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The Star - Musawah on a strong push for equal rights
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By Shahanaaz Habib
KUALA LUMPUR: Musawah (The Global Meeting for Equality and Justice in the Muslim Family) will set up and operate a secretariat here for the first two years.  Its project director Zainah Anwar said Sisters in Islam was committed to running the secretariat for the two years.
Woman power: Part of the 250 participants during the close of the five-day Musawah in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
“From then on, we will see what happens,” she told a press conference at the close of the five-day Musawah which brought together 250 participants from 47 countries. She said there was a suggestion to hold a Musawah every two years but the planning committee had yet to decide on it. Yesterday, the participants agreed to carry the push for equality and justice for women forward. They are seeking an end to discriminatory laws and practices against women made in the name of Islam. They are also seeking the right to an alternative interpretation of the Quran in line with present-day realities. Zainah said there was also a proposal for a Musawah umrah led by a female ulama (scholar) in the future. ”Everyone is enthusiastic and these are ideas. I think it is a great idea if we form a study circle and read the Quran in front of the Kaabah. This is a possibility,” she said. To a question, Zainah said that having a female ulama lead the umrah was not a radical idea because there were already many female ulama, some of whom attended the Musawah here. Amira El-Azhary Sonbol from Egypt, who is part of the Musawah planning committee, said Muslim scholars who were against the Musawah movement should listen to their views first. ”What Musawah does is bring together a group of women and men who are very strong in their own fields – scholars, activists, lawyers and journalists. ”I would suggest that these scholars engage us rather than dismiss us. Come, let’s have a discourse,” she said. Amira said men should welcome this move as it would ease their burden and make their partners equally responsible in providing for the family. Kamal Chandrikirana from Indonesia said her country had the largest Muslim population in the world and there was already a vibrant debate and discussion there on this matter. ”I feel quite confident seeing my own country and hearing what I heard from other parts of the Muslim world during the conference.”

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