The Washington Post yesterday ran a piece by an Englishwoman called Yvonne Ridley, who converted to Islam some time after being released by her Taliban kidnappers. The piece describes how she came to “love the veil” (in her case, actually, a headscarf, but we’ll let that pass) and there’s plenty to disagree with in it on, so to speak, its face. Beyond that, however, it’s a shame that the Washington Post didn’t offer its readers a little more background information on Ms. Ridley, a well-known figure in the UK (if not here), but who is described by the WP merely as “political editor of Islam Channel TV in London and coauthor of In the Hands of the Taliban: Her Extraordinary Story (Robson Books).” Believe you me, there’s more to her than that, and it would have provided some handy context for readers of the piece. Checking out the ‘controversy’ section in her Wikipedia entry (usual Wikipedia health warnings apply) and then re-reading her article is a good way to start.
Alternatively, you could check out this column by her in Daily Muslims (cited in Wikipedia) on the death of Shamil Basayev, architect of the Moscow theater and Beslan hostage takings:
News has just arrived (July 10, 2006) on my desk that Abdallah Shamil Abu Idris, the Military Amir of the Mujahideen of Caucasus, has become a Shaheed [someone who died while fulfilling a religious commandment, or during a war for Islam]. He’s probably better known to most readers of this column as the fearless Chechen commander Shamil Basaev…Precise details are sketchy at the moment although the report before me comes from the Military Council of State Defense Council Majlisul Shura of CRI Abu Umar and it states very tersley that he died as a result of an “accidental spontaneous explosion of a cargo vehicle with explosives on July 10, 2006, in Ekazhevo village, Ingushetia”. Three other fighters also died along with the famous Chechen rebel leader. May Allah (swt) grant all of them what they deserve…Basaev led an admirable struggle to bring independence to Chechnya and resorted to targetting Russian civilians in the latter years of his struggle to try and bring the plight of the Chechen struggle to the wider world. He will probably be best remembered for masterminding the siege of the Moscow Theater and then the taking hostage of the children at a school in Beslan which sent shudders of revulsion around the world. On both occasions the overhelming numbers of civilian casualties had been killed at the hands of russian troops who bungled security raids on both operations.”
Read the whole thing, if you can face it.