Notes From the Margins…
Posts for Middle East Category

ISIS, Trolls, and the Language of Hate

  • January 02, 2017
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In a powerful New Year’s video for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, Kemal Pervanic, a Bosnian Muslim,  remembers how he ended up being interrogated and tortured in a concentration camp by his favourite teacher during the Yugoslav Wars.    He  asks his viewers to learn the lessons of history, and bear in mind the possibility that such things are not unique to any particular time period:  ‘If you speak to anyone out there right now, they’ll tell you that they’re crazy if you tell them that something like that may...

The Atrocity Factory

  • July 27, 2016
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At first sight, keep calm and carry on might seem like a rather banal piece of advice, faced with the seemingly endless and unstoppable conveyor belt of atrocities that is unfolding before us on a weekly and almost daily basis..  In  Baghdad, Kabul and Istanbul, in Florida, Nice and Germany,  the most toxic...

Nice and the Spectacle of Terror

  • July 16, 2016
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Yesterday evening I was driving to play a game of tennis and listening to the radio, when I heard the sounds of of screaming people being mown down  by a truck  in Nice.  I immediately turned it off.  This isn’t because I think I have some privileged right to ignore the escalating procession...

Tony Blair Says Sorry (again)

  • May 25, 2016
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The Chilcot Inquiry report really does look as though it’s only weeks away from publication,  and Blair already out apologising for Iraq once again.  Blair last did this back in October last year,  when it also looked as though Chilcot was coming, and he  told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria:

‘I apologise for the fact...

Kamel Daoud and the Rape of Europa

  • February 20, 2016
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I’m a big fan of the Algerian novelist Kamel Daoud’s The Meursault Investigation, which I read last year.  It was a brilliant deconstruction of L’Etranger, which movingly and provocatively imagined the voice of the Arab colonial subject that was missing from the Camus’s novel.

In doing so, it invited Camus’s readers to re-think the essential...

Talkin’ World War III Blues

  • December 16, 2015
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I know that the British media and political class have had a lot of important things to think and talk about recently, and far be it from me to distract from the seriousness of the debate that  has been taking place about our latest headlong leap into the Middle Eastern unknown.   Nevertheless,...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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