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31st October 2011
Below is a guest post by a freelance writer.
Nowadays there is a familiar face of a woman in hijab that frequently graces the pages of many daily British newspapers.
Her name is Lauren Booth and like the name suggests she is English.
So who is this lady and why does she appear so often in newspapers like the Daily Mail and the Guardian? By looking at her one might guess that she has opinions on herself and why she chose to be the way she is. It may well be a case where she will have her own life story as a milestone to share with others. Anything that she will say will be marked with a strong conviction about adopting an ideology which will give her some sort of identity.
But wherever Ms Booth’s name appears there is another name that follows: that of her brother-in-law Tony Blair, the former British prime minister. The press for obvious reasons have relished the idea of pairing the two of them. And all sorts of conjuring thoughts have been paired together to suggest just how bizarre it is that both of them are related.
One of them is the support for the Palestinian state.
Tony Blair at the moment is assigned as the Mideast Quartet representative; to oversee the efforts to resolve issues for the statehood for both the Israelis and the Palestinians. Lauren Booth has chosen to classify herself as a pro-Palestinian activist, which has earned her a lot of acknowledgment in some Muslim countries. In addition to this she has made it publicly known of her criticism of Tony Blair for the Iraq war intervention.
When it comes to her conversion to Islam Lauren Booth is very vocal about it and has been going around the globe giving talks on a western woman’s perspective about converting to Islam.
Time and again she comes in the media as a face and a voice to endorse the so-called perspective which will give a stamp of identity, if Islam is adopted as a means to wear it as a distinctive badge. The voices of adulations praising her efforts are many. In fact too many. They have all praised her as an example of what Islam should be if a woman chooses to come in the public wearing a covering over her head. She has on numerous occasions spread the word on how illuminated she felt during an experience which transformed her into a new person, and finally led her to accept Islam.
She is the brand of new converts to Islam in the Western world. These women encouraged by their own experiences then seek to advance their own knowledge by speaking out about it. It will not be a surprise that many women coming from Muslim countries to the US and Europe are influenced by their views and then seek to be transformed in the same manner, as if their former experiences had little bearing to who they were and where they came from. They are taken aback by these new convert women’s rich experiences and seem to downcast their own identity. My question to such women would be must we give in to what others have to preach about Islam? Some of us come from Muslim countries, where the culture and its values have given us a homogenous Islamic atmosphere. Why do we have to feel we are any less if we do not confine ourselves to what others believe about Islam?
It may not go amiss if women like Lauren Booth go around the Muslim world and talk to women for the need to educate themselves in a way that they become constructive members of their societies, learning to participate with other communities; because more importantly it is the need to build bridges and foster good relations between different communities that is needed in today’s world. What good is an education that is fostering segregation? How far can you go if you believe in it?! And what about the Muslim women who do not believe in segregation? Are we to feel deprived and less fortunate than the ones who are the way Lauren Both is? The badge of humility seems to be missing when Lauren Booth chooses to stand in front of a congregation at a university to speak out about her own experiences. That is an easy option and probably something that gets her attention straight away. Reaching out to communities and trying to change their perspectives is a hands-on job and much harder.
She is outspoken about her criticism on Tony Blair. But would she be famous if she were not related to Tony Blair? Without that link her conversion probably would not have taken her so far. But if I were her, and I was genuine I would have objected to having my name placed next to a person of whom I disapproved. I would have stood up for my own identity and would have insisted people know me as who I am and not because of who I am related to.
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I am staggered by all the hate directed towards our former Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair made the Iraq decision in good faith and is most certainly NOT a war criminal. If anyone should be tried at the Hague it should be those in the media for totally misrepresenting the information and facts. The media are to blame for fuelling this hatred as it is purely driven by them. (UK)