One night, I went on a boat trip down the Bosporus with about a dozen models, fashionistas, several transvestites, someone who appeared to be wearing a beekeeper’s outfit as a form of daily wear, the editor of Dazed and Confused Jefferson Hack, and Franca Sozzani, the editor of Italian Vogue. We were in the European capital of culture, but it was like a fabulous night at the London club Kinky Gerlinky transferred to Istanbul and financed by the Turkish Ministry of Culture. At one end of the boat, in his wheelchair, was Gore Vidal. At the other end was V.S. Naipaul. It must have been June 2010 because I remember catching Frank Lampard’s ‘ghost goal’ against Germany on a TV in the hotel lobby just before we dashed out.
Yet another manufactured crisis in Pakistan with a hard-line religious group at its core; the country’s political capital, Islamabad, cut off for over a fortnight from its twin military capital, Rawalpindi. The people laying siege are not too far from military GHQ. A whiff of grapeshot and they would have dispersed like rabbits. But the demonstrators were confident. The leaders were actually hoping for a few martyrs. The government did not oblige. Yesterday it capitulated in toto to the demands of the TLY, the Tehreek-i-Labaik Ya Rasool Allah (Movement to Obey the Prophet), a group set up two years ago in Karachi.
‘When a Muslim land is attacked,’ Roshonara Choudhry told the police, ‘it becomes obligatory on every man, woman, and child and even slave to go out and fight and defend the land.’ Iraq had been attacked; Choudhry, under the influence of Anwar Awlaki’s teachings, believed it was her religious duty to do away with Stephen Timms MP. But why Timms? the police wondered. ‘I’m just one person and I did what I could,’ Choudhry said. The police accepted this explanation. What they found harder to accept, however, was her insistence that she had acted alone. They asked her who she went to with questions or for advice. ‘I don't ask anyone,’ she replied. ‘There's no one to ask.’ Instead, she had downloaded ‘over a hundred hours’ of Awlaki’s lectures. She also watched a lot of conversion narratives on YouTube. ‘I thought their life stories were interesting,’ she said. As a student at Abu Noor, a mosque academy in Damascus, I took part in videos of this kind.