Reading session: Political thriller on extremism and Islamophobia

German journalist talks about his latest novel.

Waqas Naeem February 20, 2013
The core of the problem is not “that terrorism is identified with Muslims but that being Muslim is viewed as problematic,” says Musharbash.


As Sumaya reads the hate mail received by her boss, Lutfi Latif, a newly-elected member of the German parliament, she thinks whether she would say something similarly hateful if she were filled with rage.

Sumaya and Latif are the central characters of “Radikal,” a novel by German journalist Yassin Musharbash, which explores the rise of Islamophobia in Europe.

“Islamophobic minorities are trying to create an impression to make Islam look like is the anti-thesis of the West,” Musharbash said, at a presentation of his novel at the German embassy on Monday.

Sumaya reads the anonymous messages, accentuated by occasional Arabic terms, attacking Latif’s moderate Islamic ideology. Then she comes across another letter, a scathing attack on Latif’s principles, signed by a Neo-Nazi group. She wonders why the press only mentioned that Latif was receiving death threats from Islamists.

Musharbash, A Jordanian-German works as a reporter for a weekly newspaper. He was visiting Islamabad after attending the recently concluded Karachi Literature Festival (KLF).

The core of the problem is not “that terrorism is identified with Muslims but that being Muslim is viewed as problematic,” he said.

His book is a political thriller that deals directly with radicalism, terrorism and Islamophobia, while also discussing identity issues of migrants. It is not available in English yet. Musharbash read three passages in English especially translated by the Goethe Institute.

Sumaya, a German student of Palestinian descent, works for the Egyptian-born German citizen Latif — the wise, charismatic politician who wants to reframe the debate on Islam in Germany. But Latif’s views are not acceptable to radical Muslims and the Ne0-Nazis.

When he is killed in a bomb attack at a TV studio in Berlin, Al Qaeda is blamed for his death. But Sumaya and Latif’s security advisor, Samson’s skepticism leads them to find the perpetrators.

Musharbash said he wanted Latif to be an ideal, a Muslim politician he would like Germany to have. “I wanted him to be a symbol for good which is why he is targeted.”

It is “naïve” Sumaya who tries to make sense of the threats Latif receives. She reflects on her Palestinian father’s “unlived” life in his homeland and her own quest for answers to her true identity.

He said the KLF might not be representative of Pakistan but during his five-day stay he has noticed a “critical mass of very smart, very articulate” Pakistanis who were eager to talk about the country’s current situation.

“I didn’t expect that to this extent, and I enjoyed it tremendously.” It was Musharbash’s first visit to Pakistan.

Published in The Express Tribune, February 20th, 2013.


Sarmad Ali | 11 years ago | Reply

Neither did Christinity or Judaism or Hinduism. And yet atrocities have been associated with each of these.


sajid | 11 years ago | Reply

Islam has nothing to do with terrorism. the association of the terms like terrorism and extremism, etc is a world propaganda against Islam. it is the false consciousness.........

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