Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armor yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.― George R.R. Martin
Welcome to my website and thanks for being here.
From Pristina to Sarajevo, Asheville to Clinton, from New York and Paris to Bursa, from Istanbul to Wellesley, and now to Washington D.C., I, Riada Ašimović Akyol have had no permanent abode. Throughout my life, I have kept moving from place to place, country to country.
My roads were sometimes traditional and sometimes routes less travelled.
My story includes first hand experience of militant ethno-nationalism in the Balkans, as a Bosniak whose nation has been repeatedly persecuted throughout history. Mine is also a story of displacement as a refugee uprooted by the Kosovo War of 1999, as well as an exciting adventure of self-becoming through scholarship chases and educational escapade ventures into The Asheville School and Hamilton College in the United States, of brief European homecoming to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and of exhilarating departure to a Ph.D. expedition to Turkey. The adventure is also filled with godsend moments, like that of hearing an author and public intellectual named Mustafa Akyol speak on TV, before encountering him and discovering love and marriage with him in Istanbul. My story is about now more than seven years long thrilling joyride as a couple striving to spread, through their writing and speaking, the ideas of freedom and dignity in Islam.
My career did change paths, from fashion to film festival industry to a graduate degree related to international relations from University of Buckingham and Sarajevo School of Science and Technology. In the process, I grew to understand which values carry the most weight for me personally and professionally – embracing my cosmopolitan outlook on life while also celebrating my Bosniak heritage and promoting the ideas about Islam as I have learned and personally lived it as a European Muslim woman. Simultaneously, I kept maturing into a reporter, opinion writer, a storyteller and public speaker. More specifically, my focus in work has been on issues related to Muslim women, interfaith, patriarchy, misogyny, and geographically around Turkey and the Balkans.
My writing has appeared in world’s top publications including The New York Times, The Atlantic, Foreign Policy, Al Jazeera, The Nation, Al-Monitor, The National. I am working on an exciting new project and hope to share good news with you soon. I am now based in Washington D.C. where I live with my husband and our two little lovely sons.