#BBCTrending: The Texan with a big IS Twitter following
"You know you're dealing with some serious Islamic hardliners when they blur out your face to protect Islamic modesty… [but] chose to make it blurry rather than to black it out entirely - I suppose they did that so you could still tell that I was a blonde, white American girl. The holy grail of Muslim converts - so to speak."
The blonde white American girl in question - Jennifer Williams, a researcher for the Brookings Institution's Center for Middle East Policy - joined a tongue-in-cheek hashtag movement called #MuslimApologies, and found herself at the centre of attention among members of the Islamic extremist community.
"Last Monday, I had 60 followers on Twitter. Today, I have more than 4,300," Williams wrote in a blog post on Brookings publication Lawfare. "But here's the problem: A healthy number of them are Islamic extremists, including no small number of supporters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria."
On 24 September, Williams tweeted her #MuslimApology that very briefly shared her own Muslim conversion story.
While Williams says she detests "the twisted interpretations of Islam" espoused by the likes of al-Qaeda and IS ("Can't believe I even have to say that," she tweeted at those who question her motives), many (including some non-Muslim Americans) misunderstood her message.
"Then things took an unexpected turn. My tweet went viral - at last check, it had been retweeted more than 11,300 times - and I soon began to notice a disturbing trend: of the thousands of people who were retweeting and following me, many of them had the black flag of Isis as their Twitter profile photos. Others had pictures of themselves holding swords, standing in front of the black Isis flag. Uh-oh."
Williams points out that many ignore her many tweets that go against the ideology of extremists, including actively try to get the "#No2ISIS" hashtag trending.
Reporting by Micah Luxen
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