Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Celebration of International Women's Day and Muslim Societies

Celebration of International
 Women's Day and Muslim Societies

Dr. Mozammel Haque

The world was celebrating International Women's Day on 8th of March throughout the world to remember the social and political rights of women, their long struggle to obtain those rights, and their strength. The history of 8th of March becoming International Women’s Day dates back to the 1800s. According to some sources, a group of women working in factories staged a protest against poor working conditions and pay on 8 March, 1857, in New York. Follow-up demonstrations seeking fair conditions for female workers and equal rights for women took place in different parts of the world. So every year on 8 March, women worldwide commemorate those who started this valuable struggle.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day, there were many conferences, seminars, meetings on women in London. There was a meeting on the Future for Women in Saudi Arabia at Chatham House, London on 20th of February, 2017. Then there was another seminar on Islam & Women, organised by the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on 23rd of February, 2017. There was a Lecture event in the London School of Economics (LSE) on Rights for Women in the Islamic World at the Sheikh Zayed Institute, LSE, on 25th of February, 2017. Another meeting took place at Chatham House, on the Future for Women in the Gulf Countries on 7th of March 2017. A conference on the International Women’s Day was held at the Committee Room in the British Parliament on 22nd of March, 2017.

In order to understand the present situation of Muslim women in the Muslim countries, I think it is better to start with the Status of Women in Islam before I discuss, narrate and elaborate about the position of Muslim women in the Muslim societies.

Status of Women in Islam
With Islam, the status of women improved considerably. There is no iota of doubt how women were treated in Islam, how their status were raised and how they were given equal rights in Islam as early as 1400 years ago. “The Qur'an and the Sunnah emphasized the spiritual equality of all Muslims. Islamic law recognized a woman's right to choose her own marriage partner, and it set limits on the practice of polygyny. A man could have as many as four wives, if he could provide for and treat them equally. Islamic regulations also defined marriage as a contract between a man and a woman or a man and a woman's legal guardian (wali). They also required the groom to pay the dowry directly to the bride. In addition, the Qur'an and Sunnah specified that women are entitled to inherit wealth and that married women should be able to control their own money and property. These sources further stated that husbands must support their wives financially during marriage and for a certain period after a divorce.” (Women, Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OXCIS), Oxford University)

Islam honours women as daughters, and encourages raising them well and educating them. Islam states that raising daughters will bring a great reward. For example, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Whoever takes care of two girls until they reach adulthood, he and I will come like this on the Day of Resurrection,” and he held his fingers together. (Muslim)

Dr. M. I. H. Farooqi said, “Islam brought about liberation of women from bondage and gave her equal rights and recognized her individuality as a human being. Islam improved the status of women by instituting rights of property ownership, inheritance, education, marriage (as a contract) and divorce.” (Dr. M. I.H. Farooqi, Status of Muslim Women in Islamic Societies: Past and Present, 2011)

Women in Muslim Societies
during the golden era
Criticism was directed at the status of women in Islam on the basis of how women are treated in the Muslim countries or in the Muslim world. Again, they were seen in the light of modern days, in the light of 19th and 20th centuries. Muslim women in the Islamic world played greater role and contributed to the societies during the glorious period of Islam, from the 7th to the 12th and 13th centuries. During those periods, Muslim women were very active in every field, whether in education, charities and governance. In this respect, it may be mentioned about the role of Ummehatul Mumenin (Mother of the Believers) Khadija and A'ishah during the life time of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

“It is said and recorded in history that Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)’s first wife, Khadija, was his chief adviser as well as his first and foremost supporter. His third and youngest wife, A'ishah, was a well-known authority in medicine, history, and rhetoric. At Muhammad's (pbuh) death, the distinguished women of the community were consulted about the choice of his successor. Caliph Umar ibn al-Khattab (ruled 634 – 644 ) appointed women to serve as officials in the market of Medina.”

Dr. Farooqi mentioned, “The women of the Prophet's time enjoyed the full range of rights and freedoms that Allah and the Prophet allowed them. There were many prominent Muslim women in that generation who were outspoken and contributed to building the Islamic society. Their names have been recorded. Quran is insistent on the full participation of women in society and in the religious practices.”

The history of Muslims is rich with women of great achievements in all walks of life from as early as the seventh century. Since the beginning of Islam, Muslim women have made strong contributions in the development of Islamic Societies. 

During the Abbasid period, the wife of Harun al-Rashid, Queen Zubaida bint Jafar al-Mansur, built the great canal from Baghdad to Makkah for the service of pilgrims which is still in existence. Similarly, there were devoted and dedicated Muslim women in India who contributed to the educational development of women in India, such as Rokeya Begum, Begum Shakhawat and others. In the governance, who will forget the reign of Razia Sultana, the first Muslim female ruler of Delhi during 1236-1240.

"There are authentic reports that during the Rise of Islam, (7th Century to 15th Century AD) Muslim women were active patrons and sponsors of public works. Rich women supported many public fountains, gardens, hospitals, and inns through their own assets and property.,” said Dr. Farooqi and added, “All through the period of Islamic rise of Medieval Period it was impossible for anyone to justify any mistreatment of woman by any ruling embodied in the Islamic Law, nor could anyone dare to cancel, reduce, or distort the clear-cut legal rights of women given in Shariah. As a matter of fact the reputation, purity and maternal role of Muslim women were objects of admiration by observers from the West. Female religious scholars were relatively common in Muslim Societies. Mohammad Akram Nadwi has compiled biographies of 8,000 female jurists during Islamic Rise. and Orientalist Ignaz Goldziher estimated that 15 percent of medieval Hadith scholars were women. Women were important Transmitters of Hadith compiled by Sahih Sitthah (Six Collections of Prophetic Traditions)”.

The decline of the Muslims started after the fall of the Ottoman rule when education went at the backseat.

Muslim women in modern Muslim countries
Several factors limited the progress of Muslim women in some Muslim countries in the present era. More traditional Muslims regarded social and political changes as anti-Islamic and a threat to the cultural value of male superiority. Concerns about a lack of employment opportunities among men fuelled arguments that women should stay at home in their traditional roles of wives and mothers. Islamic states tried to balance the conflicting demands of women and traditional Muslims by making cautious reforms.

Dr. Farooqi wrote, “After fifteenth century AD things started changing against the interest of women. Harsh restrictions on women and general violation of human rights began. Culture and patriarchal constraints played instrumental roles in restricting Muslim women's educational and economic participation. This was the period of Decline (Fall) of the Islamic World. The situation has gone so bad that many people believe that Muslim women are oppressed in Islamic Societies. They are denied education and other basic rights. These are not baseless accusations. But one must understand that these oppressive practices do not come from Islam. These are part of local cultural traditions in various countries. Western observers portray Islam as uniquely patriarchal and incompatible with women's equality.”

Some other Muslim Intellectuals, in recent past, have condemned attitude of Muslim societies for their anti-Islamic treatment of womenfolk. Few examples are stated below:

Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, said,No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live”. (March 10, 1944, AMU, Aligarh), “I have always maintained that no nation can ever be worthy of its existence that cannot take its women along with the men. No struggle can ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” (March 25, 1940).

Dr. Hassan Abdullah Al Turabi, the Islamic scholar and influential political leader of Sudan, said: “Present Muslim Society has become unduly conservative for fear that freedom of thought would lead astray and divide the community; and that freedom of women would degenerate into licentious promiscuity - so much that the basic religious rights and duties of women have been forsaken and the fundamentals of equality and fairness in the structure of Muslim Society, as enshrined in the Sharia, have been completely overlooked. In the fallen society of Muslims, women have little freedom. All sorts of subterfuges are employed to deny her inheritance. In the domain of public life, she is not allowed to make any original contribution to the promotion of the quality of life. A revolution against the condition of women in the traditional Muslim societies is inevitable. The teachings of their own religion call upon Islamists to be the right-guided leaders for the salvation of men and women.”

OIC’s Plan to Empower Women
in Muslim Societies
“All over the Muslim world, women are taking up leadership roles, advancing in their careers and creating impact through initiatives in business, civil society and innovation. They have shattered the glass ceiling in politics and have taken on the role of presidents, prime ministers and parliamentary representatives. They have reached the highest echelons in finance, academia and science and have been recognized internationally in the arts, literature and media sectors,” said Maha Akeel, Director of the Public Information and Communication Department at the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) but also added, “Nevertheless, women in the Muslim world still have soaring illiteracy rates while poverty and maternal mortality remain a problem. They still suffer from discrimination, violence, marginalization, negative cultural traditions — such as forced marriage, honor killings and female genital mutilation (FGM) — and the denial of some of their basic rights.” (Maha Akeel, Arab News, 8 March, 2017)

“Recognizing this dichotomy in the status of women in its member states, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), the second largest intergovernmental organization after the UN with 57 member states, has adopted resolutions and launched programs and projects to empower women and address their issues and concerns. Its various institutions — such as the Islamic Development Bank (IDB), the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the Islamic Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture (ICCIA) and others — have also launched their own programs for women,” Maha Akeel mentioned.

At the 11th OIC information ministers’ conference held in Jeddah in December 2016, ministers agreed to empower women in and through the media.

Maha Akeel also said, “The OIC’s Ten-Year Plan of Action (2005-2015), the new OIC 2025 Program of Action and the landmark OIC Plan of Action for the Advancement of Women (OPAAW) have set a number of important goals to be achieved for the benefit of families, women and children in the Muslim world.”

“Empowering women remains a key priority for the organization, not only to ensure their human rights but as an enabler and transformative force for sustainable development, peace and security,” Maha Akeel mentioned and said, “In order to promote the role of women in the media, they also need to be adequately represented across the media spectrum by taking on roles in different areas and in different capacities, including decision-making positions. Thus, the OIC has initiated steps to establish a Women Media Observatory within its Public Information Department, based on the information ministers’ resolution to monitor the progress of women in the media.”

Seminars and Conferences in London
As I mentioned earlier, there were meetings, seminars and conferences on role of women in different countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Gulf countries as well as in the Islamic world in general. I am going to report briefly on these events. First of all, there was a Seminar on Islam & Women at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on 23rd of February, 2017. I interviewed Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan Director General of the Centre.

Islam & Women at the
Islamic Cultural Centre, London
This event entitled 'Women - Gender, Justice and Islam', organised by the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, in collaboration with the Home Office, was held at Conference Library Hall of the Islamic Cultural Centre (ICC), London, on Thursday, 23rd of February, 2017. It was a symposium on the role of women. The purpose of the Symposium was to have an informed discussion around the rights and roles of women in Islam, break down myths, consider differences and overlap between culture and religion, discuss cases of successful Muslim women in leadership roles and consider how Muslim women can become more active in society and influence the democratic process.

After the recitation from the verses of the Holy Qur’an, Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan, the Director General of the Islamic Cultural Centre, welcomed the dignitaries, guests and other attendees.

An interview with Dr. Ahmad al-Dubayan
In an interview with me about his address, Dr. al-Dubayan said, “It was a symposium on the role of women. The purpose of that symposium was casting some light on the Muslim women in the UK first of all and also about some of the social changes around and the role of the women in Islam itself. And try to improve the knowledge about it and also thinking about the role of women.”

In the beginning of his speech, Dr. Al-Dubayan started with role of women during the Islamic civilization. He mentioned, “Actually in my speech I talked about the role of women in the Islamic civilizations and about the role of women in the early days of Islam. Ummehatul Mumeneen (the Mother of the Believers) Khadija played a major role in the faith in the history of Islam. Unfortunately, today in many cases in Islamic societies and communities it is seen that they do not realize the role of Khadija.  Today, the role of women as well as the Muslim organizations, for example, are sometimes limited to education and also within the family itself.”

“Women are the mothers and the most powerful persons who have influence on children. So we need to take advantage of this powerful woman to take their education. It is important also to remind the younger generation at home about the role and achievements of the Muslim women,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan.

Dr. Al-Dubayan also mentioned, “The contributions and role of the women scholars in the history of Islam in the field of Shari’ah, the Qur’an and the Hadiths, the Traditions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). How much we have indebted to them and how much we have received from those scholars - really we are so proud of them.”

In this connection, the ICC Director General said about one Imam who mentioned about 18 of the Muslim women scholars. He also mentioned about Sheikh Imam ibn Taymiyyah who had mentioned about eight or nine female scholars; we also received Hadiths and other information from them.

Dr. al-Dubayan also said, “We should not forget the great mosques like Kairauine Mosque in Fes, Morocco; Al-Zaytuna Mosque in Tunisia, the Madrasah Sawlatiyya (Sawlatiyah Islamic School) in Makkah al-Mukarramah and the Shah Jahan Mosque, in Woking, UK, funded by Sultan Shah Jahan, Begum of Bhopal and others. All these endowments were made by female, by women.”

Elaborating about Sawlatiyyah School, Dr. al-Dubayan mentioned, “There was one woman, named Begum Sawlatunnisa, the descendants of the Muslim Ruler of Mysore, Tipu Sultan, who came from India.  When she completed her Hajj in the 19th century she wanted to do Waqf Islamic endowment in Makkah. Somebody named Rahmatullah indeed told her that it is better to establish school and she founded the school from her own expenses and others and others have big history.”

“Especially the women in Islam made a major important role,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan and lamented, “Unfortunately, some young generation do not study this and we do really need to bring this back to light, to educate and to bring more to young female generations who do not know about all that.”

Speaking about the present time, the ICC chief said, “In the modern times also, now, of course, women have very important role as employees, as workers, as researchers, as academic, office staff and whatever; and it is important to give more power and more rights to them. Actually, the United Nations selected one day for international women. They wanted to highlight this some countries around the world.”

“In the Islamic communities in the UK,  we have really different programmes, talking about the empowerment of women;  talking about the role of women in the society, women education; how women really can play an influential role even in fighting terror, radicalisation. I think women can play a big role as teacher, as mother etc,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan. 

In reply to my queries, Dr. Dubayan said, “Actually the human rights issue, the women rights issue we should not forget; the issue of extremism itself, or terror itself, sometimes I will say, used for political purposes. No one say actually women have hundred percent complete rights or the things what we want.  If you go to the United States, for example, or in Europe, you will find women complaining about the media made women the like something to be consumed; like to be offered or to be on sale. At the same time they are always complaining about rape.”

“This is the case debates are always continuing. We don’t say that the status of women is ideal in Islam. They have problems in Muslim countries; but there are also exaggerations. I think in a country like Saudi Arabia which is on the way of advancing day by day rather better than before,” said Dr. Al-Dubayan and added, “We have to remember, in Asia and Africa, either they are too conservative you cannot come to them and one day they will shift the society and change.”

Dr. al-Dubayan thinks that things are changing; and it will change gradually little by little. He said, “We have to take little by little; people must be educated first; even about democracy, people must be educated about it first, then implement; it will be like a battle. I think there is a big progress going on; going on in all countries and they believe, in course of time, it will be better; but no one can say, it is the best situation - the status of women is perfect in any country.”

Future for Women in Saudi Arabia
At Chatham House
There was an event on The Future for Women in Saudi Arabia in the Chatham House, renowned International Think Tank, on 20th of February, 2017. There was an excellent panel of speakers, such as Najah Al-Osaimi, London-based Saudi researcher and journalist, covering the Gulf region. Ahad al-Kamel is an actress and filmmaker and Caroline Montagu, writer and journalist, Saudi Arabia, who has spent more than 30 years in Saudi Arabia. This event was chaired by Peter Salisbury, senior Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House. .

Najah al-Osaimi said, “In the last ten years the Kingdom made a move to develop the situation of women. And the status of women in Saudi Arabia has been advanced by a number of policies and initiatives which aim at empowering women. As a result of such a move the gender gap has been reduced and the number of Saudi women participating in the workforce has been increased. Now Saudi women composed 20 per cent of the Saudi labour force; still very low but if you compare that number to the number of 2000 the participation of women in the labour force was only 7 per cent. So it is a remarkable achievement.”

Speaking about the Saudi women education, Najah mentioned, “young Saudi women in the Universities thousands of women in the national education. More than 70,000 women have completed their education and half of that number was educated in the United States. Additionally, the educational programme of Saudi Arabia has strengthened the capacity of Saudi women entrepreneurial opportunities.”

Talking about the Saudi female entrepreneur, Najah mentioned, “Now the number of female entrepreneur in Saudi Arabia is in thousands. In eastern province alone, there are 4,000 entrepreneurs.”

Speaking about political participation of Saudi women, Najah mentioned, Saudi women “have political representation. We have now 217 female councillors in our municipal councils. I can see Saudi women in Saudi Shoura Councils. The Shoura Council is just like parliament. So you can see there is a potential; there have been democratic environment; have been prepared for a big change.”

Speaking about educated Saudi women, Najah mentioned, “Saudi Arabia has now many highly educated women. A generation of highly educated women and they are aware of their human rights, they are exposed to equality, they are exposed to freedom and they think they are completely equal to men.”

Najah spoke about Vision 2030. She said, “We need the government to think about it as a potential; empowerment of women is for the social and economic development of the country.”

Talking about leadership, Najah praised Deputy Crown Prince. She said, “We have now new leadership. We have now especially Deputy Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman.  He is very powerful about change.”

Ahd Kamel Actress and Filmmaker
Ahd Kamel is a Saudi film actress and filmmaker. She talked about Vision 2030. She said it “is all amazing; and interesting; it is a great ideas; and that’s the spirit.”

“Let’s treat each other as human being and that’s the first teaching of Islam. It teaches equality; it does not matter where you come from. And that is something I think that to be addressed globally. It is not something which is specifically to Saudi Arabia; Saudi might be an extreme case. But globally women are still oppressed; still under shadows; lack of equal rights,” Ahd said.

She also talked about living together as human being in general. Ahd said, “it is about living together as one; men women, British, Saudi; I don’t know black white wherever it is we are all one and in fact, not just one but we are human being.”

Caroline Montagu
Writer and Journalist
Caroline Montagu, writer and journalist think there is a sense of change in Saudi Arabia in the last 20 years at different atmosphere.

Speaking about Saudi women, Caroline said, “Saudi women are absolutely wonderful; they are witty; they are clever and they are very powerful in the private sphere.”

She also mentioned, “now women are absolutely developed under the economy and in the development of society I could have been said there are more women entrepreneurial than few years ago.”

She also mentioned about the achievement of Saudi women. She said, “Some Saudi women Somayya Jabarti, Editor in Chief of Saudi Gazette, Woman has become head of the stock exchange. She also said, “I think many Saudi women are much happier and more content than the message we get here lot of times because those who are content and happier.”

Celebration of International Women Day
In Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is scrutinized more than almost any other country in the world on issues of female empowerment. So it came as a shock to most media pundits and analysts when three young Saudi women took the most senior, competitive financial positions in both the private and public sectors within days of each other in February, 2017, with almost no controversy. It is reported in Arab News: “Three young Saudi women took the most senior, competitive financial positions in both the private and public sectors within days of each other in February, with almost no controversy. Reem Nashar became the first female CEO of a Saudi Bank, Samba; Sahar Al-Suhaimi became head of the Saudi Stock Exchange (Tadawul); and Latifa Al-Sabhan became CFO of the Arab National Bank (ANB). The world can now see what we have always known, that Saudi women can attain the leadership positions they deserve. (Arab News, 8 March, 2017)

It would be also shocking for many to learn that Saudi Arabia celebrated its own Women’s Day for the first time in its history, with a three-day gathering at King Fahd Cultural Centre in Riyadh.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Trump's Muslim Travel Ban - Protests Demonstrations and Debate in the UK Parliament

Trump’s Muslim Travel Ban: Protests, Demonstration
and Debate in the UK Parliament

Dr. Mozammel Haque

As I have mentioned in my previous article, the reaction and response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban in the United Kingdom will be dealt with in the next write-up. In this paper, I will narrate the protests and demonstrations against Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban in the UK as well as the Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom which was debated in the British parliament.

In the United Kingdom, public celebrities openly condemned Donald Trump’s Muslim immigration ban; people and political leaders angry at Donald Trump’s Travel ban came out on the street, protested against the ban and organised demonstration in front of 10 Downing Street.

Sir Mo Farah and Nadhim Zahawi, Conservative MP
Nazia Parveen and Sean Ingle reported in The Guardian on Sunday, 29 January 2017 about the personal reaction and response of some of the British celebrity to the Donald Trump’s Muslim ban. Sir Mo Farah, one of Britain’s most successful Olympians spoke out. Sir Mo Farah condemned Donald Trump’s decision to ban US arrivals from a series of predominantly Muslim countries in simple terms. In a riposte to Trump, Farah said: “I am a British citizen who has lived in America for the past six years – working hard, contributing to society, paying my taxes and bringing up our four children in the place they now call home. Now, me and many others like me are being told that we may not be welcome. It’s deeply troubling that I will have to tell my children that Daddy might not be able to come home – to explain why the president has introduced a policy that comes from a place of ignorance and prejudice. (The Guardian on Sunday, 29 January 2017)

Sir Farah also contrasted his treatment from the Queen, who recently gave him a knighthood, with that of Trump, saying: “On 1 January this year, Her Majesty the Queen made me a knight of the realm. On 27 January, President Donald Trump seems to have made me an alien.” Sir Farah is a British citizen with a British passport, born in Somalia, reported in The Guardian.

Conservative MP  Nadhim Zahawi
Another British Celebrity and Conservative politician said he felt discriminated. Speaking to Andrew Marr, BBC, Tory MP Nadhim Zahawi said he felt discriminated against for the first time since his school days. The Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad, said he felt “demeaned and discriminated against” by Trump’s border edict. Speaking on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, he said: “I don’t think I have felt discriminated since little school when the kids were very cruel, as a young boy coming from Iraq of Kurdish origin. For the first time in my life last night I felt discriminated against. It’s demeaning, it’s sad.” Reported in The Guardian.

Politicians and Political leaders
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, London Mayor Sadiq Khan, the Liberal Democrats and the Conservative leader in Scotland, Ruth Davidson, have all called for the visit to be cancelled.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has condemned Donald Trump’s ban on people from certain countries entering the United States as “shameful and cruel”. He said: “President Trump's ban on refugees and immigrants from certain countries is shameful and cruel. “The USA has a proud history of welcoming and resettling refugees. The President can't just turn his back on this global crisis - all countries need to play their part,” reported in The Independent online and added, “While every country has the right to set its own immigration policies, this new policy flies in the face of the values of freedom and tolerance that the USA was built upon,” he said and added, “As a nation that, like the USA, values tolerance, diversity and freedom, we cannot just shrug our shoulders and say: 'It's not our problem'.” (The Independent online, 29th of January, 2017)

Mr Khan’s comments came as mass demonstrations broke out across the US in protest at the anti-immigration policy.

It is also reported that Former cabinet minister, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi urged ministers to refer to Mr Trump’s immigration policy as a “Muslim ban”, arguing there could be no doubt that is what it is. Baroness Warsi also said: “Those who run and govern this country bowing down to a man who holds the views that he holds, values which are not the same as British values, I think is sending out a very wrong signal.” Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she went on: “[State visits] are an honour of the highest order that a country can bestow on a visiting dignitary, it’s lots of pomp and ceremony, banquets and gifts and welcome and flattering speeches and all at the cost of the British tax payer. (The Independent online, 29th of January, 2017)

“We have to question whether in Britain, this is something Britain should be doing for a man who has no respect for women, disdain for minorities, little value for LGBT communities, no compassion clearly for the vulnerable and whose policies are rooted in divisive rhetoric,” she said.

It follows calls from Labour, the Liberal Democrats and other Tories to cancel the trip, not to mention an official petition that has soared past one million signatures.

Political commentator Owen Jones has organised a London protest on Monday evening outside Downing Street.

Thousands of people gathered across the UK to protest against Trump’s travel ban and his planned UK state visit. About 10,000 people were thought to have marched on Downing Street in London. Meanwhile a petition set up a matter of days ago has now exceeded one million signatures, having past the 10,000 mark requiring a government response and the 100,000 mark meaning it must be considered for a debate in Parliament.

Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, while answering questions in front of the Commons home affairs committee on Tuesday, 31 January 2017, has strengthened UK criticism of move, saying it is divisive and wrong, but MPs question delay in airing concerns, reported by Alan Travis, in The Guardian.. The home secretary has strengthened Britain’s criticism of Donald Trump’s travel ban, branding it “a potential propaganda opportunity” for so-called Islamic State. .

Giving evidence before the home affairs select committee, Amber Rudd agreed that most attacks in the US, Britain and Europe had been carried out by domestic terrorists in the most recent years and said that Isis would “use every opportunity” to radicalise people. Rudd also said: “I think the important thing is for the government to state that we disagree with the ban and we have said it is divisive. It is wrong. I will continue to say that.” (Reported by Alan Travis, in The Guardian, 31 January, 2017)

Trump’s visit to the UK and the public demand
Demand for cancellation of Trump’s invitation
Political leaders came out demanding the government to cancel Donald Trump’s invitation. With both Jeremy Corbyn and the leader of the Scottish Conservatives, Ruth Davidson, calling on Theresa May to cancel Trump’s planned state visit to Britain if he does not rescind the ban.

Corbyn told the Guardian that May would be “failing the British people” if she did not call off the visit by Trump, planned for the summer. Davidson said state visits were designed “to celebrate and entrench the friendships and shared values between their respective countries”. She said: “A state visit from the current president of the United States could not possibly occur in the best traditions of the enterprise while a cruel and divisive policy which discriminates against citizens of the host nation is in place. “I hope President Trump immediately reconsiders his Muslim ban.” London Mayor sadiq Khan, Baroness Warsi and other politicians also joined in this demand.

Even there was a public protest which passed million signatures.

20 February 2017 was set as the date for MPs to debate a petition against Trump’s visit that has garnered 1.6m signatures. MPs unanimously passed a motion condemning the “Discriminatory, divisive and counterproductive” travel ban. The emergency debate was called by former Labour leader Ed Miliband and Conservative MP Nadhim Zahawi, who was born in Baghdad and risked being banned from the US. (Reported in The Guardian, 31st January 2017)

Donald Trump's Muslim Immigration Ban

Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban

Dr. Mozammel Haque

Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States of America on Friday, 20th of January 2017. There were protesters clashed with police outside in Washington DC. Next day, Saturday, there was hundreds and thousands of men and women of all ages took to the streets of Washington DC. In the first week of his full working week, President Trump issued around 13 Executive Orders, one of which is Muslim Immigration ban. President imposed a blanket Muslim Travel ban on all refugees coming from seven Muslim majority countries, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. That provoked outcry, concerns, condemnations and legal confrontation in USA and aboard.

In this paper, I will mainly concentrate on President Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban, how the international community responded and reacted to it; what is the opinion of the world leaders? This cruel, inhumane Muslim immigration and refugee ban created another issue in the United Kingdom. Donald Trump was invited by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May for state visit in her first official meeting with the American President Donald Trump on 28 January 2017.

Later on, President Trump issued another Revised Travel Ban on 7th of March, 2017 which suffered legal setback again. Revised Travel Ban was blocked by two Federal Judges, judges in Hawaii and Maryland saying President was likely engaged in unconstitutional religious discrimination. (The Wall Street Journal, 16 March, 2017). Countries included in the Revised Travel Ban include Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. Iraq was first included in the list, but was taken off when the second travel ban was rolled out.

Before narrating, discussing and analysing the Muslim Travel ban, I would like to start with President Donald Trump’s inauguration in rainy Friday amid spontaneous protests in capital, Washington, DC and global women march and issuance of executive orders. Muslim Travel ban is one of the executive orders which was protested, condemned and criticised in America and abroad.

The reaction and response to Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban in the United Kingdom will be dealt with in the next write-up where it would also be mentioned about Donald Trump’s visit to the United Kingdom which was debated in the British parliament.

Inauguration Ceremony
Donald Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United States on the rainy Friday, 20th of January 2017 amid anti-Trump protesters clashed with police in the US capital, Washington DC. The number of protests against and rallies for Trump taking place on Friday is far above what has been typical at recent US presidential inaugurations.
Women March on Washington
Hundreds of thousands of men and women of all ages have taken to the streets of Washington DC on Saturday, 21st of January 2017 to march in opposition to President Donald Trump, a day after the Republican took office, as sister demonstrations took place in cities across Africa, Asia and Europe. It was one of more than 600 rallies taking place worldwide on the new US President’s first full day in office rallying around issues like women's rights, reproductive rights and immigration. Protesters held signs like "Women's rights are human rights", "Break down walls, don't build them", and "Hell hath no fury as a nasty woman scorned", referencing the time Trump called his opponent, Hillary Clinton, a "nasty woman" during a debate, reported in Al-Jazeera, on 22 January, 2017.

Sophie Walker, the leader of the Women's Equality party, told Al Jazeera that protesters had gathered in a show of unity. “We are here to protest the hate and the division that Donald Trump puts forward as politics,” she said and added, “We are here to march against the rising xenophobia in this country. We're here to march against the normalisation of racism and misogyny and sexism.”

Global protests
Demonstrations against Trump's discriminatory rhetoric were also held in Australia, the UK, Germany, Japan and France, and others. It is reported in Al-Jazeera, “In Kenya, hundreds of protesters in Nairobi's Karura Forest waved placards and sang American protest songs. In Sydney, Australia's biggest city, about 3,000 men and women gathered for a rally in Hyde Park before marching on the US consulate downtown, while organisers said 5,000 people rallied in Melbourne. In Japan, hundreds of people joined protests in Tokyo, including many American expatriates.” (Al-Jazeera, 22 January, 2017).

UK protesters join anti-Trump rallies in London
Thousands of protesters have taken part in a Women's March in London on 21 January 2017 as part of global protests on the first full day of Donald Trump's presidency. They marched from the US embassy to Trafalgar Square - as part of UK-wide rallies to highlight women's rights. Organisers said up to 100,000 people took part in London, although that has not been independently verified, reported by Sian Grzeszczyk to BBC on 21 January 2017.
BBC also reported, “Protesters left the US embassy, in London's Grosvenor Square, shortly after midday and chanted ‘build bridges not walls’ as they made their way along Piccadilly. TV presenter Sandi Toksvig and Labour MP Yvette Cooper later addressed crowds, while London mayor Sadiq Khan was also in attendance. London organisers announced on stage that between 80,000 and 100,000 women and men had taken part in the rally, but police have not given an independent estimate. UK demonstrations have also been held in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol.”

Executive Orders
Into the first week into his Presidency, Donald Trump issued executive orders. James Reinl reported in Al-Jazeera on 27 January 2017: “Up until he was inaugurated as United States president this month, opinions were divided over whether Donald Trump would come good on his hard-line campaign pledges to tighten US borders, scrap Obamacare and exit free trade deals. One week into his presidency and it has become clear that Trump meant business. He hit the ground running with a flurry of executive actions that won cheers from his Republican admirers but alarmed liberals, environmentalists, minorities and others.”

After Trump's rainy inauguration ceremony on Friday, he quickly directed government agencies and issued executive orders. Al-Jazeera and BBC has mentioned the following executive actions and directives.

Opening salvo on Obamacare
President Trump directed government agencies to freeze regulations and start weakening Obamacare, the signature healthcare policy of his predecessor, Barack Obama, a Democrat. ii) Goodbye Asia-Pacific Trade Deal: On Monday, Trump signed an order formally withdrawing the US from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), once viewed as the crown jewel of Barack Obama’s international trade policy. iii) Cutting cash to global, pro-abortion charities: That same day, Trump re-instated the so-called "Mexico City policy", issuing an executive order barring foreign aid or federal funding to global aid groups that promote or provide abortions as a method of family planning. iv) On his second full working day, the President signed two orders to advance construction of two controversial pipelines - Keystone XL and Dakota Access oil pipelines, which respectively link Canada and North Dakota with US Gulf Coast refiners. (BBC & Al-Jazeera)

Border Security: He pledged repeatedly at rallies to build wall along the southern border saying it would be big beautiful and powerful. On Wednesday, Trump signed a pair of executive orders to fulfil that campaign pledge. One order declared the building of a multibillion dollar wall along the 3,200km US-Mexico border and signalling tough action against the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the US, mostly Latinos. The second order pledges to hire 10,000 more immigration officers and to revoke federal grant money from so-called ‘sanctuary cities’ which refuse to deport undocumented immigrants. ( reported by BBC & Al-Jazeera)

As of Thursday, 26th of January, 2017, the Trump administration had signed 13 executive actions. Others, not listed above, dealt with cutting regulations on US manufacturing, a freeze on hiring new government employees and other issues. More are in the works. Most widely anticipated are new orders on national security, refugees and visa rules.

According to one draft order, Trump was expected to block refugees coming from war-torn Syria and to suspend the entry of any immigrants from seven mostly-Muslim countries: Syria, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Iran, Libya and Yemen.

Muslim Immigration Ban
On Friday, 27th of January, 2017, Mr Trump signed a four-month hold on allowing refugees into the United States and temporarily barred travellers from Syria and six other Muslim-majority countries. He claimed the moves would protect Americans from terrorism. “We want to ensure that we are not admitting into our country the very threats our soldiers are fighting overseas,” he said in a ceremony at the Pentagon, where he also signed an order to boost the US military. President Trump announced last week of January 2017 that nationals from seven Muslim majority countries will now be refused access to the United States of America. (reported in The Independent online, 28th of January, 2017)

Lucy Pasha Robinson reported, “Trump has ordered a four-month ban on all refugees from entering the country as well as enacting an indefinite ban on all those who hail from Syria. For 90 days, visas will not be issued to nationals from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen. Green card and visa holders were being blocked from boarding US-bound flights within hours of Donald Trump issuing an executive order limiting immigration from several Muslim countries, according to reports. (The Independent online, 28 January 2017)

The cruel inhumane bans affect travellers with passports from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen and even extend to green card holders who are granted authorisation to live and work in the United States, according to a Department of Homeland Security spokeswoman.

Refugee admission
President Trump has imposed a blanket ban on all refugees from seven Muslim majority countries. He has signed Executive Order to ban refugees from entering the US. Syrian refugees will be banned 'indefinitely'. Refugees from the other six Muslim countries will be banned for 120 days. In this connection, it should be mentioned that Mr. Trump first promised to ban Muslims in December 2015. He got his wish just 13 months later.

Rachael Revesz reported from New York: “Mr Trump’s executive order, signed on the same day as International Holocaust Remembrance Day, requested that the Department of Homeland Security imposes a 120-day blanket ban on all refugees coming from seven Muslim-majority countries. Syrian refugees would be banned "indefinitely", but Christian applicants would be given top priority.” (The Independent online, 28 January, 2017)

(a) Chaos Confusion and Anger:
Horror stories
Visas denied immediately, chaos created at airports and in the air. The decision has sparked chaos, outrage and anger around the world. Andrew Buncombe from New York wrote: “Donald Trump’s ban on refugees entering America has caused chaos, confusion and anger across the globe, as people were turned back from US-bound flights and others were detained on arrival at American airports. Mr Trump denied that his executive order amount to a Muslim ban, but he said: “This is working out very nicely.” (The Independent online, 28 January, 2017)

Narrating the horror stories after the Muslim Immigration banning executive order, Ms. Nesrine Malik wrote in The Guardian: “Within minutes of Donald Trump signing his executive order banning the entry of nationals from seven Muslim majority countries, the horror stories started coming through. “Some were turned back from boarding their flights; others were handcuffed in airports, patted down and interrogated on their political beliefs. Mothers, fathers, children, students, employees suddenly found that the unthinkable had happened. They had been banned from returning to their jobs and studies, to their families and homes because they were Muslims.” (Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)

She also mentioned, “The thought was almost too evil, too grotesque, to countenance. The hours after the ban felt like living through a chapter of history that we’d left behind. Events unfolded the likes of which we had only ever seen in documentaries, in fragments of newsreels from the archives. Travellers in tears, stern officers “just following orders”, refugees on the cusp of safe harbour wild with despair at the uncertain fate to which they must return, confused children huddled behind their parents as they plead with authorities, their faces speaking of fear, confusion and the sense that something is about to change for ever.” (Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)

(b) Condemnation and Criticism within the US
This Trump’s Muslim Immigration ban from seven Muslim majority countries was widely condemned and criticised both within the country and abroad. Muslim leaders filed lawsuit against Donald Trump’s refugee ban. There are around 3.3 million American Muslims in the US, just one percent of a national population of more than 120 million. “The American Muslim community has been the target of discriminatory policies for many years,” Lena Masri, CAIR’s national litigation director told Independent and added, “Generally speaking at this time the Muslim community is being attacked by this order. It’s important for Americans to stand together and rise together.” (The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)

Rachael Revesz from New York, reported, “CAIR will file lawsuit in the US District Court of the Western District of Virginia on Monday. The CAIR’s lawsuit is aimed to “challenge the constitutionality of the order which very clearly is designed to target Muslims.” “There is no evidence that refugees, the most thoroughly vetted of all people entering our nation, are a threat to national security,” Ms Masri said in a statement released by CAIR. “This is an order that is based on bigotry, not reality.”(The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)

An estimated 400 lawyers have signed up to represent detainees, and dozens flocked to airports, many with signs in Arabic and Farsi to alert relatives that attorneys could help them find lost loved ones. From Saturday into Sunday, hundreds attended rallies against Trump’s “extreme vetting order” at 29 cities and airports across the country, reported by Edward Helmore. (The Guardian, on Sunday, 29 January, 2017).

In the report, Edward Helmore also mentioned that Executives at major tech companies that rely on foreign skilled labour also expressed concern. In a memo to staff, Google Chief Executive Officer Sundar Pichai said it had been “painful to see the personal cost” on our colleagues.

© Legal Challenges against the Executive Order
Four states filed lawsuit against Trump administration over ‘un-American’ travel ban. Joanna Walters from New York reported:  “New York, Massachusetts and Virginia on Tuesday joined Washington State on a growing list of states challenging the travel ban that caused chaos at airports in those states and beyond at the weekend as people with valid immigration documents were detained or deported after arriving on flights from overseas.” (The Guardian, on Wednesday, 1 February, 2017)

Lauren Gambino, Sabrina Siddiqui and David Smith from Washington reported, “On Tuesday, 31st of January, 2017 New York joined a federal lawsuit against Trump’s executive order brought by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation, the Urban Justice Centre and others. Eric Schneiderman, the New York state attorney general, described the order as “unconstitutional, unlawful, and fundamentally un-American”. (The Guardian, 31st January 2017)

And the Massachusetts attorney general, Maura Healey, said the state was also filing its own case seeking to have the ban struck down.  “The executive order is harmful, discriminatory and unconstitutional. It discriminates on the basis of religion and national origin,” Healey said at a press briefing at her office. (Joanna Walters, The Guardian, 1 February, 2017)

Late Saturday night, Federal Judges in New York, Virginia and Massachusetts ordered a temporary halt to the President’s deportation of people who had arrived in the US with valid visas, reported by Edward Helmore from New York in The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017.
Amid a tremendous backlash in America and around the world, on Monday night Trump removed Sally Yates, acting Attorney General after she told justice department lawyers not to defend his executive order. The White House said she had “betrayed” the department by refusing to enforce a legal order that was “designed to protect the citizens of the United States”. (25) The dismissal of Sally Yates from her post as acting attorney general is just the latest.

After a federal judge in Seattle ordered a temporary halt on Donald Trump’s travel ban for refugees and people from seven predominantly-Muslim nations, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) reportedly told US airlines that they could board travellers who had been barred. “We are a nation of laws. Not even the president can violate the constitution,” Washington state attorney general Bob Ferguson told reporters outside the courtroom. “No one is above the law, not even the president.” “This decision shuts down the executive order immediately, shuts it down,” he added. “That relief is immediate, happens right now. That’s the bottom line.” (Reported by Martin Pengelly and Edward Helmore from New York in the Guardian, Saturday, 4th of February, 2017)

(d) United Nations Secretary General
Criticises Trump’s border policies
The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called the US President to abandon his controversial policies. He criticises President Trump’s border policies. The United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday, 1st February 2017 that U.S. President Donald Trump’s travel restrictions on seven countries and freeze on refugee resettlement should be lifted sooner than later.  “This is not the way to best protect the U.S. or any other country in relation to the serious concerns that exist about possible terrorist infiltration,” Guterres said to reporters. “I don’t think this is the effective way to do so. I think that these measures should be removed sooner rather than later.”

Travel ban is not the effective way of stopping terrorists entering U.S,” he said.

(e) International Organisations – UN
Civil rights and faith groups, activists and Democratic politicians were furious and vowed to fight the executive order. The Trump’s executive order provoked international outcry from human rights, humanitarian and faith groups, activists and democratic politicians, with the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), International Organisation for Migration and Amnesty International all condemning the ban.

The United Nations has condemned Donald Trump’s ban on refugees and order to stop Syrians and travellers from six other Muslim-majority countries entering the US amid mounting international anger. The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and International Organisation for Migration (IOM) called on the new President’s administration to continue offering asylum to people fleeing war and persecution, a right protected by international law. (Reported by Lizzie Dearden, The Independent online, 28 January 2017)

Lizzie Dearden also mentioned in the report, “The UNHCR and IOM urged the new administration to continue its work with the UN and other agencies to ensure “vital” resettlement programmes for people fleeing conflict and persecution, whatever their background. “We strongly believe that refugees should receive equal treatment for protection and assistance, and opportunities for resettlement, regardless of their religion, nationality or race,” a spokesperson said.

(f) Concerns and Condemnation
from International leaders
US and European officials have expressed anxiety about the damage the Trump administration’s ban targeting Muslim refugees could inflict on western security. The ban is believed to have been drafted by an ideologically-driven group around Donald Trump without consultation with the justice, state, defence or homeland security departments, which could have weighed on its implications for US foreign relations, as well as the country’s security concerns and legal obligations, Julian Borger reported from Washington. (The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)

Sam Jones and Philip Oltermann reported on Sunday, 29 January 2017 about the reaction of the international leaders. It is reported: Donald Trump’s Executive Order to halt travel from seven Muslim-majority countries – Iraq, Syria, Iran, Yemen, Sudan, Libya and Somalia – has provoked a wave of concern and condemnation from international leaders and politicians.

“A spokesman for Angela Merkel said the German chancellor regretted Trump’s decision to ban citizens of certain countries from entering the US. “The chancellor regrets the US government’s entry ban against refugees and the citizens of certain countries,” Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said in a statement. “She is convinced that the necessary, decisive battle against terrorism does not justify a general suspicion against people of a certain origin or a certain religion. The Geneva refugee convention requires the international community to take in war refugees on humanitarian grounds. All signatory states are obligated to do. The German government explained this policy in their call yesterday.”

“The French President, François Hollande, said that “when [Trump] rejects the arrival of refugees, while Europe has done its duty, we should respond to him”. Hollande said that in an unstable and uncertain world, “withdrawal into oneself is a dead-end response.”  Italy’s Prime Minister, Paolo Gentiloni, in a tweet, said his country was committed to the values that bind Europe: “Open society; plural identity; no discrimination.” Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister, Charlie Flanagan, said that while US immigration policy was a matter for the US government,”It is clear that the most recent decisions could have far-reaching implications –both on humanitarian grounds and on relations between the US and the global Muslim community”. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, tweeted: Justin Trudeau @Justin Trudeau. To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength #Welcome To Canada. Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister, Margot Wallström, said she was “deeply concerned” by a decision that “creates mistrust between people”. (Sam Jones and Philip Oltermann reported in The Guardian, 29 January 2017)

(g) Human Rights Organisations and NGOs
It provoked outcry from NGOs working to stem the worst ever global refugee crisis with more than 65 million people forced to flee their homes.

Amnesty International warned the move could have “catastrophic consequences”. Salil Shetty, the group’s secretary general, said: “These men, women and children are the victims of the same terror President Trump claims he wants to fight against. The irony beggars belief.” The International Rescue Committee (IRC) said Mr Trump’s “harmful and hasty” decision would impact thousands of innocent people, mostly women and children, awaiting resettlement to the US.  “In truth, refugees are fleeing terror – they are not terrorists,” said IRC president and CEO David Miliband, the former British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs,” Help Refugees, a British charity working across camps in northern France, Greece and the Middle East, said news of Mr Trump’s order was “devastating”. “Refugees are, by definition, people seeking sanctuary from some of the most horrific circumstances and it is the duty of compassionate and progressive nations to accept their fair share,” a spokesperson said.  “Banning refugees on the basis of their religious beliefs is abhorrent.”(Lizzie Dearden reported in The Independent online, 27 January, 2017)

Summing up
I would like to draw conclusion with two very relevant observations: One by Robert Fisk who is a regular columnist and journalist in the Independent and another by Nesrine Malik, contributor in the Guardian.
Commenting on Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban, Robert Fisk observed in The Independent online: “There’s no getting round it. Call it Nazi, Fascist, racist, vicious, illiberal, immoral, cruel. More dangerously, what Trump has done is a wicked precedent. If you can stop them coming, you can chuck them out. If you can demand "extreme vetting" of Muslims from seven countries, you can also demand a "values test" for those Muslims who have already made it to the USA. Those on visas. Those with residency only. Those – if they are American citizens – with dual citizenship. Or full US citizens of Muslim origin. Or just Americans who are Muslims. Or Hispanics. Or Jews? Refugees one day. Citizens the next. Then refugees again.”

While commenting on Donald Trump’s Muslim Immigration Ban, Nesrine Malik observed in The Guardian: “This did not start with Trump, it’s something that is only reaching its climax. For years, as people warned against the mainstreaming of Islamophobia, they were met with equivocation. “Islam is not a race”, “we are criticising Islam, not Muslims”, “we condemn all religion, not just Islam”. Mosques were attacked, women were spat on and had their hijabs snatched from their heads. Western media, led by the British tabloid press, established an industry of hysteria against Muslims with fake news. The niqab and its banning commanded hours of debate in European parliaments. All the while Muslims repeatedly hit the panic button and were told that they needed to stop overreacting and being so precious. Rightwingers exploited Islamophobia to channel anti-immigration hatred, and liberalism took refuge in intellectual handwringing and posturing over prophet cartoons and freedom of speech and women’s rights, unable to ally itself with what it perceived to be a backward Muslim tradition, and failing to understand that the danger to everything the west stands for is not from Islamic extremism but from the response to it.”

No one was asking for forgiveness, merely an understanding that collective condemnation of a people via attacking their religion meant collective punishment. And here we are. It unfolded before our eyes and yet many still could not see it coming. It became apparent that people would pay attention only if something terrible happened, and by then it might be too late. Now something terrible has happened, but it can and will get worse. If the past seven days have taught us anything, it is that events that seem to happen overnight are actually the climax of years of complacency,” Malik concluded (49. ‘After banning orders, horror stories,’ by Nesrine Malik, The Guardian, Sunday, 29 January, 2017)