Losing my religion

The Sunday Sun (England), Aug. 25, 2002

Yvonne Ridley, the North journalist seized by the Taliban last year, has renounced her Christian faith and could convert to Islam, her captors’ religion.

The reporter has revealed that she is considering conversion as part of a promise made to the extremists who put her behind bars in Afghanistan for being a suspected spy.

Yvonne, 43, who was born in the North and once worked for the Sunday Sun, said: “My spiritual journey began in the unlikely surroundings of an Afghan prison.

“Hamid, my interpreter, said I had a very important visitor, and then a man wearing white flowing robes and a turban walked into my room. I realised immediately that he was a cleric, and he asked me if I would like to convert to Islam.

“After careful thought I thanked him for his generous offer and said it was difficult for me to make such a life-changing decision while in prison.

“However, I did make a promise that if I was released I would study Islam on my return to London.”
Yvonne was captured in Afghanistan in September last year while disguised as a local woman. She had been reporting from the country, then controlled by the Taliban, for a London-based Sunday newspaper.
She was released unharmed after 10 days, during which, she said, she was treated with “courtesy and respect”.

Following her return to Britain Yvonne, born in Stanley, County Durham, met several eminent Islamic academics and took part in a debate at the world-famed Oxford University Union.

She later returned to Afghanistan with her daughter Daisy, nine.

Yvonne said the Israeli bombing of the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was a major factor in turning her back on Christianity.

She said: “Every year thousands of children re-enact the Nativity at Christmas time, a potent symbol of Christianity.

“Yet not one Church of England leader publicly denounced the Israelis for their attack.

“I was shocked and saddened and felt there was no backbone or conviction among the C of E leaders.”
In a defiant response to critics, she said: “You’d think I’d made a pact with the devil or wanted to become grand wizard in the Ku Klux Klan.

“Others feared I was being brainwashed and silenced like Muslim women. It’s nonsense.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Monday August 26, 2002.
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