Yasmine Mohammed at Harvard University, “From Al-Qaeda to Atheism”

AHA YouTube Clip “People have rights, ideas don’t have rights”

Event Description:

Yasmine Mohammed spoke for roughly an hour about her own personal story and her activism. Yasmine grew up in a strict, fundamentalist Muslim home in Canada, where she was forced to begin wearing a niqab at nine years old. Yasmine showed everyone a niqab, trying it on herself, and then passed it around the room for others to try on. She mentioned that some women have recently tried to promote the hijab/burqa/niqab as an empowering device. She asked everyone to try on the niqab and “see if you feel empowered.” After years of struggling to escape her abusive home life, abandoned by Canadian child services due to “respect for cultural norms,” she was forced into a marriage at 19 to an Al-Qaeda operative.

A few years later, Yasmine was able to escape her forced marriage with the help of Canadian Intelligence. Yasmine describes herself as a “reluctant activist”; one night, she was watching Bill Maher and saw that he and Sam Harris’s criticism of Islam was described as “gross and racist” by guest Ben Affleck. She wondered, “Why can these people criticize Christianity without repercussions, but Islam gets a pass?” From then on, she began her activism to try to protect women from Radical Islam. Yasmine then went on to explain her philosophy when it comes to activism: people have rights, ideas don’t have rights. You should judge and criticize the action, not necessarily the person. Yasmine went on to survey a few recent movements, both good and bad, surrounding women and Islam, including: women beginning to shed the hijab in Iran and Syria, Saudi Arabia’s guardianship laws, the “unholy left/right alliance” that allows radical Muslim women to promote doublethink on modesty culture, as well as the use of “cultural relativism” arguments in hurting girls through abuses such as FGM and honor violence.


AHA YouTube Clip “Muslims aren’t excited about forcing women to wear the hijaab”


AHA YouTube Clip “Try on this niqab and see if you feel empowered”


AHA YouTube Clip “The hijaab doesn’t represent Muslim women”