Patt Morrison for December 29, 2011

Rock the Casbah: Robin Wright on the Arab Spring

Simon & Schuster

“For the majority of Muslims today, the central issue is not a clash with other civilizations. It is instead a struggle within the faith itself to rescue Islam’s central values from a small but virulent minority.” So asserts longtime Washington Post foreign correspondent Robin Wright in her new book, “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”

In “Rock the Casbah,” Wright, who has covered the Middle East since 1973, focuses on another small but fierce group: protestors and activists of the next generation, who name “pluralism” and “commonality” as their primary interests. To this end, Wright bases “Rock the Casbah” on stories of Muslims like Hissa Hilal, an amateur poet who reached the final round of “Poet of Millions” (think “American Idol”) by reciting a poem deeply critical of Islamic militants and militant clerics, earning multiple death threats in the process. In reviewing “Rock the Casbah” for the New York Times, Professor Mohamad Bazzi lauds Wright for her coverage of this community, but points out that the book’s argument “rests on [the] sweeping assertion” that this group is at all representative or effective. Bazzi also questions why Wright fails to discuss where groups like Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood fit in to the idea of the “jihad against the Jihad,” given their continued popularity.

Guest:

Robin Wright, longtime Washington Post foreign correspondent and author, “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World”


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