Iused to look at veiled women as quiet, oppressed creatures — until I was captured by the Taliban.
In September 2001, just 15 days after the terrorist attacks on the United States, I snuck into Afghanistan, clad in a head-to-toe blue burqa, intending to write a newspaper account of life under the repressive regime. Instead, I was discovered, arrested and detained for 10 days. I spat and swore at my captors; they called me a “bad” woman but let me go after I promised to read the Quran and study Islam. (Frankly, I’m not sure who was happier when I was freed — they or I.)
Back home in London, I kept my word about studying Islam — and was amazed by what I discovered. I’d been expecting Quran chapters on how to beat your wife and oppress your daughters; instead, I found passages promoting the liberation of women. Two-and-a-half years after my capture, I converted to Islam, provoking a mixture of astonishment, disappointment and encouragement among friends and relatives.
Now, it is with disgust and dismay that I watch here in Britain as former foreign secretary Jack Straw describes the Muslim nikab — a face veil that reveals only the eyes — as an unwelcome barrier to integration, with Prime Minister Tony Blair, writer Salman Rushdie and even Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi leaping to his defense.
VR | 22Oct,2006 - read full post