I'm the slowest of slow readers, and yet I completed a book in just one day yesterday - Ed Husain's The Islamist.
What an amazing book - not for its style, and perhaps not entirely for the content, but for the character arc. Ed Husain's development is one of the great reversals of a protagonist, akin (dare I ground this terrible truelife story down simple storytelling ideals and match it against the story of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader) to Star Wars. There is a great sense by the third act that Ed really does wonder what monster he's contributed to on the path of dissilusionment and hate.
The Guardian gives a base review here: http://books.guardian.co.uk/reviews/politicsphilosophyandsociety/0,,2073365,00.html
But I can't help but feel that they don't want to step on anyone's toes with it - it's a tiny article that acts as a synopsis rather than a discussion on either literary merit, or even "Holy Shit, we're in deep trouble!" - which I personally think we are.
We go from the streets of London (and I think I'm going to seek out Brick Lane now, wasn't that by Ali Smith?) and the immediate highlighting of how very different true Islam is from the politicising of Islamists. We cover so much ground of just how the soulless brethren of Jihadists operate and the complete lack of preparedness the rest of country has towards them - MI5 recently admitted they shouldn't have allowed it to get this bad -it raises important points about how the terrorists of 7/7 lost the path to Islam's spiritualism in favour of vengeance against the west, in which they choose to live, because they want everyone to be like the Middle East where true Islam is practised... except it's not!
This extremeists have gradually reinforced the hijab, though that was a throwback to the Christians and Jews anyway, they wear long dresses and head scarfs that those in the East do not (in places like Syria, aparantly, many dress in Western clothing - long dresses and headscarves are to fight off the heat and sun rather than out of religious piety) - and though Syrians stand up with their brethren in hatred for the West, dismissing 9/11 as just another Jewish incident, they are little like Western Muslims. Ed shows that his time spent in Syria made him more British than Muslim - cultural and international boundaries will ultimately prevent one Islamic nation.
But, that said, Ed's account of Saudi Arabia, that US supported wonderment that rises from the sand, is the hotbed of hate where it all originates. It is here where the US forced them to change their textbooks to remove references to Jihad, and yet they still contain hate filled messages about killing non-believers - all scarily true, apparantly - text books that are on the national curriculum, and text books that are translated and handed out to our Muslim teens over here.
I'd hate to call for separation, ask the Police for greater surveilance, take up arms, but having stormed through Ed's book, I'm more fearful now than I've ever been that barriers are going up and danger lies ahead - though, I believe, it comes down to the same old thing: if parents nurtured their young more than they let others, we'd live in a safer world.