This Woman Is Getting Marriage Proposals From ISIS Supporters Because Of A Single Tweet
1. So last Wednesday, as you might recall, #MuslimApologies was trending (explanation of the hashtag here).
2. The above tweet, which has been retweeted 12,000 times, came from Jennifer Williams, a researcher at the Brookings Institution.
She gained over 4,000 followers as a result.
3. She’s now written a blog about what happened next, entitled “How a Blonde Tattooed Texas Girl Became an ISIS Twitter Star”.
As she writes, to many she doesn’t look like a typical Muslim: raised as a Southern Baptist in Texas, she uses “y’all”, has platinum blonde hair, blue eyes, and tattoos, and doesn’t wear hijab. But as she explains: “I am Muslim. I also speak Arabic and hold a master’s degree in international security with a focus on terrorism and the Middle East.”
She states on her blog that her life was changed when she read the Qur’an – she was trying to work out how men like Osama bin Laden use it to justify their violence. “What I found in its pages changed my life,” she writes.
4. Williams’ blog describes the “twisted interpretations of Islam” put forth by Al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) as “a sick bastardisation of my beautiful religion”.
So what happened next, as the tweet took on a viral life of its own and the number of retweets began to climb and climb, wasn’t to her liking:
I soon began to notice a disturbing trend: of the thousands of people who were retweeting and following me, many of them had the black flag of ISIS as their Twitter profile photos. Others had pictures of themselves holding swords, standing in front of the black ISIS flag. Uh-oh.
5. After she’d got her first marriage offer, she started to get tweets from Saudi Arabia.
6. A friend then emailed her to tell her the tweet was “being used as propaganda by Salafis in Arabic-language social media circles,” she writes.
7. She writes:
No, I did not blur my face out to maintain my anonymity. The person who tweeted that did it. You know you’re dealing with some serious Islamic hardliners when they blur out your face to protect Islamic modesty. It’s also interesting that they chose to make it blurry rather than to black it out entirely – I suppose they did that so you could still tell that I was a blonde, white American girl.
8. Williams then inadvertently increased her “terrorist fandom” when she saw some pro-ISIS graffiti in Washington D.C. and decided to tweet a picture of it.
As she notes, “This may not have been exactly the right move at this particular moment in my ascending Twitter fame,” but for a terrorism researcher such a sight was always going to be of interest. Sadly for her, her follow-up tweet didn’t really register with her new legion of fans.
She concludes her blog by writing:
Non-Muslims sometimes don’t realise how much hatred and negativity gets thrown at Muslims and how utterly soul-crushing it can be to have to defend yourself and your beliefs on a daily basis, and it’s really nice to see someone saying something positive about Islam.
At the same time, though, it’s precisely the actions of ISIS and their followers and the words of intolerance emanating from the Salafi camp that provoke this reaction against Muslims. And I, for one, do not appreciate having my conversion story used to attract more people to a repugnant ideology that spawns suicide bombings and beheadings.
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