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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Elizabeth Shakman Hurd on the Myths of Mubarak

I want to post a link to Elizabeth Shakman Hurd's recent post about Western interpretations of the past and current political situation in Egypt, on The Immanent Frame blog. It is slightly off the topic that I typically dwell upon here (Turkey and the EU), but much like my own work, Shakman Hurd's piece deals with constricting Western narratives of Islam that juxtapose secular/modern/stable with Islamic/radical/fundamentalist. Her analysis is insightful and the EU's current inability to deal with the Turkish membership bid in a thoughtful and productive manner must, I believe (with her), be seen in precisely that wider context.

Perhaps most of all, I enjoyed the quote by Michel Foucault, who at the time of the Iranian revolution remarked that:
the problem of Islam as a political force is an essential one for our time and for years to come, and we cannot approach it with a modicum of intelligence if we start out from a position of hatred.
In many ways, this distills my own position and the main problem that I have with much of the EU discourse on e.g. human rights or the situation of Kurds in Turkey. While much of the critique that is routinely (ritually, we might even say) leveled against Turkey in the European Parliament may be well-founded, the broad tenure of the discourse is so infused with fear, distrust, and even prejudice, as well as a rather smug sense of superiority, that it not only poisons the climate of negotiations but also obscures the actual issues under consideration and prevents what could be a more authoritative and ultimately more influential treatment of said issues.

Myths of Mubarak « The Immanent Frame

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