When I first arrived in America, I would ask every extremist and fundamentalist Muslim I met: “How has your life been since you came to the United States?”
It was clear that their living standards were much better than back home. I knew well the lands they had come from, their economic standards and restrictions, their lifestyle, the social, and the religious, economic and political landscapes of the region.
They were surely about to say how much their lives had improved, and how grateful they were to be in a new, less restricted environment. Instead, they expressed anger and even hatred of their new country and its culture. What they could not put into words, was clearly written across their faces: revulsion and disgust.
It seemed they were comfortable disclosing their true feelings in Farsi or Arabic about the US, Americans, the West, Christians, and Jews. As we had all come from, grown up in, and worked in the same region, many of them mistakenly assumed that we both shared the same hate-filled views. Once they discovered that was not the situation, some even tried to reshape my views: as I was new to the country, I probably did not yet understand.