Talat Ahmed

Islamophobia: Repression and Resistance

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How we can resist attempts by the state to foster anti-Muslim hatred.

There has been an increase in Islamophobia since the killing of soldier Lee Rigby. Talat Ahmed looks at the role played by the state in fostering Islamophobia and at the potential for resistance.

The arson attack on the Harlow Islamic Centre in August was the latest in a worrying spike of violence directed against Muslims that was triggered by the killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich last May.

Racism: a very British institution

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The conviction of Gary Dobson and David Norris for the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence was a moment to celebrate for all anti-racists. But, argues Talat Ahmed, institutional racism still lurks at the heart of the British state

The guilty verdict in the Stephen Lawrence case for two of his murderers has reopened a debate about racism in Britain. The conviction and life sentences handed down to Gary Dobson and David Norris for the murder of Stephen Lawrence was a moment of celebration and vindication for anti-racists throughout the country. Yet one fact conspicuous by its absence has been any serious consideration of institutionalised racism. This was the defining feature of the 1998 Macpherson inquiry into the police's handling of the investigation into Stephen's murder.

Pakistan: The US's man has left

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In a long resignation speech, General Pervez Musharraf, dictator of Pakistan, finally stood down last month.

The "hard" man of Pakistani politics looked pathetic as he claimed to be acting "for the good of the country" and placing himself in "the hands of the people".

One can be forgiven for forgetting that Musharraf came to power in 1999 in a military coup. He sacked the elected government and forced its leader, Nawaz Sharif, into political exile. Claiming to be "Mr Clean", he promised an end to corruption and nepotism.

Frontline Pakistan

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Zahid Hussain, IB Tauris, £9.99

Terms such as "Talibanisation" and "failed state" are often used to describe the inevitable crisis in Pakistan. As the US pursues Islamist militants across western Asia and the Middle East, its relentless war machine has plunged Pakistan into a political nightmare.

Interview: Tariq Ali

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'The history of the development of Islamic civilisation is one of adaption and intermingling. It is one of both influencing the non-Islamic world and being influenced by it.' Tariq Ali challenges the myth that Islam is incompatible with the West in his four novels about the Muslim world and Europe. He discussed them with Talat Ahmed.

Since Jack Straw made his comments on the veil, politicians have been falling over themselves to demonise Muslims in Britain. Now university lecturers are expected to spy on "Asian-looking" students in order to spot potential terrorists, while parents are warned to be on the look out for "fundamentalist" tendencies among their children. Britain seems to be in the grip of an anti-Muslim hysteria that has been gathering pace for some time. Tariq Ali's four novels on Islam and its relationship to Europe provide not only welcome relief but also an antidote.

The Shining Star

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Review of 'Midnight's Children' by Salman Rushdie, Barbican, London, and touring

'Midnight's Children' is the novel that brought international acclaim to Salman Rushdie 20 years ago. Its literary style, playful use of language and multilayered storyline introduced magical realism to a new audience. Thanks to the Royal Shakespeare Company we can now enjoy this on stage. This is the story of Saleem, a young man who was exchanged at birth by a nurse in order to give a new life to a boy born on the wrong side of the tracks. Saleem is the play's narrator, born at the hour of midnight of India's independence.

Imperial Roots

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Review of 'Striking Terror', eds. Robert B Silvers and Barbara Epstein, New York Review of Books £10.99

As George Bush prepares to launch an attack on Iraq the publication of this book is a timely reminder of the horrors of US imperialism. This collection of essays puts together a series of articles that originally appeared in the 'New York Review of Books' in the months following 11 September 2001.

Making Sacrifices

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Review of 'The Myth of the Holy Cow', Dwijendra Narayan Jha, Verso £16.00

Hinduism is associated with the cow as a sacred animal and to be a Hindu is synonymous with not eating meat. But like all religious doctrine there is plenty of mythmaking and mysticism that goes with this. This excellent new book by D N Jha challenges the sanctity of the holy cow and exposes the mumbo jumbo surrounding this.

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