Saturday, 18 February 2017

My Mother the Muslim

[Media prompt] An El Paso woman described in court documents as a “Mexican-Muslim” has been jailed after she was accused of abducting another woman because her “lifestyle brought shame to the Muslim community.”
My Mother the Muslim

My mother went psycho after converting to Islam. We could accept the hijab and the halal food because she had always worn scarves, and her cooking was atrocious anyway, so whether a cow’s head was aligned with qiblah or not, or some illegal in a slaughterhouse said ‘in the name of God’ when he cut its throat, made no difference to us. At first we thought her prayer mat was neat, and Diego downloaded an app on her phone so she could face the right way when she knelt down. And when she couldn’t use it properly, he and I went halves in a qiblah compass for her birthday. If this is all being a Muslim was about, everything probably would have turned out okay.

The first sign of trouble were the nut jobs. We’re Mexicans, and trust me when I say we know about nut jobs. You ever seen a backyard discoteca, with fog machines and disco balls? Well, come to El Paso for Saturday night barbeque, and that’s what you’ll get; it’s our very own Pesadilla en Elm Street. But after the Muslim clerics started dropping by, strobe lights on the back porch seemed downright normal. The first time I met them, they seemed friendly, but soon enough they’re asking you whether you think it’s right to be wearing a skirt so short and tight (while all the time trying to get a good look up it). Mexican boys are dogs, but the Muslims make them look like choir boys. And if more than one of them gets you alone, you better have a knife on you to cool their ardour.

Things got worse when people started coming to my mother and asking for advice. Just to be clear, my mother once told me she drank four pints of milk every day during her pregnancy because she thought it would make my skin whiter. So when people started sitting around our living room listening to my mother, I knew it was time to start considering my options.

One day, I was in my room studying when I overheard my mother and three other women talking about a lady who came to our school sometimes to help out in the library. Her name was Mrs Slim, and if I understood the three shrouded crones in the front room correctly she had been raped. When you live a mile from the Mexican border, rapes and rapists become old news fast, but Mrs Slim was so, well, nice that I had to sneak out to the kitchen to hear what happened.

My mother stayed silent while they told her about how one of the clerics in the El Paso Masjid forced himself on Mrs Slim when her husband was working in Juarez. This cleric, by the way, regularly tried to look up my dress when he visited. Then she started to ask questions: how do you know this? Do you have testimony from a Muslim male who witnessed it? Stuff like this. The upshot is that it appeared to be true. Good, I thought, this son of a bitch is going down; and my mum is going to be the avenging angel, or whatever the Muslim equivalent was.

Everyone was silent for a while, and I started to think they’d busted me. But my mother was just working on her plan. Eventually she started talking.

“We have to get her across to Juarez,” she said. I didn’t understand, but perhaps this was for her immediate protection. “It’s safer there. I’ll take her myself, and the Imam of Juarez can provide men who can help. Our only honourable option is to kill her in the name of Mohammed, peace be upon him.”

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