As you may have noticed, there has been a reduction in the number of posts on my blog. Despite interesting events concerning Muslims in the West, the reason is because I am drowning in paperwork. I have also organised some events – which now, of course, I have to attend. The first one is a panel at the Deutscher Orientalistentag, entitled Muslims and Globalisation: Lives, Dreams and Experiences.
However, the most important is a symposium that I have organized with Springer to celebrate the first volume of my journal, Contemporary Islam; Dynamics of Muslim Life.
If you wish to have more information, you can find it here:
Beyond the Stereotypes:Dynamics of Muslim Life in the Globalized World
Meanwhile, while trying to reach Freiburg im Breisgau (and believe me, it’s a bit of an adventure), I will write a post about cyberterrorism since I have been contacted by a journalist about the case of Mohammed Atif Siddique. The enigma of the Sphinx this time is, ‘can the Internet alone transform a young Scots student into a “wannabe suicide bomber?”
Sometimes reading an Italian newspaper can provide you with news that otherwise would remain unnoticed in the more globalized Anglo-Saxon mainstream mass media. This is particularly true when the guy in the spotlight is an Italian professor and lawyer, who today is the Vice President of the European Commission, Prof. Franco Frattini. Frattini is certainly not a Google supporter. In different cases, he has criticised the company and their policies. Of course, Google is certainly not a paladin of privacy at all, and the way in which it manages the billions of data and information about us makes it a bit Big Brotherish. Prof. Frattini, who is the commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, is a cybersceptic and this is certainly not something unusual for Italian politicians. Not unusual is also the Italian, and increasingly EU, tradition of suggesting ridiculous solutions to serious issues. Continue reading
Posted in Censorship, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Europe, Freedom, Humor, Islam in Europe, Muslims, Politics, Satire, Terrorism, War on Terror
To be a cartoonist has never been easy. Fewer and fewer people in the world have a real sense of humor or understand satire and sarcasm. Naji al-Ali has been a cartoonist who expressed his criticism about Palestine, the oppression of Palestinians and Palestinian political life, in a powerful way.
His pen was sharp and his cartoons powerful, so powerful that somebody, if not a real consortium, decided to kill him in London twenty years ago. Indeed, on July 22, 1987, he was shot in the face, at point blank range, as he left the London offices of the Al Qabbas newspaper. He died after laying in a coma for 5 weeks. Continue reading
Posted in Arab-Israeli conflict, Cartoons, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Humor, Israel, Israel/Palestine, Journalism, Middle East, Misteries, Muslims, Terrorism, The UK
I left a raining London on the 28th of June. London was busy as usual, noisy as usual, and multicultural and multifaith as usual. While the nation greeted the new Prime Minister Gordon Brown in London, an increasing number of civilians in Afghanistan were killed and maimed by the increasingly ruthless ISAF attacks. Even President Hamid Karzai, surely one of the most passionate supporters of the coalition forces, and certainly not a Taliban sympathizer, strongly condemned the military actions which have terrorised and killed the civilians in the north of the country. News from Afghanistan attracted little attention for the Western audience.
Posted in Afghanistan, anthropology, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Europe, Humor, Islam in Europe, jihad, Muslims, Satire, sociology, Terrorism, The UK
Are you bored? Is the latest gadget not anymore attractive? Has your girlfriend just left you for your best friend? Are you addicted to the Internet so much that you are now unemployable? Well, do not worry, you can become a member of Vigil, a cyber-crusader group which hunts web-terrorists! Fun is guaranteed and you may even become one of the greatly esteemed ‘Knights of the Beeb‘. Yes, we are speaking of grown-up children playing something like cyberspace “Cops and Robbers”. But let me start from the beginning. Continue reading
Islam, Islam, Islam and again Islam. Do you want to make money? Do you want to attract attention? Do you want to start your political career? Do you want to candidate yourself as the future Archbishop of Canterbury? Here’s the solution: Say something controversial about Islam and Muslims. Yet, remember, you are up against incredible competition: Satanic Verses, Danish Cartoons, apologetic Popes and the Bush and Blair supporters.
To attentive readers (from this part of the so-miscalled West) of news about culture and religion in the Middle East, it is becoming clear that something is going on. First a British General, not so explicitly but more than implicitly, admits the total failure of the war in Iraq, while explicitly concluding that Britain needs to withdraw its forces from Iraq as soon as possible. Then Mr Blair (on his last political legs) seems to agree with the military chief, indirectly admitting his incompetence as Bush-led Prime Minister. At the same time, an unprecedented campaign against the Islamic hijab and niqab is spreading throughout Europe as well as in some secularised (and not-so democratic) countries such as Tunisia.
First of all, we have to observe that during this last month there has been a lack of news about acts of terrorism (of course, terror that kills Iraqi, Afghani or Muslims is not counted), plots, and Muhammad cartoons. How can we enjoy our daily preferred newspapers with one hand juggling the breakfast coffee mug, the other tying the mismatched tie, one foot in a shoe, and the other jihading with the rebellious tongue of the odd shoe, without a succulent populist comment about the evil Muslims? Come on! Like my ancestors, the Romans, we want tragedy, blood, despair, heroes, suspense, and the victory of good over evil in the coloseum of the mass media. Of course, Muslims can only play the Caligula of this saga. In these days, male Muslims seem not to have scared even one flight passenger (and consequently being arrested under one of the other Terrorist Acts), with their most powerful bugbear: the extremist beard. Normally having no beard, Muslim women have been thrown to the lions of the coloseum by old-white-men like Jack Straw in the hope that fighting for their rights (and possibly for their livelihood and dignity and security) Muslim women may reveal a little flesh. Continue reading
Today the Blackburn MP Jack Straw, ex-foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, has stated that the veil is a “visible statement of separation and of difference” and he is asking Muslim women visiting his surgery ‘”to consider removing it.’” He then argued, writing an article in the Lancashire Evening, that “wearing the full veil was bound to make better, positive relations between the two communities more difficult”.
Mr Straw’s manly comments certainly do not help in resolving the continuous crescendo of tensions within the Muslim community, in particular those growing up in a society that overwhelmingly sees them as “other”. Ironically, MP Jack Straw’s comments may inspire more Muslim girls to adopt the full niqab, and obscure their lips and eyes to the naive voyeuristic view of the Blackburn MP more than before.
But, is Mr Straw really concerned that the dress style of some of his female constituency members can have ‘implications for community relations?’ The ‘veil’ as any other religious symbol and dressing style can mark a difference and at the same time emphasize group identification. Indeed, other religious groups, such as the Orthodox Hassidic Jews, have their peculiar dressing style which today we can still appreciate while walking in London and so have, for instance, the Hari Krishna. Continue reading
Posted in Democracy and Justice, Europe, Gender, Humor, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Muslims, Satire, Sexuality, sociology, The UK