Paris attacks result of brainwash: Yemeni woman director

Khadija Al Salami, considered the first woman director from Yemen who is now based in Paris, says the fight against extremism should be waged with education.

Kolkata: Khadija Al Salami, considered the first woman director from Yemen who is now based in Paris, says the fight against extremism should be waged with education.

"It's not (attack) on cultures, it's more brainwash because those are French or Belgian guys (attackers). They were born there but they were influenced by this new... they were influenced by an imam or by internet. They are not coming from outside but they are raised in such a culture," Salami told the media here.

"That's why education is so important and the government should address their needs because if they are left alone... that's what they are going to be left with. We are planting the ideology and now we are repenting and it's just sad," the well-known civil rights activist said.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday, which claimed at least 129 lives and injured over 350 people.

Salami's "I Am Nojoom, Age 10 And Divorced" is competing for the Golden Royal Bengal Tiger award at the 21st Kolkata International Film Festival's international competition that focuses on films helmed by women directors.

The "Aminia" and "Women of Islam" filmmaker is not scared to return to the French capital after the attacks and says it is everybody's responsibility to join the fight against terrorism.

Salami's personal fight is one of fighting for women's rights as well as independence.

Married off at the age of 11 -- as was the tradition in her family and culture -- Salami was subjected to marital trauma. She ran away from her husband three weeks after the wedding.

"My own family disowned me. My mother couldn't understand my fight as she herself was married off at the age of eight. I fought against my family and surroundings to assert my independence," she recounted her harrowing experience to the media here.

Salami, a recipient of the French Legion of Honour, started working at a television station in the evening and studied in the mornings.

At 16, she went to the US on a scholarship. She serves as the press and cultural attache and director of the Yemeni Information Centre at the embassy of Yemen in Paris.

"I could fight because I questioned the practices. But they still continue and I hope women voice their desire to lead their own life," she said, adding that her family has discontinued the custom of early marriage.

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