PBS Interview with Robin Wright

PBS Interview with Robin Wright, author of Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World

The year 2011 is sure to go into history as the year of the Arab spring, a wave of popular revolt in the Middle East that has already brought down some governments and shaken many others. Reporter and author Robin Wright, a longtime student of the Muslim world, says these uprisings didn’t come out of the blue. They reflect new social and cultural trends that are the subject of her new book, “Rock the Casbah: Rage and Rebellion Across the Islamic World.”

PBS News Hour Interview

Cover of Rock the Casbah


Description from publisher: A decade after the 9/11 attacks, this groundbr eaking book takes readers deep into rebellions against both autocrats and extremists that are redefining politics, culture, and security threats across the Islamic world. The awakening involves hund eds of millions of people. And the political transfor mations—and tectonic changes—are only beginning.

Robin Wright, an acclaimed foreign correspondent and television commentator, has covered the region for four decades. She witnessed the full cycle, from extremism’s angry birth and globalization to the rise of new movements transforming the last bloc of countries to hold out against democracy. Now, in Rock the Casbah, she chronicles the new order being shaped by youth inspired revolts toppling leaders, clerics repudiating al Qaeda, playwrights and poets crafting messages of a counter-jihad, comedians ridiculing militancy, hip-hop rapping against guns and bombs, and women mobilizing for their own rights. This new counter-jihad has many goals. For some, it’s about reforming the faith. For others, it’s about reforming political systems. For most, it’s about achieving basic rights. The common denominator is the rejection of venomous ideologies and suicide bombs, plane hijackings, hostage-takings, and mass violence to achieve those ends.

Wright captures a stunning moment in history, one of the region’s four key junctures—along with Iran’s revolution, Israel’s creation, and the Ottoman Empire’s collapse—in a century. The notion of a clash of civilizations is increasingly being replaced by a commonality of civilizations in the twenty-first century. But she candidly details both the possibilities and pitfalls ahead. The new counter-jihad is imaginative and defiant, but Muslim societies are also politically inexperienced and economically challenged.