Tuesday, January 02, 2007

out of the axis

One blog I've been reading a while is In The Axis, an excellent blog by Brian Anthony, a teacher who, until very recently, was based in Damascus - his blog is articulate and thoughtful, although rarely overtly political. A recent post on Islamophobia was a little more pointed, and didn't tread over any ground that's not been discussed frequently before, but he did take note of one thing which I hadn't noticed - that the recent, well-reviewed album by Yusef Islam, which has been fairly successful on both sides of the Atlantic, was issued not under the artist's real name, but rather simply as by 'Yusef'.

"Islam has become something of a dirty word in America. In a recent trip to the bookstore, I saw dozens of titles from the full range of security experts, Lebanese Christians, escaped former Saudi princesses, and evangelical Arab apostates all warning us of the immanent danger, the greatest threat to civilization, they're coming to kill your men and violate your women -- Islam."

Brian writes that "I think I grew up in a bubble, a brief period of time where this kind of vilification of an entire people was considered unacceptable. But that is all it was, a bubble, if we consider American history". Sadly, he's probably right.

Eid, meanwhile, prompts Brian's thoughts to wander; he attends his local Sunni community's service. He explains:

"Eid al-Adha is a holiday that marks Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son. In the Christian and Jewish faith, that son was Isaac, but in the Islamic tradition, it is considered to be Abraham's other son, Ishmael. That sacrifice theme finds an interesting counterpoint in the execution of Saddam Hussein a day ago, a counterpoint probably being interpreted very differently between the Sunni and Shia communities."

I've not much to say about Saddam, meanwhile - or rather lots of things I'm not sure I'll get round to formulating. The whole thing is profoundly shoddy, badly executed (both meanings), distasteful, depressing, unsurprising. That the UK government can't issue some kind of serious statement concerning it is just another nasty stain, typical of their conduct. Although I have not the slightest admiration or sympathy for Saddam, to execute him during Eid, to subject him to sectarian abuse, to open the trapdoor before he had the chance to say his prayers - all this just provides motivation for those who argue that the prospect of peace or a peaceful dialogue is as far off as ever, and that barbarism is as much as part of modern Iraq as it was part of Sadamm's. Shameful.

No comments: