The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan

We are delighted to announce the acquisition of The Battle for British Islam by human rights campaigner Sara Khan.

Selected as one of BBC Woman’s Hour Top 10 Influencers in 2015, Sara Khan is the co-founder of Inspire, a woman’s rights and counter-extremism organisation. She has spent the last twenty years campaigning for tolerance and equal rights within Muslim communities, and is now fighting one of the key fronts in the battle against Islamist inspired extremism – the war of ideas.

This urgent and courageous book will uncover how IS has lured British teenagers from all walks of life and allow us to hear directly from the young men and women who have been radicalised.

Offering new approaches in areas from education to the courts and youth engagement, Sara Khan will outline how to break the cycle of extremism without alienating British Muslims, and will also challenge the responses of the establishment and its failure to engage with British Muslims effectively in order to make our communities more resilient.

Lynn Gaspard, publisher at Saqi, acquired world rights from FRA literary agency.

Gaspard said:

“Sara is a brave, selfless campaigner. In this book, she speaks to some of the men and women who make up Britain’s 2.7 million Muslims and offers a forensic examination of the state of Islam in the country today. At a time when we are left mystified by the departure of hundreds of Britons to join IS in Syria and Iraq, Sara Khan offers much needed clarity. This book will be essential reading for anybody trying to understand the current crisis facing British Islam.”

The Battle for British Islam by Sara Khan, with Tony McMahon will be published in the UK in September 2016.


**Read the Guardian longread, ‘It’s up to us to stop these Muslim girls making the worst mistake of their lives’, to find out more about Sara Khan and her work over the past few years.

Suheil Bushrui, 1931–2015

It is with great sadness that we learn of the death of Professor Suheil Bushrui, the distinguished author, poet, critic and translator, at the age of 84. A university professor for over 60 years, Bushrui taught at universities in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and North America, and was particularly revered as an authority on the works of W. B. Yeats and Kahlil Gibran. He was the Emeritus Professor and first incumbent of the George and Lisa Zakhem Kahlil Gibran Chair for Values and Peace at the University of Maryland, where he was also a Senior Scholar of Peace with the Center for International Development and Conflict Management.

A Fellow of the Temenos Academy, and the recipient of many international awards, Bushrui’s publications were extensive in both English and Arabic, and include The Wisdom of the Arabs, The Prophet: A New Annotated Edition and The Spiritual Heritage of the Human Race. His most recent publication, Desert Songs of the Night, was published to critical acclaim by Saqi Books in August 2015. The anthology, co-edited with James M. Malarkey, is a unique and extraordinary collection of the finest poetry and prose by Arab writers, from the Arab East to Andalusia, over the last 1,500 years.

Saqi Books was delighted to have the pleasure of working with Professor Bushrui over the past few years, sharing his knowledge of and passion for Arabic literature and bringing it to a new audience in the English-speaking world.

Dean Atta’s ‘I Am Nobody’s Nigger’ Shortlisted for the Polari Best First Book Prize!

Dean Atta’s powerful debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, has been shortlisted for the Polari Best First Book Prize. The prize is for a first book that explores the LGBT experience and is open to any work of poetry, prose, fiction or non-fiction published in the UK in English. Exploring race, identity and sexuality, I Am Nobody’s Nigger is the powerful debut collection by one of the UK’s finest emerging poets. Dean Atta has been commissioned to write poems for the Damilola Taylor Trust, Keats House Museum, National Portrait Gallery, Tate Britain and Tate Modern. He won the 2012 London Poetry Award and was named as one of the most influential LGBT people by the Independent on Sunday Pink List in 2012.

The other shortlisted titles are: Petite Mort by Beatrice Hitchman (Serpent’s Tail), Fairytales for Lost Children by Diriye Osman (Team Angelica), God’s Other Children – A London Memoir by Vernal W. Scott (self-published), and The Rubbish Lesbian by Sarah Westwood (Mimwood Press). The winner will be announced at the Polari Literary Salon on 8 October in the Purcell Room at the London Literature Festival. @DeanAtta

Saqi’s ‘The Azerbaijani Kitchen: A Cookbook’ Wins Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2014 for Azerbaijan

Saqi’s The Azerbaijani Kitchen: A Cookbook by Tahir Amiraslanov and Leyla Rahmanova has won the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2014 in Azerbaijan in the category of Best Cookbook and Best Eastern Europe Book.

Containing over one hundred mouth-watering recipes, from pilafs with apricots, dates and plums, aubergine kebab and baked fish with walnuts,

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to halva and sweet crescent pastries, The Azerbaijani Kitchen is an excellent introduction to the exotic and diverse flavours of the region.




Gilbert Achcar on Paris Attacks, Interview with Democracy Now

Listen to Gilbert Achcar, eminent Marxist scholar on the Middle East and author of Saqi publications The People Want: A Radical Exploration of the Arab Uprising and The Arabs and the Holocaust, in conversation with Juan Gonzales at Democracy Now.

In the interview, Gilbert discusses the idea of the “clash of barbarisms” and its relevance to the recent Charlie Hebdo attacks.  He also emphasises the importance of understanding the historical context of these brutal attacks, the alarming resurgence of the Far-Right and the increasing level of Islamophobia.

A new edition of Gilbert Achcar’s The People Want will be published on 18 May 2015.

Click here to listen to part one of the interview

Click here for part two of the interview


Letter by PEN Pinter Prize 2014 Winner, Mazen Darwish, smuggled out of Damascus Prison

Detained Syrian journalist, lawyer and human rights activist Mazen Darwish has won the PEN Pinter Award 2014 with Salman Rushdie. To acknowledge his award, and in solidarity, here is his extract from Syria Speaks: Art and Culture from the Frontline. ___   Letter for the Future Mazen Darwish From Baghdad to Budapest, from Beirut to Prague and from Vietnam to the two Koreas, I have learned that there is nothing good in war except its end. From the victims of wars, of racial discrimination in South Africa, Rwanda and Bosnia, of tyranny in our Arab world and of Franco, Pinochet and the Greek colonels, I have learned that the road to democracy is as far from the path of extremism and terrorism as it is from dictatorships and tyranny. Perhaps the situation in Syria has become worse than our most horrible nightmares – but does this mean we must relinquish the right to change our reality, to let go of our legitimate aspirations to freedom, dignity and citizenship or our duty to reduce inequality and instil more justice for our societies – simply because these slogans have been used and abused as ideologies by totalitarian authoritarian regimes and at the same time by violent takfiri movements? Must we really repeat our experiences in the Arab world every time tyranny intertwines with corruption? The combination only begets extremism, violence and terrorism. Yes, we want freedom, dignity and justice, and yes, we deserve it, but surely ‘freedom’ does not mean the freedom to die under torture or to be slaughtered, to be killed by a shell from a fighter jet or by a car bomb. It means freedom to lead a life based on sharing, on the values of universal human rights … to lead an ethical life that is not more ‘owned’ by one group while others are left out. There are too many people whom I wish I had enough time and space to address by name, and they are grander than words can describe. I especially want to mention those colleagues who worked with me every step of the way, and went with me to detention. I’d also like

to mention those who, blessedly, survived arrest. I want to tell all of you that I am honoured to have worked with you, and to have touched your dreams and sorrows. To my friends, who amazed me every time with their loyalty and their ability to hold on to what we believe in: do not lose your faith, even when those who do not have bricks to build the homeland would throw stones at you, as if they committed no sins themselves. To my wonderful family: thank you for your patience, love and support all through these hard years. Nothing has any meaning without your presence. To the security personnel who carried out the responsibility of disciplining me for ten months, and especially to those who disciplined me in the first days of Eid al-Adha: I feel sorry for all of us. I wish happy lives for your children, with no fear and no torture, with festivals full of joy and love to be shared with my own two children, Inana and Adad. In the swirl of crazy violence, I lost so many beloved ones. They were killed, detained, wounded, kidnapped or made homeless. Among them are my colleague Dr Ayham Ghazoul, my friend Hassan Ahmad Azhary, my cousin First Lieutenant Ali Darwish, my brother Sami Akel and my friend Khalil Matouek. To them, and to their families, I bow. I strangle my tears because they are less than your sorrows. I lift up my voice, however, so we can all go out into the sun, hand in hand, and chant again: One, one, one! The Syrian nation is one. Syrian blood is one. The Syrian future is one. After his arrest on 16 February 2012 by officers believed to be from the intelligence branch of the Syrian Air Force, Mazen Darwish disappeared with no news or official statements as to his status. Darwish’s acceptance letter was read aloud by Prof. Dr Manfred Nowak of the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute on the occasion of the awards ceremony for the fifteenth Bruno Kreisky Prize for Services to Human Rights on 10 June 2013 in Vienna, Austria.