The interrogation and assault on Muslims and their faith is uniquely focussed, with most of the distinctly colonialist, alienation rhetoric directed towards orthodox Islam. This is ironic given that the Review claims social interaction is good because it results in “a better understanding of differences”. Further “mutual respect” (a quality which Muslims fair better than their Christian peers in the context of faiths according to the Review) is also considered by Casey as a value “integral to a cohesive nation”. Yet Casey then speaks of a “growing concern” about a “divergence of attitudes and values among minority communities”, which she then categorises as “extremist” and “regressive”. Surely, if there is conviction in the value of respecting differences, “divergence of attitudes and values” should not be problem? Not so. Whilst demanding respect of for “quintessentially British” things like queueing and the Queen, Casey weaponises the alternate beliefs of Muslims in order to render the Muslim minority an alien community.
CROSSPOST: Dr Hatem Bazian
Three of Edward Said’s books are as timely today as the day they were published almost 40 years ago: Orientalism (1978), The Question of Palestine (1979), and Covering Islam (1981). The three constitute Said’s trilogy that focused on literary and artistic representation in the service of empire, colonial dispossession, and the media shaping and reproducing Orientalist tropes. Said’s contributions are an invaluable source for anyone attempting to deconstruct the ebbs and flows of events and development in the Arab and Muslim worlds. At the same time, the three books offer a strong critique of Western policies and public discourse that purport to cover the “East” as a separate and mysterious place filled with irrationality.
Observing the daily events in the Arab and Muslim worlds, one is at a loss to comprehend the sheer destruction and the snuffing out of hope faced by a multitude of peoples – 1.4 billion, to be precise. Said’s writing intuitively de-constructed the racialized lens used by Western academics, press, and policymakers to justify their continued disregard of the needs and well-being of the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The Muhammad Emwazi I met in 2009 was indeed a polite and friendly young man as the author Robert Verkaik and man others attest to, but by the summer of 2014 he was executing innocent Muslims and non-Muslims in the name of the Islamic State and I could not recognise the man I had once known.
One year on from a difficult period my organisation and I encountered due to my inappropriate description of him once being a “beautiful young man” – one that I am regretful of due to the impact this insensitivity had on all families who were victims of his murders – we now finally have a book that is able to provide some balance to a story that must be understood.
When I introduced Verkaik, at the time a journalist at The Independent, to Emwazi, it was very much because I respected him – and still do – as someone who is balanced and fair-minded. Since before then, we had been orbiting around stories to do with security service harassment of young Muslim men and so developed a rapport where I knew that here was someone who would take the difficulties faced by these men seriously.