chapter  14
10 Pages

Islamic law and the English press

WithJohn Strawson

This chapter examines aspects of the popular Western Islamic legal discourse and assesses whether this is new or merely a re-run of Orientalist and blood-curdling images of Islamic law from colonial times. Islamic law has been much affected by the disturbances of colonialism, especially since the British encounter with Islam in Bengal in the late 18th century. Tony Blair's attempt to reach out to the Muslim world is particularly instructive. However, this crude variant is losing favour and September 11 became a moment where a more serious discussion of Islamic law appeared in the media. Blair as the knower of Islam, able to interpret and to communicate in its language, is perhaps a necessarily comforting figure for a West struggling to size up the strength of post-September 11 Oriental fury. The brief discussion of Islamic law in the English press reveals much about the intricacies of legal Orientalism.