This is the woman who was presented as an authentic example of a “moderate” British Muslim. What was Channel 4 trying to tell us again? “Unmasked: the veiled white Muslim convert whose great grandmother was a suffragette,” by Neil Sears for the Daily Mail:
She was presented by Channel 4 as an authentic – but anonymous – voice of moderate British Islam.
And on Christmas Day the veiled woman described only as “Khadijah” was given a national televison platform for propagating her views in an “alternative Christmas message” designed to rival the Queen’s.
She told viewers Jack Straw was wrong to criticise the veil, claiming concealing facial features “liberated” women.
Nonstandard capitalization from the next paragraph onward is original to the article.
But the Daily Mail can now unveil “Khadijah” – and reveal that she is in fact Elaine Atkinson, an English convert to Islam who travels the country working for a radical muslim group trying to take political control of Pakistan.
And despite her presentation by Channel 4 as a moderate, in the past the 38-year-old has described non-believers as “rats in cages going round on a treadmill” of consumerism, and declares she would like to see Britain’s pubs converted into
Since going through an islamic marriage ceremony with a British-born muslim of Pakistani origin, Miss Atkinson – a fromer radical feminist – has become known as Khadijah Iqbal.
But her rejection of her English roots caused a rift with her family, which has a long history of military and police service.
Her great-grandmother was a suffragette, and her brother is currently serving as a soldier in Afghanistan, she claimed.
Atkinson, a mother of one, was approached by Channel 4 to give the controversial alternative Christmas message after the original veiled woman chosen, Khadija Ravat, a 33-year-old islamic teacher, withdrew because of negative publicity.
Channel 4 said it would be veiling her true identity, along with her face, to enable viewers to focus on her words instead of her personality.
But the story of her rejection of her traditional English background, and her determination to embrace radical Islam, is a fascinating one.
Atkinson led a normal English childhood, and after being schooled locally without any contact with muslims, left the countryside for London and became a social worker.
But in 1996 she suddenly became interested in the koran, and started attending the Regent’s Park Mosque in the centre of the capital.
Atkinson said: “Much to the shock and horror of my family and friends I embraced Islam.
“My friends, family and colleagues were very keen to express their negative views.
“I had always been known as a radical Feminist and had dutifully continued the family tradition of following in the footsteps of my great-grandmother, who was a suffragette.
“Much to my greatgrandmother “s horror (if she were still here to express it) I was soon to discover that Feminism and Islam went together like oil and water.
“I realised Feminism promoted the very thing it protested against: oppression of women.”
Atkinson went on, in an essay published on the Internet for fellow muslims: “When I see large numbers of non-believers I feel very sad for them as they remind me of rats or gerbils in cages going round and round on a treadmill, believing that they are fulfilling their sole purpose in life and reaching their true destiny (which is Argos).
“If only they could uncover their eyes and see the damage they cause themselves and to their children.
“I feel certain that if they were to have a tiny glimpse of what Islam could give them there would be Mosques on every corner instead of pubs.”
Atkinson now lives with her husband Dr Zahid Iqbal, 38, who qualified as a doctor at Southampton in 1992, in a Â£350,000 three-bed house in Barking, east London. She abandoned her English name four years [ago].
She works for the radical Minhaj ul Qur’an group from its UK base at a mosque in nearby Forest Gate – running a “sisters’ group” for other female muslims, travelling the country making converts, and broadcasting on Asian local radio
Minhaj ul Qur’an was established in Pakistan, but operates in 92 countries, and aims to convert the whole world in Islam.
In Pakistan the religious group has a political wing – the Pakistan People Movement – which boasts it is “actively working to establish an Islamic state in Pakistan” to ensure “muslims have an international voice and political power to relieve the ongoing oppression and subjugation of muslims around the world”.
Atkinson – pictured in a rare unveiled moment when returning home from a shopping trip – last night refused to elaborate on her views.
Contrary to her claims of being moderate, at an Islamic conference in Sheffield this year Atkinson told fellow muslims it was morally wrong to listen to any sort of music, or to watch soap operas. She urged the conference to stop watching any television at all.
In a statement issued through Channel 4, Atkinson said last night: “Minhaj-ul-Quran is a spiritual movement which promotes peace and tolerance of other faiths. It is against all forms of extremism and radicalism whether religious or otherwise.”
Atkinson’s brother Howard Atkinson, 46, is a soldier. He was last night unvailable for comment – as were their parents, who have moved to Spain.
Atkinson last night insisted that she did enjoy listening to islamic music.