As many of you know I spent my early 30’s working in Saudi Arabia for Adnan Khashoggi, arguably the richest man in the world at that time. The late 70’s was an exciting time there as the Saudi used their new oil wealth to modernize their country and turned to the West to aid in this project. Roads, airports, schools, hospitals, etc., you name it and it was being built. Companies from Europe, the U.S., Japan, Korea, were all there to compete for these lucrative projects.
To do the manual labor, workers were brought in from poorer Muslim countries such as Yemen and Pakistan. It was a win for all, or though it seemed so at the time. (More on that later.)
Saudi Arabia was, and is, ruled by the House of Saud. The culture was, and is, like nothing I had ever known, and apparently little has changed. Women cannot drive or go anywhere without their husbands. In public their clothing can only reveal their face. Being Homosexual or Transgender is not acceptable and punishable by death.
If you wanted to work there, you had to accept their culture, and to be honest it never bothered me. It was their country and I was a guest. This was obviously much harder if you were a woman and there were many Western women there with their spouses. I understood their plight but would always remind them that it was their country and their culture. No one was forcing any of us to be there.
Many of my Muslim friends became Westernized and immigrated to the West or simply lived by one set of rules when in Saudi and another when visiting or working in the West. “When in Rome, __________________________”!
I have always felt lucky to learn about and experience different cultures. For the vast majority of Muslims, their religious based culture works well for them. Too many Westerners believe that Muslims need to embrace reforms, which will make their culture more like ours. It’s never going to happen because they believe we are the ones who need to reform.
Islam is not only a Religion; it is a Political System with very strict laws derived from the Koran. Being concerned about the huge influx of Muslims refugees does not make one a racist.
In the past many Muslim immigrants came seeking a new life and embraced our culture. But that is not the case today. Muslim immigrants fleeing their war torn Country have no intention of assimilating and accepting our Western Culture. To the contrary, they are demanding that we accept their Culture which, as I said earlier, is like nothing I had ever experienced.
“Democracy”, “Separation of Church and State”, Equal Rights”, these are all beliefs they will not embrace. And, just as I learned to respect their Culture, in return, I expect the same acceptance and respect from Muslims for our Culture.