Islamism – two views

“Islamism, like socialism, is not a uniform entity. It is a colourful sociopolitical phenomenon with many strategies and discourses. This enormously diverse movement ranges from liberal to conservative, from modern to traditional, from moderate to radical, from democratic to theocratic, and from peaceful to violent. What these trends have in common is that they derive their source of legitimacy from Islam, just as Latin American anarchist guerrillas, communists, social democrats and third-way Blairites base theirs on socialism. To view such a broad canvas through the lens of Bin Laden or Zarqawi is absurd.”

Soumaya Ghannoushi in the Guardian, 5 October 2005

“… who will get the blame if the rucksacks start exploding at the Gare du Nord? Will the liberal world look Islamism in the face and see a cult of slaughter and self-slaughter powered by messianic faith, the Jewish conspiracy theory of European fascism, imperialist dreams of world domination and a loathing of democracy, pluralism, religious tolerance and the emancipation of women?”

Nick Cohen in the Observer, 9 October 2005

It’s also worth comparing Soumaya Ghannoushi’s understanding of the causes of Islamist terrorism (see here) with Cohen’s. She offers a nuanced analysis which places ideology in its social context, whereas Cohen – the self-styled upholder of Enlightenment values and secular rationalism – produces only an ignorant, bigoted rant which denies that terrorism has any material basis at all.