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Life With the Muslim Brotherhood: One Woman’s Story

Though the Muslim Brotherhood often has taken center stage in foreign-policy debates over the last two decades, the transnational Sunni Islamist organization remains somewhat mysterious. Even following the Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt (and subsequent fall), scholars and policymakers have disagreed on the group’s nature—including the scale of its membership, its aims and its financing methods. Some experts even question whether it makes sense to speak of the Muslim Brotherhood as a unified entity.

Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Program on Extremism at George Washington University, has studied the Muslim Brotherhood closely since the days before 9/11. In The Closed Circle: Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, recently published by Columbia University Press, Vidino profiles a dozen individuals who abandoned the Muslim Brotherhood following periods of deep involvement with the group in Europe and North America—including, the Swedish woman whose story is the subject of the book excerpt that follows.

* * *

Born in 1965, Pernilla Ouis grew up in a large Swedish family with four siblings. When she was six, her mother died and her older sister “became a mother” to her. It was that sister who, years later, introduced Pernilla to Islam. A “spiritual person, a searcher,” as Pernilla describes her, she had gone to study Buddhism in China; but after meeting Muslim students there, she became fascinated with Islam, which she found “more natural and egalitarian.” In 1984, she came back to Sweden, “a veiled convert,” and soon married an Egyptian Islamist who lived in Stockholm. “I was a teenager and I remember that my family and I thought the whole thing was very stupid,” Pernilla remembers. “We were also horrified when she and her husband burned her books about Buddhism; the act of burning books recalls such bad images.”

In November 1985, her sister had her first baby, and Pernilla, who lived in the university town of Lund, went to visit her in Stockholm. “In the span of a few weeks, I went from thinking that this whole Islam thing was nonsense to marrying an Algerian Islamist,” she says with a sardonic smile. Her brother-in-law had introduced Pernilla to a young Algerian physics student and told her that he needed to get married in order to obtain a permanent permit to stay in Sweden and avoid going back to Algeria, where he would have been drafted to serve in the army.

Pernilla Ouis

Pernilla lists many superficial reasons why she lightheartedly decided to marry the Algerian student: he was “nice looking, kind, and exotic”; she was “bored with university life” and this was “a fun experience”; and she thought that “Arabs were misunderstood” and this was a nice way of helping one. On a deeper level, she now believes, “I was subconsciously doing so to please my sister, to whom I had always looked up.” On December 28, 1985, the couple were married in an Islamic wedding ceremony even though, from Pernilla’s point of view, “it was clear it was not a real marriage.”

Yet, after the wedding he moved in with her, as he had no other place to stay, and after a few months she became pregnant. Pernilla had been adamant about her intention not to convert to Islam, but she succumbed to increased pressure from her husband, her sister, and her brother-in-law to raise the child Muslim and therefore be a Muslim herself. “Confused,” she converted and adopted the name Soumaya shortly before her first child’s birth.

In the summer of 1987, she traveled to Algeria for the first time to meet her husband’s family. He asked her to wear the hijab, arguing that his family would not accept her if she did not. She complied but made it clear this concession was just temporary. But upon returning to Sweden, he told her that it would be a great sin to take the veil off and she begrudgingly assented to begin wearing it permanently. “It’s like the story of the boiling frog,” she says. “The water gets warmer and warmer and she always tells herself she can jump out any time; but, at some point, it becomes so hot she can no longer jump and gets boiled: that was me.”

At the same time, she says that her life was not unpleasant or oppressive. The couple lived in university housing in Lund, where her husband was pursuing a doctorate, and they had many friends within the campus’ and town’s relatively large Muslim community. She had become a practicing Muslim, but mostly because it was “a social thing.” “I did not have a deep belief in Islam,” she recounts. “I never felt a spiritual connection; praying felt like gymnastics.” Still, she found some attractive qualities in it. “Islam was logic: you are doing the right thing, all rules are clear, there was no relativism, none of that postmodern nonsense, everything is simple and clear.”

Pernilla’s life revolved around her family and her husband’s friends in Lund’s Muslim community. But during his time in Lund, says Pernilla, her husband’s views radicalized. He already had very conservative and politicized views when she first met him, but with the beginning of the civil war in his native Algeria, “his positions hardened and became more jihadi-leaning.” According to Pernilla, he embarked on a radicalization process that saw him move within the most militant segments of the Swedish Islamist scene of the 1990s and included travels to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“Most of the people writing in Salaam were women, converts who had married Brotherhood guys,” recalls Pernilla. After 1996, right after Pernilla’s tenure, the position of editor was occupied by Helena Hummasten, a Finnish convert to Islam. Hummasten later held leadership position in two key organizations of the Swedish Brotherhood milieu, Ibn Rushd and Sveriges Muslimska Råd (the Muslim Council of Sweden).

Pernilla describes Salaam as the stage of an intellectual battle between the Brotherhood pioneers who started and funded it and many of the mostly female converts who, fluent in the Swedish language, worked in it. “We wanted to write about Sufism, wanted to talk about many things, wanted to create a blue yellow Islam,” recalls Pernilla, “but there was a lot of pushback. The Brothers just wanted us to translate [the writings of the Brotherhood leader Sayyid] Qutb and shut up.”

Despite these issues, Pernilla did not mind her work at Salaam. She thought she was “promoting Islam in Sweden,” and, like most other converts who worked there, she had no idea that Salaam was a Brotherhood outfit. “Had somebody told us,” she says, “we would have rejected it outright and thought it was an attempt to smear Islam. We were very naïve.” The one person who told Pernilla that Salaam was linked to the Brotherhood was her husband—a warning that, paradoxically, only made her commitment to Salaam stronger. Her husband, despite having been close to the Brotherhood in his early days, “despised the Brothers” and chastised his wife for working with them. “That made me see the Brothers as the good guys,” Pernilla admits. “If my husband, who was an extremist, disliked them, then they were moderates.”

Her perceptions began to change in 1996, as she started a PhD in human ecology. “They teach you to deconstruct everything,” says Pernilla with a smile. “University corrupted my Islamic identity.” The critical thinking she adopted all day in her studies “conflicted with what I found every night at home,” and the former slowly began to prevail over the latter. Her relationship with her husband increasingly deteriorated, leading her to spend more and more time outside the house.

It was around that time that Pernilla began to be drawn to a couple who would have a huge influence in her life: Anne Sofie Roald and Adly Abu Hajar. Anne Sofie Roald is a charismatic Norwegian convert to Islam and accomplished academic who quickly became Pernilla’s best friend. The two became inseparable, traveling the world to attend conferences and writing about various aspects of Islam. Eleven years older than Pernilla and extremely knowledgeable about Islam, Roald became, as Pernilla puts it, her “teacher, best friend, and mentor,” accompanying her on a journey that led both women away from Islamism. “By embracing a more liberal…Islam,” she explains, “she made her exit from Muslim Brotherhood movement.”

While the two women charted their own trajectory, a crucially important influence on them was Roald’s husband, Adly Abu Hajar. Born in Yaffo [part of Tel Aviv] and raised in Jordan, Abu Hajar has been a prominent Islamic activist since he arrived in Europe in the early 1980s. According to his own account, his first contact with the Brotherhood did not take place in Jordan or in Algeria, where he pursued his undergraduate studies, but in France, once he arrived in Lille to further his education in urban planning. The French college town has been a Brotherhood hub since the early 1980s, and Abu Hajar immediately gravitated toward the group. He became close to Faysal Mawlawi, the leader of the Lebanese branch of the Brotherhood, who spent several years in France and played a crucial role in the founding of two French Brotherhood institutions, UOIF and IESH. Abu Hajar also became a key player in Brotherhood networks first in northern France and then across the border in Belgium, where the Brotherhood asked him to establish a presence.

Yet despite these close connections, Abu Hajar claims he never formally joined the Brotherhood, though he was asked several times to do so. He insists, “I always told them that we think alike, that we all work for Islam, but my allegiance is for Allah alone, not for any organization. I work for Islam, not for the jamaa [‘the group,’ as the Brothers often refer to the Brotherhood].” By his own account, Abu Hajar was a fellow traveler of the Brotherhood, involved in very high-profile activities of the group’s early days in Europe but never a formal member.

Some of Abu Hajar’s most prominent activities during those days pertained to his role in the International Islamic Federation of Student Organizations (IIFSO). Less known than Saudi-based organizations such as the Muslim World League or the World Assembly of Muslim Youth (WAMY), groups with which it cooperates closely, IIFSO has been equally important in bringing together Brotherhood leaders and activists from all over the world. It was founded in 1969 after a two-day meeting at the Bilal mosque in the German college town of Aachen. Not coincidentally, the Bilal mosque was the headquarters of Issam al Attar, a prominent leader of the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood in exile and, together with Said Ramadan and Yussuf Nada, one of the very first pioneers of the Brotherhood in the West.

In the mid-1980s, Abu Hajar served as IIFSO’s representative in Europe, a position that enabled him to travel throughout the continent and around the world. While he worked side by side with Brotherhood leaders and organizations on many activities, he also started his own initiatives, which at times differed from the Brotherhood’s in their aims and partners. This independence led him to clash with some of the more conservative segments of the global Muslim Brotherhood, particularly in Jordan, where some Brothers lodged a formal complaint against him with the Brotherhood’s international bureau—the transnational body bringing together the leaders of branches of the Brotherhood from all over the world.

The back-and-forth between Abu Hajar and the Jordanian Brothers, as summarized by Abu Hajar, epitomizes the tensions that often exist within the Brotherhood between a leadership that wants to exert almost complete control and those—whether actual members or fellow travelers, like Abu Hajar—who seek breathing room for their actions. “Priority is with the jamaa,” Abu Hajar said the Jordanian Brothers would insist. “No,” he would respond, “the jamaa can be wrong, Islam never.” “No,” was their retort, “the jamaa is Islam, they are one and the same.” “No,” Abu Hajar would counter, “Islam is from Allah, the jamaa is men, they can be wrong.”

Abu Hajar found this pressure suffocating, and by 1993 he withdrew from the Brotherhood. He continued his many activities aimed at teaching Islam to both Muslims and non-Muslims through a variety of transnational outfits he created. He also began advising Muslims and issuing fatwas, both in person and electronically, to Muslims all over Europe. He maintained good relations with many Brotherhood leaders, and it is fair to say that he shares many of their conservative and Islamist positions. Yet in many respects he has differed from them. Tellingly, for example, in 1993, a few years after relocating to the Swedish city of Malmö, he joined the center-right Swedish Moderate Party. He recalls how his decision to join a Swedish party shocked many Brothers, who at the time had not yet embraced participation in democratic processes in the West. Abu Hajar, on the other hand, saw it as crucially important, and in 1998 he was elected to the Malmö city council, where he served for twelve years.

Abu Hajar also found—and still finds—the Brothers’ excessive secrecy extremely troubling. “I have been telling them for decades: why make the usra [leadership structure] secret?” he emphatically says. “Why deny you exist? We are in a democracy.” Echoing most of the former Brothers interviewed for this book, he argues that secrecy is understandable in the Middle East and was justified during the first years of the Brotherhood’s presence in the West, when its members might not have been familiar with the local political dynamics. But after more than forty years in the West, Abu Hajar maintains, this secrecy makes little sense and is both a reason why many Brothers leave the group and a reason why many Westerners distrust it. But unlike other former members of the group—among whose number he does not technically belong—he does not argue that the Brothers are a threat to Sweden. Their values, he claims, are not as problematic as those of [ultra-conservative] Salafists, which are “the real threat to Sweden and Europe.” But their obsession with secrecy keeps them from fully participating in Swedish society, ensuring that they concentrate only on themselves.

It was this independent approach of Abu Hajar, accompanied by his knowledge and welcoming personality, as well as the friendship she developed with Roald, that led Pernilla to attach herself to the couple. Abu Hajar and Roald began organizing many activities for Muslim women, an issue both held dear. In particular, Roald wrote many progressive treatises about women in Islam and dissected the concept of “Islamist feminism.”

It was during one of the conferences she attended, in October, 2001, that Pernilla, whose relationship with her husband had increasingly been deteriorating, decided to have dinner alone with one of the invited researchers who was Muslim—an extremely inappropriate act, in conservative Islamic circles—and was spotted at the restaurant by friends of her husband’s. That very same night, the husband confronted her and divorced her Islamically (talaq), accelerating what would have probably been the natural progression of a doomed relationship. In January, 2002, she moved out of the house. “That year I got divorced and obtained my PhD at 37,” she quips, “which is statistically the average age to do both in Sweden.”

After divorcing, she recalls, “I did not break with Islam, but I became more lax about my practice.” Having become a lecturer at Malmö University focusing on gender studies, Pernilla put her days as a cog in the Swedish Brotherhood machine behind her. Though she has never spoken publicly about her involvement in the network, she has reflected on it at length. She admits that she was a marginal actor in the network, and unaware of even having that role. “The Brotherhood fooled me,” she says with a smile. “They never used the term ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ to refer to themselves.” She argues that her experience mirrors that of other Swedish, mostly female, converts whom the Brotherhood used both to translate texts into Swedish and to present reassuring façades to outsiders.

“Us converts, we were paraded,” she declares. And adds:

I was traveling selling Islam and whatever we said people would buy it. We were highly educated and knew how to do it, how to convince our Swedish interlocutors. We would use postmodern [rhetorical] tools to question the bases of society, relativize everything in order to fit our agenda…We knew the culture, we always had elegant ways to deflect criticism, to turn the tables: If they would criticize us for the treatment of women in Islam, for its patriarchal approach, we would bring up the divorce rate in Sweden.

“We would always bring up colonialism,” she adds, consistently a winning card in Islamist rhetoric. Reflecting on this role played by converts, she declares that “none of us thought there was a strategy” on the part of the Brotherhood to exert power within Swedish society. “We thought we were simply defending Islam and never thought the Brothers wanted to be gatekeepers to Swedish society but only speak to it. They did not detach and isolate themselves from Swedish society as other more extreme groups did. In this sense the Brotherhood seemed very progressive to me. I never saw their understanding as a way of gaining power in the Swedish society.”

Pernilla also brings up additional aspects of her time inside the Brotherhood milieu she did not like. She was disturbed by the “anti-Swedish racism” she experienced and the “sense of superiority toward Swedes” inside the Brotherhood milieu. But as a woman, she was also perturbed by the misogyny that existed in those circles. The subordination of women to men was one of the main issues that, by her own account, triggered first her disengagement from the Brotherhood milieu.

Pernilla’s feelings on gender discrimination inside the Brotherhood are not idiosyncratic. Rather, they fit into a pattern commonly seen in various Arab countries, and particularly in Egypt. Indeed, the role of women in the organization can be viewed from two angles. On one hand, women have arguably played an important role in the Brotherhood throughout its history, particularly in comparison with their place in other Islamist movements. The Sisterhood has always been an integral part of [the] organization, with roles and powers that are clearly subordinate to those of the men but nonetheless highly significant. Sisters are the backbone of the Brotherhood family, support their men in all their activities, and conduct a myriad of activities, from cooking collective meals to preparing banners for demonstrations, from holding classes to leafleting.

While the organization is clearly run by men, and women have no right to vote in internal elections or to be elected in any official leadership position in it—technically, membership is not available to women—the examples of women who have played or currently play a prominent role in the Brotherhood are not limited. Most prominent is, in Egypt, Zaynab al Ghazali, who was imprisoned and tortured during the Nasserite purges of the late 1960s and later played a key role in reestablishing the Brotherhood in the country—accomplishments that let her obtain a legendary status in Brotherhood circles. In contemporary Brotherhood circles in the West, a handful of women play crucial roles.

On the other hand, many Sisters have complained about the discrimination they suffered within Brotherhood circles and have left the organization, in some cases not quietly. Some, like Hassan al Banna’s granddaughter Sanaa, complained not just about gender issues but also, as is more common, about the lack of internal democracy. “If I were a man, I still would have left. There’s no freedom for either sex,” she explained. “There’s no transparency, no permission for the divergence of thoughts or critical thinking. It’s their way or you’re out.”

 

 

Excerpted from The Closed Circle: Joining and Leaving the Muslim Brotherhood in the West, by Lorenzo Vidino. Copyright ©2020 Columbia University Press. Reprinted with permission of Columbia University Press.

Featured image: Woman in Uppsala, Sweden, photgraphed by Georgios Karamanis.

Comments

  1. Islam: https://thereligionofpeace.com … enough said. Christians the world over have expressed outrage at the crimes perpetrated by the Catholic Church on children. I am not seeing any similar widespread condemnation by Muslims about the ongoing crimes perpetrated in the name of Islam … mostly against other Muslims. Look at the amount of media coverage of one man’s psychotic break in New Zealand vs the relative silence of the much more deadly outrage committed against “Easter worshippers” in Sri Lanka.

    The bravery of the women covered in this important work cannot be overstated.

  2. Pernilla lists many superficial reasons why she lightheartedly decided to marry the Algerian student: he was “nice looking, kind, and exotic”; she was “bored with university life” and this was “a fun experience”; and she thought that “Arabs were misunderstood” and this was a nice way of helping one.

    Sounds like a sound decision.

    Sweden’s pride in being the most feminist country in the world obviously in no way prevents flirting with Islamism. The two ideologies may have fewer differences than one might think at first, and having a common enemy certainly doesn’t hurt either.

    It may well be that for many young leftists their political careers begin in a similarly naive way. Over-saturated with the security and prosperity of their life in Western countries, plus the allure of the unknown and the imagination of standing by the side of all the oppressed on this earth - with this seductive idea in their minds they follow the Pied Pipers into radicalization and are eager to condemn and fight the society to which they owe almost everything, not least their sheltered upbringing.

    A few realize their mistake in time, others much too late and some of them never.

  3. Having become a lecturer at Malmö University focusing on gender studies, Pernilla put her days as a cog in the Swedish Brotherhood machine behind her.

    Sounds like she was better off in the Brotherhood.

  4. The title of this article is unfortunately incomplete, probably by mistake. The correct, completed version should certainly read like this:

    “Life With the Muslim Brotherhood and Gender Studies: One Woman’s Doubly Tragic Story”

  5. First a slight nitpick: technically Yaffo (Jaffa) is not a part of Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv was founded by Jews who wanted to leave Jaffa. Both are, however, united for administrative reasons into the “Tel Aviv and Jaffa” municipality. But since Tel Aviv is much larger, this municipality is indeed commonly - in fact almost universally, except in official documents - called just “Tel Aviv”. So I suppose whether Jaffa is “part of” Tel Aviv is really a matter of what you mean by “part”.

    The author wonders how the Muslim brotherhood and “gender studies” anticolonialists can coexist. The answer is simple: they’re united in their hatred of the west, and especially despise their own country… despite, or rather because, this country treats them so indulgently it allows them to emigrate to it and have an extremely comfortable and frivolous life. It is like hatred of overindulging parents who always solved all your problems for you: they gave you everything, except self-respect and independence. In a sense, it is more justified to hate them than to hate abusive parents.

    This airhead got her “PhD” at 37, in “gender studies”, after marrying a Muslim beause he “looked nice”, and being an “activist” for Islam. In short she did nothing worthwhile in all her life, except raising a daughter. (It is not at all that I think women are fit only to raise chiIdren, mind you. It is simply that I think raising a child is worthwhile, while the nonsense she did isn’t.) Is it any wonder she is full of anger at her country, for allowing and indeed encouraging her to waste her life like that?

  6. But they believe in conservatism fervently, as long as it’s foreign conservatism. That why the couple in your video were in the Middle East. They had the condition known as conservatism by proxy, where they have to see and revere the traditions of other cultures, because they had been brought up hating their own culture’s traditions,

    W.S. Gilbert put such people on the Lord High Executioner’s “little list” of possible victims should he ever need to chop off a few heads, to wit:

    “The idiot who praises in enthusiastic tone
    every century but this and Every culture but his own”

  7. Fascinating article. Whichever approach we examine, islam operates like a cult. Germany has banned scientology, why not islam?

  8. Well, I am an Israeli who knows many Muslims. God knows I have no sympathy to the like of Hamas. But I doubt very much the owners of the local supermarket, or my emergency room doctor, are members of a death cult. Yes, Islam in theory is a death cult… as are most religions. I will call your “death for apostasy” claim and raise you an “death for fornication” in Judaism. The question is what is going on in practice.

    Here I am conflicted. It is 100% true that Islam is far less tolerant than modern Christianity. But is this only due to Islam’s intolerance, or to modern Christianity in most of Europe being in effect a social club for amateur social workers, not a religion at all?

    That a Muslim man wants his wife to become a Muslim and wear the hijab is not a sign of intolerable oppression. It means he takes his religion seriously and worries about her being saved. This would be perfectly understandable to any Christian ca. 1900 or so. They would think the man tragically wrong in following the wrong religion, but they would agree his desire to have them follow his own religion is natural.

    A Christian who doesn’t care if his wife or children’s are raised as Christians is simply not a Christian at all, as he clearly does not take this “Jesus” or “hell” or “God” business seriously - let alone in something as silly as “sin”. This woman, too, obviously considers religion - including her own, original or adopted - as simply some sort of social club or self-help group. No wonder she shrugs and converts without much fuss; what difference does it make?

    I am not at all belittling or dismissing Islam’s Jihad and terrorism. But her husband didn’t engage in that. What shocked her is the discovery that her husband actually believes this “there is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet” stuff, and doesn’t see Islam merely as a badge of being part of a “colonially oppressed” group, but rather as the camp of the saved. In short the very fact that he actually is religious.

  9. Focusing on the situation in Europe as an example, the third generation of Turkish and Arab immigrants has proved to be the least integrated and most open to fundamentalism. The situation appears particularly unpleasant in France, where some of the banlieues around Paris and even the first smaller towns are now hardly recognizable as European. Even the French police, known as extremely strict, preferred not to insist too much on the enforcement of curfews and other measures against Corona there. In several German cities the Islamic call to prayer from the minarets of the mosques, a long-cherished wish of the Islamic associations, was officially permitted for the first time just during the Corona crisis.

    As the number of European natives is slowly decreasing while that of Muslim immigrants and their descendants is increasing, we are witnessing an experiment that could perhaps be called interesting, and which could answer your question in some time. My guess is that in about 15-20 years parts of Western Europe will start being mainly occupied with ethnic tensions and the occasional flare-up of civil war-like conditions.

    This will be a real pity, both for the natives who will lose their peaceful homelands and for those of the immigrants who sincerely wanted to leave behind the problems of their countries of origin. Although the development in this direction can probably no longer be avoided or at best delayed, “clash of civilizations” sounds so theatrical. I would rather call it a hopeless, terrible mess.

  10. My perception is that recent immigrants will often dress traditionally, regardless of whether they hold extremist positions. Young people will tend to fit in within a year or so, but the elderly might never. Most often, middle aged men end up dressing like it’s the 90s and women like it’s the 1290s, but they mostly keep to themselves.

    The ones that really scare me are the feminist university students that wear tight jeans, colourful hijabs, and too much makeup. They’ve got all the extremism of ISIS and all the social supremacy and institutional domination of intersectional feminists. It’s the Linda Sarsours and Ilhan Omars that are the real threat to Western civilization.

    What we consider radical sentiment is common among people in Islamic countries, and only marginally lower among Muslims in the West. We had a Muslim friend who played on my husband’s pool team. He decided one day he wanted to have his first drink, so we did shots together. He started talking about how Israel needs to be destroyed. Oops! My Dad recalls being at a strip club with his Muslim co-workers in the drug trade where they were drinking and fornicating but also absolutely livid about Salman Rushdie.

    Islam poses a singular threat to the liberal value of religious tolerance, because tolerance relies on the people society tolerates being somewhat tolerant themselves. A religion with a political agenda is bad enough when it produces demands to remove evolution from curricula. When demands involve legalizing female genital mutilation, controlling what other people are allowed to say about the religion, and transforming the local customs and culture in myriad ways, tension between the religion and broader society will make religious tolerance increasingly unpalatable.

    If we want to preserve religious tolerance, we need to head this one off. We need a hiatus on Muslim immigration and aggressive assimilation efforts, including measures to deghettoize neighborhoods and inculcate Western values. Bans on the burka and niqab should be considered as measures to encourage the most radical segments of the Muslim population to move somewhere more aligned with their values.

  11. The softball questions Pew asked in that particular survey were directed at determining how much Muslims are persecuted. The only question relevant to our conversation was this:

    PF_2017.06.26_muslimamericans-00new-01

    So 25% of Muslims admit that they see extremism in their community. At a time when we’ve shut down our countries for 2 months and halted virtually all air travel because of a 1% chance of death by disease, does it not stand to reason that the 25% of Muslim-reported extremism be similarly factored into our risk assessment? We don’t need Muslim immigrants, there is no harm to them or to society if they are simply not granted visas.

    This is so far from living memory I don’t know why you would bring it up.

    I didn’t say they weren’t diverse. I said:

    We see this in Pew polls where they ask the appropriate questions. I couldn’t find the article again right away (curious how such things get buried), but thankfully I saved the figures:

    When accepting immigrants from these countries, you should expect your sampling to reflect the views of the populace. There is nothing magical about American soil that will make people throw away their religion and culture overnight. Unlike most Westerners, Muslims are well-grounded in their culture and proud of it. They are more likely to influence us than we are to influence them, and indeed Muslims make efficient work of it in prisons.

    How convenient for them. We have to let Muslims come in en masse and colonize whole neighbourhoods and countries, or else the extremists will say we’re bad and peaceful Muslims will decide for the first time to jihad us.

    No. This is negotiating down the barrel of a gun. Muslims need to reform their religion in their own countries. Once they’re done, and only then, will the risk to accepting them into our societies be acceptable.

  12. Accusation of bigotry! What a cheap escape. This kind of response reflects nothing except your own discomfort with the statistics presented.

    Muslims of course are individuals with their own wide-ranging personalities. That does not mean they do not have a culture. I have had many Muslim friends and acquaintances, people I have liked or loved. That does not mean they didn’t have repulsive, extremist views. If you have not had similar experiences with Muslims, it is simply because you have never had an actual Muslim friend. It is easy to have a sanitized view of people you only see while they are grocery shopping or doing your taxes. Buy a Muslim his first shot and see if your views survive.

    We’d like to think people with awful opinions are also unlikable, hideous monsters, but they are not. Some of them are otherwise kind, gentle, hilarious, brilliant, empathetic. When selecting immigrants, however, there is no need to overlook probable awful opinions just because it’s also probable the person is otherwise a nice guy. There are many populations to choose from that are just as nice but do not come with the risk.

  13. Google tells me bigotry is “obstinate and unreasonable attachment to a particular creed, opinion, practice, ritual, or party organization,” and I don’t think I’ve demonstrated that here. You certainly have not made such a case. You simply threw an insult.

    I agree that men pose a greater threat of violence than women, but women have the drawback of rarely being net taxpayers. To avoid demographic problems, we ought to have a gender balanced immigration profile.

    Yes.

    Yes. We are allowed to chose who we want to bring in. Why bring in anyone but the best? We have enough people (Jewish, Christian and Muslim) with retarded worldviews, we should not bring in any more.

    If you’re telling the truth, there are two possibilities: 1) you’re not as close to them as you think you are, 2) there’s a gender bias here. Most of my negative experiences with my Muslim friends wouldn’t have happened if I weren’t a woman. I assume no 14 year old Muslim girls have called you in tears because they’re afraid their father is going to beat them over a picture of them without a hijab posted on Facebook. I assume you’ve never lost a friend of many years because it became clear he saw you as a slut and became increasingly entitled about getting in your pants.

    These are not characteristics exclusive to Muslims, but retrograde attitudes are statistically more predominant among them. It is okay to simply choose to not welcome those attitudes into your country.

    It makes little sense to wait until you have a giant problem like Europe does before doing something about it. The earlier you address it, the gentler the measures can be. If you wait until Muslims make up 20s or 30s %, you’re waiting for civil war to break out in your streets. And then it will be devastating and ugly no matter who ends up on top in the end.

  14. This comparison doesn’t seem to hold water. I cannot remember any Italian immigrants flying airplanes into buildings for religious reasons, Maltese immigrants threatening to kill anyone who painted a picture of their favorite saint, or third-generation Greek immigrants proclaiming in their Orthodox churches to forcefully subject the whole world to their faith.

    It seems to me that the retrograde attitudes of a not insignificant proportion of Muslims have some particularly unpleasant effects on the rest of society, which may have contributed to the bad reputation of their religion and reduced the willingness to invite even more of it.

  15. [all emphasis mine]

    @K_Dershem: Normally I do not interfere in the disputes of others, but in this case I will make an exception.

    You and @Stephanie obviously have different opinions on this subject, but I have the impression that you read something into her comments that is not there. This started earlier in the thread already, but since you reacted most harshly to the above quote, I will take this as an example.

    • Stephanie refers here to Jews, Christians and Muslims - but according to your answer you understood only “Muslims”.

    • She never said that all followers of these religions are retarded (perhaps radical atheists might say that).

    • You put the expression “shithole countries” in her mouth, a term she had clearly not used, another indication that you are arguing against an imaginary position here.

    This seems to me to be a (widespread and very human) reaction to avoid having to deal further with an opposing position. And it is a kind of reaction that for some reason I observe mostly with liberals when they describe the positions of the other side, which are so evil that it would be downright absurd to deal with their opinions. When you called people (including probably @Stephanie and @Fantasmo) “morally monstrous”, it seemed to me to go in the same direction.

    In “The Righteous Mind - Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion” Jonathan Haidt describes why liberals have more difficulty understanding conservatives than the other way around. According to him, only by really listening to the opinions of others instead of demonizing them, and especially by trying to understand their reasons, one can reduce such blind spots.

    (Full disclosure: Like probably most people, I also have blind spots, but getting rid of some of them has helped me every time so far).

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