Consider the ways in which exposure to Western values could transform Europe’s Muslim community. Seeing the everyday fruits of democracy might foster an appreciation for consensual government, perhaps. Or rubbing up against neighborly folks of varying backgrounds might, over time, serve to break xenophobic habits of mind.
Or, on the other hand, witnessing female contributions to liberal societies might pave the way for women looking to take a more active role in jihad.
There’s a story in today’s New York Times about Malika El Aroud, the Gloria Steinem of al Qaeda. El Aroud, widow of an Afghanistan suicide bomber, is a prominent “internet jihadist.” She and her second husband (martyr’s widows are like supermodels in these circles) were convicted of running pro-al Qaeda websites, so–EU borders and law enforcement being what they are–she hopped over to Brussels, where she now blogs about killing infidels. Here’s the Times:
The changing role of women in the movement is particularly apparent in Western countries, where Muslim women have been educated to demand their rights and Muslim men are more accustomed to treating them as equals.
Ms. El Aroud reflects that trend. “Normally in Islam the men are stronger than the women, but I prove that it is important to fear God – and no one else,” she said. “It is important that I am a woman. There are men who don’t want to speak out because they are afraid of getting into trouble. Even when I get into trouble, I speak out.”
What trouble? This is Europe, where you’re simultaneously a terror suspect and a welfare recipient.
Now, even as Ms. El Aroud remains under constant surveillance, she is back home rallying militants on her main Internet forum and collecting more than $1,100 a month in government unemployment benefits.
The Times quotes an El Aroud supporter as saying, “Malika is a source of inspiration for women because she is telling women to stop sleeping and open their eyes.” Who will tell Europe to do the same?