The clash of fundamentalisms : crusades, jihads and modernity

by Tariq Ali

Paper Book, 2003


The aerial attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, a global spectacle of unprecedented dimensions, generated an enormous volume of commentary. The inviolability of the American mainland, breached for the first time since 1812, led to extravagant proclamations by the pundits. It was a new world-historical turning point. The 21st century, once greeted triumphantly as marking the dawn of a worldwide neo-liberal civilization, suddenly became menaced. The choice presented from the White House and its supporters was to stand shoulder-to-shoulder against terrorism or be damned. Tariq Ali challenges these assumptions, arguing instead that what we have experienced is the return of History in a horrific form, with religious symbols playing a part on both sides: 'Allah's revenge,' 'God is on Our Side' and 'God Bless America.' The visible violence of September 11 was the response to the invisible violence that has been inflicted on countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Palestine and Chechnya. Some of this has been the direct responsibility of the United States and Russia. In this wide-ranging book that provides an explanation for both the rise of Islamic fundamentalism and new forms of Western colonialism, Tariq Ali argues that many of the values proclaimed by the Enlightenment retain their relevance, while portrayals of the American Empire as a new emancipatory project are misguided.… (more)



Call number



London : Verso, 2003.

User reviews

LibraryThing member FPdC
Tarq Ali is a writer and filmaker, well known for his bitter criticisms of contemporary political events. This book is a demolishing account of both, western politics concerning the islamic world (mainly Arab, Iranian, Pakistany, and Indonesian cases), and the inner politics and motivations in the
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Islamic countries themselves. Being the author a "non-believer" that had, at some point in live, attempted to define himself, paraphrasing Isaac Deutscher, as a non-Muslim Muslim, the utter repulsion and contempt he feels towards the upper hand gained by religious fundamentalists in the politics of many an islamic country, be there in Iran, in Wahhabist Saudi Arabia, or in Pakistan and Afghanistan, comes as no surprise. It may, however, surprise some readers the instrumental role that western powers (mainly the US and Britain) had in the support of islamic religious fundamentalists in some places and times, past and present. An excellent book about a much talked about but not really much understood subject. In addition, the author writes in such a clear, lucid way, that manages to disentagle seemingly irrational conflicts and provides historically rational and brilliant analysis that turn the world, if not into a better place, at least into a much more intelligible one.
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LibraryThing member gmicksmith
As sympathetic as I try to be with Ali, he does not grasp the West as cogently as does Bernard Lewis. He wants to view the West as a fundamentalist which is only true for a select number of Westeners; on the other hand, if using the fundamentals of a religion is instructive, it applies across the
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board to Islam. The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror by Bernard Lewis is much better at identifying significant differences, and similarities, between the West and Islam.
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