Dr. Yvonne Ridley – Great Britain
From Wales she went to London and worked on a number of Fleet Street titles over the next 10 years including The Daily Mirror, The Observer, The Sunday Times and The Sunday Express. While at Express Newspapers she was sent to Pakistan to cover the impending war with American and Britain in neighbouring Afghanistan as the chief reporter. While there she sneaked in to Afghanistan on an undercover assignment but was captured after two days inside the country.
After being held for the next 11 days Ridley said: “It was a terrifying experience and I was released on humanitarian grounds after giving an undertaking to study Islam. It was a promise I fulfilled and in 2003 embraced the Faith.”
Two years later she moved to Qatar and worked at Al Jazeera’s english website, the forerunner to the english-Arab TV channel. While there she helped develop and launch the website with a number of other international journalists. On her return to the UK she continued to write, lecture and do consultancy and charity work throughout the UK and overseas. She also launched in to a successful film-making career. The first documentary she produced with film-maker David Miller, won a nomination at the prestigious Roma Film and TV Festival for Inside the Wire in which Miller and Ridley gained exclusive access to the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention facility.
Ridley returned to writing and helped contribute to chapters in several major anti-war books before embarking on another title called: Torture: Does it work? Interrogation issues and its effectiveness in the War on Terror while graduating at Buckingham University with an MA in Modern War Studies.
In recent years Ridley quit London and moved to Scotland setting up a remote smallholding in the Borders where she has established a peafowl sanctuary, Islamic retreat and halal adventure holidays with her husband.
She continues to work as a journalist, speaker and for several charities and writes for Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Scottish political online media service Commonspace as well as international newspapers as wide ranging as The Washington Post to The T. Times and The Tripoli Post. She is an editorial consultant and occasional editor for the local community news magazine.
She speaks on a wide range of topics focussing on the Middle East and Asia having travelled extensively around the region, as well as the UK on the media, politics, racism, Islam, Islamophobia, the War on Terror, feminism, women’s rights and female empowerment.
Other memberships include the National Union of Journalists, International Federation of Journalists, Society of Authors, Scottish Beekeepers Association, Fawcett Society and one of founders of Women in Journalism.
In february 2018 she has visited Rohingya refugees on the Myanmar-Bangladesh border where he helped a team of South African lawyers document testimonies of war crimes. Following on from that she has also interviewed a number of Syrian women who have been prisoners exposed to torture, rape and abuse.
In addition, and in line with her robust defence of Islam, she was invited by the prestigious Oxford Union to take part in a debate on religion at the world famous university. Later this year she will launch her biography on The Prophet Muhammad with the publishing house Cambridge Scholars Publishing.