The latest issue of LSE Magazine contains extracts from an interview of Fred Halliday by Adam Holm, originally conducted for the Danish weekly, Opinion.
Here are some extracts of the extracts:
AH: Do you agree with the British Muslim writer Ziauddin Sardar who suggested recently that Islam has to change fundamentally?
FH: … I always read Ziauddin Sardar with great interest, but I see no sense in this ‘change fundamentally’ argument. From its inception, and especially from some of the major debates between more dogmatic and more flexible interpretations of religion in mediaeval times, there have been plenty of writers and trends within Islam that are compatible with diversity, tolerance and, in today’s terms, democracy and liberalism. Western critics of Islam, and Islamic fundamentalists themselves, try to drown out the liberal and open-minded thinkers that have been writing for a century or more, but the problem is not some change in ‘Islam’, whatever is meant by that in this case, but a change in the balance of power, within states, judicial systems and societies, to permit the alternative explanations to prevail. It is a matter of power, not of religion. … AH: Which, in your view, is more dangerous? American unilateralism or Islamic fundamentalism?
FH: This is not a reasonable choice, and I would certainly not want opposition to one to involve indulgence of the other. Moreover, each is, to the cost of many, including western Europe, to some degree encouraging the other. But while we can condemn each we must also try to understand them, in the sense of taking their determination seriously and in seeing the causes, which will not easily go away, of these changes, to our east, in the Muslim world, and to the west, in the USA. As a citizen and an academic, I am sometimes as exasperated and frightened by the lack of serious interest in, and study of, the USA – a fascinating, diverse if difficult country – as I am by the stereotyping of the Muslim world. Anti-US prejudice may itself have its own dangers, as does prejudice against Muslims.
AH: Will the war against terrorism last as long as the Cold War?
FH: … these armed groups began life, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, in the context of the Cold War itself, in attacks not against ‘western’ or US targets, but against the targets associated with the Soviet Union and with left-wing or secular forces within the Muslim world itself. The campaigns of Al Qaida against the USA in the 1990s and beyond had their roots, ideologically and organisationally, in the campaign against the Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, that is, in one of the sharpest conflicts in the Cold War. People in the Middle East recall that these fundamentalists, in power and in opposition, have, for two decades or more, been threatening and in some cases killing left-wing and secular opponents – such as the Moroccan socialist leader Oman Bin Jelloun in 1975, the Sudanese independent Muslim thinker Ahmad Taha in 1989, the Egyptian liberal writer Faraj Fuda in 1992, not to mention a long list of Iranian and Afghan writers and secular politicians killed in the 1980s and 1990s. It is for this reason, above all, that I find it so disturbing to see the supposedly left-wing mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, indulging a prominent member of the Islamist camp, Sheikh Qaradawi….
Paul Simon's younger brother Eddie is apparently out of the same mold. A guitarist and radio station owner, he has on occasion had a behind-the-scenes role in his brother's career. Once a member of a band called Guild Light Cage, Simon became better known as a teacher at the Guitar Study Center, now part of the New School in Manhattan. (It may always have been part of the New School.)
Jerome Garfunkel, on the other hand, has at times shared a similar coiffeur style with his older brother, but otherwise seems to have rather different interests. In some circles, he is known as Mr COBOL. He has an honorary doctorate from De Montfort University in UK and a perfect attendance award from the ninth grade, Parsons Junior High School, Queens, New York. In addition to his programming expertise, he is a calligrapher and motorcycle fan.
On his website, he has a tribute to his mother who died earlier this year aged 93.