October 15, 2004 11:22 PM   Subscribe

Western dominance, Islamist terror, and the Arab imagination, by Sadik J. Al-Azm, emeritus professor at the University of Damascus. (via Aldaily)
posted by semmi (6 comments total)
I desperately hope that the author is right, but I'm afraid he may be being too optimistic. Still, this is a good read.
posted by gd779 at 6:42 AM on October 16, 2004

As long as there is power to be gained by perpetuating terror or by exploiting the fear of terrorists, terrorism will continue.
posted by SPrintF at 9:04 AM on October 16, 2004

Another good, thought-provoking post semmi.
posted by sciurus at 11:25 AM on October 16, 2004

I was fascinated to read of the Egyptian historian whose book A Guide to the Sad and Perplexed Muslim plays on the title of Maimonides' A Guide to the Perplexed -- a useful reminder of the connections between Arab and Jewish culture.

The current NYRB has an excellent article touching on some of the same themes: The Truth About Muslims by William Dalrymple.
posted by verstegan at 2:44 PM on October 16, 2004

The Making of the Terror Myth

The Power of Nightmares seeks to overturn much of what is widely believed about Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida. The latter, it argues, is not an organised international network. It does not have members or a leader. It does not have "sleeper cells". It does not have an overall strategy. In fact, it barely exists at all, except as an idea about cleansing a corrupt world through religious violence.

Curtis' evidence for these assertions is not easily dismissed. He tells the story of Islamism, or the desire to establish Islam as an unbreakable political framework, as half a century of mostly failed, short-lived revolutions and spectacular but politically ineffective terrorism. Curtis points out that al-Qaida did not even have a name until early 2001, when the American government decided to prosecute Bin Laden in his absence and had to use anti-Mafia laws that required the existence of a named criminal organisation.

Curtis also cites the Home Office's own statistics for arrests and convictions of suspected terrorists since September 11 2001. Of the 664 people detained up to the end of last month, only 17 have been found guilty. Of these, the majority were Irish Republicans, Sikh militants or members of other groups with no connection to Islamist terrorism. Nobody has been convicted who is a proven member of al-Qaida.
posted by cell divide at 2:59 PM on October 16, 2004

a useful reminder of the connections

Maimonides wrote The Guide of the Perplexed in Arabic, after all! (Of course, that says more about his place in the stream of Arabic philosophy than a connection in the other way, given that Maimonides' Judeo-Arabic was produced for those who could read Arabic in Hebrew characters. Does anyone know if/when the texts he wrote in Arabic ever circulated in Arabic script?)
posted by Zurishaddai at 2:08 PM on October 17, 2004

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