Interview with British Journalist Yvonne Ridley

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Yvonne Ridley is a British journalist. 10 days before the American attack of aggression against Afghanistan on 7 October 2001, she went to Afghanistan to get first-hand information as to what preparations the Afghans have taken, to face the American war of aggression. She was kidnapped by the Taliban and was imprisoned for many days, after which she was released. 2½ years after her release, she embraced Islam. Because she became a Muslim, her husband separated from her. Then, she married an Algerian, who is a hafiz (one has byhearted Al-Quran), accepting 10 suras from Al-Quran as dowry (mahr). Studying very deeply about Islam, she is presently focusing her attention on matters concerning Muslims, with very clear & firm objectives. She was interviewed by ‘Almujtama – a magazine from Kuwait – in Lahore. Extracts of that interview was given in a Tamil magazine ‘Samarasam’ which is translated into English and presented here:

Q:      You were one in the first batch who went to Gaza from Cyprus. What were your feelings when you went there?

A:     Over there, Hamas is doing its job splendidly. It is continuing its services most plausibly. If Hamas were to take part in elections of Arabian countries, the people there would certainly vote for it.

Q:    Why?

A:    Because, the leadership of Hamas in Gaza lives in humbleness & simplicity. Over there, there is no difference between its premier (P.M.), Ismail Haniyeh, and the others. In everyday life and in times of blockade, everyone is equal. Haniyeh is living among his people in a simple house. Anyone who sees it, would have the best of impression of Hamas. The only pompous house of grandeur was that of Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas. That house was like that of a Hollywood mansion. Hamas is still safeguarding that house without demolishing it!

Q:    It is said that Hamas has turned Gaza into a huge prison. What is your opinion?

A:    Those statements are not at all true. We investigated into this. We investigated the practice of human rights. When we were in Gaza, 2 amongst us went into the prisons. They found everything there normal. We affirmed that great consideration is given to human rights – especially, the rights of prisoners are given due importance.

Q:    Did you have a talk with prisoners inside the prison?

A:    No! But a person who came with us from Cyprus talked to the prisoners. A point to be noted is that this person is one who hates & opposes Hamas! However, he said that, the prisoners in the prison are treated very humanely; and that he found no transgression of human rights. He said  he was surprised to see such normalcy within the prison; because, he expected very disastrous  conditions with great abusement of human rights, to prevail there.

Q:    You stayed in Gaza for quite a number of days. Did you feel it unsafe & fearsome environment?

A:    On the contrary, I felt that things were totally different! I want to tell you a truth. I have toured many cities in the world. But, I did not see, such a safe environment as in Gaza, in any other place. That you can go around the streets of Gaza without any fear in the middle of nights, is itself the proof of this.

Q:    Did you meet & converse with the ordinary people of Gaza?

A:    Yes! I have spoken to some people in the streets. Most of those to whom I spoke, were against Hamas! But, they spoke of their feelings freely, without fear of reprisal. I told them: “You should go to other Arab countries, and see for yourself if you could speak so very freely in the street against their government without any fear!”
I saw an unbiased statistic, which said that after Hamas came to power in Gaza, crimes have reduced by 80%! I saw people there, living in happier mood. I went to a function such as this, with the mayor of Gaza. I had thought that after Gaza was brought under Hamas’ control, such functions would have been banned. But no! I was surprised to see everything usual & normal.

Q:    What was your opinion after meeting Haniyeh?

A:    I think that among all the Islamic countries in the world, Gaza is one of the very few, which protects democracy. Haniyeh is a politically far-sighted man. He has the capability to unite  the people and lead them. In my opinion, President Arafat had these qualities before Haniyeh, but, Mahmoud Abbas does not possess these qualities.

Q:    Why didn’t you take part in the second group that went from Cyprus to Gaza?

A:    I wanted to join that group. But, I had to come to Lahore, to proceed to Afghanistan, to ‘shoot’ a documentary on the fate of Muslim or Arabian females in American-managed prisons in Afghanistan. No one knows anything about these female prisoners. American army denies having any female prisoners therein.

Q:    How did you come to know about these prisoners?

A:    Over there, there is a female prisoner No.650, in Bagram prison. I believe she is a Pakistani; and I believe that there are many more female prisoners. They may be, Arabian or other Muslims, or even American Muslim. Going to Afghanistan, I would try to get the number of female prisoners there; and their condition – how they are treated specially because, the Americans are denying emphatically that there is no female prisoner.
I contacted Pentagon 3 times; and enquired if there are Muslim female prisoners in Afghan prisons. They kept on denying that. However, finally they gave in; and said that there is one prisoner No.650.
Now I ask: Why are they afraid to reveal the truth? Why are they refusing to reveal the number of female prisoners? I am of the opinion that they are doing something most despicable. It is because of this, they are afraid to reveal the truth.
I can say with certainty that there are many other secret prisons in Bagram.  I am going to start my investigating journey to Afghanistan, in search of these prisons.

Q:    Don’t you realize that there is great danger in this mission?

A:    No! I don’t think there is any danger in my mission. If you are afraid of them, they would haunt  you. If you stand up fearlessly against them, they would fear you.

Q:    You are a Muslim lady wearing hijab. You are going in search of Muslims female prisoners, who have been imprisoned as terrorists. Are you not afraid that you too may be arrested and mercilessly killed?

A:    No! I do not fear of any such thing. As a Muslim lady, I am very firm & determined to do my duty. In the Islamic world, until Muslim men arise to liberate those innocent female prisoners, I would continue in my mission.
During the time of Rasulullah, when a Jew tried to undress a Muslim lady, the Muslims responded very harshly against him. During the time of Abbasid caliph, Mu’thasim Billah, when an enemy tried to undress a Muslim woman, she called the caliph for help. Over there, we see Mu’thasim. Even the battle of Umuriya’, took place in defence of her, and the Muslims were victorious.
But now, in the prison of Abu Ghraib and in the prisons of Iraq & Afghanistan, Muslim women prisoners are tortured, raped and subjected to all kinds of inhuman atrocities. One of them is this No.650 prisoner. No one seem to ‘move’ for these people.

Q:    Do you have, proofs to confirm the presence of other Muslim female prisoners in Afghan prisons?

A:    Sometime ago, ‘Al-Arabia’ news agency interviewed 4 Arab prisoners who escaped from Bagram prison. One of them revealed, that he witnessed a female prisoner, who was arrested by American forces, being forced into sexual abuse. That female prisoner also had been forced to stay among male prisoners. She had been forced to use the same lavatory, used by the men. She was told to share the same bathroom with the men, which had no partition or screen. This (order by the Americans) caused great fear among the men. So, they protested with a hunger-strike. That escaped Arab prisoner gave this – and more – information; but the whereabouts of this ex-prisoner, who gave all this information, is not known to anyone.

Q:    Will the Afghan government give you permission to go to their country?

A:    Yes! I have already obtained the visa from Afghan government. Then I contacted the Americans and told that I intended to come to Bagram. They told me they would not permit me. To that I told them that I would definitely come; standing outside the wall, I would take pictures of them, and let the whole world know through all media, that I was refused permission to enter Bagram.

Q:    Why are you involved in such dangerous task?

A:    This had been my task in the past; and also in present; and that is, job of searching truth. Until men take up this responsibility and do their job, which is expected of them, I shall continue my struggle. Muslim woman has a lot of capabilities. She can accomplish a lot of achievements. Everyone is required to now search for one’s own capabilities and carry on doing new tasks. If one reaches that ‘place’ (calibre), that means he/she has come to starting-point of his/her journey. As far as I am concerned, I know that I am a journalist. I do what all I can in this field. Amidst my job as a journalist, I shall do whatever I can for my religion (Islam) and social problems.

Q:    In that case, what is your understanding of jihad?

A:    In my opinion, the attack on September 11, 2001 is not jihad! But, the struggle against the occupying forces in Iraq, Afghanistan & Palestine, are legal struggles against foreign occupation; and, to help them is our duty.

Q:    Western media are continuously propagating against Islam?

A:    Attack on Islam through Western media, is one of many conspiracies against Islam.

Q:    Is all this opposition against Islam because of ignorance?

A:     No! It is because of fear that Islam is spreading fast. In some states in America, seeing that crimes are on the increase because of consumption of alcohol, they tried to ban alcohol through police order. But, that attempt failed! But, at the same time, the Westerners are greatly distressed seeing the great force in Islam that makes an American Muslim voluntarily give up drinking, without any police order and without any other great effort.
They are aware of the immense power of Islam; and that makes them fear Islam.

Q:    What is your opinion about the misconception of the Western world regarding Muslim women?

A:    As far as I know, a Muslim woman is empowered with great power. In all aspects of life she accomplishes her task in the best possible way. She is not a woman who stays at the far end of life, watching without action. A few sisters among Muslim women, have caused confusion (because of their unIslamic ways) in Western world.

Q:    Why does Western world blame Islam: saying that it causes great injustice to Muslim women in matters of hijab & property rights?

A:    Those who say that ‘hijab is against liberty’, do not understand the underlying truth about hijab. Hijab is not a matter for discussion. It is a divine law from Allah. There are many verses clearly stated in Al-Quran.
Regarding property rights in Islam, it would appear as injustice, superficially when man gets 2 parts, while woman gets 1 part. But, a deep analytical study would reveal the complete justice in it.

Q:    What is your opinion – about those Muslims such as Taslima Nasrin, Iyan Herley, Amina Wadud who act & propagate teachings contrary to accepted Islamic doctrines?

A:    They are all those who do not know anything about Islam. They talk of totally different matter. Neither does Islam accept them. I say to them: “If you feel that Islam is not suitable to you, leave it and do whatever you like. Why are you still in Islam?”

Q:    Have you ever met any one of them?

A:    No! Neither do I like to meet any one of them.

Q:     What have you got to say about Salman Rushdie?

A:    Salman Rushdie’s opposition to Islam, turned out to be a favour to Islam rather than infamy to Islam! It awakened the Western Muslims from their slumber. They realized their rights because of his attempt. They realized that it is their duty to explain Islam, which is attacked; and also defend it.

Q:    What is your opinion about some Islamic countries like Turkey, Tunisia, which are against hijab?

A:    I went to Turkey a few months ago. I was invited to give a speech in a university over there. When I went there, I wore a hijab. Some who were there tried to prevent me entering the  university without removing my hijab. I spoke to that person who stopped me and told him: “Do you know that one day you would be questioned by Allah for what you are doing today? If it was your own sister who has been asked to remove her hijab, what would be your reaction?”
That person was shocked at my questioning, and asked for forgiveness, saying that he was only carrying out the orders from higher authorities. I told him: “Only those who have no feeling of dignity of their sisters or muhrim, would say such words.”
Then I went into the university with my hijab on; and gave my speech. I told in my speech: “If I were to go to Southern Turkey and drink liquor, no one would come forward to stop me. It is very degrading & shameful in the view of Islam. If I were to totally undress in front of people, still no one is going to stop me, which is most degrading & shameful. But, if I cover myself with hijab, I am scorned!”
In the middle of my speech, I asked: “Would the generals, who oppose hijab, approve if their wives or daughters were to go to Southern Turkey, and not only remove their hijab, but do all those that I have mentioned just now?”
At this, the audience was visibly very angered; because, Turkish people normally would be immensely angered, if something disrespectful was said about their wives & daughters.

Q:    Do you have plans to try out your experience in the Arab world?

A:    Yes! A few of my friends from Europe who have embraced Islam; and I, have planned to go to Tunisia. We will land in the airport of Tunisia with our hijab on; and would go around the streets of Tunisia with our hijab on, to protect the Tunisian women’s hijab. We would see what the Tunisian authorities would do to us. Let’s see if anyone there dares to remove our hijab.
Tunisian government has permitted women to lie naked on the beaches; and drink alcohol. It does so to bring in revenue through tourism. But, at the same time, the police there take action beyond limit against those who wear hijab! They do this just because they wear hijab.
I only wish to say this: For whatever we do in this world, we would be questioned in the hereafter. Muslims know very clearly what they ought to do. If there is a lady not wearing hijab, I would not be questioned for that. It is she who would be questioned. I would be questioned about myself. And, I know very clearly the answer that I should give.

Q:     What have you to say to those Muslim women, who are against hijab?

A:    There is nothing to talk about them. They try their level best to tarnish people like me who have embraced Islam; and hijab. I like to say this to them: Do whatever you want against Islam. But, let us alone, to do whatever we want for Islam.

Q:    How do you see the future of Islam in the West?

A:    With the Blessing of Allah, there is a very bright future. The Westerners are now totally fed up with their most erroneous ways of life. They have begun search for truth. Many are expecting that before the end of another century, Islam would govern the West. The truth is, those who have embraced Islam in the West are becoming a formidable force to be reckoned with.
InshaAllah, the Salahuddin who would liberate the Quds would arise from the West.

Thanks to ‘Samarasam’ – Tamil fortnightly magazine from Chennai, India (March 1-15, 2010


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11 years 9 months ago

and idk why the nazi sign showed up there in yellow. random.

11 years 9 months ago
Dear Ms. Yvonne, It is incredible to hear about what you are doing, masha allah. I have also embraced Islam a couple of years ago (it really is a powerful religion of peace and warmth, isn’t it?) You seem to have done good research. By any chance, have you done an investigation about the presidential death list composed of “dozens of” US citizens living abroad? In that case, I would qualify!!! and I’d like to know what would happen to my family and me if I wanted to visit the US in the future. Additionally, I’m thinking about writing a… Read more »