Monday, August 26, 2013

Matthew Schrier's Conversion to Islam: Cynical? Stockholm Syndrome? Or Nonpathological?

Matthew Schrier
New York Times

Was Matthew Schrier cynical, pathological, or nonpathological in his conversion decision while a captive of Islamist jihadists in Syria? Consider the following sequence described by C. J. Chivers in "American Tells of Odyssey as Prisoner of Syrian Rebels" (New York Times, August 22, 2013). First, some torture:
Now was Mr. Schrier's turn.

Wearing masks, his jailers led him out, sat him down and forced a car tire over his knees. They slid a wooden rod behind his legs, locking the tire in place. Then they rolled him over. Mr. Schrier was face down on a basement floor, he said, legs immobilized, bare feet facing up.

"Give him 115," one of his captors said in English, as they began whipping his feet with a metal cable.

When the torture ended Mr. Schrier could not walk.
Then, 'conversion':
Mr. Schrier converted to Islam in March, he said, which improved his relations with the kidnappers and brought an added benefit: His jailers gave him something to read, an English-language Koran.
Finally, freedom:
[His] cell was in a basement; the mesh and welding on one window was damaged and had been only partially repaired.

Mr. Schrier . . . unraveled wires, opening a hole large enough to fit his head and one arm. But he got stuck and had to return inside and rewire the mesh . . . . After a few days, . . . Mr. Schrier opened a larger hole . . . . Mr. Schrier said, he pushed both arms out and followed with his head.

He passed through.
The article doesn't say anything about the reasons for Mr. Schrier's so-called 'conversion' -- we're left to wonder if he was cynical or caught up in profound psychological identification with his captors, a pathology known as the Stockholm Syndrome. Jihadists often pressure their non-Muslim captives to convert, promising them better treatment. There are even cases of forced conversions, as with Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig back in 2006. The two journalists were held at gunpoint and forced to recite the shahada, Islam's conversion formula.

Odd, that the article doesn't ever broach the issue, not even to let readers know if Schrier's conversion was possibly nonpathological and genuine, and if so, for what reasons . . .

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