It was a music of the spirit, seeking peace, not emotional release, expressing the hunger of the soul rather than the heart. A way of sequencing notes so ancient it might be music’s mother lode, its Fertile Crescent. It wouldn’t have grated, I felt, on the ears of ancient Greeks or Egyptians or Mesopotamians or Sumerians-or even on the august auditory equipment of the Buddha or Lao-tzu.

London is one of the world’s centres of Arab journalism and political activism. The failure of left and right, the establishment and its opposition, to mount principled arguments against clerical reaction has had global ramifications. Ideas minted in Britain – the notion that it is bigoted to oppose bigotry; ‘Islamophobic’ to oppose clerics whose first desire is to oppress Muslims – swirl out through the press and the net to lands where they can do real harm.

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