Hassan Mahamdallie

Islamophobia: a new strain of bigotry

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Attacks on Muslims by politicians and the media have been on the rise since the 9/11 attacks. Now, when author Martin Amis's abusive tirades against Islam are broadcast and published without qualm, Hassan Mahamdallie asks if Islamophobia has become society's acceptable racism.

The new imperialist era that Western leaders have embarked upon, and its repercussions, have wrought extraordinary transformations on sections of the intelligentsia. Take the example of Martin Amis. Since the 9/11 attacks the once voguish novelist, author of books including London Fields, has been steadily building up a body of work that has essentially argued that Islamism is the new fascist threat akin to Hitler's regime.

History and the Sons of Hull

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Many of us have always, quite rightly, been wary about who writes the history of black people in Britain. It is said that the victorious get to write the history, and most of the time that is true.

There is little doubt, for example, that next year's 200th anniversary of the abolition of the slave trade on British territory will be a hotly contested arena.

The indications are not good. John Prescott is in charge of official proceedings. His contribution so far has been to highlight the "achievement" of William Wilberforce - who, like Prescott, represented Hull in parliament.

To Fight Chauvinism Everywhere

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Communists in Harlem, just republished, is the celebrated account of the relationship between communism and the black struggle in the US. Hassan Mahamdallie speaks to its author Mark Naison.

Communists in Harlem first came out in 1983. What spurred you to write it?

I was very involved in Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in the late 1960s and the whole approach of the Communist Party to the 'Negro question' was something that different groups in SDS were using to justify or explain their own understanding of race in America in that pretty tumultuous era. They used the communist approach particularly to justify how they would deal with organisations like the Black Panthers or black student unions on college campuses.

Benjamin Zephaniah: Rage of Empire

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Hassan Mahamdallie speaks to Benjamin Zephaniah about the poet and author's art and politics.

I was struck by the Guardian article about you turning down the OBE in which you wrote, 'I woke up on the morning of 13 November wondering how the government could be overthrown and what could replace it, and then I noticed a letter from the prime minister's office.'

Capital Views

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Review of 'London Calling' by Sukhdev Sandhu, Harper Collins £20

Sukhdev Sandhu's journey through 300 years of black and Asian writers and commentators on Britain's capital city is very much worth reading. In London Calling we encounter a gallery of people - from Ukawsaw Gronniosaw, a former slave whose ghostwritten memoirs were published in 1772, right through to 'Yardie' novelist Victor Headley.

Denied the Pleasure of Life

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Review of 'Dreaming and Scheming', Hanif Kureishi, Faber and Faber £8.99

This collection by Hanif Kureishi is divided into two parts--'Politics' and 'Culture and Films'. The latter section records how Kureishi's films--'My Beautiful Laundrette', 'Sammy and Rosie Get Laid', 'My Son The Fanatic' and 'Intimacy'--got to the silver screen. Kureishi says that he wrote 'My Son The Fanatic' as a response to the 'fatwa' on Salman Rushdie after the publication of 'The Satanic Verses'. Most of the protests against it took place in the northern towns now stalked by the BNP.

Far from Home

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Review of 'A New World Order', Caryl Phillips, Secker & Warburg £17.99

Caryl Phillips is an interesting writer. He writes in a confident, polemical way about the 'black experience' on both sides of the Atlantic. As Caryl Phillips points out in newspaper and magazine articles that make up his new book A New World Order, many black people, in both the US and the UK, have never felt quite 'at home'. Phillips's writing is all about not quite belonging, and is divided into the four corners of his world - the US, Africa, the Caribbean and Britain.


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