[Marxism] Tariq Ali interview on the Middle East

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Aug 11 08:47:59 MDT 2006

MJ: You've called for an Islamic Reformation. Where do you see the best 
prospects for such a movement?

TA: I used to hope—and I’ve still not given up on it—that a big reform 
movement could arise in Iran, which in some ways is one of the most 
cultured Islamic countries, with a very long pre-Islamic tradition as well 
which hasn’t been completely wiped out. But when the United States and 
Israel behave in the way they do, then that sets it back. So I’m quite 
despondent on that particular front at the moment. That’s one problem.

The second problem is that in many parts of the Islamic world, secular 
forces, where they exist, tend now to be so unsure of themselves, so 
lacking in self-confidence, that in many cases—not in all—they line 
themselves up fairly squarely behind the imperial project and that then 
creates a big vacuum in which the Islamists become the dominant power 
because they are the only ones then who are seen as resisting. And that I 
think has been a very, very dangerous development in the Islamic world. And 
when I go often I meet very, very good people—intellectuals, writers—just 
sitting completely despondent, trapped between the American hammer and the 
Islamist anvil, not knowing which way to turn.

MJ: Can you point to any leaders you’ve encountered in Muslim countries, 
Arab or otherwise, that might be a beacon of hope for religious reformation?

TA: There’s no movement as such, but you know if you look at Iran the bulk 
of the population—75% of the population—is under 30 years of age, and these 
are people who’ve grown up totally under clerical rule, and their first 
sort of gut instinct is to resent all the social codes which are imposed on 
them. I have been arguing that this is where you will probably have an 
upheaval in about ten years time. Currently that situation is on hold 
because of all the threats against Iran, which has united the country. 
Whatever you think about those threats or why they are made, certainly they 
have the effect of making the majority of people in Iran very angry with 
the West, and they see the Islamists as the only opposition, and the reason 
they see them as the only opposition is ‘cause there ain’t nobody else!

full: http://www.motherjones.com/interview/2006/08/tariq_ali.html



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