Europeans just cannot seem to get Islam, or more properly, Islamism, out of their heads. This seems to be particularly true of Europeans who have not spent much time in the Islamic world, and whose idea of immersion journalism is to spend an afternoon wandering round an immigrant neighbourhood in the European capital city of their choice with a view to chatting up a few swarthy-looking men over a cup of mint tea.
And even some more serious writers have ended up falling into the same trap over the last few weeks. Take Timothy Garton Ash, for instance, whose reporting of the decline of the Soviet empire in Eastern Europe in the 1980s was exemplary in its combination of in-depth research and first-hand experience. In a series of articles in The Guardian, Garton Ash has been greeting the wave of insurrections sweeping across the Arab world with a wall of worry. In his latest piece, published last week, a visit to the Calle de Tribulete in Madrid plunged him into new depths of anxiety. Despite garnering some half-hearted expressions of ill-defined hope, it was not long before he and his interlocutors were overtaken by the memories of terrorism past. He even managed to run into a young man at a bus stop spouting Wahhabi-inspired anti-semitic conspiracy theories to casual passers-by. Needless to say, the overall effect was far from encouraging. (…)
My take on what it is about the Arab revolutions that really frightens the Western establishment.
Read the full text of this article at openDemocracy.