I was recently interviewed by Faculti, a superb website that publishes videos of authors and academics talking about their work. I discussed my book From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy.
Here are the two recordings from the Faculti interview. The first is a reading from the final section of From Fatwa to Jihad in which I argue that The Satanic Verses is not as most people imagine it to be; Salman Rushdie’s novel is not a critique of Islam as such but a dissection of the ways in which both religions and secular societies conjure up angels and devils as a way of demonizing the Other. The second is a short film about the themes and arguments of From Fatwa to Jihad. At a time of renewed controversy about ‘offensiveness’, and when discussions of free speech, Islam, and Islamophobia seem always but a headline away, the themes of the book, and the exploration of the creation of angels and devils, of myths and monsters, seem all too relevant.
Angels and devils, myths and monsters
From Fatwa to Jihad
You can buy From Fatwa to Jihad through the Pandaemonium bookshop in Britain or the USA; or from most bookshops.
Kenan, love the conclusion particularly. Multiculturalism “is the policing of borders, whether physical, national or imaginative. And I think that is something that we should oppose with all our hearts.” You and I both, but we are taking a value position here. There is good in community cohesion, and there is good in individual flourishing, and sometimes these two good things conflict. “‘The experience of tragedy, according of Hegel, is the envisaging of a conflict between two incompatible goods. Not a conflict between good and evil but between two goods, which are seen to be such because they incarnate different real social forces with real claims in society.” to quote Iris Murdoch. What you call “a more open, vibrant cosmopolitan society” is what others feel is a breakdown of their community, their inheritance, their home. I remember a drab, suffocating, English provincial society from the past and I am pretty happy with many of the changes of the last 30 years. But there is a genuine and wholesome appeal in the shared values and common understanding found in an established community. The trivial details of daily life are so much easier where everyone understands what you mean and what you intend. And there is a certain horror to the passive-aggressive coercion of community expectations. There is a balance to be struck.