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Links 1 through 10 of 29 by Shaun Green tagged islam

As the debate about the radicalisation of some British Muslims has progressed over the last 15 years, the views of those in the government have tended to harden. A few weeks after the attacks on New York and Washington in 2001, Tony Blair told the Labour Party conference that people should keep in mind the common values of Jews, Muslims and Christians. ‘The true followers of Islam are our brothers and sisters in this struggle,’ he said. ‘Bin Laden is no more obedient to the proper teaching of the Quran than those Crusaders of the 12th century who pillaged and murdered, represented the teaching of the Gospel.’ By 2014 Blair was expressing a very different view. In a speech at Bloomberg’s headquarters in London he surveyed the various frontlines on which violent jihadists were fighting and argued that while each battleground had its own characteristics and complexities, ‘derived from tribe, tradition and territory’, such factors were of limited value in explaining what was happening. Western commentators, he complained, went to extraordinary lengths in their attempts to deny that these conflicts were about Islam, arguing instead that local or historic factors were more important. It was ‘odd’, he said, to deny that Islam was the central element of the various struggles.

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In scope and ambition David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism: The History of a Way of Thinking is reminiscent of Edward Said’s Orientalism. Both offer a strident critique of Western civilisation. For Said, the West’s representation of the Orient is an ideological distortion in the service of Western imperialism. The Oriental is the Other against whom the West defines itself and whom it tries to dominate. Nirenberg, by contrast, is concerned with the conflicts and anxieties inside Western civilisation, and comes at this from a surprising vantage point: when Westerners find fault with some aspect of society or culture, he argues, they always disparage it as a Jewish aberration. This pervasive anti-Judaism, Nirenberg believes, often isn’t directed against real Jews, but against Jews of the imagination – the Church Fathers and atheists, revolutionaries and conservatives, capitalists and communists, empiricists and idealists.

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One afternoon in Sanaa last November two lawyers in suits pushed, with purpose, through the doors of the Yemeni Tax Authority, a temple of nepotism and corruption. Several pairs of eyes followed them as they walked briskly down the corridors, the white walls rubbed into a grimy grey by the backs of those condemned to spend hours waiting in this purgatory of bureaucratic torment. People watched disbelievingly as the two men marched past the camouflage-clad armed guards into the office of the director himself. This was a place which no one could enter without the proper connections and/or a hefty bribe. The functionaries who tried to block the lawyers’ passage shrivelled and scuttled away when the younger of the two uttered the sacred words: ‘We are here on behalf of the legal wing of the Supreme Revolutionary Committee of Ansar Allah.’

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Despite what its many critics (including President Obama) will tell you, the Islamic State is indeed Islamic, and actually very Islamic, according to ISIS itself — and also according to The Atlantic, which endorsed the group’s narrative in a widely circulated essay published this week entitled “What ISIS Really Wants.”

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French law allows freedoms to be suspended under the threat of unrest or violence. Before now this provision has been invoked to forbid public appearances by the comedian Dieudonné (well known for making anti-Semitic jokes) and to ban pro-Palestinian demonstrations – France is the only Western country to do this. That such actions are not seen as problematic by a majority of the French people speaks volumes. It isn’t just the French: we didn’t see torchlight vigils or mass assemblies anywhere in Europe when it was revealed that the Muslim prisoners handed over to the US by many EU countries (with the plucky Poles and Labour-run Britain in the forefront) had been tortured by the CIA. There is a bit more at stake here than satire.

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Some 120 Muslim religious scholars this week published an open letter refuting the Islamic State’s claim to be a religious political movement, joining a series of high-profile condemnations of the extremist group by Islamic religious and political leaders. The letter, signed by current and former grand muftis of Egypt, the former grand mufti of Bosnia, and the Nigerian Sultan of Sokoto, along with many other prominent Muslim leaders from around the world, offered a thorough, 24-point condemnation of the Islamic State’s behavior. But it still left the question of how a group that calls itself the “Islamic State” and uses religious scripture to justify its actions can possibly be described as not Islamic. The answer is complex, but boils down to the fact that while the Islamic State is superficially and opportunistically Islamic, it owes at least as much to secular revolutionary ideologies as to its claimed religion, and borrows heavily from Western systems of organization and pop culture as well.

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When I agreed to write a column for VICE, I was granted this space, and I am responsible for what happens in this space. Today, I’m going to use this space to rub your racist and bigoted shit in your own faces.

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I self-published the novel in 2003 and it first wore a bar code in 2004. It was immature and not really all that well-written, but has since been published by more than one house, translated into numerous languages, taught in a bunch of college courses and has also become the foundation for two films. Its influence with pockets of Muslim youths has been well documented, often problematically.

Apart from its travels among Muslim readers, my novel had a strange second life; non-Muslims were also picking it up. Many of them could relate their own spiritual trajectories to the journeys of the characters – my rebellious and confused Muslim novel said something to them about being rebellious and confused Christians, Jews and Hindus. But the novel also seemed to attract readers who just wanted to rip on Islam.

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it is of more than passing interest that the current mobilisation has drawn support from salafists and detachments from the Muslim Brothers.  We needn't deceive ourselves about the role that such forces play.  They enjoy mass support, and the Brothers in particular have the infrastructure for a viable political organisation.  But, where they have supported progressive political struggles - for democratic and human rights, for Palestine, against the dictatorship - they have tailed, rather than led, secular formations.  The responsibility of marxists, however, is to look for the dominant line of political division in any given situation.  In this situation, the struggle is between the armed forces, who have murdered and injured several people over the weekend, and the revolutionaries, who include thousands of Islamist activists.  The political logic of demonising Islamism in these circumstances would either be a purist abstentionism, or worse, support for SCAF as a bulwark of secular power against the Islamists.

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Misagh Parsa argued that the revolution of 1978-79 was made by several different social groups, each for its own reasons. The revolution was fought against the monarchy, which presided over an oil-exporting economy that had gone into overdrive because of the big fourfold run-up of prices in the 1970s. Many felt that they were not sharing in that prosperity, or were inconvenienced by the Shah’s authoritarian government.

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