A Clash of Ideologies
A conversation between Bernard Lewis, Eqbal Ahmad, and myself takes place at Rick’s Café in Casablanca, Morocco. Sitting at the bar, brooding, Bernard Lewis is nursing a single malt scotch. Everyone seems to be smoking. In the background, Sam is playing ‘A Kiss is just a Kiss’… on the piano. All of a sudden, the door opens and Eqbal Ahmad coincidently walks in.
BERNARD LEWIS: (mutters to me) Of all the gin joints in all the towns in the world, he walks into mine.
BERNARD LEWIS: (Looking the other way, avoiding eye contact with Ahmad) Eqbal Ahmad. A writer. He’s disputed many of my works and I’m in no mood for a talk with him. If we go at it, we’ll go for hours, maybe even days.
ME: I wouldn’t mind seeing that. How about I call him over?
BERNARD LEWIS: No! Don’t you…[but before he could finish I’d already caught Ahmad’s attention]
EQBAL AHMAD: (Unsurprised) Well if it isn’t who I think it is. What brings you here Bernard?
BERNARD LEWIS: Vacation. Thought I’d get away from people harassing me. (Sarcastically) But I guess I was wrong. What are you doing here Eqbal?
EQBAL AHMAD: I was asked to lecture at Cadi Ayyad University in Marrakech. The lecture actually starts soon.
BERNARD LEWIS: Oh yeah?
EQBAL AHMAD: Yes. So when I heard you were in town, I thought what better of a place would you choose than Rick’s. Quite a coincidence don’t you agree? I knew I’d run into your sooner or later. But this is much sooner than I ever imagined.
BERNARD LEWIS: (Unconvinced) What a shame. Oh I’ve forgotten. This is Anish. He’s a friend of mine from the University of Berkeley.
EQBAL AHMAD: Nice to meet you [putting his hand out]
ME: [Shaking his hand] Likewise. If you don’t mind sir, I’d like to ask you a question. Before you came, Bernard and I were conversing in the reasons for resentment of the West by Muslims. If you’ve read Bernard’s latest piece, ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage,’ you’d know his stance. I’d love to hear your take on it...