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From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy [Paperback]

Kenan Malik
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 2010
Twenty years ago, the image of burning copies of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" held aloft by thousand-strong mobs of protestors became an internationally familiar symbol of anger and offence. Kenan Malik examines how the Rushdie affair transformed the debate worldwide on multiculturalism, tolerance and free speech, helped fuel the rise of radical Islam and pointed the way to the horrors of 9/11 and 7/7.

Product details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books (1 Jan 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843548259
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843548256
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 541,321 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"'A gripping account of how we went from burning books to bombs on buses. The Rushdie Affair has shaped all our lives. This book shows us how.' Hanif Kureishi * 'A thorough and highly readable history of the politics of the Rushdie affair and an important intervention in the current debate on freedom of expression.' Monica Ali 'A riveting political history of contemporary Britain... Impeccably researched, brimming with detail, yet razor-sharp in its argument.' Lisa Appignanesi, Independent"

About the Author

Kenan Malik is a writer, lecturer and broadcaster. He is a Visiting Senior Fellow in the Department of Political, International and Policy Studies at the University of Surrey. He is a presenter of Analysis on Radio 4 and a panellist on The Moral Maze. His books include The Meaning of Race (1996), Man, Beast and Zombie (2000) and Strange Fruit: Why Both Sides are Wrong in the Race Debate (2008).

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Britain of my youth 17 Mar 2010
I read this book after hearing Christopher Hitchens recommend it to a journalist interested in the state of Islam in the UK. I feel that with the passing of time since I read the book, my memory has faded somewhat, but as I came across the book again on Amazon and nobody had written a review, I thought that I would give an indication as to how much I enjoyed the book. There were several aspects that really struck me about how, in Malik's view, British Muslims were encouraged to group together artificially by councils and other government agencies to present a unified case, and that this is one way in which disparate groups encountering racism and the ills of British city life came to be united.

What made Malik's book so powerful for me is that this is the first account of the Britain of my youth which I really recognise. The racism, the Paki-bashing, the national front, the bigotry, far from being as isolated as some would like to suggest, were pervasive through my youth - and I hated every second of it. I grew up far enough away from Brixton to be aware that there were problems down the road, but close enough to experience the distasteful vagaries of racists and bigots. Malik has supplied me with a book where I can say, 'You want to know what the Britain of my youth was like ... there you are.' I can think of no better compliment to pay a writer.

The more complex problems that Malik investigates are intriguing. Some of his secular friends have become religious and, so Malik seems to suggest, have found an identity, albeit perhaps an inauthentic one (if that is not a disingenuous phrase) in a new form of Islam that is seen as a revitalisation of an old form.
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Having been brought up in Bradford in the 1970s and having lived for a while in the predominantly "Asian" area of Manningham in the 80s I often wondered why the Bradford I knew and loved had changed into the Bradford (or the perceived Bradford) of today.

This book explains all. If you ever wanted to know how we got to where we are then this is the book to read. A really interesting and informative read. To be recommended.
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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: "... Read more ›
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize 2010 26 May 2010
'This is the first book to examine the powerful effect on freedom of speech and expression of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie in 1989. It is one of those rare books that tells you what, the sound and fury apart, is really going on. Malik probes the culture of self-censorship and political posturing that erodes free speech and skilfully questions the positions of the left and liberals. In his words: "If we invite the state to define the boundaries of acceptable speech, we cannot complain if it is not just speech to which we object that gets curtailed."'

The Orwell Prize is Britain's most prestigious prize for political writing. The Book Prize judges for 2010 were Jonathan Heawood (director, English PEN), Andrew Holgate (literary editor, Sunday Times) and Francine Stock (writer and broadcaster).
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fabulous background into my favorite author 19 Mar 2013
By Steve Regier - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This text has been so enlightening, thought provoking and well written. Thank you. I encourage any Rushdie fan to read it!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Malik expains the new confidence of British muslims 4 Dec 2012
By Gerard - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Well written and not polemical. Very thorough and, for the most part accords with my own thoughts on these issues. Western countries have lost confidence in their own values and pander to aggressive and bullying minorities. " Fear masquarading as tolerance".
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