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Meet the TikTok teens converting to Islam

Why are purple-haired, queer-identifying influencers so keen to don the hijab?

Julie Burchill

Julie Burchill
Columnist

Topics Identity Politics World

As someone who attempted to convert to Judaism and failed (I don’t mind being a bad Christian but I couldn’t bear being a bad Jew), I’m not unsympathetic to those who seek to exchange the faith they were born into for another. I do, however, feel somewhat puzzled by women who convert to Islam.

Sometimes the results are comic. Consider Cherie Blair’s step-sister, Lauren Booth. Ten years ago, she converted to Islam only to then be branded a home-wrecker by her new husband’s first wife, Faiza Ahmed, in the Daily Mail. ‘You can’t just put on a hijab and say you are a good Muslim woman – it’s about having boundaries with men, and love and respect for women… Her behaviour appals me’, Ahmed complained.

Some women who have the urge to cover up are no doubt grieving for fading physical attractiveness, or perhaps it’s just plain-old attention-seeking and Pick Me-ism: ‘Look at me in my lovely, special, modest costume, you sluts!’

A desire to reject being sexualised was probably what motivated poor Sinéad O’Connor, who announced of her conversion in 2018 that: ‘This is the natural conclusion of any intelligent theologian’s journey… All scripture study leads to Islam.’

Some, like Yvonne Ridley, a former reporter with the Sunday Express, have been accused of having Stockholm syndrome, though she vehemently denies this. (She converted in 2003 after being kidnapped by the Taliban.)

Now, in the weirdest twist of all, according to the Daily Mail last week: ‘Millennial and Gen Z women say they’ve been inspired to convert to Islam by the Israel-Hamas war – and are sharing their religious awakenings on TikTok.’

It gets stranger still. As the Mail reports: ‘Among those sharing their journey is a self-described “leftist queer gremlin” named Alex, who recently purchased a copy of the Koran – even though most interpretations of Islam take a dim view of LGBT relationships. Alex, who has begun covering her hair with a hijab in line with Islamic teachings on modesty, says she began after the 7 October terror attacks and the retaliatory strikes on Gaza.’

So how to explain this? The sensible-sounding Lorenzo Vidino, director of the Programme on Extremism at George Washington University, says this symbolises the ultimate form of youthful rebellion. ‘At this point, what’s more rebellious, what’s more anti-Western and anti-capitalism and anti-establishment, than a conversion to Islam?’, he asks. The desire to rebel has even led some young people to seek out full-on Islamist extremism, to pick and choose ‘different aspects of different extremist ideologies that are completely incompatible with one another’. ‘You put it all together in a sort of collage that makes very little sense’, he says.

We’ve been to this valley of uncanny cognitive dissonance before. In 2002, the year after 9/11, some 8,000 American women converted to Islam – a huge jump on previous years. And, sure enough, Osama bin Laden has now come back from the dead like some heritage grunge-band star, as his ‘Letter to America’ has gone viral on social media. TikTok videos showing influencers discussing his letter, in which he tries to justify the attack on the Twin Towers, garnered over 14million views before many of them were removed.

Some of those falling hardest for Islamist propaganda online are young women, causing writer Sarah Pachter to comment: ‘The future feels bleak when… Amercan women are mindlessly claiming their alliance with Hamas (who would have no problem gang raping them and chopping off their limbs).’

One does wonder what strange psychological kink would make someone feel this way – to worship people who would hurt them. We see it most clearly with our short-sighted chums, ‘Queers for Palestine’.

We can all pick and choose what we believe in. I believe in lots of things that would amuse an atheist. But I am also totally opposed to blasphemy laws, so I’m not about to impose my beliefs on anyone else. It’s when our feelings trump others’ facts that we should be wary. This week, in I’m a Celebrity…, the TV maître d’ Fred Sirieix accused Nigel Farage of ‘hiding behind facts’ when they differed on Brexit. Constable, there’s a man over here hiding behind facts – arrest him!

Perhaps the worst kind of magical thinking is what I call Commie Colonialism – the left’s insistence that all non-white people are, at heart, liberal or woke (hence the young woman on TikTok who believed that Hamas terrorists would probably ‘comfort’ her rather than rape her had they kidnapped her). When someone is in the grip of this delusion, there are no limits on the outlandish things they might say. And so the ghastly Susan Sarandon could be heard defending the terrorising of American Jews by ‘pro-Palestine’ mobs recently thus: ‘There are a lot of people afraid of being Jewish… [They are] getting a taste of what it feels like to be a Muslim in this country.’

How lovely it was to see Sarandon ‘schooled’ by Asra Nomani, a Pakistani refugee brought to the US by her Muslim parents. Writing on X, Normani reminded Sarandon of all the freedoms that the woke take for granted when they fetishise Islamism and the Islamic world:

‘My mom? Being Muslim in America meant she got to live FREE with the wind in her hair… I fled Pakistan with a souvenir that could have gotten me imprisoned or killed: a baby growing inside of me, a wedding ring not upon my hand… Go, live like a Muslim woman in a Muslim country. You will come back to America and kiss the land beneath your feet.’

I’ll take one splendid woman like this coming over to our side over a thousand ‘leftist queer gremlins’ lost to Islamism any day – along with the rest of their Commie Colonialist compadres.

Julie Burchill is a spiked columnist. Her book, Welcome To The Woke Trials: How #Identity Killed Progressive Politics, is published by Academica Press.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.

Topics Identity Politics World

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