A few days ago, the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans has undertaken the unusual step of revealing, among other aspects linked to the security of the UK, his own concerns that a number of soon-to-be-freed inmates are still ‘committed extremists and likely to return to terrorist activities.’ As an anthropologist who has conducted one of the most in-depth research projects on Muslims in prison in the UK, his quite alarmist announcement did not take me by surprise. I am pretty sure that Mr Evans has every right to be concerned. Yet the British public needs to also know why today we find ourselves in such situation and where the political responsibility lies. Continue reading
I am pleased to inform my friends and readers that my latest book Understanding Muslim Identity Rethinking Fundamentalism, is finally on the bookshelf of (more or less virtual) book shops.
Another book on Islamic fundamentalism?’ I can hear the question echoing among friends, colleagues and readers. Since 2001, more than 100 books and 5,600 articles have been published on Islamic fundamentalism. Broadening the research to agnate labels – such as Islamism (about 200 books and 243 articles), political Islam (345 books and 4,670 articles) and Islamic extremism (only 16 books and 1610 articles) – we can appreciate the amount of scholarly publication pressed into the past seven years.
So, why write another book? I have tried to explain the reasons in the Introduction, which you can read for free. The book provides a very different analysis of what has been labeled ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, and what I prefer to call ’emotional Islam’. Continue reading
As an anthropologist who works with Muslims, many of whom are immigrants, refugees, asylum-seekers, as well as illegal immigrants, I came to know how difficult their lives could be. Of course, there are people who exploit the system; there are people who lie to acquire naturalization (see for instance the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali), there are people who do not need to remain, as refugees, in our country. Yet I can tell you that the life of an asylum-seeker and refugee cannot be understood while sitting on a sofa, watching sensationalist news while eating crisps and drinking Coke, and waiting for the rest of the family to be ready for dinner and for the children to stop playing their Nintendo console. Continue reading