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Guest House for Young Widows

Among The Women of ISIS

Azadeh Moaveni

In early 2014, the Islamic State clinched its control of Raqqa in Syria. Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, urged Muslims around the world to come join the caliphate. Having witnessed the brutal oppression of the Assad regime in Syria, and moved to fight for justice, thousands of men and women heeded his call.

At the heart of this story are the unforgettable young women who responded. Emma from Germany; Sharmeena from Bethnal Green; Nour from Tunis: these were young women from urban families, some with university degrees and bookshelves filled with novels by Jane Austen and Dan Brown, many with cosmopolitan dreams of travel and adventure. But instead of finding a land of justice and piety, they found themselves trapped in the most brutal terrorist regime of the twenty-first century.

What is the line between victim and collaborator? How do we judge these women who both suffered and inflicted intense pain? What role is there for Muslim women in the West? Moaveni takes us into the school hallways of London, kitchen tables in Germany, the coffee shops in Tunis, the caliphate’s OB/GYN and its ‘Guest House for Young Widows’ — where wives of the fallen waited to be remarried — to demonstrate that terrorism is a far more complex, political, and relatable than we admit.

First published:
Published by:
Scribe UK
Hardcover 352 pages
Azadeh Moaveni - 'Guest House for Young Widows' Book Trailer

About the author

Azadeh Moaveni is the author of Lipstick Jihad, and the co-author, with Nobel Peace Prize laureate Shirin Ebadi, of Iran Awakening. She has lived and reported throughout the Middle East, and speaks both Farsi and Arabic fluently. As one of the few American correspondents allowed to work continuously in Iran since 1999, she has reported widely on youth culture, women’s rights, and Islamic reform for Time, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post, NPR, and the Los Angeles Times. She lives with her husband and son in London.