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Hijab goes mainstream as advertisers target Muslim money

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The hijab – one of the most visible signs of Islamic culture – is going mainstream with advertisers, media giants and fashion firms promoting images of the traditional headscarf in ever more ways.

Last week, Apple previewed 12 new emoji characters to be launched later this year, one of a woman wearing a hijab.

Major fashion brands from American Eagle to Nike are creating hijabs, while hijab-wearing models have started gracing Western catwalks and the covers of top fashion magazines.

Many Muslim women cover their heads in public with the hijab as a sign of modesty, although some critics see it as a sign of female oppression. But there is one thing most can agree on: when it comes to the hijab, there is money to be made.

“In terms of the bottom line – absolutely they’re (young Muslims) good for business … it’s a huge market and they are incredibly brand savvy, so they want to spend their money,” said Shelina Janmohamed, vice-president of Ogilvy Noor, a consultancy offering advice on how to build brands that appeal to Muslim audiences.

Nike announced it is using its prowess in the sports and leisure market to launch a breathable mesh hijab in spring 2018, becoming the first major sports apparel maker to offer a traditional Islamic head scarf designed for competition.

In June, Vogue Arabia featured on its cover the first hijabi model to walk the international runway, Somali-American Halima Aden, who gained international attention last year when she wore a hijab and burkini during the Miss Minnesota USA pageant.

“Every little girl deserves to see a role model that’s dressed like her, resembles her, or even has the same characteristics as her,” Aden said in a video on her Instagram account.

WESTERN ADVERTISING

Hijabs have also become more visible in Western advertising campaigns for popular retailers like H&M and Gap.

“Brands especially are in a very strategic and potent position to propel that social good, to change the attitudes of society and really push us forward and take us to that next step,” Amani al-Khatahtbeh, founder of online publication MuslimGirl.com, said by phone from New York.

In Nigeria, a medical student has become an Instagram sensation for posting images of a hijab-wearing Barbie, describing hers as a “modest doll” – unlike the traditional version. And mothers in Pittsburgh have started making and selling hijabs for Barbies in a bid to make play more inclusive.

However, al-Khatahtbeh warned of the potential for the young Muslim market to be exploited just for profit without any effort to promote acceptance and integration.

“It can easily become exploitative by profiting off of communities that are being targeted right now, or it could be a moment that we turn into a very, very empowering one,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

EMOJIS AND FASHION

Frustrated she could not find an image to represent her and her friends on her iPhone keypad, Saudi teenager, Rayouf Alhumedhi, started an online campaign, the Hijab Emoji Project.

She proposed the idea of the emoji last year to coding consortium Unicode that manages the development of new emojis, Alhumedhi said on her campaign’s website, helping to prompt Apple to create its hijab-wearing emoji.

“It’s only really in the last 18 to 24 months – perhaps three years – that bigger mainstream brands have started to realise that young Muslim consumers are really an exciting opportunity,” said Janmohamed of Ogilvy Noor.

A global Islamic economy report conducted by Thomson Reuters showed that in 2015, revenues from “modest fashion” bought by Muslim women was were estimated at $44 billion, with designers Dolce & Gabbana, Uniqlo and Burberry entering the industry.

Janmohamed, author of the memoir “Love in a Headscarf”, sees young hijabi representation in the digital communications and fashion space a step forward for tolerance.

“It feels particularly empowering for young people to see themselves represented. So today I think it is the least that consumers expect and anyone that doesn’t do it is actually falling behind.”

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Amid Chorus for Federal Probe Into Kathua Rape, a Look at CBI’s Track Record in J&K

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Family members of those accused in the rape and murder of an eight-year-old in Jammu’s Kathua have been sitting on a protest since their arrest, demanding an investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Their contention is that the current probe by the state police’s Crime Branch is “biased”. Members of the lawyers’ body in Kathua too has demanded the same. As demand swells for a CBI probe, News18 takes a look at the federal agency’s track record in Jammu and Kashmir.

Shopian Double Rape and Murder

On May 30, 2009, the lifeless bodies of a 17-year-old and her 22-year-old sister-in-law were discovered near the shallow Rambi Ara stream in Shopian, south Kashmir. The two had gone to work on their small orchard across the Rambi Ara the previous day.

On the orders of the district magistrate, a three-member team of doctors was called in from nearby Pulwama district to conduct an autopsy. The team confirmed that both women had been raped. A report issued by the Forensic Science Lab Srinagar also confirmed the rape and murder on June 6, 2009. The family alleged that the women were raped and killed by Indian army men.

After a massive public outrage, the state government handed over the investigation to CBI. However, the agency gave a clean chit to five police officials who had earlier been indicted by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of the state police that had probed the case earlier.

The CBI attributed the cause of the teen’s death to “asphyxia as a result of ante-mortem drowning” in a stream and said the injuries on her head were “simple in nature, not sufficient to cause death”. In the case of the 22-year-old, the charge-sheet said there were “no ante-mortem injuries” and death was a result of drowning by “asphyxia”.

Pathribal Fake Encounter

In 2003, the CBI took over investigation into the killing of five civilians by Army allegedly in a staged gunfight. The army had picked up the civilians from their homes, killed them and mutilated their bodies beyond recognition before labeling them as Pakistani militants responsible for massacre of 36 Sikhs at Chittisinghpora in 2000.

The CBI in its charge sheet stated that following the killing of Sikhs in Chittisinghpora, the army unit based in the area was under “tremendous psychological pressure” to show results. The CBI indicted personnel of 7 Rashtriya Rifles camped at Shangus in the fake encounter.

The CBI had said the army personnel entered into a criminal conspiracy to pick up some innocent persons and staged an encounter.

The Supreme Court on May 1, 2012 gave the army eight weeks to decide whether the accused should be tried by a regular criminal court or face a court-martial.

On June 29, 2012, the army opted for Court of Inquiry to try the five accused. However, on January 23, 2014, army the closed the case saying the evidence recorded couldn’t establish prima facie case against any of the accused.

The families, in April 2016, filed a writ petition in the High Court, seeking re-opening of the case and re-conducting the trial of all the accused in a criminal court. The writ was dismissed.

Later, the families filed the same writ in the Supreme Court, which on August 17 last year issued notice to the Government of India, army and the CBI, rekindling hope among the families of the victims.

The Supreme Court, however, in August 2017, gave a glimmer of hope to the kin of five villagers killed by the army by admitting a plea challenging a Jammu and Kashmir High Court verdict that upheld the Army’s decision to close proceedings against five soldiers involved.

2006 Srinagar Sex Scandal

The CBI had also investigated the infamous 2006 sex scandal in which two ministers, top police officers and several influential people were among those named as accused. They were charged under various sections of the Ranbir Penal Code, the criminal code applicable in the states, including under Section 376 for the rape of a 15-year-old girl.

The other charges included procurement of girls, intimidation of witnesses and wrongful confinement of the victims.

The trial of the 14 accused was shifted from Srinagar to a Chandigarh CBI court on orders of the Supreme Court.

The court acquitted most of the accused and the CBI drew criticism for not following the case meticulously.

In February this year, a woman who was allegedly involved in the sex scandal claimed that the CBI had forced her to change her testimony.

Interestingly, the name of then J&K CM Omar Abdullah had also surfaced in the case, which led to him resigning from the post in July 2009. The governor had eventually rejected his resignation.

Killing of 4 IAF officers in 1990

The CBI also probed the killing of four Indian Air Force personnel on the outskirts of Srinagar on January 25, 1990.

According to an FIR registered in Police Station Sadder, unidentified militants fired upon Air Force employees living as tenants in Rawalpora, Srinagar on January 25, 1990. In the indiscriminate firing, 40 employees, including a woman, were injured, and two died on the spot. The assailants escaped from the spot.

The CBI took up the investigation on the basis of a state government notification in 1990 and a charge-sheet was filed on August 31, 1990 under Section 120-B read with Section 302 of the RPC, Section 3 and 4 of TADA and Section 27 of Arms Act in the court of 3rd Additional Sessions Judge (TADA case Jammu) against the accused persons.

During the course of trial, a transfer application was filed by the accused, which was rejected after which they approached the High Court in Srinagar to transfer the case. The High Court stayed the proceedings of the trial court. For now, the court at Srinagar is hearing the transfer appeal.

The CBI identified JKLF leaders Mohammad Yaseen Malik, Manzoor Ahmed Sofi, Javed Ahmed Mir, Showkat Ahmed Bakshi, Javed Ahmed Zargar and Ali Muhammad Mir, as accused in the case.

Now, the CBI is seeking transfer of the case to Jammu wing of the High Court.

The Mehran Lateef Case

On May 13, 2008, Mehran Lateef Mir, a three-year-old boy, returned home from the school and in the afternoon stepped out of his home to buy sweets from a local shop. That was the last time his mother saw him.

Following High Court directions, the CBI on February 6, 2014 took over investigation in the case.

After relentless investigations that continued for over two years, the CBI found no clues about Mehran’s whereabouts. The case was closed after a city court accepted CBI’s closure report to the effect.

Ten years have passed since with no news of Mehran.

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J&K govt to probe audio clip on Kathua rape-and-murder case

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The Jammu and Kashmir government has forwarded to probe agencies an audio clip in which two people are heard discussing how money was collected purportedly in the name of the eight-year-old Kathua rape-and-murder victim but never reached her family. In the audio clip, which has gone viral on social media, the two can be heard discussing that a huge sum of money was collected in the name of the victim but that her family did not get it.

The discussion in the audio clip also suggests that a fight has already begun among the people who helped collect funds in the name of the girl. “I have heard the audio clip. When this clip came to me, I forwarded it to agencies for probing it,” Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh told reporters here. He also said the “heinous and barbaric” nature of the killing of the girl that rattled entire country must be deeply probed in all its aspects.

“Those who have done it must be punished severely.” “It is sad what has happened with the girl. No human being can do such an act. It is heinous. It is unfortunate that such an incident has been given communal colour. Court has taken cognizance of it (reports by media). I condemn the attempt to polarize the incident. it should not have happened,” Singh said. He said the episode gave bad name not only to Jammu and Kashmir but to the entire country. Now the case is with the court and the government will act on the directions of the court.

A thorough investigation should be done. Action will definitely be taken, he said. The Deputy CM also said if the court directs for a CBI probe, the J&K government will act accordingly. “The girl should get justice and if anybody feels the probe has been biased they can go to the court and put forth their side,” he said. Asked about a girl from Kulgam (Kashmir) alleging sexual exploitation by a politician, he said, “it has been brought to my notice now and I will verify it. Whosoever is the girl or the politician, justice will be done”.

He said the Congress would play “disruptive politics” in Jammu and Kashmir in coming months and asked people to be cautious of its conspiracies. The way the Congress played politics (over the Kathua case), it is an example of divisive politics of the party.

A right-hand man of (Congress leader) Ghulam Nabi Azad was leading an agitation in Jammu and at the same time they were part of the candlelight march,” Singh said, alluding to Jammu High Court Bar Association President B S Salathia.

Salathia has worked as the chief electoral agent of Ghulam Nabi Azad during the 2014 general elections, which Azad lost.

 

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Cow Shed Scam: MLA permits used pipes instead of fresh material

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An apparent scam has surfaced in Akhnoor block of Jammu district, wherein local legislator of ruling BJP has reportedly permitted ‘used and old’ pipes for the construction of cow shed, instead of fresh material, for which the funds already stand sanctioned.
According to sources, the construction work of Cow Shed was started in February this year, wherein the local MLA authorised the executing agency to get pipes from Public Health Engineering Department, which were already used by the PHE department.
“The MLA had instructed the executing agency to get used pipes from the PHE department, probably free of cost, for installation of tin roof,” said sources, adding that the pipes taken from PHE department were already used.
If sources are to be believed, some of the pipes borrowed from PHE department were rusted, but to give them new look, the executing agency under the patronage of MLA, got them painted.
“The pipes have been taken from the go down of the PHE department without any official auction of the material,” said sources, adding that same pipes are also lying in the godown of the PHE department Akhnoor.
However, a social activist also lodged a telephonic complaint in this regard with Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Akhnoor.

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