Copyright © 2003-2011, Aishah Schwartz. Permission granted to circulate among private individuals, groups, or in not-for-profit publications in full text and subject title. All other rights reserved.

March 10, 2011

March is Women's History Month - Help Free All Palestinian Women Political Prisoners

Sign the petition
Repost image file from here.
Sigh the petition at
Since 1967 more than 12,000 Palestinian women were detained by the Zionist entity. During the First Intifada 3000 women were detained and during Al-Aqsa Intifada more than 900 women were locked up behind Israeli bars.

Currently, there are 35 Palestinian women detainees in the Israeli prisons Damon and HaSharon: among them 3 administrative detainees, 8 await trial, 23 sentenced of whom 5 are serving life sentences. Palestinian female detainees, like their brothers in detention, suffer from the brutality of the Israeli Prison Authority.

They are punished for the slightest thing with isolation, are beaten, harassed, tied up for hours under hot sun or under rain, deprived of sleep, their rooms raided at night, continuously denied family visits and calls back home, and letters are sent and brought only once every 3 months.

Water is very dirty and food is inedible, thus the detainees are forced to buy their food and water from the prison canteen for very high prices. Some political prisoners are also locked up with Israeli criminals who abuse them. Their cells are over-crowded, damp, lack hygiene and are infested with insects.

The detainees are also denied appropriate and much needed medical treatment and most medications are expired; 13 detainees are in need of medical treatment.

Amal Faiz Jum’a from Askar refugee camp suffers from womb cancer while Raja’ Al-Ghoul from Jenin refugee camp suffers from heart and blood pressure diseases and both don’t get the need treatment.

Female detainees are only allowed to see a general doctor and no specialists, and some were forced to give birth while hand and leg cuffed such as Mirvat Taha and Manal Ghanim.

Currently, there are at least 6 Palestinian mothers in detention. Others have their husbands or their brothers in Israeli detention as well, but are not allowed to visit them. Abir Odeh for example has 3 brothers in Israeli detention and Fatin Al-Shafi’ Al-Sa’di has a brother in jail.

Palestinian female prisoners currently in Israeli detention:

1 Amna Jawad Ali Muna, detained since 19.01.2001 (life sentence)
2 Abeer Isa Atef Amro, detained since 22.02.2001
3 Iman Mohammad Hasan Ghazzawi, detained since 03.08.2001, mother of 2 (13 yrs)
4 Ahlam Aref Shihadeh At-Tamimi, detained since 14.09.2001 (13 life sentence and 20 yrs)
5 Ibtisam Abdel-Hafith Faiz Issawi, detained since 04.11.2001, mother of 6 (15 yrs)
6 Lina Ahmad Saleh Jarbuni, detained since 18.04.2002
7 Sana’ Mohammad Husein Shehadeh, detained since 24.05.2002 (3 times life sentences)
8 Qahira Said As-Sa’di, detained since 30.05.2002, mother of 4 (3 times life sentence and 30 yrs)
9 Ireena Buli Shuk Sarhan, detained since 22.05.2002, mother of 2 (life sentence)
10 Du’a’ Ziad Jamil Al-Jayyousi, detained since 07.06.2002 (3 times life sentence and 30 years)
11 Warda Abbas Abdel-Fattah Baqrawi, 16.10.2002
12 Latifa Mohammad Mahmoud Abu Dira’, detained since 08.12.2003, mother of 7 (25 yrs)
13 Amal Fayez Jum’a, detained since 09.05.2004
14 Reema Riyad Hasan Abu Arrazaq Daraghmeh, detained since 28.07.2004
15 Mariam Salem Suleiman Tarabeen, detained since 24.01.2005
16 Wafa’ Samir Al-Bis, detained since 20.06.2005 (12 yrs, is in isolation)
17 Futna Mustafa Khalil Abu Al-Aish, detained since 21.07.2006
18 Wurud Maher Qasim, detained since 04.10.2006
19 Rawda Ibrahim Younis Habib, detained since 20.05.2007
20 Nada Ata Saleh Derbas, detained since 05.05.2007
21 Fatin Bassam Shafi’ Al-Saadi, detained since 20.05.2008
22 Sanabil Nabigh Yousif Brik, detained since 22.09.2008
23 Khadija Habash, detained since 22.01.2009
24 Raja’ Al-Ghoul, detained since 30.03.2009 (administrative detention)
25 Randa Shehateet, detained since 06.01.2009
26 Aisha Mohammad Abayat, detained since 13.08.2009
27Abir Mohammad Hasan Odeh, detained since 09.07.2009
28 Nisreen Abu Zeinah, detained since 18.08.2009
29 Ghufran Zamil, detained since 29.08.2009
30 Suad Ahmad Abdel-Ra’ouf Nazzal, detained since 22.08.2009
31 Hana Yahya Saber Shalabi, detained since 14.09.2009 (administrative detention)
32 Sumoud Yaser Hasan Karajeh, detained since 15.10.2009
33 Nili Zahi As’ad Sa’id, detained since 11.11.2009
34 Muntaha Khlaid Rashid Al-Tawil, detained since 08.02.1010, mother of 4 (administrative detention)
35 Alia Abdel Majid Al-Natsheh

In addition to Palestinian female detainees in Israeli jails, the Zionist entity imprisons the bodies of 7 Palestinian female martyrs:

1 Dalal Said Mohammad Al-Mughrabi, killed on 11.3.1978
2 Darin Abu Eisheh, from Jenin, killed on 17.02.2002
3 Zeinab Isa Abu Aalim, from Askar refugee camp, Nablus, killed on 22.04.2004
4 Hanadi Tayseer Abdel Malik, from Jenin, killed on 04.10.2003
5 Wafa' Ali Khalil Idris, from Al-'Am’ari refugee camp, Ramallah, killed 21.1.2002
6 Ayat Mohammad Lutif Al-Akhras, from Dheisheh refugee camp, Bethlehem, killed on 29.03.2002
7 Hiba Azim Daraghmeh, from Toubas, killed on 19.05.2003


March 09, 2011

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz, Attends 100th International Women's Day Event in Cairo, Egypt

Egypt showed the world on Jan. 25 that change is possible when people are organized and exercise their voices, rather than simply doing nothing at all to contribute toward societal and governmental change.

EGYPT (March 8, 2011) - Riding a bus through the night to arrive in Cairo for the 100th Anniversary celebration of International Women's Day and in support of a call for an end to violence against women in conflict zones, like Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iraq, etc. -- in addition to calling for equal seats at negotiating tables in support of peace initiatives -- by mid-afternoon of March 8, I found myself once again, as I had on February 8, in Tahrir Square.

Playing no small role in the recent and ongoing Egyptian Revolution, Egyptian women's rights advocates gathered to reiterate that the challenge they face now is to make sure women maintain their involvement as the nation purges itself of the Mubarak regime, by seeking political gains and true equality.

Initially I encountered difficulty finding comrades from among the hundreds of people who now find congregating at Tahrir Square virtually habitual as the Jan. 25 revolution continues to evolve post-Mubarak regime; the surrounding area filled with street vendors selling snacks and a wide variety and souvenirs.

Determined to persevere in my quest to participate in International Women's Day events, I continued to look for signs of anyone connected to the called-for gathering of women. A short time later, I spotted a group who appeared to be from among the larger pool of demonstrators, one of whom aided me in procuring a white vinyl, Arabic language demonstration sign indicating something to the effect that women's rights (or voices) could not be bargained away in the formation of a post-revolution democratic government.

Sign in hand, primarily for effect, I took a position of elevation on a short concrete wall encircling a land-fill, being that I was wearing a hand-made cover over my abaya; the front of which was an Egyptian flag, the back being a flag representing Palestine (which a few mistook as being the flag of Libya; yes, I did search for one!).

Having arrived as one, I eventually found myself inched down the wall toward a smaller group of vibrant young women, likewise sharing their signs and enthusiastically chanting slogans into the lenses and microphones of reporters and the growing audience in front of us. This would be where I would spend the majority of the afternoon; in great company! Al-hamdulillah, the time from 3 to 7 passed relatively quickly under comfortable temperatures and sunny skies.

Early on, an anti-demonstration group of men, chanting rather loudly from center of the street in front of us, also did little to deter either myself or any of the other women from what I could see, although it was quite disturbing to find such opposition to the collective initiative. Clearly we were being confronted by an element standing steadfastly in the belief that it is neither a duty or requirement, let alone right! of women to exercise their brains.

From among the anti-demonstration crowd, there arose a single, hotly bothered adversary who seemed to imagine himself a force to be reckoned with, however, Al-hamdulillah, there were supportive male figures managing his antagonism. In fact, at one point the man snatched and tore up one of the signs a woman in front of me (street level) was holding. I could just imagine from where I stood on the ledge behind the poor woman, the dismayed look on her face. Al-hamdulillah, peacemakers intervened and after a few minutes, the antagonist returned with a duplicate of the torn up sign and gave it to the woman he had originally snatched it from. Subhan'Allah, I would not have imagined that from him, and although he continued for the duration of the demonstration to relentlessly spew his antagonistic remarks (you don't have to understand Arabic to get the gist), aside from the sign-snatching incident he didn't, Al-hamdulillah, become physical again in any way. We were, after all, mindful that the day's events, worldwide, were to also bring attention to the issue of violence perpetrated by men against women!
Another interesting thing happened during the course of the afternoon. It happened a man stepped into the line beside me to the left, and spotting a fallen demonstration sign laying on the ground, I pointed it out to him, motioning for him to retrieve it for me. Naturally, he stepped off the ledge and bent to pick it up. Climbing the ledge again he presented me with the sign and I motioned for him to keep it - after all, if he was going to stand beside me, I reasoned, he might as well make himself busy. Subhan'Allah, he was content to do as I had asked until a short time later, when another man appeared below us to shout at the man standing beside me! I stood listening, again, not knowing exactly what he was saying, however, the body language was loud and clear...snatch! Suddenly the sign was out of my comrade's hands, similarly torn up as in the incident with the woman just a short time before! Sadly it became abundantly clear that the man was completely taken aback with his counter-part's support of the demonstration!
American Activist, Aishah Schwartz and Dr. Sherehan Khalil, of Cairo.
Al-hamdulillah, as the dejected male demonstrator tore himself away from our group, I became acquainted with a young doctor doing her residency in ICU at a local Cairo hospital. Sherehan, like myself, had also arrived to the Women's Day demonstration alone after reading about it on Facebook just the night before. She and I became fast comrades, and as the crowd began to thin out, she enthusiastically strove to continue through the last of the daylight minutes countering questioning adversaries. I stood by her side, gently guiding her away to fresh locations when it appeared that the conversations would not reach a meaningful conclusion within the limitation of the remainder of our time in the Square. May Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala bless her; as we made our final break out of the demonstration Sherehan volunteered to escort me back to my hotel. Al-hamdulillah.

Despite the afternoon's adversarial atmosphere, I was offered a few opportunities to be interviewed, as were numerous other women attending the Women's Day demonstration. Being able to answer questions for various television and print media was a welcome reprieve affording us the opportunity to state our positions - above the voices of the objection-filled male counter-demonstrators facing us in the street. Hopefully, insha'Allah, some of our words will reach those with open ears, minds and hearts willing and able to do their part in making a difference in support of women unable to help themselves, particularly in times of crisis.

For sure there weren't a million women standing in solidarity with us at the March 8 International Women's Day event in Cairo, however, although I am only a non-Egyptian resident of Egypt, I didn't walk away from the event with any sense that the efforts of those who participated were in vain; as neither were the lost lives of the Martyrs of the Jan. 25 Revolution.

If one woman or 1 million women arrived at the Tahrir Square gathering point on March 8, the bottom line is - they arrived. Egypt showed the world on Jan. 25 that change is possible when people are organized and exercise their voices, rather than simply doing nothing at all to contribute toward societal and governmental change.

Kudos to those who stood today in solidarity to support the human and civil rights of women from Cairo, Egypt and worldwide, whether it was on a bridge, in a street, or in a Square, on this, the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day.

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz, Attends 100th International Women's Day Event in Cairo, Egypt
Facebook Women's Day Event Photo Album
Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins 'Women on the Bridge' Celebrating 100th International Women's Day
Muslimah Writers Alliance Mini-Documentary for Al-Jazeera (Arabic Voice-Over)

Egyptian Women March for Women's Rights - Cairo
International Women's Day in Tahrir Square - Egypt
Women in Cairo demonstrate for International Women's Day

March 07, 2011

Muslimah Writers Alliance Joins 'Women on the Bridge' Celebrating 100th International Women's Day

Egypt's 'Women4Democracy' Collective Initiative Calls for Million Women March from Tahrir Square to 6 October Bridge Tuesday, March 8


PRLog (MWA-NET) – Mar 07, 2011 – (EGYPT) - On Tuesday, March 8, 2011, in conjunction with the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day, Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA) urges global citizens of conscience to join the "Women on the Bridge" campaign in support of a call for an end to violence against women in conflict zones, like Palestine, Libya, Afghanistan, Kurdistan, Iraq, etc., in addition to calling for equal seats at negotiating tables in support of peace initiatives.

"Because of a lack of education and access to information, many women are unaware of their human rights. Those who are aware and actively opposing injustices, live in genuine fear for their lives," stated MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz.

Schwartz added, "These women need our support to gain the skills and confidence they need to play a full part in rebuilding their communities; so they can raise their voices, knowing they will be heard."

It is anticipated that on March 8 more than 200 bridge events worldwide will take place from the Millennium Bridge in London, the Brooklyn Bridge in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, the Grand Barriere Bridge joining Rwanda and Congo -- and from Cairo, Egypt's 6 October Bridge.

Also Joining this year's 'Women on the Bridge' campaign from Cairo, Egypt is the collective initiative known as "Women4Democracy", calling for a Million Women March from the now world-famous Tahrir Square to the 6 October Bridge.

Playing no small role in the recent and ongoing Egyptian Revolution, Egyptian womens rights advocates reiterated in a recent New York Times article that the challenge they face now is to make sure women maintain their involvement as the nation purges itself of the Mubarak regime, by seeking political gains and true equality.

The World Economic Forum recently published a report that ranked Egypt 125th out of 134 countries when judging the equality between men and women. Additionally it was reported that 42 percent of women cannot read or write and almost no women are political leaders. (In 2010, only 8 of the 454 seats in Parliament were held by women.)

Genital cutting of women is also still widely practiced in Egypt, especially in rural areas. Women in Egypt also suffer a level of sexual harassment that would not be tolerated in many countries. They are often verbally harassed on the streets of Cairo and sometimes groped in crowded spaces whether they are veiled or not.

Show your support for women's causes and celebrate women's achievements! To find a bridge event near you visit:

Can't attend a Women on the Bridge event? Sign the Petition calling for women in Afghanistan to have a greater involvement in the peace process at

Women4Democracy in Egypt - Details in EnglishDetails in Arabic
Women Fight to Maintain Their Role in the Building of a New Egypt
Muslimah Writers Alliance Mini-Documentary for Al-Jazeera (Arabic Voice-Over)

# # #

Established in 2006, MWA is an internationally-based collaboration of Muslim women writers and advocates working together to counter negative and inaccurate perceptions regarding members of the Muslim community and the Islamic faith.

--- end ---

Visit Press Room

March 01, 2011

The Palestinian Protest Organized and Supported for Palestinians by Palestinians - March 15

Gaza Youth Breaks Out! calls for demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank; encourages solidarity events world-wide in front of Palestinian embassies in coordination with Palestinian communities abroad.

Feb 24, 2011 (EGYPT) – The U.K.'s Guardian published an article in February demonstrative of the true voice of Gaza youth, calling for a 'United for Palestinian Freedom' March on 15 March, 2011 (English)-(Arabic). "Gaza Youth Breaks Out!" (GYBO), led by a core group of individuals who remain anonymous for security purposes, is a grassroots non-aligned movement, in regular contact with students in the West Bank and with connections to Palestinians and pro-Palestinian groups in Europe and South America as well as the Middle East.

GYBO first made headlines last year when they published an impassioned manifesto, endorsed by over 20,000 Gaza youth, expressing frustration with life and politics born of Hamas's violent crackdowns on 'western decadence', the destruction wreaked by Israel's attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN.

Manifesto 2.0, now available at, attempts to clear the air regarding objections to what some deemed as 'harsh' language in the original.

As stated in the updated manifesto, "We were harsh, true. We were angry, and still are. The order in which the 'parties' were cited was not intended and we are conscious that it brought much confusion in people's minds. However, to those reproaching us – because we denounced the corruption of our political leaders – of insulting the thousands who voted for Hamas in 2006 [including youth], of insulting the memories of the martyrs of the Resistance groups affiliated to the different Palestinian factions who shed their blood for us in many occasions, starting with Operation Cast Lead, we want to reply, 'don’t insult the Palestinian people's right to criticize its politicians.'

"Cast Lead wasn't a war; Cast Lead was a massacre, a slaughter, anything but a war. And during that massacre, we, the people of Gaza, paid from our blood too. Every single Palestinian sacrificed something, someone; it affected us all, from the youngest to the oldest, not only the Resistance. Bombs didn't make much difference. We never intended to reject the Resistance, and we're going to repeat it again; we will NEVER reject those who fight for us, for our Palestine, and it was NOT the case in our previous manifesto.

Manifesto 2.0 goes on to state, "Yes we voted for Hamas government. We all did. We were tired of Fatah's government corruption, [we] wanted a change and hoped Hamas would be that change. That [is] PRECISELY [what] gives us the right to shout our anger at them, because they are responsible [for] us, responsible of our well-being, our security. Fatah in the West Bank arrests Hamas affiliates, Hamas in Gaza arrests Fatah affiliates, while everywhere in Palestine you can find family members from different factions living united. Yes we denounce our politicians – [note those] words; POLITICIANS – because their mutual hatred divided them, even during the commemoration of the first anniversary of [the] Cast Lead massacre, while a crowd of Palestinians from all factions stood united by martyrdom, grief, and love for Palestine."

In conclusion, the updated manifesto adds, "We want three things. We want to be free. We want to be able to live a normal life. We want peace. Is that too much to ask? We are a peace movement of young people in Gaza and supporters elsewhere that will not rest until the truth about Gaza and Palestine is known by everybody in this whole world and in such a degree that no more silent consent or loud indifference will be accepted. And if we fail, other groups will take our place, until our voice can't be ignored anymore."

Details of the March 15 event, published and coordinated in English and Arabic language Facebook pages titled, "End the Division" or "Palestinians United", indicate that it is already supported by nearly 10,000; another coordinating page, primarily in Arabic, titled, "Palestinian", supported by 66,694, is also promoting the event. GYBO is further striving to unify nine other groups or Facebook pages in Gaza calling for action in the coming weeks.

Demonstrations have been organized to begin at 11:30 AM on Tuesday, March 15 and are stated to 'continue until the achievement of all goals'.

Gathering places, to date, include: Gaza - the Unknown Soldier Square; Ramallah -  Manara Square; Tulkarm - Roundabout Gamal Abdel Nasser; Jenin - complex of garages near the old Cinema Jenin; Hebron - in front of the governor's office; Bethlehem - Church of the Nativity Square Nablus: Martyrs Square; Jordan and Lebanon: to be announced.

GYBO March 15 demonstration organizers are also calling for solidarity events world-wide in front of Palestinian embassies in coordination with the Palestinian communities abroad.

As stated on GYBO's 'End the Division' Facebook page, "On behalf of the Palestinian Arab people, on the blood of the martyrs, widows and bereaved, orphans and thousands of prisoners in Israeli jails and all our people in the Palestinian Diaspora, we call on all the Palestinian factions to unite under the banner of Palestine, in order to reform the political system in Palestine, based on the interests and aspirations of the Palestinian people in the homeland and the Diaspora."

With the resignation of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, it has been described as the hope of Egyptian youth that, Gaza will feel the effects of their new-found freedom because the siege of Gaza will end and the kinship between the people of Egypt and Palestine will be restored.

Although a complete overhaul of Rafah border restrictions remains to be achieved, an easement was seen in the period from June 2007 until 25 January when the border closed again for three weeks during the Egyptian Revolution. This past week the Egyptian Armed Forces began what many envision as the beginning of a series in border crossing improvements when Palestinians stranded in Egypt during the revolution were allowed to return. Subsequently, on 22 February, the border opened for two-way traffic and fees waived for those unable to pay.

Currently the Egyptian Armed Forces is receiving thousands of expatriates and refugees of the Libyan revolution. Al-Jazeera reports that there are an estimated one million Egyptians currently residing and working in Libya. Virtually every tourism bus in Egypt is lined up waiting to receive evacuees at the Salum border who have traveled through days of horror as the volatile crisis in Libya continues to escalate.

Additionally, news agencies reported earlier on Thursday, that smugglers shot and killed an Egyptian policeman at the Rafah border and Israeli Defense Forces struck against a number of alleged terrorists driving a vehicle in the city of Rafah. According to Palestinian sources area residents reported hearing four separate explosions leaving one dead and three injured; four residents - two adults and two children - were treated for shock.

Suffice it to say, patience and continued support of the efforts of the Egyptian Armed Forces to establish stability and the security of not only Egyptians, but Palestinians and Libyans as well, is crucial in this time.

American Activist, Aishah Schwartz "Now is not the Time for an International March on Rafah" - Also published at The American Muslim (TAM)
Young Palestinians Call for Protests on 15 March
Gaza Youth Breaks Out (GYBO)
GYBO Campaign 'End the Division' - (English) - (Arabic)
Gazan Youth Issue Manifesto to Vent Anger with All Sides in the Conflict
Aishah Schwartz: The Gaza Chronicles

# # #

Aishah Schwartz serves as Executive Director of the Washington, D.C.-based Muslimah Writers Alliance (MWA), founded in 2006. She is also a published freelance non-fiction writer/citizen-journalist and internationally renowned human rights activist. Full biography here.

--- end ---     Visit Press Room

MWA Director, Aishah Schwartz Added in Reprint of Donna Gehrke-White's 'The Face Behind the Veil'.

Click on image to view full size.