I don’t know what the right word is — censorship or repression or something else...But the basic point holds — a powerful regime that doesn’t have the same scruples as others is creating a culture of fear, and companies react with kowtowing.
The rise of Islamism, a highly politicized interpretation of Islam, since the 1970s only seemed to confirm the same view: that “Islam is resistant to secularization,” as Shadi Hamid, a prominent thinker on religion and politics, observed in his 2016 book, Islamic Exceptionalism.
At an even broader level, Islamic exceptionalism means questioning the conventional technocratic approach that sees problems both at home and abroad as products of material factors that can be addressed through targeted policy interventions. Things like poverty, underdevelopment, rural-urban migration, and so on all matter, but so do the things that can’t be measured.
Putting the context of [Trump's speech in Saudi Arabia] aside, the imagery is striking: Here is Donald Trump in the birthplace of Islam speaking to Muslim leaders from across the world, and the Koran is bring recited before he gives his address...That's at least somewhat positive in showing that he's going out of his way to address Muslim leaders in a way that's not overly antagonistic.
Up until now, Trump's message on Islam has been very confrontational, a clash-of-civilizations type narrative...For him to talk about the great faiths unified in a common civilization would be quite different.
We might hate what he [Trump] says, but there is a charisma that we have to acknowledge, and he taps into the...darker aspects of the human psyche. That's something that Arab autocrats or various Islamist groups have been doing for a long time.