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April 30, 2005

Norquist and dissimulation?

I don't talk much about political stuff...but this is weird enough to pique my interest. Of late there is some talk that Grover Norquist is now a Muslim.

Here is an entry at Daniel Pipes' site that sums up the situation: Norquist married a 32 year old Palestinian American Muslim in early April. He has also reportedly avoided answering whether he himself is planning on converting (according to most accepted forms of Islamic law a non-Muslim man may not marry a Muslim woman).

Another article at Washington Jewish Week reports that orthodox Rabbi Daniel Lapin introduced the couple at the wedding, where they were married by a Justice of the Peace.1 If Norquist was converting to Islam it seems peculiar that Daniel Lapin, a relatively prominent figure among conservative Jews,2 would attend the wedding in such a sanguine fashion.

I would bet that Norquist is dodging answering the question about being a Muslim because of concerns about opprobrium directed toward his wife. I would also not be surprised if Norquist had made a pro forma declaration of the shahada3 (profession of faith) to follow the letter of the law even if he is personally not a Muslim in spirit (Yasser Arafat's wife converted to Islam pro forma for political reasons, she has been observed praying to Jesus during Christmas services in a rather emotional fashion).

Addendum: Here is an old TNR piece that profiles Norquist's relationship to some Muslim groups. I don't think Norquist is an "Islamist," but, some of his assocations are pretty sketchy-and he seems to be in cahoots with a portion of the American Muslim community that does have a relationship to activities which are obviously Islamist. That being said, if you work "degrees of separation" it is pretty easy to connect any given individual to strange groups and individuals. If Norquist's relationship to this woman is long-standing it would not surprise me if personal feelings did influence his coalition building, but personal feelings does not necessarily equal grand geopolitical machinations.

1 - In Islam marriage is a civil contract, so there needn't be a religious element to the wedding.

2 - Lapin is a prominent figure in the movement to reconcile conservative Christians and Jews. Relevant to this posting, Lapin defended Jerry Vines, former President of the Southern Baptist Convention, when he called Muhammed a "demon-possessed pedophile."

3 - This sort of thing is not limited to Muslims, a friend of mine had a relative who converted to Mormonism (at least on paper) so that he could attend his daughter's temple wedding (non-Mormons can't go into Mormon temples). The Mormon church though said it wasn't a sincere conversion, so he was excluded from attending.

Posted by razib at 08:41 PM