Mubin Haq

12.08 East of Bucharest

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Director: Corneliu Porumboiu; Release date: out now

12.08pm was the precise time Romanian dictator Ceauşescu fled the capital, Bucharest, on 22 December 1989, bringing a dramatic end to the authoritarian and brutal state he presided over. The event was captured live on television and beamed straight into homes across the country. The film explores what happened in one town east of Bucharest, focusing on the lives of two individuals, who participate in a shoestring television debate marking the sixteenth anniversary of that momentous day.

The Pivot of New Traditions

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Review of 'Turks: A Journey of a Thousand Years, 600-1600', Royal Academy of Arts, London, 22 January-12 April

Despite there being over a billion practising Muslims across the globe and despite the vast array of Islamic art and architecture (Abbasid, Moorish and Mughal, to name just a few), the Royal Academy of Arts has not produced a largely Islamic exhibition since 1931. With this subject matter now being so topical it was only a matter of time before it followed the likes of the Courtauld and V&A in staging its very own Muslim blockbuster.

Behind The Myths about Muslims

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Review of 'The Infidel Within', Humayun Ansari, Hurst £15.95

Somewhere in the region of 1.6 to 2 million Muslims currently live in Britain, and Humayun Ansari explores their history over the past 200 years in this hefty volume.

Prior to 1945 the population was small, mainly consisting of seamen and students. The most important factor during this period was not religion or ethnicity, but class. Ansari provides evidence that the Indian Muslim elite had few problems engaging in British society, using their wealth to open closed doors. However, it was difficult to establish a community as few individuals were expecting to settle.

Civil Liberties: The Threat of Britain's Patriot Act

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As David Blunkett attempts to create a climate of fear, Mubin Haq looks at the real impact of the proposed Civil Contingencies Bill.

The destruction of the World Trade Centre on 11 September 2001 gave the pretext for wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and allowed governments worldwide to stamp down on civil liberties and human rights. This was done in the name of security and tackling terrorism. The genuine fears of the population were played upon and the threat exaggerated to apocalyptic scenarios.

Running On Empty

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Dwindling oil reserves threaten chaos, finds Mubin Haq - Review of 'The End of Oil', Paul Roberts, Bloomsbury £12.99

In June oil prices hit a high of $40 a barrel and the G8 pleaded with the Opec oil cartel to increase production. Meanwhile the Iraq war continues and not surprisingly energy is grabbing headlines. Paul Roberts' The End of Oil provides a timely, informative and bang up to date analysis of not just the future of oil but of other hydrocarbons (gas and coal), renewable energy and their effect on global warming.

The Dynamics of Oppression

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Review of ’The Colonizer and the Colonized‘, Albert Memmi, Earthscan £12.95

First published in 1957, The Colonizer and the Colonized was born out of Albert Memmi‘s direct experiences in North Africa. At the time Algeria was in flames and the French Empire was disintegrating. Circulated in French colonial prisons, Memmi‘s work offers a psychological rather than an economic study of the effects of colonialism. In his 1965 preface, Memmi affirms that the ’economic aspect of colonisation is fundamental‘, yet this is hardly touched on.

Blacks and Reds

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Review of 'Race and Revolution', Max Shachtman, Verso £14

Lenin and Trotsky often raised concerns about the passivity of the US left on issues of race. Talking about the Trotskyist Socialist Workers Party in 1939, Trotsky stated, 'It is very disquieting to find that until now the party has done almost nothing in this field. It has not published a book, a pamphlet nor even any articles.' This wasn't strictly true, as in 1933 Max Shachtman, a leading Trotskyist in the US, produced a pamphlet that Trotsky himself received a draft of.

Conspiracy to Kill

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Review of 'An Act of State', William F Pepper, Verso £17

Martin Luther King is often viewed as being at the opposite end of the political spectrum to Malcolm X. The latter is seen as the uncompromising radical of the Black Power movement of the 1960s, while King is portrayed as a reformer who could not keep pace with the growing militancy of the times. The truth is not so black and white. King was increasingly shifting to the left, coming out against the Vietnam War and organising on class lines through the Poor People's Campaign and supporting strike action. The US was in flames, with 131 riots in the first six months of 1968.

Flower Power

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Review of 'Adaptation', director Spike Jonze

'Adaptation' is a multi-layered black comedy by director Spike Jonze and screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, whose previous offering was the wonderfully inventive 'Being John Malkovich'.

The film is based on the true ordeal Kaufman encountered while trying to adapt Susan Orlean's book, 'The Orchid Thief'. The latter is a passionate study of wild orchids and focuses on a charismatic jack of all trades named John Laroche, who is busy hunting for orchids in the swamps of Florida.

The Worst is Yet to Come?

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The Afghan tragedy continues.

One year on from the bombing of Afghanistan and you would assume from the spin emanating from Downing Street and the White House that life had returned to normal. The first postwar British tourists even departed recently for a ten-day sightseeing tour of Kabul, Herat, Bamian and Mazar-e-Sharif. But don't go booking your summer holiday in Kandahar just yet.

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