Monday, July 25, 2016

Fatwas and Islam

Terry Burke (known to you as Edmund Burke III) sent me this observation regarding this post (I cite with his permission):
"As an ex-Catholic I have tended to see some of the attacks on Islam as surrogates
for attacks on Catholicism in the Western (Protestant?) imagination.

The fatwa fantasy seems an example. Catholics played a key role in the obsessions
of our founding mothers and fathers because it was alleged their minds were controlled
by the Pope, making them a potentially seditious element in the early Republic.
The fact that they were also immigrants only made the fantasy seem more plausible to them.
Islamophobia works according to a similar logic.

Many of the French proto-ethnographers of Morocco in the early twentieth century were 
militant secularists who despised religion. Some indeed were anti-Semites. Their studies 
of popular Moroccan Islam provided a place for them to display their detestation of French 
popular Catholicism, its superstitions and saint cults, which otherwise could not be expressed
at the time. Or so I have argued in my recent The Ethnographic State (California, 2014)."