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CM09: The Maghreb

Robin Yassin-Kassab has an enlightening sojourn in Morocco, Robert Irwin argues that the great historian Ibn Khaldun was a Sufi, Marcia Lynx Qualey is dazzled by the transformative power of Maghrebi poetry, Julia Melcher explores the absurd world of exiled western writers in Tangiers, Hicham Yezza stands up for the Berbers Rights Movement, Louis Proyect reads recent histories of the Maghrebi Jews, Jamal Bahmad dec

Dusklands by Robin Yassin-Kassab

Morocco’s Arabic name, ‘al-Maghreb’, emerges from the root gh-r-b, which denotes concepts including the west, distance, and alienation. ‘Ghareeb’ means strange. ‘Ightirab’ means living outside the Arab world, whether in the west or the east. ‘Maghreb’ also means sunset, dusk, the evening prayer, the time at which the daily fast is broken. Al-Maghreb al-Arabi refers to the entire Arab west – Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Mauritania, the Western Sahara – but Morocco has no other name.

Out of this Dead-End by Ziba Mir-Hosseini

In July 1979, six months into the Iranian Revolution that brought Islamists into power, Ahmad Shamloo wrote a poem, ‘In This Dead-End’, that proved to be prophetic and captured what was to come. 

They smell your breath. 

You better not have said, ‘I love you.’

They smell your heart. These are strange times, darling... 

And they flog 

love 

at the roadblock. 

We had better hide love in the closet... 

Me, Islam and Literature by Linda Christanty

He was astonished when he discovered I was a Muslim. He was a member of the Foreign Correspondents Club in Hong Kong, an Englishman whose name I’ve forgotten. I was contributing to a discussion at the club on Islam and the modern world. He asked my paternal family name, and when I replied, ‘Abdul Malik,’ he opened his mouth to exclaim, ‘Aaah!’

Return to Al-Andalus by Ziauddin Sardar

A young surgeon seeks new techniques to relieve the suffering of his patients. He is a rationalist familiar with the latest advances in science. But his rationalism is severely tested when he meets a libertine steeped in ancient religious beliefs and haunted by the memory of his dead father.

A Veronica on the Eve of War by Martin Rose

Cities also believe that they are the work of the mind, or of chance, but neither the one nor the other suffices to hold up their walls. You take delight not in a city’s seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours.

Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities

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CM05: Love and Death

Aamer Hussein takes love to its logical conclusion, Robert Irwin traces the origins of the ghazal (love lyric), Christopher Shackle recites epic Panjabi poems of sacred love and lyrical death, Imranali Panjwani mourns the massacre of

Coke Studio by Bilal Tanweer

There are no billboards on the streets. For the last four years, a week or so before the new season of Coke Studio is launched, most of the important billboards in major Pakistani cities are taken up by snazzy advertisements announcing the featured artists of the season. It’s the biggest annual ad campaign for any TV program and this is Season 5. It’s being touted by many to be the mother of all seasons, mainly on the basis of a wildly circulating promotional video of Episode 1 of the new season. The first artist on the promo video is a rapper: Bohemia.

Twenty-First-Century Crusaders by Arun Kundnani

In September 2009, as the organisation was preparing for a major demonstration in Manchester the following month, the English Defence League (EDL) released a video on YouTube entitled, ‘English Defence League response to the lies of the UAF and some elements of the press’. (The UAF, Unite Against Fascism, is an anti-fascist group active in countering English Defence League demonstrations.) The video was filmed in a disused warehouse in Luton. Lined against one wall of a large empty room are around twenty men dressed in black, their faces concealed behind balaclavas.

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