Thanks to the repeated requests for me to publish this trailer. So here it is. Enjoy!

Montreal designer creates sleek sports hijab

MONTREAL–First, a Muslim girl was barred from a soccer match for wearing a hijab. Then, five Muslim girls were ejected from a tae kwon do tournament for the same reason.
It was 2007, at a time when Quebecers were preoccupied with how far they should go to "accommodate" the religious and cultural differences of immigrants in a secular and multicultural society.
While soccer and martial arts officials cited safety concerns, many called the ejections racist, and the incidents became part of the larger controversy.
Fast forward two years, and industrial designer Elham Seyed Javad has taken up the cause.
"I was so distressed when I learned about it," Seyed Javad said. "Your beliefs shouldn't prevent you from playing sports."
So, the 26-year-old University of Montreal graduate designed a sleek sports hijab, which fits tightly around the head and is part of a sports shirt underneath.
They were tested by some Muslim athletes at a martial arts tournament last weekend and passed with flying colours, Seyed Javad said.
Her innovation comes as the question of "reasonable accommodation" on the integration of immigrants into society is surging back into the public domain.
An Angus Reid Strategies poll from last month suggests the vast majority of Quebecers think there is too much accommodation going on. Seventy-six per cent say the wearing of religious symbols in school should be barred.
And yet, "accommodations" continue under the radar.
For example, at the all-girls public high school École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais in east Montreal, where all students must wear a uniform, the school decided to provide a hijab, complete with the school's logo stitched into the fabric.
Montreal's French school board said it was looking to see if other schools were doing the same.
"We find it worrying," said Alain Perron, spokesperson for the Commission scolaire de Montréal.
The debate over "reasonable accommodation" exploded in 2007 when numerous reports came to light of religious minorities making requests ranging from opting out of music classes to obscuring a fitness club's windows to hide the scantily-clad women inside.
Then the small town of Hérouxville stirred things up by publishing a "code" for new immigrants, reminding them that stoning or burning women was prohibited, and that veils weren't welcome, except on Halloween.
The problem of headscarves in sports is that sometimes the ends come untucked, even though athletes try to pin them inside a shirt.
Seyed Javad, who is Muslim but doesn't wear a hijab herself, emphasizes that her "Resport" is more than a hijab. It can be used by anyone, male or female, who needs to keep their hair in check during their activities.
"Even men in American football," she explained. "They sometimes have long hair."
The Resport is being shopped around to manufacturers by Univalor, which commercializes University of Montreal inventions.
It "helps to integrate, rather than exclude certain communities in society," Seyed Javad said.
École Marguerite-De Lajemmerais principal Alain Guillemette defended his school's hijabs, saying they conformed to the school's uniforms in colour and fabric.
"It's from the point of view of uniformity that this was put in place," he explained.
Salam Elmenyawi, president of the Muslim Council of Montreal, said he was surprised by the school's actions in such a volatile atmosphere, but found it encouraging. "I think it's a normalization of wearing the hijab by having the institution offer it," he said.
That very idea of normalization is what worries Louise Mailloux, spokesperson for the Citizen Collective for Equality and Secularism, which believes the hijab is inherently a symbol of inequality, especially where women are pressured to wear it.
"A secular school must be neutral," Mailloux argued
Source: http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/article/724677--montreal-designer-creates-sleek-sports-hijab


Women flock to see first female football game in West Bank

Al Ram, West Bank (CNN) -- The Faisal al Husseini football stadium was packed, two hours before kick off, with a noisy sea of Palestinian flags and white hijabs.
Football matches are always a big deal in the West Bank, but this game was more significant than most. 10,000 women had flocked to the stadium, on the outskirts of East Jerusalem and a mere few meters from the separation barrier that snakes around the West Bank, to watch a historic football match few would have believed possible just a few years ago: the Palestinian women's national team were to play Jordan in their first ever home international.
Both teams gave laps of honor before the start of the game to mark an occasion that is rare in the Middle East. Football is hugely popular amongst women in the region but the development of the game has largely been held back by a social conservatism that disapproves of women playing what are deemed 'men's' sports.
In Kuwait, attempts to set up a women's national team was met with outrage in the country's parliament. The move was halted after Waleed al Tabtabae, a hard line Islamist MP who chairs a committee charged with weeding out 'phenomena strange to society' decided that a women's football team was 'un-Islamic'.
"Committee members expressed their indignation...and total rejection of the idea of the women's football team on the grounds that football is not suitable for women," Tabtabae told the Kuwait Times.
The UAE has only this year launched its own national team. A handful of teams exist in Saudi Arabia, although they are confined to the more liberal university campuses and have to be played in front of small, women-only crowds. In Iran women are banned from attending football matches and have to wear the hijab when they play, even in tournaments abroad.
The Palestinian team has had its own, unique problems to deal with. Set up in 2003 at Bethlehem University, Israeli movement restrictions meant it was impossible to practice on the West Bank's sole grass pitch in Jericho. Instead, they had to train on a concrete handball court and play against local boy's teams.
The only way the national team could play was to travel to nearby Jordan, but that created its own problems as it was difficult for players from Gaza to get permission to leave. Since the 2007 Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip, it became even harder for women to take part.
But the hardest part was convincing the families, both Christian and Muslim, in conservative strongholds like Nablus and Jenin to allow their daughters to play football.
"At first it seemed weird, women playing football in our society because it has a male mentality," said Honey Thaljieh, the team's 25-year-old captain when I interviewed her in 2007. "Some families had problems sending their daughters to play football, some still face problems."
Yet two years on they have a Futsal league (an indoor version of the game), a national stadium to play in and a string of international tournaments to attend. The team even attempted to qualify for the 2011 World Cup, but narrowly missed out on reaching the second round.
"We go to the villages now and tell them [the parents] that it is not forbidden to play. Most of the team is now Muslim," explained Rouqaya Takrouri, the 45-year-old national team manager, who hoped the Jordan match would spur a new recruitment drive, inspiring some of the thousands of female spectators to believe they could play football too. "We are talking to every woman now. We send out letters that say: 'Now is your time.' Last year we had six clubs, now we have 14."
For Thaljieh the match was particularly poignant. Since captaining the team she has fought for recognition within her own community, dedicating her life to the women's game by vowing not to get married or start a family until she retires, a controversial move in Palestinian society.
As the game has grown, Thaljieh has become something of a symbol for women's rights in the region and has been feted by everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to FIFA president Sepp Blatter who presented Thaljieh with FIFA's inaugural development award at the FIFA World Player Gala earlier this year.
Standing pitch side, she couldn't hide her smile when asked just how far she thought the game had come in two years.
"It is still difficult sometimes," she admitted. "But this has broken all the rules for women here. This was a big event to get both women and men together in Palestinian society. In a way, today was like a marriage between the Palestinians."
To put the match in context, as many as 16,000 people crammed in to watch Palestine and Jordan play. When the US women's team last played at home, a 1-0 victory over Canada in New York last July, just 8,433 fans turned up. But not everyone in attendance was there for football. Outside several thousand men who couldn't get in clambered on to surrounding rooftops, others scrambled up nearby wire fences, whilst some even crowded on top of a parked bus. Although a different type of union was on their minds. "All these men are here to see the women and I'm here to see the chicks too," admitted Abdullah Alawad, a 20 year old architecture student. "Maybe the girls are here to see the guys too," he added rather hopefully.
The game itself was a surprisingly tetchy affair, with two players stretchered off after being on the receiving end of several crunching tackles, much to the anger of the Jordanian team's (male) coach. His mood wasn't helped when Palestine won two dubious penalties.
A late Jordanian equalizer secured the 2-2 draw they deserved. But for the women watching, the result was less important than the game itself. After the final whistle both sets of players hugged and embarked on another lap of honor in front of an ecstatic crowd.
"We want to prove that we are better than the men at football," explained Asala el Wazeer, an 18 year old student who stood with her friends in the crowd. "It has taken us years to get to this point. We are very proud of the [Palestinian] team."
In a way, she was right. Palestine had played Jordan in the first ever men's international exactly one year previously. They only managed to score once. But for Thaljieh, held aloft on the shoulders of her team mates in front of a crowd that included the Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Dr. Salam Fayyad, the match sent a powerful message to the outside world.
"This is important and shows the world that we don't care about the barriers and the checkpoints," Thaljieh shouted over the noise. "We have shown the world that we can fight, but that when we fight, we fight through peaceful play."
Source: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/SPORT/football/11/06/palestinian.womens.football.westbank/


National Palestinian women's soccer team takes field

The Faisal Husseini International Stadium in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Sunday was the scene of the first ever international soccer match between the Jordanian women's soccer team and its Palestinian counterpart.
The 22 women making up both teams marched onto the field wearing hijabs, the traditional head covering for Muslim women, and were greeted by an enthusiastic, roaring crowd, made up of tens of thousands of Palestinian women.
The Palestinian Women's Soccer League was formed by Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestine Sports Association and former National Security Advisor to late Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The idea, he said, was a hard sell: "One I took office I knew I wanted to form a women's soccer club, but as traditional as Palestinian society is, many sheikhs and clerics were appalled by the notion."
The VIP section of the stadium was adorned with posters of Arafat, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and King Abdulla II of Jordan. Rajoub, along with Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad and various Palestinian ministers were treated to a front row seat, as were Knesset Member Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) and a representative of FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association).
As customary in soccer games, the captains of both teams shook hands, flags were exchanged and as soon as the referee blew his whistle, the 22 women began a fevered dash across the field.
"The Palestinian society is still struggling with women's liberation, so for me, soccer is a challenge, Honey Thaljieh, captain of the Palestinian National Women Soccer Team, said.
Thaljieh also played the political angle: "We live in a difficult reality and as a Palestinian woman living under occupation I want to use this to communicate the message that we all just want to live. For me, soccer is a message of life, love and peace."
When peace is achieved with Israel, she added, her team will gladly play against its Israeli counterpart.
The captain of the Jordanian soccer team added that her team will play against Israel when there is full normalization between Amman and Jerusalem.
Soccer has always been popular among Palestinian men and is widely considered a focal point of Palestinian solidarity. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas' prime minister in Gaza, was an avid soccer player in his youth.
Though women's soccer is a relatively new sport in the West Bank, the Palestinian Women's Soccer League – formed only one year ago – has 40 teams. According to Rajoub, every Palestinian university has a team and even east Jerusalem has one.
The game against Jordan, which ended in a 2:2 draw, was the Palestinian National Women Soccer Team's first public game in the West Bank, since all of its games until now were played abroad.
Jordan's team is considered one of the top women's soccer teams in the world.
Source: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3796080,00.html


Lack of fan support for Safina a mystery

Dinara Safina may be missing out on a large fan base because many in this part of the world are unaware she is a Muslim or simply don’t care. Both attitudes are based on some serious fault lines.
Now, I know all about keeping religion away from sport and that sports stars should be appreciated for what they do on the court and not on the basis of what faith they belong to. But in Safina’s case I don’t mind sticking my head out and ask some tough questions.
The lack of adulation for Safina is strange and incomprehensible for the simple reason that the Muslim world is so desperately short of women role models.
When Moroccan male tennis players such as Younes el-Aynaoui – a winner in Doha – and Hicham Arazi were regulars at the Qatar Open, fans packed the stands to cheer their every shot. But when Safina plays there’s hardly a ripple of excitement. It’s a question that demands serious answers. Is this because Safina is a woman, one is tempted to ask.
Safina and her brother Marat Safin are the only brother-sister pair to have risen to the top of the rankings and in all these years as a journalist I have not come across any article highlighting this fact. Even some of my Muslim colleagues in the Arabic media seem unaware.
Safina is of Tatar descent whose parents run a tennis club in Moscow. But Safina’s situation has only worked out to her advantage, especially if compared with that of India’s Sania Mirza’s.
Mirza has been a victim of excessive fan adulation and media interest ever since she started playing the game. Her short skirts and tight t-shirts made as much news as her tennis and obscure clerics used the situation to gain cheap publicity. If my memory serves me right, one even issued a fatwa against her.Mirza though has dealt with the situation remarkably well, her sharp wit and intelligence sparkling through at press conferences whenever she is asked questions related to her faith.
Perhaps Safina is not media savvy, perhaps it’s because she has described herself as a non-practicing Muslim. But even then, she deserves better.
Source: http://www.gulf-times.com/site/topics/article.asp?cu_no=2&item_no=323263&version=1&template_id=49&parent_id=29

Muslim women's sports foundation score with football grant

THE Muslim Women's Sports Foundation (MWSF) is celebrating following a £235k grant awarded by the Football Foundation, the UK's largest sports charity.

The grant will allow the the group to embark on the the Born to Succeed project - a three year plan aiming to increase the number of black, minority ethnic women in sport.

The MWSF hopes to provide facilities and support that take into consideration religious and cultural sensitivities of black, minority ethnic women - by developing a number of futsal and basketball clubs, introducing summer and year-round leagues, engaging in school outreach programmes, conducting research projects and in recruiting and training volunteers, coaches and referees.

It will also allow increasing access to player pathways, promoting healthy living in the community, providing alternative social activities in mainstream society, promoting cohesion and understanding between Muslim and non-Muslim communities, and developing role models for future generations of women.

Chairperson of the MWSF, Rimla Akhtar said: "The fact is that there are many Muslim women in this country who love to play sport and compete - this enthusiasm has been made clear in the work we have carried out so far.

"However, there has been a definite lack of funding and resources such as facilities - that cater for the needs of groups like MWSF.

"This grant, we believe, is the first of its kind and will enable the MWSF to build a foundation on which future generations of minority ethnic women can grow and succeed when it comes to sport. It is only the beginning of a much larger effort to develop healthy and confident women and girls in the UK.

"We thank the Football Foundation for leading the way in supporting the sporting development of this unique group of women and girls."

The launch of the Born to Succeed project will take place on tomorrow (31 October 2009) at the Ellen Wilkinson School for Girls, Queen's Drive, Acton , between 10 to 11.15 am.
Source: http://www.theasiannews.co.uk/sport/s/1180021_muslim_womens_sports_foundation_score_with_football_grant


Female wrestlers a break from the usual

In the Turkish Language Institute's (TDK) dictionary, the word "pehlivan" is defined as "someone who is tall and strong."
So, when you hear the word "pehlivan," that may be all that comes to mind, but you should know that "pehlivan" also means wrestler.
Now for a word of advice: Forget everything you ever imagined when thinking of Turkish wrestlers who are tall and strong -- because these days the wrestling mats of Turkey are bringing forth a whole new generation of wrestlers who may just erase any preconceived notions you have about the sport. Yes, with their small size and delicate bodies, these wrestlers might not look strong, but when you see them grab their competitors from the waist to flip them onto their backs, you may think your eyes are deceiving you. Who are we talking about here exactly? The women's national wrestling team.
Don't be too surprised by the idea of a female wrestler in Turkey. You must watch them train; we admit that we were a bit shocked by the idea until we ourselves watched a training session. Watching these delicate wrestlers practice their sport reinforced the phrase "strong like a Turk" in our minds. It is also interesting to note that these wrestlers are quite feminine outside the ring: They keep up with fashion, wear high heels when they want and some of them wear makeup.
And never mind that the 2009 World Wrestling Championships, held last month in Denmark, didn't bring them the results they had been looking for. After all, a number of the female wrestlers they were up against started wrestling before some of the Turkish team had even been born. It's expected that as this Turkish team gains experience, its success rate will rise, too. The team is now training for the 2011 World Wrestling Championships, which will be held in İstanbul, and they aim to return from the 2012 London Olympics with a gold medal.
She was headed for gymnastics, but wound up wrestling
We met these women at the Mimar Sinan Hall in Edirne, the Turkish city that has contributed the most wrestlers to the Turkish team, where we spoke with 21-year-old Burcu Özkaya, who has just returned from the championships in Denmark. Özkaya is a sophomore at Trakya University's physical education department, and she explained that she met the wrestling coach who would change her future eight years ago, at a sporting arena where she was competing in a gymnastics competition. Özkaya decided to try wrestling when the coach told her he was forming a new wrestling team and invited her to try out. Özkaya was only 13 at the time, and her family was very much opposed to this; her father, who insisted that wrestling was a sport only for boys, even forbade her from going to training sessions.
So Özkaya wound up sneaking out of her home to train, and it was only when she placed well in a competition that her father became convinced that wrestling can be a sport for girls as well. What's more, now Özkaya is able to help support her family financially, as she receives a TL 540 monthly grant from the state, a TL 450 Olympics payment and TL 250 a month from her sports club. Özkaya is quite optimistic about her chances in the upcoming Olympics, even though she was beaten by a Belarusian competitor at the previous Olympics through what she said was her own fault.
Female wrestlers have a rather tough training schedule. They train six days a week for two hours a day. The training sessions begin with conditioning exercises and then go through many of the difficult moves that typify wrestling, such as flips and fakes. The young athletes admit that if it were not for their basic love of the sport, they would never endure the difficulty of their training sessions. The sheer strenuousness of what they go through on a daily basis is demonstrated by the fact that they often lose up to two kilograms in one training session! They of course their diets include nutrient supplements and lots of vegetables and fruits to make up for what they lose.
At camp, I used to cry because I missed my mother
Of course, the physical aspect of being a wrestler on the national team is not the only difficult one. There are also many psychological barriers to overcome. One of the youngest members on the team is 15-year-old Sinem Topçu, who explained some of what she has been through. When she started wrestling five years ago, Topçu would go to training camp and have a horrible time missing her mother. Now she smiles as she recalls that experience, though she also noted that at the time, some of her friends actually ran away from camp because they missed their homes so much.
‘I have seen so many countries, one for each of my years!'
We also spoke with Dilek Atakol, a 51-kilogram wrestler who participated in the 2008 European Wrestling Championships. Atakol is 21 years old and started wrestling eight years ago upon the advice of her friend and teammate, Özkaya. Atakol is supported by her family and studies at Kocatepe University's physical education department. She believes that girls should definitely take up an interest in at least one kind of sport, no matter what it is. She attributes her healthy lifestyle and eating habits to wrestling.
The young athlete is also thankful for the travel opportunities she has had thanks to wrestling. "While lots of young people my age have never been outside the country, I've seen one country for each of my years," she said. She also pointed out that she receives tremendous support from her classmates at school; in fact, they are some of her loudest and most supportive fans at tournaments. She said she has never encountered jokes poking fun at her choice of sport.
Melek Atakol is Dilek's younger sister, and she has been on the team for six years now. She noted that female wrestlers do not only wear sports clothing, but are interested in fashion and love wearing makeup and high heels, too, when they are not "on the mats," wrestling opponents. She said she is annoyed by people who claim that girls who wrestle have to live with the fear that they'll never marry. "It's so early to even think about marriage for us. But of course, when the time comes, we'll no doubt all get married. After all, we all dream of wearing a white wedding gown one day," she said.
German wrestler who wants to become Muslim
This team makes great friendships with female wrestlers from other countries that they meet at foreign tournaments. Leyla Ertaş, 19, who has been wrestling for six years, said her greatest joy is maintaining e-mail and MSN communications with her friends from abroad. She told us that a German female wrestler she met has been asking her question about Islam via e-mail and has told her she too wants to become Muslim.
A brand new phenomenon
The whole concept of women's wrestling is still quite new to Turkey. Turkey started competing in international women's wrestling competitions for the first time in 1998 and in the past 10 years has produced two world champions. The age range of this young Turkish team is between 15 and 25 years old, and one of their biggest problems is simply finding suitable partners for team members to train against. At times these wrestlers actually wind up having to train against competitors who are much heavier than them. And often at international competitions, they go up against teams that are much older and experienced than they are. “At some championships, we face teams whose members are 35 years old, and who have 20 years or so of experience. In other words, some of us had not even been born yet when our competitors started wrestling," Özkaya explained.
There are also some technical deficiencies in the Turkish national women's wrestling team. For instance, there are not enough weights for the wrestlers to work with, and sometimes they are forced to train on judo mats rather than wrestling mats. Still though, one piece of great news on the horizon is that soon this team will be able to train and use the facilities provided by Edirne's Wrestling Training Center, which is set to open soon.
Source: http://www.sundayszaman.com/sunday/detaylar.do?load=detay&link=189497

Exercise Tailored to a Hijab by Abby Ellin

THE first time Julia Shearson rode her bike after converting to Islam seven years ago, her headscarf became stuck in the wheel.
She lost her balance, and by the time she got going again she was met with stares as she whizzed along, arms and legs draped in loose clothing, her scarf billowing in the breeze.
“You have to overcome the looks,” said Ms. Shearson, 43, the executive director of the Cleveland chapter of the Council on American-Islam Relations. “It’s already hard enough to exercise, and if you look different ... it’s even harder.”
As a Muslim woman in the United States, Ms. Shearson has found it difficult to stay fit while adhering to her religious principles about modesty. Islam does not restrict women from exercising — in fact all Muslims are urged to take care of their bodies through healthy eating and exercise — but women face a special set of challenges in a culture of co-ed gyms and skimpy workout wear.
Many pious Muslim women in the United States, like Ms. Shearson, wear hijab in public, loose garments that cover their hair and body, which can hinder movement and add to discomfort during exercise. Women may show their hair, arms and legs up to the knees in front of other women.
Muslim women are often limited in their choice of activity, as well. Some believe that certain yoga chants, for example, are forbidden, as well as certain poses like sun salutations (Muslims are supposed to worship only Allah). For the sake of modesty, working out around men is discouraged.
That modesty can be a benefit and a liability. On the one hand, Muslim women are spared some of the body-image issues that other women face; on the other, that freedom can be a detriment to their physical well-being.
“We don’t have the external motivation that non-Muslim women have,” said Mubarakha Ibrahim, 33, a certified personal trainer and owner of Balance fitness in New Haven, a personal training studio catering to women. “There is no little black dress to fit into, no bathing suit. When you pass through a mirror or glass you’re not looking to see ‘Is my tummy tucked in? Do I look good in these jeans?’ You’re looking to see if you’re covered.”
After gaining 50 pounds while pregnant with her first child, Ms. Ibrahim studied exercise and nutrition, and became certified through the Aerobics and Fitness Association of America. In 2006 she opened her studio, which offers a safe environment for women to exercise (she says she has more orthodox Jewish clients, who also adhere to rules of modesty).
Ms. Ibrahim said she would like to see exercise become as natural a part of a Muslim woman’s life as praying.
In July, about 120 women from around the country attended Ms. Ibrahim’s third annual Fit Muslimah Health and Fitness Summit in New Haven. She offered yoga, kickboxing, water aerobics and core conditioning classes alongside workshops on weight loss, nutrition, cancer prevention and diabetes at the two-day, women-only event. She plans to hold another one in Atlanta in February.
“An important part of your spirituality is your health,” said Tayyibah Taylor, publisher of Azizah, a magazine for Muslim women, and co-sponsor of the summit meeting. “You can’t really consider yourself in good health if all parts of your being are not healthy — your body, your mind and your soul. It’s a complete package.”
This is especially true now, during Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting from dawn until sunset. “The Muslim prayer is the most physical prayer — the sitting, bowing, bending,” said Daisy Khan, executive director of the American Society for Muslim Advancement. “The physicality of our prayer forces us to create flexibility in our body.”
But how to mix one’s physical and spiritual needs with practicality? Some Muslim-Americans go to women-only gyms like Curves, which has thousands of branches across the country. And some gyms and Y.M.C.A.’s offer gender-segregated areas, hours or days.
Other women, like Umm Sahir Ameer, a 27-year-old student in Shaker Heights, Ohio, take matters into their own hands. Last year, Ms. Ameer started the Muslimah Strive Running-Walking Group so she and 12 of her friends could exercise together.
“I wanted to establish this group as a way to further unite Muslim women in my community while gaining physical endurance,” she said.
Those who do work out in co-ed gyms have learned to make accommodations in their clothing. Loretta Riggs, 40, an educational coach in Pittsburgh, started exercising two years ago after divorcing her husband. She wears a scarf made of spandex, long-sleeved Under Armour shirts and Adidas or Puma pants.
“Some women don’t think you should be working out in a co-ed gym,” she said, “but I’m around men all the time in my workplace, when I take my kids to the park, when I walk outside.”
She added: “Why would I deprive myself of being healthy because I am a Muslim and I choose to cover? It’s very important to take care of myself.”
Mariam Abdelgawad, 21, a math teacher in San Jose, Calif., said that in high school she played hockey, soccer and ran track and field, all while wearing hijab.
But today she works out at home, since there are no female-only gyms in her neighborhood. Her parents, with whom she lives, have a treadmill, elliptical machine and Pilates equipment, as well as weights. She exercises about three times a week, but said she missed the camaraderie of the gym.
Though working out at home is convenient, she said, it is also very easy to procrastinate and not do it. “I don’t have all the options that a gym would have,” she said.
Swimming also poses problems. Although some Muslim women have been known to hop in the water in their street clothes, this can be cumbersome for a workout. The burqini — a one-piece outfit that resembles a scuba wet suit — has received a lot of attention in recent months (most notably in France, where a young woman was banned from wearing one at a pool), but it tends to be too form-fitting for some women.
“I tried it once, and it sticks to your body,” said Marwa Abdelhaleem, a 26-year-old teacher in Toronto who started a female-only swimming group to avoid the burqini question. “It’s really fitted. I wouldn’t wear it in public.”
Ms. Ibrahim, however, is more focused on the private.
“One of the ideas I promote is that when you are married and you take off your clothing, your husband should not be like, ‘You should put this back on,’ ” Ms. Ibrahim said. “Even if you wear a burqa, you should be bikini-ready. You should feel comfortable and sexy in your own skin.”
WORKING OUT Mubarakha Ibrahim, left, and her sister, Fawziyyah Umrani, at a recent exercise session in New Haven
By: Abby Ellin
Source: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/10/health/nutrition/10fitness.html?_r=2


Enlightened taekwondo encourages Muslim women

16 September, 2009 -- The World Taekwondo Federation’s (WTF) enlightened policy of encouraging women’s participation will be highlighted during next month’s World Taekwondo Championships when Muslim women who are obliged to wear a hijab (head scarf) in public will be among about 400 female competitors from more than 140 countries.
WTF competition rules were formally changed earlier this year to allow the hijab. Mr. Dae Won Moon, Chairman of the WTF Technical Committee, said: “The decision allowing the wearing of hijabs in taekwondo tournaments, including during the Olympic Games, is motivating Muslim women who have strong religious beliefs to take a more active part in the sport and the Olympic movement.
“This measure means that taekwondo is one of the few sports that treats women and men equally in the Muslim world. We believe that our respect for others’ cultures and beliefs will allow taekwondo to enhance its status as an Olympic sport.”
The issue of sportswomen who wish to wear Islamic attire was highlighted by a number of women competing in the Beijing Olympic Games last year. Among them was taekwondo athlete Ms. Sara Khosh Jamal, the first female Olympian in the history of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ms. Jamal reached the quarterfinals of the under 49kg competition.
Ms Jamal said: “When I qualified for the Olympic Games, I was ecstatic. I wanted to show the whole world that Iranian women could do anything. It was a great feeling to know that I was the first woman in my country’s history to actually qualify. I felt so proud to be an Iranian Muslim woman.”
Developing women’s participation is part of a wide-ranging reform program put in place over the past five years, driven by WTF President Chungwon Choue. As a result, the number of female taekwondo participants worldwide – particularly Muslims – is growing rapidly. Today, some 20 million women worldwide practice taekwondo and President Choue expects this to reach 30 million in 4 years.
Ms. Myriam Baverel, of France, a taekwondo silver medalist at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004 and WTF Council Member, said: “Martial arts and combat sports have historically been the preserve of male athletes, yet taekwondo has become a symbol of equality on the international scene. For example, in France 35% of taekwondo practitioners are women, and taekwondo is in the top five women’s sports.
“It is true that it can seem more difficult for women to take the physical knocks of taekwondo. But what drives these sportswomen is the pursuit of excellence in their sport – and in that we are no different from men.”
The World Taekwondo Championships will take place from 14-18 October in Copenhagen,
Rules change welcomes wearing of hijab
*Taekwondo promotes equality and respect
*Rapid rise in female practitioners
*Commitment to women’s development continues
Source: http://www.aroundtherings.com/articles/view.aspx?id=33194

Research findings from The British University in Dubai shared at global sporting congress

Two major research findings relating to women in sport and physical education inclusion in GCC schools from The British University in Dubai (BUiD), and its UK affiliate, University of Birmingham, were presented at a global sports conference addressing women in sport.
The 16th International Association of Physical Education and Sport for Girls and Women (IAPESGW) World Congress that recently took place in South Africa aims to support and bring together interested professionals from around the world who are working in the fields of physical education, dance, and sport.
Collaborative work by Dr. Eman Gaad, Senior Lecturer in Education at BUiD, and Dr. Tansin Benn from the University of Birmingham, a BUiD partner, was presented at the conference, which focused on improving opportunities for Muslim girls and women to participate in physical education, and a comparative study on inclusion in physical education and sports in GCC schools.
"It is a great honour to be able to contribute to IAPESGW's mission to promote the interests of girls and women at all levels and in all areas of physical education. The Middle East is a region that has seen improvement in the field of women in sport but there is still a lot we can do to support and encourage women of all ages and abilities to have an interest in sport,"
said Dr. Eman Gaad, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Education, The British University in Dubai.
The findings included ways to improve opportunities for female Muslims to participate in sporting activity. Other outcomes included the Routledge International Series book, "Muslim Women in Sport and Physical Education," to which Dr. Gaad contributed, and will be published in 2010. The book is co-edited by Dr. Tansin Benn from BUiD university partner, the University of Birmingham in the UK.
"Through our strong and longstanding partnership with BUiD, we are able to help build on the studies of women in sport in an area like the Middle East, which little is known about the subject. We have seen a lot of talent and potential and with our close links and academic successes, we aim is to continue to promote and support the highly gifted women athletes in the region and integrate a strong sporting culture into schools and the community at large," said Tansin Benn, Associate Professor, University of Birmingham.
Dr. Gaad and Dr. Benn also contributed to a second presentation highlighting a study on "Gender and Disability Inclusion in the Field of Physical Education in Schools and Teacher Training across the GCC Countries".
Research participants also included Dr. Yousra Al-Sinani from Sultan Qaboos University, Oman, and Dr. Mona Al-Ansari from the University of Bahrain. The presentation broke new ground and was well received in the international context where so little is known about the subject and experiences of girls and women in the Gulf area.
University of Birmingham is one of the first partner universities to work with BUiD on its educational programmes. The Faculty of Education at BUiD provides modern and innovative programmes to support the development needs of the education system in the UAE, the Gulf and the wider Middle/Far Eastern context. It brings together experienced teachers from wide ethnic, cultural and educational backgrounds to allow them to examine modern educational theories and approaches under the guidance of expert staff.
This allows the participants to reflect on their own educational contexts, to examine the latest international research findings, and to use this process to develop as individual teachers and as future managers of education.
Source: http://www.ameinfo.com/209483.html


Muslim angered by "unjust" headscarf sport ban

Apparently, the veil becomes the most symbolic issue when it comes to "Muslim Women" even in sports news. I am not very comfortable with this situation as it makes the unveiled Muslim women less and less visible. -SSK
A Muslim basketball player is set to challenge a decision by Swiss sport authorities requiring her to either remove her headscarf or stop competing.
Sura Al-Shawk has been playing the game with a headscarf for some time at a local level but came to the attention of ProBasket, the northeastern regional basketball association, when she reached the national B-league team, STV Luzern.
The association stated that according to International Basketball Federation (Fiba) rules, headscarves cannot be worn during the game, and ruled the 19-year-old would have to choose between the game and her scarf. The federation bans all religious symbols during official games.
Failure to follow the ruling will cause the team, which Al-Shawk captains, to forfeit their matches.
Although Al-Shawk has decided not to play in the team's next match on September 19, she is angered at what she describes as an "unjust" decision and, determined to appeal, has begun talking to a Geneva lawyer.
"This decision has come too late. I've been playing wearing my scarf for almost a year and a half. Many of the players have Christian tattoos and religious symbols on their bodies and nobody objects to that," Al-Shawk, an Iraqi who recently gained her Swiss citizenship, told swissinfo.ch.
"In the past few days, a famous Swiss lawyer in Geneva contacted me and gave me specific instructions about the steps that I should follow. I also received a telephone call from a law professor at Bern University, who also works as a lawyer. He told me that a large number of lawyers were concerned about my case and that they have been following the developments."
« The right of individuals to be allowed to express their religious convictions is also protected in public life. »
Markus Sahli, Swiss Council of Religions
Raises questions
Fiba has explained that they must show "absolute political and religious neutrality" in the sport and that making an exception would open the floodgates to other requests.
"Contrary to athletics or volleyball, basketball is a contact sport, therefore the risks of injury which can result from clothing accessories are higher," spokesman Marco Beltra told the Tribune de Genève newspaper.
Al-Shawk's coach, Danijel Brankovic, has countered saying he does not understand the decision as "the Islamic headscarf does not represent any danger to the players nor hinder the game in any way".
But in an official statement STV Luzern said it "endorsed and supported" the ProBasket association in its work promoting the sport.
The case comes ahead of a controversial nationwide vote in November on an initiative to ban minarets in Switzerland.
The Swiss Council of Religions last week came out against the ban saying it infringed the right to freedom of religion. It says Al-Shawk's case raises the question of what freedom of religion means in sport.
Markus Sahli, the council's secretary, says there is no easy answer to the question and told swissinfo.ch the issue should be looked at on a case-by-case basis.
"The Council of Religions is of the opinion that the right of individuals to be allowed to express their religious convictions is also protected in public life. One can debate whether limits should already be placed on this right at the sports club level."
The Federal Commission Against Racism for its part described the basketball association's decision as "shocking in regard to the religious freedom guaranteed by the Swiss constitution".
The Iraqi Islamic Centre in Switzerland spokesman Karim Samaoui has expressed solidarity with Al-Shawk but told swissinfo.ch that Muslim communities needed to present a unified view of the issue. He urged them to use the channels of the Swiss democratic system to ensure Muslims are not subjected to "racist practices".
Jessica Dacey, swissinfo.ch (with input from Abdelhafidh Abdeleli)


India's Muslim girls box their way out poverty

KOLKATA, INDIA -- As the sun dips below the horizon, roll call begins at a boxing club in southeast Kolkata.
Standing tall, soldier-style in three lines, are 47 students -- some as young as 8 years old, a few as old as 23 -- who hold their positions in front of an outdoor boxing ring at the Khidderpore School of Physical Culture, a community sports center.
Some girls in Kolkata, India, are casting off traditional gender roles and lacing up boxing gloves. As WSJ's Poh Si Teng reports, they're punching for gold and to secure a better life.
Several are clad in identical athletic shorts and tanks; others wear faded T-shirts and knee-length shorts. As they stand in formation, they look past the yellow ropes of the ring, past the grill that fences the complex, past the open dirt field and crumbling construction at a park, where the neighborhood kids are laughing, screaming and playing cricket and catch.
They look past the squalor. As a trainer eyeballs the lines, an assistant calls the students by their assigned numbers.
"Number 20," yells the assistant. "Present, sir," responds a soft voice from the second line.
The trainer, Sheikh Nasimuddin Ahmed, calls number 20, a 16-year-old girl named Sughra Fatma, to the front. Grabbing her ear firmly with a twist, the 31-year-old man berates her for snickering during roll call, and reiterates the importance of discipline. As punishment, Ms. Fatma must do a dozen squats. Everyone watches.
Here, Ms. Fatma is one of the boys. She looks like them: Her hair is cropped short; she's lithe, has calves of steel and walks as if she's bouncing on springs. In the ring, she even spars with them. And if she makes a mistake, she's punished like them.
Outside the club, however, Ms. Fatma's life is different. About 13 million people live in the predominantly Hindu city of Kolkata, formerly known as Calcutta. Roughly a fifth of them are Muslim, according to the latest census in 2001. In Khidderpore, a mostly Muslim neighborhood near the Hooghly river where Ms. Fatma lives, many homes are mere shacks that each house seven to 10 family members. It isn't the poorest part of town, but it's decidedly poor.
Ms. Fatma's father works as a crane operator in the port area, but his health is failing and there isn't much work these days anyway. Her mother tutors sometimes to earn a little extra pocket money. After boxing workouts that last from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. every day but Sunday, Ms. Fatma heads home where she freshens up, finishes leftover school work and then helps her sisters cook dinner -- a few pieces of beef in a curry and some bread -- at their family home, a tiny place that houses her parents, a brother and three sisters. After dinner she sleeps with her sisters on the floor; her parents and brother share an old wooden bed.
As it is for many of the kids at the boxing club, life is hard. For girls -- unlike boys who have a few more options -- it's practically scripted: They stay home, help their mothers, and get married so they aren't a burden to their families anymore.
Girls like Ms. Fatma, who dream of a better life with more options and opportunity, join the Khidderpore boxing club because it offers a potential way out.
Boxing is one of several avenues that have opened up to poor Muslim women across a modernizing India, including careers with nonprofit organizations and in teaching. It reflects the changing role of women within their own communities, particularly in the past decade, says Sabiha Hussain, an associate professor who studies women's issues at Jamia Millia Islamia university in New Delhi. "They find (boxing) as a way of coming out from conservativeness. They have very limited role -- poor Muslim women -- in the public sphere. So these women, these boxers, they find a way to come out and this is an outlet for them to fight poverty," Ms. Hussain says.
Sports in general, she says, are a good way for Muslim girls to achieve fame and break away from gender stereotypes. In sports, "they are captured by the media. If they are in a simple thing -- small business -- they are not visible. It's a question about visibility. Everybody knows Sania Mirza," the world-class Indian tennis player who is Muslim, Ms. Hussain adds.
Here at the Khidderpore community center, young Muslim women are liberated by the boxing ring, though few have yet achieved national standing. "In sports, boys and girls are equal. Everybody is the same," says Ms. Fatma, who trains at the boxing club with her twin, Zainab, and her younger sister Bushra, 14. Sometimes there are as many as 14 other girls who work out with the Fatma sisters. An older Fatma sister, Ainal, now 23, used to train with them but quit two years ago following her marriage.
Girls who compete and do well consistently at the national level might be able to parlay their success into a college education or a spot on a sports team -- and a job -- with the Indian railway or police force. That means a subsidized canteen, boxing trainers and facilities -- and a pension.
But to join the boxing club, the girls have to overcome many obstacles, including lack of money and a hidebound Muslim community.
"We are uplifting women," says D. Chandralal, national chief coach for youth women boxers, who has been coaching females since 2001. But, he adds, for girls to get to a competitive level, they need encouragement and financial support from their communities. "They have to break all the barriers."
Just getting dressed for afternoon practices takes a bit of derring-do. Most of the girls are modest dressers: a salwar kameez, a traditional Indian outfit of a loose-fitting tunic over pants, to school; at home, track pants and a shirt. "The first time Sir (the coach) said I would have to wear shorts, I felt ashamed because I had never worn anything like that," says Ms. Fatma.
When Ms. Fatma and her sisters picked up the sport two years ago, some of the neighbors looked down on what they were doing, and made the girls' father aware of their disapproval. But Ms. Fatma says, "My father would tell them, 'I have allowed them to box because there is a life in boxing and I want them to become somebody.'"
"I think it's very good that the girls are interested in boxing," says Mohammed Kashif Raza, a 15-year-old boy who trains at the Khidderpore boxing club. "They come from Muslim families and are not rich. They're poor. Their future is in sports only."
In Khidderpore, Muslims are more traditional than conservative. A handful of women wear a burqa, the head-to-toe loose outer garment that has only a small opening for the eyes. Many older women wear a hijab, a head cover. But teenagers and young girls typically wear a salwar kameez with no head scarf. They go to school; a few go on to university. And some women own small businesses, perhaps doing sewing, or work as maids or as managers of grocery stores.
Even so, gender roles remain strictly defined. Young girls slog through domestic chores, cook and clean for several family members and work odd jobs, such as operating private phone booths and helping customers at grocery stores, to supplement the household income, all while studying in school. By their teens, they're usually married off -- considered an essential achievement because then they will have someone to take care of them -- to men who are sometimes much older, in unions arranged by their parents.
Razia Shabnam knows the score. A decade or so ago, the 31-year-old Khidderpore native quietly swapped her salwar kameez for a pair of boxing shorts and gloves. Neighbors were afraid that their daughters would follow suit. "When I used to go to the club, people would come to me in the road and try to stop me from boxing," she says. They made snide comments to pressure her father to keep her away from the game of punches, blows and knockouts, deemed fit only for men. But her father ignored them and gave Ms. Shabnam his blessing. After a short two-year stint as an amateur national boxer from 1997 to 1999, she became India's first woman international boxing referee and judge.
"The problem is people think that it's an injurious game, especially for girls," says Ms. Shabnam. If they break their noses and mar their faces, "they can't get married." Ms. Shabnam, now married to a Muslim man who is supportive of her coaching career, is famous in the neighborhood as a boxing queen and has inspired many poor Muslim girls in the area who hope to get more control over their destinies and also gain respect from the community.
The head coach of the Khidderpore boxing club, Sheikh Mehrajuddin Ahmed, 42, the brother of Ms. Fatma's trainer, introduced the boxing program for women at Khidderpore in 1998. He has coached 36 girls in the past 11 years, and has seen them overcome stigma and break traditional stereotypes. In the past decade, nine girls from the Khidderpore club have gone on to compete in national championships, and one has competed at an international championship. They've brought home gold, silver and bronze medals.
"A lot of Muslim households object to girls leaving the house to practice. But if the girl succeeds in becoming a good boxer and gets a good job, then all these problems disappear" and the girls will be financially independent, says Coach Ahmed, who is also secretary of the Bengal Amateur Boxing Federation.
No one at his club has succeeded in such feats -- so far. Even Ms. Shabnam, the amateur national boxer who became an international referee, has yet to parlay her success into a coaching job that actually pays. To cover her day-to-day expenses, Ms. Shabnam teaches physical-fitness classes at home, which earns her about 4,000 rupees, or $80, a month, roughly the same as a domestic helper or a driver makes in Kolkata.
Then there's Mary Kom. When she was 18, Ms. Kom, who is Christian, started boxing at a local community center in her home state of Manipur in northeastern India. Two years later, in 2002, she won her first of four gold medals at the the International Boxing Association's World Women's Championships. These days, Ms. Kom, now 26, who is an inspector for the Manipur police but trains full-time for boxing tournaments, has set her sights on the Asian Indoor Games in Vietnam at the end of the year.
"It is very difficult (for women) to get a job" in boxing, says Ms. Kom, who is set to receive the highest honor for athletes in India, the Rajiv Gandhi Khel Ratna award. "But if you win official tournaments -- Olympic tournaments, world championships, gold, silver or bronze -- (government agencies like the police or the railway) will approach you" for a job and to be on their sports teams.
At that level of competition, there's money, too. For Ms. Kom's last medal, in 2008, she received a cash award of about $20,500 from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. If a boxer wins a gold medal at the Olympics, the ministry gives him or her about $100,000. Medals won at the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, or World Cup Championships come with a cash prize from the ministry of between $6,200 and $20,500.
Girls like Simmi Parveen, 12, dream of being the next Mary Kom. "This is an addiction for me. I will achieve something," says Ms. Parveen, the youngest girl at the Khidderpore club. "When I'm somebody I wouldn't have to go and look for a partner. Suitors will come themselves to talk to my brother and father for my hand. That's why I want to stand on my own feet and do something."
Ms. Parveen is lucky. Her family is supportive of her boxing. Now that many of her older siblings have started to work, the family's quality of life has improved in recent years. Her eldest brother, Mohammad Qutubuddin Khan, 30, who takes care of the household, graduated from college. "I got a lot of inspiration from Aligarh Muslim University, where I found girls pursuing their education. So I feel that there should be no discrimination between my sisters and brother. They are all equal. Let them pursue their education and what they want to be," says Mr. Khan.
But not all the girls have a brother like Mr. Khan, who can afford to buy the basic supplies needed for practice: proper running shoes, workout clothes and protective mouthpieces.
At the Khidderpore School of Physical Culture, apart from the five-year-old outdoor boxing ring (completed after a one-time club member, Mohammed Ali Qamar, became the first Indian national to clinch a boxing gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 2002), everything looks like it's falling apart. There isn't enough equipment to go around. The club has 12 boxing gloves for 150 boys and girls.
It costs about 40 U.S. cents for students under 17 and about 60 cents for those 18 and over to join the boxing club. Some students come without proper shoes, and after two hours of nonstop running, bag and pad punching, and sparring, they head home. Dinner is often a few pieces of baked bread and a bowl of dal, a lentil stew. If they're lucky, they get small chunks of meat or a glass of milk.
Boxing, in the end, offers no guarantee of riches. Ms. Shabnam has spent the past 12 years of her life boxing, coaching, refereeing or judging -- and yet, she says, "I'm sad that I did so many things but still I depend on my husband."
Still, the girls at the Khidderpore boxing club are hopeful it will improve their lot. In the ring, Ms. Fatma hunkers close to a young man about a head taller. He paces forward and throws a couple of punches toward her left cheek. She manages to swerve to the side, swinging her right arm to his face and left fist toward his chest. They dance on stage, throwing definitive swipes, each trying to outlast the other.
It's a game of agility, strength and stamina. Time will tell how long Ms. Fatma, and girls like her, will continue to fight on without more financial support from the local community.
"I've dreamt of competing at the national and international levels and even at the Olympics. But for this, one needs (equipment and better facilities), which I lack," says Ms. Fatma. "Sometimes I wonder whether or not my dreams will come true."
The sky is almost pitch black now -- it's nearing 7 p.m. -- and home beckons. But the girls at the Khidderpore school take no notice. They're busy bouncing, sliding on the illuminated pearly white ring outside the Khidderpore sports center. They listen attentively to their coach, Mr. Ahmed. He instructs them to circle him and to forcefully pound the punching pads attached to his palms.
Wham. Wham. Wham. One by one, they do so without hesitation.
—Poh Si Teng is a writer based in New Delhi.

Swiss basketball body forbids Muslim headscarf

REITNAU, Switzerland (AP) -A Muslim woman has been told by the Swiss basketball association that she can't wear a headscarf when she plays in league games.
Sura Al-Shawk, a 19-year-old Swiss citizen of Iraqi origin, is making her debut in a regional women's league when the season starts next month. Her team, STV Luzern, sought permission for her to wear the scarf.
However, the Swiss association ProBasket said Thursday it follows the rules of the world governing body. FIBA says the sport has to be neutral, forbidding religious symbols and headcovers.
"If basketball is priority No. 1, international rules have to be respected,'' ProBasket said in a statement. "If religion is priority No. 1, then you cannot play basketball.''
It added that STV Luzern will lose its games by default if Al-Shawk plays with her headscarf. Al-Shawk says she was surprised by the decision but has not said what she will do.
"I really can't understand what is happening here,'' she said. "I would not have thought it possible that in a country like Switzerland a headscarf in sport would pose a problem.''


Ramadan and Sports: To fast or not to fast - that is the question

Soccer News
By Kristina Puck and Peter Auf der Heyde Sep 3, 2009
- When Inter Milan coach Jose Mourinho, who has referred to himself as a Special One, substituted Ghanaian international Sulley Muntari after just 30 minutes of their game against Bari, he could never have imagined what storm the substitution would unleash.
However, it was probably no so much the substitution, but what Mourinho said afterwards, that set the wheels in motion.
The Portuguese coach reportedly said: 'Muntari had some problems related to Ramadan, perhaps with this heat it's not good for him to be doing this fasting.'
Understandably, his statement was not well received.
An Italian Muslim leader, Mohamed Nour Dachan said that Mourinho would do better if he spoke less.
'A practising (Muslim) player is not weakened because we know from the Institute of Sports Medicine that mental and psychological stability can give a sportsman an extra edge on the field.
'A player who is a believing Christian, Jew or Muslim is certainly calmer psychologically and that improves his performance,' the president of the Union of Islamic communities and organisations in Italy said.
The heated exchange between Mourinho and Dachan opened an ongoing debate, which becomes relevant once a year, when million of Muslims worldwide celebrate Ramadan.
Some, like German-based Demba Ba, have found a personal compromise that sees him eat and drink between sunrise and sunset only on match days.
The 24-year-old's coach, Ralf Rangnick accepts Ba's decision, but says he gets no special favours. 'He has been practising Ramadan for many years and is used to it.'
Like Ba, there are many players who find strength for their sporting prowess in religion.
But the 30-day-long fast during Ramadan (this year from August 21 to September 19) undoubtedly saps some of the players' energy and begs the question whether professional sport and Ramadan are compatible.
Only with some compromises, says Ba and many of his colleagues, amongst them French international Franck Ribery, who converted to Islam, agree.
'On free days I fast, but when I have to play I do not fast,' the Bayern midfielder, who prays before each game, said.
Stuttgart's German international Serdar Tasci sees it similar and discusses his fasting with his club doctor in advance. 'If I don't do that, it is simply too dangerous. I am as religious as others, but I also have my profession.'
Werder Bremen midfielder Mesut Oezil, who has Turkish roots, but plays for Germany, is one of the Muslim players who does not fast after having bad experiences as a youth player. 'I felt worn-out and had headaches.'
Fatmire Bajramaj, who comes from Kosova, but is playing for the German women's team currently doing duty at the European championships in Finland, is not fasting.
'If I fast, I could not manage training and matches. I previously tried to fast for four days, but then broke it off as I could simply not function,' she said.
The head of a sports - and movement medicine at Hamburg University, Klaus-Michael Braumann, said that drinking is particularly important as it could prove fatal if they do not take in enough liquids.
He believes the negative side-effects of fasting during Ramadan are at times over-emphasized. 'It depends on how strict players adhere to Ramadan.
'However, not drinking can have catastrophic consequences for players.'
Only a few players adhere fully to Ramadan by not taking any food or liquids during the day.
One of them is Abdelazziz Ahanfouf, who is without a club at the moment. 'The first few days are very difficult, at times it is a bit sore here or there.'
But the Moroccan player seems not to suffer any loss of form. Five years ago, he scored his only hat-trick during Ramadan.
Nuremberg's Tunisian international Jaouhari Mnari is another player who strictly sticks to Ramadan. This year, however, a cold forced him to break his fast.
Breast-feeding mothers, people who are sick, travellers and pregnant women are excluded from having to fast. 'But every day that I miss, I will add at the end,' Mnari promised.


National Women Football Championship today

LAHORE: Iranian Women footballers team will show their skills when fifth National Women Football Championship will be held from 29 July-11 August 2009. It will be fifth time in succession that Islamabad’s Jinnah Stadium, that hosted final of 1989 and 2004 SAF Games, has been preferred for the annual women event.
According to Robina Irfan, Chairperson of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s Women Wing, the attraction of the event will be inclusion of Iranian team in same way as 2007 when Afghanistan returned home with silver medals. “Four top teams of second National women club football Championship – holders Young Rising Star Women Football Club (YRSWFC), Balochistan United, Karachi’s Diya Club, Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department of Punjab University – have already joined Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, NWFP, Northern Areas, FATA, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Islamabad,Pakistan WAPDA, Pakistan Police. The 16-team frame will be completed when Manager’s Meeting will decide the 16th team.
“Countries like Pakistan are free to promote women’s soccer within the limits of their culture and religion. FIFA gave freedom to the individual countries to develop this sport among their womenfolk within the prescribed parameters of their culture and religion," said Irfan, adding that due to commitment, dedication of PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat women soccer is finding respectable position in Pakistan’s sports. It is his Herculean efforts due to which AFC had promoted him to Chairmanship of AFC Disciplinary Committee.
Punjab won the inaugural event in 2005 under superb coaching of Gujranwala-born Abdul Hafeez Malik, followed by WAPDA’s triumph in 2006. Then came the turn of University and a club to snatch golds : Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department in 2007 and Young Rising Star WFC in 2008.
She called PFF President’s work on Women soccer a milestone. "PFF has made great strides in women’s football under PFF chief. His decision to hire a full-time administrator dedicated to the women’s game has helped to open up competition and education doors for female footballers and officials in the country," said Robina, who is also member of POA and Islamic Federation of Women Sport (IFWS)’s Medicine Committee.
Also Balochistan Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Robina added "FIFA is keen to develop women’s football in all countries but nations like Pakistan could retain their traditions like women-only spectators, players wearing full trousers instead of shorts, etc. In Iran, women play and enjoy football while wearing full Hijab,"
"PFF will conduct fifth national women championship, with organizers hoping the event will inspire up-and-coming female footballers in the Muslim country. With the unprecedented patronage of the PFF, the senior footballers hope the event will create huge interest in the new generation. concluded Robina.


Saudi prince: Girls' sports OK

RIYADH (Saudi Arabia) - APPEALING to a powerful Saudi prince, an 8-year-old girl asked why she was not allowed to play sports in school like boys. She got an unexpected response: The prince said he hoped government schools for girls would allow playing fields.
The stand taken by Prince Khaled al-Faisal, governor of the holy city of Mecca and one of the most senior second-generation members of the royal family, on the controversial issue is the strongest official endorsement so far of women's sports and a sign the government may be tilting toward opening up on that front.
Physical education classes are banned in state-run girls schools in conservative Saudi Arabia. Saudi female athletes are not allowed to participate in the Olympics.
Women's games and marathons have been cancelled when the powerful clergy get wind of them. And some clerics even argue that running and jumping can damage a woman's hymen and ruin her chances of getting married.
Like other restrictions on women in the kingdom, including the ban on driving and voting, the prohibitions on sports stem from the strict version of Islam the kingdom follows. Conservative clerics have strong influence on government and society, and they ban anything they believe might lead to women's emancipation or encourage women to abandon conservative Muslim values.
Despite the obstacles, there has been some progress in the past couple of years on this issue. Some Saudi women have quietly been forming soccer, basketball, volleyball and other teams throughout the kingdom.
Princess Adelah, King Abdullah's daughter, recently spoke publicly about the need to 'seriously and realistically look into the issue of introducing sports in girls' schools because of the rise in diseases linked to obesity and lack of movement', according to Al-Riyadh newspaper. About 52 per cent of Saudi men and 66 per cent of women are either obese or overweight, according to Saudi press reports.
Prince Khaled's remarks, which he made at the launch of a project Monday aimed at developing cultural and sporting activities in the western city of Jiddah, gives a boost to these individual efforts.
The prince is interested in sports and has served as head of the General Presidency for Youth Welfare, the federation that oversees it. -- AP
Source: http://www.straitstimes.com/Breaking+News/Sport/Story/STIStory_394763.html


visit of Iranian Women footballers to Pakistan

ISLAMABAD, Jul 8 (APP): Iranian Women football team will participate in the 5th National Women Football Championship of Pakistan being held here at Jinnah Stadium, Pakistan Sports Complex, from July 29-August 11.According to Robina Irfan, Chairperson of Pakistan Football Federation (PFF)’s Women Wing, the attraction of the event will be inclusion of Iranian team.
In 2007 edition of this championship, Afghanistan were the foreign team to compete, finishing runners-up.
Robina said four top teams of 2nd National women club football Championship - holders Young Rising Star Women Football Club (YRSWFC), Balochistan United, Karachi’s Diya Club, Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department of Punjab University- have been allowed to take part in the championship alongside teams from Punjab, Sindh, Balochistan, NWFP, Northern Areas, FATA, Azad Jammu & Kashmir and Islamabad,Pakistan WAPDA and Police.
The Managers’ Meeing a day before the kick-off will select the 16th team to play in the event.
“Countries like Pakistan are free to promote women’s soccer within the limits of their culture and religion. FIFA gave freedom to the individual countries to develop this sport among their womenfolk within the prescribed parameters of their culture and religion,” said Robina.
She emphasised that due to commitment, dedication of PFF President Faisal Saleh Hayat women soccer is finding respectable position in Pakistan’s sports.
Punjab won the inaugural event in 2005 under superb coaching of Abdul Hafeez Malik, followed by WAPDA’s triumph in 2006.
Then came the turn of University and a club to snatch golds:
Lahore’s Sports Sciences Department in 2007 and Young Rising Star WFC in 2008.
She called PFF President’s work on Women soccer a milestone. “PFF has made great strides in women’s football under PFF chief. His decision to hire a full-time administrator dedicated to the women’s game has helped to open up competition and education doors for female footballers and officials in the country,” said Robina, who is also member of POA and Islamic Federation of Women Sport (IFWS)’s Medicine Committee.
Also Balochistan Minister for Law and Parliamentary Affairs, Robina added “FIFA is keen to develop women’s football in all countries but nations like Pakistan could retain their traditions like women-only spectators, players wearing full trousers instead of shorts, etc.
In Iran, women play and enjoy football while wearing full Hijab, she said.
PFF will conduct fifth national women championship, with organizers hoping the event will inspire up-and-coming female footballers in the Muslim country. With the unprecedented patronage of the PFF, the senior footballers hope the event will create huge interest in the new generation. concluded Robina.

Bangladeshi Muslim girls have been inspired

FORMER international table tennis star Grant Solder has been crowned Britain's Best Local Business.
The hard-working 36-year-old businessman was thrilled to win the title in our brilliant Barclays-backed competition.
The Grant Solder Sports Agency provides coaches, mentors, course planning, structuring and management to schools, youth clubs, and local authorities.
Grant was one of nine regional finalists to be judged by a panel of experts led by Theo Paphitis, star of TV hit Dragons' Den and boss of the High Street stationery chain Ryman.
Grant was awarded a trophy and cheque for ?20,000 plus a mentoring session with Theo.
Afterwards he said: "I am absolutely delighted to have been recognised as running Britain's Best Local Business.
"It's a real honour. I have always been proud of the work and achievements of our agency and this is the icing on the cake for all the long hours and dedication that goes into our work."
Grant, who lives in Gidea Park, Essex with his partner Kelly and their nine-year-old son Bailey, launched the business ten years ago with the aim of supplying table tennis coaches to East London schools.
But now through his website grantsoldersportsagency.com they supply experts in activities ranging from football to cheer-leading, scuba diving and kickboxing across the capital.
The agency provides an income for 40 coaches it commissions on a project-by-project basis to work with up to 50 schools and organisations - and they are looking to recruit more.
Grant represented England at table tennis for nine years and was also a coach to the national junior team.
He loves to work at grass roots level, introducing sport with high coaching standards into challenging areas in London, where he delivers tangible results.
His staff have been told that as a result of their coaching, schools start to see improved behaviour, concentration and attendance.
The business is not all about profit for Grant. Agency coaches will often work at cost price or go to work in the community or on charity days for free.
And now, after speaking with Theo, he is looking to expand and roll out the agency nationwide.
Rashid Benallal, who nominated Grant's agency in the competition, said: "Their work breeds success, confidence, communication, organisation, discipline and many more skills which are transferable in future jobs.
"One of the main focuses and incredible accomplishments has been through table tennis.
"This scheme was set up at Morpeth Secondary School seven years ago and encouraged children from all backgrounds and religions.
"Bangladeshi Muslim girls have been inspired, which is a huge achievement because they rarely participate in sport due to cultural differences. The scheme has created many success stories, for example getting kids off the street to achieve success in sport and winning titles.
"In light of these successes, the table tennis team has had opportunities to present to the Prime Minister for the Olympic Games bid and even for the Queen.
"Many jobs have been created for previous players at the school, which has a significant impact in helping the younger squad to develop.
"This has led the scheme to expand to primary schools and allow more coaching from ex-pupils."
Theo said: "This business was selected for its hard work and determination to make a difference in East London.
"We were particularly impressed that the business is providing an outlet for underprivileged youngsters to access sport.
"It was felt that this business was helping develop our next generation of communities with the aim of improving the community spirit in tougher locations."
Deanna Oppenheimer, Chief Executive, Barclays UK Retail Banking, said: "This campaign with The Sun has shown how passionate many people are for their local business.
"More than 4,000 people nominated businesses that, time and again, have gone the extra mile and beyond.
"We have heard amazing stories, from the chemist who personally delivered medicines in the snow, to the hairdresser who puts on fashion shows for charity.
"It's an honour to help tell these stories. More and more, I realise this competition hasn't been just about great businesses, but great people."
Steve Cooper, Managing Director of Local Business at Barclays, said: "I was blown away by the regional and national winners.
"These businesses have a huge impact on their local communities, both in providing jobs and in bringing people together."
"These local business owners make it clear that, though the economic environment is tough, our entrepreneurs have the passion and commitment to come through with flying colours.
"Congratulations from Barclays to the winners, and all who took part or were nominated in the campaign."
Source: http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/money/backingbritbiz/2526831/Ping-gong-for-coaching-guru.html


Sania Mirza's Indian controversies should heed Dipika Pallikal's rise

When weightlifter Karnam Malleshwari claimed bronze at the 2000 Olympics, she became India's first female medal winner since the modern Olympics started in 1896.
It is unfortunate that society and attitudes towards Indian sportswomen have been at fault for this lack of success when you consider the huge exposure given to the likes of Indian cricketers. For India's women it is a barrier that is unlikely to be broken in the near future.
Take the career of Indian tennis pin-up Sania Mirza as an example, without doubt the nation's biggest female sports star (in terms of looks not success at present). The world No 98, who despatched Anne Keothavong this week in Nottingham, has courted controversy ever since she entered the spotlight after being beaten in the fourth round by Maria Sharapova at the US Open in 2005.
A fatwa was issued against the 22-year-old by a Muslim organisation later that year, describing her short skirts and sleeveless shirts as "un-Islamic". She then had to strenuously deny pre-marital sex remarks attributed to her in the Indian press. (Mirza's effigy was burned amid protests in her home state of Andhra Pradesh).
Last year she defended herself against charges of disrespecting her country's flag over a photograph taken in Perth in which she appeared to rest her feet near the Indian flag. There was talk she could be jailed for up to three years. There was the uproar over an advertising shoot in front of a mosque, too.
Such is India's press that Mirza rarely plays back in her homeland now. Controversy would rein. The fact that she doesn't has left the media to speculate that she was not offered the amount demanded by her as 'appearance fees'.
So it is lucky then that Dipika Pallikal, India's next big hope from the world of squash, is enjoying life in Yorkshire and about to study at Leeds University. At the tender age of 17, Pallikal has racked up an impressive array of titles on the European junior circuit.
She is currently ranked world No 49 and plays club squash at the famed Pontefract Squash Club, under the watchful eye - and no doubt prying eyes in the galleries - of coach Malcolm Willstrop. The club is owned by the amiable Mick Todd, manager of Wilstrop's son James, who has been quick to see the talent offered by Pallikal.
Trips have been made to a London agency about her marketing and sponsorship potential and there is no doubt that as she progresses, interest will swell. Squash is popular in India and the sport is crying out for a eye-catching star [world No 1 Nicol David is a superstar back in Malaysia] to bring the sport much-craved global appeal.
But the fact of the matter is that Pallikal's current environs should play a big part in how she develops. Perhaps then she will be admired in the Indian media for her qualities and not for any controversies that may arise from the hype.


Debate in Saudi Arabia over Women's Sports

Recently, the Saudi public, government, and religious discourse has been engaged in a debate over women's sports, particularly women's gyms, physical education instruction in girls' schools, and competitive sports clubs for women.
The issue of women's sports clubs has reemerged on the public agenda following the International Olympic Committee's threat to suspend membership of any country that has not established sports frameworks for women by 2010. [1] Nevertheless, when discussion of this issue took place, in the lead-up to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, [2] some senior Saudi officials, including the deputy head of the Saudi Shura Council, opposed the idea, while others supported and even promoted the idea of women's sports. A well-known Saudi businessman, Prince Walid ibn Talal, even organized a reception honoring the country's first women's soccer team, Ittihad Al-Muluk. [3]
Another issue making headlines recently was the closure of women's gyms in several cities, on order of the Saudi Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs - on the grounds that the centers were operating without proper medical supervision. [4] The Saudi English-language daily Arab News commented that the General Presidency for Youth Welfare and Sports (GPYWS), the only institution authorized to license gyms, had been granting licenses only to men's gyms while ignoring women's. [5] The Saudi daily Al-Madina reported that Saudi women had launched an Internet campaign protesting the closures, under the slogan "Let her be fat!" Members of the Parliamentary Social, Family, and Youth Affairs Committee demanded that the GPYWS implement the existing Shura Council order and open gyms for women. [6]
As to physical education in girls' schools, this has been a topic of public debate for a number of years now. GPYWS deputy head Nawaf bin Fahed announced at a Shura Council session that in the near future the GPYWS would allow this in girls' schools. [7]
An Al-Riyadh article, titled "Women's sports: The Minority of Opponents Has Prevailed over the Majority of Supporters," presented data from a public survey on women's sports, which was conducted by the SaudiCenter for Statistical Research. According to the survey, 89% of the population think that sports are important for women; 10% think that they are important to some degree; and only 1% hold that sports are not important for women at all. Furthermore, 48% supported gyms for women; 44% supported them provided that they were designed in accordance with the unique nature of Saudi society; and only 4% were categorically opposed to gyms for women. [8]
Clerics' opinions on this issue were diverse; some categorically opposed all sports activities for women, while others sanctioned them under certain conditions.
Following are excerpts from relevant articles in the Saudi press:
Saudi Mufti: Women's Sports Are Against the Will of Allah
Saudi Mufti Sheikh Abd Al-'Aziz bin Abdallah Aal Al-Sheikh refused to sanction women's sports, stating that "[such] demand is tantamount to a call for wantonness, for transgressing [the rules of] modesty, and for disobeying [feminine] nature, which Allah instilled in the woman upon creation." He further stated: "A woman is expected to be a homemaker and a caregiver for her children; it is she who builds the family and shares [responsibility] for its management. If she leaves [her home] for the sake of such things [i.e. sports], she will forget herself… she will neglect her husband and children, and waste her time on games and amusement, unaware of what is happening to her and to her children. [And] what will become of [her] home?" [9]
The religious establishment's negative attitude to women's sports was manifested in a fatwa issued by senior Saudi cleric Sheikh 'Abd Al-Rahman Al-Barak, who maintained that women's sports clubs should be banned. Thus, when asked for a ruling on this issue, he stated: "The foundations of shari'a and its emphasis on upholding the woman's honor and the purity of society prescribe that these clubs be banned. It is clear to anyone who understands the place of sports in the Muslim world as well as shari'a ordinances and laws that these clubs are one of the main factors in the Westernization of the Muslim woman and the corruption of Muslim society. Hence, the opening of such clubs would be improper; [it is] forbidden because they breed vice. A woman must always - even today - fulfill Allah's commandment [to women] - as Allah commanded the Prophet's wives: 'And stay in your houses' [Koran 33:33].
"As for the arguments offered by several [advocates] of such clubs - that some women go out on the rooftops to exercise [such that gyms would be a lesser evil], the answer is that a sin committed by a minority of women should not be redressed by a greater sin, which [in this case] would be tantamount to opening the door for women throughout Saudi Arabia to leave [their homes].
"It is well known that these clubs do not cause all women to engage in sports, but only a small part who [actually] take part in competitions, while the rest watch and cheer… It is also known that these clubs are appropriate only for those women whose sense of shame is either lacking or absent altogether.
"These clubs are nothing but playgrounds and amusement venues, and [the cause of] moral corruption… [for they], along with men's sports clubs, contribute to the degradation of the [Muslim] nation by wasting private and public funds on useless things…
"It is both inconceivable and incompatible with Islam that our nation, which is threatened by enemies, should promote amusement and play - [indeed,] this would gratify the enemies of the Muslims… Those who call to establish such clubs, and who like them, collude in [sowing] corruption, which these clubs have promoted in the past and will promote in the future…" [10]
Columnist for Islamic websites Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Azraq supported Al-Barak's fatwa and argued that it did not ban all women's sports activities, but only prohibited the establishment of competitive sports clubs for women. He said that Sheikh Al-Barak was not banning women from running a race against her husband, or from working out on a treadmill in her home. [11]
Saudi Cleric: Only Virgins Are Forbidden to Participate In Sports
In opposition to Sheikh Aal Al-Sheikh, member of the Council for Muslim Clerics Dr. 'Ali 'Abbas Al-Hakami sanctioned women's sports, saying it was a religious precept. He stated: "Women are undoubtedly permitted to participate in sports if the purpose is to keep healthy and enhance physical activity; more than that, this is a religious obligation. Sports is a means of keeping one's body healthy, which is a religious obligation. Our body is entrusted to us, and we must look after it and protect it from sickness, including obesity, diabetes and so on, which cannot be done in any other way except by watching our diet and doing sports."
Al-Hakami further stated, "There is nothing [in religious law] that precludes the opening of women's gyms, provided that they do not cause transgression, for example, by the mixing of men and women, the exposure of intimate body parts, or the violation of any other religious prohibition." [12]
Other clerics permitted women to engage in sports under certain conditions. Thus, member of the Saudi Council of Muslim Clerics Sheikh Dr. 'Abdallah bin Suleiman Al-Mani'i stated: "Religious law does not prohibit [all] women from engaging in sports, but only virgins… Some 'ulama and religious authorities hold that a girl who is still a virgin must not be allowed to participate in sports, lest her hymen be damaged." Al-Mani'i refrained from commenting specifically on the issue of separate sports clubs for women, stating that this must be ruled on by the Council of Muslim Clerics, the country's highest religious legislative authority. He added that women's participation in sports was a central element in the plan to corrupt the feminine virtue, and one of the central items on the agenda of those who promote Westernization and who seek to undermine the rule of Islam in Saudi Arabia. [13]
Dr. Muhammad bin Musa Al-Sharif, a researcher at the Islamic studies department of King 'Abd Al-'Aziz University in Jeddah, stated that religious law permitted women to engage in sports, albeit under the following five conditions: "That the type of sport [she chooses] is not one of those that doctors do not recommend [for women]; that it does not endanger women's health; that it won't cause a woman to expose her intimate body parts or won't cause her embarrassment by exposing these parts [accidentally]; that it is not competitive - [because] this might lead to enmity, foul language, and invective; that a woman be warned against modern sports clubs where women gather together and where their intimate body parts are exposed; and that a woman be warned against leaving her home alone under the pretext of going to a training session or jogging."
Al-Sharif went on to state: "If she wants to do these things, she must go with a male relative or with a group of women… It would be wrong to categorically prohibit women from engaging in sports, and it would be equally wrong to permit this unconditionally… The middle-of-the-road [approach] is a hallmark of Islam and the course taken by the believers." [14]
Saudi Columnist: Participating in Sports Will Help a Woman Find a Husband
Many Saudi columnists opposed the fatwas prohibiting women's sports, and argued that religious discussions of this issue were unnecessary. Columnist for the Saudi daily 'Okaz Muhammad bin 'Ali Al-Harafi maintained that Islam encouraged women to engage in sports, and that there was no need to wait for a fatwa in order to introduce physical education in schools: "A religious principle stipulates that a thing is permitted unless there is an explicit prohibition against it. Is it stated [anywhere] that girls are forbidden to [engage in] sports of any kind? I am not aware of such a text; conversely, I know a text that states the opposite. Our Prophet encouraged everyone - men and women alike - to engage in sports, and he [even] enumerated [the kinds of activities] popular during his time. Indeed, 'Omar bin Al-Khattab said: 'Teach your children archery, swimming, and horseback riding.' Everyone knows that the word 'children' means girls and boys.
"Isn't it obvious that young men are reluctant to marry fat girls? Only Mauritanian men still keep the old Arab tradition whereby a girl's status increases with her weight. Do [opponents of women's sports] want to send our girls to [Mauritania to find husbands]? Isn't it better to offer them [another] solution - sports?" [15]
Columnist for the Saudi daily Al-Watan Rakan Habib wrote: "When 'ulama meet these clubs with fatwas, it is as though we were saying to the future generations: 'We have failed in [rational] dialogue; we have failed in tolerance; and [we have failed] in honoring and accepting the other.' This will increase confusion in [our] society." [16]
Saudi Intellectual: Sports Clubs Prevent Disease
Saudi intellectual Halima Al-Muzafar also responded to Sheikh Al-Barak's claim that women's sports clubs and gyms would undermine tradition. She stated: "How will we shut the door on the [daily manifestations of] corruption stemming from the fact that young women have too much free time on their hands, suffer from unemployment, are not given jobs at universities, and remain single because of the trafficking in dowries and [for the sake of] preserving the purity of the tribe?"
In response to Sheikh Al-Barak's argument that sports clubs for women would be a waste of public funds, she wrote: "How much does it cost the state to treat women for serious illnesses associated with obesity?… Two-thirds of [Saudi women] suffer from obesity or osteoporosis… [Medical] treatment for two-thirds of Saudi Arabia's female population costs the country much more than opening women's sports clubs would." [17]
[1] www.islamonline.net, March 15, 2009.
[2] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 27, 2007.
[3] Al-Quds Al-'Arabi (London), April 1, 2009.
[4] Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), March 23, 2009.
[5] Arab News (Saudi Arabia), April 26, 2009.
[6] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), September 5, 2009.
[7] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), April 20, 2009.
[8] Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), May 19, 2009.
[9] Al-Sabaq (Saudi Arabia), April 24, 2009.
[10] www.islamlight.net, April 16, 2009.
[11] http://almoslim.net, April 25, 2009.
[12] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 21, 2009.
[13] Al-Sabaq (Saudi Arabia), March 31, 2009.
[14] www.islamonline.ne t, March 15, 2009.
[15] 'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), May 5, 2009.
[16] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 10, 2009.
[17] Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), May 15, 2009.
Source: http://www.memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD237709