Sex on the Beach No Excuse for Jihad

"They belch, vomit, copulate, litter, and barge their way through public spaces, dressed like hookers and louts, defying the police without shame or modesty. British expatriates are some of the worst: overpaid, oversexed, and all over the place."

This is how Minette Marrin, writing in the Times, describes the British abroad, and with some justification. Marrin is responding to the case of well-heeled expatriates Michelle Palmer, 36, and Vince Acors, 34, who had drunken sex on a beach in Dubai and insulted a policeman who tried to caution them. The "couple" -- or rather "copulating pair," for they had only just met -- were sentenced to three months in prison for offending public decency and fined about £200 ($320). As a preventative measure, Dubai’s popular Madinat Jumeirah hotel recently issued an “etiquette guide,” warning guests to “employ discretion” in public displays of affection (“anything more than a peck on the cheek”). The guide also warns that “drunken behavior, especially outside licensed premises in the hotel, is severely punished."

The guidelines are not unreasonable for a hotel in Dubai: “When in Rome do as the Romans do” is a very reasonable adage. Nor is the punishment of Palmer and Acors excessive. The fine is small beer to a wealthy expatriate, and in Dubai, Western expatriates earn good money. Even the prison sentence, by the standards of a Muslim country, is not draconian. Strict Islamic law would require lashing or stoning for sex outside marriage -- in private, let alone in public. I have no sympathy for them, nor do most readers commenting on this and other articles in the British press. Contrary to the impression given by Palmer and Acors, most Britons disapprove of such public drunken exhibitionism, whether in Dubai, Spain, Greece, or even -- cold and damp permitting -- England.

Minette Marrin is right to condemn the couple's behavior, their arrogance in treating Dubai as their playground, and even the permissive Western culture that makes such behavior seem acceptable. However, she goes further:

Is it surprising that so many Muslims around the world despise us for our decadence when we express our sympathy with British men and women who behave like this? ...

This is the kind of attitude that gives freedom a dirty name. No wonder so many Muslims here look down on the host culture and try to isolate their sons and daughters from its unthinking libertinism. ...

The careless cultural imperialism of British expatriates abroad -- their selfish, insensitive, sluttish behavior -- must be partly to blame for the cultural hostility and separatism that are growing among Muslim minorities at home here today.

Ross Clark, writing in the Times on another occasion, comes straight out with what Marrin only hints at:

There is no better recruiting sergeant for al-Qaeda than the sight of Westerners trying to thumb their noses at the laws of Islamic countries.

Sex on the beach, according to Clark, is a Molotov cocktail. Hot-blooded sex provokes cold-blooded murder. Violent jihad is a natural response to Western decadence. Marrin is less direct: Western decadence makes "Muslims around the world despise us" and "look down on the host culture" and leads to "cultural hostility and separatism." And we all know that when Muslims are hostile, "extremism" is never very far away.