Thursday, June 01, 2006

The Birth of a Jehadi

In its latest issue, New Yorker takes a look at the phenomenon of Muslim Jehadis, in the context of the last year's London bombings. The article quotes from a British investigation report and shows respect for its conclusions:

"The report concludes that there is no consistent profile that could be used to help identify who might be vulnerable to such radicalization, and yet the biographies do show in some detail how the making of an Al Qaeda-inspired suicide bomber is an idiosyncratic narrative of push and pull. Alienation from citizenship or family and a loss of faith in secular opportunity create a pool of potential volunteers; preachers, recruiters, and Al Qaeda leaders take it from there. The British parliament’s main intelligence-oversight committee, in a separate report, admits that Britain has failed to consider adequately how it might reduce the number of potential recruits: “We remain concerned that across the whole of the counter-terrorism community the development of the home-grown threat and the radicalisation of British citizens were not fully understood or applied to strategic thinking.”

In the same issue, Margaret Talbot profiles the famous Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci and her views on Islam.

In the piece, there is this interesting anecdote about Fallaci' meeting with Khomeni:

"Fallaci continued posing indignant questions about the treatment of women in the new Islamic state. Why, she asked, did Khomeini compel women to “hide themselves, all bundled up,” when they had proved their equal stature by helping to bring about the Islamic revolution? Khomeini replied that the women who “contributed to the revolution were, and are, women with the Islamic dress”; they weren’t women like Fallaci, who “go around all uncovered, dragging behind them a tail of men.” A few minutes later, Fallaci asked a more insolent question: “How do you swim in a chador?” Khomeini snapped, “Our customs are none of your business. If you do not like Islamic dress you are not obliged to wear it. Because Islamic dress is for good and proper young women.” Fallaci saw an opening, and charged in. “That’s very kind of you, Imam. And since you said so, I’m going to take off this stupid, medieval rag right now.” She yanked off her chador."

Fallaci has written a lot on Islam and the West in recent years. The profile further notes:

"She writes that Muslim immigration is turning Europe into “a colony of Islam,” an abject place that she calls “Eurabia,” which will soon “end up with minarets in place of the bell-towers, with the burka in place of the mini-skirt.” Fallaci argues that Islam has always had designs on Europe, invoking the siege of Constantinople in the seventh century, and the brutal incursions of the Ottoman Empire in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. She contends that contemporary immigration from Muslim countries to Europe amounts to the same thing—invasion—only this time with “children and boats” instead of “troops and cannons.”

Meanwhile, in the NYRB, Michael Massing somewhat rises to the defence of two American researchers who have done a controversial paper on the Israel Lobby in America.

"Not since Foreign Affairs magazine published Samuel Huntington's "The Clash of Civilizations?" in 1993 has an academic essay detonated with such force as "The Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy," by professors John J. Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago and Stephen M. Walt of Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Published in the March 23, 2006, issue of the London Review of Books and posted as a "working paper" on the Kennedy School's Web site, the report has been debated in the coffeehouses of Cairo and in the editorial offices of Haaretz. It's been called "smelly" (Christopher Hitchens), "nutty" (Max Boot), "conspiratorial" (the Anti-Defamation League), "oddly amateurish" (the Forward), and "brave" (Philip Weiss in The Nation). It's prompted intense speculation over why The New York Times has given it so little attention and why The Atlantic Monthly, which originally commissioned the essay, rejected it."

Worth a read as it gives interesting insights into the working of political lobbies in the US.

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