Yasmine Mohammed (@yasmohammedxx) is a human rights activist who advocates for the rights of women living within Muslim-majority countries, as well as those who struggle under religious fundamentalism in general. She is the founder of Free Hearts Free Minds and the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam. [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
What We Discuss with Yasmine Mohammed:
- Why curtailing expression in free societies is the worst possible response to threats made by religious fundamentalists.
- How the same religious text that serves to inspire millions gets interpreted by extremists to justify gruesome acts of terrorism and tyranny.
- How fundamentalist scofflaws abuse the tolerance and goodwill of free societies to drain resources and establish footholds conducive to their extremist ideologies.
- Yasmine shares her story of growing up in a subordinate family of a religiously justified polygynous household — not in some remote, developing nation, but Canada.
- The dangers that women and secular-minded members of a society run by religious extremists face, and why such societies need to be challenged rather than given a free pass to continue their oppression for fear of offending the people in charge and their enablers — often the oppressed, themselves.
- And much more…
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Ideally, respect for the disparate populations that go into the cultural melting pot of Western society enables us, as a whole, to benefit from the diversity of the human experience and appreciate a kaleidoscopic perspective of the world. Unfortunately, there will always be segments of the populace who reject multiculturalism and work hard to enforce their narrow religious fundamentalist views on the rest of us — woe to unbelievers and those deemed “less-than” by an uncompromising interpretation of a guidebook penned in antiquity that mandates their oppression.
In this episode, we’re joined by Yasmine Mohammed, founder of Free Hearts Free Minds — an organization that provides mental health support for members of the LGBT community and freethinkers living within Muslim-majority countries (where both ‘crimes’ can be punished by execution) — and the author of Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam. Here, she shares stories of her upbringing in a subordinate family of a religiously justified polygynous household in Canada, why curtailing expression in free societies is the worst possible response to threats made by religious fundamentalists, how fundamentalist scofflaws abuse the tolerance and goodwill of free societies to drain resources and establish footholds conducive to their extremist ideologies, the dangers that women and secular-minded members of a society run by religious extremists face, and why such societies need to be challenged rather than given a free pass to continue their oppression for fear of offending the people in charge and their enablers, and much more. [This is part two of a two-part episode. Make sure to catch part one here!]
Please Scroll Down for Featured Resources and Transcript!
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Miss our conversation with Danny Trejo, the instantly recognizable actor, producer, and restauranteur with a resume that includes crime, hard time, and battling his own addictions while helping troubled youth overcome theirs? Catch up with episode 398: Danny Trejo | Inmate #1 here!
Thanks, Yasmine Mohammed!
If you enjoyed this session with Yasmine Mohammed, let her know by clicking on the link below and sending her a quick shout out at Twitter:
And if you want us to answer your questions on one of our upcoming weekly Feedback Friday episodes, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Resources from This Episode:
- Unveiled: How Western Liberals Empower Radical Islam by Yasmine Mohammed | Amazon
- Free Hearts Free Minds
- Yasmine Mohammed | Website
- Yasmine Mohammed | Twitter
- Yasmine Mohammed | Instagram
- Yasmine Mohammed | Facebook
- Sir Salman Rushdie Attack Suspect ‘Only Read Two Pages’ of Satanic Verses | BBC News
- Charlie Hebdo Attack: Three Days of Terror | BBC News
- Beheading of Teacher Exposes Secular Divide in French Classrooms | Reuters
- CLARITy (Champions for Liberty Against the Reality of Islamist Tyranny) Coalition | AHA Foundation
- History of Fatwas, from Early Islam to Salman Rushdie to the Digital Age | The Washington Post
- Explainer: What is Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia? | The Conversation
- Understanding Sharia: The Intersection of Islam and the Law | Council on Foreign Relations
- Saudi Woman Given 34-Year Prison Sentence for Using Twitter | The Guardian
- Muslim Population by Country 2022 | World Population Review
- Polygyny in Islam | Wikipedia
- In Focus: Women in Afghanistan One Year after the Taliban Takeover | UN Women
- ISIS Foreign Fighters: Why Do Foreigners Join the Caliphate? | Vision of Humanity
- Torture at Abu Ghraib | The New Yorker
- Muhammad in Islam | Wikipedia
- Leaving the Faith on Apple Podcasts
- Yasmine Mohammed: Leaving the Faith | Making Sense with Sam Harris
- Scale of FGM in Saudi Arabia Surprises Human Rights Advocates | Global Citizen
- The Real Story Behind the FBI’s Deadly Waco Siege | Time
- Teacher Still in Hiding a Year on after Prophet Muhammed Batley Grammar School Controversy | Wales Online
- Megan Phelps-Roper | Unfollowing Westboro Baptist Church Part One | Jordan Harbinger
- Megan Phelps-Roper | Unfollowing Westboro Baptist Church Part Two | Jordan Harbinger
- Islamic Golden Age | Wikipedia
749: Yasmine Mohammed | How the West Empowers Radical Islam Part Two
[00:00:00] Jordan Harbinger: Coming up next on The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:00:03] Yasmine Mohammed: This man and woman approached me and I thought they were doctors. I thought they were, you know, medical professionals of some sort and they started talking to me. They pulled me into this room and I'm thinking, "My mom is dying. They're taking me into this private room so that they can tell me about how she's going to die." Like I didn't know what was happening, and they were secret service, and they were there to tell me that I was married to a member of Al-Qaeda.
[00:00:34] Jordan Harbinger: Welcome to the show. I'm Jordan Harbinger. On The Jordan Harbinger Show, we decode the stories, secrets, and skills of the world's most fascinating people. We have in-depth conversations with scientists, entrepreneurs, spies, psychologists, even the occasional national security advisor, money laundering expert, gold smuggler, or other underworld figure, and occasional astronaut. Come on, not all baddies here. Each episode turns our guest's wisdom into practical advice that you can use to build a deeper understanding of how the world works and become a better thinker.
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[00:01:31] All right, here's part two with Yasmine Mohammed. If you haven't heard part one, of course, go back and listen to that. This is a fascinating, fascinating about somebody who grew up in fundamentalist Islam. Really just an incredible, incredible tale. Lots more here in part two, and here we go with Yasmine Mohammed.
[00:01:50] So you're married to this guy who we'll get into because he's a real sort of gem in himself here, sarcasm noted. There's paper over the windows because you know, God forbid someone should see you in the house without your head covering or your face covering whatever, paper over the windows, no friends allowed. How did having your own child at that point then change your opinion of your mother? Because she was nuts, as I mentioned before, highly abusive. The book details a lot more than everything we've just talked about. I mean, we had barely scratched the surface here. I'm wondering, once you had a kid, did you realize just how impossible it would've been for you to feel about your own child, the way your mother felt about and treated you?
[00:02:29] Yasmine Mohammed: Yes, that was exactly it. I was filled with such overwhelming love for this little baby and she didn't do anything to earn my love. She just exists. You know, she was just born and I never knew that I could feel that much love for another person. I wanted more than anything to protect her and for her to always feel happiness and for her to never know sadness.
[00:02:57] Then I started to realize, you know, my whole life with my mom was this, her withholding love and me needing to earn it, me needing to be good enough to deserve her love, and that moment of holding my baby and loving her so much, and then realizing, why didn't my mom feel this way about me? Why do I have to earn her love? You know, my daughter would never have to earn my love. Like I will always love her unconditionally.
[00:03:28] So that was one of the moments when I realized that there was something terribly wrong here. It was like the first time that I realized that I'm not the messed up one. The fault wasn't mine because my whole life I always thought it was my fault. I'm the reason why my mom didn't love me is because I was unlovable, you know? She would tell me, "It's because you're not as compliant as your sister." You know, I was always doing things wrong. I wasn't good enough. I wasn't subservient enough, I wasn't quiet enough. And at that moment, I realized that it's never going to be enough because it's not about me. It was never about me. The problem wasn't me.
[00:04:09] I mean, I did everything she wanted me to do. I married the man she told me to marry. I allowed myself to be raped. I allowed myself to be beaten. I allowed myself to be covered head to toe in black, walking around like a ghost amongst people, not even being able to communicate with other human beings as I walked amongst them being so dehumanized, being so diminished. I allowed all of that to happen to me because I thought that if I was good enough, she might love me. And then I realized at that moment that there's nothing that I can do that's going to make her love me because there's nothing that my daughter needed to do to make me love her.
[00:04:51] That normal mother-child bond feeling, which I didn't realize was normal, it was so overwhelming. And as a parent, you would know what I mean when you hold your firstborn. And to know that that was not the feeling that my mom had when she held me. And I mean, I shouldn't have been surprised. She's told me so many times, right? Like I was—
[00:05:15] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:05:15] Yasmine Mohammed: She had an ectopic pregnancy before she had me. She didn't think she was going to get pregnant again. Her and my dad were broken up. She told him she was on the pill and he never wanted to have a kid and she never wanted to have a kid. And she thought she would keep the pregnancy because it would make him come back to her and he didn't even come back to her. So I was useless. I was like this extra appendage that she had. She didn't want to have me. And she resented me because here she is having to feed a third mouth. And I didn't even serve my purpose of keeping my dad with her.
[00:05:48] And you know, I heard about this all the time. It reminds me somewhat of when a mother dies in childbirth and the father kind of has like this resentment towards the child, like, "You killed my wife." She had that kind of resentment towards me. Like, she never felt that connection with me that I felt with my daughters when they were born. And she also said that she never wanted to have kids at all. She never liked kids. She didn't understand why people thought babies were cute. But again, it was the societal expectation as a Muslim woman—
[00:06:18] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:06:18] Yasmine Mohammed: —your job is to make more Muslims to grow the umma. That's your whole purpose. So you're a baby-making thing. So it was just the expectation.
[00:06:27] Jordan Harbinger: It must have taken you a long time to realize that your mom, I mean like you said when your daughter was born, you realize it was her. Is she a malignant narcissist? Is she a sociopath? Do you even know? Does it matter at this point? It doesn't really matter, but I'm curious what you think because she's actually a terrible person.
[00:06:44] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. I don't know what she is, but I have to tell you again, like I really encourage you to watch some of the Forgotten Feminists because the way I talk about my mom and the things that she's done, it's such a common story. It is so repeated over and over and over again. You will hear other women tell this same story again and again. Way worse things than what my mom has done to me. Girls telling stories of their moms, locking them in the room and starving them. I know like so many women where that's happened to them.
[00:07:18] I was watching a movie one time. It was about this Pakistani girl who was like left in Pakistan to get married to her cousin in the same way that I was left in Egypt to get married to my cousin. Same thing, she didn't know it was happening. And in it, there's a point in that movie where she just starts to terrorize a little cat. She just starts to abuse a cat. And I was thinking to myself like, What a weird thing to put into this movie. And it didn't fit with any of the plot. And so I was thinking about it and I realized it was to show you that this young girl was so powerless and so full of anger that she decided to take it out on a stray cat because there was no one else that she had power over. And she was just so full of hate and anger.
[00:08:04] And that is the relationship between many women, many Muslim women and their daughters. These women feel so trapped and so demoralized and so angry and so resentful, and they can't take it out on their husbands. They can't take it out on their sons. But who can they take it out on? Their daughters. That's a safe place to get all your aggressions out, and that's why we end up becoming the punching bag for many unhappy women.
[00:08:37] Jordan Harbinger: On a lighter note, how did you find out that your husband was a literal terrorist?
[00:08:41] Yasmine Mohammed: So I was actually contacted by the CSIS who are the Canadian Secret Service.
[00:08:46] Jordan Harbinger: Okay, so they're like the FBI of Canada, or is it more like the CIA of Canada?
[00:08:50] Yasmine Mohammed: CIA.
[00:08:51] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:08:51] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. So it was actually really crazy because I never left the house on my own.
[00:08:58] Jordan Harbinger: Literally?
[00:08:59] Yasmine Mohammed: Never. And I left the house like once a month for my prenatal visits. If I wasn't going to the doctor, I wasn't leaving the house. And what had happened here was that he was away for the weekend and my mom had a medical emergency. My mom was living with us at the time. She started coughing up blood, and blood coming out of her nose and her mouth at the same time, and she couldn't breathe. And I'm calling 911 and I'm freaking out. And I tried to get ahold of him and I couldn't get ahold of him, and I was afraid to leave the house to go with my mom in the ambulance to the hospital because I knew how much I'm not allowed to leave the house. But then I thought maybe he'll have mercy on me and understand that, you know, my mom is, who knows what's happening to her, and so maybe he'll be okay with the fact that I left the house without his permission.
[00:09:51] I was terrified and I almost didn't leave the house, but I did. I went to the hospital with her and once the doctors pulled her away, this man and woman approached me and I thought they were doctors. I thought they were, you know, medical professionals of some sort. And they started talking to me. They pulled me into this room and I'm thinking, my mom is dying. They're taking me into this private room so that they can tell me about how she's going to die. Like I didn't know what was happening. And they were secret service and they were there to tell me that I was married to a member of Al-Qaeda. And they obviously had been watching him. They had been watching the house because they knew this one moment, the one time in the entire time of our marriage that I was without him. Out of the house was when they approached me.
[00:10:44] And they showed me pictures and asked me if I recognized any of these men. And they were all like, you know, bin-Laden-looking people with the turban and everything. And I didn't recognize any of them. He, of course, was not sharing anything with me.
[00:11:01] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:11:01] Yasmine Mohammed: I had no information to share with them. They were asking me all sorts of questions. I answered what I could. I knew that he had been in Afghanistan before he came to Canada, but I was told that he was driving the Red Crescent bus, that he was a paramedic, basically, when he was in Afghanistan. Because when he came into Canada — these are all the red flags, Jordan. It's like unbelievable. When he came into Canada, he came from Afghanistan with a fake Saudi Arabian passport. So he's an Egyptian man coming into Canada with a fake Saudi Arabian passport from Afghanistan. Like so many red flags and the Canadian government were like, "Come on in," and they gave him refugee status.
[00:11:48] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm. Geez.
[00:11:51] Yasmine Mohammed: So that to me kind of legitimized him. I thought, well, the Canadian government know what they're doing. Like if he was a terror — because who's in Afghanistan other than terrorists, right? Like, we all knew about the mujahideen in those days.
[00:12:03] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:12:03] Yasmine Mohammed: But I thought that if he was allowed into the country and given refugee status, then he couldn't have possibly been a terrorist when he was in Afghanistan.
[00:12:13] Jordan Harbinger: Like they've certainly done a background investigation and checked this guy out. Yeah.
[00:12:17] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:12:17] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:12:18] Yasmine Mohammed: And so I was asking my mom, "Why doesn't he have an Egyptian passport?" And she said, "Because Egyptians are criminals and they're blah, blah, blah." And I learned later that the reason why he didn't have his Egyptian passport and why he had to use a fake Saudi Arabian passport was because Egypt takes the passports away from terrorists. They say, "We do not own you." Once you get involved in terrorism, Egypt is like, "You're not one of us." And so that's why he didn't have an Egyptian passport anymore. But I didn't know that at the time. I didn't get a proper explanation for why he needed to make a fake Saudi Arabian one.
[00:12:50] But anyway, I was not aware that he was involved in terrorism when he was in Afghanistan, which sounds ridiculous to people. But you have to remember too, that I come from an extremist family where, you know, my mom knew that he was involved in terrorism, and she told me that she chose him because he was strong enough to control me. She wanted a man that was strong enough to control me, and she figured what could be stronger than a terrorist. But I say terrorist, you say terrorist, they don't say terrorist.
[00:13:26] Jordan Harbinger: Of course.
[00:13:27] Yasmine Mohammed: They think that he is like the best of humanity. They think like he's like the most pious person, the strongest of faith. That he's willing to die for a law and kill for a law. So once, I knew that I was married to a terrorist, I spoke to my mom about it. She didn't want to admit it to me. And so I asked him about it and he was very forthcoming. He's like, "Yeah, I'm very proud of it and in fact, I want to go—" Now, he was like happy that the cat was out of the bag. He wants to go to take us to Peshawar, me and my daughter.
[00:13:58] Jordan Harbinger: And that's rural Pakistan. Is that like the Pakistan-Afghanistan border?
[00:14:02] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah, Which is where he was before he came to Canada. And he wanted to continue his life of terrorism there.
[00:14:08] Jordan Harbinger: Where is this guy now? Do you know at all if he's alive? Is he dead? Where is this guy?
[00:14:13] Yasmine Mohammed: He's in prison in Egypt.
[00:14:15] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:14:15] Yasmine Mohammed: He was in prison to 15 years for hard labor. And this is the crazy thing, in Egypt, there was — Mubarak was the president for so many years, and then there was this big, huge regime change. I don't know if you heard about it, but it was—
[00:14:28] Jordan Harbinger: Called the Arab Spring, yeah, I heard about it.
[00:14:30] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. But during that time, Mubarak was ousted, the military actually ousted him. And then there was this point in time when a Muslim Brotherhood president was in Egypt for a very short amount of time because he's an Islamist. Egyptians didn't want him there and they got rid of him very quickly. But in that amount of time that he was the president. I don't even know if it was a full year. One of the first things that he did was release all political prisoners. Yeah.
[00:15:03] Jordan Harbinger: I knew that that was going to happen.
[00:15:05] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:15:05] Jordan Harbinger: I wondered if that was my next question. Did he get released during the era? Oh gosh.
[00:15:08] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:15:09] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:15:09] Yasmine Mohammed: So he was released and of course, what does he do? Like a boomerang, immediately goes right back into terrorism again. And so he gets caught in Malaysia for some sort of plot.
[00:15:20] Jordan Harbinger: Thank goodness.
[00:15:21] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. And then they send him back to Egypt again. And so he's serving a brand new sentence there. I don't even know. If he's still alive at this point.
[00:15:30] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:15:30] Yasmine Mohammed: But that happened in 2018.
[00:15:33] Jordan Harbinger: I don't know much about Egyptian prison, but I can imagine the ones they have for literal enemies of the state/humanity are even worse than the ones they have for people who, I don't know, shoplift.
[00:15:43] Yasmine Mohammed: You are correct. There's like the police state, kind of the secret prisons.
[00:15:47] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:15:47] Yasmine Mohammed: And then there's like the regular one for like the,
[00:15:50] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. Like it probably makes Abu Ghraib look like a beach resort.
[00:15:53] You're listening to The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Yasmine Mohammed. We'll be right back.
[00:16:00] This episode is sponsored in part by Better Help. Life throws curve balls left and right. Wouldn't it be great if life came with a user manual on how to handle all the difficult situations that come our way? Well, Better Help online therapy is the next best thing to help troubleshoot your way through life's ups and downs. Better Help's licensed professional therapists are trained to help you figure out the cause of challenging emotions and learn productive coping skills, which makes therapy the closest thing to a guided tour of the complex engine called you. Better Help has connected over three million people with licensed therapists. It's convenient. It's secure. It's accessible anywhere. It's a hundred percent online. Jen is even on her weekly therapy sessions while running errands like grocery shopping. Although I would, you know, maybe just like sit down and focus. It's easy to get started. Just fill out a brief questionnaire. They'll match you with a therapist that fits your needs. If you don't click with a therapist, switch any time. No waiting rooms, no traffic. No endless searching for the right therapist.
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[00:18:46] Now, back to Yasmine Mohammed.
[00:18:50] He was 14 years older than you back when you got married and you were young. I mean, I don't know how old this guy is now, but he's probably not exactly a dude in his prime, ready to handle a multi-decade prison sentence in a place like that. I mean, this guy's not going to ever see the light of day if he's not already six feet under—
[00:19:06] Yasmine Mohammed: Mm-hmm.
[00:19:06] Jordan Harbinger: —hopefully. But before that, you go to get a divorce. How did he react to that? Because religious fundamentalist terrorists don't really seem like the kind of guys who are going to react maturely or appropriately to something like a divorce, especially when you are not technically even allowed to divorce him under the rules of Islam. Correct?
[00:19:22] Yasmine Mohammed: That's correct.
[00:19:23] Jordan Harbinger: This is like you bringing home a bad report card to your parents times a million. I mean, this is, and I'm saying that in an obvious jest, this is a dangerous situation. There's a real chance he'll kill you for this.
[00:19:33] Yasmine Mohammed: If he got his hands on me, yeah.
[00:19:35] Jordan Harbinger: So how did you do that?
[00:19:36] Yasmine Mohammed: You know, when they talk about like the flap of a butterfly's wing, like that's what this was all about. Like it was just so it could have gone wrong in so many different ways, but I didn't get away from him fast enough and I ended up getting pregnant. And when I got pregnant, I had a breakdown, essentially, and I felt like, that's it. It's over. I'm done. You know, I can't be a single mom with two kids and a high school education. Like I'm finished, you know, Peshawar, here I come, this is it. This is my life now. And I completely submitted. So the definition of the word Islam is to submit. And my whole life, because you read my book, you know this, it's a series of me trying to stand up and getting swatted down.
[00:20:25] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:20:25] Yasmine Mohammed: And then standing up again, and then getting swatted down, standing up again and getting swatted down. But this time I was down for the count. I was like, I'm not going to even try to stand up after this. I'm finished. And then, I found out that the baby didn't have a heartbeat.
[00:20:40] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm.
[00:20:41] Yasmine Mohammed: And so, of course, I'm feeling this simultaneous, like I killed my baby because I didn't want it. I did this and I'm feeling so much guilt over that, but then also feeling like I need to be able to save the baby that I do have and get out of this situation before this happens again. Because you can't say no to him. It's forbidden to say no to your husband. And that's why I said before that I accepted myself to be raped. You're not allowed to say no according to the religion. And so when I went in for the D&C surgery, they told me, "You're going to go under general anesthetic and you're going to need someone to help you. You need someone to drive you home. You need someone to help you with your daughter afterwards because you're going to be kind of groggy and in pain." And so I told him that I would need seven days to recover. And I knew it wasn't going to be seven days, but I wanted to give myself enough time to escape.
[00:21:38] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:21:39] Yasmine Mohammed: And I knew that escaping from my mom's house would be easier than escaping from his house. Because I knew he wasn't going to help me with the baby. If I said I need help with the baby for seven days, he's not going to be like, "Okay."
[00:21:49] Jordan Harbinger: "Let me step up to the plate." Right. Yeah.
[00:21:52] Yasmine Mohammed: That's right. He was immediately like, "Go to your mother's. I'll pick you up in a week." And I was like, sweet, I totally expected you to say that. I went to my mom's. She got up the next morning. Of course, I'm not going to tell my mom what I'm doing because she's just like him.
[00:22:05] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:22:05] Yasmine Mohammed: And so luckily she wasn't living with us anymore. She was on her own at this point. And she got up in the morning to go to the Islamic school where she was the head of the Islamic studies department there. And I went through the yellow pages because it was back in the day. And I found a female because I was still indoctrinated in that I can't talk to men. And I was still covered, head to toe in black, and I wanted to be able to lift up my thing and talk to somebody. And I found a female lawyer who was close by, who was willing to do this program lawyer referral, where they have like a 30-minute consultation with you for free before they decide if they're going to take your case or not. And so I had the appointment with her at one o'clock that afternoon and my mom was going to be home like she finished school at three. So it was a tight turnaround, but I made it there. And the sight of everybody in the office when I walked in, like head to toe in black, carrying a baby.
[00:23:00] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:23:02] Yasmine Mohammed: And speaking so quickly, I was so panicked. I was so scared I wasn't going to make it back home in time. And my mom would be like, "Where were you?" And there was no cell phones at that time, so I basically had to tell her like, "I need full custody. I need a divorce and I need a restraining order and you can't contact me after I leave here."
[00:23:20] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:23:20] Yasmine Mohammed: And she was amazing. I'm still in contact with her because she was like one of my guardian angels at this time, which I didn't even know in this moment. I was so frantic. And she's like, "I got it. It's all good. It's taken care of." I didn't know if it was taken care of, you know, I had no idea. I went back and I was just so panicked, not knowing what was going on, not knowing if I gave her all the information, not knowing what was happening and just kind of waiting. And a few days pass and then all of a sudden we hear him screaming in Arabic. My mom lives in an apartment building and he's like screaming from the front doors of the building in Arabic. And he's like, "Give me back my wife."
[00:24:03] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, that's scary.
[00:24:03] Yasmine Mohammed: He's just so angry that his thing was taken from him. His possession was taken from him. Nobody has a right to take his stuff without his permission and going on about how he's going to cut my face up, and it was really terrifying. I called 911, of course, and they were like, "Yes, we know we've gotten many calls about the six-foot-four man screaming in Arabic." And the police came to talk to me and they explained to me what a restraining order was and they said, "You know, it's not like you see it on TV. Basically, it means that whatever the distance was," I can't remember exactly, 150 meters or something. I don't know. "We can say that he's not allowed to go to certain buildings where you will be, so your home, your school." But they said, "If you happen to be in the mall or if you happen to be at the park with your daughter, you know, we can't control that." And so essentially, what I heard from them was, "You're under house arrest, do not leave this house."
[00:25:03] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:25:03] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:25:03] Jordan Harbinger: And so I didn't, and it's like I'm used to that, right?
[00:25:06] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:25:06] Jordan Harbinger: "Well, no, story of my life. House arrest? Fine."
[00:25:08] Yasmine Mohammed: Yes.
[00:25:08] Jordan Harbinger: "At least, he can't be in there beating me up." And I'm not trying to make light of this, but it's like, it's so harrowing and disgusting and just — your daughter though is 50 percent this man's DNA.
[00:25:18] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:25:18] Jordan Harbinger: I assume You've had to think about that. There's got to be some sort of rationalization there because he's horrible, objectively, the guy's a terrorist. But your daughter, she's magical, she's the center of your world, you know? How do you as a mom reconcile that? Obviously, you're not your mom, you're not going to associate your daughter with that. But it's got to be, there's got to be kind of a little bit of a tug there going on psychologically.
[00:25:40] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. I was always petrified that I would see him in her always waiting for that moment. Like just kind of like on edge, you know? You know when kids are like fighting over a toy or—
[00:25:53] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:25:53] Yasmine Mohammed: —having any kind of temper tantrum or anything like that, I was so hyper-vigilant, so terrified that I would see in her something to remind me of him.
[00:26:04] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:26:04] Yasmine Mohammed: I am very lucky that she's such an amazing little kid. because if she was one of those kids that like bites other children.
[00:26:11] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:11] Yasmine Mohammed: Or you know, because the kids do this crazy stuff, right?
[00:26:15] Jordan Harbinger: My kids bit a few people and we're like, how do we fix that? You know? Like if we look so bad, they're like, "Your son bit someone again." And we're like, "Oh, all kids do that, right?" And they're like, "Well, your son five times. Everyone else is zero to one." And we're like, "Yeah, we're terrible parents."
[00:26:28] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. You know, you can't — if my daughter was one of those kids, like, for you, it's not going to hit you in the heart like, oh my god. But for me, I'm like—
[00:26:38] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:26:38] Yasmine Mohammed: —waiting to see hints of a terrorist—
[00:26:41] Jordan Harbinger: Sure
[00:26:41] Yasmine Mohammed: —in my child—
[00:26:42] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:26:42] Yasmine Mohammed: —you know?
[00:26:43] Jordan Harbinger: Right. Yeah. Oh god. Yeah, I just blame my wife and go, "He gets that from you," and she's like, "Fine, you know, whatever." But yeah, no, she doesn't go, "This is because you're an Al-Qaeda Jordan. I told you," right?
[00:26:56] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah.
[00:26:57] Jordan Harbinger: There's no danger of that.
[00:26:59] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. So I really overdid it, but I was always really afraid and I had no need to be afraid. She is an amazing, wonderful kid. And it wasn't until I was like, she was a teenager, that somebody said to me, "Are you like your mom? Why would you think that she would be like her dad?" And I was like, "What did I think of that?"
[00:27:19] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, exactly.
[00:27:21] Yasmine Mohammed: I could've just, like, that would've saved me so many years of torturing myself.
[00:27:25] Jordan Harbinger: That's funny.
[00:27:26] Yasmine Mohammed: But yeah, I was waiting for something to happen that never did. She's such a compassionate, wonderful person and I'm so, so grateful for her. And I tell her all the time that she saved my life. You know, if it wasn't for her and if it wasn't for my desire for her to not live the life that I had lived, or in fact live a life even worse than what I had lived. And also she kept me from killing myself so many times when it was really, really dark and I had no family support. I had no community support, I was all on my own. I was scared, I was petrified that this guy was going to find me or is going to send his friends after me. All of those years of being too scared to speak to anybody. I don't want to even tell anybody why I'm scared because I don't want it to get through the grapevine. Like I was just, I just lived in such fear for so long, and if I didn't have to take care of a toddler, I would've probably just taken the easy way out.
[00:28:28] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah. I think a lot of people, they're going to say, "Why didn't you get out earlier?" But you don't have food for your kid. You don't have shelter for your kid. You move in with your brother and he is beating you up in front of her. And it's like, that's you mentioned in the book, that's one of the parts of you that says, "Okay, I've got to get out of here. So my daughter doesn't think this is how women are treated," right? "With my brother bashing me in front of her at age two." I mean, just sociopathic craziness.
[00:28:52] By the way, people are going to say, "What about women's shelters?" At the end of the episode in the show notes, I'm going to put some women's shelters in the US and Canada for people who need help. So if you're listening to this and somebody you know needs help, go to the show notes, jordanharbinger.com. There's going to be some resources and contact info in there because I think a lot of people don't know about this. I assume you also did not know. Hey, there are places where that are designed for people like you to bring your kid and they won't tell anyone you're there. People don't know about this.
[00:29:18] Yasmine Mohammed: Mmm. I wish I knew, but it's like I was explaining before how we were kind of in a bubble. We're in the society where we're not part of the society, so I wouldn't have even known about the social services that were available to me. I knew that there was welfare because my mom was on it.
[00:29:33] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:29:33] Yasmine Mohammed: So I knew that that existed, but I didn't know that there were women's shelters. You know this is pre-Google. That's the kind of thing that you got to explain to people.
[00:29:43] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:29:44] Yasmine Mohammed: Like information wasn't as readily available at our fingertips the way it is now. The days before cell phones and the days before Google, if you didn't know something, if you didn't know where to go for something, then you didn't know. The information had to cross your path somehow. And that information never crossed my path. I was going to Islamic schools, I was living in an Islamic community. I was separated from the greater society around me.
[00:30:10] And I wanted to say also when you talked about why didn't she leave earlier, everything that you said is true as far as just like logistics, like not having money, not having any education, not having any support system, all of that is true. But also I was severely indoctrinated still. I mean, even though I hated him and I wanted to get my daughter out, I was still at that time thinking, "Oh, Allah will help me to get away from him." My mind wasn't free. It was just about trying to get a better life for my daughter.
[00:30:40] Jordan Harbinger: It's like the baby elephant metaphor where they tie the baby elephant to the concrete slab and it can't get away, and it pulls and pulls and pull. It can't get away. And as the elephant grows, they just keep tying it to the stake, the little stick in the ground. And so these humongous elephants will just be stuck and they can't move even though there's a stick stuck three inches into the ground or whatever, tying them up because psychologically, they've learned helplessness, they've given up trying to get away. So that indoctrination makes sense. It's hard for people on the outside of a culture like this to understand.
[00:31:09] The same people are going to say, "What about Child Protective Services? You could have done something. You could have told a teacher.
[00:31:13] Yasmine Mohammed: I did
[00:31:14] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:31:15] Yasmine Mohammed: He wrote the forward to my book.
[00:31:17] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, right.
[00:31:17] Yasmine Mohammed: Useless.
[00:31:18] Jordan Harbinger: Right. You did tell a teacher and he went, and this went to a judge, and the judge said, "Well, you know, some cultures they discipline more strongly than others, and so we're just going to let this girl get beat up by her family because they're immigrants and that's what they do, or whatever." And it's so disgusting.
[00:31:33] Yasmine Mohammed: Yep. And that goes to speak, again, to what I was saying before about seeing us as subhuman.
[00:31:39] Jordan Harbinger: Mmm. So you're divorced, you're in school learning critical thinking skills for literally the first time in your life. What is that like to just be an adult?
[00:31:46] Yasmine Mohammed: It was intoxicating.
[00:31:48] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, Okay.
[00:31:49] Yasmine Mohammed: It really was intoxicating. It was like my brain was firing up in places that it had nothing had ever fired there before.
[00:31:58] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:31:59] Yasmine Mohammed: When you're indoctrinated and you have to think a certain way and you're not allowed to think — okay, so I'm going to give you the example that we are told, and that is you have to walk the long straight path. It's called sirat al-mustaqim. When they visualize it, it's like a tightrope, and below the tightrope are the fires of hell. And so you have to walk along this tightrope and if you misstep, you will fall to hell. And so your whole life, you're walking like one foot in front of the other. You have to do everything the right way. You put your shoes on right foot first. You walk into the bathroom, you say this little dua, right foot first. Everything, everything is laid out for you — how you drink your water, how you eat your food, every single, how you go to the bathroom, Jordan, everything, how you cut your toenails. Everything is laid out for you and you—
[00:32:56] Jordan Harbinger: Wow.
[00:32:56] Yasmine Mohammed: —do not think ever. You just do as you're told and thinking is dangerous. It's punished, but it's like it's terrifying to think. It's terrifying to want to question, because like you said, they tell you it's the devil whispering in your ear. And so when you start to have thoughts that are not along this straight narrow path, you're terrified that those thoughts are going to sway you and you're going to fall off of this tightrope. And so you don't want to hear it, You don't want to think about it, you don't want to see it, you don't want to know it, you just want to keep going forward.
[00:33:32] And so to be sitting in a university classroom, and I took a course called history of religions purely because I thought it would be an easy A.
[00:33:41] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:33:41] Yasmine Mohammed: With my mom being an Islamic studies teacher, that we were under so much pressure to be good Islamic studies students because it's going to, you know, reflect on her. And so I thought, well, this course is going to focus on the three Abrahamic, the three monotheistic religions. So I've got a third of this content coverage, so let me take this course. The professor was a Lebanese man. I don't know if he was atheist at the time, but he grew up Christian anyway. So he's an Arab just like me, but a very different experience being a Christian Lebanese versus Muslim Lebanese.
[00:34:15] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:34:16] Yasmine Mohammed: But we had kind of that kinship where he could understand what I needed to know.
[00:34:22] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:34:23] Yasmine Mohammed: Do you know what I mean?
[00:34:24] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:34:24] Yasmine Mohammed: And he wasn't going to be like the kind of woke profs these days where they're going to sweep those things under the rug. He wanted me to see all of the things that he knew I wasn't aware of because it being a history of religions, one of the things that I learned about for the first time was how many stories from the Koran are taken from like Pagan stories, like ancient Egyptian mythology and things like that. And they teach you that this is the divine word of a law, right? And here I am going, hang on a minute. These stories existed way before Muhammad did.
[00:35:00] Jordan Harbinger: Like literally thousands of years before, right?
[00:35:03] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. This is not adding up, you know? This is not some divine stories. These are plagiarized, you know?
[00:35:10] Jordan Harbinger: Plagiarized, exactly. Yeah. Stuff you get kicked out of college if you do. Yeah, exactly.
[00:35:14] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. And we're seeing like so many things taken from Judaism, It was just a hobbled mess of plagiarism, and I started to recognize that. Then, of course, there's all of the many, many verses about like the earth being flat and sperm coming out of your backbone and all of these like ridiculously unscientific nonsense that like if this guy created the earth, don't you think he would know that he didn't create it flat.
[00:35:42] Jordan Harbinger: Like right, yeah, you'd think he knows the shape. Yeah.
[00:35:45] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. So many things like that. Things about Muhammad encouraging people to drink camel urine as medicine. It was like a thread unraveling the sweater, you know? And I was eager, so thirsty for this know, and so excited to think that, "Holy sh*t, you mean I don't have to follow this religion? You mean I don't have to accept this for myself? You mean I don't have to accept that I am lesser than men?" There's a Hadith that the prophet of a Islam says that women are less intelligent than men and lesser than men in religion and in mind, and that's thrown at you all the time. Men are responsible for women or men are basic guardians of women. Like there's so much misogyny in that religion that you have to just accept. You have to accept that you are lesser than and your whole life you're looking at these men going, "This can't be right."
[00:36:39] Jordan Harbinger: Right. The guy who can't read and write that I'm married to is smarter than me. Like I can, come on, folks.
[00:36:45] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah, I have suspicions. It was exciting, but it was also really, really, really terrifying.
[00:36:52] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah.
[00:36:52] Yasmine Mohammed: Simultaneously. It was weird because then that's when I lived like this double life for a while where I'd go to university during the day in my hijab and everything, but then at night, I'd go clubbing with my friends and drinking. It took a while for me to — I didn't believe in all that stuff anymore, but I was still scared of it.
[00:37:13] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:37:13] Yasmine Mohammed: But it's like the indoctrination is in your bones. Like, it's so deep in your mind. It doesn't go overnight. It's not like flipping a switch, you know? Even if you know that all of this stuff is nonsense, you're still so—
[00:37:27] Jordan Harbinger: It's in a different part of your brain. It's like in a different part of your psyche or programming.
[00:37:30] Yasmine Mohammed: Yeah. And, and it takes a while to deprogram yourself to start to even say the words, "I'm not a Muslim." Like, I couldn't say that for the longest time. I'd just be like, I'm not practicing or my family is Muslim. I just all sorts of different euphemisms, but I wouldn't be able to say like, "I am not a Muslim. I denounce that religion." Like now, when people call me a Muslim because they see my name and they're like, "Ah, a Muslim woman," I'm like, I ignore most of my messages, but I'll answer that one and I'll be like, "I am not a Muslim woman. I denounced that religion 15 years ago." So it's like, it's insulting to me now when somebody calls me a Muslim.
[00:38:10] Jordan Harbinger: This is The Jordan Harbinger Show with our guest Yasmine Mohammed. We'll be right back.
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[00:40:28] Jordan Harbinger: If you like this episode of the show and you must, because we're already on part two, if you made it this far, you're probably into something, I invite you to do what other supportive and considerate listeners do, which is take a moment and support our amazing sponsors. Take a peek at all of them. They're all in one place, one very searchable place, jordanharbinger.com/deals. You can also just go to the website, jordanharbinger.com and search for any sponsor using the search box right there on the website and the code will pop right up. It really does help the show. It really helps us keep the lights on around here. It makes us possible to continue creating these episodes week after week. I really do appreciate when you support those who support this show.
[00:41:04] Now for the rest of my conversation with Yasmine Mohammed.
[00:41:09] This is where I'm going to sound a little ignorant here, but then again, this whole episode is going to get me canceled probably at some point. I know you were a teacher in the Middle East, I think. Was it Qatar? Was that where it was?
[00:41:18] Yasmine Mohammed: Yes.
[00:41:18] Jordan Harbinger: Okay. If everyone there, every woman was wearing a niqab or burka — again, I'm not sure of the difference but the full covering — how can you tell each other apart if you're teaching a class and all the women have that, how do you know if that's your friend or a student or just another random woman wearing the same thing?
[00:41:36] Yasmine Mohammed: First day of classes? I wouldn't know.
[00:41:38] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:41:39] Yasmine Mohammed: It takes a while, but then you start to get to know like everybody's covered head to toe black, but it's like a different way of wearing it.
[00:41:47] Jordan Harbinger: Okay.
[00:41:48] Yasmine Mohammed: Or different body shape or some wear glasses or this one prefers to wear heels.
[00:41:55] Jordan Harbinger: Mm-hmm.
[00:41:56] Yasmine Mohammed: I mean, I still got them confused sometimes.
[00:41:58] Jordan Harbinger: Sure.
[00:41:59] Yasmine Mohammed: But you start to pick up on like nuances like that.
[00:42:02] Jordan Harbinger: That makes sense. It just seems like you lose so much of your appearance, of course, when you're all covered up. But then again, I mean maybe a loss of identity is kind of the point. Is there anything to that?
[00:42:11] Yasmine Mohammed: That's part of the reason why I scream about the hijab so much. It's because it strips away your individuality and therefore it strips away your humanity. You are no longer a individual person. You are a thing. You are a Muslim girl. That's what you are. And that's a part of it because then you don't think of yourself as an individual. You think of yourself as this collective blob.
[00:42:35] It's like the school of fish, right? If you think of yourself as part of this entity, then you're never going to think about stepping outside of it or doing something different or having a thought that it hasn't been narrated to you. And so, yes, it is a big part of it and it's one of the most difficult things of leaving the religion.
[00:42:58] You know, there's that very famous movie back in the day with Julia Roberts called Eat, Pray Love, where there's this moment where they ask her—
[00:43:06] Jordan Harbinger: Oh yeah.
[00:43:06] Yasmine Mohammed: —how do you like your eggs? And she's like, "I don't even know, because I just ate the eggs the way the man I was with made the eggs and I never really thought about it." And so she sits there with like pouched eggs and scrabbled eggs and sunny side, all different kinds of eggs so she could figure out how she likes her eggs. And of course, that's just a theatrical thing. But essentially that's what you're doing when you leave this religion. You have to figure out like, who am I? What do I like? What do I believe in? What do I want for myself? You don't know anything about who you are because all you've ever done is follow the rules and do what you're told, just obey, obey, obey, obey, obey. And as a Muslim Arab woman, obeying is not just about you, it's about your whole family. The honor of the family is on you. If you don't obey, you've not just disgraced yourself, but you've disgraced the whole family. So that kind of pressure, I cannot tell you how heavy that is, how dark it is, and how you don't want to move. You don't want to be an individual, you just want to do what you're told and you want to stay on the straight path because you don't want to mess it up for like the whole family.
[00:44:22] Jordan Harbinger: If you're walking around — you mentioned this earlier, that you feel like a ghost when you're covered up. If other people kind of can't, they literally can't see you. They just see a bunch of robes basically, and cloth and a face covering and letting you know there's a person in there. But I don't think like, "Oh, there goes my neighbor. I should say hi." It's almost like a ghost that's just walking around in the street. There are some people in my neighborhood and I don't even know how to handle it and I know I'm not the only one. So it must make them feel also, or you in this case feel like, "Oh, I'm just cut off from society. These people don't even see me. They don't know what I look like. How am I going to do anything?" The idea is you are removed from this by design.
[00:45:01] And you know a lot of people in positions like me are afraid to have these kinds of conversations because talking about this, I was sort of joking that it was going to get me canceled. But I think a lot of people, I'm going to get feedback like, you're racist, you're a white supremacist. You cherry-picked somebody who's an ex-Muslim so that you could have this, you know, fulfill your agenda of whatever my agenda is supposedly going to be to that person. Tell me why critiquing fundamentalist Islam like this is not racist or whatever.
[00:45:27] Yasmine Mohammed: It's really sad to hear you say that because I know it's true, but it's like, why don't we matter? Why don't our voices, why don't our stories, why isn't that something that is worthy of hearing and of addressing? Why is it wrong to be angry for us, and why is it wrong to want to support us? If you had a black woman on this show talking about how she had a very racist boss and she had such a negative experience because of that racism, you wouldn't have people say to you, "Oh, Jordan, you cherry-picked that. Most black women are happy in America."
[00:46:08] Jordan Harbinger: Right.
[00:46:08] Yasmine Mohammed: They would be like, "Oh my god, that's horrible. I'm sorry that happened to her." If you had a trans woman on this show and she started to talk about what she's been through, nobody's going to say, "Well, that's just her experience." They're going to understand that this person's life matters. That other women like her or other men like her or other trans people or other whatever, doesn't matter, other human beings have experienced the same things that she's experienced or similar things, and we should care about that. We should care about these people. We shouldn't want to silence them because the fundamentalists that oppress them want us to stay silent.
[00:46:57] Because the fundamentalists that oppress them will also shoot us and stab us and kill us. And so we're afraid of them and so we're not going to speak up for them. And therefore you're not speaking up for yourself either, right? You know? It's like that old, "I didn't speak up for the X because I wasn't X and I didn't speak up for the Y because I wasn't Y." You can continue saying for as long as you want, we're going to ignore all of these women that are screaming out of the Muslim majority world, screaming for their lives.
[00:47:27] They're being killed daily over the tiniest infractions. You know, posted a picture on Instagram, dead. Posted a picture on Facebook, dead. This isn't just happening over there. Like these kinds of things happen over here too. You know about that father that killed his two daughters in Texas, that the FBI were after for so long that he was protected by his father or, sorry, by his son and his brother. Even if you're going to ignore it and say, "This isn't going to happen to us. Their stories are over there. That's their culture, that's their business." It seeps into your life.
[00:48:05] 9/11 didn't just kill Muslim people, it killed American people in the middle of New York. And we don't even have to go as far back as 9/11. All of the Charlie Hebdo journalists, Salman Rushdie in the middle of New York. In the UK when they were trying to have this anti-homophobic education in the schools — I'm trying to remember what it was called — like it was about teaching kids that whether you're gay or straight or Muslim or black or white or whatever you are, we're all British, and we are all in this together. And you had Muslim families getting so irate over this, getting so angry at this. They were pulling down the rainbow flags and they were throwing tomatoes and eggs at anybody that tried to put these rainbow flags up on the schools. Again, like what I'm trying to tell you is you're going to have this clash of civilizations.
[00:49:02] It's not just going to stop with us. If you turn your head and you pretend this isn't happening to you, it will reach you. We see it happening to the Jewish communities in France, the Jewish communities in New York, the Jewish communities in Sweden and in Austria, and all over from the Islamists, from the Muslim extremists because of their vicious hate for Jewish people. It's happening. It's coming towards you. It is on its way. You can't just continue to say, "That's them and I don't want to talk about it." This is your business too. And if it isn't your business today, it will be your business very soon.
[00:49:38] And so what we're trying to do is we're the whistleblowers. We are literally risking our lives to blow this whistle for you. I'm free. I'm free. I am trying to speak to my fellow Western liberals and I'm trying to get you to see this danger that is on the horizon, and you have to talk about it. You have to criticize it. You have to stand up for free expression. You have to stand up for liberalism. You have to stand up for human rights. You can't just continue to ignore these conversations and claim Islamophobia and claim bigotry and to allow these things to continue to grow to your own detriment. You are hurting yourselves at the end of the day. And that's what we're trying to say is that we're the whistleblowers here risking our lives to blow this whistle to say, "This is what I've been through. This is how dangerous this ideology is. These are all the things that could happen. These are the things that are happening today, everywhere. Please pay attention."
[00:50:38] Jordan Harbinger: Well, that was a hell of an ending and we went a hell of a lot longer than we'd originally planned. So I want to thank you for your time and your energy and your vulnerability here today. I know this can't be easy to talk about a lot of this stuff. I really appreciate it. I know my listeners do as well, and I appreciate your work. I was not really aware of any of this. I heard you on my friend Andrew Gold's show, which we'll link in the show notes, and I thought, like, this is an interesting kind of thing. It's one of those things that's literally happening more or less in my backyard, and I just, like we discussed today, didn't pay attention, didn't think it was my thing, figured whatever, it's sort of their culture. But now, it sort of freaks me out that there could be, and I'm not even talking about terrorism. I'm just talking about abuse that could be happening that I will just not know about because I'm so disconnected from these people and they're so disconnected from everyone else.
[00:51:28] That should scare everybody who lives in a multicultural society, in other words, any country in the west. There's a lot of Vietnamese and Chinese immigrants around here and there are these like massage places and you see these women who are just clearly trafficked. They don't speak any English. And you see them around and they're kind of like wearing cocktail dresses in an alley where the chairs are in the back door. I know I'm sort of implicating myself, I swear, it's by the fruit market, but really like you see this and you just go, "Huh? That's happening right under my nose." And this is kind of, it's similar, it's this thing that's happening that people who are kind of around it. It's second nature to them. They see it every day, but the rest of us, we're totally oblivious.
[00:52:08] Yasmine Mohammed: The insidious part here is if you start to talk about girls being trafficked, nobody's going to call you a traffic-a-phobic, or whatever.
[00:52:17] Jordan Harbinger: No. They're not going to say you hate Vietnamese people. They're going to go—
[00:52:19] Yasmine Mohammed: Exactly.
[00:52:20] Jordan Harbinger: "Oh yeah, that thing happens. That happens. It's horrible."
[00:52:22] Yasmine Mohammed: Yes, yes. They will recognize the evil for what it is.
[00:52:26] Jordan Harbinger: Yeah, you're right. This is like this weird exception that we need to stop treating as an exception because the victims are not just us eventually with terrorism potentially, which sounds like a stretch. It's the people who are girls who grow up in Canada or the United States should have the same rights as anybody else who doesn't look like them, that's growing up in Canada or the United States. Their dad thinks they can be branded or beaten up or have hot oil poured on them because they did some weird thing, some weird made up infraction written by a guy and thought the world was flat or et cetera. I mean, it's just constantly — this really does open your eyes onto something that's highly uncomfortable, I think for a lot of people, especially kind of like the more liberal crowd. That's good. It makes us think about this in a way that we're supposed to be making ourselves uncomfortable. That's kind of the idea, right? So thank you for that.
[00:53:15] Yasmine Mohammed: Thank you. I really appreciate your bravery in having this conversation. I appreciate you reaching out to me, and I know that you're going to be inundated with a lot of—
[00:53:26] Jordan Harbinger: Oh, yeah.
[00:53:27] Yasmine Mohammed: —negative comments, but I really hope that you will reach people and that people will hear this conversation and that their mind will be opened. You know, seeds will be planted. They'll start to do a little bit more digging. They'll start to do a little bit more learning. They'll start to understand that. We're all human beings, and we all want our freedoms, and we all want our autonomy, and especially when it comes to women, that women over here, or women over there, or women wherever, we all want to be treated as equal human beings. And you cannot pretend that you think that women who are forced to cover themselves up and to stay in the house and to not go to school are being treated the same as you.
[00:54:12] Jordan Harbinger: I've got some thoughts on this episode, but before I get into that, here's a preview of my conversation with Danny Trejo, an ex-con turned icon featured in over 350 films and TV shows. You've seen him everywhere in Machete, Breaking Bad, Desperado, and much, much more. He's never been through acting school which doesn't matter when you're a legend/icon. Before becoming such a prolific star, Danny Trejo was a drug-addicted criminal hooked on heroin at age 12, who spent more than a decade in and out of prisons. Here's a quick preview.
[00:54:44] Danny Trejo: Once you start doing robberies and you're using heroin, the robberies become addictive. You don't know whether you're doing robberies to support your drug habit or doing drugs to support your robbery habit.
[00:54:59] Jordan Harbinger: I read you robbed a store with a hand grenade.
[00:55:01] Danny Trejo: This was later on. This was like, we did a robbery. We ended up with this hang grenade. So I tried it and it was very simple. You know when you hold a hang grenade and you got your hand on the pin and you ask somebody for some money, they think twice.
[00:55:15] Prison, there's only two kinds of people in prison. There's predators and their prey. That's it. And you got to decide every damn morning. What are you going to be? And I know a lot of people that decide, "I'm prey, f*ck, I don't care because I'm tired." I know a lot of people that took an elevator off the fifth year. There's no elevator. I know a lot of people that cut their wrists. I've seen guys with all the muscles in the world and stabbed by a short Mexican in tennis shoes with a big knife, you know? Fighting. I don't fight you. That's prison.
[00:55:47] Prison has a taste. Put one of those fake pennies, the lead one in your mouth and keep it there. That's the taste of pressure. That's the taste of anxiety. That's the taste of fear. That's the taste of everything. You feel it. You know what I mean? That's what you walk around with. And when you finally lose that taste, you've decided whether you're going to beat predator or prey. That's the only way you can lose it.
[00:56:13] Jordan Harbinger: For more, including how Danny Trejo walked onto a Hollywood movie set as a drug counselor and left as a bonafide actor and how Danny Trejo has managed sobriety for over 50 years and continues to help others maintain theirs, check out episode 398 of The Jordan Harbinger Show.
[00:56:30] Whew, two parts, I told you though it was worth it. You can get demonetized on YouTube for talking about this stuff. Getting anywhere near this stuff, that's happened to Yasmine a lot. It happens to a lot of people that talk about this kind of thing anywhere where you are beholden to a platform. For a podcast, it's nearly impossible to do that. Not impossible. I could still get canceled. So I am grateful when people support our sponsors and, you know, defend us and send words of encouragement. I am glad we get a chance to get this sort of story out there that we might normally never get to hear. This is up there with the Uyghur genocide and Xinjiang type thing where I am just, let's just say, I'm going to hear about it from people that I'd rather not hear about it from.
[00:57:12] This is just a wild tale. I asked her where her father was during this time, and she used to imagine that she was adopted and her real family was out there somewhere. And I think a lot of people can relate to that. I find that statement just so sad. Imagine growing up with your real parents and just having an ongoing fantasy that they were not your real parents or that your real parents who still loved you were just out there somewhere and couldn't find you. I mean, just absolutely heartbreaking.
[00:57:37] Fundamentalist religion, and I don't just mean fundamentalist Islam, it reads like a manual for toxic behavior, including toxic masculinity. I really, speaking of woke cultural buzzwords, I don't love that term because I think it's overused, but there is a proper use for it. And I think when you're keeping women in a basement, when you have multiple wives and beating them and trying to marry off preteen girls, I think that counts. If you go fight in a war with ISIS or whatever for ISIS, you get sex slaves. We saw that with the Moors in history and also with, like I said, ISIS, the Yazidis. This is not a thing that people make up to demonize a religion. This is a real thing that happens in fundamentalist Islam.
[00:58:14] The whole 72 virgins thing, I asked her if there was actual text in the Koran about this because it's comically just kind of absurd. It's like, what if a 13-year-old boy — and pardon me, I know I'm probably saying something that's going to offend a lot of people here, but whatever, the text that she showed me, it's like, what if a 13-year-old boy would write, like, you get 72 virgins and a PlayStation 5 with every game, and your parents can't make you go to bed at nine. I mean, it's just really, it's so silly that particular part of the doctrine, it's just so ridiculous. And I think we all can kind of get behind that. It's amazing to me that any adult would get behind that. It just, it's shocking and it's really disappointing, but it also explains a lot.
[00:58:55] When men have multiple wives, and I'm open to disagreement here, but when men have multiple wives, they're all in competition with one another for resources and attention, especially if they have children. So they can never really team up or enjoy one another in resisting cultural pressure or oppression. And this is especially true in cultures that are very oppressive towards women, and you would imagine that that would be the kind of culture where somebody has more than one wife, maybe not all. Again, I'm open to interpretation here. I'm open to differing opinions, but when you're keeping one of your wives in a basement with their kids and their second-class citizens in their own house, that is kind of the definition of cultural pressure or oppression.
[00:59:31] She was beaten and raped by her new husband who was 14 years older, which is, you know, the age thing isn't really the grossest part of that, of course, the beating and the rape part is, but she told me a tale where she's watching a makeup tutorial on Arabic TV about how to hide black eyes with makeup and that was just shocking. This is in the book. I'm wondering at the time, you know, do you just understand how in insane it is to be looking up makeup tutorials on how to hide a black eye and other bruises? Like at what point do you shake out of this and say, "This is not normal. This is absolute insanity."
[01:00:07] Whew. And in the book, the struggle of a single mother without any family support, and this is not a fundamentalist religion thing, I think any single mom out there, shout out to my single moms. I've got two kids. I've got my wife who's amazing. I've got plenty of help. I've got aunties and grandparents and nannies, and it's still hard. So a single mom without any family support, especially somebody who maybe is having a hard time getting a job, I mean, it's really just something to behold. This is an absolute miracle that anybody survives that process, even just for a few chapters in a book. It was really a rollercoaster for me.
[01:00:38] Some middle-class schmuck like me really never has to think about or deal with anything like this, ever. And while I'm thankful for not having to deal with this firsthand, it really is easy to forget how many people are going without sleep, without food for their kids, and struggling harder than I have ever had to struggle in my whole life in order to give their children the kind of life that they never had. So that is — I am just hats off. When I read that description in the book, it made me just want to go and volunteer somewhere for single moms. I mean, it's just absolutely unbelievable. I did volunteer at an abused woman's shelter or battered woman's shelter and that was one of the most, I won't say haunting because it was actually quite uplifting in a way, but it was really a look at a world that none of us really ever see. In fact, I would recommend that experience. I would say if you want to go and visit a battered woman's shelter and volunteer on a holiday or something, it will be a life-changing experience for you.
[01:01:34] Whew. There's one moment, in fact in the book, where her toddler daughter is standing in the cold, in the rain in Canada. So this is not California, this is Canada in winter, with Yasmine waiting for a bus to come and take them to a store. And she says, "Mommy, look at all the cars going by, and all the cars parked all over there and at the store. There are so many. Why can't we just have one?" And I got to tell you, as a dad, if I heard that from my child, that would probably break me. I don't know what I would do. So hats off to anybody who's in this situation and hats off to Yasmine. I mean, she really had some serious headwinds and that's a gross understatement. So thanks to her for coming on the show, telling her story, being so upfront and honest about it. She said, "Encouraging other women to live freely is the greatest use of my life." Wow. "Encouraging other women to live freely is the greatest use of my life." Absolutely incredible.
[01:02:27] The West, we have a problem with viewing freedom for women who are raised in these kinds of cultures. We see it as ethnocentrism, right? We've got the Sports Illustrated burkini. There's a lot of interpretations for that, but really it is kind of strange. A lot of ex-Muslims are called Islamophobic for not wanting to be repressed under Sharia law. Cultures, they are not sacred. Cultures are dynamic, right? Cultures change consistently. They are supposed to do that. How can progress happen if progress is labeled bigotry? That doesn't make any sense. Religious freedom cannot supersede human rights anywhere, let alone in the West, Canada, and the United States, et cetera, Europe. We cannot let religious freedom supersede human rights. We have to be allowed to progress while not labeling things as bigotry. And I know I'm going to get emails to the contrary that say the exact opposite of this, and I'm just braced for that. But I really feel strongly about this. It doesn't make sense. Cultures are dynamic. They are not sacred. And the sooner we get that through our skulls, the better off we're going to be as a society.
[01:03:33] Big thank you to Yasmine Mohammed. Links to all things Yasmine will be on our website in the show notes at jordanharbinger.com. Transcripts are on the show notes, videos up on YouTube. Advertisers, deals, and discount codes, all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. Please consider supporting those who support this show. And especially controversial episodes like this one, because I would say in the long run, these end up costing me quite a bit because people drop us, we get a lot of flack from different quarters when we do stuff like this. So let's just say it's even more important to support the sponsors and episodes like this, but it's important to support the sponsors no matter what because at the end of the day, I think we all know this, money talks if we are controversial, but we're converting well for our sponsors, they're going to let it slide. But if we're right on the fence and if they get a bunch of complaints, they're just going to say, "Eh, this guy's not worth it." So I want to be able to continue doing episodes. So please do support our sponsors. I'll leave it there. You can find 'em all at jordanharbinger.com/deals. You can use the website to search for them. I'm at @JordanHarbinger on both Twitter and Instagram. You can also connect with me on LinkedIn.
[01:04:35] I'm teaching you how to connect with great people and manage relationships using the same system, software and tiny habits that I use every single day. That's our Six-Minute Networking course. That course is free over at jordanharbinger.com/course. Dig that well before you get thirsty, folks. Many of the guests on the show subscribe and contribute to the course. Come join us, you'll be in smart company where you belong.
[01:04:57] This show is created in association with PodcastOne. My team is Jen Harbinger, Jase Sanderson, Robert Fogarty, Millie Ocampo, Ian Baird, Josh Ballard, and Gabriel Mizrahi. Remember, we rise by lifting others. The fee for this show is that you share it with friends when you find something useful or interesting. If you know somebody who's interested in fundamentalist religion, radical Islam, atheism, or just these sort of weird cultural topics that we covered here today, some of the wild stuff, share this episode with them. The greatest compliment you can give us is to share the show with those you care about. In the meantime, do your best to apply what you hear on the show, so you can live what you listen, and we'll see you next time.
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