Princeton professor emeritus Bernard Lewis is awful smart about the Middle East, having made that the specialty of his entire scholarly life. How smart? Smart enough to already have a book out like What Went Wrong?: The Clash Between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East when the terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and so made it a best-seller among those trying to fathom just what it is about that part of the world that would make human beings commit such acts.
Wolfgang G. Schwanitz of the German newspaper Die Welt popped by Princeton recently for a visit, and the resulting interview transcript appears today on the Die Welt website. The point Lewis makes in the conversation that Schwanitz picks out to be his teaser is interesting enough (the interview’s title is “Europe Will Be Islamic By the End of the Century”), although he advances it at the interview’s very end, almost as a throw-away, telling Schwanitz that demographic trends clearly indicate that Europe can look forward to becoming nothing more than an extension of Arab North Africa (the Maghreb) in a few decades’ time, and not any sort of world-counterweight to America.
But Lewis makes a number of other interesting points as well in the interview. (more…)