Muslim women call for change

Scholars and community leaders gather to launch an ambitious initiative to reinterpret Islamic teachings.

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KUALA LUMPUR // More than 200 female Muslim scholars and community leaders from around the world have gathered in the Malaysian capital this weekend to launch an ambitious initiative to reinterpret Islamic teachings, in the hope of improving the lot of Muslim women around the world. They will establish a shura council as well as a fund to support local initiatives and a website. Daisy Khan, one of the organisers, said the conference was an "historic moment for Muslim women's activism and an opportunity to build on the change President Obama highlighted in his speech in Cairo.

"We're thrilled to build upon the collective experiences of Muslim women from around the world and establish a true global support network of Muslim women working for social change at the dawning of this new political era." The 15-member shura council will operate this year under an umbrella campaign called Jihad Against Violence, which will tackle issues from female circumcision to domestic violence and terrorism.

Yesterday's bombings at two Jakarta hotels provided added urgency to its first official statement: "It is time for peace. We, the Muslim women's shura council, stand for non-violent and peaceful means alone to create change. In the wake of yesterday's tragic incidents in Indonesia, we unconditionally denounce violence, regardless of who perpetrates it and for whatever objectives. We urge all to join our global Jihad Against Violence."