If you were a famous Muslim, and you were being honored in a Western country for building bridges between Islam and the rest of the world, would you insult your hosts by refusing to speak to or even acknowledge the presence of uncovered women?

Well, actually, if you were a Muslim, you very well might since your idea of building bridges with the non-Islamic world would probably mean that it should bend over backwards to accommodate your medieval fanaticism while you do absolutely nothing to reciprocate its tolerance. You might even have one of your handlers explain it this way:

“Mr. Islam doesn’t speak with women except his wife. Least of all if they don’t wear a headscarf. Things like that only happen via an intermediary.”

Well, sure, okay, sorry, we certainly didn’t mean to offend Mr. Islam and the next time we award him with a special prize for his magnanimous work in human relations, we’ll try to be more sensitive to the idiosyncrasies of his exalted religious faith.

So just who in the hell is this Mr. Islam big shot? That would be Yusuf Islam. Not ringing any bells? Well then, how about Steven Demetre Georgiou, the name he was born to? Nope, didn’t think so. Then try this: Cat Stevens. That’s right, the former pop star who found religion — only, it was the wrong one in the opinion of many.

The artist formerly known as Cat was being honored with a special prize at the Echo Awards in Germany recently for his “musical, social and political work and was praised as a bridge-builder between the West and the Islamic world.” That’s when everyone suddenly found out that the great humanitarian doesn’t do women — er, that is, he doesn’t acknowledge the presence of women who aren’t properly covered as specifically prescribed by the holy and infallible Qur’an.

If that’s building bridges, then I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you, cheap.

Look, this silly little incident isn’t exactly the end of the world, but it’s just such a perfect illustration of Islam’s aversion to compromise and its ability to turn otherwise rational beings into blithering idiots. Those of us who don’t suffer from this mental disorder have to marvel at the labyrinth of exquisitely intricate rationalizations the human mind must concoct in order to justify Islam’s medieval treatment of women in this, the 21st century (not to mention all of Islam’s other outrages and absurdities).

Of course, this incident is nothing compared to the hot water he got himself into over the Salman Rushdie affair. As you will recall, Salman Rushdie is the author of “The Satanic Verses,” a book that came out in 1989 and was considered “blasphemous against Islam” by Iran’s Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. In fact, the Ayatollah’s turban became so unraveled over the book that he issued a death sentence on Rushdie which was to be carried out by anybody that could get to him. (Nobody ever did).

So, when asked back in 1989 what he thought about the fatwa calling for Rushdie’s execution, Cat basically said that (and I’m paraphrasing here), well, hey, guys, you know, the Qur’an does say quite specifically that blasphemy is a capital offense, so I can’t exactly stand up here and dispute the word of the world’s most perfect book.

Or weasel words to that effect.

It’s bizarre what a dose of Islam can do to a human’s ability to think rationally, especially those converts like Cat Stevens who were born and raised in the Western world and had been the fortunate recipients of its prosperity, tolerance and enlightened ways. Why would any Westerner willingly adopt a religion which keeps the vast majority of its followers and a huge swath of the planet hopelessly mired in ignorance, backwardness and poverty?

Anyway, if the former pop star is going to be touring around accepting honors and building bridges between Islam and the rest of the world, would it kill the guy to show just a modicum of respect to his hosts and treat the women he unavoidably comes in contact with as if their status was at least equal to that of a dog? Doesn’t seem like too much to ask, but you know Islam. It’s Muhammad’s way or the highway and if you’ve got a problem with that, you‘re the one that needs to deal with it.

Greg Strange provides conservative commentary with plenty of acerbic wit on the people, politics, events and absurdities of our time. See more at his website: http://www.greg-strange.com/

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