Yvonne Ridley is a 64-year-old British journalist who has had a successful career in the media spanning four decades. The former Fleet reporter has written several books, but this is her first departure into the world of fiction. Her first novel book was launched this year, “The Caledonians”.
She is a journalist, author and columnist, and scriptwriter, PR advisor. She is addicted to Scottish politics and a member of the Alba party. She is a journalist who was captured by the Taliban in 2001.
Then she was held hostage there and their kind behavior resulted in her conversion to Islam and she became known as “Mariam”. Who is this wonderful super active lady? Let’s find out in this biography.
Born in the North East of England surrounded by pits, steelworks, and the shipbuilding industries, Yvonne Ridley says the working class is in her roots and she is very proud of them.
She was the youngest of three girls and a staunch Christian since she had an upbringing in the Church of England. She entered Journalism during her school days. She already had an ambition for professional reporting.
Stimulated by a letter she sent to the Evening Chronicle in Newcastle. She was determined to become a journalist. Since then, she has written for several magazines including, Sunday Times, Observer etc.
She was a staunch supporter of Palestine since she was a young girl. We can say that the argumentative spirit and being vocal about rights have been in her blood since she was a child.
Yvonne Ridley Career
Ridley has also worked as a broadcaster, producer, and presenter on programs for BBC TV and radio, etc. She was a chief reporter when the Sunday Express sent her to Afghanistan after 9/11. It was 2001 and Afghanistan had ordered all journalists to exit the country and they were not being issued any visas or passports. So, Radley decided to adopt the manner a fellow journalist Simpson had done, i.e., wear a burqa and cross the border.
She managed to cross safely into a village near the border. But she was quickly spied after attempting to snap some photos. This was an act that was deemed illegal by the Taliban at the time.
She was pointed out by the locals who had her captured by the police. They placed her in confinement for 11 days then shifted her to a prison in Kabul.
In the hands of the Taliban
Despite being absolutely terrified, Ridley was surprised by the respect she received and the compassionate way they held her captive. All men she came into contact with lowered their gazes before her.
“They thought I was an American spy. They had never heard a Geordie accent before. I was absolutely terrified. Frozen with fear, I had heard stories of their brutality. It was a complete clash of cultures and I became a prisoner from hell. I went on hunger strike, swore at them, spat at them. In return, they said why you are doing this. You are our guest. We want you to be happy.”
“Richard Desmond, who ran my newspaper at the time, sent a team of negotiators to bring her back whether it takes 1 million or two million pounds. But after the first meeting, the captors said they weren’t interested in money. They just wanted respect.”
They asked her to accept Islam but she refused. However, she gave them her word that she will study it upon returning. And she did upon returning. She was amazed to read that the book of Allah, The Quran, is a huge supporter of women’s rights. She became a fierce critic of the West. She wrote about her captivity in a book called “In the hands of the Taliban”. She compared her captivity to the way the US was holding Aafia Siddiqui captive and told in a magazine that,
Other than myself going on a hunger strike, the Taliban didn’t hurt me at all. “They even gave me the key to the door of my cell to lock myself from the inside. On the other hand, the way the US is terrorizing Aafia Siddiqui and the prisoners in Guantanamo Bay is just plain brutal”
I have been back to Afghanistan a few times and I have even bumped into my captors. They have thanked me for being truthful about the experience”
She converted to Islam in the middle of 2003, claiming that her new faith has helped her put behind her broken marriages and embrace the biggest and best family in the world. This led to her writing the book “In the hands of the Taliban” in which she related her ordeal. She became known as Mariam Radley.
Ridley has been married five times. She first married when she was 22. Her second marriage to a policeman lasted seven years. Her third husband was Daud Zaarura the CEO of North England and a former head of intelligence. They have one daughter Daisy who was born in 1992. Her fourth husband was an Israeli businessman, Ilan Hermosh. Her fifth husband is an Algerian.
Ridley lives in Scotland currently. She was awarded the Muslim woman of the year award at the British Muslim Awards. She was also nominated for her work with Syrian women prisoners who were victims of torture and abuse.
Yvonne Ridley’s net worth is 1 million US dollars. She is a journalist by occupation. It’s her journalist career that led her to achieve such a huge amount of capital. Besides this, she has earned a lot as an author.
IN short Yvonne Ridley is a very inspirational woman. A feminist, activist as well as a socialist, she is one of the shining stars of newspapers today. She is also a big inspiration for Muslim women today. Her light continues to guide others towards peace and Humanity.