Friday, May 28, 2010

"Islam is a very simple religion to adopt" says Eric Hobsbawm

We have the phenomenon of Islamist terrorism in today's world. Is the threat going to define the next 50 years?

That's what the Americans want. Now that you no longer have the real enemy, you do need an enemy, as it were, in order to be able to mobilise, against whom to mobilise. That was the theory of Huntington, wasn't it? It's going to be a cultural battle till the death of cultures.

I don't believe it. In the first place, Islam is only one part of the world. Islamic problems, the problem of Islamic immigrants or Islamic activities, only affects certain parts [of the world]. For instance, for practical purposes, it simply doesn't arise for most of the American continent.

It happens, at the moment, to be a particularly lively thing. It may become a more lively thing in Europe simply because of the mass of potential immigrants who are Muslims from the Maghreb in France and Spain, and from Turkey in Germany and other places.

There's undoubtedly a considerable suspicion, which is one of the reasons why the debate on whether Turkey should join [the European Union] is very politically explosive. A number of people are afraid of too much of an influx of Muslims.

Even so, I can't believe that this is a major lasting problem. Undoubtedly, given American policy in the Middle East [West Asia], there's only one thing that can be said about the Islamic phenomenon and that is Islam is probably one of the few religions which has continued to expand — and, to expand effectively, without the support of either missionaries or states. Islam happens to be, in some ways, a very simple religion to adopt and, in some ways, a very formidable religion because there's very little you need to do if you convert to Islam ...
The element within Islam of, as it were, the feeling that you are no longer subaltern by being a Muslim, that is an element in the situation which has, perhaps, been underestimated. 

From Eric Hobsbawm's interview "Limits to American Power" in Znet
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