Update: A few words on last night’s spectacle. It was a slightly tired rendition of “traditionalists” versus “modernists”, although to be fair to Newsnight they are not in a position to discuss finer academic points — they have to reduce the “issues” to a simple format for a larger, uninformed, audience. The panel was an odd collection of a communist now supposedly concerned with Human Rights, a keloptocrat from Pakistani’s corrupt political classes (and partly responsible for failure of civil society in Pakistan), and a classic weak-willed jihadist, who had the cheek to suggest he was “the first” in criticising terrorism. You can watch the programme at the Newsnight website and draw your own conclusions.
Those of you who can should tune into Newsnight tonight:
Tonight on Newsnight we’re devoting the whole programme to exploring the struggle within Islam. Has the lack of any over-arching religious figure led to a schism between Sunni and Shia; to the rise of political Islam; and, ultimately, to an increase in the number of extremists willing to kill in the name of their religion?
Is there a crisis intrinsic to the Muslim faith? And, if so, does Islam need its own Reformation?
Or is the crisis a response to Western governments’ attempts to influence, or even control, Muslim-majority nations? Should the USA be promoting, or trying to impose, democracy? And when democracy produces results that Western nations may consider “unsavoury” – what should their response be?
Looking at the guests I am not really convinced the BBC put much thought into it:
Gavin [Esler] will be joined by guests including the former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, the leading Islamic scholar Reza Aslan, and from Lebanon by the radical cleric Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed who is banned from returning to the UK.