January 15, 2004


"I set off for Egypt convinced that, unlike America, there was no corruption and hypocrisy in the Arab Muslim world," writes US-born Muslim convert Murad Kalam, "and that it bore no responsibility for its own appalling condition."

After a few days in Cairo, Murad’s view had changed:

For a week I managed to persist in the happy belief that I was not living in a brutal police state.

I fled home the next week, leaving all my illusions of the Arab world in my Cairo flat. I couldn’t wait to be in America again. On the long flight home, I promised myself I would never accept anything less than full democracy for my fellow Muslims in the Arab world or apologize for the tyranny that now masquerades as Islam.

Read the whole thing.

Posted by Tim Blair at January 15, 2004 12:27 AM

I guess I'm glad a reality check shaped ol' Murad up, but as a Pacific Northwesterner, I can only say: only someone from Seattle could be that downright dumb to begin with.

Posted by: KevinV at January 15, 2004 at 01:31 AM

He diagnoses the symptoms well enough, but falls down on diagnosing the disease.

The fact of the matter is, those unlovely behavioral traits he witnessed in Cairo are encouraged by Islamic doctrine. What he saw in Egypt is the result of centuries of Islamic-encouraged intolerance, hatred, paranoia and corruption.

Posted by: Susan at January 15, 2004 at 03:51 AM

It's lucky this guy doesn't have a programme on the BBC, or he'd get suspended. Then he would get told by some arse-wipe at the Qango in charge of racial harmaony (facists against racism) that he should pay a huge amount of money to a muslim charity, make a grovelling apology and then turn his programme into a thing that praises all things Muslim.

Posted by: Toryhere at January 15, 2004 at 08:02 AM

This guy wants mad props for seeing the light, well fuck him.

"I set off for medical school convinced that all desease was caused by invisable bowler hat-wearing racoon-monkeys and the human skull was packed full of delicious candy! My first year caused me to re-examine my convictions."

Congratulations retard!

I spent thirteen years campagning tirelessly for labour reform laws for our giant, sentient, locomotive freight-pullers, befor someone explained to me that Thomas the Tank Engine was a children's show and not a dark allegory of the cruel capitalist exploitation of our indiginous Locomotive American population. Also, I found out the show was British."

Color me impressed! Welcome back Ahmed or Murad or whatever your fucking name is, you goddamn imbecile!

Posted by: Amos at January 15, 2004 at 09:18 AM

"I set off for Egypt convinced that, unlike America, there was no corruption and hypocrisy in the Arab Muslim world."

Where'd he get that stupid idea?

Amos, above, LOL.

Posted by: kid charlemagne at January 15, 2004 at 09:49 AM

I wrote thiS long comment only to realise it can be compressed into one sentence:

"Murad is a dickhead".

Posted by: Jake D at January 15, 2004 at 10:08 AM

In this era of 'Less is More' Murad just reached a milestone. It now only takes one man to accomplish what once required Larry, Moe and Curly (or sometimes Shemp).

Hail, Murad. The UberStooge.

Posted by: Carl H. at January 15, 2004 at 11:17 AM

This is the guy who was featured in a December 2002 WSJ Best of the Web column:

"Here's the blurb about a segment on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" (seventh item):

Commentator Murad Kalam made a pilgrimage to Mecca for Ramadan, and saw diversity there. He says he realized that the values of Mecca--acceptance of all as equals--are American values.

Yes, in Mecca they accept all as equals--all, that is, except Christians, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, Shintoists, Unitarians, Zoroastrians, Taoists, Sikhs, deists, pantheists, atheists, agnostics, adherents of the Baha'i faith and all other non-Muslims, who under the Saudi-enforced system of religious apartheid aren't allowed to set foot within the city limits."

Posted by: Zhang Fei at January 15, 2004 at 11:59 AM

Despite what you think of the narrator, the story is great.

And he does end up jaded and giving up - which is why you should ignore most of the anti-American ravings of the Arab world.

Many Arab citizens want a better life and would jump at the chance to live in a free democracy. All the anti-American stuff is just an outlet - the dictatorships and theocracies suppress any other kind of complaint directed at their own governments.

Posted by: Jono at January 15, 2004 at 02:08 PM

"Uh, Murad, it appears your, ah, serum is wearing off...come now for another indoctrination injection..."

Posted by: Michael Moore at January 15, 2004 at 02:40 PM

>I wanted only to be an expatriate novelist, a
>dissident, and to enjoy the celebrity of being a
>convert in a Muslim country.

Further evidence of my contention that the root of all stupidity & evil in the world is narcissism.

Posted by: Dave S. at January 15, 2004 at 06:51 PM

No one has yet commented on this tidbit from Murad's testimony:

But, in college, when I stumbled across the Qur’an in translation I was so struck by the force of its message and its literary power that I gave up drinking and carousing and changed my name. [emphasis added]

To get an idea of where Murad's mindset was -- and still must be, since he continues to identify as a Muslim -- I would suggest the following replacement as a more accessible analogy:

But, in college, when I stumbled across [L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics] I was so struck by the force of its message and its literary power that I gave up drinking and carousing and changed my name.

...for the Qur'an really is shockingly banal and derivative. I've grown to be automatically suspicious of anyone non-Muslim who approvingly mentions the literary merits of the Qur'an, because as best I can tell, there's simply no there, there. The mind reels at how much good literature in Farsi or Urdu may have been overlooked and eventually lost because generations of Muslims were taught to recite and idolize the Arabic Quran. (And I'm an atheist who maintains that the literary merits of the Judeo-Christian Bible are creditable solely to the efforts of mortal authors and redactors over many centuries.)

Murad's conviction that the "source text" has irreproducable beauty and persuasive power is, of course, typical of fundamentalists and enthusiastic converts of every strip, from King James Version fetishists to certain Atlas Shrugged fans...

Posted by: Throbert McGee at January 16, 2004 at 01:08 AM

There are lots of ways to be dumb. My question is how he got to be dumb in this particular fashion.
Who's been messing with what he obviously thinks is a mind?

Posted by: Richard Aubrey at January 16, 2004 at 01:08 AM