Yasmine Mohammed is a Canadian university instructor, human rights activist, author, and founder of a non-profit organization called Free Hearts, Free Minds. She was formerly married to an Al-Qaeda operative and has become an advocate for women’s rights and Muslim women’s rights. She talks about navigating the discourse on being a Muslim woman, wearing the hijab, Shariah countries, and being the voice of girls and women being abused worldwide.
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0 (0s): Like you mentioned at the beginning here, you know, whenever anybody tries to talk about the truth, the reality, there's these accusations of Islamophobia, racism, ando phobia, blah, blah, blah. Like nobody wants to have the conversation that needs to be had. Like women are being covered in body bags in Afghanistan, they're not being allowed to go to school. And the response is, yeah, but if that's their culture, 2 (28s): Hey everybody, you are listening to Chatting with Candace. I'm your host, Candice Horbacz. So I took a bit of a hiatus, I had a second baby and I've been just enjoying all of those snuggles. So that is where I have been and why I have not updated, I'm holding a bunch of episodes kind of in queue right now. They're gonna all kind of drop at the same time. But this episode was time sensitive and felt very important. So I kind of wanted to push it ahead of the line and put it out while everything else is being recorded and organized. My guest today is Yasmine Mohammed. She is an author, her book is titled Unveiled. 2 (1m 8s): She's an activist public speaker and real trailblazer, really a real fearless woman, one that I admire greatly. And as I mentioned in the intro of this podcast, I was waiting to have this conversation because I was really nervous about having it. I was nervous about the backlash and I saw what was happening in Iran and the real bravery that these women are are doing in order to get their rights and their their autonomy. And I'm like, well, if they can do that, I can have a conversation. So please help me welcome Yasmine Mohammed and please, if you like this conversation, share it on social media, share it with your friends, leave reviews, because I really think it's an important one and probably one of the most important conversations I've had in a while. 2 (1m 58s): So please enjoy. Well, Yasmin, thank you so much for joining the podcast today. It is a topic I've been kind of wanting to dive into for a while, but honestly was really nervous to, we have been following each other on Twitter for a while and I would always kinda like peek my head in to see what you were up to and I was like, holy cow, that is a fierce and brave woman. And I just felt like I wasn't ready. And then with recent current events, I was like, we kind of have to get, get into this topic. We get into a lot of other important ones and I've never shied away, so I didn't wanna shy away from this one because it made me nervous. I kind of feel like that's why we need to have the conversation and we have to ask, is there so much fear surrounding the topic around Islam and hijabs and women's autonomy. 2 (2m 48s): So I guess, I know you've gotten into your story on a lot of podcasts, but my listeners might not be familiar. So if you're comfortable, I'd love to kind of get into your story and then kind of track to where we are today. 0 (3m 2s): Okay, great. I will get into that. But before I do, I just wanna say thank you for your bravery for reaching out and for choosing to talk about this topic. Even though you know that there is so much fear surrounding it, like you said, there could be so much backlash. And also just like you said, that's exactly the reason why we need to speak out because the people that are silencing us would rather we didn't. And you know, this is why me and my, you know, colleagues, we always say terrorism works. Terrorism is successful if you, you know, stab writers and if you kill journalists then it encourages people to stay quiet. 0 (3m 47s): So thank you very much for not being silenced, for not allowing that to, to, to silence you. Okay. So to get into my story, so I was born and raised in Vancouver, Canada and a lot of people are really surprised to find out that I was born and raised in the west. They always think like, oh, is your family like from Afghanistan? 2 (4m 11s): I was shocked when I found out. Yeah, 0 (4m 13s): Yeah, yeah. So yeah, born and raised in Canada. But unfortunately my story is very similar to women in Iran and Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan and so many other Muslim majority countries. You know, when I was young, I had a relatively normal childhood because my mom wasn't a fundamentalist Muslim, she was raised just, you know, she's born and raised in Egypt, so she's kind of Muslim like most people are Christian, just culturally, if you saw her wedding picture, she literally looked like a bond girl. She had the big huge beehive. She had a, a mini dress for a wedding dress. She had like, you know, the big lashes, the whole sixties vibe was going on. 0 (4m 57s): And her and my dad moved to San Francisco during the whole peace, love, you know, hippie era. And then, you know, it put a strain on their relationship and they ended up, well my mom wanted to move to Canada so they could have like a quieter life and they moved to Canada and their relationship fell apart at that point. And so my mom was in Canada with three kids all alone and she went looking for support, looking for community, looking for a friendship. 0 (5m 37s): And not because she was religious, but just because she's Egyptian and she's just looking for Arabic speaking people. She went to the mosque and unfortunately at the mosque, that's where she found this man who was religious. He was already married, already had three kids. His first wife was actually a convert to Islam, a Canadian woman who'd converted. And he took my mom on as his second wife. Now that doesn't mean he divorced his first wife that, you know, in Islam a man can have up to four wives. So my mom was his second wife and there's a clear hierarchy between first wife and second wife. 0 (6m 23s): So first wife and first kids lived upstairs. We lived downstairs in the unfinished basement and as soon as he entered our lives it was like everything changed. Everything was forbidden. I was no longer allowed to have non-Muslim friends. Like up until then, my best friends were Chelsea and Lindsay and I used to play Barbies with them all the time. Imagine telling like a five, six year old girl, you can't play Barbies with your best friends anymore. Like devastating, can't have birthdays, can't ride a bike, can't go swimming. Like everything, everything was forbidden. Music, music is hu on, music is forbidden. 0 (7m 4s): So all of those things were now forbidden and all we were able to, all we were forced to do, all we could do was memorize the put on and make sure we prayed five times a day. And that was my life and I hated it. I hated him. I was angry at my mom for letting him into our lives. I couldn't believe that she was so subservient to him, you know, like he'd break her records. I remember at one point he like took all of her records. My mom used to love country music. She had like Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers and, and he broke all her records and she just stood there and let him break her stuff. 0 (7m 44s): And it was such a moment for me like, why are you letting him break your stuff? Like why aren't you doing anything? And then he passes the records to us and says, break these because you know, music is from the devil. And that was our, that was the big change in my life. And then I went to Sonic school, got put in hijab and you know, eventually you stop fighting cuz you're a kid and these are, this is your family and if you do fight you get, you know, physically attacked. He was very, you know, verbally, psychologically and physically abusive and sexually abusive as well. 0 (8m 28s): So yeah. And then my family, like my mom at, after I graduated from high school, she wanted like sh we went to Egypt on a family vacation and she just dropped like she just left me there and her and the rest, like my brother and my sister all went home. And when I talked to her on the phone after like, what, why am I here? Why did you leave me? And she's like, well, because if you're in a Muslim country and you're surrounded by Muslims, then you'll basically stop resisting. Like she wanted me to stop having non-Muslim friends. She wanted me to stop wanting to watch non-Muslim movies and to listen to music and to basically live like everybody else surround me. 0 (9m 14s): You know, she wanted me to stop resisting. She wanted me to just submit, which is the definition of the word is Islam submission. And when I was in Egypt, they tried to get me married off to my second cousin and I was able to maneuver my way out of that and get back to Canada where she had chosen for me another man who she said was strong enough to control me. And so she chose a terrorist, a member of Al Qaeda and you know, it was the mar as you would imagine, right? 0 (9m 56s): Like all the abuses from my childhood just continued just with a different man. My mom standing letting it happen the same way she did when I was a kid. There was really, you know, it was just a continuation. And then I had a daughter with him and that's what made me find the strength to get away from him to protect my daughter. I didn't want her to live the same life that I had just lived. And it through a series of like, you know, honestly like the, if not for like the flutter of a butterflies wing, you know, I wouldn't be sitting here talking to you today. 0 (10m 42s): Like so I, I detail it all in my book. But I was able to get myself and my daughter out of there and go to university and start my life, I'd say over again. But it wasn't even over again. It was start my life for the first time and yeah. And so I stayed quiet for many years because the punishment for leaving Islam is execution and that can be carried out by any believing Muslim. It doesn't have to be any kind of state authority or anything. So my mom had already threatened to kill me when I took off my hijab. So my daughter and I just moved a lot, changed our names, stayed as quiet as possible. 0 (11m 27s): I knew he was in prison in Egypt, so that was really good. I felt safe enough. But you know, he's Al Qaeda, he's a huge network. I didn't know who he was gonna send after me, so we still had to be careful. Yeah. And then I finally, after about 15 years of leaving the religion, I finally decided to start writing my book essentially because I saw that, like you mentioned at the beginning here, you know, whenever anybody tries to talk about the truth, the reality, there's these accusations of Islamophobia, racism, xenophobia, blah blah blah. Like nobody wants to have the conversation that needs to be had. Like women are being covered in body bags in Afghanistan, they're not being allowed to go to school. 0 (12m 13s): And the response is, yeah, but if that's their culture absolutely insane. And so, you know, whenever anybody tried to speak up I'd be hearing things like, oh you're just a white American man, what do you know, straight white male, this and that. And so I thought, well here I am, you know, brown skinned Arab woman and I'm gonna say the same thing and make it harder for people to, to scream me down. They still do. 2 (12m 42s): But I was gonna ask, do you feel like you get dismissed as often? So I've listened to your podcast with Sam Harris and one of the things that I think is amazing about him is he doesn't let people tell him what conversations he can and can't have just because of who he is and his immutable characteristics. He's like, yes, I'm a straight white man, but I'm still allowed to be educated in these topics and have, you know, very well rounded opinions and I'm just curious, they don't have that weapon to knock you down. Like you said, like your brown, you came from the religion. What, when they have this discourse with you, what is their rebuttal? Cuz they can't really strawman you like they can, someone like me or someone like Sam Harris, 0 (13m 25s): They still find ways like they'll say you're an Uncle Tom, you're a native informant. Like they tell on themselves really because they show their own bigotry, their own racism when they, when they talk to me that way. I've actually been, never in my life, I've been, have I been called a sand n word by somebody from the conservative, right? Or like the supposed where the racists are, but I've been called that from the left many times. So it's really interesting to see, you know, those that I keep on calling, you know, screaming out the word racism and you know, trying to convince us all that they're anti-racist when an actuality, they're the ones who've been most viciously racist. 0 (14m 18s): They currently are the ones that are being most viciously racist. You can see that with any human being that speaks up who doesn't agree with what their ethnic group is supposed to agree with. You know, like they don't see us as individuals, we're not allowed to be individuals, they're allowed to be individuals, but we're not allowed to be individuals. We have to be part of whatever group, you know what I mean? Like, like like a group of animals in a zoo or something. And here in this cage you see Arabs and you know, this is Arab women, they cover themselves in hijab and they are blah blah blah. It's like, we're not little characters, we are individuals too. We're human beings too. 0 (14m 59s): And we're also entitled to our own opinions and our own values. We don't have to follow any kind of script that you think that we should follow because our family was born in country acts or because our family follows religion X. You know. 2 (15m 13s): So why do you think it is that the narrative in the west has been kind of championing women that are in hijab or in burkas? Because when I was growing up and I was little, that was kind of the narrative and I think maybe it came out of respect people's different religions and cultures and these women want to be in them, but it's like if the entire environment around you is threatening and you can literally be murdered for not wearing it, then how do you know how many women truly want to and that it's not compulsory? And even if it's not by law, like again just that culture around you that's just so heavy, how can you authentically tell who does and who doesn't? 2 (15m 57s): Because you have to account for brainwashing just like you would in anything else. So I guess like why, why such a strong push? Like you see very prominent celebrities wearing hijab and it's quote out of respect, you see it on magazine covers and what's interesting is isn't the whole theory behind it is to cover up a woman as much as you can because heaven forbid a man see her and sexualize her, but then if you're wearing makeup and on a cover of a magazine, isn't that kind of the same thing? 0 (16m 31s): Yeah, I mean everything you said is like music to my ears. This is like, these are the questions, these are the, these are the things that drive me crazy. These are the questions I'd love answers to as well. You know, the same group of people who would, you know, be front and center screaming against seeing these kinds of things. You know, girls, Christian girls in fundamentalist cults, like Mormon girls part of Flds or something like that. They would be screaming against these things, right? The Westboro Baptist Church, you know, yada yada yada. But when it comes from an Islamic context, suddenly their brain doesn't work anymore. 0 (17m 15s): Suddenly when they see, like I mentioned, little girls in Afghanistan not being allowed to go to school unless they're covered head to toe, they, they say, oh, that's fine, we're okay with that little girls being forced into marriage when they're nine tens, sometimes seven, eight years old. Oh no, that's their culture. The wonderful thing about, you know, there's obviously this revolution in Iran is bloody and it's atrocious, but it's been, you know, it's kind of like shoving in their, their faces finally like these women are burning their hijabs in the streets in front of the irgc who are standing there waiting with guns and bullets. 0 (18m 1s): They couldn't have made it more clear to the world how much they hate this thing that has been forced on their bodies their whole life. They couldn't be more clear to the world that this is not a choice, that it is forced upon them. And like you said, yes, it's brainwashing is a huge part of it. But also what we talked about at the very beginning of this conversation, fear women are afraid. It's not just in Saudi Arabia or in Afghanistan or in Pakistan or in Iraq where women are killed. They're killed in the uk, in the us, in Canada, in France, in Sweden, in Germany. You know, we're killed all over the world if we disobey. 0 (18m 43s): And you know, it's not even like there is those two girls in in Texas that were killed by their father that that shot both his daughters. It was because they wore jeans, you know what I mean? It was like the, the, there was, you know, a young girl in Canada that was her father broke her nose, p punched her in the face and broke her nose when he found out that she was texting with a boy, another girl in Canada was killed by her father and her brother when she refused to wear the hijab. Like, we don't even have to do anything other than say, this is my body and I want to dress a certain way or I wanna be friends with this person. 0 (19m 31s): Like we don't have any kind of personal autonomy whatsoever. And if, you know, if, if the girl tries to to do the most minuscule independent act, she's killed for it. And we see this happening all around us. I mean, I went to Islamic school, I've had like every summer there was girls that would go to Pakistan or go to Fiji or go to Indonesia or go to whatever and then not come back again. They were married off, they were killed. They're, you know, a bump in their family's backyard in Canada. I don't know, nobody knows, but this is what we live with, right? Like that fear hanging over us. Everybody's heard of honor killings, everybody's heard of honor, violence. 0 (20m 13s): It's not so much a part of your like everyday life though. Like it is a part of your everyday life when you're growing up as a Muslim girl, you know that, that you will be killed if your family finds out anything, whatever it is that you took off your hijab when you went to school, that you have a boyfriend that you took off the skirt and you decided to wear jeans instead. Like it it the tiniest stupidest like infractions. So yeah, so that's why they say, I like this hijab, it's my choice, I wanna wear it. They don't want to be seen as, you know, they don't want the world to know that they're so disempowered that they can't even decide for themselves what to put on their own bodies. 0 (21m 3s): It's humiliating. I used to do that. I used to say, yeah, it's my choice when people ask me because what's the alternative? 2 (21m 10s): Yeah. 0 (21m 11s): You know, admit to them, like that's humiliating that I would never want, I wouldn't even admit that to myself 2 (21m 17s): And then probably 0 (21m 18s): Dangerous, but I'm, I'm that this is my life, you know? And so you lie to yourself and you lie to others and yeah, I mean in in, when we talk about in the west, that's one thing and it's, it's difficult but like you mentioned, there's even, there's countries where it's like law enforcement are even keeping these women in line as well, like religious police forces. So that's why you don't hear their voices. It's not because they like it and they're happy and they wanna wear it, it's because they are threatened with death to keep their mouth shut or to say what needs to be said, what they were told to 2 (21m 55s): Say. Yeah, it's really interesting, a couple things. So one of the main arguments is people say that this is such a small percentage and it doesn't accurately represent all Muslims and, and Islam in general and that, you know, it, these are the, the radicals. And then I was also, I was watching something that said that's actually not the case based off of polling. It's something like conservatively 20%, which is a lot because it's like the number two or number number two, religion in the world, number one religion in the world. So we are also acting like this group is a minority when it's absolutely not. And then if you take in that large number, even if it's just 20%, that is a lot of people with really bad, really dangerous ideas. 2 (22m 40s): And I don't know what the solution is. I hate like sitting here and talking about a problem and not having any idea, but I think it, it begins with being honest. Like I know that for sure I'm, you know, I'm not a politician. I, I don't know my way around law reformations or geopolitics. I'm just a concerned woman and I see Feminists that complain about something like, you know, being misgendered, but then I see someone get killed because of a tiny piece of hair and they don't speak up on that. So I'm like, well we are living in the upside down right now and all I can do is I guess have a conversation with someone like you who is a lot more informed than me and hopefully, like you said, a butterfly flaps its wings and something can happen if we all collectively do this. 0 (23m 27s): Yes, absolutely. So true. And it's so meaningful. Like I don't want you to diminish in any way the fact that you're doing this. Like what, what the Iranian women are saying is be our voice. That's the statement that they keep repeating, be our voice, be our voice, be our voice. And we have all sorts of other hashtags like let us talk. They're all around the same sort of idea of like, we are trying to tell our stories, we're trying to tell you how we feel. We're trying to tell you our experiences, our authentic voices from a woman of color. Like, isn't this what you're supposed to value? And they, nobody wants to hear our voices. Nobody. They wanna just follow this narrative that they have in their head of Islam is a religion of peace and whatever other kind of propaganda has been sold to them, they have bought it hook, line and sinker and they do not wanna let go of this, and they do not want to see the reality in front of their face. 0 (24m 25s): So it is so incredibly meaningful when somebody does listen to us and somebody does hear us and somebody does share our stories and share our voices. And you know, the truth is, Candace, we get silent so much from our own communities, as I just mentioned to you. Like, you know, they want to kill us. They hate, like women are hated already in this society, in this culture, in this religion. But a woman who speaks up against the patriarchy, a woman who speaks up against the dominant mainstream Muslim thought, oh man, like they would love nothing more than to slit our throats and to, to have us be quiet. 0 (25m 12s): And so because we're already being silenced on one end to be silenced in the western world, you know, where free speech and free expression are supposed to be so meaningful here too. Like it it to be silenced on both ends is, is devastating. It's really, it's not just a betrayal of us like, but it's a betrayal of your own Western values too. You know, like it's a, it's a betrayal of, of, of feminism. It's a betrayal of freedom of speech, it's a betrayal of liberty. So it's, it's, it is so important to allow us to share our stories and to hear us when we, when we try to tell you our experiences. 0 (25m 57s): So yeah, just I guess thank you again. 2 (26m 2s): Well, with that being said, so with all the protests that are happening, I saw the New York Times had an article that was saying, well the real reason that these women are protesting and the underlying factors are because of an a slipping economy and they tried to kind of pivot it that way. So what would that like, is that just ignorance or is are they trying to push a certain narrative? Because I don't feel like if a woman was wearing a headscarf at, and I'm in the south, right, I'm in North Carolina, I feel like if a woman is wearing a headscarf, no one is gonna look twice at her, no one's gonna treat her differently. Like that is such a small percent of really shitty people in this country. 2 (26m 45s): So the fear of creating, I don't know, negative stereotype and trying to protect what is, I guess I I'm we'll say a minority in this country, or at least in this state that doesn't seem honest. That doesn't seem like that could be why they're doing it. So do you have any idea why you see like these huge newspapers that are like, it's not really because of the hijab, it's not really because of the compulsory nature of, of controlling women's autonomy in these countries. That's not it, it's the economy. 0 (27m 13s): Yeah, so it's propaganda, right? It's always the powerful, the like, you know, the the, there's a lot of petro dollars and a lot of political power behind these Shariah countries, Islamic law, right? They don't want the truth to come out like this is that this is what's happening in Iran right now is really bad for their business of trying to pretend that Islam's religion of peace and that Muslim women love wearing the hijab and are happy to be wrapped up in body bags while they're still breathing. So when you see those kinds of headlines, that's them parroting the propaganda and it's really sad. 0 (27m 58s): But you can, you know, now everybody knows it wasn't like this, you know, just five, you know, 10 years ago. But now everybody knows that the media is a farce, that the media will say whatever the powerful ask them to say. And that's why social media is so helpful for us because you don't have to rely on the headlines that give you just, you know, whatever bullshit they wanna give you. Because we are sharing the videos ourselves, we have our own hashtags and we're telling you the truth. Iran is an incredibly powerful country. They have like the fourth largest oil reserves on the planet with what's happening with Russia and the, and Ukraine right now obviously they're, you know, countries like America are looking for, you know, oil countries to, to make deals with. 0 (28m 52s): And that's been a huge part of the problem. Everybody's screaming at Biden like, why aren't you doing anything? How are you still sitting down and having conversations with these murderers money? That's what it comes down to. And because they're so powerful, they have, they have lobbies all around the world, you know, NAK is a huge lobby in America. They paid into the campaigns of Biden, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tali, what's your vice president's name? Harris, 2 (29m 26s): Kamala Harris. 0 (29m 27s): Kamala Harris, you know, they paid into all of these people's campaigns, right? They, they are massive and powerful. And so when they want the media to say a certain thing, the media will say a certain thing if they wanna deflect, I mean it's the Islamic Republic of Iran. It's a, it's a hijab, which is an Islamic religious misogynist clothing that's forced on women based on shitty law, which is Islamic law. Like how can you possibly say this has nothing to do with Islam, it's literally everything to do with Islam. 0 (30m 8s): And most Iranian people are under the age of 30 and most of them are not Muslim because it's been shoved down their throat by this theocracy their entire life. And so of course they hate it and they don't want anything to do with it. In fact, there's one of the things I do is I work with this coalition called the Clarity Coalition and we're a group of, you know, Muslims, ex-Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, like everybody we're, we all come together and we join forces as a coalition against Islam's propaganda. 0 (30m 49s): And I was just at a conference last week where I was sitting with an IAM from France, his name is Iam Hess Shumi, he's an IAM that deals with death threats all the time because he speaks out against antisemitism, he speaks up for women's rights. They hate anything to do with Islam so much that this Iam went to an Iran protest and he's trying to support the Iranians, but because he's dressed like Imam, they're like an Iam, right? They're like, get outta here, we don't want anything to do with you. And he's like, I support you. And they're like, get out. They just want nothing to do with him because he is wearing the like iam garb and they just hate anything to do with religion. 0 (31m 36s): And I was like, you know, it's not personal but you gotta understand like they fucking hate your religion. And he's like, yeah, I understand. I get it. And so it's like that it is very much against Islam and I would encourage you to look at the social media of actual Iranian people. Listen to their voices. There's so many of them. There's so many Iranian Americans, Iranian Canadians, Iranians in France, Iranians in Belgium that are speaking up further compatriots in Iran because of course they keep shutting down the internet over there and they're telling the truth. So listen to their voices. 0 (32m 16s): Just forget like New York Times or whatever else, you know, legacy media that we used to think were telling us the truth. They're not. They're telling us whatever their lobbyists want us to hear. But luckily with social media now we can share our own 2 (32m 31s): Stories. It's almost like we, we have some foresight that we can tap into. So you were saying the Internet's getting shut off over there then I, I saw some people were smuggling starlink satellites in, in order to get internet, which is incredible. So that's kind of like the decentralization of internet, which it's always been like these huge moguls and monopolies that have owned that. And then decentralization of information, which is social media now. So we used to have like three networks or maybe even two, you know, and then it kind of all spikes out after that. But now we have social media and you're like, no, this, this young woman lives there, this is her story, she's live streaming it. There is no misinterpretation. So that's kind of, I don't know, the beautiful thing about where I see the future going is like these really big inflated things starting to get broken down. 2 (33m 16s): And I think that's the same with a lot of religion too. Like we've had, yeah, you know, a handful of religions and now people are kind of creating like their own beliefs and like doing the research themselves or you know, meditating themselves or maybe being agnostic or atheist or whatever it is. But it's like you get to choose, you can like custom curate the life that you want. And I'm, I'm hoping that the women over there have that opportunity because I did, and I think you've brought this up and so have so many people, it's this idea that this moral relativism and it's good for this is, well this is fine for me and that's fine for them cuz they're over there and I've heard you say, well if this, if this little girl wasn't brown, if she was, you know, blonde hair blue eyed and she was Christian and they were doing this, would this still be okay? 2 (34m 4s): And I do, I wish I wrote the statistics down, but it was something, it was alarming and I'm sure someone else could look this up unless you might know I need a producer for this, but the amount of young girls that go to the hospital in western countries for fgm, and I mean I get goosebumps, like that's horrifying and that's clearly illegal in the countries that it's happening, but no one's doing anything because we have this, this moral relativism. We're like, we're like, that's their culture. Like no who are we to pretend that that's not okay, that's not universally wrong. Yeah. 2 (34m 44s): I don't know. Do you have those numbers like a rough number or No, I, I was just watching it yesterday. 0 (34m 50s): I saw a statistic once that was so insane. I almost, I like, I couldn't believe it but it was like once every hour in the uk. 2 (34m 59s): Whoa. 0 (35m 0s): Yeah, and what's important to note too is that those are only the girls that have complications. Those, the girls that have complications are the ones that end up going to the doctor, end up going to the hospital. That doesn't even give you the numbers of girls that it has happened to. Now chances are most of the girls would've complications because this is just being done by a, you know, some random woman with a razor blade. So it's not like, it's not that it would make it any, you know, it's kind of like this, you know, it's not like, like I'm advocating for it to be medicalized and sterilized, you know? 0 (35m 41s): No, not, but, but I'm saying that it, the truth is it's being done just by random women with razor blades. And so the girls do end up with complications and the ones that end up coming back to their countries like in the west, those are the girls that could end up getting medical support. And then like you said, their families aren't prosecuted for this. Their families are given pamphlets to educate them. You think they didn't know that taking a razor blade to their daughter's genital was a bad idea. You think that that they need a pamphlet to explain that to them. 0 (36m 23s): Like you don't think that they knew what they were doing. Like it's so insulting. It really is so insulting. And that's when I was saying like if a, if a blonde haired blue eye couple decided that they're gonna cut off their daughter's clitoris with a razor blade, nobody would be saying, well they just need a pamphlet. They didn't know what they were doing. Like we would never think that they were so dumb as to not realize what they were doing. We would, we would give them at least the benefit of, you know, basic adult human understanding that what they're doing is a vicious act, but they're doing it because they truly believe that it's the right thing to do. 0 (37m 5s): And I'm gonna go back to something that Sam Harris talked about before as well because I think it's such a great analogy where he said, you know, we're so keen to like immediately make all of these excuses like to say things like, oh these parents didn't know what they were doing. Oh they didn't understand, you know, but if a, if a Jehovah's Witness couple decided not to give a blood transfusion to their little girl knowing that she would die if she didn't get a blood transfusion and they still decided not to do it, we would understand the thought process there. 0 (37m 46s): We would know, okay, well they are so brainwashed into their ideology that they have actually put their ideology above the health and the life of their own daughter. We know that. We can see that. We understand that. But when it comes to somebody Muslim doing something similar, we have all of these excuses and like you said, all of this relativism, whether it's moral relativism or cultural relativism, which is just a fancy way of saying bigotry, you know, bigotry of low expectations is a, is a phrase that that George Bush Jr. 0 (38m 29s): Said at one point. And it was like, it's so perfect. That's exactly what it is. It's the bigotry of low expectations. They look at Arabs or Muslims and they're like, mm, they're just poor little brown folk. They don't, they don't know any better. Let's just give them an educational pamphlet. No, you put them in prison and you let the rest of their community know that this is what happens when you mutilate your daughter's genitals. And that's a deterrent. A pamphlet is not a deterrent. And it also shows us exactly how cheap these girls are to whether it's, you know, British society, Canadian society, American society, any society that's not willing to prosecute these parents and to come down hard with them, you know is saying you know, that they don't really value the life of this girl. 0 (39m 26s): That she's really not that important and the fact that she is damaged for life is, you know, too bad, so sad she happened to have been born in the wrong family from the wrong religion and the wrong culture. 2 (39m 41s): Yeah. And that's the interesting thing too is one of the talking points that gets repeated over and over is that Islam is a religion of peace and love. And I don't know if you've heard Professor Gaad speak on this, he had a really good episode with 0 (40m 0s): Mai, 2 (40m 1s): What was her name? 0 (40m 2s): Maia? 2 (40m 4s): No, the one I listened to was what? Something Bin Laden. 0 (40m 11s): Oh no. Nor Bin Laden. 2 (40m 13s): Yeah it was great. It was probably two years ago now, but it was really great episode. And I guess he also is Arabic, like he speaks Arabic and he can read it for what it is and he was breaking down points in in the Quran and he's like, no, it verbatim says this. And it is not that it, it's people that choose to live peacefully and kind of take this religion into an enlightenment that the majority of other religions have gone through. So you know, obviously in the Bible it says, you know, gay people are the worst thing ever and you're gonna go to hell forever and it's okay to have slaves obviously you would be very hard pressed to find a Christian that's like, oh yeah, we should hold onto that cuz it's in the book. 2 (40m 58s): They're like, no that's wrong. It was wrong then it's wrong now let's, you know, have that enlightenment era for our religion. I'm still a Christian but I'm not gonna practice these things. And I'd imagine that's, you know, most Muslims it's like okay well we're gonna 0 (41m 14s): Not, not most, 2 (41m 16s): There's 0 (41m 17s): A huge discrepancy there between like the amount of Christians that don't follow their book verbatim. Okay. Like they're not fundamentalists. So that percentage is like your fundamentalists are much smaller than your mainstream Christians who are just nominally Christian. Whereas with, with the Muslim population, flip that around. 2 (41m 40s): Okay 0 (41m 41s): So the, the majority of them are living in Muslim, majority countries living under Islamic law, being educated with Islamic education. Like it's it, they're immersed in it. Those Muslims who are living in the West America, Britain, Canada, yada yada, they have the ability, the freedom to not practice their religion like you said, they can choose to practice whatever parts of their religion they want to practice. Got it. And put whatever other parts they don't wanna practice to the side because they're living in free countries that allow them to do that. 2 (42m 25s): Okay, no, that makes sense because now I'm remembering another poll, I was like trying to watch as much information as I could. So I came into this as informed as possible, but it was when they had done a poll when I believe a cartoonist was murdered over in the UK and it was something like 80% of people polled were like, yeah that was right. That was justified murder was justified in that scenario and they believe execution still for gays. Like that makes sense. Like it was just like these obviously it's not legal there but it was polling and that was kind of alarming to me because you have these debates around immigration and I don't know the solution. 2 (43m 8s): I know that no matter where you're coming from, you should be vetted somehow. But then you have these people and I'm sure it's the far it's left, left, it's not, you know, I don't wanna just generalize the entire left cuz I know that's not the case, but there is a portion of the left that is like absolute open borders, no screening. Like we should just open our borders to everyone with open arms. And I'm like, well that doesn't make sense either because when you see these polls, that's pretty scary cuz that's not our beliefs in the west. Like we don't believe, we believe in freedom of expression, freedom to love who you wanna love, freedom over your body. Like these things are important to us. And if you have too many people coming in that don't believe those things, I worry how long until that shifts. 2 (43m 53s): Cause nothing is permanent. You just, it's the majority rules or the mob rules. So you do have to say like, if you wanna be here, you have to agree on our values just on a basic level, right? Respect for other people's autonomy essentially. 0 (44m 9s): I hundred percent agree with you. And there are some countries like Austria and I think Sweden as well that have like, it's so nominal, it's not even worth mentioning though, like they have to do like 24 hours of civics education basically where they learn about, like you mentioned, like what are the values of this society that you are joining? And so then they, they learn things about what is free speech, what is, you know, women's and men's equality, what is L G B T equality, what is, you know, whatever it is. Like all of these different values that they are not familiar with and that they need to know these are the values of the country that you're entering and if you're do not agree or if you do not abide by these values, then you're not welcome to stay here. 0 (45m 5s): Right. And that's the only way it can be done. It's, that's the only solution. And you know, there's a lot of like shortcuts. Like, you know, when Trump was in power, he was trying to do it like by country. And I was really opposed to that because my organization, free Hearts, Free Minds is all about supporting people living in Muslim majority countries who are free thinkers and who are living amongst people that want to kill them. So I know that there are, you can't go by country cuz we're individuals at the end of the day and we have, it has to be an individual thing and there's, there's no shortcut unfortunately. 0 (45m 47s): I think, and people say things like, oh, people can lie. They can pretend. First of all they don't even know to lie. Like they don't even know like, it, it's, let me try and give it to you in a like sort of Ilhan Omar, you know how she's done so many slipups with antisemitism, she doesn't know that those are slipups because that's so much a part of the narrative that she's heard her entire life. She doesn't even realize that it's antisemitic to use these tropes. Got it. You know, so it's like that, like sure people can lie, of course they can lie, they can try to pretend. 0 (46m 29s): But if you have a, a proper interview where you talk to people and you ask them questions and you just dig a little deeper, it, it's going to, you're gonna be able to tell, you know, where this person's thoughts are, what what are their values? And that's what we have to do. We just have to do that before you invite people into your homes. Right? You have to let them know like, this is, this is our home, this is how we live here. If you're welcome, you know, you're welcome to join us, but this is, these are our values and I don't know another way that you could do it. 0 (47m 10s): I mean unfortunately what you mentioned about open borders, yes it is a very small minority that do believe that. But the reality is that's happened already. That happened once Germany flung open its doors and led in millions of migrants from all over the world claiming to be from Syria. They don't stay in Germany. Right? There's open borders in Europe and now they're everywhere. And now all of Europe has a big problem on its hands. You, you let in people that didn't have anything keeping them at home that they could just, they were mostly young men between the ages of like 18 and 25 or something like that. 0 (47m 56s): They'd have to be like unemployed, like nothing keeping them at home. These are just these, this is the worst of society that people that can just be like, yeah, I'm just gonna go. And if, if it, if they actually were refugees from Syria, then of course, you know, we would want to help people as much as we can. Especially Yazidis, you know, people taking, being made into sex slaves or child soldiers. Like yes, let's open our doors and let these people in and give them refuge. But the problem was we opened the door and just let every random tom, Dick and Harry in and now nobody even knows which way is up. 2 (48m 38s): And that is the truth in so many different areas is which way is up. So there's this parallel. So when I was trying to read about what was happening in Iran, I saw that there's morality police and at first I was like, is that just what we're calling them? That just seems like a really weird position or department to existence. It's real, it is morality police, it almost feels like some people over here in the west are trying to implement that and try trying to have that institutionalized, what's that like from your perspective when you see people kind of volunteering for something like that? 2 (49m 18s): To me that is so absurd. I just, I can't wrap my mind around it. So I'm just curious what your perspective is on that. 0 (49m 27s): You mean about the morality police in Iran or you're talking about here, 2 (49m 31s): Here in like a sentence. It's obviously not official like it is over there where you're getting arrested and and murdered for it. But it's almost like you have people trying to facilitate that online in social spaces. 0 (49m 44s): Yeah, yeah. So cancel culture I guess is what it's being commonly called here. Yeah, I have, I have such a low threshold for that to the point that when, you know, in Canada people were really policing each other over covid like crazy. Like, can you lift up your mask please? Like this isn't exactly six feet. Like, oh god, don't let your dog touch my dog. And it was just like insane. And I said to my husband, like, this reminds me so much of being Muslim. Like it was that same kind of like policing that cult mentality of everybody like big brother watching all the time, making sure that everybody is following the rules. 0 (50m 34s): Did you sanitize? Did you, you know what I mean? Like it was just so overbearing, so controlling. And I feel the same way about any of these policing obviously policing of people's language. I mean some of that policing of people's language is just, it's just ridiculous. Like people are being canceled for using the word idiot because it's ableist. Like who is making these decisions and who is allowing this stuff? Like there was at one point like Bed Bath and Beyond have these black pumpkins for Halloween, like black jackal lanterns and they got a, a random message from somebody saying this is blackface on a pumpkin. 2 (51m 20s): Oh my gosh. 0 (51m 21s): And so they, they issued an apology and they took it off the shelves and I'm like, this is on you Bed, bath and Beyond. This is on you for like listening to a stupid person and then feeding their stupidity, like empowering their stupidity by saying, oh my gosh, we're so sore, we're gonna take it off the shelves. Like, no you don't, you do not respond like that to madness. And we've just been doing that for so long. People have been saying crazy things and we are just like nodding in approval. Like it, what's crazy is that when we are, we're trying to say very normal, you know, basic truths and nobody wants to listen to us. 0 (52m 9s): So, but, but then other people are saying like the most insane things and everybody is smiling and nodding and appeasing them. Like 2 (52m 21s): It's this whole post-modernist era where there is no, there is no truth, is what people are trying to say. And I feel like some people feel stupid when you, they hear that and they're like, oh, well maybe there isn't. And maybe I'm the dumb one. Like we, we tend to blame ourselves and elevate others for some reason. We, we think other people are more educated or informed and that's not always the case. Like sometimes you do have an intuition for a reason and there are absolute universal truths than you can feel it in your gut. And I think that we don't give that intuition enough respect at all. And for some reason we've lost trust in ourself. We, I saw this thing going around on Facebook. 2 (53m 0s): There was this police department that had their horses dressed up like ghosts and they got in trouble for that. They had to take it off of Facebook because they were saying it looked like the kkk but it was like, clearly they officers were just trying to have their horse dressed up in a costume and it was cute and all these kids were taking pictures. But it's, we, we can create the reality that we want to see. Like if you are looking for everything to be racist or homophobic or the boogeyman, you're going to find it. So you have to decide, do you wanna live in this perpetual state of offense or do you wanna look at things lighter, happier, and truly like what tolerant was supposed to be. 2 (53m 42s): Not like this so tolerant that we're intolerant cuz that's where we are now. Yes, 0 (53m 47s): Yes, yes. That's that's really well said. Yeah. We're so tolerant that we are intolerant. Absolutely. And I, I feel that way on a lot of issues, but I obviously feel that way on women's issues lately too, where, you know, I am a hu like I will fully support men, women, trans women, trans men. But then it's like, well then that means you have to also agree that women can have penises. Well, no, well that means you have to also agree that, you know, biological males can be put in prison with women. No. 0 (54m 27s): Or especially if they're sexual offenders, you know what I mean? Like, we, we're not, we're expected to be in one of these two extreme camps. We're not allowed to have nuance, we're not allowed to use our brain, like you said, like it's like these are just supposed higher powers telling us these things. And then we're, we're just, we have to accept it. And if we're not, if we don't accept it, then we are exes. Whether it's Islamophobe, trans, whatever. And I completely reject that because I'm, I've always, you know, this is, this is what ever since I started speaking out, I've always been the, the, you know, the minority within the minority anyway. 0 (55m 8s): Like, I'm used to being attacked from all sides and people telling me that they, they think I'm hateful or whatever because, you know, I'm sharing my own personal story or, or whatever it is. So it's kind of like I've, I've developed a thick skin to that. And I also know that I am very, very open, you know, after being Muslim, after being part of literally a cult where you're told what to think and what to believe and what to, you know, how to drink water, how to put on shoes, how to go to the bathroom, how to cut your toenails. 0 (55m 48s): There's no thinking involved. And so I have spent a lot of my life thinking and looking at things from every angle and not expecting find the answers in a book, but in many books and in many different places and many different conversations and always staying open to my opinion changing depending on the evidence that's put in front of me. And so it's so insulting to me when somebody tries to convince me that I need to agree to some ridiculous statement that they're making when I've done my homework and I'm very clear about where I stand. 0 (56m 41s): I mean, sometimes it doesn't even have to be done by homework. Like women don't have penises. I can say that, right? You can ask, 2 (56m 50s): You could now back on now on Twitter, on Elon's Twitter, you can say that a couple weeks ago you could not say that. 0 (56m 57s): Yeah, yeah. Like it's just, you know, that's, that's not diminishing trans women in any way. That's just saying trans women are trans women and women are women and you know, a lot of people have now brought that into the Iran issue as well with like Iranian women can't opt out. Cuz I think it was like Eddie Isard, or I can't remember who won somebody, some popular musician from the eighties was saying something like, I put on heels and I'm a girl and I put on flats and I'm a boy. And I'm like, well isn't that nice? You know, you know what I mean? Like, oh, so I guess I was a boy today cuz I was wearing flats, you know, I had my converses on. 0 (57m 40s): So it you and, and you can't, you can't opt out of who you are. You know, Iranian women can't opt out of being a woman that suddenly the religious police or the morality police aren't gonna throw them in prison over hijab. You know, like women have so many obstacles and so many atrocities that happen to us simply cause we were born women and we have our own sex-based violence and it's incredibly like dehumanizing to diminish that and pretend that womanhood is just a feeling or just a pair of shoes. 2 (58m 23s): That has to be one of the worst things to hear from someone in your position is that, you know, sex and gender or social construct. Because I would be like, if it were that fricking simple, then all of these women wouldn't be in danger. All of these women would have a choice. Exactly. Cause they would wake up in the morning and say, well, I identify as a man or non-binary, so these rules don't apply to me. You can't put me in jail. It's, I mean like, how dare you? 0 (58m 54s): Yeah. They can't opt out of these things. Let's like why are we pretending that the sky is in blue? Do you know what I mean? Like, it's just, it's insulting our intelligence 2 (59m 4s): That has to be one of the most infuriating concepts from someone in your position. Because again, it's not, we're not acknowledging that biology is real. Like sure, your gender expression is absolutely a spectrum. 1000%. I think anyone that disagrees with that, like they are bigoted, right? Like women have to be hyper feminine. Like absolutely not. It can be as but as you wanna be, but the fact that biology is real and that you are born man or woman and that's how you are going to die. We just, we need to agree on these basic pillars of reality. Otherwise how do we even begin to have a conversation beyond that if we can't agree on like the fundamental principles of like, this is biology, how do you, how do you get into philosophical conversations? 2 (59m 51s): And maybe that's the whole point. I don't know, like if you were to put a tinfoil hat on, like maybe that's the whole point is if we confuse people on all of the basics and they can't ever elevate past and beyond that, 0 (1h 0m 3s): It's very Orwellian, isn't it? It's very wars peace, you know, freedom of slavery. 2 (1h 0m 10s): The thing that I see happening right now in Iran and with your, with your story is like these young women who have a very real risk of violence and like a real consequence for, you know, your actions, your voice and telling your story is how, and I don't even know if there's a way to articulate this, but how would you tell someone else to like, to discover that within themselves, to find that fe that fearlessness to maybe find something that's like driving you to do it? Like how do you get to a point where you can step out with consequence and say like, no, this, the sky is blue, this is my story and this is wrong. 0 (1h 0m 49s): I think that the best way we can do that is just to lead by example. To continually be as you know, to be brave. Like to push past the fear and to still say what needs to be said and still do what needs to be done and that will encourage others. It's hard to be at the pinpoint, it's hard to be in the, you know, the, the first, you know, on the front lines. But the more of us that are out there, the safer it is for, for the rest of us. And so I think that, you know, people don't realize how much each individual has power. And this is something that dad said has talked about quite a bit too, and I, I really appreciate him for, for saying this cuz he's often said like, I'm just a dude that just started to talk, you know, and so are you, you're all just people and you can all just talk. 0 (1h 1m 45s): And each one of us, you know, our voices matter. And, and I, and I think, yeah, that's all, that's all we can do. What you're doing here today, pushing past the fear and having me on and having this conversation and knowing that there's probably gonna be backlash, but there's gonna be a lot of seeds that have been planted as well. I mean, you mentioned my podcast with Sam Harris. I like no exaggeration, I got thousands of emails and I still get them because every time he reposts it, I get thousands more of people telling me like, I've really, you know, I felt it in my gut that something wasn't up. 0 (1h 2m 26s): This didn't seem right. Seeing the hijab at the liberal woman's march just felt weird seeing Gloria Steinem standing up there with Linda Sarsour. You know, it didn't, it didn't jive. And reading your book or listening to your podcast, I, now that makes sense to me. And you know, that's, that's what needed to happen. Like I needed to, to share my story, sort of be the whistleblower and you know, it allows other people to speak up too and to say like, yeah, okay, I could see it from that perspective. And I'm so glad that, you know, you've helped me to be able to see it from that perspective. 2 (1h 3m 8s): No, well I love that you're using your voice. I love seeing a beautiful, fearless woman out there making a huge difference. Can you please tell the listeners where they can follow you on social media where they can get your book, your podcast plug away? 0 (1h 3m 24s): Okay, great. So I'm on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, all under Yasmine Mohammed. And I have an organization called Free Hearts Free Minds, which supports free thinkers living in the Muslim majority world where they could be executed for the crime of not believing in a Islam. And I also have a, a podcast called Forgotten Feminists, where I speak to women who inspire me, women who have been through religious fundamentalism and come out the other side, not always religious fundamentalism. I've also had a, a woman from living under communist Russia. 0 (1h 4m 6s): And similar idea of, you know, an ideology forced upon you where you have to say what needs to be said under threat of death. So women that have overcome, and that is a, a great podcast, feel a motivated by these women and their stories. And b, to, you know, to get a sense of how common our stories are and how interwoven our stories are. People like to say this is all culture, but you're gonna hear stories from women in Denmark and Somalia, in Kenya, in Egypt and Saudi Arabia and Canada and America. And we're all talking about the exact same thing because we all suffered under the same misogynist religion. 2 (1h 4m 52s): Well, I'll make sure I have all of that in the show notes too for everyone. So if you wanna check it out. Thank you so much Yasmin, and I hope to talk to you again soon. 0 (1h 5m 0s): My pleasure. Thank you so much Candace. 2 (1h 5m 2s): Thank you so much for listening to this episode. As I mentioned, it's, it's gonna be a little while until I drop all of my new episodes. I'm kind of trying to record like 10 and then doing a big release at one time. But you can listen to past episodes. If you did enjoy this conversation, please share it with a friend, two three social media, leave a review, the more ears or eyes the better. And I will see all of you soon. Thank you so much.