Walid Phares: No longer does he feel like his is a voice in the wilderness

Historians in the News

Before the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, Dr. Walid Phares had spent two decades studying the politics and ideologies of the Middle East and feeling like "a voice in the wilderness" with his urgent warnings about the dangers posed to Western societies by the ideology of jihad.

"I was certainly more frustrated and depressed before" Sept. 11, 2001, he said. "That ended because of the drama of 9/11. So from 9/11 on, my frustration has changed. Very few understand what we should do to win."

By "win," Phares means not just the war on terrorism, but what he calls the war of ideas. His new book, "The War of Ideas: Jihadism Against Democracy" (Palgrave/MacMillan, $24.95), outlines the competing camps of democracy and jihad.

Phares, a native of Lebanon and a Middle East scholar who taught at Florida Atlantic University from 1993 to 2006, will discuss the battle for hearts and minds, as it is sometimes called, in a lecture Wednesday evening at the Hyatt in Sarasota, sponsored by the American Jewish Committee.

Jihadism, he said, "is an ideology that divides the world." The Islamist movement, which Phares is careful to define as separate from the religion of Islam, is an ideology that has as its stated goal world domination....

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