Yvonne Ridley is one of many Westerners who have converted to Islam in recent years. Her tale is undoubtedly different from most (she was abducted by the Taleban on the Pakistan-Afghan border in 2001 when working for the Daily Express and was held captive for ten days...) and yet there is something here that will be familiar to all who know the way religions use threats and bribes to win converts. Here is the story of the final days before her conversion in her own words:
But there has been a phone call from at least one male admirer - north London preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri."He said, 'Sister Yvonne, welcome to Islam, congratulations'."I explained I hadn't yet taken my final vows and he said, 'Don't be pressured or pushed, the whole community is there for you if you need any help, just call one of the sisters.' "I thought, I can't believe it, this is the fire and brimstone cleric from Finsbury Park mosque and he is quite sweet really."I was just about to hang up when he said, 'But there is just one thing I want you to remember. Tomorrow, if you have an accident and die, you will go straight to hellfire'."I was so scared that I carried a copy of the vows in my purse until my final conversion last June."Ah...bless! And there was me thinking that Allah was a merciful, all-loving god.
(You might also find it rewarding to google Yvonne's wise and heart-warming words about Israel and Jews since her conversion...but God forbid you should think Islam encourages anti-semitism).