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Afghanistan according to Yvonne Ridley

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Yvonne Ridley

(Yvonne Ridley. Photograph: Free Gaza Movement in 2005)

On Monday, the last British soldiers were airlifted out of Camp Bastion,  a day after the end of Britain’s war in Afghanistan.

This prompted many debates and discussions around the tumultuous thirteen years that have claimed the lives of many soldiers and civilians, British and Afghans alike.

But according to Muslim convert and Respect party activist Yvonne Ridley, the war in Afghanistan was a total failure. On Twitter, she said: “So Taliban undefeated, no career women emerging from rubble & only success story is the rapid growth of opium in Afghanistan.”

While the situation in Afghanistan is far from ideal, there are some good things to have emerged since the western intervention, one of them being the the education of women, which I pointed out to her (see below).

Ridley denied this, saying that there were girls in school when she was in Afghanistan. She said: “I was there with the BBC in February 2002 recording a [BBC] R4 show”. There may well have been girls in schools in 2002, but Ridley failed to acknowledge that her visit was several months after NATO’s intervention in Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taliban. Not once during our exchange did she refute the statistics pointed out to her as published in Monday’s edition of The Times.

Afghanistan Fact box in The Times on Monday October 27

Afghanistan Fact box in The Times on Monday October 27

Ridley then boldly claimed: “Girls were educated under the Taliban and I know people who ran girls schools during that period.” Either Ridley is naive or blatantly spreading untruths. It is a well known fact that the Taliban banned women’s education. Women seeking an education were forced to attend underground schools, where they and their teachers risked execution if caught. If you continue to read the Twitter exchange, Ridley posted this link to prove her point, but the article states, “under the Taliban regime, girls were not allowed to have education at all levels” which contradicts what she said earlier!

Ridley was correct when she pointed out that women were attending universities in 2002 – but that was after western troops went in to Afghanistan. Yet the Taliban and their supporters were determined to sabotage education for women. So if there is a reason why things are not perfect in Afghanistan, at least in regards to women’s education, is is certainly not the fault of the west. It is the  fault of the insurgents who are determined to keep females in what they deem is their rightful place – illiterate and under the subordination of men.

Why would Ridley try to downplay the barbarity of the Taliban? Perhaps she feels a sense of gratitude towards them for freeing her, after they captured her in September 2001.

I can’t say her views surprise me. The company that she keeps is highly dubious. She is a patron of former Guantano Bay detainee Muazzam Begg’s CAGE, an organisation that has shared a platform with well known Islamist speakers such as Adnan Rashid from the Islamic Education and Research Academy (a charity being investigated by the official watchdog), Anas al Tikriti, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Britain, and Female Genital Mutilation advocate and anti Semite Haitham al Haddad. Great company.

I am not suggesting that life for women (and even men) is ideal in Afghanistan, far from it. According to Government figures from 2013, only 26 per cent of Afghanistan’s population is literate, and among women the rate is only 12 per cent – a dismal figure. But it is a damn sight better than it was under Taliban rule, where girls were officially banned from having an education. Perhaps Ridley needs to remember that, unless she seriously believes the Taliban weren’t so bad after all?

Written by Iram Ramzan

October 27, 2014 at 9:08 pm

8 Responses

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  1. Not only were there virtually no girls in school in 2001, there weren’t that many boys either, certainly less than a million, perhaps only 500,000. This is in a country of 30 million, where half the population are under 18. The Taleban cared nothing for the rights of women and girls, but not much more for the rights of anyone else.
    Things are far from perfect, but there has been some progress, and even the powerful are occasionally held to account. For instance a mullah has just been sentenced to 20 years for the rape of a 10 year old girl called Brishna. Amnesty is still sending appeals to Afghanistn s the man has a right to appeal and the girl still faces some risk due to her family’s shame at what has happened

    Chris usher

    October 29, 2014 at 10:11 pm

  2. Well done for taking on La Ridley, that reprehensible anti-feminist. It’s disgusting that she is sometime seen as on the left – her politics are far right.


    October 29, 2014 at 10:25 pm

  3. Test

    Mark Lambert

    October 29, 2014 at 10:53 pm

  4. Why would Ridley try to downplay the barbarity of the Taliban?

    ARABIST jewhater of the typical garden UK variety- liberal! delusional enough to believe her own lies, too stupid to see she not only won’t be eaten last, but first to be put under the sword by her new “friends”


    October 29, 2014 at 11:42 pm

  5. It’s presumably Moazzam Begg she’s referring to, who did indeed run a school for girls under the Taliban, but in the words of Meredith Tax, “It was a school set up by al-Qaeda’s treasurer and Begg for the children of foreign jihadis, including his own” (Double Bind p.39).

    Llewelyn Morgan

    October 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

  6. my comment was censored – some people just cannot handle the truth – as BD above- sorry she is all yours left labor libiot arabist


    October 30, 2014 at 10:33 pm

  7. She’s a fascist masquerading as a morality fighter. She is poison.
    Begg is a terrorist and she is a cheerleader for the misery and repression Beggs allies create.

    Merci azizam

    October 31, 2014 at 12:23 pm

  8. […] Iram Ramzan takes on Yvonne Ridley. […]

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