Myriam Francois-Cerrah found fame as a child actress in the 90’s hit film Sense and Sensibility. Now she’s known for being one of a growing number of educated middle class female converts to Islam in Britain.
Francois-Cerrah says the September 11 terrorist attacks evoked the same rage in her that they did in people around world. Subsequently, she read a book that called for the expulsion of Muslims from Europe. All of this, and the controversy that had been building around the faith, made Francois-Cerrah, a university student at the time, delve deeply into the subject of Islam. She says she found nothing in the faith that justifies terrorist attacks, and instead found Islam inspirational. Ultimately, Francois-Cerrah converted. She believes the Prophet Muhammad was a man of peace.
“There were several things that were pivotal in leading to this change in me. One was looking into the Prophet Muhammad. I think he is one of the great misunderstood figures of history.”
Francois-Cerrah goes on.
“One of his favorite quotes was, ‘Forgive him who wrongs you. Join him who cuts you off. Do good to him who does evil to you and speak the truth even if it be against yourself.’”
Francois-Cerrah says the radical fringe behind terror attacks doesn’t represent the masses.
“Muslims as a rule, the mainstream, don’t look at these actions and think oh those Muslims over there are doing that. They think who are these crazy loons!”
Kristianne Backer was an MTV host in Germany when she converted to Islam. She moved to the UK when her conversion got a lot of negative press.
Backer says she has no regrets.
“I met a lot of famous, interesting people in life, but ultimately it was an empty life, so now I am from ‘Empty-V’, from entertainment to ‘inner-tainment.’ I had a crisis after a few years jetting around like a circus horse, on stage, home alone, empty and I didn’t know why I was doing it and Islam was somehow introduced to me.”
I asked editor of Emel magazine, Sarah Joseph, herself a convert, what is drawing women to the religion.
“People go to, travel to, Muslim countries, and see great beauty and hospitality and that draws them to it—the art and the architecture.”
Joseph explains that any negative press about Islam has not only served to repel some people, but it has drawn others.