Thursday, May 31, 2007

Several net references in this newly published paper: PRISM Papers on Islamist Social Affairs No. 2 - May 2007, 'Radical Islamist Attitude towards AIDS', by Moshe Terdman and Reuven Paz
Forgot to mention Radio 3, World Music Awards, in the context of this blog for video performances of Mahmoud Ahmed, Ghada Shbeir and K'Naan (the latter relates to the post below on Somali rap). Ghada Shbeir also has an interesting website, which discusses her research of "Traditional Oriental Middle Eastern music and religious chants".
Sapa-AFP, Somali rappers rage against the regime, 31 May 07 Discussion on the group Waayaha Cusub: "Their videos, featuring militias armed with rocket launchers, civilian massacres and burning buildings, are broadcast across the Internet. They are often filmed in Nairobi's Eastleigh neighbourhood, nicknamed "little Mogadishu" because of its large Somali population." The Waayaha Cusub website contains links to related YouTube content. [good headline too!]

AfricaFocus/, Africa: E-learning "Over 1200 eLearning enthusiasts from 85 countries are attending the annual eLearning Africa conference in Nairobi this week. The countries with the largest participation are the host, Kenya, followed by Nigeria, South Africa, and Uganda." Some interesting material here, representing issues associated with the 'digital divide' - especially the discussion on African languages.

Asharq Alawsat, The Dilemma Confronting Fatwa Institutions, 30 May 07 "But the solution of this problem will not come through a coordination between the fatwa academies and institutions, and neither will it be achieved through a convergence strategy between Islamic sects, rather, it is subject to a process of radical intellectual and religious reform that reaches the institutional structure of the act of issuing fatwas and the strategies of reading and interpretation. Without this fundamental process of reform, the edicts of our scholars will remain tools of a confused political and social struggle, that is, if it comes to exceed the jokes in newspapers and among the public."

Other news:

AP/, Qaeda escapee lashes out at US Saudi allies, 31 May 07, "In a new Internet video posting yesterday, an Al-Qaeda militant who escaped from a US prison in Afghanistan lashed out at Saudi Arabia' royal family for its alliance with the United States. The 45-minute video of Abu Yahia Al-Libi, who broke out of the Bagram Air Base prison north of Kabul in 2005, was monitored by the IntelCenter, a US government contractor that monitors Al-Qaeda messaging."

VOA, American al-Qaida Member Demands US Leave Islamic Lands, 30 May 07 "In a video posted on the Internet Tuesday, Adam Gadahn demanded that Mr. Bush remove all U.S. military and spies from Islamic countries, free all Muslims from U.S. prisons and end support for Israel."

Daily Mail, Wife 'offered herself and five-month-old son for martyrdom', 30 May 07, "The jury was shown a series of pictures and diagrams found on Nassari's computer which gave detailed instructions to build a rocket.

"The documents were hidden away in a number of files which were downloaded from the Internet on the day he bought his new laptop in April last year."

"Mr Jafferjee said computer experts will say Nassari was in contact with others on Internet discussion forums about the construction of rockets, similar to the Al Qassam missile used by Hamas."

CNN, Cyber-spies tracking terror on Web, 29 May 07 profile of Internet Haganah

Tuesday, May 29, 2007, Pakistan losing territory to radicals, 29 May 07 first of a three-part series, non-tech, but with obvious implications.
IRIN/, Islamic Extremists Plan to Sabotage Free Internet Access for Students, 28 May 07 "Islamic extremists who believe that the Internet can spread immoral and un-Islamic behaviour say that they will sabotage plans by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to link the country's science centres electronically and offer free Internet access to students."

New Straits Times, Jakim monitoring websites carrying deviationist teachings, 27 May 07 "Jakim director-general Datuk Mustapa Abdul Rahman said as Jakim had no power to act against such bloggers or websites, it would channel complaints to the commission, including the relevant authorities such as the police, so that appropriate action could be taken.

""We are also considering coming up with guidelines and statements via our website from time to time," he said when asked on steps to be taken to counter wrong information on Islam and its teachings posted on the Internet."

JAKIM's English language site is here. It will be interesting to learn what approaches to monitoring JAKIM propose to instigate, as it would appear to be a labour-intensive activity (even with various searches and filters in place).

The New Anatolian/Erbil, Iraqi Kurds say cooperation with Ankara needed against Al Qaida, 29 May 07 "Iraqi Kurdish officials are saying both Turkey and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq are now under a growing threat by the Al Qaida and feel both sides have to seek ways to cooperate against "this deadly menace.""

AP/Yahoo!, Ala. terror Web site angers activists, 28 May 07, "The Alabama Department of Homeland Security has taken down a Web site it operated that included gay rights and anti-war organizations in a list of groups that could include terrorists."

Asharq Alawsat, Tripoli: The Salafi Gateway, 27 May 07 "Terrorism inspired by religious fanaticism was always considered a frightening myth that many in Lebanon refused to acknowledge despite all warnings that indicated otherwise."

A few headlines from Taliya:

Taliya, Tehran Mayor begins blogging, 27 May 07, "Tehran Mayor Mohammad-Baqer Qalibaf launched his personal weblog Saturday."

Taliya, Shi’a News website re-launched, 27 May 07, "Shi'a News Internet website was re-launched here Saturday a ceremony in the presence of Head of Global Community on Shi’a Studies, Hojjatoleslam Ali Ansari Boyerahmadi, and a number of Qom Seminary scholars and Alims." Despite the opening ceremony, it appears to still be in beta, with graphics/photos not loading today. The URL is They offer a mini news applet, and are soliciting for donations.

Taliya, Mobile sets not controlled in Iran – Police official, 29 May 07, "One of the maters that has been a preoccupation for mobile phone subscribers for months now is the rumors about controlling the contents of their sets by so called 'Mobile Police'."

After reporting on this last week, here's an update on the east London 'mega-mosque' in Newham: Times Online, Setback for Muslim sect's 'mega-mosque' in London, 29 May 07 "An ultra-orthodox Islamic sect has delayed plans to build a "mega-mosque" in East London after the Government warned it could "raise tensions" in the community.

"Tablighi Jamaat had intended to submit plans to build Britain's largest place of worship next to the Olympic site, this September. But the group told Times Online that no plans would now be submitted until next year at the earliest."

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Excellent article on Iranian popular culture: Asharq Alawsat, Iran's Underground Music Revolution, 26 May 07 "In Iran, items that are banned are readily available locally. These include satellite dishes, certain types of music, films, books and websites, in addition to certain types of clothing. For everything that is officially banned, there is an illegal alternative, for example, there are thousands of websites that have been blocked by the Iranian authorities; however, many young Iranians are technologically-savvy and can bypass the country's censors. There are also many films that are subjected to censorship or are banned in some cases, but at the same time these films are available in Iran and uncut versions can be found. Also certain genres of music like Hip-Hop are prohibited but they are popular amongst the Iranian youth and can be heard from cars as youngsters drive around the city at night. There are two worlds in Iran that contradict each other yet exist side by side."

icWales, Hezbollah warns against raiding refugee camp, 26 May 2007, "Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah warned Lebanon not to storm a besieged Palestinian refugee camp, calling instead for a negotiated solution."

Reuters, Lebanese militants cheered on al Qaeda Web sites, 25 May 07, "Islamist radicals have whipped up a vociferous Internet campaign in support of militant group Fatah al-Islam as it battles the Lebanese army, but al Qaeda's leadership has yet to grant the faction its official blessing.", Syria's Blogger Diplomat: Relaxing in the Blogosphere, 26 May 07, interview and discussion on Ambassador Imad Mustapha's blog imad_moustapha He states: "My blog is my personal sphere. I am engaged in politics around the clock, I give presentations, I make media appearances, I write articles and publish them. All of them are political. From time to time I feel I need to alleviate the pressure on me and do something enjoy for the sheer fun of it. So, in my blog I have my personal space. And when I write in my blog, I feel relaxed. It is a relaxing exercise. This is why I started doing it. But then I realized something important. My friends and family back in Syria and across the world are following my news on the blog and they are telling me they feel like they are living with me in my personal experiences. My blog is putting me in touch with them and this made me feel happy about my blog."

Friday, May 25, 2007

AFP, Pakistani mullah warns Musharraf of Taliban challenge, 24 May 07 "A Pakistani mullah whose mosque held two policemen hostage has warned President Pervez Musharraf that a Taliban-style opposition movement is emerging to challenge his already crisis-hit regime."

AP/IHT, Al-Sadr delivers sermon in Kufa, 25 May 07, "Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr appeared in public for the first time in months on Friday and delivered a fiery anti-American sermon in the holy Shiite city of Kufa."

AP/Fox, Somali Islamists Make 'Martyr' Video, 24 May 07 "So-called "martyr" videos are a common propaganda tactic used by al-Qaida in Iraq and Afghanistan and by groups in the Middle East, but are not known to have been used before in Somalia. In recent months, the insurgents also have started using suicide bombs and posting battle reports on the Internet, tactics not previously seen in Somalia."

Guardian, Is that an orc over there or an al-Qaida terrorist?, 24 May 07 "The reality? Virtual worlds are part of the modern digital communication landscape. Taking a closer look at any of these spaces doesn't harm anyone. But if they do find any evidence of terrorist activity in World of Warcraft, I promise I'll eat my keyboard."

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Jamestown Foundation, Al-Qaeda's Media Doctrine: Evolution from Cheerleader to Opinion-Shaper, 23 May 07, "Since 1996, al-Qaeda's media operations have grown more sophisticated, pervasive and effective. From a media world in which al-Qaeda and other Islamist leaders repeatedly and simplistically urged Muslims to wage jihad "in God's path," emerged such sophisticated and multi-topic electronic journals as al-Ansar, al-Neda and Sawt al-Jihad." Useful overview by Michael Scheuer., Citizen Jihadi, 24 May 07, "It's not traditional pan-Islamic jihadi organisations, but word of mouth and hundreds of FM radio stations that are instigating individual Muslims to acts of terrorism in the name of jihad in the tribal areas of Afghanistan-Pakistan." Interesting article.

Middle East Times, Zawahiri praises slain Taliban commander, 23 May 07 "Al Qaeda number two Ayman Al Zawahiri praised the slain Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah and called his death a "good omen for victory" against the US-led coalition in Afghanistan, in a video posted on the Internet Tuesday."

Times Online, Statement by John Reid on missing suspects, 24 May 07

AP/Jerusalem Post, Palestinian group vows to attack Lebanese army, 23 May 07 "Palestinians living in Lebanon's largest refugee camp have said they will form "Jihadi groups" to fight alongside an Islamic militant group battling the Lebanese army in another camp in the northern part of the country, according to an Internet statement posted Wednesday."

Survey:, U.S. Muslims Assimilated, Opposed to Extremism, 23 May 07 "Unlike Muslim minorities in many European countries, U.S. Muslims are highly assimilated, close to parity with other Americans in income and overwhelmingly opposed to Islamic extremism, according to the first major, nationwide random survey of Muslims." The Pew Research Center summary is here: Pew Research Center, Muslim Americans: Middle Class and Mostly Mainstream. The full report is here Muslim Americans [PDF], 108 pp. I haven't read it yet...

Media Line, Teen Stoning Sparks Anti-Honor-Killings Campaign, 23 May 07, "Women’s rights advocates, social activists and human rights organizations are launching an international campaign to stop the stoning to death of women in Kurdistan.

"The campaign was initiated after pictures of a brutal stoning of a young girl in Kurdistan were distributed on the Internet last month."
Announcement: Fulbright Symposium 2007, 1–3 August 2007, The University Club, Hackett Drive, The University of Western Australia, Crawley (Perth). Muslim Citizens in the West: Promoting Social Inclusion

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Tablighi Jamaat Planning and PR:

I have been following this story for several years, but it has taken a new turn: The Times, Sect hires PR firm to win support for giant mosque, 21 May 07 This is an interesting article about Tablighi Jamaat in the UK, who have hired a PR company to promote the proposed construction of a large mosque in east London: "Indigo has put Tablighi Jamaat on YouTube with a short statement from an unnamed representative who tries to calm fears about the size of the mosque and says that it will reach its 12,000 capacity only once or twice a year." A related article is, Architects sacked over designs for huge mosque, 30 April 07. There is a useful breakdown of planning issues here:, Mosque at Abbey Mills. The Abbey Mills Mosque website is here, and has a pic of Ken Livingstone on the front...

Other stories:

Analysis/opinion from Evan Kohlmann:, Fatah al-Islam: Al-Qaida or Not? An Inside Look, 22 May 07 "... arguably, some of the most convincing primary evidence showing Fatah al-Islam's orientation towards Al-Qaida comes from a somewhat unlikely source: private, password-protected chat sessions on an infamous Internet forum known as "Al-Hesbah", used by Al-Qaida and other Islamic militant groups to disseminate propaganda and to recruit new members. During the past two years, one of the more prolific participants on Al-Hesbah was a user known as "Khattab Laden"--a composite ID formed from the names of his two heroes, Al-Qaida leader Usama Bin Laden and the late Saudi mujahideen commander in Chechnya, Ibn-ul-Khattab." Also see SITE Institute, Campaign Across Jihadist Forums to Support Fatah al-Islam and the Mujahideen in Lebanon as Fighting Escalates in Nahr al-Bared and Tripoli, 21 May 07

Asharq Alawsat, Egypt's once largest militant group appeals to Al-Qaeda to reconsider its violent ideology, 23 May 07 "According to a statement posted on the Egyptian group's Web Site, Nageh Ibrahim, a leader and one of the founders of the al-Gamaa al-Islamiyya appealed to al-Qaeda fighters everywhere to back his group's peaceful initiative from 10 years ago."

Reuters, Iran starts first women-only Net cafe, 21 May 07 ""The atmosphere of most Internet cafes in the city is not appropriate for girls, therefore this Internet cafe has been started up in a complete female atmosphere," Mehr News Agency said.

"Customers in the city of Karaj, west of Tehran, will have access to high-speed Internet and free computer lessons, the news agency said, adding that the cafe is operated under the supervision of a student organization."

A couple of unusual stories grabbing internet headlines:

AP/IHT, Islamic theology center to discipline cleric who allows adult breast-feeding, 21 May 07 "Ezzat Attiya had issued a fatwa, or religious edict, saying adult men could breast-feed from female work colleagues as a way to avoid breaking Islamic rules that forbid men and women from being alone together." Al-Azhar's president Ahmed al-Tayeb does not agree with his head of hadith studies., Muslim man marries Hindu eunuch, 23 May 07, "Mohammad Salim married eunuch Jaygopal Malakar in Chapra district civil court in the presence of several people including two legal witnesses Tuesday. This is Salim's second marriage. "

Cinematic release of a film based on the circumstances surrounding Daniel Pearl's murder:

AP/, Pearl widow's 'gratitude' at Jolie's portrayal, 23 May 07 There was a good review of the film in yesterday's Guardian, Hearts of darkness, 22 May 07. There is a net link to Pearl's tragic story, which I discussed in Virtually Islamic (the book). The film would seem to reflect some of this theme: "Winterbottom handles everything with tremendous energy and sweep: the locations; the teeming streets; the tense cops; the frantic mobile-phone conversations; the false alarms; the real alarms; the desperate excavation of IP addresses from mysterious email contacts." The film's official site is here: A Mighty Heart


AP, UK lesson plan concerns Muslim educators 23 May 07

Technology story:

AFP, Blogs replace blackboards as Singapore schools go high-tech, 23 May 07 (for the photo)

Monday, May 21, 2007, The Survival of Languages in a Digital Age, 17 May 07 interesting article by Ethan Zuckerman: "Imagine learning how to use a computer in your second or third language. A native Setswana speaker, learning to use Microsoft Office, has the challenge of learning new software compounded by having to read dialogs and menus in a less familiar language. Educators believe that people learn to read more quickly when learning in their native language - it’s reasonable to believe that new users learning computers would benefit from computers with interfaces in their native tongues." Refers specifically to the Kamusi Project: "The Internet Living Swahili Dictionary is a collaborative work by people all over the world. Together we are working to establish new dictionaries of the Swahili language - Kiswahili - both within Swahili and between Swahili and English."
A couple of interesting items from Taliya: Taliya, Commercial production of Iranian video games promoted, 21 May 07, "According to ISNA, Behrouz Mina'ie pointing out that the surveys and follow up programs aimed at improving the market conditions and facilitating the commercial production of such games, reiterated, "The said plan would be pursued by the concerned organs, including the National Computer Games Foundation, the Modern Industries Center, Export Promotion Center of Iran, Center for Intellectual Development of Children & Young Adults, and the Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB).""

Taliya, Digital Media Festival Int’l as of next year, 21 May 07, "Head of Culture & Islamic Guidance Ministry’s IT Development Center added, "This festival is in fact the first national program sponsored by this ministry, for holding which we made a call for papers form March 20th to April 11th, 2007, inviting the website and weblog managers, and the digital software producer firms to present their papers, the led to receiving some 5,000 works at the Festival Secretariat."" [Logo of the festival is illustrated: official site is here]

Other Iran-related stories:

Spiegel Online, Tehran Cracks Down on Feminist Movement, 17 May 07 "In recent months Peyghambarzadeh and her fellow activists have been organizing a series of demonstrations across the country to rally against patriarchal laws and structures in Iran, including polygamy, unfair inheritance laws, and a lack of custody rights in divorce settlements. They have likewise been going out to talk with Iranian women in the streets, universities, schools and factories. They have also been active on the Internet, setting up a number of Web sites dedicated to women's issues."

RFE, Iran: Persian Gay And Lesbian Activist Urges Tolerance, May 17, 2007 "In 2001, when Parsi was still in Iran, he launched a small Internet group that later became known as the Persian Gay and Lesbian Organization. The aim -- through connections with human rights organizations around the world -- was to address the unique hardships of lesbians and gays living in Iran."

Iranmania, Iranian journalist, headman of virtual space, 21 May 07 "Director of the Center for Global Studies (CGS) Yahya Kamalipour, in a message to the secretariat of the second Electronic Public Relations Conference, has congratulated veteran journalist Younes Shokrkhah on his selection as the leading master in Electronic Public Relations, reported ILNA."

Back in court(s):

The Guardian, Was this judge just too clever at playing dumb?, 21 May 07 "The media - not just in Britain - have had a wonderful time with the story of the high court judge who allegedly didn't know what a website was. Very few, though, reported the judge's robust response the day after the reports appeared: that he does know what a website is, and that his words were taken out of context." Commentary by Marcel Berlins, who puts this issue (and Mr Justice Openshaw's comments ) into an appropriate context.

The Register, US Marine murder trial will use Google Earth, 21 May 07 "Corporal Trent Thomas is one of eight Marines accused of killing ex-policeman Hashim Ibrahim Awad in April last year. Technology issues have already figured in hearings regarding the slaying, as prosecution witnesses have testified that elaborate subterfuge was used to fool an overhead thermal-imagery surveillance drone."

Saturday, May 19, 2007, Salman al Oudah: I reject the Wahhabi label, 21 May 07 "Dr Salman al Oudah, a prominent Islamic preacher and the General Supervisor of ‘Islam Today’, was banned recently from entering Switzerland by the Swiss authorities. Al-Oudah spoke to Asharq Al Awsat about the case."

Friday, May 18, 2007

AKI, Men and women to be separated in internet cafes, 17 May 07 "Owners of trendy internet cafes, as well as bars and restaurants popular with young Iranians have received a letter signed by national police authorities in which new measures are announced to enforce "the country's moral health." "Public places will not be allowed to use dark windows anymore or curtains which make it impossible to view from the outside what is going on inside," said the letter, which states in particular that men and women must not be allowed inside internet cafes together but in separate days or schedules "to avoid unpleasant promiscuity.""

Also in Iran, a gap in the market is about to be filled:, Iran To Make 'Islamic Bicyles' For Women, 17 May 07, "Iran will soon start manufacturing "Islamic bicycles" for women to allow them to remain largely hidden from view as they ride."

LA Times, Algeria election marked by low turnout, 18 May 07 ""If you participate in these elections today, then you are with the traitors in this great sin and you will support them in their tyranny and infidelity and their fight against religion," said Abu Musab Abdul Wadud, the group's leader, or emir, in a statement broadcast on the Internet."

Amr Khaled is in the Time Top 100 Most Influential people ... al-Ahram Weekly, He made it on Time, 17-23 May 07"... [Fahmy] Howeidy [al-Ahram columnist] speculates that the West "welcomes" the talented preacher on the grounds that "his discourse promotes dialogue and rallies masses of youth through the barrier-breaking satellite channels and the Internet." The fact that Khaled is not bearded was an extra asset in the eyes of the West, according to Howeidy."

BBC News, Global net censorship 'growing', 18 May 077, "The level of state-led censorship of the net is growing around the world, a study of so-called internet filtering by the Open Net Initiative suggests." This refers to the Open Net Initiative [I couldn't get through to the report, as it seems their site is overloaded with traffic at present ... presumably not DoS attacks].

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Taliya, Iran lagging behind world info society, 21 May 07, "Secretary of Supreme Information Society, Ali Shahriari said here Tuesday if this backwardness would remain unheeded we would suffer losses at state and private management systems, remunerating which would be too tough.

"He further emphasized, "Iran is lagging behind the international information society and has to try hard to catch up and reach an acceptable level.""
BBC News, To our own correspondent, Alan, 17 May 2007, "It is 66 days since BBC correspondent Alan Johnston was abducted by a group of armed men in Gaza. Thursday is his birthday." [also see left-hand side bar button and click on it to show your support]

Reuters, Cleric held in UK offers to help free BBC reporter, 17 May 07 "The Islamic Observatory Centre said in a statement it had received a letter from radical Islamic cleric Abu Qatada offering to help gain the release of BBC's Alan Johnston.

"Abu Qatada said he was issuing the letter because the "British government has been trying to deal with me in an incorrect manner in the matter of Alan Johnston". He did not elaborate."

Dramatic moment in the trial of Younes Tsouli, Waseem Mughal, and Tariq al-Daour: The Sun, Judge: What is a website?, 17 May 07 "Judge Peter Openshaw brought a shuddering halt to the trial of three men accused of internet terror offences as a witness was being quizzed about an extremist web forum.

"He told shocked prosecutors at Woolwich Crown Court, South East London: "The trouble is I don’t understand the language. I don’t really understand what a website is."" Er, he could have mentioned that at the start of the trial...

AKI, Al-Sunna offers al-Qaeda olive branch, 17 May 07 "Following violent clashes between al-Qaeda militants and members of other anti-government Sunni Muslim groups in Iraq in recent weeks, one of the groups, Ansar al-Sunna appears to have made a peace offer judging by messages posted on Islamist Internet sites."

For the record (nothing new):, Internet a terrorist haven; New laws needed to thwart jihadists' Web-based networks, 17 May 07 "The U.S. has stepped up its cyber terrorism divisions since 9-11, but we are still far behind the terrorists when it comes to the Internet. They seem to always be one step ahead of our intelligence agencies and we can rarely locate and break up their communications."

MidEast News Source, Google Your to Way to God, 17 May 07 multi-faith approach to the subject, quite an interesting overview: ""A worshipper can read the sermon's transcript from the Internet. He can also appoint someone from his family to record the service in his absence," says Sheikh 'Ikrima 'Sabri of Al-Aq-sa Mosque. "People with a video camera or a small recording device can enter the mosque and record. We see it happening, and we aren't opposed to it."

""I may not be able to attend a major Muslim conference in Malaysia, or in Qatar or somewhere, but I can log in and follow the proceedings from the comfort of my home," says Mogra, who uses the Internet to listen to sermons and lectures of Muslim imams and scholars."

Article/op-ed by Pervez Hoodbhoy, professor of physics at Quaid-e-Azam University in Islamabad, Pakistan:, Pervez Musharraf's mianions of terror, 17 May 07"As Islamabad heads the way of Pakistan's tribal towns, the next targets will be girls' schools, Internet cafes, bookshops, and stores selling Western clothing, followed by purveyors of toilet paper, tampons, underwear, mannequins, and other un-Islamic goods."

Opinion piece by Shahed Amanullah: altmuslim, Seeing Eye To Eye On Extremism, 16 May 07, "Give Muslims the freedom to fight extremism on the front lines. The main place that extremism thrives is not your local mosque, but on the Internet. There are bulletin boards and websites where anger, hatred, and conspiracy - left unchecked by voices of reason - provide the fuel for extremist thought and action. It would be wonderful if moderate Muslims confronted this ideology directly, but few would risk being targeted by the government as a visitor to extremist websites under the current climate of assumed guilt. Without assurances that law-abiding Muslims wishing to confront extremists on the Internet won't get swept up in the anti-terror dragnet, few will take the risk."

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

BBC News, Prince Harry not to serve in Iraq, 16 May 07 Expect reaction on the usual jihadi websites.
Gulf News, Abu Dhabi Mosques to go high-tech, 16 May 07, "The implementation of the network system, which include electronic screens displaying prayer and prayer call (Azan) timings, titles of Friday sermons and Islamic lectures held at various places in the emirate, is currently under way, a NCC committee said in a report ...

" ...The authority will also introduce MP3 devices for recording Friday sermons and lectures, as well as store them in electronic archives which will be available on the internet."

ISN (ETH Zurich), Bahrain in transition, from blog to street, 16 May 07, "Before the government could announce his arrest, a consortium of bloggers established the Free Ali web page and set in motion Bahrain's first blogging-led mass protests. As the efforts gathered pace, the Shi'a-run Al Wasat and other liberal papers were swept up in the bloggist tide and denounced the arrests, garnering further international attention by adding their support to the protests in the streets of Manama. "Moblogs" pairing a protester on the street carrying a mobile phone with a blogger on a computer offered continuous updates that proved pivotal in mobilizing demonstrators and evading the police." Very useful article, taken from Arab Media & Society

The Star, Microsoft to power halal industry ICT system, 16 May 07, "It is expected to have three components, a halal product exchange centre for the global halal trade; a halal research knowledge centre to serve as a repository of information on the market for halal foods, products and services; and a centralised web-based system for remote halal certification. The remote halal certification component would also include an e-learning portal to serve as an educational and training resource for the system's users.", Attacks threatened on "coming days" for Sarkozy's inauguration, 15 May 07, "The threats by the Abu Hafs al-Masri Brigades could not be verified. The group, calling itself al-Qaida's wing in Europe, warned of a "fierce battle at the heart of Sarkozy's capital" in the "coming days," according to the site, which is known as a clearing house for material from al-Qaida and groups linked to it.", Iran claims its Internet penetration is higher than Malaysia’s!, 15 May 07 "This is a particularly outrageous boast as Malaysia is viewed throughout the Islamic world as its clear technology leader, so who on earth do they think they are kidding, and why would they bother to try?" Opinion piece.

Arab News, Jeddah Conference to Draw Up Dawa Strategy, 15 May 07, "The ministry has organized exhibitions in various Saudi cities, including Dammam, Jeddah, Riyadh, Qassim, Madinah, Abha, Sakaka and Taif, to display modern dawa tools, such as computer programs and Internet sites."

A further report on Awsat (previously blogged): Mail & Guardian, 'We are Palestinian, we are women, we are gay', 16 May 07, "One anonymous story on Aswat's website alludes to the confusion of being gay in Jerusalem, a predominantly religious city, and the support perhaps acquired from the organisation that allows its author to speak out."

APP (Associated Press of Pakistan), Peshawar blast: Ulema term suicide attacks as un-Islamic, 16 May 07, "Ulema of various school thoughts condemned Peshawar bomb blast, saying that suicide attacks for killing the innocent people were totally un-Islamic and inhumane." [non-tech]

General interest story by Jill Carroll: Christian Science Monitor, Young Muslims in Cairo transform the hijab, 16 May 07 "Hijab salesmen – and most are men – agree that business has boomed in the past few years. Ahmed Ali says the hijab market in Cairo, where he works, has transformed from shops that sold all clothing to hijab central."

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Guardian, Iraq veteran wins blog prize as US military cuts web access, 15 May 07 "Colby Buzzell was awarded the £5,000 Lulu Blooker prize for My War: Killing Time in Iraq, which was voted the best book of the year based on a blog."

Monday, May 14, 2007

BBC News, China launches Nigerian satellite, 14 May 07 The launch of Nigerian Communication Satellite NIGCOMSAT-1 is not without its critics: "Having a space programme is also symbolic of how Nigeria wants to be seen as a growing player on the world stage.

"Critics say the majority of the population live in poverty and the internet can be made redundant by the simple fact that electricity is sporadic at best."

AKI, Iran: Top blogger arrested, 14 May 07, "Mehdi Boutorabi, the CEO of Persian Blog, a service company for Iranian bloggers, was arrested Sunday in his Tehran office, reports said Monday. Persian Blog was founded in 2001 by three students who two years later, during a crackdown by authorities on bloggers which led to many arrests, sold it to Boutorabi, a young entrepreneur close to Iran's reformist movement."

AP/IHT, Thai military says beheadings by local Muslim insurgents inspired by jihad videos, 14 May 07 "Thai Army spokesman Col. Akara Thiprote said he believed the local insurgents are copying brutal terrorist tactics, including beheadings, that are portrayed on jihad, or holy war, training videos from the Middle East, probably Iraq.

"Such videos were seized during a raid earlier this year on an insurgent training camp in a remote jungle area of Thanto district in Yala province bordering Malaysia, Akara told The Associated Press."

AFP/Yahoo!, Afghan warlord says Bin Laden alive, 14 May 07, "Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is still alive but keeping a low profile, notorious Afghan warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar said in a video released on Arab television."

Chicago Tribune, Taliban leader's death a big blow, 14 May 07 "Unlike Omar, so reclusive he would be difficult for most Afghans to identify, Dadullah became the public face of the insurgency. He issued frequent statements. He liked to star in Taliban propaganda videos, praying, firing guns and even baking bread. He never covered his face, unlike many Taliban militants."

Reuters/ABC Australia, Al Qaeda claims Iraq soldier abduction in Internet posting, 14 May 07 "The self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, a group led by Al Qaeda, say in an Internet posting it is holding three US soldiers who survived an attack south of Baghdad at the weekend, in which the US military says four troops and an Iraqi Army translator were killed.", Iraqi Resistance Report for events of Sunday, 13 May 2007, Translated and/or compiled by Muhammad Abu Nasr, member, editorial board, the Free Arab Voice includes summaries from various websites, such as the Iraqi Patriotic alliance.

Star-Ledger of Newark, A cyberworld of hate and jihad follows six, 14 May 07 "Although the FBI's Mueller counts as many as 6,000 extremist Web sites, only a handful set the agenda, according to Katz. Since January 2006, the primary clearinghouse for jihadist communiqués has been a virtual outpost called the Al-Fajr Center. Among its offerings is a manual, "Technical Mujahid," explaining how to cover one's tracks in cyberspace." Useful summary, Homegrown terrorists often have conflicting values, 13 May 07, "The Cherry Hill-based group had no apparent ties to al-Qaeda, but was inspired by its philosophy, federal authorities say. They used the Internet for "both educational and inspirational" purposes, downloading violent videotapes of U.S. soldiers being killed, as well as clips of Osama bin Laden and other extremist leaders exhorting viewers to join their movement, said U.S. Attorney Christopher J. Christie."

Council for Foreign Relations, Preventing the Next Attack, 11 May 07 "Jihadi propaganda, easily accessed on the Internet, has led to a rise in self-starting terrorist cells across the globe."

Saturday, May 12, 2007

AP/, Jihadist Media in Pakistan Thriving, Propagating Anti-Judeo-Christian Hate, 12 May 07

alt.muslim, Shaping Islam In America: 10 Young Muslim Visionaries, Jordan Robinson, Islamica Magazine, May 10, 2007 "The Web continues to create ripples in Muslim and mainstream media, challenging society�s traditional gatekeepers of knowledge. Amanullah and his alt.muslim colleagues are riding the wave of Internet-enabled community introspection by creating new modes of critique and accountability that circumvent not only traditional power monopolies, but also national borders.", Under The Chador of the New Radicals "Iran has one of the world’s youngest populations, which is fairly strongly exposed to other cultures and aspires to freedom. Iranians interact closely with the West through the two million Iranian expatriates who live in North America and Western Europe, through the Internet, and through popular culture, including Hollywood, Bollywood, jeans and fast food."
Guardian, We were the brothers, 12 May 07 refers to the book The Islamist by Ed Husain

Friday, May 11, 2007

Taliya, Iranian children ahead of grownups at IT field, 11 May 07 "Iranian children and young adults are far ahead of their parents and teachers in taking advantage of IT."

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Al-Ahram Weekly, Internet shadows, 10-16 May 07 "Psychologist and Cairo University professor Ali Suleiman states that Internet has become a double-edged weapon, like most modern technology. While the Internet use among the young is accepted and varied -- learning about the global village, researching interesting information, playing educational games, and connecting with people -- its unsupervised use does come at a price. For him, the problem lies mainly with parents who do not understand what the Internet really is." Interesting and extremely topical article about this alternative digital divide, a subject that was also taken up in today's Guardian, The kids are alright online, 10 May 07. There's potential for a comparative study here.

AP, Hamas 'Mickey Mouse' wants Islam takeover, 10 May 07 "A giant black-and-white rodent — named "Farfour," or "butterfly," but unmistakably a Mickey ripoff — does his high-pitched preaching against the U.S. and Israel on a children's show run each Friday on Al-Aqsa TV, a station run by Hamas. The militant group, sworn to Israel's destruction, shares power in the Palestinian government."

Plain Dealer, Jihadist wannabes, 10 May 07 "They attended public schools, lived in the suburbs and held jobs. But that central fixture of American life, the Internet, connected them to the world of jihadist propaganda - which seems to have fueled a twisted belief that they could serve Allah by killing Americans. These lone wolves did not take orders from al-Qaida or any other foreign group, merely inspiration."

Reuters, Iraq Qaeda-led group kills abducted officers-Web, 10 May 07

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Some intriguing Islam related timelines on this recent addition to cyberspace. Here's one to get you started:, Muhammad & Mecca
AP/Fox, Court Rules for Muslim Brotherhood, 9 May 07, "The Muslim Brotherhood considered the verdict a "victory" and described it in a statement posted on its Web Site as an "unprecedented and a historical decision.""
Washington Times, Sleeper cells: A ticking clock, 9 May 07 "Invading Iraq to unload the Saddam Hussein regime would go a long way to shrinking the menace of transnational terrorism." Commentary by Arnaud de Borchgrave., The Terrorist Roadmap for the Future: Part 1: Individual and Small Group Terrorism Refers to Laura Mansfield's publication The Al Qaeda 2006 Yearbook: A Complete Reference and Translation of Al Qaeda Messages in 2006, Group claims it has BBC reporter, 9 May 07

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

AFP/, Play and pray: Malaysian student creates PlayStation Koran, 8 May 07 "Muslim gamers worldwide will soon be able to mix praying with playing after the creation of a Koran which can be downloaded onto PlayStation portable consoles.

"Student Ikhwan Nazri Mohamad Asran, 21, designed the software after seeing a similar version of the Bible." Details at The Raise Now, in the name of research, I'm going to have to buy a PSP. Alternatively, maybe I should wait - perhaps they will do the same for DS Lite?

AHN, Malaysia To Build Internet Portal For Global Halal Trading, 7 May 07 "In a bid to become a global hub for Halal food and other products, Malaysia is eyeing to build an Internet portal that would serve as a marketplace for worldwide Halal trading and certification.

"Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the plan to create the Internet portal for trading, certification assistance, and online library for Halal research and market intelligence, during the World Halal Forum held here."

AFP, Video of girl being stoned to death shown on Internet, 6 May 2007 "Cellphone videos have appeared on the Internet showing an Iraqi mob stoning and kicking to death a 17-year-old girl after she offended her minority community by eloping with a Muslim man.

"Doaa Khalil Aswad was a member of northern Iraq’s Yazidi religious sect but, according to local officials, she was murdered on April 7 by her brothers and uncles after she allegedly converted to Islam."

Madrid Train bomber learnt about how to build bombs on the Internet, 7 May 2007 "The court also heard from an Italian anti-terrorism agent about microphones being placed in the Italian home of the man known as 'The Egyptian'. Rabei Osman El Sayed is recorded as saying that he found out how to assemble bombs, connect them to a suitcase, and activate them with a mobile phone, by studying pages on the Internet. A page was mentioned which allowed the connecting together of Nokia phones and the sending of simultaneous SMS messages."
Mohamed Taher discusses his book Cyber Worship in Multifaith Perspectives on OMNI TV. Link go to Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 and Part 4. Dr Taher also has a blog entitled the Multifaith Information Gateway.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Taliya, Iranian Parliament likely to pass Internet Crimes Law, 6 May 07, "An informed official at Islamic Republic of Iran’s Islamic Consultative Assembly, Majlis, added in an interview with CITA, "If sometimes there are talks at the Parliament about unlikely passage of the Internet Crimes Law due to time shortage, we would try our best to accelerate the process of surveys over the law at commissions.""

Friday, May 04, 2007

AKI, New cartel joins anti al-Qaeda front, 3 May 07 "Three of the most important Iraqi insurgent groups have formed a new cartel calling itself the Jihad and Reform Front in what appears further evidence of the isolation of al-Qaeda in Iraq. The Islamic Army in Iraq, the Mujahadeen Army, and the splinter group of the Army of Ansar al-Sunna known as the Sharia Committee have joined forces. Though not explicitly stated in the foundation document posted to Islamist internet sites on Thursday, the group has a clear anti al-Qaeda role, challenging the principles and strategies of its armed struggle." Also reported on the Counterterrorism Blog, More Cracks Emerging in Al-Qaida's "Islamic State of Iraq", 2 May 07. See the statement at
AP/Time, Report: Muslim Extremists Utilize Web, 3 May 07 "Use of the Internet for communications, propaganda and research has grown to include recruitment and training, says the report prepared by a panel of experts brought together by George Washington University's Homeland Security Policy Institute and the University of Virginia's Critical Incident Analysis Group." The report can be found here:

George Washington University’s Homeland Security Policy Institute, NETworked Radicalization: A Counter-Strategy, May 2007
I haven't read this yet, so cannot comment on it.

AFP/, Iraq Al Qaeda faces growing insurgent backlash, 3 May 07
, This week’s killing of Al Qaeda in Iraq’s “information minister” is the latest blow to the group’s bid to retain leadership of the Sunni revolt and face down a challenge from rival insurgents.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

The new edition of ISIM Review (19) has some articles which are relevant to this blog (links go to relevant section of Review in PDF format):

Meeting, Mating, and Cheating Online in Iran by Pardis Mahdavi. This is a very interesting article, based on fieldwork, noting how aspects of internet use act "as part of a social movement of resistance currently enacted among many of today's young urban Iranians."

Hymen Repair on the Arabic Internet by Björn Bentlage & Thomas Eich. This looks at the theme of hymen repair surgery. This article is a useful discussion on opinions by Muhammad Nai'm Yasin and Izz al-Din al-Tamimi (amongst others). There is also a subtext: "... the authors show that notwithstanding the image of the net as a decentralized medium that spurs pluralism, in practice it functions as a filter in which only a few dominant voices are heard in tremendous duplication."

I was also taken by Julie McBrien's fascinating article on Brazilian TV and Muslimness in Kyrgystan, which has a net link in its references to the fan sites for the TV show Clone. There's a couple of images related to the show on the left. The fan sites also contain video clips.
Plenty of Islamic-related content, including Qur'anic sources (i.e. Sultan Baybars' Qur'an), on this set of pages associated with The British Museum's Sacred exhibition and events. It also includes details of several conferences and discussions. Some of the online resources work best with Microsoft products.
More Muslim marriage site updates (see yesterday), this time relating to a Yahoo! Malaysia site: The Star Online, Look for a spouse in cyberspace, 1 May 07 " ... Dr Mohd Asri bin Zainal Abidin, the mufti of Perlis, commended the site, saying it would be useful to Muslims looking for a life partner.

"Actor Radhi Khalid, 43, told In.Tech that he finds the site a good place for making introductions.

""I guess this is only natural because we have gone global (thanks to the Internet and information technology)," he said. "Let's just hope it doesn't turn into an online singles' bar.

"It will work if people are honest and don't claim they are younger than they really are or that they have three cars in the garage when they don't."", Al-Qaeda denies death of Iraq chief, 1 May 07 "The internet statement by the Islamic State in Iraq "assures the Islamic nation about the safety of Sheikh Abu Hamza al-Muhajir, may God save him, and that he is still fighting the enemies"."

LA Times/, U.S. military now carrying struggle for Iraq to the Internet, 2 May 07 "Moving into a realm long dominated by Islamic militants, the military has launched a YouTube channel offering what it calls a boots-on-the-ground perspective. The move recognizes that the Internet is becoming a key battleground for public opinion at a time when domestic support for the war is dwindling."

Patriot-News, Islamists hack youth opera's site, 2 May 07, " ... visitors to found instead a manifesto from a Turkish Islamic extremist group called MDX that had hacked, or broken into and changed, the Web site. The message was in Turkish, and it left CPYO director Addie Applebaum wondering why the group was targeted." MDX probably generated more publicity through this article than the original hack (well, I found it, and I'm not a reader of the Patriot News!)., Islamic bond fatwas surge on million-dollar scholars, 2 May 07 "Just as Wall Street turned to Nobel Prize winner Myron Scholes in the 1980s to help make derivatives the fastest growing financial market, banks can’t find enough scholars steeped in the teachings of Muhammad to accommodate the demand for new bonds that conform to Shariah law. Without men like Yaquby to bless the borrowings, none of the $70 billion of Islamic debt outstanding can be traded and companies would have been unable to sell any of the $17 billion new offerings last year, according to data compiled by Standard & Poor’s and Bloomberg." Tech edge on this fascinating story too.

EITB, Ethiopia blocks opposition Web sites - internet watchdog, 2 May 07, "An Internet watchdog on Tuesday accused Ethiopia of blocking scores of anti-government Web sites and millions of Weblogs in one of sub-Saharan Africa's biggest cases of cyber-censorship.

"Web monitor, the OpenNet Initiative, said the Horn of Africa country was stopping citizens from viewing opposition-linked Web sites, and blogs hosted by Blogger, an online journal community owned by Internet search engine Google Inc.", Airport Debunks Islamic Footwashing Myth, 30 Apr 07 a myth with internet currency., Harvard Report Examines Media Coverage of Lebanon War, 2 May 07 The original report is here: The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media As A Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict, Marvin Kalb, Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy, Harvard University, February 2007 I haven't read this report yet, so am not in a position to comment. Here's the background to

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

A couple of science and technology related stories that caught my attention.

(1) I will be interested to discover the answers to these questions (ijtihad in action?): The Times/The Australian, Muslim astronaut faces moving Mecca, 2 May 07 "How do you pray facing Mecca five times a day when you are circling the Earth 16 times every 24 hours? This is one of the problems facing Malaysian authorities as they prepare to send their first man into space.

"There are others: how to hold the prayer position in zero gravity, ensure that only halal freeze-dried food is in your space cupboard and perform your ritual ablutions before worship?"

(2) This is more medical in nature, but reflects some discourse I have encountered online: Reuters, Muslim women in France regain virginity in clinics, 30 Apr 07

Elsewhere, here's another internet marriage arrangement/dating/relationships story: Reuters/Washington Post, Muslim, traditional, but finding love on the Web, 1 May 07
Guardian, Al-Qaida in Iraq leader believed dead, 1 May 07 "The al-Qaida in Iraq leader, Abu Ayyub al-Masri, has been killed in a fight between insurgents north of Baghdad, the interior ministry claimed today.", Algeria: Al Qaeda confirms death militant slain, denies he was head, 28 Apr 07, "Al Qaeda's North African wing said on Friday that one of its militants was killed by the Algerian army, but denied he was a group leader, according to a Web posting
"Yes, brother Moussaab was martyred ... (but) he was not the number 2 in the organization, or number 3, 10 or even 20," Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said in a statement posted on the Internet."

Echorouk Online, Terrorism: Police keeps watch on cybercafes, 29 Apr 07, "It’s worth recalling that a terrorist network was dismantled in El-Oued (southern Algeria) of which a member was a cybercafe owner. Four young people’s parents said their sons used to frequent this cybercafe and disappeared after few weeks. Security services confirm that these young people have joined 'al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb'. They seized computers of this cybercafé and found in the memory bank that the young people contacted other Algerians to join Iraqi resistance."

BBC News, Fertiliser bomb trial: Bugged talk, 30 Apr 07 leads to extensive coverage on the trial, including various net references, and surveillance footage. Also see BBC News, Questions over 'plot mastermind', 1 May 07

The last post: AKI, Egypt: Courageous Blogger Bows Out, 30 Apr 07, "The Egyptian Sand Monkey - one of the country's most popular and straight talking blogs - has closed down his site. In a farewell message, the blogger explained "that there has been too much heat around me lately," adding he feared for his anonymity with "State Security agents lurking around my street and asking questions about me." He went on to say that his bowing out was also due to changes in the Egyptian blogosphere, "too much media attention, too much hype," and the need for a period of reflection." So, farewell Egyptian Sand Monkey. Great blog, whilst it lasted.

Gulf Daily News, 'Fight Israel with bombs', 30 Apr 07, "An Al Qaeda leader called on the Hamas group to fight Israel with "bombs and fire" in an Internet video posted yesterday, days after militants launched rockets into southern Israel breaking a ceasefire.

""Where is revenge, where are the bombs, where is the fire?" Abu Yahya Al Libi asked members of the military wing of Hamas in a video posted on a website used by the Islamist groups."

Reuters, Iran to filter "immoral" mobile messages, Apr 28, 2007, "Iran's Telecommunications Ministry will start filtering "immoral" video and audio messages sent via mobile phones, state television reported on Saturday.

"The Supreme Council of the Cultural Revolution, a body set up after Iran's 1979 Islamic revolution, has instructed the ministry to buy the equipment needed to prevent any misuse of Multimedia Messaging Service (MMS), it said." Seems like a difficult job, and I'm not sure what technology or criteria they might apply ..., Keeping ex-detainees away from terror: A Saudi program offers counseling, financial aid and other incentives to change militants’ minds, 29 Apr 07 "Saudi officials said the goal is to stop the proliferation of radical ideology that they said is bred in prisons and on the Internet. The ideology has flourished at Guantanamo and is evident among the returning detainees — even those who were moderates before they were imprisoned, officials said."

NDTV, Power, politics, terror and the cyberworld, 26 Apr 07 Overview.

This one amused me at the weekend: The Guardian, Islamic street preachers, 28 Apr 07 Riazat Butt explores the consequences of The Taqwacores novel, written by Michael Muhammad Knight. Butt's newspaper article also contained URLs, which seemed to have fallen off the online edition, but here's one or two to get you started: The Kominas' MySpace page; Vote Hezbollah's My Space page. As a Clash/Pistols/Banshees (etc.) fan from first-time around, this is certainly interesting listening (however it is labelled). Brian Whitaker also wrote a piece on this, entitled Punk Muslims. I hope to get hold of Knight's book in due course, and add to this listing of bands. In terms of this blog, it is particularly relevant how the bands are using the web to promote themselves (just like everyone else - CDs are dead).
Taliya, Iranian blogs turn to be info sources for Internet users, 2 May 07 "Motahhareh Akhondi added in an interview with ISNA, "The virtual journalism atmosphere, due to its vastness and high diversity, as well as the users’ easy access to it and little need to training, has provided a chance for the amateur journalists to enter the scene of news dissemination, and even to become news resources at some cases.""