Letter: Islamic oversights 2

December 14, 2001

Stephen Chan says Samuel Huntington's "clash of civilisations" treatise is "appalling", yet his statement that "by invading Afghanistan, the United States is participating in a clash of civilisations" seems to confirm Huntington's thesis. The consequences of such a clash are indeed "appalling", but can it be argued that the September 11 attackers wanted to initiate anything else?

Chan naively accepts the argument that the Deobandies were selfless fighters against British imperialism and Pakistani corruption. Surely Deobandism is just another authoritarian discourse struggling for hegemony? Its "authentic purity under Islam" is merely another take on sectarian intolerance.

Chan also swallows uncritically the Taliban's founding "Robin Hood" myth and has Osama bin Laden leading an "international brigade".

More than two decades ago, Michel Foucault foolishly said that "Islam, in that year of 1978, was not the opium of the people precisely because it was the spirit of a world without a spirit". Today, the Iranian left of 1978 has been executed or is in exile. Foucault may be dead, but his pop postmodern successors live on to apologise for the Taliban.

Mike Diboll
London SE16

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