A Voice for Women Oppressed by Sharia: An Interview With a Former Child Bride

By Stephen Herreid Published on August 25, 2016

Child marriage is legal in much of the Arab world, and lately the tradition has spread in parts of Europe, where new Muslim populations operate their own “courts,” imposing Islamic Sharia instead of Western law. Breitbart’s Raheem Kassam recently reported there are more than 1,000 documented cases of child marriage in Germany alone.

“I lived through the nightmare of being a child bride,” writes Aynaz “Anni” Cyrus in a recent article at her website, LiveUptoFreedom.com. “I understand the faith at its most intimate and nightmarish level.” Cyrus fled her Islamic upbringing at an early age, and eventually earned her citizenship in the U.S.

But could the practice of child marriage find a foothold here in the U.S.? “There are already instances of Muslims practicing Sharia in the United States,” Cyrus warns. “Americans need to take the time to learn about the ideology of Islam and its origins in order prevent horrific crimes against children in our country.”

I contacted Cyrus and conducted the following interview via email on Sunday, August 21.

The Stream: What led you to become a speaker and activist on behalf of women’s civil rights in Muslim countries like Iran?

Aynaz Cyrus: I was born and raised in the Islamic Republic of Iran to a Sheikh (Imam) father and a mother who were devout followers of Islam. I grew up realizing first hand that women had few rights as human beings under Sharia and Islamic rule. By the time I had reached the age of 15, I had been witness to many brutal injustices against women in my country.

I, myself, was beaten, raped, lashed and imprisoned for reasons such as singing in public, unknowingly having my hair showing from under my hijab, and being mistakenly convicted of being in the presence of mixed company (boys/girls).

I witnessed the attempted suicide of a young woman who was in a prison with me because she was accused of adultery. The horror of being stoned to death was too much for her to bear. On another occasion my best friend was savagely beaten and sodomized by prison guards for being a Baha’i as I stood by helpless to do anything to help her.

I was sold into marriage as a child to a much older man, and after being repeatedly beaten and raped by my husband I sought to file for a divorce. However, I found quickly a woman in Islam does not hold the right to file for divorce. Under Sharia, there are only three circumstances for a woman to be able to obtain a divorce:

  1. If her husband is not paying for the maintenance fees which in Iran is the cost of food, shelter and clothing.
  2. If the husband has a mental disorder, or,
  3. If he cannot engage in sexual intercourse or is sterile, unable to produce children.

My request to be free of his abuse was denied. With no support from family or the legal system, I knew I must escape if I wanted to remain alive. I fled to Turkey under extremely dangerous conditions and remained there until I was able to obtain legal residential status here in the United States of America.

After earning my freedom and coming to the U.S., I felt it was my duty to speak out and be a voice for those women still living under Sharia.

The Stream: As an Ex-Muslim, what do you have to say to moderate Muslims in the West who don’t really practice their religion but are quick to take “offense” at those who disrespect Islamism?

Aynaz Cyrus: I first want to stress that I am not a Muslim, nor am I an ex-Muslim. I was simply born into an Islamic country that by law names you a Muslim. I would like to refer all moderate Muslims and Islamic apologist to this verse in the Quran:

Not equal are those believers remaining [at home] – other than the disabled – and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward. – Quran (4:95)

This verse tells us that the moderate Muslims are not considered good Muslims to Allah. You cannot be considered a Muslim if you pick and choose from Sharia and Islam.

The Stream: Many Christians think of Islam as just another “World Religion” like Judaism and Christianity. As an insider when it comes to Muslim religious practice, could you tell us some Quranic texts that set Islam outside of the friendly circle of Judeo-Christian Western society?

Aynaz Cyrus: There are more than 100 verses on over 80 hadiths on this subject. Here are some:

  • You who have believed, do not take the Jews and the Christians as allies. They are [in fact] allies of one another. And whoever is an ally to them among you — then indeed, he is [one] of them. Indeed, Allah guides not the wrongdoing people. —Quran (5:51)
  • So when you meet those who disbelieve [in battle], strike [their] necks until, when you have inflicted slaughter upon them, then secure their bonds, and either [confer] favor afterwards or ransom [them] until the war lays down its burdens. That [is the command]. And if Allah had willed, He could have taken vengeance upon them [Himself], but [He ordered armed struggle] to test some of you by means of others. And those who are killed in the cause of Allah — never will He waste their deeds. —Quran (47:2,3,4)

The Stream: The presidential election is approaching, and many on the Right are proposing policies to limit Muslim immigration into the United States. Trump has even spoken of “banning” Muslims. Do you think any such action is necessary?

Aynaz Cyrus: I do think a “ban” is necessary. The reason for the need of such action, is because if you look into the history of Iran you will see how giving freedom to those who follow Sharia invokes a revolution that will rob a society of rights and freedom.

Islam is not compatible with humanity and freedom because Islam’s very foundation is made up of inhumane acts: slavery, oppression and misery. I would suggest banning Islam altogether as an ideology because Islam cannot exist without Sharia, and Sharia cannot exist without Quran and Hadiths. They are all intertwined and all are dependent upon each other.

Practicing Muslims understand their religion far better than people do in the West. Put simply, if we do not ban the infiltration of Islam into this country, the Islamic State will continue its work towards applying Islamic Doctrine — Sharia — in its entirety here in this country and other Western societies. Once that happens, our freedom as we know it will cease to exist.

The Stream: If there is one piece of advice you would give to Christian Westerners as to how we should treat Islam, what would that be?

Aynaz Cyrus: I understand Christianity is about love and respect, but what Christian people need to realize is that Islam is about slavery and Jihad. So every time Christians are welcoming to Islam, they are protecting a war on women and children. They are putting more children in danger for possibility of genital mutilation, child marriages, rape and potential honor killings.

Christians need to get involved and become educated on Islam. They cannot assume they understand the faith. They must become aware, and the best possible way to understand Islam is to get involved with those who have been victims of Islam, those who have left the religion and who now work to raise awareness to the dangers it poses to humanity. Seek out information from sources like JamieGlazov.com and Jihadwatch.org, visit my website liveuptofreedom.com and learn, ask questions and listen to our stories.

The best way for a Christian to treat Islam itself, in fact the only way to deal with Islam, is to stop its spread by educating others and having the courage to speak out on behalf of those victimized daily under Islamic rule.

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