Rahmat Akilov’s Trial Raises Important Dilemmas for Swedish Policy Makers

The trial of Rahmat Akilov, the lone wolf terrorist who killed five pedestrians in Stockholm’s equivalent of Oxford Street, last April have just begun. Whilst the trial is expected to continue for several months, it will no doubt raise important questions pertaining to Islamic extremism, terrorism and fundamentalism in Swedish… Read more“Rahmat Akilov’s Trial Raises Important Dilemmas for Swedish Policy Makers”

Problems in the Caliphate: The Issue of Authority 

Abstract: For Muslims in the West especially those who become militant, the question of authority or the lack of it, is an important question. I will use the story of Aine Davis to illustrate some of these issues that young Muslims are grappling with. Case Study: Aine Davis It always… Read more“Problems in the Caliphate: The Issue of Authority “

An Interview with Youssef Rakha: Author of The Book of the Sultan’s Seal

Youssef Rakha is the author of The Book of the Sultan’s Seal: Strange Incidents from History in the City of Mars.  Cairo where Rakha lives and works, is at the heart of much of his work. His vision is particularly interesting in the light of the Egyptian revolution. It echoes the general dissatisfaction… Read more“An Interview with Youssef Rakha: Author of The Book of the Sultan’s Seal”

A Glimpse into Performance Art in the Muslim World: A Clash of the Profane and the Sacred

Cultural historians have often focused attention on Islam’s achievements in architecture, craftsmanship and calligraphy. However, except for poetry scant attention has been given to Islamic culture’s contribution to performance art: theatre, music and dance. This is partly because of the perception that Islam has an aversion to these art forms…. Read more“A Glimpse into Performance Art in the Muslim World: A Clash of the Profane and the Sacred”

Review: All the Battles my Maan Abu Taleb

There are things All the Battles by Maan Abu Taleb is not. It is not a cliched story based on a Rocky film. It is not an Arab version of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club in which the protagonist discovers fighting in order to feel “alive”.  Whilst Abu Taleb’s first novel… Read more“Review: All the Battles my Maan Abu Taleb”

Into the Heart of Darkness: Working Notes on Three ISIS Jihadists.

Raqqah has fallen. There are many jihadists who will look at this loss with a sense of bitterness. Some foreign fighters are pragmatic. Is the Jihad over? “It goes on” they say, “till the Day of Judgment.” For some though the fall of Raqqah isn’t good news. From the earth… Read more“Into the Heart of Darkness: Working Notes on Three ISIS Jihadists.”

Political Islam in Tunisia: a History of Ennahda and the Tunisian Exception

One of the most interesting books this summer may be a rather innocuous book by Anne Wolf, a leading Tunisia and North Africa specialist. In Political Islam in Tunisia: A History of Ennahda, Wolf, a University of Oxford researcher, presents the hidden history of Ennahda, Tunisia’s main Islamist movement, from… Read more“Political Islam in Tunisia: a History of Ennahda and the Tunisian Exception”

Mahdi al-Harati: A Libyan Garibaldi?

Sitting across Mahdi al-Harati in the hotel lobby it is difficult to see why anyone would want this quiet Libyan dead. His insulin rests on the low table alongside his sugarless coffee and with him is his over-protective doctor and friend. But you need to look closer, there is his… Read more“Mahdi al-Harati: A Libyan Garibaldi?”

Review: Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001-2014 by Theo Farrel

The 9/11 attacks gave birth to a Manichean world which is, as I write this, being played out in Syria and Iraq amongst other places. With this world in mind and the upcoming 9/11 anniversary, Professor Theo Farrel’s Unwinnable is a timely reminder of the consequences of the War on… Read more“Review: Unwinnable: Britain’s War in Afghanistan 2001-2014 by Theo Farrel”

Paradise Lost: The Rise and Fall of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi

I entered Najiyeh, a small town of no consequence, without their permission. The town claimed to be an ISIS principality. The claim seemed ridiculous but as we drove in to the town it seemed less so. They had fixed the prices, the markets were bustling, even the gold shops were… Read more“Paradise Lost: The Rise and Fall of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi”