In 1827, while in command of a British squadron observing the ongoing war between Greek rebels and the Ottoman Caliph-sultan, Admiral Edward Codrington sailed past the entrance to Navarino Bay, caught sight of the Turkish fleet lying at anchor, and blasted it to the bottom of the bay. The absence of a state of war between Great Britain and the Ottoman Empire notwithstanding, Codrington was celebrated and promoted because beating up on Turks seemed to a lot of Brits like an intuitively good thing to do. Afterwards, since the overextended Ottomans did not respond militarily, the incident was officially declared “an untoward event.”
In popular Eurocentric parlance, the Caliphate is viewed as a relic of a bygone era, its re-establishment constituting a central objective – if not, the objective – of Muslim “fundamentalists” and militants. Yet its trans-“religious” deployment is also evident in culture; for example, from a cursory survey of Western science fiction literature, which reveals how Orientalist framings are negotiated and drawn upon on a regular basis in order to maintain the image of the Caliphate as an institution haunting the future of both the known and unknown universe. The science fiction genre is often portrayed as a landscape enabling readers (and viewers in the case of film and television) to escape the limits of the ‘real’ world into distant ‘other’ worlds imagined as informed by utopian ideals and technological advances – worlds liberated from the ‘actualities’ of everyday life.
In a 2008 article, I expressed the intuition that the conditions of post-colonialism make it impossible for modern Muslims to articulate credible political stances without accusations of either betrayal of their essential Muslimness, or of engaging in duplicitous interpretations of Islam inviting charges of dissimulation (taqiyya). The recent controversy surrounding the International Institute of Islamic Thought’s (“IIIT”) decision to cancel its annual Al-Fārūqī Memorial Lecture at the 2019 meeting of the American Academy of Religions serves to remind us of the high stakes facing Muslims when they attempt to act as public intellectuals on topics at the intersection of law, religion, and national security.
In the memory of martyred president Dr Mohamed Morsi
The defeat of the AK Party candidate against the secularist CHP candidate in the June 23, 2019, Istanbul mayoral election was celebrated as a promising victory of democracy against Islamist Erdoğan. This was the “beginning of the end” for Islamists just as before. Indeed, we have heard this declaration of death at least for three decades. When the Orientalists first declared the end of Islamism -in the form of post-, failure, decline or moderation-, it was the early 1990s. For instance, Olivier Roy’s “The Failure of Political Islam” was published in 1994 (in French in 1992) and post-Islamism of Bayat appeared in 1996….
In July 2019, 18-year old Kashmiri-born, award-winning Muslim actor Zaira Wasim wrote a detailed post on Facebook announcing her intention to withdraw from acting. The post began in a way that is familiar to a lot of people midway in their careers across the world – she talks about starting something five years ago (a career in the Hindi film industry), gradually realising that it is not for her and of the pressure on her to become someone else.
British Muslims, Cultural Freedom, Political Dissent, and the Counter-Extremism Industry: Some brief reflections on “Bradford in Our Own Words: Resisting Counter-Extremism Apparatus”
On a sweltering Sunday afternoon (30 June 2019), a hundred or so people, mostly young, were packed in together at the Speakers Corner Collective  on Ivygate in the centre of Bradford. They came to discuss the withdrawal from the Bradford Literature Festival 2019 by a number of writers, artists and speakers. This withdrawal was sparked by the news that a pre-festival project promoting the literacy and education of British Pakistani women had been funded by a Home Office counter-extremism fund, established in 2016, called Building a Stronger Britain Together (BSBT).
On March 15, 2019, a white supremacist walked into two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand and shot and killed 50 Muslims. All over the world, vigils to mourn the dead were quickly organized to bring together communities in shock. In New York City, two NYU students, Leen Dweik and Rose Asaf, were present at a local vigil for the Muslim victims, as was Chelsea Clinton.
Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 3 of 3
I now want to turn attention to the phenomenon of ‘White Crisis’. However, I should first clarify how I am using the term whiteness which goes beyond its association with epidermal considerations. In this connection, I draw upon the sociological exploration of whiteness due to Garner (2007, 2010a, 2010b) – specifically, (1) his processual understanding of whiteness as a phenomenon existing in dynamic relational-tension to other racialized identities, (2) the function of whiteness as a tacit invisible background standard, and (3) the socio-political manifestation of whiteness as a persistent, yet contested, globally-systemic structure, viz. white supremacy, a position he derives from Mills (1997).
Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 2 of 3
Notwithstanding the soundness of the line of critique summarised in my previous blog post, I suggest that it falls short insofar as there is a lack of critical interrogation of what I perceive to be the tacit liberal logics of ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’ at work in referring to the whiteness of casting roles and the attendant lack of non-white representation in such media productions.
Of Sea Walls and Rising Rides: Critical Race/Religion Readings of ‘White Crisis’ in Science Fiction Dystopia Part 1 of 3
In October of last year, I attended the screening of director Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049, the long-awaited sequel to Ridley Scott’s dystopian science fiction classic, Blade Runner (1982). Both films were co-written by Hampton Fancher and inspired by Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968). Just for the record, I find the screenplays written by Fancher and his collaborators far more engaging than Dick’s novel, and this tends to be the case with so many other of his works including, for example, The Man in The High Castle (1962).