Gilles Kepel on a past encounter with Samuel Huntington and current events in the Middle East:
Once I had lunch with Samuel Huntington at the Harvard Faculty Club. I was eager to talk to him because he had used my 1991 book, “La Revanche de Dieu” (“The Revenge of God”), in his famous article and subsequent volume, “The Clash of Civilizations.”
I had argued that the emergence of religious political movements from the 1970s onward had comparable roots in Islam, Judaism and Christendom: They were all born of a reaction to the passing of the industrial age and had to do with a global rewriting of political identities that shifted from social to religious parlance.
Paradoxically, Huntington had focused only on the chapter that dealt with the Islamic world, and made use of it to help develop his idea about the exceptional character of the Muslim civilization; he had no interest in the study of the opposing forces that fought for hegemony over that new political discourse and competed with secular groups to control the central values of society. To him, Islam was homogenous — and “other.” We had a good talk, though our views remained quite dissimilar.
Read Kepel’s op-ed in its entirety here.