Muslims finding their place in America’s abortion debate

Anti-abortion advocates pray outside the US Supreme Court. (Social media)
Anti-abortion advocates pray outside the US Supreme Court. (Social media)
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Updated 19 June 2022

Muslims finding their place in America’s abortion debate

Anti-abortion advocates pray outside the US Supreme Court. (Social media)
  • The recent passage of anti-abortion legislation in Texas and other red states has led many to make comparisons to the Taliban’s iron-fisted control of women in Muslim-majority Afghanistan

CHICAGO: To Eman Abdelhadi, getting an abortion was the most sensible thing to do. She was six weeks pregnant and a graduate student who wasn’t financially ready to have a child. She felt no shame or guilt going through with it.
“I had no qualms about it. I grew up in an environment and a religious tradition that sees my life as the most important thing,” said Abdelhadi, a professor at the University of Chicago who was raised in a Muslim household. “It felt very clear to me. There was never anything like, ‘You did something unethical.‘”
Abdelhadi, whose mother was a gynecologist in Egypt, grew up with the idea that abortion was a “nonsensical thing to legislate” and that legalizing it was necessary to prevent people from seeking other, potentially dangerous means of terminating pregnancies.
Islamic law is flexible, Abdelhadi said, and when it comes to making a decision about abortion, “people will consult with their families, their religious leaders, and then they’ll ultimately make a decision for themselves.”
As the US Supreme Court appears poised to overturn Roe vs. Wade, Muslim Americans are gearing up for what the landmark reversal could mean for their communities.
“There’s been a sort of confused silence as (Muslim) folks try to figure out what they believe about this, or what Islam tells them about this,” said Abdelhadi, now a sociologist who studies Muslims in America. “I think what happens in a Christian-dominated space is that sometimes, even among Muslims, we don’t know what we believe.”
The recent passage of anti-abortion legislation in Texas and other red states has led many to make comparisons to the Taliban’s iron-fisted control of women in Muslim-majority Afghanistan. Such comparisons are inaccurate and perpetuate Islamophobia, experts say, adding that this rationale minimizes the role of Christianity and other US systems that led to Texas’ six-week abortion ban.
The American Muslim Bar Association and HEART Women and Girls in April released an 11-page statement, dubbed “The Islamic Principle of Rahma: A Call for Reproductive Justice,” declaring that as a religious minority, Muslim Americans “are uniquely positioned to condemn abortion bans and their attack on every person’s constitutional right to religious liberty.”
“Muslims are not a monolith and we don’t have a systemized and global authority that mirrors the papal system in Catholicism. We also don’t hold a uniform view on when life begins,” the statement read.
Muslims have a rich understanding of conception, gestation, notions of life — and “abortion is part of that,” said Zahra Ayubi, a professor of religion at Dartmouth College and scholar of gender in pre-modern and modern Islamic ethics.
While Muslims have performed abortions since pre-modern times, Ayubi said contemporary concepts of when life begins are derived from Islamic legal tradition, pertaining to the inheritance rights of an unborn child or criminal laws addressing the fine a perpetrator would face for harming a pregnant person.
In fact, Ayubi said, restrictive abortion laws in states such as Texas “take away from Muslim rights to abortion in their tradition and their religion.”
Abed Awad, a Rutgers adjunct law professor and national expert in Shariah, agrees.
If states outlaw abortion, Muslim Americans have standing to sue against abortion bans that interfere with their religious exercise, said Awad, adding that the issue of when life begins is a theological question.
The Texas law, currently one of the most restrictive abortion bans in the country, constitutes a religious violation of the First Amendment, said Awad, in that it subjects this “moral position of the Christian right and the anti-abortion movement” to other communities who don’t subscribe to these beliefs.


Spain firefighters battle to control huge Valencia wildfire

Spain firefighters battle to control huge Valencia wildfire
Updated 13 sec ago

Spain firefighters battle to control huge Valencia wildfire

Spain firefighters battle to control huge Valencia wildfire
MADRID: Some 300 firefighters spent a difficult night battling a huge wildfire in southeastern Spain that has burnt through nearly 10,000 hectares in an area notoriously difficult to access, officials said Tuesday.
The fire began when lightning hit the Vall de Ebo area in the province of Alicante late Saturday and it has since spread rapidly, fueled by strong winds, forcing the evacuation of more than 1,000 people, Valencia’s regional government said.
“It’s been a very complicated night,” regional interior minister Gabriela Bravo told Antena 3 television, saying some 300 firefighters were battling the flames, backed by 24 planes and helicopters.
“At the moment we are talking about more than 9,500 hectares burnt with a perimeter of 65 kilometers (40 miles),” regional president Ximo Puig said late Monday, describing the blaze as “absolutely huge.”
“It’s a very complicated situation... The fire is creating enormous difficulties that are absolutely impossible to tackle with the speed we would like.”
Firefighters elsewhere in the region were also battling two other wildfires north of Valencia city, with hundreds of firefighters and at least 10 firefighting planes engaged in the operation, officials said.
Further north, firefighters in the Aragon region were hoping to bring under control another major blaze that broke out Saturday that has burnt more than 6,000 hectares of land, forcing at least 1,500 people from their homes.
So far this year, Spain has suffered 391 wildfires, fueled by scorching temperatures and drought conditions, which have destroyed a total of 271,020 hectares of land, according to the latest figures from the European Forest Fire Information System.
This year’s fires in Spain have been particularly devastating, destroying more than three times the area consumed by wildfires in the whole of 2021, which amounted to 84,827 hectares, the figures show.
Scientists say human-induced climate change is making extreme weather events, including heatwaves and droughts, more frequent and intense. They in turn increase the risk of fires, which emit climate-heating greenhouse gases.
Fires have blazed across Europe, particularly in France, Greece and Portugal, making 2022 a record year for wildfires on the continent.
In Portugal, a wildfire brought under control last week reignited Tuesday in the UNESCO-designated Serra da Estrela natural park, the civil protection agency said.

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
Updated 16 August 2022

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
  • The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal

PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on Tuesday on police escorting a team of polio workers in northwestern Pakistan, killing two policemen, authorities said.
None of the polio workers were harmed, said Mohammad Imran, a local police official. The four polio workers and their police escort were all traveling on motorcycles.
The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
The attack came on the second day of Pakistan’s latest anti-polio campaign in the province. Pakistan has registered 14 new polio cases since April, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation’s efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.
Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence as Islamic militants often target polio teams and police protecting them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported only one case, raising hopes it was close to eradicating polio.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
Updated 16 August 2022

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
  • ‘The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict’
  • ‘We see this as a carefully planned provocation’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.
“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.
He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations.”
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia in late February launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine.
Pummeled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.


Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges
Updated 16 August 2022

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

DUBAI: A Swedish citizen detained in Iran on suspicion of espionage might face other charges, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday in a televised news conference.
The suspect, who remains unnamed, had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of “suspicious behavior,” the official IRNA news agency reported in July.


Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
Updated 16 August 2022

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
  • The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi
  • Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws

MULTAN, Pakistan: A passenger bus rammed into a fuel truck on a highway in eastern Pakistan before dawn on Tuesday, igniting a fire that killed at least 20 people, police and rescue officials said.
According to the officials, the accident happened near the town of Jalalpur Peerwala in Punjab province. The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi.
Tahir Wattoo, a local government official in Multan, the nearest district, said early indications were that the bus driver’s negligence had caused the collision. The driver, who was also killed, slammed into the back of the fuel truck, according to photographs from the scene.
The injured were taken to hospital and at least six passengers were reported in critical condition, he added.
Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and DNA tests will be conducted to identify the remains before the bodies are handed over to the families, Wattoo also said.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences in a statement and asked health authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured.
Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws.