Greg Barton

The terrorist attacks of 9/11, and the loosely related jihadi Islamist terrorist attacks that followed in a dozen countries, have left the world more afraid than ever of Islam. Modern terrorism is not the only factor. The West has long had a problem with Islam. This perception dates back a full millennium to a time when Europe was in its dark ages and Islamic civilisation was blossoming. From the beginning, Western anxiety about Islam has been based on almost total ignorance. Well before there was any substantial contact between Europeans and Muslims, Islam was an imagined ‘other’ automatically cast as the opposite of everything that the ‘Christian West’ claimed as its legacy.

... (read more)

Have the Bali Bombings completely changed our view of Indonesia? Although obviously not designed to do so, these three books provide necessary background on how such an atrocity might be possible in the near-anarchic circumstances of that country. They also give a wide-ranging and informative picture of the present state of Indonesia in all its chaos and uncertainty. They make sobering reading, as if Indonesian politics is a mixture of Shakespearean tragedy, Javanese shadow play and gangster drama: Hamlet, Semar and The Godfather.

... (read more)