Sex on the Beach - is Western Decadence a Molotov Cocktail?

 by Mary Jackson (January 2009)

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, in early November, Dubai’s popular Madinat Jumeirah hotel issued an “etiquette guide”, warning guests to “employ discretion” in public displays of affection (“anything more than a peck on the cheek”) and warning that “drunken behaviour”, 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 - in England.

Minette Marrin is right to condemn the couple’s behaviour, their arrogance in treating Dubai as their playground and even the permissive Western culture that makes such behaviour 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 behaviour – 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.

Britons do not need to go as far as having sex in a public place to provoke Muslim “hostility” and its corollary “extremism”. Convicted terrorist Omar Khyam, so different from his romantic near-namesake, was provoked by “slags dancing around” at a nightclub. Muslim “extremism” is highly combustible: New English Review’s Hugh Fitzgerald has listed Almost One Hundred Things that Fuel Muslim Extremism. They include Salman Rushdie’s novel The Satanic Verses, Pim Fortuyn’s remarks about Muslim resentment of Dutch liberalism and Pope Benedict’s refusal to continue apologising for his remarks on Islamic violence. To which could be added Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, the Danish cartoons and Gibson Square’s proposed publication of The Jewel of Medina (which literally “fuelled extremism” in the form of an arson attack). Time and space are the only limitations to the length of a list of things that fuel Muslim extremism.

Like Minette Marrin, conservative writer Dinesh D’Souza believes that Western permissiveness, specifically “the cultural left”, is to blame for Muslim hostility, and by implication Muslim violence. Robert Spencer, writing at Front Page Magazine, makes short work of this idea:

[T]he immorality of the West has been a feature of Islamic anti-Western writings since long before Britney Spears took to the stage. Jihad theorist Sayyid Qutb was scandalized by the dancing at a church social in Greeley, Colorado in 1948….[I]t should be borne in mind that from the Islamic perspective, Christians are inherently immoral simply by virtue of their – in the Muslim view – exalting Jesus to divine status.

As Spencer explains, Jihad is a permanent feature of Islam; indeed it is commanded by Islam. Orthodox Jews in Israel would disapprove of sex on the beach as strongly as any Muslim, but this would not protect them against Jihad attacks by the Palestinians.

And what of this much-vaunted Islamic morality, so easily offended by ours? For men, and only for men, Islamic law permits promiscuity in the form of polygamy and concubinage. For Shiite Muslims, it permits prostitution in the form of temporary marriage. It also legalises rape – of slave girls and other non-Muslim women. Worse still, Islam allows child “marriage”, better described as child rape: when Ayatollah Khomeini came to power in Iran in 1979 he lost no time in lowering the age of “marriage” for girls to nine. In doing so he followed the example of Mohammed, who “married” Aisha when she was six, and “consummated the marriage” when she was nine. Dubai is relatively liberal, but Westerners who work there tell of the hordes of visiting Saudi men, who come over at weekends for some drinking and whoring – the latter not forbidden by Islam if it is with non-Muslim women – and then go back and infect their wives with AIDS and other diseases. The wives have no such latitude; strict Sharia means that they can be lashed or stoned to death for being raped.

Islam does not permit sex on the beach, but neither does Christianity, and neither do traditional Western laws and standards. Islam has nothing to teach us about morality, and we should not pander to Muslims by claiming that it does.

Palmer and Acors got what they deserved. They knew the law of Dubai and should have respected it. Would some British Muslims respected our laws, instead of trying to bring in Sharia. But we have no need to abase ourselves before Muslims. Licentious behaviour should be condemned because it is wrong, not because it fuels Jihad, and not because of Muslims’ supposed moral superiority. The eternal flame of Jihad burns without fuel from us – and Western morality is still, even in this permissive age, superior to that of Mohammed.


This article first appeared in Pajamas Media in November 2008


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Mary Jackson contributes regularly to The Iconoclast, our Community Blog. Click here to see all her contributions, on which comments are welcome.  

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