LONDON: The sister-in-law of former British Prime Minister Tony Blair has converted to Islam following a visit to Iran, claiming she is a “proud member” of the Muslim community.
Lauren Booth has given up alcohol and pork, prays five times a day and has not ruled out wearing a burqa in the future, she told The Mail on Sunday newspaper.
The 43-year-old journalist and reality television contestant underwent the religious conversion on her return to Britain following a visit to the holy Iranian city of Qom six weeks ago. She said that when she was in Iran, “I sat down and felt this shot of spiritual morphine, just absolute bliss and joy.”
Speaking to the newspaper after a multi-faith Global Peace and Unity Event in London on Saturday, Booth said: “What I wanted to share with you today is that I am Lauren Booth and I am a Muslim. “I always felt that the Ummah (Muslim community) is a very loving, peaceful place and I am proud to be a member of it.”
Booth, who works for the English language Iranian news channel Press TV, has frequently criticised her brother-in-law, accusing the former leader of being biased towards Israel and the United States in his role as Middle East peace envoy. She wrote a scathing open letter in last month’s far-left newspaper Morning Star.
“Personally I’ve never understood this fear of ‘political Islam’,” she wrote. “It seems to me that religious people should always be educated on world events rather than kept in ignorance. Like, say, Midwest Christian Zionists in the US.”
After attending a rally in Iran to mourn Palestinian deaths in cities including Rafah and Nablus, Booth wrote: “Do you recognise these place names, Tony? “As Middle East envoy, you really should. Israel has massacred children in all of these cities. Didn’t you know?” She was refused entry to Israel and Egypt after travelling from Cyprus to Gaza on an activist ship which was protesting the blockade of Palestinian territory.
Religious enlightenment is not unknown in the family with brother-in-law Tony converting to Catholicism in December 2007. Booth is the half-sister of Blair’s wife Cherie, who is a human rights lawyer.