From The New York Times:
The Arab world is poised for an era of political and cultural renewal. In dramatic succession, popular uprisings have toppled long-reigning dictators even as others cling to power. Amid these momentous events, scholars, journalists and politicians are scrambling to explain how these revolutions came about after years of political stagnation and dashed attempts at reform.
Robin Wright’s “Rock the Casbah,” though it was mainly reported before this year’s convulsions, tackles these questions directly. Wright, a veteran foreign correspondent, argues that the Arab world’s younger generation is at the vanguard of a sweeping and seductive cultural revolution. Setting out to challenge the lazy trope that Islam is incompatible with modernity and democracy, she traveled across the Middle East — with forays into the wider Muslim world — to profile hip-hop artists, poets, playwrights, feminists, human rights activists, TV imams, comic book creators and comedians. Wright contends that these reformers are working toward a “counter-jihad” to reclaim Islam from militants who crave perpetual holy war. “For the majority of Muslims today, the central issue is not a clash with other civilizations. It is instead a struggle within the faith itself to rescue Islam’s central values from a small but virulent minority,” she writes. “The new confrontation is effectively a jihad against the Jihad.”