First of all, I would like to ask for some help. Because of my article on Islam in the current issues of the Ensign and the Liahona, I’m currently under heavy attack from some circles — relatively small circles, I hope and think — of Latter-day Saints.
In some ways, it’s a refreshing change from the usual daily round of attacks by anti-Mormons, alienated ex-Mormons, and marginal Mormons. Moreover, noting the angles of the attacks is helpful to me for a book that I’m writing, on Islam for a Mormon audience. It’s useful to know exactly what the current issues and misconceptions are.
One recurrent theme in the latest barrage is that Islam is proved evil by the enormous surge in violent crime — especially in sexual assaults, particularly rape — that has allegedly accompanied the arrival of Muslim immigrants and refugees to Europe. By these accounts, places like England, Germany, and Sweden have become miniature earthly hells, and especially so for women.
I know that at least a few people in Europe — and particularly in England, Germany, and Sweden — occasionally read this blog. So I hope that they will notice this request for help. I’ve spent a fair amount of time in all three places, but that is no substitute for on-the-ground residency. How do actual residents of Europe, and particularly of the three countries I’ve named, react to the claim that life in their homelands is now violent and terrifying? Do they feel like prisoners in their own homes? I would love to hear. And if there are any good recommendations for reading, I would appreciate those. Thanks in advance to any who offer some help on this issue.
And now, with wearisome monotony, it’s back to The Manuscript:
One problem, however, is that it is very difficult for any Muslim, even the most devout, to escape the influence of the West. He may rail against it, and consign it and all its offspring to hell, but he will probably do so over a loudspeaker manufactured on the basis of Western technology. The Ayatollah Khomeini, first exiled in Iraq and then in France, communicated with his followers within Iran prior to that country’s “Islamic Revolution” by means of sermons recorded on cassette tapes. When he returned to Tehran, he flew in on a Boeing 747 jetliner and then rode in triumph through the crowds in a Chevrolet. Such facts as these never allow the Muslim to forget the fact of Western dominance.
This seemingly one-sided relationship hurts Muslim pride. Many educated Arabs are wounded by the realization of how uninformed the West is about them. They follow the West almost with obsessiveness, but the West, and especially the United States, has often been abysmally ignorant about them. Muslims feel that the West has persistently denied its debt to the civilization created by their ancestors. They are proud of their contributions to mathematics and medicine and other disciplines, yet they see no evidence that people in the West know about these contributions or care. They feel unappreciated, especially in view of the great debt they know they owe to the West in modern times. Our ignorance, they rightly note, has practical consequences. We have tended to favor the Israelis over the Palestinians simply because we knew nothing about the Palestinians. We didn’t care about the wrongs and injustices that they had suffered because we had never heard of them. There is no Arabic equivalent to the novel or the movie Exodus. If most of us can’t find the United States on a map, and most of our high school students thought Mikhail Gorbachev was a ballet dancer, it isn’t very likely that we’ll be able to find Qatar or Bahrayn, or to identify the emir of Kuwait. The terrorism and saber-rattling that have so often characterized relations with the West, the cruel taking and keeping of hostages, the horrific beheadings perpetrated by the so-called “Islamic State,” are often simply ways of getting our attention. By grabbing an American off the streets of Beirut, an immature college graduate with an identity crisis and no decent job prospects can attract the gaze of the president of the United States. It is much the same reason that leads nonentities to shoot celebrities. (John Hinckley so badly wanted the actress Jodi Foster to notice him, that he shot President Ronald Reagan.)