Beenish Ahmed

Beenish Ahmed is a freelance journalist based in Pakistan. She's reporting on education there with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crises Reporting.

Recent Articles

Intimidating Muslims One Sharia Ban at a Time

Sharia bans in 15 states are unconstitutional and unnecessary -- and they misunderstand Sharia altogether.

Last week, Tennessee state Sen. Bill Ketron introduced a law that would prosecute any practice of Sharia law -- defined as a "legal-political-military doctrine" that promotes spread of "homegrown terrorism" -- as a felony, punishable with a minimum of 15 years of jail. In no unclear terms, the law equates the practice of Sharia -- the oft-debated guidelines of the Muslim faith -- with treason. "Knowing adherence to Shariah and to foreign Shariah authorities is prima facie evidence of an act in support of the overthrow of the United States government -- with the aim of imposing Shariah on the people of this state," it reads. Since Sharia adjudicates on matters of faith, not unlike the Catholic Canon or Jewish Halacha, both of which are are also guided by the decisions of "foreign authorities," the legislation proposed in Tennessee unfairly impinges upon the very structure of belief for practicing Muslims. Through his bill, Ketron, who hails from a district where plans to build a mosque...

Revolutionary Women

The most remarkable thing about the Egyptian protests might not be the size and scope -- but that women are able to take part in the first place.

An Egyptian protester and her childern wave a giant Egyptian flag in front of the Egyptian Parliament in Cairo, Egypt, February 9. (AP Photo/Ahmed Ali)
Asmaa Mahfouz -- a 26-year-old Cairo University graduate -- starred in video appeals widely circulated on Facebook that helped spur the latest protests in Egypt and turn them into a mass public uprising. It's not only remarkable that social media was so effective in a country where dissent has for decades been driven underground: It's perhaps most remarkable that Mahfouz is a woman. In Egypt, street and sexual harassment has been endemic, even described as a "social cancer." Egyptian women have become rightfully wary of any sort of public demonstration where they might become targets of abuse. During the 2009 celebration of Eid al-Fitr, no fewer than 150 men were arrested for a harassing spree in a single Cairo neighborhood. It might even be worse during protests, which have proved especially disconcerting for women, in part because many alleged attacks come from the security forces as a way to quell the demonstrations. In 2005, for instance, hundreds of young men affiliated with...

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