By Ellen McCarthy
Sunday, June 27, 2010; W08
As a punishing rain lashed across the narrow peninsula of Ocean City, Heidi and Kirk Noll stood facing each other in a windowless conference room of the aging Carousel Resort Hotel.
Amid stackable chairs and retractable walls, they and a half-dozen other bleary-eyed couples clasped hands and pledged their lives to each other. Heidi’s hair was still damp for the 9 a.m. ceremony, which took only 15 minutes, despite multiple interruptions from hotel staffers opening heavy doors that led to an atrium where the hum of a Zamboni on an indoor ice rink mingled with the smell of maple syrup from breakfast.
Vows successfully exchanged, and blessed by an Army chaplain, the couples clambered back onto the chartered bus that had brought them here, and made the wearing slog home to Washington.
It was an experience, the Nolls insist, that saved their marriage.
What’s more: Had they gone through something similar years before, both say they might still be married to their first spouses. Continue reading
By Philip Lim (AFP) – 1 day ago
SINGAPORE — Flip through the pages of Aquila Asia magazine and it soon becomes apparent that the publication is different from other glossy women’s magazines sold across the region.
Side by side with ads for expensive handbags and luxury cars are fashion spreads featuring professional models in Muslim headscarves — and articles on topics like virginity and hymen reconstruction.
To be “modest and fabulous” is the motto of the bi-monthly magazine, whose name means “intelligence” in Arabic, said its vivacious founder and publisher Liana Rosnita, a Singaporean Muslim married to a Swiss man.
Aimed at “cosmopolitan Muslim women” in Southeast Asia, the magazine has corporate offices in Singapore and editorial operations in Jakarta, capital of the world’s largest Muslim nation Indonesia.
“We don’t work for the traditional school of thought,” Jakarta-based Liana said in an interview with AFP.
“If people think that Muslims today are backward or traditional or don’t have a sex life, or we’re not interested in having a great career, then they are very wrong, because that’s really not the case.”
Describing Aquila Asia as something of a hybrid between US magazine Cosmopolitan and high-society publication Tatler, Liana said other Muslim magazines in Asia focus more on religion rather than its readers’ lifestyles.
“For example in Indonesia, we have four different magazines catering for the Muslim market. But all four are very religiously-skewed. You don’t see any models,” said Brad Harris, Aquila Asia’s branding director. Continue reading
||One advocate argues that those “imposing this ban are guilty of the same extremism as those forcing women to veil themselves.”
By Jabeen Bhatti and Aida Alami, Special for USA TODAY
BERLIN — A growing movement in Europe
to ban burqas
, the face coverings worn by some Muslim women, is igniting a debate over individual religious freedom vs. broader cultural values.
The movement started in Belgium when a bill making it a crime to wear a face veil in public passed unanimously in the lower house of parliament in April. The penalty would be a $19-$31 fine or a week in jail. The measure is likely to become law by fall, says Denis Ducarme, co-author of the legislation.
France followed and lawmakers across the continent are considering similar measures.
Belgium already has a law that forbids wearing masks in public, but lawmakers said they wanted to enhance the security of the country, promote gender equality and send a signal to extremists.
“Above all, this law was based around the question of security,” Ducarme says. “We think that it is important that all people must be able to be identified when in public. But we are also concerned over women forced to wear (a burqa or niqab). If the state doesn’t say ‘stop,’ the few wearing them today might be 2,000 in 10 years.”
The Muslim Executive of Belgium, an association of Muslims, estimates that between 30 and 100 women there wear a burqa. In France, fewer than 2,000 cover their faces, according to the Interior Ministry. Continue reading