Thursday, May 26, 2016

#BritainsBiggestMosque

#BritainsBiggestMosque is currently trending, based on Channel 5's programme this evening

Jordanian website turns to satire to combat heavy news

middleeasteye.net, Jordanian website turns to satire to combat heavy news, 23 May 2016 "There are few regions on Earth where the truth is harder to bear than the Middle East. The daily news of air strikes, suicide bombings and entire cities under siege is more than most people can countenance.

"That is why one website has begun packaging the news with a dose of comedy, to get Arabs to engage more with what is happening around them. That website, al-Hudood (The Limits), is a kind of Arabic equivalent of the Onion. It uses satire to reveal serious and often dark realities about the world we live in." 

Some good examples on this website from al-Hudood.

Malaysia should ban Ramadan ads that commercialise Islam

buffet-ramadhanS M Mohamed Idris, President of Consumers Association of Penang, Free Malaysia Today, M'sia should ban Ramadan ads that commercialise Islam, 26 May 2016 "Iftar or breaking fast traditionally in the home with family members or in a mosque in a spiritual environment, has been turned into a “feast with a 100-dish spread” and for “corporate entertainment”. Prophet Muhammad broke his fast with only three dates."

I'm doing some research on halal issues at present, for a forthcoming Summer Academy at UWTSD, so found this interesting.

World Islamic Forum condemns spread of Islamphobia, extremism

ABNA, World Islamic Forum condemns spread of Islamphobia, extremismm 26 May 2016 Section 8 reads: "The Forum also voices its concern over those harboring violent and extremist thoughts abusing the mass media, the Internet, and satellites, resorting to freedom of speech; the Forum, furthermore, condemns any form of discrimination, restriction, or censorship applied against independent media;"

How hard-partying soldier Mathew Stewart became an al-Qaida militant

Guardian, How hard-partying soldier Mathew Stewart became an al-Qaida militant "Guardian Australia has interviewed several of Stewart’s former army colleagues, who recalled the young soldier’s steady unravelling from drug abuse, his experiences in East Timor, and relentless bullying by two of his section commanders. The men, all since retired from the army, are torn between revulsion at Stewart’s acts and an enduring sense of comradeship with a man they insist “had nothing dark in him”."

Hollywood directors asked by US government to help combat allure of Islamic State on social media

itv.com, Hollywood directors asked by US government to help combat allure of Islamic State on social media "Assistant attorney general since 2013, [John] Carlin’s responsibilities includes monitoring terrorist activity on social media and what he described as “crowd sourced terrorism” whereby those linked to the Islamic State in the Levant contacting young people in America and encouraging them to commit acts of terrorism “no passport and no travel required”."

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

‘Islamic’ smartphone, version two

MalayMail, And now, Dr Zakir Naik presents ‘Islamic’ smartphone, version two, 24 May 2016 " Called the Peace Mobile 2, the phone claims to be “the world's only authentic Islamic android smartphone” and offers Islamic themes for its hundreds of wallpapers, ringtones and over 80 hours of the popular Mumbai-based televangelist’s talks through its PeaceTV application in three languages, including English."

The product page is here: peacemobile2  

This is not a product endorsement (although I wouldn't mind taking a look):

Selfie Star Goes From Hero To Hate-Monger

vocativ.com, Selfie Star Goes From Hero To Hate-Monger "A young Muslim woman whose audacious selfies in front of anti-Islamic protestors earned her global acclaim is now under fire for a series of anti-Semitic remarks she allegedly made in the past."

IS Tech issues

Jack Detsch, Taylor Luck, Yahoo Tech, How Islamic State militants attempt to outwit spies, 20 May 2016 "The Horizon group, which first appeared in February to provide technical support to IS, calls on militants to secure their smartphone communications by installing virtual private networks, which increase security while using the Web, and a handful of security and privacy apps available on Google Play and Apple’s App Store."

American ISIS Defector: 'I've Let My Nation Down'

NBC, American ISIS Defector: 'I've Let My Nation Down'

Geolocating ISIS

ABC, #ISIS supporters geolocated by citizen journalists after coordinated image campaign, 23 May 2016 "An attempt by Islamic State (IS) militant group supporters to demonstrate a worldwide network of members by sharing photographs from major cities has backfired with internet users tracking down where the images had been taken."

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Religion of Social Media: When Islam Meets the Web

theislamicmonthly.com, The Religion of Social Media: When Islam Meets the Web "To get a better understanding of reasons people self-disclose religious views on social media, various Muslims were given the opportunity to express their views on the subject."

24/7 watch on online activity in Bangladesh

thedailystar.net, 24/7 watch on online activity in Bangladesh, 19 May 2016 "While the establishment of the network will assist law enforcement agencies in tracking criminal activities, it will hand enormous power to the government to establish control over people's online activity. It may encroach on citizens' private life."

'What Islamic State women want'

SImon Cottee, Foreign Policy, What Islamic State women want "Over the past year, I have spent an unhealthy amount of time tracking the social media activities of Western English-speaking female Islamic State supporters as part of a wider research project on the subculture of Western jihadism. (Most of their accounts have since been shut down.) And what these women - or at least the more brazen and vocal among them - want they have made abundantly clear. Far from being slaves to their sexual desires or victims of the predatory machinations of men, many Western women join or aspire to join the Islamic State because they want to - because the Islamic State, unlike the secular liberal democracies in which they live, makes sense to them and reflects their fundamental moral and political convictions."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

'We are Iranians': Rediscovering the history of African slavery in Iran

middleeasteye.net, 'We are Iranians': Rediscovering the history of African slavery in Iran "Iranian-Canadian scholar Behnaz Mirzai has spent 20 years researching the African diaspora in Iran, a little-known slice of Iranian history." non-tech, but interesting!

UK to deploy 'up to 50' soldiers to battle IS in Libya: Report

middleeasteye.net, UK to deploy 'up to 50' soldiers to battle IS in Libya: Report, 16 May 2016 "The Mail also reported that Britain’s Royal Air Force has carried out “electronic warfare” against IS by jamming communications signals in the group’s Libyan stronghold of Sirte."

Islamic State in India

Balasubramaniyan Viswanathan, geopoliticalmonitor.com, Will Shafi Armar’s Death Harm Islamic State in India?, 13 May 2016 " ... given the access to technological advancement facilitated by internet, organizations built on virtual networks such as the Junood al Khalifa-e Hind may not be affected by the death of its key leaders or removal of key nodes as perceived by security planners. Removal of a node in a virtual network could spawn more controls and checks within the network, which could increase the difficulty to infiltrate these virtual networks in future. Though, Shafi Armar’s death is going to slow down the activities of Islamic State in India, it is not good enough to stop it from regrouping in the future."

An American ISIS Cell: The Story of 3 U.S. Recruits

NBC News, An American ISIS Cell: The Story of 3 U.S. Recruits, 16 May 2016 demonstrates the significance of the net within recruitment patterns (although it is not the complete picture).

Iran Arrests 8 for ‘Un-Islamic’ Online Modeling

VOA News, Iran Arrests 8 for ‘Un-Islamic’ Online Modeling "A spokesman of the Iranian Centre for Surveying and Combating Organized Cyber Crimes, Mostafa Alizadeh, told the BBC that "sterilizing popular cyberspaces is on our agenda. We carried out this plan in 2013 with Facebook, and now Instagram is the focus." He said there would be more actions in the near future." Also see BBC News, Iran arrests eight for 'un-Islamic' Instagram modelling

Al Qaeda’s online magazine tells terrorists to target U.S. business leaders in their homes

washingtontimes.com, Al Qaeda’s online magazine tells terrorists to target U.S. business leaders in their homes, 15 May 2016

Activists beam ISIS flag on to Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Berlin

Daily Mail, Activists beam ISIS flag on to Saudi Arabia’s embassy in Berlin, 16 May 2016

Saturday, May 14, 2016

This Is How ISIS Uses The Internet

Sheera Frenkel, buzzfeed.com, This Is How ISIS Uses The Internet, 13 May 2016 "Abu Majad figured that when ISIS came for him, it would be with a knife on a dark street, or a bomb planted on his car. The 34-year-old had been living in southern Turkey since fleeing Syria nearly three years ago and knew that his outspoken stance against ISIS — online and in his hometown in northern Syria — had put him in the terrorist group’s crosshairs. What he wasn’t expecting was to wake up on the morning of March 29 to a virus planted by ISIS within a seemingly innocuous email attachment."

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Iran's Dating Revolution

Radio Times, Unreported World, Iran's Dating Revolution " Under Iran’s strict Islamic laws sex outside marriage is illegal. Even so, half the population between the ages of 18 and 35 aren’t married and the government is concerned they’re not “playing by the rules”. It’s tackled what they describe as a marriage crisis by setting up an online dating agency." Previews a forthcoming Channel 4 TV programme, on tomorrow.

Saudi officials were 'supporting' 9/11 hijackers, commission member says

Guardian, Saudi officials were 'supporting' 9/11 hijackers, commission member says, 12 May 2016 "A former Republican member of the 9/11 commission, breaking dramatically with the commission’s leaders, said Wednesday he believes there was clear evidence that Saudi government employees were part of a support network for the 9/11 hijackers and that the Obama administration should move quickly to declassify a long-secret congressional report on Saudi ties to the 2001 terrorist attack."

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

'Ustad Metal'

The Star, Ustad Metal: Muslim cleric by day, band singer by night, 8 May 2016 "Metal music, with its dark lyrics and themes of death and doom, is very much alive - and thriving even - in Muslim-majority Indonesia. This is despite growing Islamic conservatism in the country, where rising intolerance has led to violence between mainstream Muslims and non-Muslims as well as religious minorities, including the Shi'ite and Ahmadiyah sects." And here's a clip from a couple of years ago:



'Voice of the Caliphate'

Zia-U-Rahman Hasrat, Noor Zahid, VOA, IS Radio Broadcasts Re-emerge in Afghanistan, 10 May 2016 "The radio channel, which broadcasts from a remote mobile transmitter in the mountains along the Pakistan border, has returned with new programming to its lineup. It can now be heard in the Arabic and Punjabi languages besides its former programs in Pashto and Dari, the two official languages of Afghanistan. The programs encourage people to join IS and air religious chanting."

Isis-inspired Muslims 'plotted to behead British citizens after fatwa issued'

Evening Standard, Isis-inspired Muslims 'plotted to behead British citizens after fatwa issued', 10 May 2016 "The alleged terror cell shared gruesome pictures of beheadings they had downloaded from the internet as well as images of the killers of Drummer Lee Rigby, the Old Bailey heard."

IS Arabic language teaching app

Guardian, Islamic State releases children's mobile app 'to teach Arabic', 11 May 2016 "The app called Huroof – meaning alphabet or letters in Arabic – has ‘tank’, ‘gun’ and ‘rocket’ among the vocabulary taught."

The Indonesian Muslim ‘cyberwarriors’ who are battling Islamic State online

AFP/SCMP, The Indonesian Muslim ‘cyberwarriors’ who are battling Islamic State online, 9 May 2016 "Armed with laptops and smartphones, some 500 members of the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) – one of the world’s biggest Muslim organisations – are seeking to counter the Islamic State group’s extremist messages."