By her own admission, award-winning filmmaker Deeyah Khan loves to talk.
But whilst that is not an exception in an age when everyone and his urban fox has something to say about everything, the clarity and purpose Deeyah brings to her arguments marks her out from the talking head policy-makers, and campaigners.
As a filmmaker, that clarity was first evident in her powerful documentary debut ‘Banaz – A Love Story’ about the life and death of Banaz Mahmood, the young British-Iraqi teenager who was killed by her own family in a so-called ‘Honour Killing’.
In Deeyah’s hands, Banaz’s story took on a uniquely horrifying lucidity which can only be attributed to the fact that Deeyah herself had suffered for years at the hands of her own fiercely patriarchal British-Punjabi-Pashto community.
Now she’s back with ‘JIHAD – A British Story’, an equally powerful examination of radicalization – an issue that, according to Deeyah, ultimately stems from the same patriarchy that destroyed Banaz Mahmod’s life.
Deeyah’s clarity is once again on full display as she delves into why young Muslim men and women – many born and raised in the West – become radicalized and flee abroad to fight for the likes of Islamic State.
For ‘JIHAD’, Deeyah spent two years speaking to leading figures of the British jihad of the last three decades – men who went abroad to fight in conflicts in Afghanistan, the former Yugoslavia and Iraq then returned to train young Muslims across the UK and West.
It is an extraordinary film, made even more remarkable by the fact that Deeyah – a woman who campaigns for equality and secularism – managed to gain access into the forbidding world of the Jihadi movement, and reveals a world built on fear, be it the kind spread by those in power or the reactionaries who prey on the disaffected.
Most importantly of all, ‘JIHAD’ is a desperate plea by someone who has a startlingly clear understanding of the machinations that take place inside the communities that have fallen victim to bloodlust of all kinds.
Hear Deeyah herself explain:
‘JIHAD – A British Story’ is available to view on www.itv.com