Nope, but I'm sure you can google him
Got an article though:
Radical Islam appeals to the rootless
By Oliver Roy
October 12, 2004
It is often assumed that the spread of Islamic radicalism is a consequence of conflicts within the Middle East and their natural spillover effect on the global Muslim population, specifically on Muslims living in western societies. "Re-Islamisation", the radicalisation of westernised Muslim populations, is seen as the reaction of Muslim societies to western political and cultural encroachments.
But why, then, do so many young, "born again" second-generation Muslims in the western world embrace various brands of neo-fundamentalist or salafi Islam? Why are so many converts joining them? Curiously, why does the radical fringe of the west's Muslim population opt for peripheral and exotic jihad - from Bosnia to Afghanistan, Kashmir and Chechnya - instead of heading to Iraq? Evidence suggests that few, if any, among the children of Europe's Muslim immigrants return to wage jihad in the land of their ancestors - Algeria or Morocco, for example - while foreigners fighting
alongside Iraqi Sunni insurgents tend to be Saudi, Syrian or Jordanian neighbours, not volunteers coming from the west.
In fact the spread of new forms of Islamic fundamentalism or salafism as is not a translation of original Muslim cultures and traditions but a recasting of new identities under religious terms.
The neo-fundamentalist view reduces Islam to a literalist and normative reading of the Koran. It rejects cultural dimensions of religion and replaces them with a code of Islamic conduct to suit any situation, from Afghan deserts to US school campuses. Consequently its first target is not so much the west as what it sees as distorted Islam, sullied from early days by traditional Muslim cultures and arts, literature and philosophy.
The prime target of the Taliban, for example, was traditional Afghan culture, not the west. Salafism, therefore, is a tool for uprooting traditional cultures, not for enhancing them. It acknowledges without nostalgia the loss of original culture and sees a positive opportunity to build a universal religious identity, unlinked from any specific culture including western society, which is perceived as corrupt and decadent.
Re-Islamisation means that Muslim identity, self-evident as long as it belonged to an inherited cultural legacy, must explicitly express itself in a non-Muslim or western context. The construction of a "deculturalised" Islam gives rise to a religious identity not linked to any specific culture and therefore able to fit with every culture or, more exactly, transcend the very notion of culture. Globalisation has blurred the connection between a religion, an original culture and a territory. In this respect, globalisation provides an opportunity to dissociate Islam from specific cultures and develop a universal model that can work beyond cultural confines.
Neo-fundamentalism reveals that it is just as much a product as an agent of cultural loss. Islam, as preached by the Taliban, the Saudi Wahhabis and Osama bin Laden's radicals, is hostile to traditional culture, even those of Muslim origin. Whether Muhammad's tomb, the Bamiyan statues of the Buddha, or the World Trade Center, destruction of such symbols expresses the same rejection of civilisation or culture. The surge of "fundamentalism" in the west (whether Islamic or even Christian) does not express a clash of civilisations, because it has already deprived cultures and civilisations of their content and meaning.
This sort of fundamentalism does not target actual communities but individuals in doubt of their faith and identity. It appeals to an uprooted, disaffected youth in search of an identity beyond the lost cultures of their parents and beyond the thwarted expecta tions of a better life in the west. They dream of a universal and virtual Islamic community that could give religious meaning to the globalisation process.
Converts, whether school drop-outs, racial minorities or rebels without a cause, may find in this imaginary ummah - or universal community of Muslim believers - a chance to build a new and positive identity.
Neo-fundamentalists are succeeding in adding Islamic content to the global market. When they indulge in consumerism they promote halal McDonald's or Mecca-Cola (a registered brand-name) rather than the refined delicacies of Ottoman or Moroccan cuisine. When they go for jihad they do not identify with the nationalist struggles of the Middle East, where activists, whether secular (such as the Ba'athists) or religious (such as Hamas) fight first for a territory and a nation state. The ummah that the fundamentalists are fighting for is not based on a territory: it is a dream that finds on the internet its virtual existence. Websites and chatrooms compensate for the lack of real social roots.
This neo-fundamentalism is not necessarily violent or politically radical.
But when it does turn violent, it targets the usual suspects of the old western extreme left: imperialism, capitalism and "dominant ideology". Al-Qaeda in the west has Islamised a space that was filled by anti-imperialism and other such movements. The radical European extreme left, if it still exists, is no longer active in university campuses, depressed housing estates and degraded inner cities. Islamist preachers have replaced far-left militants and social workers. Many young people in these campuses and neighbourhoods find in radical Islam a way to recast and rationalise their sense of alienation. But they are experiencing isolation from real society, as did the radical Marxist left in the 1970s in Europe. Such radicalisation is a transitional and generational phenomenon, increasingly decoupled from the world of mainstream western Muslims, who find their own way to deal with globalisation.
The writer, professor at Ecoles des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales, Paris, is author of the forthcoming Globalised Islam: the Search for a New Ummah (C. Hurst & Co./Columbia University Press).
Financial Times (London, England), October 12, 2004, Tuesday, London Edition 1.
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