The ISIS Bride: Hoda Muthana

Noor Ahmed In November, 2014, 20 year old Hoda Muthana withdrew from Alabama State University and, using her tuition refund, ran away to join ISIS in Syria. Muthana was raised by “ultra-conservative” Muslim parents; her father had been a Yemeni diplomat. She says about her childhood, “I couldn’t really do anything growing up… I couldn’t do any American things, and I was born and raised in America… and since I couldn’t really do anything, I just turned to my religion.” She began conversing with fellow Muslims online, in which they mostly taught each other about Islam. The group’s main focus, however, was to perform hijrah, whereby if an Islamic State arose, they would have to make the pilgrimage to join them. Muthana had never been a part of any jihad – “I had never shot a gun, never used any weapons… I literally came there because I thought it was obligatory on me. And… I was very afraid of Hell.” Muthana stated that she truly believed that she was doing the right thing. Following the instructions of an online contact, she travelled to Turkey telling her parents that she was going on a university trip. From Turkey, she contacted her parents and revealed her plans to them. “My mom started screaming,” Muthana recalls. She was then smuggled across the Syrian border. Once she reached Syria, she was stripped of her belongings and confined in a barracks for single women, in which she and the others were held to be brides for jihadist-fighters. Muthana was one of the few Americans, surrounded by hundreds of women from around the world. “It was scary, but at a point, you really wanted to leave that house. There were some women who were marrying the first man that walked through the door.” Muthana said she held out for a month until she was introduced to the first of her 3 husbands. Muthana then lived her life as an ISIS bride being a voice for ISIS. Muthana tweeted several times, calling for Americans to join the ISIS cause and “explicitly called for attacks in America” as quoted by the New York Times. After 5 years ISIS has been defeated, Muthana’s third husband has been killed during battle, and she and her son have been moved from house to house, chasing the last of ISIS’s hold. With US forces encamped outside of the last ISIS stronghold, waiting for people to emerge from the house and surrender, Muthana and another American woman she befriended, escape. Muthana now wants to come back to America, but has been denied entry by President Trump. There has been a large outcry on both sides of the argument. “I believe that once a person denounces and joins a group that poses a threat to America, they should not be allowed to become a US citizen again… Hoda Muthana choose to become a part of ISIS and she has to live with that regret and face the aftermath,” freshman Izzy Oberman said. How does Latin feel about Hoda Muthana’s request? Muthana has repeatedly said that she is willing to accept consequences for her actions, stating that “we really want to stress we want to come back and we’re not a threat, and we regret everything.” Muthana has repeated that she is ready to accept any punishment. Sophomore Zemzem Mohammed thinks that “If she is a citizen, she should be allowed, but she should be given jail time. She did go against the U.S.” She noted that she was also unsure if Muthana was a citizen. Muthana’s citizenship has been under scrutiny since she expressed a wish to come home. However, it has since been proven that she is a citizen of America. President Trump tweeted that Muthana would not be allowed back into the U.S, instructing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to refuse her entry. Freshman Ari Yao says that she is “unsure about how Muthana was so confident about getting into the U.S. without a problem” and that “[Muthana should be let in] at least for a trial- she might have an ulterior motive.” Many people are still unclear whether or not Muthana is hiding something. Similarly, freshman Shaan Kamal said that “I think that legally, she is allowed to return because she is an American citizen,” however, he mentioned that it was less about if she could but if she should return. “But because of what she did, I think that she shouldn’t come back, because who knows what she is capable of at this point.” Besides all the damage Muthana has done to her own reputation, how does this story affect the Muslim population in the U.S at large? She has become infamous through the news and ISIS has been a large cause of Islamophobia, Muthana’s name might be having the same effect. “I definitely think that it is because it can affect our reputation,” Shaan Kamal noted, “people could feel uncomfortable around Muslims simply because of one person… Muslims could be physically and verbally discriminated against by anybody who is an Islamophobe, giving them another ‘reason’ to do so.” ISIS stereotypes are already a huge part of a Muslim’s life— it may seem that Muthana is increasing that fear, and her choices that stemmed from her personal interpretation of Islam could give people more ideas about Islam that are simply not true. Hoda Muthana was a young Muslim girl who felt suffocated by her parents rules. She may have turned to the wrong people for guidance on her situation, but she is still an American who should be given the same rights as any other U.S. citizen. There are compelling arguments on both sides—what she did was wrong, but like anyone accused of a crime, she deserves a fair trial for what she has done. If given another chance, Muthana may be able to turn her life around for the better.]]>