Al-Chamil, was given 40 lashes and sentenced to six months in prison after the religious police learned that two men who were not related to her were in her house, delivering bread to her.

One of the two men found in her house, Fahd, told the police that Sawadi breast-fed him as a baby so he was considered a son and had a right to be there. But in a later court ruling, a judge said it could not be proved that Fahd was her "breast milk son." Fahd was sentenced to four months in prison and 40 lashes, and the man who accompanied him got six months and 60 lashes.

The original adult breast-feeding fatwa was issued three years ago by an Egyptian scholar at Egypt's al-Azhar University, considered Sunni Islam's top university. Ezzat Attiya was expelled from the university after advocating breast-feeding of men as a way to circumnavigate segregation of the sexes in Egypt.

A year ago, Attiya was reinstated to his post.
Filed under: World, Weird News

2010 AOL Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Afghanistan : Shelter tries to help abused child brides

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Arab woman reports on Muslim wife-beating in Gaza: exclusive

May 24, 9:28 AMNY Israel Conflict ExaminerRichard Shulman

Here is a reader’s comment: Entry: Violence against Arab women in Gaza increases?


Saudi woman beats up virtue cop
You Go Girl! One Saudi woman has had enough! dolly p.


Incident follows a wave of challenges to religious authorities.
It was a scene Saudi women’s rights activists have dreamt of for years.

When a Saudi religious policeman sauntered about an amusement park in the eastern Saudi Arabian city of Al-Mubarraz looking for unmarried couples illegally socializing, he probably wasn’t expecting much opposition.

Still waiting for Saudi Arabia
A new oil (painting) boom?

But when he approached a young, 20-something couple meandering through the park together, he received an unprecedented whooping.

A member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice, the Saudi religious police known locally as the Hai’a, asked the couple to confirm their identities and relationship to one another, as it is a crime in Saudi Arabia for unmarried men and women to mix.

For unknown reasons, the young man collapsed upon being questioned by the cop.

According to the Saudi daily Okaz, the woman then allegedly laid into the religious policeman, punching him repeatedly, and leaving him to be taken to the hospital with bruises across his body and face.

“To see resistance from a woman means a lot,” Wajiha Al-Huwaidar, a Saudi women’s rights activist, told The Media Line news agency. “People are fed up with these religious police, and now they have to pay the price for the humiliation they put people through for years and years. This is just the beginning and there will be more resistance.”

“The media and the Internet have given people a lot of power and the freedom to express their anger,” she said. “The Hai’a are like a militia, but now whenever they do something it’s all over the Internet. This gives them a horrible reputation and gives people power to react.”

Neither the religious police nor the Eastern Province police has made a statement on the incident, and both the names of the couple and the date of the incident have not been made public, but on Monday the incident was all over the Saudi media.

Should the woman be charged, she could face a lengthy prison term and lashings for assaulting a representative of a government institution.

Saudi law does not permit women to be in public spaces without a male guardian. Women are not allowed to drive, inherit, divorce or gain custody of children, and cannot socialize with unrelated men.

Officers of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice are tasked with enforcing such laws, but it hasn’t been an easy year for Saudi Arabia’s religious police.

The decision last year by Saudi King Abdullah to open the kingdom’s first co-educational institution, with no religious police on campus, led to a national crises for Saudi Arabia’s conservative religious authorities, with the new university becoming a cultural proxy war for whether or not women and men should be allowed to mix publicly.

A senior Saudi cleric publicly criticized the gender mixing at the university and was summarily fired by the king.

That was followed in December by a surprise announcement from Sheikh Ahmed Al-Ghamdi, head of the Saudi religious police commission in Mecca, who published an article against gender segregation, leading to threats on his life and rumors that he had been or would be fired.

Meanwhile, the Saudi government has gone to great efforts recently to improve the image of the religious police, most notably by firing the national director of the Commission for Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice earlier this year. The new director Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Humain then announced a series of training programs and a special unit to handle complaints against the religious police.

Last month, however, members of the religious police in the northern province of Tabuk were charged with assaulting a young woman as she attempted to visit her son, in a move that marked an unprecedented challenge to the religious police’s authority.

"There is some sort of change taking place," Nadya Khalife, the Middle East women’s rights researcher for Human Rights Watch, told The Media Line. "There is clearly a shifting mentality regarding to the male guardianship law and similar issues. More women are speaking out, there are changes within the government, there is a mixed university, the king was photographed with women, they want to allow women to work in the courts and there are changes within the justice ministry. So you can witness some kind of change unfolding but it’s not quite clear what’s happening and it’s not something that’s going to happen overnight."

Moudhi riding on a donkey
This is a fun story! Saudi women are trying to stick up for them selves, keep praying for them! dolly p.

By Abdullah Nasser Al-Fouzan
MOUDHI, a noted Riyadh secondary school headmistress, is continuing in her five-year quest to persuade the relevant folk that women have as much right to drive a car as men, furnishing them with the evidence piece by piece, showing that the benefits outweigh the perils. The persistent failure of her previous efforts, however, led her to turn to more practical methods, and so it was that she recently got behind the wheel of a car and drove off into the streets of the capital.
When stopped by police Moudhi produced her international driving license, but the failure of officers to be persuaded by such a document led to a lengthy exchange during which Moudhi showed them that their reasoning was more fragile than a spider’s web. Unmoved, the police told her that she was required to have a driver to protect her and help her should she find herself in difficulties, such as her car breaking down.
“Okay...,” Moudhi said. “We’ll see...”
A few days later Moudhi got behind the wheel again, only this time, seated in the back of the car, was her foreign driver. When the police stopped her – along with the young men who had been pursuing her down the street – officers believed the man in the back to be her bodyguard, and so were taken aback along with the rest of the gathering crowd when Moudhi told them he was her driver, there to “protect her and help her if the car broke down.”
“Isn’t that what you told me I had to do when you stopped me last time?” Moudhi said as perplexed officers glanced at each other.
All the same, when she asked them to remove themselves from her path and let her be on her way, they refused to budge.
“Okay, what’s your reason this time?” Moudhi demanded to know. “I have my international driver’s license and a driver with me in the car. In fact, I’m a better driver than he is and I know the streets of the city better, and I speak Arabic and he can’t. So why do you want me to sit in the back and let him drive instead?”
“You’re not allowed to drive…” was their only response, and they ordered her to sit in the back. “Okay,” Moudhi obeyed. “Well, see…”
A few days later Moudhi took to the streets again. On a bicycle. As she made her way down the busy Olayya Street, prompting all sorts of commotion, she was inevitably spied by the police and a rather comedic pursuit ensued, able as she was to navigate between the traffic and slip down side streets at a moment’s notice. But in the end they caught up with her and told her to get off her bike. After having giving them a piece of her mind, Moudhi was finally obliged to abandon that means of transport as well. But, as is her wont, she immediately set about thinking of other ways.
And so it was that a few days ago Moudhi bought herself a donkey, and as evening descended she mounted the beast and headed down the side streets from her house towards Olayya Street, and by the time she hit the main road text messages had already gone around half the town informing everyone of the now famous Moudhi’s latest venture.
As per usual, young males crowded around whistling and the traffic piled up almost to a standstill, causing a right old hullabaloo. The police were duly informed.
As the police descended from their vehicles, Moudhi pulled over her donkey and drove it onto the pavement, where the following row ensued:
Police Officer: “Is everything alright, ma’am? You look like you’ve, might I say, lost your mind?”
Moudhi: “Why’s that?”
PO: “Well, what d’you think you’re doing?”
M: “Have I done something wrong?”
PO: “Wrong?! Just take a look at yourself!”
M: “C’mon, out of my way! You’ve no right to stop me!”
PO: “I’ve every right! Can’t you see what you’ve done?! Can’t you see the jams and fuss you’ve caused?!”
M: “How’s that my fault?! Go and ask the mob that’s been following me and whistling! I’m just using transport. You wouldn’t let me use a car, or a bike, and now you want to stop me riding a donkey?!”
PO: (Turning to his colleagues): “What’s the cause with this woman?! What are we going to do with her?”
M: “C’mon, out of my way! I’m going to ride a donkey every day, just like the female companions of the Prophet…or would you even deny them that right?!”
PO: “No, of course, not. But times have changed…”
M: “What’s changed?! Things are supposed to change for the better!”
PO: “That’s true, change for the better… and now the streets are designed for cars, not donkeys.”
M: “But you wouldn’t let me drive a car, or even ride a bike, why? I have the right to use transport, don’t I? Am’nt I a human being?! C’mon now, get out of my way, or is there some law you know of stopping me riding a donkey?”
PO: “No, there’s no law.”
M: “Do I need a donkey-riding license?”
PO: “No, no, you don’t need a license.”
M: “Okay, then. Out of my way!”
Quite a crowd had formed around Moudhi and the police as they argued, some of them siding with her, others suggesting the officers should dismount her by force and put an end to the farce, but at some point it would appear that news of the event reached the ears of the powers-that-be, for officers’ radios began to sound and the police suddenly withdrew from the location.
And as Moudhi found the path before her unobstructed, she said: “I’m going to get on my donkey every day, and demand the authorities provide donkey parking at the shops, as this is my right for as long as I’m not allowed to drive a car.”Moudhi drove her donkey off the pavement and back onto the road, amid the whistles of disapproval and applause of support, and turned down the side street towards her house, wondering what she would do the next day. – Al-Watan

March 21, 2010 — An Afghan shelter helps women like Bibi Aisha, whose husband cut off her nose and ears. CNN´s Atia Abawi reports. (Graphic content)

Taliban Executes Afghan women accusing them for prostitution

Man throws acid on daughter for love outside faith

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Bulandshahr (Uttar Pradesh), June 01:In an alleged attempted "honour killing", a man poured acid on his daughter and threw her into a canal for planning to marry a man from another religion Tuesday, police said. The girl is in critical condition in hospital.

Gulistan, 18, daughter of Asghar Ali of Charaura village in Bulandshahr district, 350 km from Lucknow, fell in love with Ravinder, 20, who ran a medical store in the village and often came to their house to deliver medicines.

The couple eloped 10 days back but were traced to Delhi and Gulistan was taken back to the village. Her parents then pretended that they had agreed to let her marry Ravinder and asked her to come with them to Delhi to buy clothes for the marriage.

The girl left with her father and brother. When they reached near the upper Ganges canal on Grand Trunk Road, they stopped and dragged her out. First they poured acid on her face, strangulated her and then threw her in the canal. Assuming that she had died, they left the place.

However, Gulistan revived in the water and shouted for help. Some local boys of nearby villages, playing there, rescued her and informed police, who admitted her to hospital.

Asghar has been arrested and a search is on for his son, Superintendent of Police (City) J.K. Sahi said.

"On the spot from where the girl was rescued, she said her father was annoyed over her love affair with the local Hindu boy but when her statement was recorded before the magistrate in the hospital, she shifted from her original statement made before the police and said after getting angry at her father’s objection, she poured the acid on herself," Sahi said.

It seemed she was trying to mislead police with her declaration, he added.

Sahi said a case under section 307 (attempt to murder) of the Indian Penal Code has been registered and investigations are on.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Deoband fatwa: It's illegal for women to work, support family

LUCKNOW: Darul Uloom Deoband, the self-appointed guardian for Indian Muslims, in a Talibanesque fatwa that reeked of tribal patriarchy, has decreed that it is "haram" and illegal according to the Sharia for a family to accept a woman's earnings. Clerics at the largest Sunni Muslim seminary after Cairo's Al-Azhar said the decree flowed from the fact that the Sharia prohibited proximity of men and women in the workplace.

"It is unlawful (under the Sharia law) for Muslim women to work in the government or private sector where men and women work together and women have to talk with men frankly and without a veil," said the fatwa issued by a bench of three clerics. The decree was issued over the weekend, but became public late on Monday, seminary sources said.

At a time when there is a rising clamour for job quotas for Muslims in India and a yearning for progress in the community that sees itself as neglected, the fatwa, although unlikely to be heeded, is clearly detrimental.

Even the most conservative Islamic countries, which restrict activities of women, including preventing them from driving, do not bar women from working. At the peak of its power, the Taliban only barred women in professions like medicine from treating men and vice versa. But there was a never a blanket ban on working, although the mullahs made it amply clear that they would like to see the women confined to homes.

The fatwa, however, drew flak among other clerics.

"Men and women in Sharia are entitled to equal rights. If men follow the Sharia, there is no reason why women can't work with them," said Rasheed, the Naib Imam of Lucknow's main Eidgah Mosque in Aishbagh.

Mufti Maulana Khalid Rasheed of Darul Ifta Firangi Meheli -- another radical Islamic body which also issues fatwas -- criticized the Deoband fatwa as a retrograde restriction on Muslim women.

The fatwa was in response to a question whether Muslim women can take up government or private jobs and whether their salary should be termed as `halal' (permissible under the Sharia) or `haram' (forbidden).

Well-known Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawwad, however, justified the fatwa. "Women in Islam are not supposed to go out and earn a living. It's the responsibility of the males in the family," he said. "If a woman has to go for a job, she must make sure that the Sharia restrictions are not compromised," he added, citing the example of Iran, where Muslim women work in offices but have separate seating areas, away from their male counterparts.

In Lucknow, a city with strong secular and progressive traditions, where Muslim families train their daughters to be doctors, engineers and executives, there was a sense of shocked disbelief even in conservative quarters that such a decree could come from those who consider themselves to be advocates of the community.

"I am also a working woman and also ensure that my Sharia is not compromised," said Rukhsana, a lecturer at a girl's college in Lucknow and a member of the executive committee of All India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB). "It's not necessary that one would have to go against the Sharia when going to work."

"Name one Islamic country which does not have a national airline and does not hire airhostesses? If I know correctly, even the Saudi Airlines has hostesses and they don't wear a veil," said Shabeena Parveen, a computer professional in the city.

Mali imam living in fear after backing women's rights
Pray for this Man who dares to stick up for Women's BASIC Rights!

Muslim protesters in Mali
Thousands protested when the new law was introduced in 2009

An imam in Mali is living in fear after backing a new family law which no longer obliges wives to obey their husbands, angering Muslim groups.

He has received threatening phone calls and local Muslim leaders have tried to dismiss him.

The new law is currently being given a second reading in parliament after Mali's president refused to sign it because of the Muslim protests.

More than 90% of Mali's population is Muslim.

In April, the imam of Kati, 15km (9 miles) north-west of the capital, Bamako, wrote a letter to Mali's High Islamic Council stating he saw nothing in the new family law which infringed the country's social values, much less Islam, the BBC's Martin Vogl in Mali says.

The High Islamic Council has said imams can only be dismissed by their congregation and it is unclear what weight the decision by local Muslim leaders to sack the imam will have, our reporter explains.

But the incident has highlighted the intense feelings among Muslims towards the new family law.

Its most contentious provisions give more rights to women.

For example, under the law husbands and wives owe each other loyalty and protection rather than obedience, women get greater inheritance rights and the minimum age for girls to marry in most circumstances is raised to 18.

When the law was introduced in August 2009, the parliament building was attacked and it was difficult to find anyone to defend the law in public, our reporter says.

Mali's President Amadou Toumani Toure said he was sending the law back to parliament for the sake of national unity.