Sunday, September 04, 2005

Malevolent fantasy of Islam--the essentialist Bernard Lewis

Malevolent fantasy of Islam: "Reviews of Lewis�s works in French translation have kept quiet about all this (4). Obviously there is more to his research than a political standpoint, but a single thread runs through it: the idea that the Muslim world is fossilised in fundamental opposition to the West. Lewis coined the expression �clash of civilisations� as long ago as 1957, at a Middle East conference at Johns Hopkins University: �We shall be better able to understand this situation if we view the present discontents of the Middle East not as a conflict between states or nations, but as a clash between civilisations� (5). The Suez war was then barely over and the Middle East was in turmoil. Arab nationalism was spreading like wildfire. Political Islam had been marginalised. But as far as Lewis was concerned, the Arab desire for freedom had nothing to do with politics, but was merely the expression of hostility to western culture."

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