Despite the widespread Islamophobia campaign in the West, the Western society is seeing an increase in numbers of converts to Islam.
It is evident from media coverage of Western converts to Islam that these converts are perceived to have turned their back on Western culture in favor of a new faith and identity.
This is because both Islamophobia and lack of understandings of the conversion process support the view that an individual has to be either Western or Muslim.
The reliability of converts is often a subject of media reporting, either associating them with radical Islam and terrorism or by labeling female converts ‘as backward’ for embracing a religion which oppresses women.
Many converts are also accused of embracing Islam in order to marry a Muslim and therefore their decision is judged as not a rational preference for the religion.
Because converts to Islam are robbed of their Western identity and reliability in the eyes of the general public, their attempts to defend Islam and their personal choices are easily dismissed.
In 2011 – the last year when accurate figures were available - it was reported that the United Kingdom had around 100,000 converts to Islam, of which 66% were women.
And there were an estimated 5,200 conversions to Islam in that year alone. This means that more people are converting to Islam than any other religion in the UK, and that’s happening at a time when media and state demonization of Islam and Muslims has never been greater.
On today’s show we’ll be asking how this phenomenon can be explained. Why do so many converts feel estranged and isolated? And can they act as a bridge between communities to enhance mutual understanding?