polemicist, film‐maker, novelist, and playwright, born in Lahore, educated in Pakistan and at Exeter College, Oxford, where he became president of the Oxford Union. In the 1960s and 1970s he was known as a political activist, founding the Vietnam Solidarity Campaign and editing the underground publications Black Dwarf and Red Mole. His histories of the period, such as 1968 and after: Inside the Revolution (1978) and Street Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties (1987), give an international perspective on a time of rapid social and political change. His political activities continued through membership of the editorial board of New Left Review, his documentary films for Channel 4, and his publications, including Masters of the Universe (2000) and The Clash of Fundamentalism (2002). Ali's plays with Howard Brenton blend historical analysis, farcical satire, tragedy, and song: Iranian Nights (1989) is an ironic treatment of the fatwa on Salman Rushdie, while Moscow Gold (1990) charts the rise of Mikhail Gorbachev. His novels include Redemption (1990, a satirical view of the revolutionary left) and four volumes of his ‘Islam Quintet’: Shadows of the Pomegranate Tree (1992), The Book of Saladin (1998), The Stone Woman (2001), and A Sultan of Palermo (2005).