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Martin Amis, 'The Second Plane - September 11, 2001-2007'

Jonathan Cape,2008; ISBN 9780224076104; 214pp; £12.99

Despite his loud protestations to the contrary, Martin Amis's collected essays about the post-9/11 world demonstrate that he is indeed hostile to, and fearful of, Islam as a religion. At times in The Second Plane, Amis is careful to distinguish between Islam, the world religion, and “Islamism”, a violent and intolerant strand of belief.

Over and over again, however, Amis lets slip his underlying prejudices. In a chapter on “demographics”, he relays uncritically some scaremongering figures on European Muslim birth rates. More importantly, Amis assumes without argument or evidence that European Muslims born in the future will not believe in “liberal democracy”, and will hold instead to “sharia and the Caliphate and so on”.

Short and generally readable (though over-stylish), The Second Plane's virtues are outnumbered by its faults. The book is full of embarrassing errors (a Ken Livingstone statement on Palestinian suicide bombers is presented as a comment on the 7/7 bombings, for example) and arrogant confusion about Islam.

As a contribution to current highly-charged debates, Amis gives us little beyond abuse and ignorance. As an example of intellectual, liberal, right-thinking bigotry, Amis gives us a depressing insight into the level of Western culture.

Topics: Islamophobia