ERDOGAN’S CRACKDOWN IS DEEPLY DISTURBING

By | Geopolitics, Human Rights, Opinion pieces for the press, Turkey | No Comments

There is something deeply disturbing about the direction in which Recip Tayyip Erdogan and his Justice and Development Party are taking Turkey. Writing in this newspaper last week, John Lyons compared the sweeping purges to McCarthyism in the United States, in the 1950s. That was altogether the wrong analogy. The scale and arbitrariness of what is happening are, rather, akin to Hitler’s state of emergency after the Reichstag fire in 1933, or Stalin’s reaction to the assassination of Sergei Kirov in 1934, than to the United States in the 1950s. There is also an analogy with the Islamist revolution in…

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VOLTAIRE WOULD HAVE BEEN HOUNDED FOR HIS MAHOMET

By | Islam, Opinion pieces for the press, Religion, Terrorism | No Comments

On 23 July, Waleed Aly will be presented with the Voltaire Award for free speech from Liberty Victoria. It would be rather charming were he to give a speech on that occasion reflecting on Voltaire’s play Mahomet, which depicted Islam as based on false miracles, personal ambition and ruthless fanaticism. Aly has for some time been the go to person for commentary on Islam and avoiding what is widely dubbed ‘Islamophobia’. It is safe to say he does not share Voltaire’s assessment of Islam. Yet Voltaire remains a figure for our time and free speech on the subject of Islam…

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THE MYTH OF A COSMOPOLITAN ANDALUSIA

By | Book reviews for the press, History, Islam | No Comments

There is a widely held belief that in Spain, during the European Middle Ages, Islam, Christianity and Judaism co-existed peacefully and fruitfully under a tolerant and enlightened Islamic hegemony. Dario Fernandez-Morera, associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at Northwestern University, with a PhD from Harvard, has written a stunning book which upends this myth. It is comforting and even inspiring story that has been drawn upon to underpin the so-called ‘Toledo Principles’ regarding religious toleration in our time – an important point of reference. It has been used to suggest that Islam was a higher civilization than that of medieval…

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