Many Muslims must have been anguished by the recent news of the Bahraini Princess Merian Al-Khalifa eloping with an American GI. Falling in love is no sin, but how it is done can cause much pain and embarrassment to the parents, immediate families and the community at large. Many of us have married American, Canadian and other Western women. Similarly, a Muslim woman has all the rights in Islam to marry an American or a European, as long as the man is a Muslim.
In the case of the Bahraini princess, her new husband is not Muslim and has made no indication that he would convert to Islam at any time in the future. This is what causes us grief. But blaming the princess for her actions will be simply addressing the symptoms without analyzing its causes.
The secularist rulers in the Middle East are bending over backwards to westernize their countries. They want the West to admire the changes they have wrought upon their countries and commend them as "progressives", and "moderates" as compared to the well-abused "Islamic fundamentalists".
Sheik Isa, who was often called the "Evil Dwarf", opened Bahrain to many things which are outlawed in Islam--alcohol, pork and prostitution.
While on a visit to Bahrain, I almost ate pork at the Bahrain airport, as having lived in Saudi Arabia; I got used to eating meat without questioning whether it was halal.
After the causeway between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain was opened, the sin-flights to the Philippines and Thailand brothels dropped and 'business' in Bahrain picked up. Not only did expatriates flock to Bahrain, but also the secularists who resented the Muslims who stood against 'liberalizing' the country.
Christmas celebrations are broadcasted on Bahrain airwaves, not only for the American Army Bases but also for the Bahraini schools. Indian films with hip swinging, pelvis-twitching dances are beamed out on Thursday nights. It was not uncommon for Muslim families to sit around their televisions waiting for these Indian films to start, and this often made it difficult for some of them to wake up for Fajr prayers and go to Jum'a on time.
Often news coming from Bahraini, Dubai and other stations are anti-Muslim, as most of the, newsreaders, writers and program managers are non-Muslim. After the Gulf War, the popularity of America reached its zenith. Children were named after the U.S. President George Bush and anything and everything American was highly prized.
American-made products such as coke, hamburgers, Marlboro cigarettes and designer jeans have become hot commodities. In contrast, when Muslims emigrate to a land, they start building places of worship, schools and architectural monuments such as those which abound in Spain, India and other parts of the world, and especially now in the West.
Unfortunately, after the Americans arrived in countries like the Philippines, Korea, Vietnam and Thailand, these once cultured and religious lands were turned into nothing more than brothels for American servicemen.
As recent as today, U.S. President Bill Clinton has had to address the problems in Okinawa due to the large numbers of servicemen stationed there. Decades of resentment against US troops on the island spilled over in 1995 when three US servicemen raped a 12-year-old girl, leading to a US-Japan agreement to hand back some of the US base land.
The ill-feeling was re-awakened when police arrested a drunken 19-year-old US marine on July 3 this year on suspicion of breaking into an unlocked apartment in Okinawa City and molesting a 14-year-old girl, according to reports from the AFP wire service.
Now, there is a large number of American and British soldiers stationed in Muslim countries of the Middle East. One cannot expect anything other than what befell the Asian countries. Should this then surprise anyone that such polluted atmosphere produces the likes of princess Merian, as well as corrupting the rest of society?
Frankly, many of us could not see what the princess found so attractive in the man with whom she eloped. Being white and being American was probably all the allure needed to tempt a princess to throw away her palace and live in a dingy military apartment. She deserves not our anger, but our pity.
(Meer Sahib is a Muslim activist, who has held positions as Engineering Manager and Project Manager at multi-national corporations. He has lived in Asia and the Middle East.)