February 20, 2013
Rock The Casbah Critical Review
Part I: Rock The Casbah by Robin Wright is about the Arab and Islamic World. The Arab world is currently in the process of a political uprising although it will take several years to complete. “The transformation did not happen suddenly. Stirred by the young and stoked by new technology, rage against both autocrats and extremists has been building steadily within Muslim societies. Technology is becoming more and more advanced and this is making it easier for the uprising to happen” (Wright 2). New technology is the basis for this uprising because it gets information across much faster than it would without technology. The Muslim societies are getting frustrated with extremists because they have done nothing for the nation except destruct it. Wright brings up and idea called the “counter-jihad”, which is the basis for her main argument in that this idea is very evident in the Muslim World. It is becoming more and more evident that the Arab World is supporting the counter-jihad. The counter-jihad is basically trying to reform Islam in a way that rejects violence and the ideas of Al Qaeda. “The counter-jihad is the rejection of specific violent movements as well as the principle of violence to achieve political goals. It has been palpable since 2007, as Saudi and Egyptian clerics who were once bin Laden’s ideological mentors began to publicly repudiate al Qaeda” (Wright 3). Wright is basically saying that the Islamic world is starting to support the idea of the counter-jihad, which is going against the jihad. Wright hopes “The counter-jihad will define the next decade as thoroughly as the extremists dominated the last one- even as the al Qaeda franchises continue to plot ambitious terrorist attacks” (Wright 45). This is exactly what the Arab world wants, but in order for that to happen, everyone needs to reject the ideas of Al Qaeda and the extremists.
The second part of Wrights book is dedicated to self-expression in non-violent ways. Poetry, comedy, and music are some of the ways that the people in the Arab World are expressing themselves. Wright tells stories about multiple people expressing themselves through art. Counter-jihad activists are expressing themselves in these ways in hope that someday there will be change. “A decade after 9/11, an edgy blend of humor and mockery had become a popular means of rejecting extremism and reaching out to heal the cultural chasm with non-Muslims” (Wright 190). Wright explains that people are using their humor to try to avoid extremism. For the most part it is successful; she talks about a tour called The Axis of Evil Comedy Tour, which was probably the most well known comedy tour among Americans. The people that partook in this tour were Muslims who did not agree with terrorism and wanted people to know that not all Muslims are in fact terrorists. Especially after the 9/11 attacks most Muslims were viewed as terrorists and they did not want to have that reputation. Jobrani, one of the people on the tour talks about why he wanted to do comedy. “‘For us…the goal is not simply to make people laugh. It’s also to have people, when they leave the show, go’ ‘Wow, that guy was funny, and he was Middle Eastern, and he didn’t try to kidnap or hijack us’’” (Wright 193). Again, this is confirming the idea that not all Muslims are bad people. Wright focuses a lot of her attention on this idea of people expressing themselves through art because it really is important. It explains how people in the Middle East can express themselves in different ways other than just violence and terrorism.
This book does a very good job explaining the Arab Uprisings and what people are doing in order to have change in the Muslim world. Peace can be achieved in many other ways, terrorism is not the answer.
Robin Wright does an excellent job explaining the Arab Nation along with the ideas about the counter-jihad and the act of