I  CONTINUE  HERE  WITH  ISLAM  SEXUALITY  AS  AYAAN  HIRSI  ALI  MEETS  WITH  HER  CHRISTIAN  FRIEND  ELLAN;  FROM  ALI’S  BOOK 


INFIDEL


ALL  BLACK  LETTING  IS  MINE  FOR  EMPHASIS  -  Keith Hunt






CHAPTER 12

Haweya

For many months after receiving my father's letter, I felt very bleak There was nothing I could do now but go forward, alone, in the direction that I had chosen. Slowly, the weather improved, and so did my grasp of the Dutch language. The staff at the center for asylum seekers began encouraging me to translate from Somali directly into Dutch, instead of into English. They patiently corrected my mistakes. It was like wobbling down the road on a bicycle—I found myself getting better at it.


Sylvia, in particular, encouraged me. She told me that I had a future. I could request that the Dutch government accept my Kenyan O-levels as a high school equivalency, and then I could study, perhaps even qualify to attend the university, if that was what I really wanted.


One day, a Somali girl asked me to go with her to the hospital; she had to have a gynecological exam. 


The doctor told me to explain that this girl would have to take off her clothes and that he would look at her uterus with a long silver tool. She told me, "I will do it, but I don't think he will be able to see my uterus." I understood: she was closed up, a scar.


I tried to tell the doctor, but he just retorted, "Do as I say." But when she climbed onto the table and he looked between her legs, he snapped back with shock, and swore. Then he angrily ripped his gloves off, because no steel tool was getting inside that. This girl had no genitals at all, just a completely smooth panel of scar tissue between her legs.


This was the farooni, the excision so extreme that the woman's whole genitals are scraped off and mend into a hard band of dark skin. I had never seen one—mostly only the Isaq girls from the North are excised in this way—but I knew what it was. The doctor, though, thought the girl had been burned. The whole medical team seemed shocked. It dawned on me that here in Europe, the excision of women was unheard of.


In May 1993, I received an official letter: I had housing. The municipality of Ede was able to offer me a one-room apartment. I would receive an unemployment allowance that would pay for the rent.


I welcomed the prospect of leaving the refugee center. Fights constantly broke out between asylum seekers, over politics or women, and there was constant gossip. But when I told Yasmin my news, she burst into tears, and asked, "So you're going to leave me here?"


Jasmin's claim to refugee status had been refused. But because she had declared she was a minor, she was allowed to remain in Holland. She had to live at the asylum-seeker center and attend a special school for foreigners, which she hated. I asked the housing office if Yasmin could live with me, but she couldn't: it was a one-room apartment. If I wanted a two-bedroom place, I would have to wait.


I thought about it. I had been so selfish. If I didn't stand by Yasmin now, I risked becoming a truly bad person. I turned the flat down and applied for a two-bedroom, with Yasmin.


I began making friends with some of the people who worked at the asylum-seeker center. 


A counselor a few years older than I, Hanneke, introduced me to her friend Ellen, who was my age and studying social work at the local Christian vocational college. We rented videos, went for walks, and arranged picnics—all sorts of girly things, which I loved doing. They introduced me to their friends and their families.


Both Hanneke and Ellen were Christians, and seemed to take their religion seriously, but they still went to pubs. 


The first time Hanneke persuaded me to come along, I thought Allah truly might strike me down. It had been a long time since I last prayed, but going to a bar—this was really haram. In fact, a pub turned out to be just a place where people stood up for hours in a crowd of other people, drinking alcohol and smoking and shouting at each other over loud music. I could never understand much of what was going on. The custom was mystifying.


YA  AND  IT  STILL  IS  TO  ME  ALSO,  TODAY  IN  2017  AS  I  UPLOAD  THIS  -  Keith Hunt


I kept going there, however, because the others liked it. I didn't drink, but still, sometimes when I came home I would feel bad about it. How could I be going to places like this, places that had once seemed so evil? I would tell myself, "I didn't do anything wrong. I didn't seduce or encourage anyone, just drank a Coca-Cola, wearing jeans. There's nothing wrong with that." If I wasn't doing anything wrong, then surely Allah wouldn't punish me.


Actually, I didn't get why people needed to go to a noisy place to talk. 


I  DON’T  GET  IT  EITHER,  NEVER  DID,  EVEN  AS  A  TEENAGER….JUST  NOT  IN  MY  MAKEUP…..I  HATE  HAVING  TO  SHOUT  AT  SOMEONE  IN  A  CONVERSATION,  BECAUSE  OVERLY  LOUD  MUSIC  IS  BLASTING  MY  EAR-DRUMS  -  Keith Hunt


Ede was a nice, conservative, Protestant small town, a very peaceful, predictable place. There wasn't any bad behavior in pubs. People got drinks, and the people who were together in a group stood facing each other in a small circle and shouted at each other over the music. When they were choosing which pub to go to, people always picked the one that was already packed. There was no logic to it.


NO  LOGIC  TO  ME  EITHER;  MAYBE  THEY  HAVE  SECLUDED  JOBS,  OR  WORK  AT  A  COMPUTER  ALL  DAY,  AND  ALL  THEY  SEE  IS  A  SCREEN;  MAYBE  THEY  THEN  NEED  SOME  CLOSED-IN  SHOULDER  TO  SHOULDER  “PEOPLE  TIME”  -  Keith Hunt


I was having difficulty figuring out the Dutch. I imagined going home and telling Haweya, "From sunrise to sunset they seem normal, but they have some weird habits in the evenings."


Hanneke thought it was important for me to see more of Holland. One spring weekend she decided to take me to Amsterdam for the day. There, we strolled around the elegant houses around the Herengracht, the Gentlemen's Canal, with its tiny, delicate bridges. Every Dutch city, it seemed, had a center that was ancient and lovely, and such a lot of thought had been given to preserving it. You could walk undisturbed in the streets at night; it was orderly and clean. Everything seemed to function so beautifully in this country, while a few hours away there was so much conflict and filth and hardship.


Hanneke also walked me through the red-light district near the Central Station, just to show me what it was like. I remember feeling as if I'd been hit in the stomach by the sight of women standing behind glass, naked or strung together in obscenely sexual clothes. It made me think of animal parts hanging off hooks at the butcher's stall in Kariokor market. This was exploitation: I recoiled from it. Hanneke couldn't persuade me that these women were doing it voluntarily, as an honest day's work.


YA  THE  WEST  ALSO  HAS  SOME  SICK  SEXUALITY  IN  THE  NAME  OF  “FREEDOM”  -  Keith Hunt


But this unpleasant side of Dutch society seemed also to have no connection with the Holland I knew. Ordinary Dutch people were not depraved in this way. Perhaps I had more connection with them than most foreigners did, but I was convinced that the Dutch were not the licentious monsters that many Somali asylum seekers perceived.


Ellen and I had numerous conversations about her Christian beliefs. 


Her relationship with God seemed to be about dialogue and love, a striking contrast to the fear and submission I had been taught to show. Ellen had been brought up a fundamentalist Protestant; her parents were from a strict Dutch Reformed denomination. They went to church twice every Sunday and made her wear long skirts; Ellen was searching for her own way to relate to God, and this troubled her. Still, her beliefs seemed far less restrictive than Islam as I knew it. 


In fact, I thought they were much too pleasant and convenient to be true.


Ellen said she prayed to God only when she felt like it. She said her Christian God was a kind, fatherly figure, though, mystifyingly, he seemed not to help her directly—apparently he wanted Ellen to help herself. 


She told me, "In your religion there is so much Hell, and you pray because you have to. This is a master-slave relationship."


SO  TRUE  WHEN  IT  COMES  TO  “HELL”  -  IT  IS  ALL  OVER  THE  QURAN,  CONSTANTLY  BEING  TALKED  ABOUT;  WHERE  UNBELIEVERS  WILL  GO  AND  SPEND  ETERNITY  IN  PAIN  AND  SORROW.  VERY  MUCH  THE  SAME  TEACHING  AS  THE  POPULAR  CHRISTIAN  CHURCH  TAUGHT  FOR  CENTURIES;  WHICH  BY  THE  WAY  IS  NOT  WHAT  THE  BIBLE  TEACHES  AT  ALL.  MANY  STUDIES  ON  THIS  WEBSITE  GIVE  YOU  THE  TRUTH  ABOUT  DEATH,  THE  RESURRECTION,  AND  HELL  -  Keith Hunt


Ellen had a boyfriend. She was in love with one of the Iranian asylum seekers, Badal Zadeh. But she wanted to start marriage as a virgin. She and her boyfriend used to kiss on the mouth quite openly, even in front of people. Ellen used to tell me, "But this is normal!" And it was true: young people did this all the time on the street. I had noticed it the minute I got off the plane, and all the Somalis said this was what the filthy gaalo always did. And yet Ellen still wanted to be a virgin?


One day the four of us were sitting around watching TV in the apartment that Hanneke and Ellen shared in Ede. The program was called All You Need Is Love. Dutch men and women declared their love for someone, in front of the whole nation, and the presenter played Cupid. After a commercial break the viewers got to see if this love was mutual or not. It seemed completely barbaric to Yasmin and me.


Ellen and I started talking about love, courtship, and virginity. To me, as a Somali, being a virgin meant being excised, physically sewn shut. 


I had already figured out that Dutch people didn't do that, so I asked, "How will your husband find out whether you're a virgin or not? Isn't there a test?"


Ellen replied, "Of course not. He'll know I'm a virgin because I say I am." My question seemed weird to her, so she asked, 'You have a test?" I told her: we are cut, and sewn shut, so that the skin is closed, and when a man penetrates you there is blood. There can be no pretending.


Ellen and Hanneke were disgusted, appalled. They asked, "And this happened to you?" Yasmin and I both said yes, and Yasmin, who was a snob, added, "If you're not cut, you're not pure, are you?" Very innocently, with her big blue eyes wide, Ellen asked, "Pure from what?"


Pure from what. Pure from what, exactly? I thought about it for a long time, and realized I had no answer. 


It wasn't completely because of Islam that we were cut: not all Muslim women are excised. But in Somalia and the other Muslim countries, it was clear that the Islamic culture of virginity encouraged it. 


I knew of no fatwa denouncing female genital mutilation; on the contrary, suppressing the sexuality of women was a big theme with imams. Boqol Sawm and the other ma'alims had always preached endlessly about how women should become aware of their sexual powers; they must cover themselves and stay indoors. They went into minute detail about this, yet somehow they never got around to saying that it is wrong to cut girls and sew them up.


What were we being kept pure from? Somebody owned us. What was between my legs was not mine to give. I was branded.


I found I had no answer for Ellen. I just gaped at her and said, "It's our tradition." 


And because Ellen truly was a believer, she said, "But you believe God created you, don't you?" I said yes, of course. Ellen said, "So the way God made us is the way God wants us to be. Why shouldn't we stay like that? Why does your culture feel we should improve on God's work? Isn't that blasphemy?" I stared at her. There really seemed to be something to what Ellen was saying.


Ellen said Dutch women were never circumcised, and neither were Dutch men. 


Yasmin curled up her face in disgust at that. The minute we left, Yasmin started rubbing her skin; when she got home she washed for hours. "I sat in their house and ate off their plates, and they are not purified!" Yasmin said. "She is filthy. This whole country is filthy."


I thought about it. Ellen wasn't filthy, and neither was Holland. In fact, it was a lot cleaner than Somalia or anywhere else I had lived. I couldn't understand how Yasmin could perceive Holland as evil, even though all around us were Dutch people treating us with kindness and hospitality. I was beginning to see that the Dutch value system was more consistent, more honest, and gave more people more happiness than the one with which we had been brought up. 


Unfortunately, many of these Dutch ideas seemed not to be congruent with Islam.


I replied, 'Yasmin, you know what? You'd better get used to it. Because your teacher in school is not circumcised, the person cooking your lunch is not circumcised. If you want to remain completely pure here you will have to lock yourself away and never have any contact with a white person."


But Yasmin said, "There is a difference, and that is why the Quran tells us never to make unbelievers our friends."


YES  INDEED  THE  QURAN  CLEARLY  AND  PLAINLY  SAYS  THAT  MUSLIMS  ARE  NOT  TO  MAKE  FRIENDS  WITH  UNBELIEVERS  -  Keith Hunt


In July 1993, I finally was allotted a two-room apartment in Ede. It cost 600 guilders a month, but I would receive a 5,000-guilder loan for furniture, which I would have to pay back, and a monthly unemployment allowance of 1,200 guilders. Yasmin, who the Dutch believed to be only fifteen, would be released into my guardianship.


The flat was in James Wattstraat, a neighborhood of low-rise brick buildings—maybe a little shabby, but not squalid by any means…………

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