Monday, October 28, 2019

Yamine Mohammed is an ex-Muslim who now helps Muslims and ex-Muslims deal with their circumstances with their communities and families.

Her recently published memoir, Unveiled, is a truly harrowing account of her life. It is ultimately a heroic story of how she managed to overcome a sickeningly abusive childhood and to escape her circumstances, while shining a light on how millions of Muslims are forced to live.

To be sure, most Muslims do not have to endure what Yasmine did. Her mother has severe psychological problems and turned to extreme Islam in order to find order in her own life. She married (according to Islam) an abusive man who was already married and who insisted on strict application of rules that he called Muslim. This man sexually abused Yasmine.

But the real abuse came from her mother. She only got pregnant with Yasmine in order to try to keep her first husband from leaving her and since that plot failed, she treated Yasmine like an unwanted excretion from her body that she was stuck with. (She would actually tell her that.)

Her mother embraced the most extreme Islam of her husband in order to find meaning in her own damaged life.

To a large extent, the book is Yasmine's relationship with, and attempts to break free from, her mother - a woman who would tell her husband that 6-year old Yasmine didn't do her prayers properly so that he would brutally beat his stepdaughter on the bottoms of her feet so the bruises wouldn't show.

Yasmine grew up believing that she was worthless and that her mother held the key to allow her into heaven, so she was in a never-ending cycle of trying to gain love from a woman who truly hated her. But she would always question the rules she was forced to live under, and sometimes she would meet others who liked her for who she was, giving her a glimmer of much-needed self-esteem under the crushing weight of the twin burdens of her family and Islam.

So many times in her life it looked like she would finally break free, only to be reeled back in by circumstances.

Chillingly, Yasmine finally gave in to be married to a man her mother chose for her that her mother herself tried to seduce. This man imprisoned her in every real sense, even beating her for idly singing the alphabet song when looking up something in a reference book. Their baby's birth both cemented her prison sentence and gave her the resolve to escape so her daughter would never have to live through the same hell she did.

She finally managed a (Canadian) divorce, and only later found out that her husband was a major Al Qaeda terrorist.

Slowly, sometimes agonizingly so, Yasmine manages to escape the hell of her upbringing.

How much of her awful childhood was a result of Islam and how much from a psychotic mother and abusive stepfather/"uncle"? Yasmine brings statistics and plenty of anecdotes from other Muslims and ex-Muslims about things like female genital mutilation, sexual assault and the psychological pain from wearing a hijab and (later) a full burka. She mentions a friend who broke free, and when she fell and hurt herself and her boyfriend ran to see if she was OK she assumed he would berate her for being so stupid. That's how generations of women are taught to think about themselves.

There is no way most Muslims grow up in such an environment, certainly not in Canada where Yasmine was born, but her story is not so different from how many Muslim women are forced to live in Muslim-majority countries. She had opportunities to meet others, especially the years she was allowed to go to public school, and to start to question things. Most Muslim women in Islamic countries do not even have that lifeline.

Her final chapter is an appeal to today's feminists, who are so anxious to find something to protest that they spend their time blowing up truly minor issues like whether to remove the "e" from "women" yet they ignore the patriarchy and often abuse that is imposed on hundreds of millions of girls and women, today, in Muslim-majority countries. Fear of being labeled "Islamophobic" wins out over helping so many who are imprisoned as Yasmine was. It is a damning indictment of today's Western feminism and a world where Nike would never consider to put its logo on Mormon women's underwear but happily places it on a hijab that so many wear not out of free will but out of fear.

This is a frightening and ultimately uplifting book about a remarkable woman and her incredible journey.





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