Sunday, June 11, 2006
Face to face with Yvonne Ridley
I finally met her today -- the award-winning journalist who was sort of an enigma to me. Having come across her name during my research on the British media reporting of Islam in Cambridge late 2004, I had hoped to meet her. She had made international headlines in September 2001 when she was captured by the Taliban in Afghanistan while on an undercover assignment for a British newspaper. Held in captivity for 10 days, she promised to read the Quran after her release and converted to Islam in August 2003. Currently the political editor of London-based Islam Channel, the first free-to-air English language, Islamic-focussed satellite channel, Yvonne Ridley is also an active Muslim peace campaigner. Known for her outspoken views and defence of Islam since she became a Muslim, Yvonne spoke on Islam and Freedom of Expression at a conference held in conjunction with the International Islamic Fair 2006 in Kuala Lumpur. She smiled when I asked her later how far she thought she had gone in her efforts to get the non-Muslims to understand Islam. “Well, I think it is a very slow drip in process because whenever I speak, they get really upset and offended and then they sit down in a quiet room and a few days later, they quell, maybe…It’s a long process,” she said. “But you know, I learn very long, even before I became a Muslim, you never kneel down in front of the enemy, otherwise they have you,” she said. “They will probably never understand us, but just respect us as individuals, as human beings. We have a right to be treated with equality and justice,” she said in obvious reference to the so-called war on terror.
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