Kureishi on Islamic Radicalism

My hero, postcolonial literary genius Hanif Kureishi was featured in last week's New York Times about his new book, Something to Tell You.

I fell in love with Kureshi's work while I was in college, when I was first introduced to his book, The Buddha of Suburbia. Being of Jamaican ancestry, in a way, I was able to identify with Karim's experience of "otherness." This book, as well as Kureishi's other famed novella, My Son the Fanatic, were also ahead of the curve on discussing Islamic extremism, which he discusses in this article.

From The New York Times:

...Although Kureishi recognizes the sense of powerlessness and sting of
racism that have helped push many young British Muslims toward radicalism, he is
intolerant of such intolerance. “The antidote to Puritanism isn’t
licentiousness, but the recognition of what goes on inside human beings,”
Kureishi wrote in the title essay of “The Word and the Bomb.” He added:
“Fundamentalism is dictatorship of the mind, but a live culture is an
exploration, and represents our endless curiosity about our own strangeness and
impossible sexuality: wisdom is more important than doctrine; doubt more
important than certainty. Fundamentalism implies the failure of our most
significant attribute, our imagination.”

...As if it weren’t already clear, Kureishi isn’t a moralist. In one
conversation, he was adamant that he’s “not advocating anything,” just
observing. (He did, however, say he was opposed to Muslim women in Britain
wearing the veil, “because of what it symbolizes: a part of Islam that’s deeply
oppressive to women.”) At the reading in London in March, Kureishi was
dismissive of rhetoric about British national identity and the notion that
immigrants should become more integrated into the society. “I don’t think
there’s any obligation for anyone to integrate,” Kureishi told his audience.
“They are people entitled to live as they wish.” Besides, he added, why are only
immigrants or their children asked to integrate? “The royal family don’t
integrate,” he said. “Prince Philip doesn’t integrate.” Kureishi mentioned Rainer
Werner Fassbinder’s 1974 film “Ali: Fear Eats the Soul,” in which a German
woman is reviled by her neighbors after she marries a Muslim guest worker.
“Everyone hates them,” Kureishi told me. “He says: ‘I’m trying to integrate
here. If we don’t integrate, they say we’re isolated. If we do integrate by
trying to marry your women, you hate us even more.’ The guy can’t win.”

Labels: , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home