Irshad Manji is a hard woman to ignore. Rising to global prominence at a time when all aspects of international Islam were called into question in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Manji personifies that breed of commentator looked to particularly by a non-Muslim media keen for an authoritative ‘inside perspective’, whose number also includes Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Wafa Sultan and Ed Husain among others.
3.1 | Fear and Loathing
Julian takes purposeful strides through the street. He is desperate to reach Anika’s house so that he can see her and, more importantly, speak to her uncle. Evening has fallen and the pavement glitters with frost, creating a fine cushion that crackles beneath his trainers. His walk soon breaks into a run and his breaths become sharp, forming cloudy bursts that reveal the chill in the night air.
Paris-based poet, novelist and editor, Stéphane Chaumet casts an apocalyptic eye on the contemporary to produce these poems, crowded with disease, migration, the inhumanity of urban space, time, mystery and death. He discovers the spiritual in the sensuous and a beauty inextricably connected to horror.
After the spectacle of the flag-burning, the camera zooms in on one section of EDL members, to demonstrate from the skin colour of their forearms that this gathering includes black men as well as white. In the description that accompanies the video on YouTube, a supporter has written: ‘How anyone can call this group far right fascist Nazis is beyond belief. Since when were Nazi groups multi-race?!? It’s not racist to oppose Islamic Extremism!’
As I read and reread this last work I became increasingly irritated by it until I finally threw my copy at the wall in exasperation. I have since bought another copy with an introduction to the third edition which is revealing and, I think, justifies my disillusion.
The bad news, Berman argues, is that this irrationality is not restricted to a small faction of extremists, but is harboured by broad currents of Islamists and nationalists. In a sense, every Muslim or Arab is a potential Islamist or Baathist, and any of those is a potential terrorist. So we must prepare for an endless war against this implacable enemy.
When you know the origins and purpose of fear it may indeed be possible to dispense with the fear of fear itself in favour of something better.