[fund] promotion and application of religious laws

The slim owner of Gaza City's Gallery cafe has sharp eyes and a sharp tongue. It's easy to imagine him conversing with artists and actors -- he is also a theater director -- far into the night. But he crossed a line. He allowed female patrons at his cafe to smoke hookah pipes and to talk with men. He ignored demands by plainclothes police to rein in "immoral" behavior. In early May, police interrogated and accused him of having extramarital affairs. To persuade him to confess, they beat him with a 2-inch-thick, leather-covered bamboo rod for 50 minutes, and later forced him to stand on one leg for two hours.

L'automobiliste verbalisée pour avoir conduit voilée début avril à Nantes a été victime d'un "délit de sale gueule" du policier qui l'a contrôlée, a dit son avocat lors de l'audience devant le tribunal de police. Sandrine Mouleres est l'une des quatre compagnes de Liès Hebbadj, ce commerçant musulman de Rezé (Loire-Atlantique) mis en examen le 9 juin pour "fraudes aux prestations sociales"", "escroqueries", "travail dissimulé" et "aide au séjour irrégulier d'étrangers".

Many were stunned when Saudi cleric Sheik Abdel Mohsen Obeikan recently issued a fatwa, or Islamic ruling, calling on women to give breast milk to their male colleagues or men they come into regular contact with so as to avoid illicit mixing between the sexes. But a group of Saudi women has taken the controversial decree a step further in a new campaign to gain the right to drive in the ultra-conservative kingdom, media reports say. If they're not granted the right to drive, the women are threatening to breastfeed their drivers to establish a symbolic maternal bond.

The Criminal Court of Abu Dhabi, in the capital of the United Arab Emirates, ruled this week that an 18-year-old Emirati woman who accused six men of gang-raping her will herself serve a one-year sentence for consensual sex. It's one of in the latest in a scourge of reported rape cases in Dubai, The court proceedings were marred by legal travesties, experts say. While the plaintiff was not granted a lawyer, the defendants were. Moreover, the plaintiff could not have any family members present with her during the trial, the court decided. The prosecution also argued that simply because the plaintiff agreed to enter the police officer's car, this action somehow constituted partial consent to sex, The National reported.

Last month Nelson McCausland, DUP assembly member and Northern Ireland culture minister, wrote to the trustees of National Museums Northern Ireland about how "to ensure that museums are reflective of the views, beliefs and cultural traditions" of the region. This included a more specific stipulation – referring explicitly to the Ulster Museum, the letter called for alternative views of the origin of the universe to be accommodated. In other words, creationism was to be incorporated into the museum's natural history displays. That an elected minister should make such a suggestion is a development that should be taken seriously.

The Muslim parents of a 17-year-old Somali girl who converted to Christianity severely beat her for leaving Islam and have regularly shackled her to a tree at their home for more than a month, Christian sources said. Nurta Mohamed Farah of Bardher, Gedo Region in southern Somalia, has been confined to her home since May 10, when her family found out that she had embraced Christianity, said a Christian leader who visited the area. “When the woman’s family found out that she converted to Christianity, she was beaten badly but insisted on her new-found religion,” said the source on condition of anonymity.

A new report by One Law for All has found Sharia Councils and Muslim Arbitration Tribunals to be in violation of UK law, public policy and human rights (see report here). The report is being launched to coincide with a 20 June 2010 rally on the issue of Sharia law.

The Global Campaign to Stop Killing and Stoning Women and the International Solidarity Network, Women Living Under Muslim Laws urge all concerned to immediately contact the Iranian officials to express their concern over the planned stoning to death of Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani. On 15 May 2006, Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani was convicted of having an ‘illicit relationship’ with two men and was sentenced to 99 lashes by Branch 101 of the Criminal Court of Osku, in East Azerbaijan Province. Then, in a September 2006 trial of a man accused of murdering her husband, Mohammadi-Ashtiani was once again accused of committing ‘fornication while married’. During this trial, Mohammadi-Ashtiani retracted the ‘confession’ she supposedly made during pre-trial interrogation, alleging that she had been coerced to confess under duress, and declared her innocence. Two of the five judges found her not guilty, pointing to the lack of evidentiary proof in the case against her, and noting that she had already suffered 99 lashes due to her previous sentencing. Even though double jeopardy is illegal in Iran, the other three judges, including the presiding judge, found Sakineh guilty on the basis of the ‘judge’s intuition’, a provision in Iranian law that allows judges to make their own subjective and arbitrary rulings based on a ‘gut feeling’, even in the absence of clear or conclusive evidence. Mohammadi-Ashtiani was sentenced to death by stoning on 10 September 2006.

Weeks after an UNRWA recreation center in Gaza was set alight by masked gunmen, the Sharek Youth Forum said it has suspended work in the coastal enclave, after its offices were raided several times by armed groups. A statement issued Wednesday said the youth group's equipment had been confiscated and its staff harassed. " Gazan youth are being prevented from expressing their views by unchecked armed groups.

On a side street off Mogadishu's Wadnaha Road frontline a young officer is explaining the unwritten rules of the city's intractable civil war as his men exchange fire with an unseen enemy. The fighters shooting at him are from the Hizb al-Islam, he explains. He knows this because they fight longer than al-Shabab, the other main Islamist group besieging Somalia's tiny government-held enclave, but also because they told him. "We have friends there. They tell us before they leave their base that they are going to attack. When they want to fire mortars they tells us so we can take cover." If the conflict that has turned Mogadishu into a virtual no-go zone for 19 years occasionally resembles a grim farce, there is nothing farcical about the scene around us.

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