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This week's editor

Constitutional conventions: best practice

The inner world of the 9/11 fanatics is part of Islam’s history, says Murat Belge. German-Iranian scholar Navid Kermani illuminates its nihilist dimension. The problem is a twisted theology, says the US Muslim leader Muqtedar Khan. Omar al-Qattan and Malise Ruthven see bin Ladenism as an outgrowth of modern social tensions, while Gema Martín-Muñoz deplores a western policy that reinforces Muslim alienation.

What David Cameron could learn from Marx about radicalisation (but probably won't)

In the hands of politicians religion becomes impregnated with 'polemical bitterness' - to talk about religion without considering its 'political tendencies' is to chose a path of willful blindness. 

Rethinking the origins of 9/11

As 2013 came to an end ‘9/11’ continued to cast a violent shadow in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the US response betrayed a failure to understand its origin.

Uncertainty looms amid progress in talks with the Taliban

The Afghan Taliban and the United States have begun talks, advancing prospects that coalition forces can withdraw from Afghanistan. But there are many potential pitfalls on the road to peace: a real risk of a political and military stalemate in Afghanistan, forcing the United States to leave the region under uncertain and possibly dangerous terms.

Thinking about war with Iran

The real Iranian threat is not its nuclear capacity but its independence. If Iran continues to stand as a model of defiance for increasingly poverty-stricken and restless populations of family fiefdoms in the Gulf, the current US-backed setups will either fall or be forced to democratise. These potentially catastrophic losses of empire go a long way to explaining the rising beat of war drums in the region.

Iran in the straits?

How are recent events in Iran to be interpreted? History has a lot to teach us, argues David Madden

‘I am an American’: living September 11, 2001, ten years on

An American professor of international relations who is also a documentary film-maker invites us to share in her unique pursuit of answers to the following question: How can we remember September 11, 2001 as fully as we can, including those things about it we would rather forget? For it is this more complete history that is shaping who we are.

Google's big idea against extremism needs to learn the important maxim of political violence: "no justice, no peace"?

Google Ideas, Google's think-and-do-tank, wants to combat violent extremism by having extremists and policy makers learn from those who have renounced violence. All fine until you get to the detail: the program is to understand violence as a result of psychological need rather than taking seriously the claims of injustice made. Whatever we may learn from the exercise, peace is unlikely to come from it. The author and a colleague have resigned from their role in the project.

"Born-again" Muslims: cultural schizophrenia

The divine rage that sparked the attacks on New York and Washington was inspired by the collision between a particular interpretation of Islamic faith and disabling social experience, says Malise Ruthven.

(This article was first published on 27 September 2001)

Arab states, Islamism and the West

"Think, America. Why do we hate you?" This sentiment, which appeared in the first demonstrations against the ‘war on terrorism’, expresses two essential requirements of a new Western approach to the Muslim world: to think and to know.

Recognising the Taliban

Forgetfulness can be fatal: according to this BBC correspondent, alienation of the Taliban by the west led directly to the events of 11 September.

Where is the 'W' factor? Women and the war on Afghanistan

Since 11 September, the images of the war against terror which have been presented to us by the hegemonic western media are predominantly masculine on all sides: George Bush, Colin Powell, Tony Blair, Mohammad Atta, Osama Bin Laden and the male soldiers launching the missiles to smoke out the terrorist. Again and again men have appeared on our TV screens, flexing their muscles, raising their rhetoric to put fear in the heart of their enemy.

The terrorists may still be hiding out in caves, but the caveman mentality is widespread among all the participants in this war.

Roots of terror: suicide, martyrdom, self-redemption and Islam

After 11 September 2001 I was frequently asked, as many scholars of Islamic studies probably were, why certain people are prepared to hijack an aeroplane and plunge themselves and all the other passengers to certain death. I do not have an answer. What I have done instead is to tell three stories – about the cult of martyrdom in Shi’ite Islam, about modern fantasies of salvation through self-sacrifice, and about power politics in the Middle East – which together assemble the elements of a fourth: the unfinished story of the modern world.

A plea to American Muslims

The essence of Islam is the pursuit of moral perfection. That is not contingent on what the US or Israel does. For Muslims in America, 11 September is a challenge to self-reflection about the culture of hatred in their midst.

Disneyland Islam

The struggle of the self-defined pure Islam that launched the assaults on America is itself a product of contradictory modernity. A recognition of its evasion of this reality leads beyond the fantasy it offers, says Omar al-Qattan.

The view from Palestine

In the war over Kuwait in 1991, and now the ‘anti-terrorist’ war, the Palestine issue has been invoked by Arab and Taliban radicals to lend legitimacy to their struggle with the US. From the Palestinian viewpoint, this is a dubious blessing. The editor of Palestine Report examines the war’s impact on the internal struggle between the Palestinian Authority and its Islamic opponents.

Radical Islam and 9/11: inside the fundamentalist mind

The abstract universalism that produces extremist violence is rooted in the modern intellectual and psychological complexes of the Islamic world, says Murat Belge.

A new apartheid in the making?

The long journey from the Kurdish mountains has taught this distinguished journalist painful lessons about the mismatch between Islam and democracy – and the pitfalls of multiculturalism.

A time to rethink

With the current temptation to give in to the idea of a “clash of civilisations”, a complete ideological re-think becomes ever more urgent.

Terror and globalisation: Islam outside the state

The only way to grasp the nature of the challenge represented by Osama bin Laden and its followers is via a true understanding of globalisation. But that will take the champions of this idea into uncomfortable territory, says Roger Scruton.

Bloody Tuesday

At this stage in globalising history “America” has come to be seen by many as a stand-in for the “cosmopolitanism” that was once associated with Jews. “America” represents some kind of soulless, materialistic, rootless way of life that they detest.

The suicide of fundamentalism

The speed, reach and supports of today’s Islamic terrorism owe much to globalisation. But there is a silent majority building in the Islamic world, and among the young people of its diaspora. Can they take the fanaticism out of fundamentalism?
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