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Chan'ad Bahraini

(Scomberomorous maculatus Bahrainius)

Note: This page has moved to a new address. Please click on the following URL to get there: http://chanad.weblogs.us/index.php?s=Olivier Roy. Sorry for the trouble.

Olivier Roy

Saturday, February 26, 2005

The spring issue of the ISIM Review is out, featuring another great article by Prof. Olivier Roy. I never cease to be impressed by Roy's captivating and concise writing style... it's such a relief from the boring writing style of most other academics. Even when I disagree with (or don't care about) what he's saying, I love reading his stuff because it is so well written.

Anyways, this latest article talks about Muslims in Europe. Here is an excerpt:

The quest for authenticity [among some European Muslims] is no longer a quest to maintain a pristine identity, but to go back to and beyond this pristine identity through a non-historical, abstract, and imagined model of Islam. It is not an issue of nostalgia for a given country, for one’s youth or for family roots. In this sense, “westernization” means something other than becoming Western, hence the ambivalent attitude towards it. But such behaviours do not necessarily lead to violence, although they provide a fertile ground. There are two elements that could explain the violence. The first issue is that such radicals are not linked to any real community. Their community is not rooted in a given society or culture, and hence has to be reconstructed and experienced as an act of faith. They refer to a virtual ummah (community of believers) whose existence relies on their behaviour and deeds. The obsession about blasphemy and apostasy goes along with the vanishing of the social authority of Islam. The “dreamed” community becomes a “nightmared” one. The issue of boundary” comes to the fore. By slaughtering a “blasphemer” Mohammed B. [Theo Van Gogh's alleged killer] literally inscribed the boundary on his victim’s throat. Do not trespass.

If we examine patterns of other terrorists we can observe a different and more political approach: their targets are the same as the traditional targets of the Western ultra-left of the seventies (US imperialism), and not Christianity as such. Even if they achieved a level of mass murder unknown to their predecessors, they still followed the path opened by Baader Meinhof, the Red Brigades, and Carlos. The proponents of the “clash of civilizations” should look at the footages of the hostage takings in Iraq: the “trial” of a blind-folded hostage under the banner of a radical organization, the “confession” of the hostage, followed by his execution, are literally borrowed from the staging technique of the Italian Red Brigades when they captured and killed the former Prime minister Aldo Moro in 1978.

You can read the rest of the article by downloading this pdf file (86KB), or you can browse other articles from thise issue by clicking here. Oh, and if you're interested in the topic, don't forget to order a copy of Roy's recently published "Globalized Islam: The Search For A New Ummah" (which is a follow up to his 1994 book "The Failure of Political Islam").

By the way, did any of you get to attend the Gilles Kepel lecture that took place here a couple weeks ago?

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3 Responses to 'Olivier Roy'


Blogger Julaybib says:

Salaams

Amazingly, you can also get a hard copy of ISIM sent to you by post FREE! But be warned! Despite Roy and plenty of good writing, this is journal written by academics and is generally aimed at other academics or people with a serious, literate interest in Islam and Islamic societies.

Wasalaam

Yakoub    

Blogger Chanad says:

W'salaam Yakoub,
Even though ISIM is very much an academic journal, I find the material to be quite accessible to ordinary folk like me who don't have an academic background in sociology or anthropology. The articles aren't ridiculously long, and they aren't overstuffed with academic jargon.

It is in my opinion the best journal available for anyone seeking to learn about Muslim society. That you can get it for FREE online, or via post is all the better!    

Blogger roya says:

Salam - Personally I didn't find Roy or Keppel very impressive. I think meeting Roy in person ruined it for me. He was ermmm typical Frenchman can we say?    

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