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

  • ‘Scenes From a Marriage’

    July 15, 2011

    ‘Scenes From a Marriage’ by Tariq Ali for Counterpunch, July 14, 2011

    Ever since the US occupation of Afghanistan almost ten years ago, two illusory fictions, common in many nuclear families, have dominated the discussion on AmPak relations. The first is that neither side is fully aware of what the other is doing; the second that a total breakdown of the relationship is imminent.

    As long as the Pentagon bankrolls the Pakistan Army to fight its wars and NATO troops remain in Afghanistan there will be quarrels, charges of infidelity, tantrums, a reduction in the household allowance, taking away of toys like night-vision goggles, perhaps even a short separation, but a divorce? Never.  The cash/arms nexus is crucial to this most recent phase of the AmPak relationship. In return for it, as Wikileaks revealed, Washington defines, interprets and implements  …

  • ‘Judges spring from the same milieu as the rulers’

    October 1, 2007

    ‘Judges spring from the same milieu as the rulers’, an interview with Tariq Ali by Aoun Abbas for Newsline, October 2007

    Q: How significant was Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry’s decision to fight back?

    A: The struggle to insist on the separation of powers between the judiciary and the state, which has been very weak in this country, is very important. Judges have been cajoled, they have been bullied, and they have been fired from 1958 onwards. I remember Justice Kiyani who took a very brave step against the first military dictatorship in this country, going around universities, addressing students, speaking in a very subtle way, but encouraging us to think.

    It is a fact that, by and large, judges in our country spring from the same milieu as the other rulers of the country. So that is why  …