A Muslim woman defends the Taliban…

A Muslim woman defends the Taliban… Khola Hasan

Khola Hasan (pictured) is an academic lawyer and scholar at the British Islamic Sharia Council, and she caused controversy last weekend by defending the Taliban on a BBC religious programme.

She said that Muslims in Britain – “every single Muslim” she knows – were celebrating the Taliban victory in Afghanistan; and that the victorious Taliban should be given “a helping hand”, instead of being demonised.

“Give them a chance,” Mrs Hasan told the radio faith programme Sunday. “They have been ruled by foreigners for 40 years; let the people of Afghanistan rule their own country and determine their own fate for a change.”


To be totally honest about the situation, Khola Hasan’s views of the Taliban are not very different from the attitudes of Irish freedom fighters in the War of Independence a hundred years ago. The IRA in the 1920s could be pretty brutal (as could everyone else involved in the conflict) yet the motives expressed were identical: let the native people determine their own fate.

The sentiment even appears as a charmingly soppy line in the  song Galway Bay: “The strangers came and tried to teach us their ways/And blamed us for being what we are.”

Khola Hasan doesn’t speak for all British Muslims – Dr Taj Hargey, an Imam at Oxford has strongly condemned what she says. Many will disagree with her view that the Taliban have learned to be good boys and will rule justly – especially those who feel they must flee from Kabul for fear of the new regime.  But there’s a parallel with Ireland here, too: in the 1920s, departing boats were also full of those who felt it safer to flee – especially those who had worked with the British military or police.


Ms Hasan serves as a judge within the British Sharia Council. She is married to a GP and they have four children. She wears the hijab as an expression of her religious identity – just as a Christian might wear a cross, she has explained – and modesty of dress is important to her.

She raises her children to be religious Muslims, but admits that “it’s hard to bring up children in a secular society where all religion and values are mocked”. Her kids used to like watching American TV channels “but I had to ban them because they show a lack of respect for teachers and parents, bad language, lots of encounters with the opposite sex, and a world where designer clothes are more important than working hard.”

Khola Hasan’s views on the Taliban won’t be shared by many: yet her general values are not so very different from those traditionally held by Irish Catholics.

Accepting temperance

Now that social life seems to be resuming, little by little, I notice a welcome change in hospitality habits. It used to be a little awkward to explain that I don’t now drink alcohol, when kindly offered an apéritif or a glass of wine. Sometimes there was a ‘Mrs Doyle’ tendency (from the very pressing housekeeper in Father Ted) to say “ah, go on, go on, you will, you will”. Sometimes, people would even say something slightly reprimanding like, “ah, don’t be a stick-in-the-mud – have a jar”.

But manners and customs seem to have changed. There appears now to be a much wider acceptance that it’s also normal not to imbibe alcohol, and almost no Mrs Doyle-type insistence that you should. Or is it just that the people I know tend to be more accustomed to non-drinkers?

One friend did remark to me that it was always nice just to have an ‘ice-breaker’ – one drink, to break the social ice, when meeting people. I do see the point. But I call to mind some encouraging words my late husband said to me: “Mary, you’re quite effervescent enough without an alcoholic drink – you don’t need alcohol.” So, it’s “sláinte”, accompanied by the elderflower water


The Everly Brothers – the surviving brother, Don, has just died – sure were a soundtrack to my teenage years, especially Dream, Dream, Dream, which plays so strongly to adolescent fantasy.

But I wonder how many songs of that period might be frowned on today, since they don’t imply ‘consent’? “I can make you mine” is what modern feminists call ‘rapey’. The lyrics of other popular ditties like “I’d like to get you/On a slow boat to China”, could be dubious, and another catchy number “What do you want to make those eyes at me for?” threatens “I’ll get you alone some night/And maybe you’ll find/You’re messing with dynamite”.

In an innocent age these seemed harmless, but in a sexualised society, there’s a darker agenda. Not even sure if Cliff Richards’ Living Doll would pass muster.