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Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two)

February 8, 2019

Interviewer: Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Numbering: Issue 19.A, Idea: Outliers & Outsiders (Part Fifteen)

Place of Publication: Langley, British Columbia, Canada

Title: In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal

Web Domain: http://www.in-sightjournal.com

Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2019

Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019

Name of Publisher: In-Sight Publishing

Frequency: Three Times Per Year

Words: 3,847

ISSN 2369-6885

Abstract 

Yasmine Mohammed is an Author and the Founder of Free Hearts, Free Minds. She discusses: CSIS and personal life; religious history and its influence on her via education; a rising tide of ex-Muslim community and activism; current work; and current teaching.

Keywords: FHFM, Islam, Ex-Muslim, Yasmine Mohammed.

Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression: Author; Founder, Free Hearts, Free Minds (Part Two)[1],[2]

*Please see the footnotes, bibliography, and citation style listing after the interview.*

*This interview was conducted in early 2018.*

1. Scott Douglas Jacobsen: I want to pause and touch upon some themes discussed so far. One, you started with a phrase in the earliest part that “Islam is a religion by men for men.” That might be a direct quote.

Then you mentioned scared, then you mentioned feared, but then you mentioned also, intervention into your life from external forces of benevolence including CSIS or the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service.

It, in some ways, seems to energize and say, “I can get out of this,” to get away from the husband and your mother who had their own different forms of abuse if I can say. However, when it comes to a course, so it is the primal response of fear.

Then it is followed by you wanting to be free. That is another word you used, of that release and so you left. Then it was becoming more intellectual, which was the world religion or History of Religion course with the Lebanese professor.

First, it was instinct, then it was intellectual. My suspicion is that the next stage then would be working through a lot more of the emotional stuff?

Yasmine Mohammed: Definitely. So, on everything, I did not mention something that adds to those themes. I wanted to get away from that house and get away from him, but I was really scared. Then I found out I was pregnant again.

Then, I was depressed because I felt that I had lost my opportunity. I was disappointed in myself that I did not leave as quickly as I could because now here I was pregnant again. So, I started accepting that this was my life.

I was not going to be a single mom with two kids. I will never survive. I have a high school education, so this is it. I sealed my fate because I was not courageous enough to leave. Then when I went to my first doctor appointment, it turns out the baby did not have a heartbeat, so it is what they called a missed miscarriage.

So, I had to go in for a DNC – which is a procedure to get the baby out. When I did the DNC, I had general anesthesia. The nurse told me you have a young baby. You are going to be groggy and stuff, so we are going to need you to go with somebody that can help you with your little baby when you go home.

Then I said, “Good, I will go to my mom.” Because obviously, he is not going to help me with our kids. So, I said to him, “Can I go stay with my mom for a few days?” He said, “Sure, no problem.”

When I talk about getting away from him and getting away from my mom, that was the last time I ever saw him. I realized this was my opportunity to get out. I was not going to miss it. So when I went to my mom’s after the DNC, she got up the next morning and went to work.

She is the head of the Islamic Studies department at the local Islamic school. I took my kid, sorted through the yellow pages and found a lawyer, a female lawyer because she would be more empathetic with my struggle.

Having to go out all in black gloves everything, with a baby, I only realize now how ridiculous. I remember them reacting strongly, but I only now understand why. I walked into the office that day and I said, “I need to leave quickly. I have to get back before my mom gets back.”

I took the bus. This was in the days before the Skytrain. As soon as possible, I needed a restraining order, full custody, and a divorce. You cannot call the house. You cannot send any letters.

You cannot contact me, so any information you have to ask for it now because I will never be able to see you again. They said, “Done, it is fine. Do not even worry about it. Everything is okay. Do you need to get back?”

I was like, “No, no, no, I am fine.” I had no idea how dire the whole situation was. I went back and waited. For those few days, I did not know. I had no idea what I had started was going to work then, a couple days later he came.

My mom was living in an apartment building. There was security, so you had to get buzzed. I heard him downstairs screaming in Arabic, “Give me back my wife,” all this stuff.

Jacobsen: “Give me back my wife,” those two terms, “me” and “my,” are terms of being property.

Mohammed: Without a doubt, totally.

Jacobsen: He thought he owned you.

Mohammed: That is what he was angry about. He was angry that I had some agency to make my own decisions.

Jacobsen: You saw these videos of men getting mad about losing their car or their prized guns.

Mohammed: Same thing.

Jacobsen: I interrupted, please.

Mohammed: So, this guy, he is six foot four, Egyptian, dark haired, dark skinned, yelling in Arabic at the building. So, it did not take long for people to call the cops. There is some guy screaming at the building.

I was so afraid someone would leave. Then he would be able to slip, but nobody did. Then the cops came and told him this is your restraining order. You are not allowed to come near the building anymore.

They told me that we can tell him that he cannot come to this building, but we cannot restrict him out in the world. All we can say is that he cannot go within a certain number of meters, in the places you are going to be in, but that does not protect you if you happened to be in the mall and he happened to be there.

So, I stayed in the house. I was not about to risk bumping into him somewhere. I stayed in the house all the way until CSIS contacted me again. They brought me a picture of him behind bars in Egypt and asked if that was him.

I said, “That was him.” I started to get my college loans and started to go to university. So, it was not until I knew he was not going to come and get me and my daughter.

Jacobsen: So, then more positive emotions probably come into your life and assuming your child’s life as well.

Mohammed: So, at this point, my mom was so upset and so angry at me because she dis not want me to go to school. She wants to get me into another marriage, married quickly. So, she is telling me how hard it is going to be a single mom.

She is trying, pushing all of these men on me because she wants to grab the opportunity. I did not care. None of that mattered. It was not the first time around. The first time around I was scared and nervous, and her threats meant something to me.

This time around I was like, “Throw me out in the streets, please, I want nothing to do with you. I would love that.” So, I knew I was all on my own anyway. She went to visit my sister in Florida. That is when I grabbed my daughter and packed the bags.

I left her house. So, it was all happy days. I did not care. Nothing was going to bring me down, I was not sad or upset or even worried about the potential idea that my mom would not approve about what I was doing.

I do not care, but all this time I was still Muslim. I was still asking Allah for guidance to escape my mom. I do not know how to explain it. It did not even cross my mind that that belief could be wrong. It was absolute truth, like talking about: does the Sun rise in the morning? Of course, it does.

The Sun is not something you talk about. It was obvious. So, I did not take that history course a couple of years later. It is amazing that I did not question religion. It was him. I was my mom. I did not connect the dots.

Then after I stopped believing in Islam anymore, I was free to criticize Islam. When you are raised, you are not allowed to ever question. You are raised that Muslims can do bad things, but Islam is perfect, Allah is perfect, and Muhammad is perfect.

So, you do not even criticize it. I remember being a young child and finding out he was 50 something and raped a 9-year-old girl. I was like “How are we supposed to revere this? How is he a perfect man?” My mom got so angry at me because who was I?

Some kid questioning the Prophet of Allah. He was so much more than me. I could not possibly understand how divine he is. She made me feel that I could never question anything after that. She tore me down. I was at a young age. I was young when I learned that.

So, questioning is not encouraged. It is punished and that keeps on happening until you finally stop questioning. Punished so the idea that this could be the fault of the religion was not going to enter my mind.

Of course, now, the line between everything that happened to me and this scripture it is clear as day. There is evidence that everything that happened to me in the way it says to do this. My mom was a good follower.

She believed in this stuff. One thing I did not tell you is that she was raised in a secular household in Egypt. She was not even raised religious, so what happened is she was married to my dad who was agnostic.

It was fine because she did not care about religion. It was not until he left her with three children that she was looking for something. She is in Canada. So, she is looking for her community support, so she found a mosque, the local mosque, and she jumped into it.

She was a born-again Muslim. She found some guy at the mosque who was already married, but who offered to take her in as her second wife and that is what she did.

Jacobsen: Is this in BC, Canada?

Mohammed: Yes, this is in British Columbia, Canada.

Jacobsen: Bountiful BC has many aspects.

Mohammed: Yes, that is right.

2. Jacobsen: It is that old phrase: “variations of a theme.” You mentioned Ali Rizvi. He and Armin are the somewhat more prominent names in the ex-Muslim community now.

In Britain, one of the more prominent is Maryam Namazie, associated with the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain. So, there is a rising tide. When did you become part of that wave?

Mohammed: It was in the now infamous episode of the Bill Maher show when he had Ben Affleck and Sam Harris. So, that was the catalyst for me because after the episode aired the next day my Facebook was covered with people praising Ben Affleck, and how awesome he was for shutting down that racist Sam Harris.

I was like – hold on a minute, everything Sam Harris said was spot on. How are you guys happy about Ben Affleck? He basically had a hissy fit. He was incoherent. What is going on in this world? Have you all gone mad? So, I had to speak up.

So, it made me speak up. I started to discover things and got a face-full. I discovered the whole global secular humanist movement. I did not even hear the term ex-Muslim. I did not know it existed. At this point, I had even been identifying myself as an atheist for over a decade.

So, all that stuff was behind me. There were a lot of people that knew me that would not have known that I had been a Muslim. Even if my non-belief had never come up because I did not want it to, I wanted to leave that world behind. I want to push it down as far as possible.

3. Jacobsen: So, what is your current work that you are doing now?

Mohammed: So, I have a few irons in the fire. Everything that takes up most of my time is the podcast that I am doing with Ali Rizvi, Faisal Saeed Al Mutar, and Armin Navabi, the Secular Jihadist. So, we booked Maajid Nawaz, so that is awesome.

We are going to have him on soon. We are trying to get some bigger names, so I contacted Ben Shapiro and Tommy Robinson. We are trying to get some different sides of the political spectrum, speaking to each other and trying to bridge that gap.

We will see. We will see how things turn out. If you have ever listened to our podcast, we are not aligning in thought, so it makes it difficult to get guests sometimes because they know some of us.

But they do not know others or they had a bad experience with one of us or something like that. So, when there are four of us, we have to find a guest that is with all the four of us. Sometimes, that is hard to do, so that has taken up a lot of my time.

Also, involved in a documentary, which the whole focus is to talk about the Left-Islamist alliance and try to separate those two because our thinking is that if the liberals or if the Left wing Americans, especially atheists, understood that they were supporting a religion and not a people, they would automatically get rid of that alliance that is going on there.

So, it is heartening to see things this morning. There was an article in the New York Times of all places. It said that the hypocritical leftists are willing to give Muslim extremists a pass and this has a lot to do with Maajid Nawaz suing the SPLC (Southern Poverty Law Center).

So, it is showing that this alliance between the Muslim and the Left-wing is not a good thing. For the Muslim Extremist or the Left wing, it is not a good thing for the average Muslim. So, we will see how that turns out.

That documentary is still in its beginning stages. I am involved in speaking at the Ayaan Hirsi Ali campus tour. So, what that means, we are trying to get a bunch of students from different universities across the U.S., not Canada yet but we are hoping to exit to Canada soon, (we have different politics in our two countries, we have different needs), but the purpose of the campus tour is to get people who are part of the secular groups in their universities to come to listen to us speak.

It is going to be me, and Ali and Aisha, Aisha is Ali’s wife. There will be shared platforms with a bunch of people and then the students will take what they learned from us. Then spread that into their home universities.

They can also invite us to come to speak at their universities too. Ex-Muslims of North America are doing the exact same thing. They are doing a campus tour, except theirs are only ex- Muslims. The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Foundation is for secular-minded people, so it is more much inclusive.

So, I might get involved in the Ex-Muslims of North American one. I might not. I am not sure because I am also teaching full time in September. I do not have any classes scheduled on Friday so we will see how things turn out.

What else am I doing? I am going to be in Ohio this summer speaking at a CFI conference. I am also going to be speaking in Portland in September. I am going to be sharing the stage with Dave Rubin and Steve Simpson.

We are going to be speaking about free speech. We are going to go around talking about free speech with her, not with her obviously, with her foundation.

This is an exciting program because I watched him onstage. I went when he was in LA. I got a chance to watch Dave Rubin, and Colin Moriarty was on stage with him and Steve too. Then I also watched a video with Faisal and Dave and Steve.

So, it is exciting to watch it and then get to be a part of it. Colin Moriarty, if you do not know him, he is the guy who tweeted. It was No Women Work Day or something like that and he tweeted: “ah Day of Silence” or “ah! finally silence.” Which come on, is funny!

So, his girlfriend laughs. He thought, “This is not going to be a problem.” He did not realize. The whole world, everything, blew up in his face. He lost his jobs. His friends turned on him. It was a bomb that blew up. You’d think that he tweeted something horrible. So, he is a great person to talk about free speech.

Jacobsen: It is the digital era. In America, where probably the freest speech has been won or the right to, the privilege to, free expression and speech have been won to the greatest extent.

With the digital era, people can disperse the single worst thing about you in one sentence, which, by definition, most often will be out of context. So, for instance, if he is talking with his wife privately and he tells that joke, they both laugh. It is a bonding thing.

Then it is on Twitter. It is part of a Twitter compilation of thoughts: “I am having coffee today,” “look at this big guy,” “look at that guy wearing spandex in the middle of the day,” “oh, it is ‘No Women Work Day’… so no more complaining.”

But now it’s broadcast so not only the easily offended but those that want to be offended can be, they can find a reason for it or people can deliver the reason to them.

Mohammed: It is shocking. He broke down in tears with his conversation talking with Dave Rubin. That is how bad it was. His life fell apart over a tweet, so silly. Honest to God, I did laugh at it. It was funny. I am a woman. I am not offended by it.

It is hilarious. I get over it. However, you said people want to be offended.

4. Jacobsen: It is almost, not the lowest common denominator but, something close to it, where the variables being counted are those with the thinnest skin who then determine discourse.

That is the problem, so it is one of those new communications technologies. With all of its benefits, it is one of the negatives. So, you are teaching at a university in the Fall, in September. What will you be teaching?

Mohammed: So, I teach different things in different places. At the University of Victoria, I teach teachers how to teach. So, it is because I have an education background, most university professors are knowledgeable in the field and are experts in what they research, what they teach, but do not necessarily have any pedagogy or any education experience understanding of how to teach the stuff that they know.

That is where I come in. I do that at UVic. I do this at Camosun College as well. However, that is half of my job. The other half is teaching in the arts and humanities. So, I teach mostly academic English writing, boring research skills, but, sometimes, I get to teach literature and more fun things.

Most of the time, it is research skills and academic writing. Those basic courses for the second year on how to write an essay, what is citing your source, and so on.

Jacobsen: All of the foundational stuff.

Mohammed: That is right.

Appendix I: Footnotes

[1] Author; Founder, Free Hearts, Free Minds.

[2] Individual Publication Date: February 8, 2019: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two; Full Issue Publication Date: May 1, 2019: https://in-sightjournal.com/insight-issues/.

Appendix II: Citation Style Listing

American Medical Association (AMA): Jacobsen S. Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Choosing Apostasy, Endorsing Ex-Muslims, and Living in Freedom [Online].February 2019; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

American Psychological Association (APA, 6th Edition, 2010): Jacobsen, S.D. (2019, February 8). Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Choosing Apostasy, Endorsing Ex-Muslims, and Living in FreedomRetrieved from http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

Brazilian National Standards (ABNT): JACOBSEN, S. Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two). In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A, February. 2019. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two>.

Chicago/Turabian, Author-Date (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott. 2018. “Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A. http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

Chicago/Turabian, Humanities (16th Edition): Jacobsen, Scott “Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal. 19.A (February 2019). http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

Harvard: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A. Available from: <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two>.

Harvard, Australian: Jacobsen, S. 2019, ‘Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two)In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal, vol. 19.A., http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

Modern Language Association (MLA, 7th Edition, 2009): Scott D. Jacobsen. “Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two).” In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 19.A (2018):February. 2019. Web. <http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two>.

Vancouver/ICMJE: Jacobsen S. Interview with Yasmine Mohammed on Islam, Self-Ownership, and Free Speech and Expression (Part Two) [Internet]. (2019, February; 19(A). Available from: http://www.in-sightjournal.com/mohammed-two.

License and Copyright

License

In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at www.in-sightjournal.com.

Copyright

© Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal 2012-2019. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Scott Douglas Jacobsen, and In-Sight Publishing and In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.  All interviewees co-copyright their interview material and may disseminate for their independent purposes.

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