2004 April 12 Monday
Theodore Dalrymple On Muslim Immigrants In Britain

Writing for the City Journal Theodore Dalrymple reports on forced marriages, the basic problems in Islam that prevent an Islamic Reformation, and the signs that many young Muslim criminals in Britain are abandoning Islam.

This pattern of betrothal causes suffering as intense as any I know of. It has terrible consequences. One father prevented his daughter, highly intelligent and ambitious to be a journalist, from attending school, precisely to ensure her lack of Westernization and economic independence. He then took her, aged 16, to Pakistan for the traditional forced marriage (silence, or a lack of open objection, amounts to consent in these circumstances, according to Islamic law) to a first cousin whom she disliked from the first and who forced his attentions on her. Granted a visa to come to Britain, as if the marriage were a bona fide one—the British authorities having turned a cowardly blind eye to the real nature of such marriages in order to avoid the charge of racial discrimination—he was violent toward her.

She had two children in quick succession, both of whom were so severely handicapped that they would be bedridden for the rest of their short lives and would require nursing 24 hours a day. (For fear of giving offense, the press almost never alludes to the extremely high rate of genetic illnesses among the offspring of consanguineous marriages.) Her husband, deciding that the blame for the illnesses was entirely hers, and not wishing to devote himself to looking after such useless creatures, left her, divorcing her after Islamic custom. Her family ostracized her, having concluded that a woman whose husband had left her must have been to blame and was the next thing to a whore. She threw herself off a cliff, but was saved by a ledge.

I’ve heard a hundred variations of her emblematic story. Here, for once, are instances of unadulterated female victimhood, yet the silence of the feminists is deafening. Where two pieties—feminism and multiculturalism—come into conflict, the only way of preserving both is an indecent silence.

For more about the problems posed by consanguineous marriage as a factor that exacerbates the problems posed by Islam start with my previous post John Tierney On Cousin Marriage As Reform Obstacle In Iraq which has links to other posts I've made on the topic. Also see my post Imported Spouses Preventing Assimilation Of Dutch Muslims and the bottom of the following post where Muslim spouses are being imported into Norway as well. This practice of importing Muslim spouses typically involves the importation of first or second cousins and serves to propagate both tribalism and oppression of women in Western countries which have Muslim immigrant populations.

Dalrymple says we can't count on a Muslim reformation to eventually end the problems that Islam poses for the West:

Moreover, even if there were no relevant differences between Christianity and Islam as doctrines and civilizations in their ability to accommodate modernity, a vital difference in the historical situations of the two religions also tempers my historicist optimism. Devout Muslims can see (as Luther, Calvin, and others could not) the long-term consequences of the Reformation and its consequent secularism: a marginalization of the Word of God, except as an increasingly distant cultural echo—as the “melancholy, long, withdrawing roar” of the once full “Sea of faith,” in Matthew Arnold’s precisely diagnostic words.

And there is enough truth in the devout Muslim’s criticism of the less attractive aspects of Western secular culture to lend plausibility to his call for a return to purity as the answer to the Muslim world’s woes. He sees in the West’s freedom nothing but promiscuity and license, which is certainly there; but he does not see in freedom, especially freedom of inquiry, a spiritual virtue as well as an ultimate source of strength. This narrow, beleaguered consciousness no doubt accounts for the strand of reactionary revolt in contemporary Islam. The devout Muslim fears, and not without good reason, that to give an inch is sooner or later to concede the whole territory.

Of course are revelant differences in the base texts of Islam and Christianity that make them different in fundamental ways which make an eventual reformation of Islam far more problematic. It seems very risky and foolish for Westerners to count on a reformation to change Islam to make it more compatible with Western notions of liberty and individual rights. Read Dalrymple's full article for the rest of his argument. He explains at length what he sees as the main problems which keep Islam from going through something analogous to the Protestant Reformation. The Islamic doctrine of apostasy is a seemingly insurmountable obstacle to the reform of Islam. However, Dalrymple sees hopeful signs that so many Muslims will abandon Islam that eventually it will collapse.

Some Western apologists for Islam say religious states are acceptable. This tends to lead toward denial that Muslims living in the West pose a problem to classical Western liberal society. My own view is that if Western intellectuals continue to ignore the incompatibility of Western notions of liberty with Islam we will not defend our own countries from the growth of Muslim populations caused by immigration. The multiculturalist beliefs of the leftists lead to such folly as the imposition of Sharia law on Canadian Muslims. The 16 year old girl of Theodore Dalrymple's account would have an even worse prospect of being protected by the law from her own parents if Sharia law was introduced in Britain as well.

Daniel Pipes argues that we can find a way to get along with Islam and that Westerners should support Islamic secularists. But let us be real. Western supporters of Islamic secularism are placing their bets on those people who live in Islamic countries who basically do not really believe in Islam. There may be some devout Muslims who believe in the separation of mosque and state and in equal rights for women. But my bet is that the vast majority of secularists are people who hide their secret agnosticism or atheism from the larger population because agnosticism and atheism are not acceptable to the truly religious. The Islamic doctrine of apostasy prevents the secularists from becoming a major counterweight to the fundamentalists. Only the collapse of Islam as a result of to large scale abandonment by its adherents can solve the problem that Islam poses. Will that large scale abandonment of Islam ever happen in Muslim countries?

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 April 12 01:44 PM  Civilizations Clash Of

Sandra Farrell said at January 24, 2005 8:56 AM:

I think your atticle was brillant in exsicution. You delivered a blackness on our world, NO HOPE!!!
Look the world is ever changing. I am an educated American Women, and I am a prisoner in the Unnited States, not from the law, but from an egotistic American well paid man. It is all undercover, keep a women take away her dreams and let a man judge deside that she is not worthy of any of the just pay for long years of devotion. Yes it happens all the time in America. And now we get fags to look at every day telling us how to decorate our house. Its shameful how our country can not reach out and better understand the ways of other countries. Maybe after the war. I am proud to be an American, I love my country, but our men, lets face it, they grow more ingodly every day. Maybe the joining of two cultures will in turn make our world a better place. There is no black and white, it is all GREY, and if we open our arms and our hearts, maybe we can find that this great colorful world is not just a rainbow for gay people!!!
Thanks for listening, try to see that our cultur and everything goes is breeding no self worth, because all that suave I'm gay attitude is just emptiness. Total Black skies. Freedom, O we have freedom, just don't try to exersize the right to tell it like it really is. Just what Hollowood wants you to see taste, and be empty about.
What a sad sad world. Opening Heart are the step to OPENING minds!!!
Sandra Farrell

M.Robinson said at July 22, 2005 7:17 AM:

Why do we westerners have people who feel the need to write books and books on muslims and islam, what is the fascination, first it was against the ,'red chinese', the anti chinese literature and anti chinese movies of the fifties and sixties, which died down in the eighties and now that china is emerging as an economic giant the attacks have restarted but now in a more subtle and clever strategy.
In a similar manner we have Zionist and anti muslims working together to get us to hate the 'new enemy' of islam and muslims. If you look at history, we in the west have caused more death and destruction against muslim than they have against us.

Randall Parker said at July 22, 2005 10:28 AM:


You can't be serious. Muslims keep trying to blow us up. They have forced the Western nations to spend tens of billions of dollars (if not more) per year on security. We have to go thru all sorts of inconveniences when we travel because of Muslims. I have had to stand on one foot while airport security people passed a wand under one of my feet.

As for the "new enemy": Have you read what Muslim Imams say about the West? They proclaim we are their enemy. If we take their word for it you would have us believe that we are to blame. What utter nonsense.

Death and destruction: You have a very selective historical memory. Did the Muslims invade Spain and into France? Did they fight all the way to the gates of Vienna or not? Whatever happened to Christian Egypt or the Christian Byzantine Empire? Either you are a Muslim masquerading as a native Brit or you hate your own civilization. Which is it?

M.Robinson said at July 25, 2005 5:57 AM:

Randall Parker

When it suits you , you start talking from history, and when it does not suit your interest, you say it was in the past 'get over it'. Are you not being a bit hypocritical.

In your reference that muslim imams proclaiming that we are their enemies, this is no less than what US evangelical christians say about Islam and have been saying about Islam for some considerable time.

In britain we have achieved quite a lot in terms of interfaith dialogue, I have attended christian -muslim group meetings , which are open to the irreligious as well. The local imam actually gave an invitation to the catholic priest to attend The Friday prayers in the main mosque(without actually taking part in the prayers), where the Catholic priest would be allowed to address the muslim congregation, on what christians believe.
Now you tell me where does that happen the USA?.

In relation to your query, I am no 'masquerader' and neither do I hate my own civilization, I always try to take a analytical approach, take the best of what we have and didsard that which is nonsensical(to me), because thats me perogative. I am anti-racist and will speak against racist idealogies disguised as legitimate by politicians, media people or individuals peddling the ideology.

we in europe blamed the jews for allsorts and thus carried out horrendous acts of evil against them, now people like you are peddling similar sort of hate and propaganda against the muslims, and this I do not like, I too have difference of opinion with what some muslims say, but i do not go the extreme of attacking all muslims and Islam under some other pretext.

You sound like a Pat robertson type evangelical christian or a zionist, or possibly both.

Randall Parker said at July 25, 2005 9:21 AM:


There are lots of inter-faith meetings between Muslims, Jews, and Christians in the United States. I'm sure if you wanted to take 10 minutes and go Googling on it you could find plenty.

History and getting over it: Yes, we should get over history and not bear grudges. But we should also learn from history. Every time someone tries to imply some unique evil of the United States or Britain or the West I believe are distorting history for their own political objectives now. So I bring up the larger historical context.

Hate of Muslims? No, I just do not want theocracy and terrorism imposed on my civilization. They have dozens of countries where they can implement Sharia law, force women to wear veils, and force everyone to believe the same thing. I don't want them doing that here.

You spout the standard multiculturalist ideological nonsense about how anyone who defends their civilization is full of hatred. But your own position amounts to an enablement of decay of your civilization and of attacks on it.

You are ignorant of what American Evangelical Christians think if you think I sound like them. Ditto on the Zionists.

Shefali said at March 5, 2011 11:30 AM:

When I've visited Muslims in their native countries, they are very charming, hospitable, civilized, etc. Muslims actually have a very definite culture of hospitality, and so they make excellent hosts. And, as an American who has gotten a Master's and was working on a PhD in engineering, I've met many Muslim colleagues who are very bright, nice people. I have Muslim neighbors who are great. I don't have any problems with Islam per se... my problem is when Muslims come to this country and instead of assimilating they seek to import shari'ia. I've seen it to some degree with one Muslim neighbor - the father refused to let the daughter go to the University she really wanted to attend because it would mean she would live in a dorm instead of at home. She is very restricted and I suspect she will be married off to a man of her parents' choosing. I feel sorry for her, but, to some degree, it's easy for us Americans to ignore such things as long as it stays within the Muslim enclaves. What happens, however, when it escalates? Recently, US doctors were being asked to circumcise young Muslim girls - they could justify doing it by saying, if they didn't, the girls would be circumcised anyway, but without benefit of anasthesia. This produced enough of an outcry that the AMA spoke out against the procedure. Now, what has become of our standards on child abuse when we can ignore cutting off the clitoris and labia of a small child? What about our feelings on domestic violence - the burkha is very concealing and thus a woman's bruises can be more easily masked. Do we care if these women are being abused? Is our tolerance for their culture more important than the rights of women and children?

It's actually a bit tricky because, for example, many if not most Muslim women who wear the hijab do so voluntarily and I for one do not want to stick my nose where it isn't wanted. But, at the same time, I don't want vulnerable people to feel that they have no options.

For me, the issue really is - can Muslims accept that they are just one part of a diverse society or do they feel that their rights are more important than the rights of others? Other immigrant groups - Jews, Hindus, Buddhists - have been able to assimilate in the greater society. Most of my Hindu and Jewish friends have Christmas presents and take their kids trick or treating while at the same time inviting their WASP pals to come over for a Diwali celebration or a Passover sedar. However, I know many Muslims who never allow their children to participate in something as secular as Halloween or the 4th of July, let alone putting up a tree at Christmas. The problem has become worse rather than better over the years. Back in the '70s most of the Muslims I knew were secular ones who occasionally had a beer or some bacon and often had dogs for their children, didn't wear the hijab, etc. Now I see more and more devout Muslims, which in and of itself wouldn't bother me except they seem to have a greater allegiance to dar al Islam than anything else. They believe that everything Islamic must, ipso facto, be better than anything else and therefore they see nothing wrong in trying to impose their view on the greater society.

As an example - here in Texas a mosque was built next door to a pig farm. The people who bought the land for the mosque knew the farm was there. They bought the land anyway and built their mosque. Once they had done so they started to complain that their worshipers shouldn't have to deal with being next door to a pig farm and they started complaining about the pig farm. At a town meeting, the mosque leaders asked the pig farmer to move. This infuriated the pig farmer whose family had owned the land for 200 years. So, he started to hold pig races at his farm on Fridays. The local community overwhelmingly supported him. Note, no one was bothered by the mosque UNTIL the owner started complaining about the pig farm.

As an American, I totally support the rights of Muslims to worship as they please AS LONG AS they do not infringe on anyone else's rights. If they cannot understand that we Americans do not want shari'ia law imposed on us and they are not willing to respect and tolerate the rights of others... there are places they can move to where shari'ia is practiced....

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