My 2009 book From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and its Legacy will be published in a new edition next February. It will have an extended (12,000 word) Afterword to bring it up to date. It will also have a new subtitle – How the World Changed From The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. I will provide more details closer to the time. In the meantime, here is an extract from the Preface to the new edition:
From the Preface to the new edition of
From Fatwa to Jihad
Rereading the book recently, it struck me how much of the discussion in From Fatwa to Jihad remains pertinent – perhaps even more so than in 2009. But it struck me, too, how much has changed. When I originally wrote the book, the debate about ‘homegrown’ jihads, for instance, was still in its infancy. The first European homegrown suicide bombers had carried out the London 7/7 bombings in 2005. The stories of Mohammad Sidique Khan, leader of the 7/7 bombers, and of other British jihadis, were central to my narrative. Since 2009, however, the landscape of European jihadism has been transformed. The emergence of Islamic State, in particular, has recast both the political geography of the Middle East and North Africa, and the character of jihadism in Europe. The willingness of more than 4000 Europeans to fight with Islamic State, and the threat posed by IS-inspired militants in Europe, has created a significantly different context for the debate about jihadism than that which existed in 2009.
The debate about social policy has similarly moved on. From Fatwa to Jihad explores at length the question of multiculturalism in Britain – it tells the story of how it developed, and provides an analysis of its impact upon minority communities and on wider political developments. But, over time, the debate about multiculturalism has shifted. It has become in recent years fashionable to criticize multiculturalism. Many of the criticisms are as problematic as multiculturalism itself, sometimes even more so. Where, for me, the critique of multicultural policies has always gone hand-in-hand with a defence of immigration, diversity and equality, what drives many contemporary critics is a hostility to all three.
At the same time, the focus of the discussion of the relationship between social policy and homegrown jihadism is today as much upon French assimilationism as it is on British multiculturalism. In the past, French commentators often suggested that France had steered clear of many of the troubles faced by Britain because it had repudiated multiculturalism in favour of an assimilationist approach. In France, they insisted, unlike in Britain, every individual was treated as a citizen, not as a member of a particular racial or cultural group. Having rejected the divisive consequences of multiculturalism, France, they claimed, had avoided the British problem of homegrown jihadism. Today, though, it is clear that homegrown jihadism poses a greater threat in France than in Britain. France has suffered more grievously from jihadi terror, and as a society seems more fractured than Britain.
These new developments require new analyses. Hence this new edition of From Fatwa to Jihad. It retains the arguments and the narrative of the original, but it develops them through an extended Afterword that brings the story up-to-date. The Afterword explores, for instance, the shifting terrain of European jihadism, and questions many of the assumptions about ‘radicalization’. It dissects the problems of French assimilationism – and looks at what multiculturalism and assimilationism, two seemingly very different kinds of social policy, have in common.
The book has also a new subtitle – How the World Changed From The Satanic Verses to Charlie Hebdo. The attack in January 2015 on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, an attack that left eleven dead, was as shocking as the fatwa. A key theme in this book is the impact of the fatwa, and of The Satanic Verses controversy more broadly, in shaping attitudes to free speech, helping to create a culture in which many saw it as morally unacceptable to give offence to other cultures or faiths. The Charlie Hebdo killings may not have as significant a longterm impact as the fatwa on Salman Rishdie. But the debate that followed the killings revealed with startling clarity the degree to which liberal attachment to free speech had already degenerated. ‘Perhaps no event’, as I suggest in the Afterword, ‘has more revealed the failure of liberals to stand up to liberal values than the Charlie Hebdo killings.’ Understanding the debate about Charlie Hebdo allows us to appreciate more keenly the political and social shifts that followed the Rushdie affair; unpicking the consequences of the Rushdie affair allows us to comprehend better the controversies over Charlie Hebdo.