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The following article was taken from http://www.paknews.com/main.php?id=3&date1=2002-08-01


UK journalist detained by Taliban embraces Islam

Updated on 2002-08-01 13:20:40


ISLAMABAD, August 01 (PNS): British journalist Yvonne Ridley, detained by Taliban last year, has embraced Islam, saying Islam is the religion of salvation, according to BBC Pashto service.

Ms Ridley, 44, working for the British "Sunday Express" newspaper - was detained in September 2001 near the eastern city of Jalalabad, for entering the country illegally. She was released after ten days.

"Taliban had told me to convert to Islam after my release and reaching London. I had told them that it is not possible now but promised them to study and understand Islam," the BBC quoted her as saying.

She said she studied the Holy Quran and several other books and converted to Islam.

In a book written after her release, Ridley said that she met Dr. Zaki Badawai, head of the Islamic Center in London and discussed with him Islam. In her book, she has explained how she was arrested and how much Taliban respected her in detention.

The British journalist said, "There is no real Islamic system in any of the Islamic country". She lashed out at the leadership of Taliban and Saudi rulers for 'making Islam slave' for their ulterior motives and cultural obligations.

The 44-year-old mother-of-one was seized near the northeastern city of Jalalabad on September 28 after traveling to the region with two local guides.

She was held in solitary confinement in a house for her first seven days in captivity before being moved to a prison in the Afghan capital Kabul.

She had been in the Middle East since the US suicide attacks on 11 September.

Yvonne Ridley had been reporting for the Sunday Express and Daily Express from Peshawar and Islamabad in Pakistan after the September 11 attacks.

She was the paper's chief reporter and a highly experienced journalist who covered several conflicts in many countries around the world.

Sunday Express Editor, Martin Townsend, says: "She is an experienced and courageous journalist."

Ms Ridley, originally from Stanley, County Durham, is a former assistant editor of Newcastle's Sunday Sun and deputy editor of Wales on Sunday. Sunday Sun Deputy Editor, Colin Patterson, says: "She is a very warm, gregarious person who is very determined and tenacious."

Ms Ridley also worked for the News of the World, the Daily Mirror, The Sunday Times, The Observer and the Independent before joining Express Newspapers three years ago.

After the Lockerbie disaster nine years ago, Ms Ridley got the first interview with Ahmed Jibril, the head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, which had been among the chief suspects.







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