Friday, October 8, 2010

Facets of Islam

The other evening, I watched a wonderful French TV documentary about the Moroccan cities of Casablanca and Fez, which are attempting to preserve certain zones of their splendid architectural heritage by several projects such as the creation of guest quarters in family homes. This work is being organized by a dynamic young Moroccan woman, Laïla Skali: a professional architect with a profound knowledge and love of her culture.

Towards the end of the documentary, Laïla's father invited viewers to a rare video experience: the opportunity of looking in on a Sufi ritual of chants and rhythmic movements. He explained that it was a good idea, in his mind, that outsiders should be able to observe at close hand the practices of this mystic branch of Islam. Indeed, it was fascinating to see all those young men terminating their prayers and their curious "ballet", as if these rites were an everyday affair, and then moving back to the medina to take up their ordinary activities as merchants and craftsmen.

Meanwhile, in another corner of the planet, another exceptional woman, Christianne Amanpour (known to viewers as a CNN journalist) was interviewing a Muslim of a rather different personality: English-born Anjem Choudary.

Here's an extract of that interview in which Choudary succeeds brilliantly in frightening shit out of every viewer who might have imagined previously that extremist Muslims are the sort of nice folk whom Christians might invite along to a Sunday afternoon tea-party in the grounds of the parish church.

There's a good article on this incident in the following US magazine:

Choudary is fond of his floating flag image, which he has already applied in a British context. One result of his outspoken comments is that there's a macabre flag floating permanently over the cleric's head now, marking him out clearly for what he is, what he believes, and what he's praying for.

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