Monday, June 30, 2008

This one came to my attention as I was taking a look at posts on a related theme at Ted Swedenburg's hawgblawg:, Celebrity chef under fire for 'jihadi chic', 29 May 08

The Powerpoint slideshow is particularly helpful:, Jihadi Chic

Hawgblawg has some interesting updates on rap music in Palestine and elsewhere too.

AFP/Daily Star Lebanon, Saudi Arabia spends billions to transform cradle of Islam, 30 Jun 08 "Saudi Arabia is pouring billions of dollars into Medina, burial place of the Prophet Mohammad and the cradle of Islam, to turn the religion's second holiest site into a hi-tech bastion. The so-called Knowledge Economic City (KEC) is the fourth in a series of projects launched by the oil powerhouse in December 2005 aimed at attracting foreign investment and bolstering development."
Hybrid TV

The National, Gulf tunes in to interactive TV, 30 Jun 08, "The Gulf may be one of the first regions in the world to adopt hybrid television systems, which uses a set-top box that receives regular broadcast transmissions, overlaying them with content delivered through an internet connection."

Two ICANN stories, very different in nature (although there is a connection)

The National, Internet revolution allows Arabic script web addresses, 26 Jun 08 "The board of the Internet Corporation For Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), voted unanimously today to liberalise the way the web’s addressing system works, and to enable web addresses to be typed in scripts like Arabic and Chinese." Expect a mad scramble for URLs

Wired, ICANN and IANA Sites Hacked, Redirected, 27 Jun 08 "Two of the world's most important internet regulatory web sites – ICANN and IANA -- were hijacked and briefly redirected Friday to another site that screamed this message: "You think that you control the domains but you don't! Everybody knows wrong. We control the domains including ICANN! Don't you believe us?"

"A group that monitors internet defacement credited the 20-minute hijacking to a Turkish group calling itself "NetDevilz," according to researchers at zone-h."

Zone-H has images of the defacement too: Zone-H, ICANN and IANA domains hijacked by Turkish crackers, 26 Jun 08 although this example is not particularly spectacular.
Anwar Ibrahim

AFP/NST, Anwar leaves Turkish embassy, 30 Jun 08

Telegraph, Malaysia's Anwar sues over sodomy claims, 30 Jun 08 "Mr Anwar, 60, sought sanctury in the Kuala Lumpur embassy yesterday morning, 12 hours after the accusations surfaced, saying he had received death threats."

Anwar Ibrahim and his supporters have used the net extensively over the past decade, so it is no surprise to see this op-ed on his blog, by Jin Ming Pan, 'Malaysia Must Avoid The Myanmar Junta and Mugabe Syndrome', 30 Jun 08

Saturday, June 28, 2008

'Internet Jihad'

Times, 'Angelic looking' boy, 12, at risk of being lured into extremism, 26 Jun 08 "Sir Norman Bettison, chief constable of West Yorkshire, said the boy's family was cooperating fully with police and other agencies trying to help him.

"He is at risk of being a violent young man and a threat to society," said Sir Norman. "He is not a Muslim, he is not driven by ideology - he's too young to spell the word - but he is being influenced and intoxicated by the imagery and appeal of jihadist and other internet violence.""
Muslim World Almanac 2008

Arab News, Muslim World Almanac 2008: An encyclopedic endeavor, 28 Jun 08"The almanac under review has been compiled with all the sincerity that is required for this kind of work. It covers features such as a country-wise panorama, an unobstructed scene, or comprehensive portrayal of different regions of the Muslim world; importance given to human rights and social egalitarianism by Islam; the significance of such an important and widely-misunderstood Islamic institution as jihad, or striving for a right cause; the significance and role of mosques in Muslim community life; the dignity, status and security of women in Islam; terrorism, extremism, sectarianism and other subversive cults and ideologies and the cardinal teachings of the Holy Qur'an and the traditions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)."

See Muslim World Almanac 2008 [site is still partially in development]

AP, Al-Qaida in Iraq says it was behind Anbar attack 28 Jun 08 "The Islamic State of Iraq made the claim in a statement posted on a militant Web site Saturday. It says a militant blew himself up in the middle of a a gathering of the "heads of apostasy" — a reference to U.S.-backed Sunni tribal leaders."
Afghan Skateboarding

Very cool article by Declan Walsh: Guardian, Kabul's kids master the flip tricks as skateboarding invades the streets, 28 Jun 08 "The impromptu classes are attracting a swarm of curious novices. A local slang is developing. Children call the sport "sikii" because it resembles skiing without the snow. And some of the first generation of Afghan skateboarders have become volunteers, passing their tricks on to others.

""To me, skateboarding is like a brotherhood," said Hamid Shahram Shahimy, a 22-year-old with a trimmed beard who skates while listening to hip-hop on his iPhone."

Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Early details on my next book, iMuslims, have now been released:

It will be available in 2009, published by the University of North Carolina Press.

It is also being published through Hurst & Co. (26 February 2009, 320 pp., ISBN-10: 1850659508, ISBN-13: 978-1850659501. Details:

More information will follow on this blog in due course. There's a brief summary on the main website, which has also been re-designed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Qur'an translation into Dari

AKI, Afghanistan: Death penalty call for man who spread Koran translation, 23 Jun 08

"Former journalist Ghows Zalmay, who was also the spokesman for Afghanistan's Attorney-General, was arrested in November last year for distributing a translation of the Koran into Dari, one of Afghanistan's two official languages ...

" ... Many Muslim bloggers have labelled some new translations of the Koran, as the "American Koran", which they say is unauthentic and aimed at distracting Muslims from their faith."

Washington Post/MSNBC, Al-Qaeda develops powerful online voice, 24 Jun 08 "Every three or four days, on average, a new video or audio from one of al-Qaeda's commanders is released online by as-Sahab, the terrorist network's in-house propaganda studio. Even as its masters dodge a global manhunt, as-Sahab produces documentary-quality films, iPod files and cellphone videos. Last year it released 97 original videos, a sixfold increase from 2005. (As-Sahab means "the clouds" in Arabic, a reference to the skyscraping mountain peaks of Afghanistan.)"
Big Brother

Daily Star, Alex runs for her life, 24 Jun 08 "Islamic groups are calling on followers to target Alex, 23, after she raged against Mohamed [another occupant of the house] on the show over his religious beliefs. They posted threatening messages on Big Brother internet forums urging folk to get her because of her outbursts." I don't watch Big Brother, so cannot comment - this is for info only.
Barack Obama, Obama Walks a Fine Line With Muslims, 23 Jun 08 ""If he were a Muslim, so what? That insinuates that if he were a Muslim, he's automatically a jihadist. That's incredibly insulting to people of the Muslim faith and Arabs who are Christian," says Tony Kutayli, a spokesman for the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee and a Christian."
Imam Samudra

BBC News, From our own correspondent: Prison 'picnic' for Bali bombers, 21 Jun 08 "More recently, the men have continued to send out a steady stream of propaganda - messages calling for violent jihad and even advice about how to avoid detection by the security services when working online."

Friday, June 20, 2008

Abu Hamza

BBC News, Abu Hamza loses extradition fight, 20 Jun 08 "Jailed Muslim cleric Abu Hamza al-Masri has lost his High Court bid against extradition to the US where he faces terror-related charges."
Scotland, Bid to stop terror groups brainwashing young Scots Muslims, 20 Jun 08 "A counter-radicalisation plan is being developed in Scotland to prevent young Muslims being "brainwashed" by al-Qaeda terrorists, The Scotsman can reveal.

"The strategy, which has the backing of police and the Scottish Government, will see parents of young Muslims encouraged to exercise greater control over their children's use of the internet, which is regarded as a major "weak spot" in Britain's efforts to combat terrorism."

Earth Times, Kurd used internet to urge terrorists on: three years jail, 19 Jun 08 "In a case with major implications for the internet, a 37-year-old Kurdish father of four who used internet chatrooms to urge fellow Islamists to practice terrorism was jailed Thursday by a German court for three years. The immigrant's arrest in autumn 2006 in the poor German steel town of Georgsmarienhuette triggered worldwide speculation that police had arrested the chief of an incipient cell in al-Qaeda. The media invaded the town to interview his wife and neighbours.

"But the facts presented in court proved less dramatic and showed a man acting like millions of bloggers and chatroom denizens worldwide, typing out messages alone in their rooms while unwitting wives do the housekeeping and children play."

Examiner, Junior, high school textbooks lack accuracy on Islam, report says, 17 Jun 08

McClatchy Newspapers/, Captives driven to radical Islam at Guantanamo, 17 Jun 08

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comic books +

The National, Emirati superhero goes global, 18 Jun 08

"It is hoped that Sami, who has martial-arts, driving and shooting skills, and Ajaaj will provide heroes that gamers in the Middle East can relate to, as well as balancing negative racial stereotypes.

"Next month, a Dubai-based company, 2Digital, is scheduled to begin developing an online multiplayer game based on Ajaaj that will target popular consoles such as Sony's PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox360."

Read more: Ajaaj (English version), Ajaaj (Arabic version), Sharq Warriors (Sami)

AKI, Terrorism: Italian PM and Christian convert targets of Islamist death threats, 17 Jun 08 "Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and a prominent Italian journalist who recently converted to Christianity, are the targets of new death threats posted on one of the most popular Islamist websites said to be close to al-Qaeda, on Tuesday."
Rita Katz , ‘Terrorist hunter’ admits it’s difficult to secure convictions, 17 Jun 08 "Katz had mixed results. She said her work led to the United States Agency for International Development canceling funding for a group she said was funneling money to Hamas. But Katz admits some of the people she’s accused have been cleared and some have sued her. Katz said getting convictions is "very difficult." However, "material-support" laws passed after the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, the Oklahoma City bombing and the Patriot Act lowered the standard for convictions. Prosecutors now only have to prove defendants wanted to support terrorists rather than that they actually did.

"Katz said she has received death threats for her work and four Fort Wayne police officers were hired to provide security for the speech. But Katz is undeterred."
Lyrical Terrorist

Telegraph, 'Lyrical Terrorist' Samina Malik cleared on appeal, 18 June 08 "Miss Malik, 24, was given a nine-month jail sentence suspended for 18 months at the Old Bailey last December, for possessing information useful to a person committing or preparing an act of terrorism under Section 58 of the Terrorism Act 2000.

"But today judges at the Court of Appeal said they believed the jury had become "confused"."
Abu Qatada, U.K. Home Office Seeks to Deport Freed Islamist Cleric Qatada, 17 Jun 08 "According to the eight-page bail order document, the cleric must wear an electronic tag and is forbidden from attending a mosque or leading prayers in a religious institution. He must stay in his residence for at least 22 hours a day, and can only leave his house twice a day in hourly excursions beginning at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. He is banned from attending meetings of any kind, using mobile phones, computers or the internet."

Village Voice, Gay Arabs Party Here, Risk Death Back Home, 17 Jun 08 "The real death knell for GLAS meetings was the Internet, which offered anonymity, safety, and thousands of friends. A local LGBT Arab online forum thrives on Yahoo (subscribers can join at; discussions range from the struggles of coming out and the newbies in town to relevant entertainment—such as the first gay Arab film, Toul Omri (All My Life).

"Even in the Internet age, a savvier new breed of immigrants must deal with violence from the old country and family pressures."

Skynews, For Queen and Country interactive resource on Afghanistan (and the military)

Monday, June 16, 2008


The National, Arrests double for software piracy, 16 Jun 08

"Software piracy arrests have jumped 107 per cent over the past year, police said yesterday.

"Brig Ahmed Nasser al Raisi, general director of central operations at the Ministry of Interior, said demand for counterfeit programs was high and called for a change in public attitude towards the crime."
Oil Fatwa

Daily Times, Give oil money to poor, says Egypt fatwa, 16 Jun 08 "An Islamic ruling that Egypt should give some of its oil and gas wealth to the people has ratcheted up the pressure on the government, already faced with rising popular discontent over food prices. The Islamic Research Centre of Cairo’s Al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, has issued a fatwa or religious edict saying it is a sacred duty to pay 20 percent of its oil, gas and mineral revenues in the form of alms to the poor known as Zakat. “The fatwa is based on a Hadith that says that a Zakat of 20 percent is obligatory on all metals and minerals, solid or liquid,” centre member and Al-Azhar teacher Mohammed Rafat Osman told reporters."

The 99

Article about Naif al-Mutawa, who developed The 99 comic-book series (available to download, and previously blogged on these pages; the first edition is a free-download PDF):

Washington Post/, Islam inspires a comic-book series, 16 Jun 08

"Worldwide sales of the comic in English and Arabic, including in the United States, have yet to exceed 30,000 copies a month, including Internet downloads, but Mutawa has been inundated with licensing demands. An American company wants to brand its halal hot dogs with The 99. He has signed deals with Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian and North African publishing companies.

"In his office are pencils, rulers, backpacks, notebooks and folders with The 99 logo, by a Spanish company. A Dubai firm is interested in making action figures. A deal for an animated series by a European company is to be announced in July, Mutawa said. Last month, he signed a deal for six theme parks."

Daily Times, Farangi in Town: Caste is here to stay — Ella Rolfe, 16 Jun 08 op-ed

"So is caste viable in a modern Muslim society? Will current trends erase or enhance it? Mr Satti claimed in the New York Times that, “while the caste system has religious approval under Hinduism, it has no future in an industrialising Muslim society. In an industrial era, castes are replaced by classes.”

"A quick trawl around the internet seems to support this assessment: the vast majority of contributors to net forums on the subject say caste is not an issue for them in choosing a marriage partner. However, these statements may be unwittingly highlighting a bigger truth than they realise. Satti wants to replace caste with class; a startling number of bloggers said that what had replaced caste in their marriage considerations is sect. “I wouldn’t want my kid to be raised in confusion,” says one young man — religious, doctrinal confusion."

AP, Al-Qaida branch claims recent attacks in Algeria, 15 Jun 08 "Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa claimed responsibility in an Internet posting Saturday for a recent attack on an Algerian train station that killed a French engineer.

"The statement also claimed responsibility for an attack on a military barracks and another at a cafe on June 4 and a roadside bombing June 5.

"The authenticity of Saturday's statement could not be independently verified, but it was signed by Al-Qaida in Islamic North Africa and appeared on a Web site commonly used by Islamic militants."

Fourth Islamic Manuscript Conference, 6-9 July at Queens' College, University of Cambridge "The conference will feature research from different fields of study related to Islamic manuscripts. Manuscript projects from around the world will be presented and new techniques and technologies for conservation and digitisation will be discussed."

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Computer games

Yassin Musharbash, Spiegel, Joystick Jihad: Was Grand Theft Auto IV Inspired by Al-Qaida?, 13 Jun 08 "Islamist forums are abuzz with a new theory: The designers of the video game Grand Theft Auto IV, they say, were inspired by killing methods developed by al-Qaida. But did the idea for the car bombs and suicide attacks in the game really come from Osama bin Laden?"

Friday, June 13, 2008


AFP, Hamas takes aim at Internet porn in Gaza, 11 Jun 08 ""A couple of weeks ago Hamas installed a filter to prevent people from accessing such pages on the net," said Ali Sarayfi who runs an Internet cafe in the university area of Gaza City.

"Inside the cafe dozens of young people are glued to computer monitors, surfing the Internet and enjoying one of their last remaining links to the world outside the fenced-off territory."

Tunisia Online/, More Than 7 Million Tunisians Use a Cell Phone, 9 Jun 08 "More than 7 million Tunisians out of a population of about 10 million, have a cell phone, it was announced on Monday, by the Tunisian official press agency TAP.

"There are two operators mobile phone operators in Tunisia , namely "Tunisiana" and "Tunisie Telecom", 35% of whose shares were bought by Dubai 's "Tecom", in a bid more than two years ago.

"There are also 5 million subscribers to fixed telephone line, as well as a million people who use the internet."

BBC Monitoring/redorbit, Italian Paper Examines Al-Qa'Idah's Use of Internet, 11 Jun 08 [Report by Gianni Santucci: "School of Terrorism Online: Combat Manuals, Forums, Videos", in Corriere della Sera, A scuola di terrorismo. Online, 10 Jun 08] "This was a school in subversion on the Internet - run from an Italian city, but linked to Baghdad, Kabul, and Algiers. Nobody can yet say how many jihad outposts there arein anonymous rooms in Europe, the Orient, or the United States, or at what rate they are multiplying. This is Al-Qa'idah's virtual and elusive entrenchment."

Herald Tribune, Surgery enables Muslim women to reclaim virginity and lives, 13 Jun 08

"Gynecologists report that in the past few years, more Muslim women are asking for certificates of virginity to provide proof to others. That in turn has created a demand among cosmetic surgeons for hymen replacements, which, if done properly, they say, will not be detected and will produce telltale bleeding on the wedding night. The service is widely advertised on the Internet; medical tourism packages are available to countries like Tunisia where it is less expensive."

BBC News, Scottish Islamic state plotted, 12 Jun 08 "Jurors heard the state would also be run according to Sharia law and eventually be used as a base to "discreetly train" for attacks against non-believers.

"The court heard the online exchange was part of a "mass" of allegedly incriminating material found by police during a series of swoops in Bradford and London two years ago."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

'Halal Fraud'

Media Line, Muslims Clamp Down on Halal Fraud, 12 Jun 08, "Halal fraud can be done with malice or it can be purely accidental, Abdullah says.

"“Maybe there are some clever marketing people who want to put a halal logo on a product because it then sells better in the Middle East, without knowing what this really represents,” he says.

"“The other level is people who know there are pork-based components in the product and do it anyway. Every few weeks we find a company that does that. We think that with the increase of Internet usage those companies will find it’s not worth the risk, because people send an e-mail out, and the information gets around very quickly.”"
Virtual Caliphate Report

Daily Mail, Islamic fanatics are openly using the internet to recruit children in Britain, says Civitas, 10 Jun 08 "James Brandon, the report's author, said: 'Recent arrests, trials and convictions have undeniably damaged the ability of UK-based jihadists to recruit, raise funds or openly spread their ideology.

"'However, these extremists have now re-grouped on the internet ... where they can operate with impunity.'" Sensational headlines, but not exactly unfamiliar territory for readers of this blog.

The report can be found here (as a PDF): James Brandon, Virtual Caliphate: Islamic extremists and their websites(London, Centre for Social Cohesion, 2008), I have yet to read this report, so cannot really comment on its findings yet.
Environmental Blogging in Egypt

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Egypt: Defamation Case Launched Against Blogger for Reporting On Environmental Pollution is First of Its Kind, 9 Jun 08

"According to ANHRI and the "Mosawah" Association for Human Rights, on 9 June 2008 the Azzohour Court of Port Said is expected to begin reviewing a unique case filed by Trust Chemicals Inc. against blogger Tamer Mabrouk. Tamer Mabrouk is the owner of "The Truth Blog","
The National, Du blocks calls from computer to phone, 3 Jun 08 Skype blocked. "Under the block, customers are able to make computer-to-computer calls, known as voice over internet protocol (VoIP), but cannot use their computers to call telephones.

"A du spokesman said the block was in line with guidelines from the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) related to content filtering.

"A spokesman for the TRA said: “Skype is not regulated in the UAE, so it is not legal. There are blockages to certain websites that do not cope with the cultural identity and ethics of the UAE and also those who contradict the regulations and policies of the UAE.”"
Second Life in Dubai

The National, Dubai college reveals its Second Life, 9 Jun 08 "DWC’s Second Life campus is closed to the public. But on a private tour of the virtual facility, Mr Karstad – represented online as his alter-ego “Dubai Karas” – unlocked the gates for The National.

"Sheathed in a gold-trimmed kandura he bought at a virtual Saudi market, Dubai Karas is otherwise a faithful translation of the real Mr Karstad – moustache, glasses and all."
Cost of surfing

The National, Internet in Arab world overpriced, study says, 9 Jun 08 "High speed internet users in the Arab world pay on average six times more for their services than users in Europe, a new study has found.

"The report, commissioned by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Bahrain and carried out by Teligen, a communications consultancy from the UK, compared the prices for communications services across the Arab world."
Blame the parents??

Telegraph, Muslim parents to blame for children turning to extremism, 11 Jun 08 "Dr Farhan Nizami CBE, a key adviser on Islam to the Prince of Wales, accused British Muslims of failing to make sure their children learn to speak English or supporting them in their education." Predictably, shades of opinion surrounding this are now being discussed elsewhere on the net.
Lost luggage

Telegraph, Lost al-Qa'eda documents 'could have been useful to terrorists', 12 Jun 08 "The top secret documents about al-Qa'eda left on a train could have been useful to terrorists, a security expert said today.

"They contained assessments made by the Government's Joint Intelligence Committee, part of the Cabinet Office, on matters of security, defence and foreign affairs."
aQ - Commentary

Guardian, Experts fear new front with al-Qaida as terror group switches focus from Iraq, 11 Jun 08, "Last month an Arabic satellite TV channel broadcast a chilling video of a group of Iraqi teenagers called the "Youths of Heaven" - their faces masked and brandishing Kalashnikov rifles, chanting "Allahu Akbar" and vowing to blow themselves up with "crusaders and apostates." The film of these aspiring suicide bombers, all said to be under 16, was produced by al-Furqan, the media arm of the Islamic State of Iraq, aka al-Qaida. But such material is rare these days, with film coming out of Iraq looking suspiciously like posed training sessions with little of the live action of ambushes that has been the staple fare of jihadi websites."

Monday, June 09, 2008

Announcement: new publication

Vít Sisler, 'Digital Arabs: Representation in video games', Charles University in Prague

European Journal of Cultural Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, 203-220 (2008)

"This article presents the ways in which Muslims and Arabs are represented and represent themselves in video games. First, it analyses how various genres of European and American video games have constructed the Arab or Muslim Other. Within these games, it demonstrates how the diverse ethnic and religious identities of the Islamic world have been flattened out and reconstructed into a series of social typologies operating within a broader framework of terrorism and hostility. It then contrasts these broader trends in western digital representation with selected video games produced in the Arab world, whose authors have knowingly subverted and refashioned these stereotypes in two unique and quite different fashions. In conclusion, it considers the significance of western attempts to transcend simplified patterns of representation that have dominated the video game industry by offering what are known as 'serious' games."

Haven't read this yet, but it is an important topic.

Friday, June 06, 2008


Editorial by Ariel Heryanto, senior lecturer in the Indonesian Program, the University of Melbourne, Australia: Jakarta Post, When governments try to look more Islamic, When governments try to look more Islamic, 6 Jun 08, " Today, the Internet is the only public space where hundreds of thousands of Indonesians can and have actually declared themselves to be religiously "liberal", "atheist" or "agnostic" in their profiles on cyber social networking sites such as Facebook."

There's a small section on this issue in my next book.
Living Library

CSM, Borrow a Muslim? A 'living library' to prick stereotypes, 4 Jun 08 non-tech, no e-loans, but an intriguing idea. "The idea is the brainchild of Ronni Abergel, a Danish antiviolence campaigner, who has taken the Living Library to 12 countries and watched it flourish in places as diverse as Australia and Turkey.

""We live in a time where we need dialogue," says Mr. Abergel. "With dialogue comes understanding and with that comes tolerance and that's the mission of the Living Library: to promote understanding and tolerance through dialogue.""" Not much in the way of details, but here's a link to the Living Library
Finance and tech

Asharq Alawsat, Islamic Banking Requires an Information Center, 5 June 08 "In a country like Saudi Arabia where Islamic banking transactions constitute 64% of its total banking transactions, no data or information regarding this industry is issued by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), which is authorized to supervise the banking and insurance sector." This is an interesting piece by Lahem al Nasser on finance and technology issues relating to KSA.
Islamic unity drive

Plenty of coverage on this, starting with the official statement: Saudi Press Agency, King patronizes tomorrow International Islamic Dialogue Conference, 3 June 08
"The Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz will patronize here tomorrow the International Islamic Dialogue Conference, due to be organized by the Muslim World League (MWL).
MWL's Secretary-General Dr Abdullah Al-Turki said the 3-day conference aims at shedding light on the concept of dialogue with followers of the various religions, cultures and civilizations."

Then there's a very lengthy piece in Asharq Alawsat, Interfaith Dialogue Conference Begins in Mecca, 6 Jun 08 "Dr. Abdullah Bin-Abdul Muhsin al-Turki, the MWL secretary-general and member of the Senior Ulema Commission, told Asharq Al-Awsat: "Holding the international conference for dialogue, which starts its proceedings today, is connected to the need to open channels of dialogue and discussions so as to reach common bases which serve humanity and spare the world and nations the evils of conflicts, polarization, and divisions. The interest of the Islamic institutions, among them the MWL, in the dialogue at this time is in response to the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques' call, which came on time and as the world was witnessing expanded dialogue forums, to lay down the bases for an objective dialogue that blocks the way before anti-human institutions that are acting to shuffle the cards.""

Others are following this in varying degrees: BBC News, Saudis launch Islamic unity drive, 5 Jun 08 "Saudi Arabia's monarch has urged Muslims to speak with one voice in preparation for interfaith dialogue with the Jewish and Christian worlds." AP/Guardian, Saudi king opens conference on interfaith dialogue, 4 June 08 "The tone was one of reconciliation between Islam's two main branches, Sunni and Shiite. Abdullah, one of Sunni Islam's most prominent figures, entered the hall with Shiite Iranian politician Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who later sat at the king's left in a gesture of unity." Riazat Butt/Guardian, Mecca talks stress religious tolerance, 5 Jun 08 "Abdullah's understanding of interfaith dialogue differs from the one held by the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Abdul Aziz Al al-Sheikh, who said dialogue with other religions was a way to bring non-Muslims into Islam. The cleric, who is the highest official of religious law, told the delegates that converting people to Islam was the ultimate goal of dialogue, a point made several times. "It is the opportunity to disseminate the principles of Islam. Islam advocates dialogue among people, especially calling them to the path of Allah."" Riazat Butt is also blogging on her travels: Riazat Butt, Comment is Free, You don't have to western to be happy

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed

MSNBC, Alleged 9/11 mastermind requests death penalty, 5 Jun 08
Ayman al-Zawahiri Recording, New warning from al-Qaida deputy, 5 Jun 08 "During the recording he claims "salvation of the Muslim nation is through the march of its sons on the path of jihad".

"The message, titled "In Memory of the Naksa… Break the Siege of Gaza", was apparently released to mark the 41st anniversary of the 1967 Arab-Israeli war."

AP, Al-Qaida claims it attacked Denmark's embassy in Pakistan, 5 Jun 08 "An Internet message late Wednesday says the attack was carried out to fulfill Osama bin Laden's promise of revenge over the reprinting in Danish papers of a cartoon of Islam's Prophet Muhammad."

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Kareem el-Beheiri, Blogger Kareem el-Beheiri freed after 73 days in prison, 2 Jun 08 "Blogger Kareem el-Beheiri (, was yesterday released without charge from Borg el Arab prison, 40 kms from Alexandria.

"Factory worker el-Beheiri, was arrested on 6 April while covering a cost of living protest at a factory in Mahalla, north of Cairo. A prosecutor ordered his release ten days later, along with that of two other activists, Tareq Amin and Kamal al-Fayoumy, but they remained in custody without explanation until yesterday."
AQIM+YouTube, Algerian Paper Says Armed Islamists Use YouTube to Spread Messages, 2 Jun 08 "In the YouTube and Daily Motion video mediums on the Internet network, the terrorist groups, particularly the Salafi Group for Call and Combat [GSPC; the group now known as Al-Qa'idah in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, or AQLIM], have found a space to conduct their subversive propaganda following the closure of several of their sites and forums."

Text of report by Yassine Mohellebi published by Algerian newspaper La Tribune website on 2 June [(via 2008 BBC Monitoring Media.]
Embassy Bombing, Pakistan to Step Up Terrorism Fight After Danish Embassy Attack, 2 Jun 08 "Zawahiri's appeal for attacks on Denmark came less than a month later, when he responded to questions submitted to Islamic militant Web sites, according to the NEFA Foundation, a U.S.- based non-profit group that analyzes terrorist threats and translated his comments.

""Denmark keeps on dishonoring the Prophet," Zawahiri said in responses posted on the Internet April 17. "We have threatened Norway and every other country that participated in the war against the Muslims." Norway has contributed as many as 700 soldiers to the NATO-led force fighting in Afghanistan.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hot issue

Pickled Politics, It’s a Muslim no-go area!!, 3 Jun 08, "In fact there is no evidence at all that ‘Muslim no-go areas’ exist, and it is a symptom of our lazy media that no one has pulled up Bishop Nazir Ali on it. Even the Guardian keeps repeating this rubbish." Interesting blog thread/opinion on a controversial issue.

Tate Britain, The Lure of the East: British Orientalist Painting. "British Orientalist Painting will explore the responses of British artists to the cultures and landscapes of the Near and Middle East between 1780 and 1930, offering vital historical and cultural perspectives on the challenging questions of the ‘Orient’ and its representation in British art."

Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Steps on The Road: A new book issued by the Arabic network, tackles different experiences and mutual support methods between Internet and human rights, Cairo June 3rd, 2008

"The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information issued a new book contains the arguments and discussions of 30 human rights, political and internet activists from 12 Arab Countries on how to expand the mutual support among human rights NGOs, internet activists and media men; that kind of support which would finally result in stronger support for freedom to expression causes in the Arab World.

"In the book, the reader will find a presentation for the expanded discussions among activists, bloggers, journalists and media men. enclosed, there are also 10 work papers presented by some participants in the workshop. Those papers contains different experiences, views, suggestions on how to increase cooperation among journalists and media men, internet activists and human rights activists, establishing a solid base for more cooperation supporting freedom to expression in the Arab World. Such increased cooperation would be of great importance because of the increasing role of internet and its activists in fighting against political tyranny.

"The different backgrounds of the participants from “Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Oman, Syria, Palestine, Lebanon, Libya and Bahrain” helped so much in achieving success. They presented different causes on human rights, media and freedom to expression according to different circumstances in different countries. What was common among most of those countries was their enmity to freedom to expression and their imposing regulations bonding internet access.

"The printed version of the book is available at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information headquarter, and can be browsed on the website of the Arab Initiative for free internet, that follows the Network.

"For more information on the workshop visit;

The full report in Arabic;

The full report in English;"

I have yet to read this.
Trial Update

AFP, British 'bomb plot' accused admits plan to attack parliament, 2 Jun 08 "Abdulla Ahmed Ali, 27, said the plan to target the Houses of Parliament was designed as a political protest in opposition to the government's foreign policy after the "totally illegal and criminal" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ...

"... Footage of the blast would be combined with Internet footage and martyrdom videos found after his arrest over the alleged airline plot in mid-2006 to make an anti-government documentary for publicity purposes, he added."
Turkey, Is Turkish Big Brother watching us?, 3 Jun 08 "On April 27, 2007, Turkey's military general staff posted a memorandum on its Web site around 9:17 p.m. implicitly blaming the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, government for having a hidden Islamic agenda and for not doing enough to prevent the supposed rise of an Islamic threat. Dubbed in the media as an e-coup or e-memorandum, this followed the nomination by the government of Foreign Minister Abdullah Gül as its presidential candidate.The army's intervention in politics was not a big surprise to those who know the history of military interventions and civil-military relations in Turkey. However, this time there was something new. The army's warning was published around midnight through its Web site without any signature. This was an anonymous, bodiless, virtual – but not unreal – intervention. There was no information available about the authors of the memorandum. The text was badly written with lots of grammatical errors."

Op-ed by Rabia Karakaya Polat, assistant professor at Işık University.
UAE, UAE named most wired country in Arab world, 2 Jun 08

"The UAE scored 329.5 per cent to become the most connected country in the Arab world last year, followed by Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, according to the Arab Advisors Group's annual Total Country Connectivity Measure (TCCM) report."

Guardian, Faithbook launched on Facebook, 3 Jun 08 "Faithbook, which goes live today on the popular site, uses images, videos, prayers, content from sacred texts and commentary from prominent figures to promote constructive dialogue in the UK and the rest of the world." Haven't checked this yet.
Kareem Amer

Reporters sans Frontières (Paris), Egypt: Blogger Gets 2,300 Letters in Prison, 2 Jun 08 "Abdel Kareem Nabil Suleiman, a blogger better known as Kareem Amer, has been getting hundreds of letters in prison from Internet users all over the world as a result of a "Flood the Jail with Mail" campaign ( launched jointly by the Free Kareem Support Committee ( and the Committee to Protect Bloggers ("

Monday, June 02, 2008

Games & Violence, Violent Video Games a Factor in Making Children Aggressive, 30 May 08
, "... Dr. Samir Arar, a counseling psychologist at Maharat center and a professor of psychology at King Abdulaziz University, says that video games could be one of the many factors that make children aggressive and violent.

"“Violence in video games are among what we call in psychology the risk factors that lead to violent behavior,” Arar said. “Some children might develop aggressive and violent behavior from video games because they love to control. Also, other children, due to social and family surroundings, believe that imposing power over another makes them stronger,” he added."
aQ, Al Qaida's stance on women sparks debate, 1 Jun 08
Online Matchmaking

AlterNet, Online Matchmaking Sites Court U.S. Muslims, 29 May 08 "A growing online matchmaking movement has many Muslim women elbowing aside courtship traditions."
3G ME, 3G services remain a luxury in Middle East, 31 May 08

"The third generation of mobile phone specifications and technology (3G) remains a luxury rather than a standard for most countries in the Middle East despite its seven years of existence and the emergence of 3.5G, said a top official.

""In the Middle East, not enough suitable content for 3G services are available, mainly because purchase of high-end, 3G-enabled mobile phones in the region is only at 25 per cent," Bashar Dahabra, Founder and CEO of, said."

Observer, Inside the world of UK Muslim women, 1 Jun 08 "A thousand women throughout the country have responded to the biggest lifestyle study of Muslim women undertaken in the UK. It appears to show that Muslim women have established a delicate balance between a desire to live a contemporary lifestyle and tap into consumer trends while sticking to values underpinning the Islamic guide to life."
Darul Uloom Deoband

Independent, Muslim seminary issues fatwa against terrorism, 2 Jun 08 "Senior clerics from the 150-year-old Darul Uloom Deoband issued the edict saying they wished to wipe out terrorism. "Islam rejects all kinds of unjust violence, breach of peace, bloodshed, murder and plunder and does not allow it in any form," said the rector, Habibur Rehman, to the cheers of thousands of students. Many held placards saying "Islam means peace", while others chanted." Official page: Darul Uloom Deoband

Also see Reuters/Asharq Alawsat, Darool-Uloom Deoband Issues Fatwa Against Terrorism, 2 Jun 08