Last November I was interviewed by Egyptian reporter Sherif Awad. The interview appeared in several Egyptian magazines and websites, as well as American ones, such as the Westchester Guardian, under the title “Egyptian-American Author Raymond Ibrahim Analyzes Fundamentalism.” The interview follows:
Awad: Can you tell us about your family and their profession and how and why they decided to migrate to the US? Tell us about your childhood and the intercultural elements that shaped it until you decided to select your profession.
Ibrahim: My father and mother, both Copts, one from Cairo the other Alexandria, left Egypt in the late 1960s for America, where I was born. They left Egypt for a better life. I grew up speaking both Arabic and English and visited Egypt with my parents often when I was young. It was natural, then, for me formally to study the region, its languages (primarily Arabic, which I already spoke), its history and conflicts, in college. Growing up in Egypt in the 1940s-1960s, my parents experienced little by way of direct persecution, but they did experience religious discrimination, and that was one of the reasons they came to America, for better opportunities.
Awad: In regards to your MA thesis and book about the Battle of Yarmuk, can you compare its events to the happenings that led to the ending of Islamic rule in Andalusia? Do you consider researching the Islamic empire in Andalusia? About the Crusades?
Ibrahim: Yes, I am very interested in early and medieval Islamic history, especially military history vis-à-vis Christendom. Not only are there parallels between those various battles and encounters, but indeed, the patterns continue to this very day. Most in the West are wholly unaware that to Islamist groups like al-Qaeda, they see the conflict as a continuum of history—as jihadis (mujahidin) fighting infidel “crusaders.” This is precisely why I have an interest in the long history of the conflict—most of which is concealed from people in the West by the forces of “political correctness,” which predominate in the classrooms, the government, and the media.
Awad: You researched al-Qaeda’s early history but I want to ask about 9/11 and how far al-Qaeda was involved, because many conspiracy theorists claim that certain US entities have something to do with those events… keep reading