I spent one evening this week having dinner with a Dutch friend in a Tandoori restaurant with much of the conversation inevitably taken up with the Van Gogh murder and the aftermath.
I mention this for two reasons. Firstly at the end of an evening when we had discussed the current Dutch preoccupation with the ‘limits of tolerance’, the sudden re-popularity of Pim Fortuyn (recent winner of a Great Dutchmen vote) the dangers presented by militant Islamism in Europe and the dangers of a backlash against all Muslims or all immigrants, we ended up in a long conversation with the Pakistani waiter.
He was a Muslim who happily sells alcohol and has a European girlfriend and said the only time when he lived in Pakistan that he ever thought of travelling to Afghanistan was to find himself an attractive Afghan girlfriend. We talked about the economy, about China, about England, about outsourcing and about how attractive Afghan girls are – religion never came up. And why should it have?
His humour, in particular his laugh, reminded me of the Pakistani lads I grew up with (and in those days they were always Pakistanis and rarely referred to as Muslims).
Anyway while I was catching up with some reading from this week’s papers I came across David Aaronovitch’s piece in the Guardian entitled All Muslims are not the same.
The title states the obvious and in many respects so does the article. But sometimes the obvious needs stating.