Summary of "Why Fanaticism"
In his text “Why Fanaticism” outlines Hanif Kureishi his thoughts on the origins of fundamentalism and why his literature deals with the topic, as e.g. in “My Son the Fanatic” and “The Black Album”.
His idea of writing about fundamentalism started when the fatwa on Salman Rushdie because of his novel “The Satanic Verses” was announced. He noticed that this incident made people think afresh about literature and it’s meaning in today’s society. However, Hanif Kureishi also had to think about the new groups of young Asian Muslims in Great Britain who fanatically obey to the rules of the Quran. He notices the upcoming fundamentalism and wondered why this was happening.
In his opinion, which is based on a research and several interviews with young Muslims who rediscovered the Islam, the reason for the new fundamentalism is the Western society and the role immigrants play in it.
First of all those young immigrants of the second or third generation claim that the Western society has too much freedom, that it is over-sexualized and sterile (p. 329, l. 3-4). Those young people refuse this lifestyle in order to have strict rules of an authoritarian religion. It is very remarkable that these young people who create themselves a retributive God to which they submit (p. 330, l. 3) aren’t stupid at all. On the contrary they are very intelligent and have often a diploma.
The second point refers to this because even though they got higher education it is very difficult if not impossible for them to get a good job. Even if they are adapted and live the Western lifestyle they never reach the status of an English person. The reason for this is that the Western people believe in the tendentious picture of Asians that is created by the media (p. 330, l. 22-33). The immigrants are, even after generations in their new countries, isolated from the society. Due to the colonialism and today’s racism they are forced to feel inferior and the hope of being integrated one day changes into anger and disillusionment (p. 332, l. 20-24) so that they feel like victims in their own country (p. 332, l. 30-31).
If you feel excluded and the Western freedom makes you feel unsafe because the people aren’t certain of anything, it is tempting to create your own society and to exclude others. In this way the fundamentalism provides security because everything has been decided (p. 333, l. 16-17) as well as solidarity.
Hanif Kureishi comes to the conclusion that people need faith when they live a dreadful life and that this isn’t given in the Western society. He is able to understand why people turn to fundamentalism and had to think about it a lot. To share his thoughts he wrote books about it. Finally he refers to the fatwa and writing and the meaning of both in his book “The Black Album”. In his opinion writing is a human affirmation and self-examination and without it our humanity is diminished (p. 224, l. 15-19).
Thanks a lot in advance!!
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