A bit of a preamble before the unedited letter:
To all you wonderful folk who have taken the time to read and help spread my message, my letter to Ben - I am truly honoured, humbled and grateful. Thank you so much. Your kind words and encouragement have meant a lot to me. Forgive me if I have been unable to thank everyone individually.
There have been some interesting conversations surrounding this letter. Some have called me, predictably, an 'Islamophobe'. Some have called me, rather confusingly, an 'Islamist'/apologist. I certainly can't be both. I was told by someone that I was aiding genocide through such a 'hateful' piece, that's a bit of a stretch - come on now! And from the side that called me an apologist, I was apparently unrealistic and disillusioned to think any Muslims at all could be peaceful. *sigh*
Some have asked me why, if I have the courage to speak out, I have not left the faith?
If you have followed me for some time - you will know that I am indeed an atheist - and a vocal one at that. I refer to myself as a 'woman born and raised in Islam' and loosely group myself in with other muslims when i say 'we' (because even as an ex-muslim I do consider myself as part of the community) in the article. I do not however refer to myself as a 'Muslim woman'. The difference is subtle, I know. The piece was for a Pakistani publication, and so had to be worded this way. Even publishing this was an act of courage on their part. I am especially grateful to them for giving me a Pakistani platform to speak from. That kind of openness on their part is truly game-changing.
You might see some articles about this letter, with sensationalist headlines such as 'Muslim woman speaks out against Islam', etc. That is a misrepresentation, because I am not a practising Muslim.
I'd also just like to take a moment to talk about journalism etiquette. I have been hearing from several journalists who want to reprint the piece - and that is excellent. Please, by all means reprint and help spread the message. If you get in touch with me, I will most likely welcome the opportunity to have my words heard by a larger audience. Maybe we'll even get a response/reaction from Ben? (Nah, that's a long shot)
There have been some instances however, where journalists have felt it is ok to copy and paste my ENTIRE piece as a 'quote'. My artwork was also used without even asking or informing me. Even though *eventually* properly attributed to me, one would expect that it is a basic courtesy to ask the person who's work you are using to funnel traffic to your website. Even if the piece in question is titled 'open letter', and is intended for public reading, one assumes that common courtesy will still prevail.
Its not just one publication, several large name publications have used my work without sourcing properly in the past. I have always found this unfair, but am really unable to control it, as a not-so-important blogger. When I call this behaviour out, I am told to show 'gratitude' for the extra publicity. :/
I was actually even told by someone that I had 'delusions of grandeur' for expecting that publications would ask before lifting my piece.
I'm wondering though, if these publications would be ok with me taking their articles and publishing on my blog (as a quote) and attributing to the first name of the author?
So there is a writer called Joe who has some stuff to say:
"Joe's words, Joe's words"
he also says:
"Joe's words, Joe's words, Joe's entire piece."
Yeah, something about that would rub them the wrong way, I'm sure. I dare not try it. I'm also not a journalist, so what would I know?
Anyhow, individual use is also different from public use. If you want to post it up as your Facebook status, go for it. Share it in any way you like. But if you are a reputable publication - I will at least expect you to ask before. Just ask... that's all. :) If you don't ask, there is not much I can do, my work is up on the internet....I cannot control what you do with it. But it would be nice if you asked before using it to get hits on your site. Cheers.
And now below, I will share with you my original unedited letter to Ben. Which for obvious reasons could not be printed as is.