This is a very powerful book by Kenan Malik I have read in recent times, especially in terms of the one that I can really relate to and because this book sharply examines the issue of the Rushdie affair late 1988 and early 1989 split the left activists and caused them to have an 'identity crisis'. As mentioned in this book on page 52: "...Indeed, the 'very formation of the Asian Youth Movement in Bradford', Anandi Ramamurthy, a historian of the AYM, suggests, 'was also an expression of the failure of "white" left organisations in Britain to effectively address the issues that affected Asian communities..." However, the backlash against Muslims from 1989 was further endorsed by United States after 9/11 atrocities in 2001 & 7/7 London bombings in 2005. As someone who had identified as being "Asian" and with Asian Youth Movements (AYM's) politics and after the post-Rushdie 'identity crisis' of the left & my own identification with being a "Muslim" activist since 1990 and even much more pronounced since 2001 (9/11) and 2005 (7/7) events. It is a welcome relief to read the analysis of some of the leading authorities who write about us Muslims and the burning issues of Islamaphobia, gender, identity and media representation and remembering my own small contribution to the debate through "Facing the Book" (Satanic Verses Controversy) in May 1990 on British Television. During which, I came across a book by Shabbir Akhtar: "Be Careful with Muhammad" and Malik also refers to Shabbir Akhtar extensively in this book, Fatwa to Jihad. My own original writings/research discussed the impact of the Satanic Verses/Rushdie Controversy/affair in late 1989 and which forms an important part of the debate, written on 12th December, 1989, summarised/concluded, in the following terms: "...This in turn, led to the (latent) racist undercurrents being whipped up by the media and racists/fascists alike. Therefore, the Rushdie Affair triggered off a 'mini moral panic' with regards to the threat from Islam, though, the previous ones focused on "Barbaric Iran, or Saudi Arabia". Ironically, on a political level both of these countries differ immensely in their brand of religious orthodoxy and their `sphere of influence' differs markedly to each other. Thus, the portrayal of Islam as being homogeneous is a misnomer, though there are differing schools of though in the Muslim faith, and there is also dissent (within it), in the forms of satirical/artistic expression..." Although my writings don't exactly fit in what Kenan Malik is arguing - but I presume that some of the sentiments are expressed maybe similar and our experiences and understandings of the Muslim community and Islam and racism seems to strike a similar chord!
More specifically, Malik's book charts the rise of the AYM's and novelist Tariq Mehmood refers to it as at pages 48-52: "...We can't have this, we can't leave our future in the hands of people we hated like community leaders or Labour Party types'. That was then, he says, 'the seeds of the Asian Youth Movements began to be formed'..." Incidently, Malik also mentions in the concluding paragraphs of chapter two at page 79: "...The AYM, a beacon in the 1970s, of united struggles against racism, split up, torn apart by such multi-cultural tensions..." Very true, is the case. Sadly, Malik fails to grasp the true facts of Sheffield Asian Youth Movement (SAYM), formation and who founded it, and he incorrectly mentions this one particular member of the Sheffield Asian Youth Movement (SAYM) 'as a founder member' at page 79 in the book. The truth of the matter was that the SAYM was initially referred to as the Asian Youth Council (AYC) - due to its original founders being youth workers and (I was there also) I/we were inspired by the visit/meeting/discussion held on Sunday, 12th October, 1980 and held at the Attercliffe (Asian) Youth Club in Sheffield by two Bradford AYM member(s) Anwar Qadir and another member only referred to as "another colleague", to set up another AYM in Sheffield; two years prior to the actual formation of the AYC after the Shizan restaurant attack in June, 1982. However the ongoing Ahmed Khan campaign and the second planned AYM Demonstration in February, 1983 and with the re-formation of AYC in late 1982 as the SAYM. Also, archival evidence on the Tandana Glow website: 'Archiving Social and Political rights' and articles articles in the Burngreave Messenger backs this up.
Finally, despite these minor investigative journalistic lapses, Malik sums up in a nutshell that the legacy of the Rushdie Affair carried into the post-9/11 and present, Malik makes his incisive political analysis and then continues to challenges the many cultural myths that are tied up in the Satanic Verses Controversy/Rushdie Affair that are actually the precursor to a wholly new kind of political narrative. Malik in fact, charts the rise of 'radical' AYMs and does the same to the rise of "Radical Islam" and the factors involved in the Rushdie Affair that have undermined free speech and freedom of expression. Excellent exposition of the The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy and with razor sharp argument and debate. Definitely the number one international seller!