Open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron - ISIS and extremist ideology
Hi Mr PM
Life is tough eh.
I should know. I am a British Muslim woman. Born in London too. While the sun was sunny there's you and I locking horns with the devil. Different ones of course - but still - toughies.
I do welcome much of this stance from you our PM albeit some of it is also worrying. Maybe the No 10 board table missed some polish and the writing of your advisors was hidden by dirt? I know it happens to my laptop. I know all about grime you see :)
Some of it I read well it just seems to hone in to make us Muslims already battling against Islamophobia - feel more pointed at....? Just saying.
The article mentions the Govt recognising "Extremists are overpowering other voices within Muslim debate." Woah - wait. Ooh. Now that is me alright. Well done. Loved that bit. Good. Am serious. I was seen slapping my friend's kitchen table all the way from SW London - even before I had my cup of morning tea.
Look, anyone who googles my name Yasmin Choudhury will see the scores of ranty articles I have written, the YouTube channel where I use the moniker MsYiY (Miss Yasmin Is Yasmin) where as a woman I am fighting evil twisted Unislamic Muslim tribal misogyny and patriarchy. Not from my armchair but across the seven seas out in Bangladesh to the streets of London, UK. Yet British folks do not know about me. Why? Because screaming ISIS headlines are sooo much sexier and all add to the feverish hyped up screaming chant of "the Muslims are - a coming - the Muslims are a coming' (sung alongto the Coco Cola Xmas tune).
I recently announced on my twitter TL - I as a Muslim woman am on the warpath (with my pen and voice of course) as I am proud now to be waging a very public war with my own British family and community. Like I said your advisors would not know about me. I am proudly washing my British family's dirty linen in public - too right. As some washing is so grimy it needs to be bleached out. You have no idea that since I decided to call them out for their misogyny and for editing and force feeding me a twisted version of Islam - boy what I have suffered.
More on this later Mr PM. Let's get back to ISIS.
I support some of the Govt's thoughts on this scary ISIS matter but it still seems vague, not enough and seems to band Muslims as the single biggest threat. Plus Ms May sounded so vague today on Radio 4. Who does her PR - they need sacking. Plus it seems Govt makes no mention of more stuff that is at the root cause of this crisis. Also you then cite Iraq (ouch) - uh-oh - just do not go there as that is surely just nonsensical. Many many Iraqi innocents were killed and actually today it is I suspect a huge sneaky free gift of a recruitment tool used by Isis to incite and inflame weak Muslims minds. So please leave that out perhaps?
Next. I did wonder if this was rushed through just to curb extreme free speech? Would it not have been better to launch a pointed plan?
And why not talk to us everyday Muslims?
Everyday Muslims like me - we are all baffled and worried by ISIS and also the tarring. Finger pointing. Sublte ways I am seeing more and more hated launched at us Muslims. I mean nobody is blaming the Dalai Lama for the humanitarian crisis being caused to Rohingyas in Burma are they - even though the perpetrators are buddhists! Our faith is being ripped, demonised not just by Isis. We are getting slayed at so many levels. I accept we do need help injected into our communities. And we always condemn the loss of innocent lives lost in Tunisia etc. But I - we - everyday Muslims did not create Isis. We want to stop and just live in peace but where, how and why when we are not the ones holding the strings. You the Govt, male Muslims leaders, Imams, preachers and elders do.
Sure we all do ask who are these crazy families spewing bad Muslims who want to join Isis? But it could be because we as Muslims are also fragmented and it seems we do not take enough action. Why? Our women are not given good share of community space. We are stopped. We cannot even agree on which day to to do Eid; whether a full moon was spotted or not! These still do not make us guilty and to be blamed by those who hate Islam today.
I will soon also explain to you that these 700 citizens who join ISIS all do so - because like many other kids in Western Hemisphere - they are weak minded, under priviliged, lost, misguided and lacking self esteem, empowerment and love. They just traded in say East End London to run to the desert for a more barbaric, vile, cruel sadistic form of seemingly heroic gangland that is running amok killing, raping, looting. It is a dead end. And had they been reached before they got radicalised they would not flee. But then that is what all youth do - turn to crime - so why not tackle youth issue all in one fell swoop?
I just wish Mr PM the Govt can become more friendlier in language with Islam and invite Muslim leaders and female speakers - to talk about the excerpts that shows how, when and where Isis have twisted it. And how wonderful Islam is - when done right. And show society examples of Muslims & interfaith who do speak out and stop ISIS and Islamophobia. And to go and find those of us at grassroots who are doing what we can at a micro level.
Also look at this calming logic. As you know Muslims/Islam is not the enemy. If Isis are such a threat - why haven't we 3 million UK Muslims as part of the global 1.6 billion risen up and started a global army of a caliphate already? Because most of us know they are embarrassing lunatics who have infiltrated and exploited Islam. That it bears no resemblance to Islam and hides the other verses in Koran. Isis are like those we do not want to admit are our distant extended relatives on a far away remote island - inbred monster raving lunatics. I mean some of us might share the same family blood (ergo book) - but that does not mean they represent all of our family eh! I bet Mr PM there are some family members you want to avoid at Xmas. How about the fellow Christians like KKK - who were last seen protesting to keep the confederate flag of USA.
I do not mean to make light but it is necessary we calm down and we all work together. As we all want the same things. Peace, justice, love, and freedom to live our lives without fear or favour.
We Muslims just get by and are no different to say - modern buddhists - happy living in secular societies. Busy watching box sets, online shopping, eating out, seeing family friends, quietly praying, fasting. Please help all of British society see us that way? And if you see us that way - then where are your Mr PM of pictures showing you know us? Come on - why not come with me and have a samosa and cup of tea with Imams and female Muslim activists - I know some cool ones who are very distressed at what is happening to all of us in UK. Why not seek their advice and help? Rather than just telling us how it ought to be?
Please help us tell society that all other versions of nasty Islam you see is that which has become politicised or regulated with barmy sexist Sharia courts cherry picking Koran to exert violence often on innocents, women or for crimes that ought not to be punished in this manner. We Muslims know we are no longer living in desert Arabia peninsula Mr PM - which back then was more like Game of Thrones I suspect during our Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) times. Way back then when there was no democracy - only leadership through tribal clans, marriage, blood, kinship. Yes this was in 7th century and the same was happening in Europe. So the Koran came to remind folks again that 'Rod Is God' and to help stem evils in society back then. FYI this same saying which still exists in many developing nations where law has not reached those regions and still remain unrefreshed. Back then women were being raped, slaves existed and greed and discord was everywhere. In 7th century there were no prisons - so easiest was to just kill the culprits as Koran said as it was a narrative between Prophet and Allah. And the book was left as guidance so that people understood its context and the history of why each verse happened, when and what was happening at the time to bring that verse about. Duh! Then also at the same time out of nowhere we suddenly see Koran in 7th century insisting women be given money, ownership of land and assets. Oh my days. That is a good thing is it not Mr PM?
Next. Many excellent Muslim voices are combating Isis (try Imams Online - wish I could link but methinks this is not allowed) but the media headlines and Govt are not making it easy to allow the good Muslims guys and gals that we Muslims want heard - to BE heard. And NO- I do not want cited Mo Ansar or Maajid Nawaaaz - latter alienates nearly all Muslims even though some of his points are good - including liberal me (he blocked me) because when we ask him to listen to us - he does not. These such voices engage in just stirring up more hate and water bombing us all - with what I believe is a sexed up, beefed up passive aggressive subtexted stance.
Why not speak to us Muslims down here at grassroots to hear what we see and think? But I think you won't. And that is where the rub lies and why what we see in media is at variance with what is going on in.
So here are some ideas. To show we do care. From me a British Muslim woman. We are missed out by the Govt I think and as well as all the shouty voices/experts (who will be rolled out today on tv, radio and online news I expect).
Note. I am not famous, rich or connected. Just an everyday citizen who is finally speaking out as I am fed up nobody is saying what I spotted and want to hear debated.
A penny for my steam of consciousness thoughts:
* Please treat Muslim Youth who join Isis - the 700 or so - as no different to all those other youth radicalised to join rape, knife, drug wars, gang land. The only difference is these Muslim kids crimes are worst and have been brainwashed into lemmings secretly seeking sex, glamour, rock and roll albeit a Islamic version from edited version of Koran. They just use Islam as an excuse to go get the things that they are in fact not supposed to be doing as a Muslim (oh the irony). It is also not the Govt's job to solve this alone - but their parents, empowered women, role models, schools, mosques who also can help them - so really a quick fix. But I want you to know I think ALL youth are being let down by our society - so why the sole focus on just Muslim youth? They need help as do others. Yes I know Isis kill and are a threat - but what about the teenagers dying from drugs, knife crime in UK? And what about the abused, impoverished, uneducated youth who will despair and turn to crime in UK because their benefits cut and they are living in abject poverty or are in bad care?
Now for some own medicine. To my Muslim brothers and sisters.
* We Muslims must stop in-fighting - we must stop getting defensive. Nobody can take Islam away from us. We need to start redefining how the world sees us, understands us - we need to take Isis's power away the way our Prophet taught us - with love, compassion and logic. And start a campaign like never before - so please can we stop our bloody infighting and all that sickening sectarian violence. Show love for humanity and your fellow Muslim brethren be s/he Shia, Sunni, Ismaili etc etc - and take a leaf out of Ahmaddiya in UK. I love these sisters and brothers of mine. Their campaign 'Love for All Hatred for None' is an excellent example. And no - I am not Amaddiya - I was brought up Sunni.
* Let us all stop detracting - if something evil is in our yard let us all join hands and ask for help to get rid of it. So good start Mr PM - you admitted some of the errors done by Govt. Well done. It is a start. We Muslims too can do the same - our leaders have often allowed radical preachers to come in and influence some of our youth. Free speech is important in our society. rather than do that - increase the measures so that those who incite hate, mob rule do get reported and criminalised. Without free speech - we are one step away from becoming radicalised ourselves. So the how, why and solutions lies in all us Muslims asking what can we do about it? Are we doing enough? Did we encourage extremism in any way? What can we do to make people walk towards islam - instead of villifying it -in short why not invite those who do inspire with speech - Islam?
* Education, education, education people. All Muslims & Non-Muslims to be helped to learn about true Islam. Look at that recent snapchat Mecca_live which made people see Islam for what it is really is - a belief system that inspires and is diverse and loves humanity. But it is us Muslims everywhere - we need to overhaul how Islam is taught - by who, where and when. And have a list of what not to do or be taught (e.g. hate) and values we should promote "respect, rights and roles for women; compassion; tolerance" as well as rituals. There is not enough of it as I can tell you now I am told about Islam (which is in fact their tribal version) but none of my lot ever tell me the good stuff.
Where is the 'Ijtihad' a Islamic concept where critical thinking is key element to undertanding the Koran? If Muslims kids do not get given this precious gift - then the education they get given to understand Islam is open to corruption - is wrong, fettered and doomed for misery. Not just in the life they will lead but the people they will mix with, marry or be parents to. This is where Imams, mosques and bad parenting comes in. And where we all join in to say enough - let us teach glorious Islam in a new way. So that when they spot bad stuff they can learn to 'just say no'
Help Muslim parents from S Asian diaspora - who believe 'if I do not teach them to be Muslim, I will go to hell'. So they teach Islam any which way they can but often the educators are not standardised, have not been checked and the kids left alone in their company. Take my story.
I mean the Imam I had in Bangladesh would hit me. I was born in London but was whisked to Bangladesh for one year out of fear I would become westernised. This is because my parents deferred my Islamic education to someone they thought was learned when he was a man who just knew sod all. The Imam would whisper in my ear to wake me up, sneer, mock and I would cry as he forced me to learn Koran by rote - sheer evil. To be forced to learn huge chunks of text from the age of 7 - hit and told to me a good muslim girl - then told to marry someone my parents introduced me to - is abuse. While later my marriage would not be forced but arranged - thankfully because I integrated by going to Uni - I was able to open my mind and reject marriage proposals that I did not want.
Anyhow - I do think thankfully now that many Muslim in the 2nd 3rd Asian diaspora are learning 'ijtihad' and the true Islam but these are not the ones I worry about. As they are the educated, sincere Muslims.
I worry about these lot....the screwed up, murky issues that nobody is spotting.
* Who? The Muslims who go to Syria are coming from either uneducated, unintegrated backgrounds, where I think domestic violence is rife. Women (mothers, sisters) are subjugated. Financially oppressed - misery abounds. Parents fight like cats and dog. I promise you if you were Muslim parents yours and Sam Cam's kids would never turn to Isis. But many muslims like me grew up seeing blood on walls. Parents and elder follow tribal cultural law which is not Islamic at all. Right now my own nieces and nephews are growing up like this and while they are not ISIS inclined at all - by adopting a fervent blinded version of Islam which they just learnt by rote - they are viciously peddling and recycling abuse, hate and subjugation of women. Another form of sickness in our society that nobody is watching. Recently British Muslim man - lovely Haseeb Ahmed videoed himself telling ISIS sympathisers to pack their bags and go to Syria. Well I now say that those who infect and spread tribal islam - they need to burn their British passport and go live in a rural villager in Bangladesh where they will soon learn that even the villagers out there have come on leaps and bounds. Yes - that includes my own British Bangladesh family.
* Patriarchy, tribal culture, subjugation of women and misogyny are all murdering villains killing lovely Islam and of course in turn this strain is causing some British Asians like my family to be infected. Which then spreads - like a virus. Women like me who dare to oppose, debate or stop such Muslims are punished by our backward communities. It is this type of conduct that needs to be outlawed. Then it will help stem those youth that are totally weakened - to stop pursuing radical Islam as an answer. Why cannot the Govt stop this.
* Missing Women. Where are our women British Muslims? Where? Why are they suffering? Stop hiding how bad it is - because it is bad - but not because of Islam but because of tribal culture. We Muslims women at grassroots try to engage or seek to control our share of voice and empowerment but the doors are slammed on our faces. We make up 50% (that's an impressive 1.5 million) of the 3 million or so UK Muslim community yet in the mosques, Muslims platforms, think tanks, - utter void/silence. Often the token hijab clad lady led out now and then. And please do not quote Myriam Francois-Cerrah or Yasmin Alibhai Brown or any of the other great male Muslims voices like Mehdi Hasan, Reza Aslan - they are lovely intellectual voices who most everyday subjugated Muslim women will not even access - all of whom I respect but I think have no clue what is happening in the flotsam and jetsam of grassroots Muslim life. Such Muslim expert voices would never come across women like me - because we are down below busy mopping up the sweat, blood and tears from living a twisted version of Islam.
* Clean up. While Cristina Aguilera sang "I wanna get dirty with you' " I want to paraphrase and say "I want to wash dirty from us". Ha ha - yes Muslims can be v v cheeky. As no Muslim is perfect - some like to pretend but they are not. Not many are willing to get their hands dirty holding the plunger to flush out evil grime. To expel patriarchy or speak out when they see evil. Sure - we we see Muslim voices in media comment and debate as do Imams in mosques but does everyday battered and bruised Muslim mums and dads really listen - NO! She/he (well usually she) is too busy up to her eyeballs in dirty laundry/crockery/floors/oven and bloody working all hours sent to her. And what has been achieved to date for us Muslim women anyway? We are reduced to one line sentences - a throw after comment. Let us kick out the grime and bring in shiny squeaky clean folks who inspire, empower and lead please?
* Experts. charities, think tanks get wheeled out often to comment from liberal cosy ivory towers. Do stop it? You are even asked as experts to comment on us - after having heard a grassroots story - so very patronising. How can you when they have not lived it? No - we need grassroots from now on everywhere to get to these experts, think tanks and also to speak out to help those in crisis. And to be in positions where they can help our Muslim/black/white/ethnic etc youth - and youth across all gender and race.
* Double lives - spotting the the scary Jekyll & Hyde Muslims (ewww) is something I am an expert on as that just about covers my entire community - we need to root these Muslims out - the ones who wear beards, wear hijabs and infiltrate as thought police in UK. And every Muslim must call them out. They are very insidious and good at controlling Muslim minds, shutting up debate and shout loudest to show they are Muslim (when good humble Muslims do not) - they scream "Allah Akbar' then protected by patriarchy and communities whose goodwill they feed upon. These lying fake toads are nasty, and continue to insult Islam by pretending to be pious and simply use it as a disguise to do bad and community lets them. Hides them from police. They need kicking out or exposing - zero tolerance. By authorities, our mosques, imams and elders.
* Diversity. Get us Brits more diverse progressive Imams to run mosques who also speak fluent English. So we can hang out as mosque as many deliver sermons as dull as dishwater. How? We should empower good Imams to help mosques recruit based on a empowering Islamic consensus that means they do not just lead prayers but have a fully staffed committee that is passionate about interfaith dialogue, justice, equality for all, tolerance and in making empowered space for women and for youth esp those that are vulnerable and inviting in non-Muslim speakers.
* Empower ALL women of course via pursuit of equality (but in this article my focus is my own British Muslim women) - let them get control of finances, our assets, stop us fleeing bad homes, stop us working like dogs to only stay on poverty line, help us when we fall pregnant and boost working parents to work from home so they can spend more time with their kids - as it is while they are not that kids get radicalised by Isis, guns, knives, violent sex etc. And sort out absent parents who refuse to pay and still exploit loopholes. And keep us within our circles so we are not booted out by our community or if we are - we can continue to be seen and heard - so who can do that - ta-dah---> m-m-m - mosques! :)
* Promote female empowerment in Islam - Did you know under Sharia a woman can get so many guaranteed income streams (see below) yet to this day I am stunned as all I hear is the hijab - yet no education on these rights. Which if women were to get - I think would overnight start to recalibrate Muslim society not just in UK but across the world. So less focus on debate of hijab - more about financial empowerment please Muslim men - why keep quiet about this?
* Outlaw domestic violence (DV) via prevention (rather than cure) and give financial aid and support to DV charities.
Look at my story. I come from a twisted male fed version of Islam. And suffered physical and emotional abuse all my life but was unable to get help. Nor knew it was wrong. I was brought u in backward tribal culture that includes an edited Islam ( so a different kind of Isis). Force fed to me as a child of 7. It is why I am proud to declare I am a survivor of decades long honour abuse. Slapped, financially controlled, called viles names, 'slut shamed' - I then found true peaceful Islam. Despite decades of being forced fed - and suffering cruelty, expulsion, exclusion, financial oppression - all of which is meted out by my own British born siblings. This has to stop.
Back to the lack of voices. Mr PM- the Govt is spot on about that. It is why I started a campaign called 'Rights & Roles of Women In Islam' on Change.org -but do you think any Muslim platform will endorse or help me? I even approached Muslim Women's Network to ask they share my story of abuse and financial control - as soon as my evil brother wrote to them threatening to sue them they dropped me like a hot coal. So can you see why I am frustrated?
If anyone from the Govt is really reading this - know this - there are women like me to trying to change things. Honest guv. We do exist. But our cries fall on deaf ears. I often cannot sleep at nights as I know my heart is heavy if I leave behind the many Muslim women who are not survivors like me - and who are falling between the cracks. I could be selfish and get a 9 to 5 and just focus on my life. But I think - what about the ones who want to and cannot speak out? As when we do - there is nobody to catch us. You either flee (which is what evil bad communities want - so the cycle of abuse and subjugation goes on) or you stay silent.
Me? I chose to stay and fight within my circles. And what an extraordinary blood bath is has been. Here is my AMC Petition.
I have been battling my entire raging mad UnIslamic Muslim family - both in UK and Bangladesh across the seven seas. All because I dared to challenge the evil British born men and women and immigrant elders in my family given the British passport - who I believe are deeply misogynistic, wicked, cruel people hurting not just me but innocent vulnerable people. I have been battling alone and privately and I would never mention it - as I was a start up entrepreneur working in developing word.
But in March this year 2015 - personal and business life lurched into more of a huge crisis. My own British family as a gang - flew to Bangladesh and smashed all my social enterprise and charity research base out in Bangladesh. This was to teach me a lesson. A new punishment. To show that Muslim women like me - who dare to question, be independent and challenge my family's version of twisted Islam, their lies and treatment of poor people (see video below) - will never ever be accepted.
Instead women like me desperate to hang within our grimy community to empower women and change society are kicked out in an attempt to shut us up and destroy us. My entire British family colluded to do this -and what is frightening is that many of my family members are integrated into British society. Are also parents. Hiding their evil ways to oppress women by doing day jobs in UK such as teaching, business, law - yet in 2015 behind closed UK front doors they practice ancient tribal belief system that has no place in 2015 - nor did it have any place in 7th century Arabia after Islam had been introduced.
And before you ask. No. Neither the British nor Bangladesh Police are equipped to handle such complex issues. Nobody can help me.
So here we are - and why I sit from a friend's house - as over the Eid weekend I was kicked out by my family house where I have lived since 2012. My family including young Muslim young relatives even called the police to complain about my conduct. I get nasty emails like the one below. And latest news is I am 'slut' who gives out to men in Bangladesh. All of this vile abuse was listened to by young Muslims who attend British schools and sat and said nothing. And why I did an open letter to them yesterday.
Of course while the police officers were lovely (this is a new experience for me as usually I am ignored), I recall shaken and shocked how bad things are now. And why after my family having trashed my business - I must join the fight to stop Islam being twisted. I was also reminded how upon hearing my predicament one officer asked "Yasmin where do you go with this - and what do you think is needed to stop this?." My answer is all here Officer D.
If you have read all this way - woah - thanks Mr PM. I only write on this issue which grieves me and keeps me up at nights. I also write because I AM an expert of being a Muslim all my life - and of being one who survived tribal edited Islam. And one who wants to see true Islam return - one that is not mutually exclusive with being a British woman for which I am very proud to be. And grateful for.
So Mr PM - one last Q: does this letter by this British Muslim help demonstrate the British values that the Govt keeps telling us Muslims to show? I bloody hope so. I accept it is not quite a 'fight them on the beaches' speech. More an abridged one - as when that was first spoken by Churchill my family were busy being colonised Mr PM by British empire. But nonetheless - it is still something?
And surely Mr PM this is what true Brit grit is? After all I still sat down to write these suggestions and (plan to video myself too) - even after I was kicked out by my family house this weekend during Eid as punishment and am now currently living out of a suitcase. I never knew this would happen to me but it has. And I say this: I choose life sir. That is what I call a survivor - would you agree?
Now I must go to melt away into grassroots life. Ready to pick up my pen and get bloodied again. And to find somewhere to live - from which I can fight them on the beaches.... ;)
Ps Wait. This advice comes free. Save taxpayers money. Don't pay lofty think tanks. I won't be sending you an invoice - just feel free to print it out and read with a cup of tea (I like mine builder's brew by the way - being teetotal it packs a mean punch). Us grassroots folks are happy to brainstorm and help.