The Same Old Movie

ACouple of days ago, I watched a 45-minute documentary about life under the Islamic State. Made recently, the film-makers had extraordinary access to fighters and civilians in Iraq and Syria.

Clearly, IS wanted to show the world the degree of control they exercise, and how glad ordinary people are to live under their rule. But obviously, nobody was going to complain, or criticise the holy warriors who had taken over their lives. There were images of those convicted of activities deemed un-Islamic crucified in public squares with passersby filming them on their mobile phones. Others awaited sentencing for lesser crimes like drinking or possessing drugs. The least they could expect was public flogging.

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New actors, same old movie

With their vast, unearned wealth, the Saudis have saturated most of the Muslim world with their Wahhabi/Salafi version of a literalist Islam that makes no allowance for changing times or human frailty. It is this harsh strain that is fuelling much of the violence and turmoil that has shaken the Muslim world for the last quarter century, and tarnished the image of Islam.

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Newsletter 15 October 2014

Newsletter 30 October 2014