Wednesday, September 30, 2009

'Egypt to deport journalist'

Brian Whitaker's blog, al-bab.com, Egypt to deport journalist, 30 Sep 09 "A Swedish journalist/blogger is awaiting deportation from Egypt after being declared persona non grata." This points to Bikya Masr, Cairo airport not fun times for Egyptians, foreigners, 30 Sep 09 "The most recent incidents are the expected deportation of Swedish freelance journalist Per Bjorklund and the harassment of prominent Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas on Tuesday.

"Upon arriving in Cairo, Bjorklund was told “his name [was] on the computer” telling airport security the Swede was not to be allowed into Egypt, a country he was living and working for the past three years."

Musical Interlude: Shawshara

StartUpArabia, Shawshara, An Online Encyclopedia For Arabic Music, 24 Sep 09

Shawshara شــوشــره contains artist lists, song lists and other resources. The wiki element should help with additional content. I haven't looked at it in detail, but have already found some interesting bits and pieces on personal favourites Umm Kulthum, Natacha Atlas, Fairuz, Rachid Taha and DAM (OK it's a mixed bag!). It should prove to be a useful resource, especially if it was linked to track samples/output/mashed with Last.fm/Spotify etc.

Algerian Internet survey

StartUpArabia, WebDialn@ Study Of Algerian Internet Users Results, 26 Sep 09 "A new study entitled WebDialn@ (meaning ‘our web’ in the Arab Algerian accent) by Med&Com and Ideatic that polled about 6,000 Algerian internet users on ADSL, mobile internet, online advertising and e-commerce, estimates that 4.5 million people (12.8% of the Algerian population) use the internet, and that they heavily rely on it for news, research and activities such as social networking."

For more information see:

WebDialn@™ Etude sur les Usages et Perceptions des Internautes du Web Algérien

"L’étude WebDialn@™ a été lancée le 22 Juin 2009 sous forme d’un sondage en ligne publié sur neuf (09) sites web populaires algériens (sites de presse, sites professionnels, sites NTIC, sites pour jeunes,…) et envoyé également à une base de données de plus de sept milles (7000) adresses mails."

A press release relating to the report is available as a pdf. This contains charts and other interesting data (in French).

"Allah meat"

al-Arabiya, Malaysian villagers amazed by "Allah meat", 29 Sep 09 This story is already generating plenty of threads online. The article mentions that similar stories can be found elsewhere on the net: "The internet is also rife with videos of animals thought to be growling Allah's name.

"For Muslims such occurrences only further signal the greatness of their Lord as Islam teaches that everything in the world from the sun and moon to everything with a soul is commanded by God."

Follow-up: Bekkay Harrach video

Ed West, Telegraph, No wonder teenagers love the Taliban, 29 Sep 09 "This is the new face of al-Qaeda: out go the beards, Arab robes and backdrops from Luke Skywalker’s home planet, Tatooine; in come dark suits and sixth-former curtains that look like they’re covered in a layer of grease."

Opinion piece by Ed West. The video was previously blogged here. The Telegraph have chosen to embed it (9'00") into their pages.

Germany: arrests of suspects

AP, Munich police: 2 with extremist ties detained, 29 Sep 09, "Two men with suspected links to Islamic extremists were taken into custody by Munich police, and security at the Oktoberfest beer festival has been increased as videos threatening Germany continued to surface on the Internet, officials said Monday."

Malaysia: Islam and/as Politics

Simon Roughneen, Asia Times Online, Islam as politics in Malaysia, 1 Oct 09

"UMNO and BN is struggling to make sense of a Malaysia where the new politics involves opinion-forming and issue-driving over the Internet, by using alternative news sites and blogs, and bypassing the often-deferential pro-UMNO print newspapers.

"Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad wrote on his blog three weeks ago that the BN was heading for "the rubbish heap of history" unless it upped its game. Sim Tze Tzin is a Keadilan member of the Penang state legislature and an advisor to opposition leader Anwar. He told Asia Times Online that "BN and UMNO has not changed, even if its leadership has. Najib's reforms are cosmetic and there is a lack of real substance.""

Useful article, with plenty of discussion points.

App

Gaith, arabcrunch.com, Yahoo! Maktoob Launches Its First iPhone App: An Arabic/English Free Dictionary, 29 September 2009

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

MEI Bulletin - review of iMuslims

The MEI Bulletin this month focuses on media in the Middle East.

It contains a piece by Bruce Etling and John Palfrey on their work Mapping the Arabic Blogosphere (recommended).

There is a review of Deborah L. Wheeler's 2006 book 'The Internet in the Middle East: Global Expectations and Local Imaginations in Kuwait' (also recommended).

There's also a review by Clifton Martin of my own book iMuslims.

You'll find it all here:

MEI Bulletin Vol. 60 Issue 3, Sept 2009 [pdf]

Monday, September 28, 2009

al-Qaeda threats

Views from the Occident, Post warns of coming attacks on Germany, 27 Sep 09

"A new thread posted on one of the major jihadi Salafi online discussion forums today, and advertised on the main page, warns of a coming "day of misfortune" in Germany, which is holding parliamentary elections today [27 Sep 09]."

Baitullah Mehsud


CNN, Latest al Qaeda message eulogizes deceased leader, 28 Sep 09 "A purported audio message from Al Qaeda's second-in-command appeared on radical Islamist Web sites on Sunday eulogizing Baitullah Mehsud, the former leader of the Pakistani Taliban."

Discussion topic: "The Polygamist Fantasy And The Distressing Of Sisters"

AbdelRahman Murphy, muslimmatters.org, The Polygamist Fantasy And The Distressing Of Sisters, 28 Sep 09

"This article is not meant to say that it is weird, or that it is unnatural to want more than one wife. Definitely not - to each his own. Some men have the desire for more than one wife in this life, some don’t. Regardless whether you truly do or don’t, respecting it as a Sunnah comes into play. It’s not something to prance around about, flaunting how you’re going to have each of “the four” specialize in different culinary cuisines (true story). If you’re doing this, it’s because Allah allowed it and the Prophet [saw] and some of his companions did it. It is a Sunnah in this regard, and should be treated with the dignity and seriousness of any other Sunnah. By lowering it to some sort of sensory fantasy, you’re lowering it’s dignity for those brothers who actually do plan on supporting more than one family insha Allah."

Interesting post (address all responses to muslimmatters.org!)

Sudan: media censorship 'lifted'

meedan.com, Sudan lifts media censorship, 28 Sep 09 "Sudan President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has today lifted restrictions that had left the media in Sudan under state censorship over recent years." Let's see how far this goes.

"Israel bids to stop interracial dating"

Jonathan Cook,middle-east-online.com, Israel bids to stop interracial dating, 25 Sep 09

"Both Kiryat Gat and Safed’s campaigns were supported by a religious organisation called Yad L’achim, which runs an anti-assimilation team publicly dedicated to “saving” Jewish women.

"According to its website, the organisation receives more than 100 calls a month about Jewish women living with Arab men, both in Israel and the West Bank. It launches “military-like rescues [of the women] from hostile Arab villages” in co-ordination with the police and army.

"“The Jewish soul is a precious, all-too-rare resource, and we are not prepared to give up on even a single one,” says the website."

Musical Interlude: Debu

Aubrey Belford, AFP/thedailynewsegypt.com, American and Muslim, band of Sufi mystics aims to go global, 27 Sep 09 "With a discombobulating mix of blonde hair and ecstatic cries of “Allah, Allah!”, the members of Islamic band Debu sway on stage at a strip mall on the edge of Indonesia’s capital.

"Led by a clutch of American siblings, the band of adherents of Sufi Islamic mysticism have become a perennial hit during the holy month of Ramadan here in the world’s largest Muslim-majority country."

The Debu Official Website has some interesting background on their music and instrumentation.

Here's an example of Debu in action, with their song "Sarayda":

Facebook campaigns

thisislincolnshire.co.uk, Facebook campaign to change mosque site, 28 Sep 09 "Opposing Facebook pages have been set up supporting and denouncing the building of a new mosque in Lincoln.

"People living in Church Drive and Boultham Park Road have set up a group called 'Stop the Lincoln mosque being built on Church Drive'."

Kuwait censorship

AFP, Kuwait censors 'terror' blogs, 26 Sep 09 "Kuwait has blocked a number of Internet blogs and websites with links to "terror" cells and groups, a top official said in comments published on Friday.

""The ministry has blocked blogs ... used by some to communicate with terror cells and extremist groups," communications ministry undersecretary Abdulmohsen al-Mazeedi told Kuwait's An-Nahar newspaper."

al-Qaeda

Scott Shane, NYT, Rethinking Our Terrorist Fears, 26 Sep 09 "Even counterterrorism officials who agree that Al Qaeda is on the wane, for example, say the organization might well regroup if left unmolested in a lawless region in Pakistan, Afghanistan or Somalia."

Telecommunication Company of Iran bought

payvand.com, IRGC buys Telecommunication Company of Iran in biggest ever bourse deal, 28 Sep 09

"A financial company affiliated with the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps cooperative has bought 51 percent of the shares of Telecommunication Company of Iran. Reportedly this block of shares is priced at 8 billion dollars. This is considered the biggest financial purchase in the history of Iran's stock exchange."

Neda Agha Soltan update

Allegations:

azarmehr, Video of Neda's Killer, 26 Sep 09 "I am told this is a video footage of Neda's killer, after being apprehended by the people who took his ID card, which identified him as Abbas Kargar Javid, member of much hated Baseej militia thugs and hoodlums."

"Abu Ibrahim al Amriki"




Nick Grace, Long War Journal, Al Qaeda's final push before German elections, and the appearance of Abu Ibrahim al Amriki, 27 Sep 09

"Included in the collection of videos that were released on Friday was a 12-minute product that showed training and campfire scenes at a terror camp run by "Deutsche Taliban Mujahidin" or German Taliban Mujahideen. The video, "Der Ruf zur Wahrheit" (The Call to Truth), was produced by Elif Medya, which is associated with the Islamic Jihad Union and usually publishes material in Turkish, and appears to be a recruitment product. Interestingly, the video featured a German-speaking jihadi named "Abu Ajjub" and showed clips of an alleged jihadi named "Abu Ibrahim al Amriki." Sporting cheap sunglasses, glistening bald head, and chiseled features, al-Amriki appears to be accompanied by an interpreter in one scene. This is his first known appearance in a propaganda product."

Article includes links to the video.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Broadband in MENA

StartUpArabia, MENA Broadband Subscribers To Reach 27 Million By 2014, 24 Sep 09 "According to Informa Telecoms & Media’s new Middle East & North Africa Broadband report, the MENA region will continue to experience some of the world’s highest growth rates in broadband subscriber numbers."

Report link: Informa, Middle East and North Africa: Broadband Market Analysis and Forecasts,
Key Market Analysis, Strategic Outlook & Forecasts to 2013


It's a commercial report, and expensive, so I haven't been able to look at this in detail. This makes Mohamed Marwen Meddah's summary (linked above) particularly useful.

Egypt phone and online activity increase

Bikya Masr, Egypt: 50 million mobile users, 24 Sep 09 "A new government report issued on Wednesday showed a massive increase in the overall number of mobile phone users and online activity. The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology reported that some 50 million Egyptians used a mobile phone in 2009 as compared to only 36.5 million the previous year."

Australia: Belal Khazaal

AFP, Australian man jailed 9 years over DIY jihad book, 25 Sep 09 "The document was posted on a radical Islamist site under the pseudonym Abu Mohamed Attawheedy, and examined why some assassinations failed while others succeeded, such as the 1981 killing of former Eqyptian president Anwar Sadat.

"According to a 2004 profile by the public broadcaster ABC, Khazaal had militant training in Afghanistan in 1998 and was under surveillance by Australia's spy agency for a decade before his arrest.

"According to a CIA report obtained by ABC's Four Corners programme, Khazaal had also been linked to Spanish Al-Qaeda operative Abu Dahdah and was suspected of plotting blasts attacking US interests in Venezuela and the Philippines."

bernama.com, Diy Jihad Book Producer Jailed Nine Years "The 110-page book, in Arabic, entitled "Provisions Of The Rules of Jihad - Short Judicial Rulings and Organisational Instructions for Fighters and Mujahideen against Infidels," gives advice on terrorist acts such as exploding bombs, shooting down planes and assassinating people such as former US President George W. Bush.

"AAP said Khazaal has never denied producing the book, but said it was never intended to incite terrorist acts."

Shabab al Mujahedeen Movement

NY Times, American Helped Bomb Somalia Base, Web Site Says, 24 Sep 09 "A Somali Web site is claiming that one of the suicide bombers who attacked an African Union base last week in Somalia was from the United States, which, if true, would make him the second known American to carry out a suicide attack."

Dallas plot 'foiled'

The Dallas Morning News, FBI: Bomb plot targeting Dallas skyscraper foiled, 25 Sep 09 "An undercover FBI agent monitoring an online extremist Web site discovered Hosam Maher Husein Smadi espousing jihad against the U.S. more than six months ago.

"As more undercover Arabic-speaking agents engaged him, Smadi, living illegally in the U.S. in the small town of Italy, about 45 miles south of Dallas, pledged allegiance to Osama bin Laden and expressed a desire to kill Americans, authorities said.

"In conversations with agents posing as members of an al-Qaeda sleeper cell, Smadi said he came to the U.S. to wage jihad, or holy war. He told agents he wanted to target military recruitment centers, but eventually settled on financial institutions."

Also see CNN, Online chats led to Texas terror suspect's arrest " Smadi said many times that he wanted to commit violent jihad and he was a soldier of Osama bin Laden, the affidavit says.

"Undercover agents tried to get Smadi to "re-evaluate his interpretation of jihad," saying there were nonviolent ways to commit the act. But "Smadi again communicated his continuing commitment for violent jihad," the affidavit says."

Najibullah Zazi

wsj.com, Colorado Man Is Charged in U.S. Bomb Probe, 25 Sep 09, "Mr. Zazi, who is a legal permanent resident in the U.S., allegedly had recipes for the explosives in his laptop that were emailed to accounts that he controlled while he was still in Pakistan."

msnbc.com, Feds: Suspect hit beauty shops for bomb items: Afghan immigrant bought large quantities of chemicals, authorities charge, 25 Sep 09 "Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old shuttle driver at the Denver airport, was indicted in New York on charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. Investigators said they found bomb-making instructions on his computer's hard drive and said Zazi used a hotel room in Colorado to try to cook up explosives a few weeks ago before a trip to New York."

'Laptop burka' dropped

Kristine Servando, abs-cbnNEWS.com/Newsbreak, Laptop burka 'pulled out' after online jeers "The creator of the "Laptop Burka" - a sheet that protects laptops from glare - has "pulled the plug" on the product after it received bad reviews all over the internet ...

"The $16.95 (about P800) contraption, made of lightweight blue fabric that is meant to be draped over one's head like a tent, was hailed by many gadget reviewers as "one of the most useless products ever.""

Charlie Sorrell, Wired, Laptop Burka: Tasteless, Useless, Glare-Less "Not only is the name in very questionable taste, but the product itself seems useless to anyone with access to a laundry closet. The Laptop Burka is a sheet of “breathable, lightweight fabric” which you drape over both yourself and your computer to cocoon the pair of you in a glare-free, psychologically separate space."

Not quite sure how serious this 'product' was. See Chris Matyszczyk, cnet.com, Introducing the nondenominational Laptop Burka Also iPhone Savior, Laptop Burka: The First Geek Tent For MacBook Zombies

Alas, the CraigsList posting for this item is now down.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Al Qaeda’s Media War"

Ali Sharaya, Asharq Alawsat, Al Qaeda’s Media War: From Fax to Facebook and Twitter, 21 Sep 09 "Dr. Saud Katib, Professor of Media and Technology at King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah described Al Qaeda's current media role as being far greater than its actual military role, particularly due to the technology available on the internet, which has opened up the possibility of establishing television and radio stations that can broadcast to the entire world from any place. The third generation of mobile phones also offers Al Qaeda a direct means of communication, in addition to the possibility of sending audio and video material to others. This is something that is clearly evident in the video recordings [currently] being produced by As-Sahab." Overview.

Syrian blogger imprisoned

Diana Mukkaled, Asharq Alawsat, The Shoe and the Nation’s Morale, 19 Sep 09 "Just a few days ago the Supreme Court in Damascus sentenced young Syrian blogger Karim Arbaji to three years in prison for “spreading false news that weakens the nation’s morale,” according to the legal text of the conviction.

"Those who managed to read news of this ruling against Arbaji in a newspaper (if it was even published) would have noticed that this coincided with another news event, and in this case this coincidence is significant. The other news event was related to the owner of the world’s most famous shoes; Iraqi journalist Muntazer al Zaidi, who served nine months of his prison sentence after his three-year sentence was commuted to just one year."

Libyan Islamic Fighting Group

Jarret Brachman, Why the LIFG’s Revisions are Falling on Our Deaf Ears, Sep 21, 2009 "Today’s blog is a plea to my readers who are in positions to influence counterterrorism policy with regard to al-Qaida. For once, the Libyans are doing something right and everyone else is standing around staring at their shoes. In short, this is the most significant development in the war on terror this year and, well, nobody knows – and if they know – they don’t seem to care. Not only does it matter that the senior leaders of an organization formerly in bed with al-Qaida are now renouncing al-Qaida, but the biggest story here is this:

"ABU YAHYA AL-LIBI’S OLDER BROTHER, ABU IDRIS, IS AMONG THE SIGNATORIES ON THE LIFG’S REVISIONS. IN OTHER WORDS, THERE IS AN “OLDER BROTHER SCOLDS YOUNGER BROTHER” STORY HERE THAT IS BEING TOTALLY MISSED. THIS ISN’T INFO-OPS – IT’S REAL LIFE." [that's Dr Brachman's emphasis!].

This is a useful post, which provides background detail on an issue that is somewhat underreported (greater attention being given to Harrach (below). It also points to other related articles, including Thomas Hegghammer, Libyan Jihad Revisions [which itself points to kitab al-dirasat al-tashihiyya, “the Book of Correctional Studies”, being published on oealibya.com]. Clearly, it needs some further detailed analysis.

"Al-Qaida Threatens Terror Attacks in Germany after Election"



Yassin Musharbash, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark, Spiegel, Al-Qaida Threatens Terror Attacks in Germany after Election, 18 Sep 09 "In a new video message, the terrorist network al-Qaida has warned of attacks in Germany during the two weeks after the Sept. 27 election, if there are no signals of a withdrawal of German troops from Afghanistan. Authorities are taking the threat seriously and have raised the level of security precautions.

"If the sender of the video released on Friday afternoon was not in all likelihood al-Qaida, it would be difficult to take it seriously: The speaker has dressed for the occasion in an atypical style, in a black suit and blue tie. Standing in front of a red curtain, the Islamist Bekkay Harrach, who is originally from the German city of Bonn, utters his threats. Nothing in the video is reminiscent of the style of previous publications of this kind."

A significant point.

This has been picked up elsewhere:

ABC News, Well-Dressed and Ready to Kill; Face of Terror in Suit and Tie, 21 Sep 09 ""The overt traditional garb and long beard is going to raise a red flag. They are adapting to us reacting, investigating, and prosecuting," said Brad Garrett, former FBI who was involved with terrorism-related investigations for years and is now an ABC News consultant."

Read Jarret Brachman, Bekkay Harrach: Al-Qaida’s Epistemological Ambassador, 19 Sep 09, which looks further into the background of Harrach (who has featured in other videos, although this is the first time in a suit) and makes some interesting points. "What we have here is the most explicit trans-epistemological appeal to Western Muslims from a Western-rooted al-Qaida individual dressed like a Western circus ringmaster (I dont think that’s the image they were shooting for).

"It is their attempt to look, smell, sound and talk like youth in the West albeit they exist on a fundamentally different epistemological plane. He is al-Qaida’s epistemological ambassador."

German 'jihadists'

Yassin Musharbash and Holger Stark, Spiegel, Islamists in Pakistan Recruit Entire Families from Europe, 21 Sep 09 "The latest recruitment video from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) is a half-hour in length and is addressed to our "beloved" brothers and sisters back in Germany. The video is presented by, among others, Mounir Chouka, alias "Abu Adam," who grew up in the western German city of Bonn.

"The video shows shacks erected against a backdrop of lush greenery and craggy rock formations. Women wearing blue burqas are seen surrounded by their children. One small girl is holding an artillery gun."

Monday, September 21, 2009

"Eid Mubarak"

Just a few of the many reports available online:



Twitter #eid

Film report on PressTV [scroll down for 'Muslims in Britain celebrate Eid al-Fitr']

Daily Times, Editorial: Eid discord attains another peak, 21 Sep 09 "Predictably, Eid has caused a split among the clerical community in Pakistan again, but this year a dangerous political element has been added to it. The ulema of Peshawar have celebrated Eid on Sunday while the rest of the country was fasting, an event looked upon with great distaste by Muslims all over the world. In fact the belief is that on Eid only Satan keeps the fast. The NWFP government joined its ulema in making the rest of the country look like the followers of Satan."

Pakistan Observer, Goodbye Ramadhan, welcome Eid!

Egypt and the net

Joseph Mayton, Bikya Masr, Egypt: Web development on the ups, 21 Sep 09

"Officials admit that e-commerce and Internet activity is low for a nation of Egypt’s size. According to the ministry of communication and technology, of that 8.3 percent, 53 percent of the users reside in the capital Cairo, and another 32 percent live in the northern Delta region, which has left much of Upper Egypt disconnected."

'Quds Day' protests in Iran

Plenty of coverage on this. Here's a brief round-up, based on net-themed elements:

CNN, Protesters chant 'death to dictator' at annual Tehran rally, 18 Sep 09

Times Online has a slideshow on the protests. There's a helpful and comprehensive report from Martin Fletcher, Times Online, Ahmadinejad faces test of strength as fresh protests sweep Iran, 19 Sep 09 "Car drivers stuck in the gridlock sounded their horns and turned on their headlights to show support. Protests were also reported in Isfahan, Shiraz, Tabriz, Qum, Rasht and other cities. Within hours the internet was flooded with video clips showing jubilant crowds applauding, singing and holding their arms aloft to form a sea of V-for-victory signs. Witnesses said that they chanted “Rape and torture will not stop us” and “Liar, liar, where is your 63 per cent?” — a reference to Mr Ahmadinejad’s alleged share of June’s vote."

Twitter's #IranElection feed also has plenty of information



[taken from azarmehr, Compilation of Qods Day Protests that Became Iran Day]



meedan, Opposition protests and arrests as Iran marks Quds Day, "These were the first opposition street protests since the mass demonstrations over the disputed the June elections. According to reports former President Mohamad Khatami, a prominent pro-reform cleric and opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi were attacked and some hardliners called for the arrest of those in defiance of the government."

Voices4Iran "Join us in New York City on September 22-24 as we raise our Voices for Iran and demand Ahmadinejad be held accountable for crimes against the Iranian people. We aim to have in one location the biggest international action ever in support of Iranian rights."


View Quds day, 18 September 2009 in a larger map

Couldn't find anything on PressTV, although there are several articles on other aspects of Quds Day internationally ...

Op-ed on YouTube removal of videos

opednews.com, Zionists pressure YouTube over removal of pro-Islamic Videos, Diary Entry by Ammaar ibn Walid "The videos I'm mentioning here aren't sensitive videos. They are videos that I found out -only today- that have been removed. The only possible reason behind their removal is because the Zionists didn't like it.

"The videos were parts of a BBC documentary about the Islamic History of Europe. The videos gave historical information -which happened centuries ago- in some countries in Europe that were once Muslim countries. It's important to mention that the accounts that uploaded such videos have been suspended."

Friday, September 18, 2009

Facebook and the Golan Heights

Telegraph, Facebook faces Arab boycott for putting the Golan Heights in Israel, 16 Sep 09 "Facebook incensed the Syrian government after it succumbed to a campaign of pressure mounted by Jewish settlers in the Golan and a pro-Israel lobby group to change the designation of the contested region."

Google search

meedan.net, Double-digit growth for Google search ads in the Arab world, 18 Sep 09

"Search advertising for the global internet giant Google has witnessed a double-digit growth in the Arab world recently despite reports of a decline worldwide, according to the search engine’s business manager."

Jordanian blogging

meedan.net, Jordanian bloggers get new "Blogging Manual", 18 Sep 09

"The Amman-based Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists (CDFJ) has issued a new manual aimed at helping Jordanian bloggers achieve a more journalistic style in their blogs."

Smart Phones for Ka`bah

Mustafa Abu Amsha, Islam Online, Smart Phones for Ka`bah, 17 Sep 09 "For millions of pilgrims who visit the holy sites in Saudi Arabia, the ultimate prize of the day is to get the closest to the Ka`bah and be able to hear the heavenly recitation of the Quran by the imam of Al Masjid al-Haram.

"But thanks to modern technology, every pilgrim, even those praying hundreds of meters away from the mosque itself, are enjoying the same through new start-of-the-art sound phones.

"“When you are some three hundred meters away from the imam, it’s very hard to hear the voice and follow him in the prayer,” Sheikh Mansour Al-Amer, manager of Hajj and `Umrah Gifts Foundation, told IslamOnline.net."

Amr Khaled > Gummah > Islamic resources

AKI, Egypt: Muslim televangelist uses Youtube to reach the young, "The video-sharing website Youtube is believed to be having a tremendous influence on young Muslims. Egyptian Muslim televangelist and self-professed inspirational speaker Amr Khaled is believed to be among those transforming the popularity of the site."

This article also refers to Gummah:

"Recently, the popular search engine Google had an Islamic variant called Gummah, the name being a play of words "Google" plus the word "Ummah", referring to the Islamic community or nation.

"A search using the word 'sex' in Gummah, takes you to a screen warning: "You may be searching for something that may be contradictory to Islamic laws. Our philosophy is Search-No-Evil, therefore we warn you that bad results may be displayed.""



The search-engine is effective; a search-box from Gummah can be added to sites. There's also a useful news section.

Gummah led me to a couple of other sites of interest:



lilummah offers (according to their blurb) a "parent powered" site:

* "Big collection of videos for kids
* Ability to create your own continuously playing collection
* Add videos from youtube, rate, comment and share them.
* Totally Free and Safe for your kids, all videos are reviewed."

Nice idea. There's a set of clips showing children responding to or reciting the Qur'an. For example, "little child listen to quran" sets the tone. Technically, this has some useful ideas, including the "lights out" on the videos.



Gummah also led me to the beta of Ummah24. "Ummah24 is a communication tool for Muslims to express themselves and share news 140 characters at a time. Sounds like Twitter? Oh yeah! but its for the Ummah." The 140 character challenge is always a difficult one ...

Dubai charity websites

Ibarhim Haj Hamad, khaleejtimes.com, Charities on Internet Are Illegal, Say Authorities, 18 Sep 2009 "Even as organising charity proliferates on the internet during the holy month of Ramadan, charity department officials say the modern-day technique is illegal.

"Only 13 charity organisations that fall under the Islamic Affairs and Charity Activities Department are authorised to receive donations within Dubai. Among them are the Red Crescent, Al Shifa Charity Est, the Dubai Charity Association, said Ali Al Mansoori, Director of the Charity Activities Department."

Iraq sites + Ramadan

A couple of sites that I located via qantara.de (below) which are worthy of investigation:

iraqiscope.org "Iraqi Films, Video Clips and Stories online" - could do with some more recent content.

niqash.org "briefings from inside and across Iraq", includes Muhammed Abdullah, Ramadan brings out needy, 10 Sep 09. "Eleven-year-old Abdul el-Basit is one of the thousands of children now wandering the streets of Baquba, in Diyala province, begging for food and money ...

" ... Sheikh Assaf al-Dulaimi, a preacher at the Nour mosque and an activist on issues related to orphans, agreed that “political blocs take advantage of the conditions of orphans and widows… they buy their votes while they ignoring their suffering.”

"While Ramadan can be a good month for the needy, it also brings other difficulties making them even more dependent on the kindness of strangers. Most significantly, food prices increase by about 15 percent during the fasting month.

"Some mosques have issued fatwas against merchants who raise their prices, but this has had little effect on the steep inflation. Al-Dulaimi said that he warns merchants and importers against raising the prices during Ramadan in solidarity with the poor."

Op-ed on Hamas

Henrik Meyer and Michael Bröning, ip-global.org, Understanding Hamas

Publication from the German Council on Foreign Relations, which caught my attention. Non-tech, but I do write about Hamas in iMuslims:

"Hamas is a central player in the Middle East conflict. The war in the Gaza Strip earlier this year underscored the difficulty that Western observers have grasping its complexity. All too often, Hamas is seen as a static, dogmatic, militant phenomenon. In fact, it is slowly transforming into a pragmatic actor that the West can engage with." Discuss.

German "programmes for former Islamists"

The new edition of qantara.de is out now. Among several interesting articles, there's Albrecht Metzger, qantara.de, Helping People Opt Out of Militant Islamism: Employing Beelzebub to Drive out the Devil? "Germany plans to introduce in the medium term support programmes for Islamists who would like to turn their back on extremism, similar to the ones that already exist for right-wing extremists. But how effective could such programmes be and would Islamists be drawn to them?"

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Iran: arrests

iranpresswatch.org, IHRDC Releases Witness Statements by Bloggers and Cyber-Journalists, 16 Sep 09 "The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center (IHRDC) today [14 Sep] published witness statements by three Iranian bloggers and cyber-journalists who were arrested and detained by the Iranian government in 2004 and 2005. The witness statements are the results of interviews conducted by IHRDC staff in 2008 and 2009."

See IHRDC, Forced Confessions: Targeting Iran's Cyber-Journalists

'South Asian Cyber War Threat'

Strategy Page, The South Asian Cyber War Threat, 16 Sep 09 "Pakistan and India are upgrading their Cyber War capabilities, partly by calling on allies for help. India has become a big customer of Israeli military equipment, and this now includes assistance in protecting themselves from Cyber War threats, especially from Pakistan. Meanwhile, Pakistan has found China to be a useful source of Cyber War technology. While Israel has some of the best Internet engineers on the planet, China has a reputation for aggressively and shamelessly using Cyber War techniques for espionage and stealing industrial secrets."

Muslim women in comic books

altmuslimah.com, Female, Muslim and Mutant: Muslim women in comic books, 5 Aug 09 "Naif Al-Mutawa's The 99 offers us arguably the best depictions of Muslim female characters to have ever appeared in comic books. One would hope that its realistic portrayals of Muslim women will help inspire more positive depictions of women in mainstream comic books."

OK, so this is non-tech in nature (although you can read The 99 online), but I thought this was an interesting piece that would appeal to readers of this blog (some of whom may peruse comic books from time to time!).

Noordin Muhammed Top

todayonline.com, Terrorism mastermind Noordin Top dead: Police, 17 Sep 09

"Noordin Muhammed Top, a regional terrorism mastermind who eluded capture for nine years and is blamed for a string of deadly attacks in Indonesia, was killed during a raid in central Indonesia, the police chief said today."

Facebook Lite

gulfnews.com, Facebook Lite available to Middle East users, 13 Sep 09, "A preview of Facebook's new stripped-down version of its popular social networking website is now available to the Middle East users and is known as Facebook Lite."

'Website closes down for prayer'

Hassna'a Mokhtar, Arab News, Website closes down for prayer, 15 Sep 09 "While the debate on stopping all commercial activity during prayer times continues, one local online newspaper in Hail province has decided to advocate for this pause by taking down its site for 20 minutes, five times a day.

"If visitors to Aen Hail (“Hail’s Eye” at http://aenhail.com) visit the site during prayers, they be met with a message “Closed for Prayer” in Arabic along with a countdown to the end of the prayer break at the bottom of the page."

There's a selection of interesting views on this story; presumably no allowance is made for time-zone shifts. Will it be a precedent for other sites?

Musical Interlude

Ted Swedenburg, hawgblawg, Even more on The Kominas + Pakistan Rock, 16 Sep 09 significant in terms of the ways in which various musicians have applied the net to promote their work, examples of which can be seen in this blog posting.

On a related theme, there's also a good piece on Y.A.S. 'Arabology' [their MySpace page has more info]. Also see the WSJ, When Arabic Met Pop

Oussama Kassir case

AP, Lebanese-born Swede gets life for terror camp plot, 16 Sep 09 "At trial, prosecutors argued that Kassir tried to set up a weapons-training post in Oregon so al-Qaida could take advantage of relaxed U.S. gun laws and train European recruits for Islamic militancy.

"Prosecutors also said Kassir distributed manuals over the Internet that trained militants on how to make bombs, poison people and slit throats."

ImHalal

Times Online, Islamic search engine ImHalal hailed a success, 17 Sep 09 "The world’s first "Islamic orientated" internet search engine, which flags content that might be considered "haraam" – or forbidden – by Muslims, has been hailed a success by its creators after it attracted more than 500,000 users in its first two weeks on the web."

Previously blogged: ImHalal

Iran: Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani

LA Times, Powerful Iranian cleric barred from delivering Quds Day prayers, 16 Sep 09 "Supporters of Mousavi's Green Path of Hope movement responded defiantly to the news that Rafsanjani had been pushed aside, calling on demonstrators to take to the streets anyway while boycotting the prayer sermon after the rally.

""They kept Ayatollah Hashemi Rafsanjani from leading this week's Friday Prayers clearly out of fear," said a statement posted at the reformist website Mowjcamp.com. "This badly thought-out gesture will certainly elicit an appropriate response from the understanding and green-thinking nation of Iran.""

'Lost' in Iran

Guardian, TV drama gains Islamic approval as 'Lost-mania' grips Iran, 13 Sep 09 "The move follows an outbreak of what has been described as "Lost-mania", which has seen the ABC-produced series downloaded from the internet and widely discussed on Iranian websites. Large numbers of Farsi-subtitled DVDs have been sold illegally in shops."

Ramadan

muslimmatters.org, [Conclusion] Ramadan Duaa Series: Seeking the Forgiveness of Allah

Intellectual Property

meedan, The Arab League and Microsoft launch the first Arab website for Intellectual Property, "The Arab League of States, in collaboration with Microsoft Corporation, launched the first website in Arabic Language concerned with Intellectual Property rights on the legal side."

Also see Arab Intellectual Property Center

Ali Gomaa

meedan, Egypt: Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa declares participation in Hajj could be "haram" due to swine flu risk, "Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa, Egypt's most senior Islamic authority, today declared that due to the risks posed by swine flu making the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca was legally "haram" or "banned". The decision will be seen as hugely controversial in Egypt and abroad, as Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam." Non-tech

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arabic e-books

startuparabia.com, Kotob Arabia Bets On Mobile Fueling Arab e-Book Revolution "Kotob Arabia, a Cairo-based online publisher of more than 4,000 Arabic e-books, and its founder and director Ramy Habeeb, foresee that mobile phones’ deep market penetration in the region, combined with the most popular e-book readers’ high price tags and inability to read Arabic’s right-to-left script, make the mobile phone a platform of choice for any coming e-book revolution in the Arab world."

See kotobarabia.com for more on this. There are several pages of 'Islam' related titles.

'Jihadi Cyberbattle' +

There's plenty of interest in jihadica.com (as always), so I can only highlight a couple of things here.

Thomas Hegghammer has picked up on Annual Jihadi Cyberbattle Sees Return of Ikhlas "Like last year, this year’s 9/11 anniversary is the occasion of a major cyberbattle over jihadi forums. At least three of the top jihadi discussion forums - Faloja, Shouraa, Shumukh - have been down for the past couple of days, and I bet my left arm they have been hacked for the occasion. Other big forums such as Ana Muslim and Ansar were reportedly down for a while (though I didn’t see it and they are back up again now). Minor forums such as Tamkin, Madad al-Suyuf and al-Tahaddi seem to have been untouched."

Dr Hegghammer has put the URLs in for these fora (some are non-functional), if you want to follow-up further.

There's also a Jean-Pierre Filiu piece, on Calendars "So we all managed to survive a new celebration of 9/11. But why should Al-Qaida commemorate 9/11 in the first place? I am not referring to the heavy debates that raged among its leadership about the strategic relevance of striking US territory and that Vahid Brown documented in his landmark study Cracks in the foundation. I am talking about the very un-Islamic way Bin Laden’s network focuses on the number 11 and sticks to the Gregorian calendar." Discuss...

Osama bin Laden recording + implications/analysis



VOA, New Bin Laden Tape Calls Obama Powerless to Stop Afghanistan War, 14 Sep 09 "The latest audio recording, attributed to Bin Laden, again attempts to justify al-Qaeda's September 11, 2001, terror attack on the United States as being part of the group's quest for the liberation of Palestine.

"The tape was provided by an American-based firm, IntelCenter, which monitors terrorist propaganda. It says the 11-minute video shows a still picture of bin Laden while audio of the address plays."

Times Online, Osama bin Laden’s tired ravings go on. But who is listening?, 15 Sep 09 "There was a time when a videotape of his rantings was a sensation. In the first two years after 9/11, his calls for global jihad inspired frustrated followers across the Muslim world and taunted the Bush Administration for its failure to find him. Intelligence agents scrutinised the rocky backdrop to his videotaped rantings on al-Jazeera for clues to his whereabouts. Governments agonised over his continuing malign hold over al-Qaeda’s global franchise.

"Few now care. The message has become repetitive..."

Available through the usual channels.

Also see The Lede (NYT), Bin Laden’s Reading List for Americans "While Oprah’s seal of approval on a book cover is sought after in America, Osama Bin Laden’s is, to put it mildly, not. On Monday, the authors of three books apparently recommended to American readers by the leader of Al Qaeda in his latest communique might be wondering how one goes about returning an unsolicited endorsement to a shadowy militant who has been in hiding for eight years."

This refers to Jarret Brachman's article for Foreign Policy, The Next Osama "Much ofal Qaeda's evolution over the last eight years is embodied in one man, SheikhAbu Yahya al-Libi, director of al Qaeda's jurisprudence committee and a likely successorto Osama bin Laden. Young, media-savvy, ideologically extreme, and masterful atjustifying savage acts of terrorism with esoteric religious arguments, AbuYahya offers the global al Qaeda movement everything that its old guard cannot."

"How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays"

Afif Sarhan and Jason Burke, The Observer, How Islamist gangs use internet to track, torture and kill Iraqi gays, 13 Sep 09 "Sitting on the floor, wearing traditional Islamic clothes and holding an old notebook, Abu Hamizi, 22, spends at least six hours a day searching internet chatrooms linked to gay websites. He is not looking for new friends, but for victims.

""It is the easiest way to find those people who are destroying Islam and who want to dirty the reputation we took centuries to build up," he said. When he finds them, Hamizi arranges for them to be attacked and sometimes killed."

Iran 'Internet plot'

Press TV/Tehran Times, Fresh Iran hearing focuses on 'Internet plot', 15 Sep 09 "Tehran's Deputy Prosecutor, Ali-Ahmad Akbari, started reading out a “general indictment”, which centered on the argument that Washington was spreading false information about Iran through the internet.

“Since the beginning, the Islamic Revolution has faced all kinds of media schemes orchestrated by its enemies. Internal and foreign enemies have always tried to create a psychological war against the Islamic Republic by spreading rumors,” said Akbari.

"""During Iran's post-vote developments, internet was used as an effective tool to organize illegal gatherings and to spread false information.""

"“New technologies and ways of communication have impacted human life and today the internet can be used as a new form of threat,” he said.

"“Social networks, such as Facebook, have been able to attract over 200 million users. The U.S. has identified these networks and established a link between them and hostile movements,” he added."

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Airline bomb plot

There are many stories on the airline bomb plot, so the focus here is on the IT elements, including coverage of the videos, and the use of email. More is no doubt to follow:

Guardian, Airline bomb plotters case threatened by US fears, 8 Sep 09, "In his suicide video Ali says that warnings from the al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden to the west to leave Muslims alone had been ignored. The themes in his rhetoric chimed with those from other al-Qaida videos, notably Bin Laden's "foreign lands" speech, and also the video suicide note left by the 7 July bomber Mohammed Siddique Khan."

BBC News, Airline plot: Al-Qaeda connection, 8 Sep 09

BBC News, Three men guilty of bomb plot, 8 Sep 09

Telegraph, Airline bomb plot: investigation 'one of biggest since WW2', 8 Sep 09 "During Operation Overt, as the investigation was codenamed, the security services had listened to bugged conversations in which the suspects discussed how to smuggle bomb components on board aircraft, taking “babies” with them to allay suspicion and recruiting 19 bombers to emulate the 9/11 “martyrs”.

"They were also overheard making suicide videos in which they promised death would “rain” from the skies and used coded emails to organize the purchase of bomb ingredients, in which one key component, hydrogen peroxide, was referred to as “aftershave”."

Independent, Police watched the plot unfold, then pounced, 8 Sep 09, " ... what looked like email trivia was one of dozens of coded updates sent by Sarwar, a restaurant delivery driver and the quartermaster of the liquid bombs plot, to the overseas jihadist masterminds of the conspiracy to cause carnage on an "unprecedented scale" in the skies above North America and the mid-Atlantic."

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh

AFP, Afghan 'blasphemy' journalist freed after Karzai pardon, 7 Sep 09 "An Afghan journalist imprisoned for 20 years for blasphemy for downloading an Internet article about women's rights and Islam has been released, an international media rights group said Monday."

Ramadan phone deals

alarabiya.net, Egypt warns mobile operators on Ramadan deals, 8 Sep 09 "Egypt is threatening to punish mobile phone operators with a freeze on new customer lines if they keep prices lower after the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, newspapers reported on Tuesday."

'iMuslim' phone

AME Info, Sony Ericsson launches iMuslim T700 and C510 phones "The new function provides users with an innovative approach to stay up-to-date with the latest Islamic news, perform daily prayers and much more."

Twitter in Dubai

The National, Tweeters to meet in real world and help charities at Twestival, 7 Sep 09, "Twitter users will be going offline and meeting in the real world at the weekend when the capital and Dubai host twin festivals in aid of local charities." Let's hope the shock of the real world will not be too much for some...

'Internet Vital to Reforming Islam'

Tawfiq Hamid, Newsmax, Internet Vital to Reforming Islam, 4 Sep 09 "The Internet can certainly be used by the radicals to promote radical views. However, the net outcome of using the Internet is more likely to be positive than negative as it overcomes most, if not all, of the obstacles of reformation in Islam that existed. Using the Internet to promote reformation and modernity within Islam rather than extremism is our next challenge and goal to modernize the Muslim world. This form of e-reformation can change the future of our world and can determine the future of Islam."

Author details: Tawfiq Hamid

Friday, September 04, 2009

Yahoo! and Maktoob

huffingtonpost.com, Faisal Ghori, Building Hope: What Yahoo!'s Acquisition of Maktoob.com Means, 2 Sep 09 "Hope is often in short supply in the Middle East, but that may be quickly changing, at least for the region's entrepreneurs. On August 25, Yahoo!, the Internet giant, announced that it will acquire Maktoob.com, the Middle East's largest web portal and online community founded and operated in Jordan. As the very first acquisition of a Middle East-based technology company by an American technology giant, this is nothing short of a sea change for the region. Overnight it has bolstered the region with instant credibility and given its entrepreneurs reason to hope that they too can succeed in creating companies. The acquisition, in short, has fundamentally altered the technology landscape in the Middle East." Opinion piece.

Freej


Brian Stelter, NYT, Dubai Superheroes: Little Old Grannies Who Wear Veils, 2 Sep 09 "This month the three-minute spinoff episodes, titled “Freej: Book of Riddles,” have the grandmas under a curse after buying a dusty book at a souk. Each chapter of the book includes a puzzle, which viewers can try to solve by text-messaging answers to the television network."

See the Official Freej site

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Iran games development

Just picked this up - so the exhibition has passed, but it is still an interesting story:

Meedan, Iranian gamers head to Europe to promote Tehran’s developers, "Officials from Iran’s national computer games organisation presented their products to the West for the first time at a convention in Germany last week – and they hope their games will soon be on the market across Europe."

Also see Press TV, Iranian games showcased at gamescom, 22 Aug 09 "Titles produced by Iranian videogames companies include an Iran-Iraq war tank shooter, a platform adventure set in Persia, an adventure game where you play the role of a girl called Sara, a young student caught up in events during the early stages of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and a role-playing game based on Iranian mythology called the Age of the Braves."

Ramadan in Second Life

Meedan, Muslim preachers take Ramadan message into Second Life, "Muslim preachers have taken their Ramadan message into a new realm this year - on the virtual world "Second Life"."

Well, it's not exactly new (see iMuslims on this and on Islam Online's involvement in Second Life), but it is interesting to see participation on this scale.

Islam Online have produced a great Ramadan tent this year (spending their Linden dollars wisely). You can see a slideshow of the tent here. There's a related article here: Islam Online, Ramadan in IOL Second Life Tent

There's also an informative article by Aldric Chang: media-freaks.com, Ramadan Sessions in Second Life, 18 Aug 09 "Explaining this move, Sheikh Ahmad Al-Ghamdi describes the phenomenon of the new media: “The objective of this lecture is to remind the youth exploring Second Life about the fires and winds of the blessed Ramadan,” Al-Ghamdi said, “and how they can use this month to obey and worship, strengthening the conviction that Islam is the religion of integrity and perfection.”"

I also liked It's Maddie the Hijabi, Islam in Virtual Worlds, which is illustrated with several SL screen shots.

"I started using Second Life last year and found out about this virtual sim (virtual island or place in there) made and owned by IslamOnline.net . I discovered a hidden gem that most people don't know about!"

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Pakistan: rock music

The impact of the net on popular culture - especially music - in Muslim contexts cannot be underestimated, as this piece helpfully demonstrates:

Guardian, Never mind the Taliban – Pakistan's youth put their faith in rock'n'roll, 1 Sep 09 "Even in a summer of Taliban violence young Pakistanis are rocking on. An underground music scene is quietly thriving in the country's major cities, nourished by the internet and the passion of mostly amateur bands."

Useful article, complete with links to various groups - the internet plays an important part in distributing this music. Here's a sample by co-VEN ["Ready to Die (Live in Lahore)"] that I picked up on YouTube, showing they can certainly rock:



There's also Jiggernaut's "Bumbu Sauce", which reminds me of several other bands too - the video just has the lyrics:

Qur'an resources

Muslim Matters, The best online resources about the Qur’an, 31 Aug 09 Review article, with some useful suggestions. I write about this in iMuslims

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Saudi Arabia: Web Regulation

A couple of useful posts from Saudi Jeans:

Saudi Jeans, Wrong Side, 30 Aug 09
"I don’t see why anyone thinking of starting a website would want to ask for a license, or wait for the ministry to approve their editors. I guess the fact that the owners of these news websites have agreed to be under the supervision of the ministry says something about their understanding of press freedom and the so-called “professional integrity.”"


Saudi Jeans, The Alternative, 1 Sept 09
"If you think SaudiFlager is not such a bad idea, brace yourself for this: NaqaTube, a website from Saudi Arabia that aims to offer a clean alternative to YouTube, preventing the youth from watching profane or sexually explicit video clips online."

I don't imagine the take-up for NaqaTube will rival YouTube.

Amr Khaled

Bikya Masr, Egypt: Telepreacher Amr Khaled under threat over alleged Jewish sympathy, 1 Sept 09 "Egypt’s leading television preacher Amr Khaled finds himself once again facing controversy after discussing the story of Moses and alleging the ancient Egyptian Pharaoh’s killed male Jews during this period in history. The telepreacher’s controversial story was part of his “Stories of the Qur’an” series that has been airing since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan."

al-Azhar hacked

Bikya Masr, Egypt: Al-Azhar website hacked, 30 Aug 09 "The prominent Sunni Muslim religious institution has become Egypt’s latest Internet victim after it was hacked early Sunday morning. Visitors to the website seeking information on Islam were surprised by the new homepage created by the hackers, who had replaced the original site with a new network that posted the name “sovalye-starturk” in its place."

Egypt and the net

Joseph Mayton, bikyamasr, There has always been religious pluralism in Egypt, 31 Aug 09, "With the rise of the Internet age in Egypt, the young generation has been able to enter the public’s sphere quicker and have their ideas heard by a wider audience. Undoubtedly, this has helped allow newspapers to do the same. The security forces are only able to harass and detain a limited number of individuals.

"Who has been the most outspoken Internet activists? The young generation of the so-called conservative Muslim Brotherhood. Yes, that is right. Reformist bloggers within the movement have begun to speak out against the influence of Saudi-style Islam, demanding that religious tolerance exist, Copts have more rights and that religion be removed from the government’s guise. While they are by no means the majority of the movement at this point, they are out there and making their voices heard."

"Takeaway Fatwas"

Fatima Sidiya, Arab News, Opinion divided on TV, online fatwa services, 1 Sept 09, "Abdullah Manna, a Saudi writer, has coined a phrase to describe fatwas delivered through such modern means — “Takeaway Fatwas”. Manna said that Q&A programs on satellite channels have lost their educational and religious purpose and become business instead. He added that these modern means of communication provide sheikhs with a platform to compete with each other and increase their popularity."

Overview. Some interesting points, especially about how these sites and services generate income.

Mohammad Ali Abtahi

New Yorker, The Iran Show, 31 Aug 09 "This month, a number of the accused have made videotaped confessions. But the spectacle has found a subversive afterlife on the Internet. One image that has gone viral is a split frame showing two photographs of former Vice-President Mohammad Ali Abtahi. Before his arrest, on June 16th, he is a rotund, smiling cleric; in court on August 1st, he is drawn and sweat-soaked, his face a mask of apprehension. The juxtaposition belies the courtroom video, making the point that the only genuine thing about Abtahi’s confession is that it was coerced through torture."

Islamic Search Engine: ImHalal

TG Daily, Islamic search engine hits the web, 1 Sept 09, "Launched by AZS Media, ImHalal.com only returns results that are deemed to be Halal. The search engine uses 'various techniques' to determine which results are Halal (acceptable) or Haraam (forbidden). If a user stumbles across content of an unsuitable nature, the search engine will 'return a negative search advice'."

Not the first Islamic search engine to come along, but an interesting initiative. Test this for yourself here: ImHalal. I just had a quick test of it, and - while there are a few glitches - it seems to work well-enough and quickly. No doubt extra elements will be pulled in in due course. I liked the clarity of the interface. No adverts at present, and I'm not complaining(!) but I'm curious how they plan to make it sustainable economically.

Here's their promo film:

Untitled from AZS Media Group on Vimeo.