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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Stand-up comedy routine by Islamist professor

Here's an entertaining speech by Dr Abdallah Al-Nafisi, an Islamist professor based in Lebanon. When I describe it as "entertaining", I have in mind the numerous one-liners that get laughter from his appreciative audience. It's good to know that there are so many people in the Middle East who have not lost their sense of humour (though they all seem to be men; the wives and daughters of these men might see things a bit differently for all I know).

Admittedly, those of us who are not part of Dr Al-Nafisi's cause might be less amused by the playful wisecracking with which he accompanies his suggestions. His hope for an attack on an American nuclear power plant doesn't seem all that funny to me. To be fair, he's not proposing this as a tactic for Islamist terrorist groups; rather, he's hoping that America's homegrown racist militias might do such a thing, and he suggests prayer to Allah for divine assistance. But nor I am amused by the good professor's more practical suggestions: for example, the idea of using anthrax for large-scale biological terrorism against the US just doesn't tickle my funny-bone. Silly me. Nor did I get many laughs from his suggested program for silencing liberal journalists in the Middle East by "any means possible" (he makes very clear that he means physical threats, culminating in what he repeats as "'Any means possible' - get it?").

But I guess that's the thing about humour. What strikes one person (and his chosen audience) as hysterically funny might leave others cold ... especially when the "one person" concerned is a deranged fanatic, deeply immersed in a cult of death.

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