Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Islam meets Europe

The University Channel Podcast (or UChannel for short) is one podcast that is near impossible to follow completely as it combines lecture recordings from all over the world, not just from the host Princeton University. The sheer size of the feed alone makes it unmanageable for a single listener - they go on average on one podcast per day. The range of subjects covers all hot issues in regular media, with outstanding speakers also from outside Academia. It is a directory to pick and choose from according to area of interest.

This week I chose to listen to a panel discussion from January 17th, under the title The Encounter of Islam with Europe. (audio) Main speakers were Timothy Garton Ash and the famous Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Timothy is offered to set the stage and challenge in a way Ayaan to a discussion. After the relatively short round of exchange between the two, the public is invited to join with questions and remarks.

No matter how carefully Ayaan chooses her phrases (she even reads her speech rather than ad lib), her view of Islam and Europe appears to be foremost rooted in her experiences and from that onset translated into the language of academia in the vernacular of enlightened rationality. This is radically different from Timothy, who is detached and whether abstractly, theoretically or anthropologically tries to portray Islam as a wide vessel for a multitude of political and philosophical outlooks and tries to veer Ayaan away from addressing it as a monolithic structure. Deep down they do not seem to speak the same language.

More UChannel on this blog:
The rise and demise of Palestine,
Alan Johnston,
Nuclear Terrorism,
Attack Iran (or not),
Less Safe, Less Free (Losing the War on Terror).

More Ayaan Hirsi Ali:
Interview Vrijdag (Dutch)

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