NIGERIA: A Muslim Mother Recounts News of the Paris Attack

NIGERIA: A Muslim Mother Recounts News of the Paris Attack

2015 WMB Quote Hijab in Paris Aisha

My husband came into the room while I was still sleeping on the morning of the attack and told me of a deadly attack in Paris. In my half state of sleep I blocked the news out. I didn’t want to take in another pain. My body wasn’t ready to grieve.

I slept on hoping I would wake up, and it would all have been a mistake or a dream. I woke up and refused to watch the news or go onto social media. I didn’t want what I thought I heard my husband say to be true. I lived in cowardly denial.
I finally put on my phone which I had switched off, and I then had a call from a friend. They said, “Yes, there has been an attack. And, yes, many died!” “Oh God!”, I cried out.

“Has anyone claimed responsibility?”, I asked fearfully. “ISIS.”, my friend told me. “Not again,” I groaned.

To lose a loved one so brutally is horror. To know that somebody somewhere decided to kill your loved one who never offended them and whom they probably had never even seen is painful. An accident, I can understand, but that I can never.

In a month’s time my daughter will be going to France for a ski trip. Will she be looked at differently because of her hijab? My thoughts are that someone in Paris may look at my daughter in her hijab differently from the rest when she is as much victim.

When an attack happens in places like Paris it’s not that their lives are more important, but that the outcry is high even from other countries that have their fair share of terrorism. It’s fear! With all the security in such places? How can this occur?

If these tragic events can happen in places like Paris with their state of the art, high level security then they can wipe us out, here, in Nigeria with our best security. This is what goes through our minds.

It can embolden some to attack with all the copycat crimes going on. We have had so many attacks in recent times. It leaves a palpable fear in the air.

I then saw outrage on social media of people who felt that too much emphasis was placed by the world on the French lives rather than on all lives. I couldn’t find it in me to be outraged. The French cried out to the world and the world joined them in their moment of grief.

When we are attacked in Nigeria a lot of us within Nigeria seem to not care. Even our government. So how would the world cry with us when we have refused to cry for each other?

An attack happened a while ago in which over a 100 were killed it took more than 3 days before there was an official statement from the President condemning the attack. There was outrage from a few of us, and we were attacked by so many for demanding the government acknowledge an attack and death of Nigerians.

With such callousness from our own, how would the world acknowledge our grief?

When the world gets no official statement from Nigerian government, how can they grieve with us when we haven’t even acknowledged that ours were killed?

I am a pragmatic person and would always tell myself the truth no matter how it hurts. I cannot begrudge the French and the world supporting them when we haven’t supported our own. Until we take our lives seriously no one else will, and it would always be painful when my government within hours would commiserate with other countries when they are attacked and refused to acknowledge attack in our own country until days later.

I have been shown I matter by individuals reaching out to me when there is attack from different parts of the world, especially the World Moms Blog family. You would not understand how touching those moments are. It shows I am a member of the human race.

My daughter asked me just yesterday if she would still be going to Paris next month. I told her, “YES!!!” No one will make us live in fear.

Do they have heart? Do they know what it is to lose a loved one? Why do they inflict such on others? What is Islamic about terror? NOTHING!!!

Islam preaches peace. Islam enjoins a right of environment & animals on us. One is not allowed in Islam to cut down a tree.

God said in the Qur’an to kill one human is like killing humanity. We have to unite and let the goodness in us all outshine the few evil ones. Terrorist attack to anyone anywhere in the world is terrorist attack to everyone everywhere in the world.

God rest the souls of the dead and console the families of the departed all over the world. It’s not easy.

This is an original post to World Moms Blog by contributor Aisha Yesufu of Nigeria. 

UNITED KINGDOM: What’s Really in That Women’s Magazine?

UNITED KINGDOM: What’s Really in That Women’s Magazine?

Magazine Stack

I made a mistake this week, and bought a Women’s Magazine.

I know, I know. I have only myself to blame. Turkeys voting for Christmas, and all that. I haven’t bought one for so long. I’ve been doing really well. But then. Oh then…

In my defence, it looked so – fun. So cheerful and chatty and colourful.There were healthy recipes inside, it said. And – I admit – my eye snagged on a headline about summer dresses.

So I picked it up. I was at the cash till. It only took a moment to grab it, bleep it, bag it. And before I knew it, I was driving home with it.

At home I unpacked everything else first, aware of the magazine in its untouched bag as much as if it was emitting a radioactive glow. I made myself work slowly – stacking the tins of beans straight, organising the refrigerator drawer. Then I called my children and gave them snacks, and sent them out into the garden to play.

After that, I made myself a cup of tea, as though I had nothing particular planned. And then – and only then – I took the magazine out of its wrapper, and sat down to read it.

The first couple of pages were harmless. Or at least, they were nothing I couldn’t handle. Adverts, mainly – twenty-somethings draped in overpriced clothes that could only look good on them. Nothing to see here. Then a couple of placements for age-defying face creams. I read a few lines, caught myself, and moved along again.

The next page provided an unexpected giggle: beneath the legend “Coolest hot-weather buys”, an exhortation to try the latest offering from a diamond company – some sort of twisty ring from just £1,950 ($3,320) each. I made a mental note to ask my husband what he thought when he got in from work, just for laughs.

The next few pages provided tidbits on shoes, celebrity tattoos, and the new King of Spain. I flipped faster, half-aware that my kids’ voices below the window had taken on the whine that suggested some immense unfairness was about to be brought inside and laid at my feet. Sort it out between you girls, I urged them mentally.

Then I turned the page and found an article on being skinny.

I tried to turn the page but I couldn’t. My eyes were fastened on the headline: The Disturbing Rise of the Triple Zero.

I read on.

Somewhere at the back of my mind, a protest went up: Damn it! Suckered again!

Still, I read on.

So disturbing was this new trend for extreme, extreme thinness that the magazine had devoted four pages and fifteen photographs to it, along with such insights as: “It’s no secret that stars can make headlines out of being scarily skinny” (Um, Q.E.D., I think.)

I read the whole article, wanting to stop the whole time. I felt like I was standing in front of my kitchen cupboard in the middle of the night with a jar of chocolate spread and a spoon. Stop it, I told myself. It’s not good for you and you know it. Also, it’s making you feel sick.

I could hear my girls coming inside now. I pictured them arming sweat off their foreheads and tugging off dirty sneakers; saw their strong young shoulders and sinewy legs. In front of me, female skeletons struck ghoulishly sexy poses while the text explained how new ‘skinny apps’ can slim photos for Instagram by five to 15 lbs.

I realised as I read that I was thinking back to my lunch, to my breakfast, to dinner the night before, computing how much I had eaten and how many calories it might have amounted to.

Then a hand landed on my shoulder and I jumped, guiltily.

“Mu-uuum,” Betty began, flushed and aggrieved. In the other room, Grace called out a preparatory defence: “I didn’t!”

I turned to my five-year old daughter while simultaneously turning the page of my magazine. She wasn’t fooled.

‘What’s that? What’s that? What are they doing?”

“Nothing.” (The line that never works.)

Betty grabbed the magazine and pulled, and my heart thudded with horror until I saw that on turning the page I had moved us along to a feature on – ha! – learning to be brave.

“What does it say?”

“It says how you can be brave.”

“Like fighting things that frighten you?”

“Something like that.”


“Come on, let’s wash up for tea.”

Later, when the girls had gone to bed, I threw the magazine in the bin. I felt immediately braver. And healthier. And saner.

If only there was an app for that.

Thus is an original post by World Moms Blog contributor, Sophie Walker, of the United Kingdom.

Photo credit to Ian Mackenzie. This photo has a Creative Commons attribution license.

Sophie Walker (UK)

Writer, mother, runner: Sophie works for an international news agency and has written about economics, politics, trade, war, diplomacy and finance from datelines as diverse as Paris, Washington, Hong Kong, Kabul, Baghdad and Islamabad. She now lives in London with her husband, two daughters and two step-sons. Sophie's elder daughter Grace was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome several years ago. Grace is a bright, artistic girl who nonetheless struggles to fit into a world she often finds hard to understand. Sophie and Grace have come across great kindness but more often been shocked by how little people know and understand about autism and by how difficult it is to get Grace the help she needs. Sophie writes about Grace’s daily challenges, and those of the grueling training regimes she sets herself to run long-distance events in order to raise awareness and funds for Britain’s National Autistic Society so that Grace and children like her can blossom. Her book "Grace Under Pressure: Going The Distance as an Asperger's Mum" was published by Little, Brown (Piatkus) in 2012. Her blog is called Grace Under Pressure.

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labelsI have never really thought of myself as a conservative person. Not because I’m not one I probably am in the traditional sense of the word but life seems to be all about labeling people. Sorting them and stacking them into neat little sections. We are obsessed with it.
We talk to people and get to know them just enough to label them something and keep that label stuck to them regardless of whether it actually fits them or not. Sometimes we skip the getting to know all together and slap the label on based on first impressions, on the way they dress or talk or the job that they do. Some labels are good, some bad, but all have the same effect of flattening a person out till they are barely one-dimensional. So I don’t particularly like labels. And I don’t feel comfortable committing to one adjective for the rest of my life
Now as an Arab, Muslim woman from Saudi Arabia you can imagine I have been labelled many things based only on one of the afore-mentioned facts (Arab, Muslim, female and from Saudi). You can also imagine that many of these labels are not particularly nice ones. For example “oppressed” is one I have slapped on me simply by being an Arab woman. Add the other two parts (Muslim and Saudi) then that label is practically tattooed on my forehead.
If I dare to say I am not oppressed then the other label is pinned to me; “Brainwashed.” I remember when I got engaged while I was studying in London one of my professors called me into his office to ask if I was okay and if I had a choice in the matter. The fact that I was studying in London, living on my own, and that he had known me at that point for two years didn’t affect how he saw me. I was still an oppressed little Saudi girl to him.
I know people have certain preconceptions about women in Saudi and it is very difficult to convince them otherwise without them coming to see for themselves. A British woman who recently moved to Riyadh said “I have yet to meet a timid Saudi woman! I expected the women here to have no say in all that happens in their lives and homes and with their families. I was so surprised to see that they are in charge.”
I think people have a need for others to be one thing or the other. They cannot be undefinable, un-categorisable. So it always throws my more “Western” “liberal” friends (might as well join them if you can’t beat them!) through a loop when I don’t fit into the category they expect me to. They are surprised by how “conservative” I am when it comes to certain matters concerning my children. For example:
1- I don’t want my son to be in a co-ed school after the age of 12. It is not because I want to segregate him completely from women. On the contrary I want him to have, hopefully, the same female friends he has now at 10. The reason is all the co-ed schools here are international ones with a majority of ex-pat students. Our religion and culture mean that there is no dating and no premarital anything. That is why I think it is unfair to put him in an environment where dating is the norm. Kids will be having crushes, and first kisses and so on and I will then expect him not to do it. I’m not delusional, I know boys will be boys. I just don’t want to put him in an environment where everyone else is going in one direction (the more exciting, fun and hormone filed direction) and I am expecting him to go in the other.
2- I don’t want my 7-year-old girl to wear bikinis or short shorts or off the shoulder clothes. This is not because I think there’s a pervert around every corner or anything like thatay. It’s because I want her to be more modest and to grow up feeling like wearing crop tops is not okay. It may be cute at 7 but at 17, not so much. Having said that, I think people really over reacted to the pictures of Jessica Simpsons baby in a bikini last year. Had she had a picture of her in Pampers only people wouldn’t have had such an issue. She was 4 months old people. It’s cute!
3- I don’t want my daughter to take hip hop classes. Her personality is a huge factor in this because if there is music and table she can stand on she’ll be on that table dancing her little tush off. I think a lot of the dances that are taught in these classes are inappropriate and too grown up. Also, whats the cut off age for this? I don’t want my daughter to start something she really loves, get really good at it and put all her energy into it then say: Fantastic! Good job! Stop doing it now. And “professional dancer” is not a career option for her.
4- I don’t like the kids listening to songs with mature themes or words in them. I am not talking only about swear words but content that is not something a 7 or 10-year-old should be listening to. So I opt to go for the watered down versions like the songs by Kids Bop. They take all the top hits and make the lyrics child appropriate. So it’s the same songs but kid friendly! My kids love it.
5- I don’t let them watch Disney channel because I saw one of the sitcom episodes where the plot was about two girls seeing who could kiss one boy first. Not okay in my book.
So if those things slap the label conservative on me then I guess I am.
Then there are the people who are surprised by how “Western” I am in certain things about my parenting. Most of the people who label my actions “Western” are Western themselves, and what they label as (quite condescendingly) are any good parenting traits I have. They assume that because I value early bedtime and healthy diet and love to encourage my children to read and put a high emphasis on being polite and respectful to all people, that I MUST have that from studying in London. Or from having a Western nanny when I was a child. To these people I tell them to look at my mother and grandmother and they can see where I learned how to  raise my children with values we already have.
I know I have gained a lot of parenting skills from books written by Western authors, but the common sense was there to begin with. I did need a book to tell me what fruits to put in my children’s morning shakes to get the healthiest option. And a book did help me learn how to help motivate my children with reward charts and such.
I have learned a lot from my little (large) collection of parenting books just as I have learned from how my grandmother raised her children into adulthood and how she respects their life and their decision and didn’t raise them to be extensions of herself but rather self-aware, resilient, independent human beings who also didn’t fit into any particular label.
I am personally uncomfortable with either label. Conservative because it is stifling and Western because it’s condescending. I am me. I have been influenced by my Islamic upbringing, my Bedouin grandmother, my British nanny, my hundreds and hundreds of books, my friends from different countries and religions and by life!
I think, because people seem to have a need to sort others out into neat groups, I will have to find a new label. Maybe “Islamic, Conservative, liberal, free-spirited, regimented, modern, temperamental, Arab, world mom”?
What do you think of the 5 points I listed earlier? Do you agree with them? Are you a “conservative” parent? Do you think you fit into a label?


This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Mama B from Saudi Arabia. She can be found writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa.


Photo credit to _nyem_who holds a Flickr Creative Commons Attribution license. 

Mama B (Saudi Arabia)

Mama B’s a young mother of four beautiful children who leave her speechless in both, good ways and bad. She has been married for 9 years and has lived in London twice in her life. The first time was before marriage (for 4 years) and then again after marriage and kid number 2 (for almost 2 years). She is settled now in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (or as settled as one can be while renovating a house). Mama B loves writing and has been doing it since she could pick up a crayon. Then, for reasons beyond her comprehension, she did not study to become a writer, but instead took graphic design courses. Mama B writes about the challenges of raising children in this world, as it is, who are happy, confident, self reliant and productive without driving them (or herself) insane in the process. Mama B also sheds some light on the life of Saudi, Muslim children but does not claim to be the voice of all mothers or children in Saudi. Just her little "tribe." She has a huge, beautiful, loving family of brothers and sisters that make her feel like she wants to give her kids a huge, loving family of brothers and sisters, but then is snapped out of it by one of her three monkeys screaming “Ya Maamaa” (Ya being the arabic word for ‘hey’). You can find Mama B writing at her blog, Ya Maamaa . She's also on Twitter @YaMaamaa.

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