Scaramouche brings news of yet another Sudden Jihad Syndrome (SJS) incident from Nebraska.
What is more personally traumatic right at this very moment, however, is that an old girlfriend of mine has become a Muslim.
She is from a one Western country and was raised in another Western country, and the last I heard of her she had married a Muslim. Nothing ususual, she always had an interest in "Eastern" things and that's common enough these days. She is currently working for a UN agency in a particularly tough Islamic country, but kept contact on Facebook regularly. We discussed Islam frequently, but she never revealed to me that she had converted.
She was clearly sympathetic to the faith, but I gave my opinions as honestly and as sensitively as I could, all backed up by facts, polling data, Koran quotes, etc, and got the usual replies about how rubbish the West is, how we're the real barbarians and how the West oppresses women by having inflated ideas of beauty leading to bulimia etc. She told me about how angry some Australians were when a Muslim kid pissed on a bible at camp (how many riots were there and how many Mosques burnt down? I asked) as being equivalent to Muslim anger over Koran burning.
I was reluctant to carry on the conversation in any case, but would not have done if I'd known she was a practising Muslim (albeit a Sufi according to her). She deliberately withheld that information from me and I'm really sickened over it. Even though I had my best 'culturally sensitive' hat on, she still managed to tell me I'd insulted her (she was none too complimentary about my Western culture, which I pointed out) and that I was "raving", despite demonstrating a wide and knowledgeable view of Islam in all its guises.
Here's an excerpt:
"First off, not all Western countries ban them [burqas], and have only started doing so in the face of increased resurgence of Islam in the West generally. I don't approve of it, because I think there should rather be a law against forcing someone ELSE to wear certain clothing, which gets to the heart of the issue. Burqa-wearing is NOT a choice, it's forced and women have been murdered for refusing to wear them, in the US and Canada. Turkey and Algeria ban them too, in certain circumstances, because they understand that a burqa is no more a piece of clothing than a gun is just some bits of metal.I explained the differences (as I saw them) between Wahhabism and North African culture, Pakistani culture, Persian culture and even Cape Town Muslims all to no avail. Despite being aware of all these things, I was spouting "propaganda" which was "vitriolic", and promptly got deleted from her Facebook.
In the cases where it is a choice, it is also a rejection of Western values, NOT a preservation of Eastern ones. Why? because the Koran only commands modesty - and Western standards of modesty are much 'lower' (as you pointed out) than Saudi Arabian ones. But weaers are choosing the Saudi definition, which is a new thing because as you've also mentioned, Muslims in the West have for decades - and even in Egypt and other countries too, particularly Iran - not covered their faces or heads. In Cape Town, they usually just wear scarves, but recently the full coverings have become more common. The change represents a fundamental rejection of Western values, which (rightly) raises suspicions about what else they might be asserting."
The word "intolerant" springs to mind, and I don't think it refers to me.
Having calmed down considerably, and chatted with another friend, I've come to realise this: most Western "converts" to Islam call themselves "Sufis". Because why? It's Islam Lite, that's why, a trendy way of showing your multicult cool without having to do any of the hard stuff that Islam commands. And Sufism is not the whole of Islam, indeed a lot of it is considered outside the bounds of Islam by a lot of Muslims.
Bottom line: I'm not interested in being lectured on the "diversity" of Islam by someone who is on the very fringes of it themselves. Such friends I can do without.