Granadillo Award for the Islam Quintet

Text of the speech made by Tariq Ali upon receiving the Granadillo Award, January 2, 2010

Thank you very much and I am privileged to be so honored, but I am only too aware of the significance of this day and the fact that you are honoring the ideas expressed in the ‘Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree’, the first novel of the Quintet that I started writing in this city over twenty years ago. I wanted to remind readers of the last tormented days of Islamic civilization in al-Andalus; not for reasons of nostalgia, but because the crimes that were committed—the burning of the books in the Bibbarambla a few minutes walk from where we are now, the expulsion of the Jews, the forced conversions, the auto-da-fes (burning of heretics on the stake), the Inquisition and  …

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Preface – Protocols of the Elders of Sodom

Preface to The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom

What these essays share in common is a refusal to downgrade politics and history in favour of academic ‘discourse’, the general trend of which has, over the last three decades, been mind-numbing. Aijaz Ahmed, in particular, has written sharply on the impact of postmodernism on discussions of literature and culture as a whole. The same three decades also produced a single and dominant narrative in the form of global capitalism, policed by the economic, political and ideological instruments of the Washington Consensus. This ensemble of relations, in which campus postmodernism played a significant part by encouraging blindness, was severely disrupted by the Wall Street crash of 2008. The events of 9/11 and the subsequent occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq had already made it difficult to completely ignore history. The  …

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From the archive

  • ‘Six years of a war of terror’

    October 26, 2007

    ‘Six years of a war of terror’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Sherry Wolf for Socialist Worker, October 26, 2007

    This is the sixth anniversary of the U.S. war on Afghanistan, which a lot of people see as the “good” battle in the “war on terror,” as opposed to Iraq. Is that true?

    I have always argued that this was essentially a crude war of revenge to hit back immediately after the September 11 attacks—for political leaders to show the American population that “we are busy defending you.” It had no other major purpose to it other than being for revenge—an eye for an eye.

    The second aim of this war, as Bush spelled it out, was to capture Osama bin Laden “dead or alive.” Those were his exact words, which we shouldn’t forget. Apart from that,  …

  • ‘The Assault on Mumbai’

    November 3, 2008

    ‘The Assault on Mumbai’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, November 27, 2008

    The terrorist assault on Mumbai’s five-star hotels was well planned, but did not require a great deal of logistic intelligence: all the targets were soft. The aim was to create mayhem by shining the spotlight on India and its problems and in that the terrorists were successful. The identity of the black-hooded group remains a mystery.

    The Deccan Mujahedeen, which claimed the outrage in an e-mail press release, is certainly a new name probably chosen for this single act. But speculation is rife. A senior Indian naval officer has claimed that the attackers (who arrived in a ship, the M V Alpha) were linked to Somali pirates, implying that this was a revenge attack for the Indian Navy’s successful if bloody action against pirates in the  …