Yvonne Ridley's Speech at the 2006 Global Peace & Unity Conference, London. U.K.
UK Woman - Captured by Taliban - Converts to Muslim?
Yvonne Ridley, famous journalist from UK, captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan - after being held prisoner - allowed to leave provided she would do one thing: Read the Quran with an open mind.
And then Allah opened her heart and brought her to Islam. Amazing woman - amazing story. She shares her experience and views in the real world of today. Read . . .
I originally dedicated my speech at the Global Peace and Unity conference to Imam Anwar Al Awlaki, a prominent Muslim scholar highly regarded in English speaking Islamic circles, who was arrested in Yemen two months ago.
But I must also thank brother Fahad Ansari from the Islamic Human Rights Commission, author of God Save The Deen, whose written work inspired me to write this speech. Much credit of content is due to him.
Islamically, I am very young, having reverted in 2003 – and while I have much to learn I can identify with the frustrations shared by Muslims today. I know 9/11 had a huge impact on the world, but it wasn’t really the start of something … it was the continuation of a legacy of US imperialism and its fear of Islam.
Just over ten years ago, fit, young Muslims across the globe flooded into Bosnia to help their brothers and sisters fight for their survival against the Serbs who were carrying out a genocide sanctioned by the silence of a watching world.
The jihad brought together Muslims from all nationalities, status and culture. All were united, even those who could not travel to fight helped in other ways such as fund-raising, public awareness events and demonstrations.
The impact was to stop the genocide. Western intervention, when it happened, came only after it was obvious the Bosnian Muslims were heading for victory. The establishment of an Islamic state deep in the heart of Europe was simply too much to bear and so the West intervened. This is not my conclusion, but US President Bill Clinton admitted it in his autobiography.
This fear of Islam has now evolved in the last 10 years to such an extent that the blood of our brothers and sisters is now flowing like rivers across Chechnya, Kashmir, Palestine, Afghanistan, Iraq and we saw recently what happened to Lebanon.
I have walked through many of these killing fields and let me tell you the twisted, blown up limbs of our Muslim brothers and sisters look exactly like those pulled from the rubble of the Twin Towers.
Yet the message of today is quite clear. Muslim blood is a cheap commodity.
Meanwhile tens of thousands of innocent Muslims continue to be tortured in far away lands like Guantanamo Bay, Bagram airbase in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib, Diego Garcia and ghost prisons throughout the world.
Meanwhile, in the dungeons of Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria Egypt … brothers are being tortured at the behest and request of the United States.
And don't think the British Government is not involved ... British intelligence officers will soon be named and shamed for their roles.
Even now nine British residents remain in Guantanamo Bay - the Americans don't want them, but neither does this Government. Despite the weasel words of the Foreign Office all it will take is a phone call to have the brothers released.
And don't think it is just brothers being incarcerated and tortured - Moazzam Begg can still hear a sister's screams down the corridors of the torture cells in Afghanistan where he was held by the Americans. See him at the Cage Prisoners stand today and ask him what you can do to help. Because we can help. Hardly a single detainee has been released due to legal action, but through political pressure ... that is when governments get involved.
You here today, can make a difference. Don't just sit here and get angry - get even. Put pressure on your politicians and remind them you are their political masters.
In Surah Al Asr – God promises that the whole of mankind, including Muslims is at loss. Except – those who BELIEVE, DO RIGHTEOUS DEEDS, and those who ENJOIN THE TRUTH, and PATIENCE. Only by fulfilling these four criteria, will we be able to meet Allah, however if we bury our heads in the sand, and pretend there is no oppression in the world, and that these brothers and sisters mean nothing to us, then maybe we will not get to meet Him.
Even Ken McDonald, Britain’s chief prosecutor, is disgusted by this government's actions - he has launched a scathing attack on secret courts. These courts try terror suspects who are not allowed to see the evidence against them. It is an affront to justice.
In an exclusive interview with Islam Channel News, he said: "We should be clear these principles are not negotiable. Whatever the political pressures, whatever the climate, these are the essence of fairness: trials routinely opened and reported before independent and impartial tribunals.
" We don't want secret courts, we don't want vetted judges, we don't want secret justice. Equality of arms; fairness between the Prosecution and the Defence is not negotiable; the right to call and cross-examine witnesses under equal conditions is not negotiable; the right to full disclosure of the State's case against you is not negotiable.
"Defendants are entitled to know what the case against them is, and they're entitled to have material in the possession of the Crown which either undermines the Crown's case or assists the Defence’s case. A protected right of appeal is not negotiable.
"And the presumption of innocence, the criminal standard of proof - beyond a reasonable doubt - with the burden of proof resting squarely on the Crown's shoulders, none of that is negotiable."
And of course he is right - but Tony Blair says Muslims have got to stop having a victim mentality. Well when the Director of Public prosecutions starts whingeing, then may be we have a point.
Think about what sort of message that sends out to our young people?
They read about the heroic exploits of Saladin Ayyoubi, Khalid bin Walid, Tariq bin Ziad and listen intently to stories of courage and bravery about our beloved Prophet Mohamed, peace be upon him.
Do you know, five years ago I had never even heard of The Prophet, pbuh, but now I would give my last drop of blood to protect his name, his honour and his memory. Even in death he showed how strong he was by uniting the Ummah in protest at those vile cartoons from Denmark.
Our modern day heroes include those two sixties martyrs Malcolm X and Sayyid Qutb, both whose writings have helped define me as a Muslim. These are the sort of role models and influences our youth need to follow, but instead they receive confused and mixed messages.
If Blair gets his way he will try and ban this book Milestones - he is told this is a book Usama bin Ladin has read ... well he's also read Sheikh Zubair that's Shakespeare to you and me. Should we ban 12th Night, Hamlet and other great classics?
One minute our youth are told the fear no one but Allah (swt) while the next minute they are told to dilute their Islam and keep their heads down.
Since the events of 9-11, there has been an unrelenting campaign launched to change Islam into something more palatable to Western society.
The vision is a secular and cultural Islam at peace with the world through her submission to her oppressors rather than to Allah; an Islam devoid of jihad, shari’ah and khilafah – the very things we are commanded by Allah to implement in order to establish Allah’s deen on this earth.
And it is in evidence everywhere I look. Hijabs are being ripped off the heads of my sisters in Tunisia, France and Turkey. Sisters in Holland and Germany are also in the firing line.
And in Britain, we have Jack Straw, the former British Foreign Secretary who questioned the veil – he might not like the nikab, but I wish he would put it on with a great big gag. I am not having a white, middle-aged man telling me or my sisters how to dress.
The nikab, like the veil, like the hijab has become a symbol of a rejection of those negative Western lifestyles like drug-taking, binge-drinking and promiscuity. It is a statement telling the West we don’t want to be like you.
Muslims who choose to be more western than Westerners make me laugh – do they realize how silly they look to the rest of the world? They hide behind such descriptions as moderate – again what sort of message does that send to our young people? If we ask them to be moderate does that not suggest that there is something wrong with Islam that it needs to be toned down, diluted?
What is a moderate and what is an extremist? I really don’t know. I am a simple Muslim. I follow no scholars or sects … I merely follow The Prophet (pbuh) and the Sunnah.
Does that make me an extremist? I don't think Tony Blair knows himself - I wrote to him three months ago and am still waiting for a reply.
Being a Muslim is a bit like being pregnant. You are or you are not. Whoever heard of anyone being moderately pregnant?
Islam has been under attack for 1400 years and we should have learned by now to put our trust in no one but Allah. Yet there are those who continue to kiss the hand which slaps them.
I am afraid that we can no longer put our trust in to someone just because they might wear Islamic dress. There are those Muslim leaders who claim to guide and protect us but not all of them have our interests at heart.
Our young people are going to have to be very discerning since the events of 9/11, Bali, Madrid and the London Bombings, to name a few.
There are individuals who for years rallied the masses to stand up for justice and support mujahideen groups around the world and now some have become embarrassingly silent while others condemn armed jihad, portraying mujahideen as terrorists and extremists who follow a distorted version of Islam. In some ways we are all to blame. Our greatest shame has been our silence while martyrdom operations in Palestine and other occupied lands have been condemned as acts of terror as witnessed in 9/11 and the July 7 bombings.
Our young people have to be taught that what is happening in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Iraq and Afghanistan is legitimate resistance against a brutal military occupation, while crimes like 9/11 and the London bombings are blatant terrorism.
Equating the two only betrays our brothers and sisters who have no other option but to fight or face being wiped off the face of this planet.
The new slaves of the West criticize Islamist parties and governance by shari’ah. I call them the Happy Clappies. They are being flown in by the Government from the US, Canada, Yemen and Mauritania to preach a diluted form of Islam.
The end result of all this has been a dilution of the deen of Allah, a weak and pacified Islam willing to accept the status quo in which Muslims are oppressed and subjugated; an Islam in which Muslims condemn the actions of their brothers and sisters who courageously resist occupation and oppression with whatever they have.
Even making dua for them now has become a crime – how long before we are told not to even pray for the mujahideen?
One of the greatest military generals the world has known, Saladin Ayyubi, the liberator of al-Quds, was once asked why he didn’t smile. He answered back that how could he smile while knowing that Masjid al-Aqsa, remained under Crusader occupation. I wonder what he would make of the state of the world today? This is a world where Arab leaders belly-danced shamelessly in front of America while handing Iraq over on a plate.
The same Arab leaders look the other way as our beautiful Palestine is continually raped and sodomized, and that other great daughter of the Arab world, Lebanon … where was the Arab world when she was so brutally assaulted. And the war drums are beating again. Not only is the whole world watching, but so are our children, our youth, our future.
We must nuture them, and inspire them with tales of the Prophet and the Sahaba. As long as the Ummah continues to throw up figures like Khalid bin Walid, Saladin Ayyoubi, Sayyid Qutb and Malcolm X all is not lost.
The more we are oppressed by the tyrants the more we will fight back. That is the nature of Islam. And this is the Islam our youth need to follow, be guided by and inspired. We need to replace those leaders who have castrated themselves in a pathetic attempt to become more Western than the Westerners.
Many Muslim youth are now realising that no matter how hard they compromise their deen to blend in with the wider society, when things go sour, they will be treated with suspicion.
The more we are told to forget shari’ah, khilafah and jihad, the more Muslims will pay the blood price to uphold these values.
The jihad we are witnessing in Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya is something noble, a just war against injustice and tyranny.
The actions of the jihadists pose absolutely no threat to the West or Western lifestyles and their resistance is not only justified but embraced and encouraged by international law.
The real religious extremists who pose the greatest threat to radicalizing our youth are the Christian Fundamentalists in the White House and Downing Street. Bush and Blair have become al-Qaida’s finest recruiting officers.
More and more young Muslims are waking up with the realisation that it is not terrorism or extremism that is being targeted but Islam itself.
It is up to the Ummah to lead and inspire our youth, just as The Prophet led and inspired millions and continues to do so.
And the first lesson we must teach our youth is to fear none but Allah, The Al Glorious, The Most High.
Watch the video about Ms. Yvonne Ridley and other converts at: www.YouTubeISLAM.com <>
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