One common misconception held by Americans is that those who practice Islam hate everything about the Western world. The two cultures certainly appear to be on opposite ends of the spectrum, especially in terms of the role women fill in society. In fact, it doesn’t get much different than bikinis and burqas. To an Islamic man, the obsession over appearance and pleasure in America must be appalling. Nobody has expressed this belief better than Sayyid Qutb, who wrote in his manifesto, “Humanity today is ...
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... taken to America and its gadgets and its liberties like no other son of the Muslim world I had ever met” (339). Even the women in Iraq appear open to the American treatment of females. Noticing a group of women in burqas wearing “stylish, expensive shoes, high heels, low heels and flats, of the latest Italian styles”, Filkins overhears, “I could be shopping in Paris, but instead, I am here, in this awful place” (43). The oppression of women in Islamic society is overwhelming, especially in areas controlled by the Taliban. A woman passing on the street proclaims to Filkins, “I was a teacher of Persian…this is like a death” (35). Through these experiences, Filkins should have realized that it is not American culture, including the bikinis of Santa Monica, which motivated Ra’ad to commit jihad, rather America’s unwelcome occupation and involvement in the Middle East.
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