by Khaled Abu Toameh
Saudi authorities have sentenced Najla Yehya Wafa, a 35-year-old Egyptian woman, to 500 lashes. Her family says she was arreNajla Yehya Wafasted after a business dispute with a Saudi Princess. Leila Jamul, a 23-year-old Sudanese woman, was sentenced last July to death by stoning for adultery. She is being held in prison, meanwhile, with her six-month-old baby.
A Pakistani girl and an Egyptian woman have become the latest victims of Muslim extremists who hide behind Islam's Sharia laws.
In countries where Sharia laws are enforced, women have often found themselves subjected to various forms of persecution and intimidation.
In the first case, Rimsha Masih, a 14-year-old , mentally damaged, Christian girl from a poor suburb outside Islamabad, Pakistan, was arrested two weeks ago after her neighbors complained that she had burned documents containing verses from the Quran.
This is a "crime" punishable by life sentence in Pakistan. Rimsha was arrested after a local Muslim community leader and his followers exerted pressure on the Pakistani authorities to take action against her.
In a second recent case, Saudi authorities have sentenced Najla Yehya Wafa, a 35-year-old Egyptian woman, to 500 lashes. Her family says she was arrested after a business dispute with a Saudi princess.
The plight of the two women is added to that of Leila Jamul, a 23-year-old Sudanese woman who was sentenced last July to death by stoning for adultery. She is being held in prison, meanwhile, with her six-month-old baby.
Women in Tunisia and Egypt, where Islamists have come to power thanks to the "Arab Spring," are also beginning to feel the heat. In recent weeks, an increasing number of women in the two countries have been publicly protesting discrimination and persecution.
In the Tunisian capital, thousands of women marched in the streets recently to protest a provision in the new Islamist government's constitution describing women as "complementary to men."
The demonstration came as a Tunisian Islamist leader, Adel Elmi, called for his country to legalize polygamy. "Sanctioning polygamy is a popular demand now in Tunisia," Elmi was quoted as arguing.
In Egypt, an Egyptian TV presenter appeared this week for the first time wearing a hijab.
Her appearance served as a reminder to all Muslim women that the the name of the game has changed under Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi.
The "Arab Spring" may have been successful in removing or undermining secular dictatorships. But in no way has it brought good news for women like Rimsha in Pakistan and Wafa in Saudi Arabia. Unless women — and men — continue to raise their voices and launch campaigns against Muslim extremists, women will continue to suffer from oppressive Sharia laws.
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