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A Damascene conversion

I had been living in Damascus for barely a month when my Norwegian friend Isak told me he was on the verge of converting to Islam. Then the Danish cartoon row erupted

By Aatish Taseer   March 2006

The last time I saw Isak Nilsen, we were eating okra and mutton in my flat near the diplomatic quarter of Damascus. The 22-year old Norwegian, who had been in Syria for four and a half months, seemed impatient to go before a sheikh and make the simple testimony—”There is no God but God and Muhammad is his Prophet”—that would introduce him to the society of the believers. Three days later he was on a plane back to Oslo, evacuated from a country where the faith put him at risk.

Isak’s Christianity was different from most of my European contemporaries.…

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