Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dawkak tool

Mohamed Marwen Meddah,, Dakwak: A Tool For Website Localization Into 60+ Languages, 29 Jul 2010 "Dakwak is a new startup that was recently launched from Jordan that aims to provide a solution for website localization into 60+ languages."

Cool tool, nice name and logo too!

Indonesia Qur'an translation

AKI/Jakarta Post, Indonesia: Koran translation released for 'reduced radicalism', 29 Jul 2010 - "Indonesia's Religious Affairs Ministry has released a new translation of the Koran in an effort to reduce Islamic radicalism. However, the ministry refused to consider the new translation as state product."

Not sure if this new translation will be going online.

CNN, Judge won't release Virginia man accused of trying to join militants, 26 Jul 2010 "Chesser is accused of posting an online attack against the creators of the animated TV series "South Park," as well as information on explosives meant to be used to kill civilians."

Rap in Gaza

Associated Press, Wary of Islamic Hamas rulers, rappers keep quiet profile in the Gaza Strip, 29 Jul 2010 "Hamas police broke up a show in March that contained a rap act. Police said the event lacked permits, but the rappers took it as a cue to keep their heads down. While underground, the rappers distribute songs on the Internet and perform at events organized by international organizations, which they say keeps authorities at bay."


Ayman al-Zawahiri

Reuters, Qaeda's Zawahri condemns France, Yemen clerics: Web, 27 Jul 2010 "Al Qaeda's No. 2 leader condemned a French move to ban Islamic face veils and urged Yemeni clerics to call for jihad against an alleged U.S. intervention in Yemen, in an Internet message posted on Tuesday."

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Review: iMuslims

Gabriel Weimann, University of Haifa, Book review: iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam, Sociology of Religion, published online on June 17, 2010

"iMuslims, especially combined with Bunt’s previous books, is a detailed, rich, and informative encyclopedia of Islam online. It is based on descriptive analysis and relies on a thorough examination of the contents and formats of online Islam. His study is laudable for breaking ground in an area that is inherently difficult to research due to its scope, complexity, vagueness, and expansiveness."

There are some useful comments in this review as to other directions this research could take, some of which I coincidentally happen to be looking at in preparation for planning my next volume.

"European Courts’ Authority Contested? The Case of Marriage and Divorce Fatwas On-line"

Vit Sisler participated in and helped organise the WOCMES panel I chaired last week. He has advised me of the following article, which I don't think I have linked to before:

Digital Islam, Vit Sisler, European Courts’ Authority Contested? The Case of Marriage and Divorce Fatwas On-line, Masaryk University Journal of Law and Technology , Vol. 3, No. 1, 2009, pp. 51-78. "This article explores Islamic websites providing normative content for European Muslim minorities. It focuses on four distinct Sunni websites and analyzes their fatwas, i.e. legal and religious recommendations issued in matters related to family law. Drawing from a broader research of more than 450 fatwas, this article presents the various ways, in which Muslim authorities associated with these sites deal with the conflicting areas between Islamic law and European legal systems."

I haven't read this one yet.


Anuradha Shukla, TMCnet, Halal-Internet: A new Internet Protection Software, 26 Jul 2010 "To increase visibility of Islam in society, Halal-internet launched a new software program today designed with Muslims in mind. HalalGate, the first Internet filter with parental control features, is exclusively designed for Muslim parents, educators, and business owners to surf the internet freely without running into inappropriate web content that conflicts with essential Islamic beliefs and values.

"This powerful tool is created by Muslims and inspired by the growing need among the Islamic community to minimize degrading cultural variables. It is simple to install and easy to use. HalalGate empowers websurfers by blocking dating sites and webpages featuring gambling, alcohol, and drug usage. It allows the users to block the websites related to terrorism, violence, pornography, or exhibiting any extremist behavior."

For more information, take a look at the Halal-Internet site, which is where the image on the left is taken from. The image below (also from the site) gives an indication of what the interface looks like:

A Premium edition of this product is also planned. According to the product description:

"We eliminate all and every objectionable web sites from our database websites that can content or promote what can be considered as un-Islamic like Pornography, dating, Adult Image, Alcohol, Gambling, Criminal Skills, Alternative Lifestyles, Hate Speech, Match Making, Extreme, Profanity, Substance Abuse, Weapon, mind toxic sites like Myspace, certain Web-blog that promote un-Islamic unlawful criminal un-ethical and immoral behavior. Occult sites , and much much more.
we quarantine any website that promote Al-fuhsha, or Al-munkar, and any fake Islamic site that we come across. websites that are designed by Anonymous non Muslim to spread misinformation and confusion about the true teaching if the Islam." [sic]

Quite how these parameters are decided is unclear. There might be scope for extending this product outside of a Muslim market. I'd like to find out more, and maybe do a product test sometime.

Saudi Arabia

Benjamin Joffe-Walt, Jerusalem Post, Saudi technology guards against women escaping, 25 Jul 2010 "When women’s rights activist Wajiha Al-Huwaidar flew out of Saudi Arabia last week for a holiday in Italy with her family, she was hoping for a brief respite from what she describes as the ‘gender apartheid kingdom.’

"She wasn’t so lucky.

"As she left, her husband received an automated SMS text message from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs informing him that his wife, legally considered his ‘dependant’ under Saudi Arabia’s strict gendered guardianship system, had left the country."

Football shirts

AP/Star Online, Perak Mufti: No plans to ban Man Utd jerseys, 23 Jul 2010 "There are no plans to issue an edict banning Manchester United jerseys in Malaysia despite recent tabloid reports that Muslims have been urged not to wear the Premier League club’s shirts because the emblem features a devil." This subject has been prevalent on social networking sites in Malaysia.

Saudi Arabia

Habib Trabelsi, Middle East Online, Saudi seeks to purge textbooks from ‘hatred’: Ministry of Education introduces amendments in religious programs taught in Saudi schools, 26 Jul 2010 Interesting article, which includes this element relating to the visit of Noura Al-Fayez, Vice-Minister of Education for girl affairs, to King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in 2009: "Sheikh Sulaiman al-Douish, a tenor of Salafism, scolded Fayez for having visited a "male school and sat between men."

""This is a stupid and clumsy act," railed Sheikh Douish, who regards gender mixing absolute evil and sedition, in a long article published on the internet."

Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba

Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, Pakistani students prefer guns to books, 27 Jul 2010 "Contacts in North Waziristan confirm that the large-scale movement of IJT [Islami Jamiat-e-Talaba] members took place earlier this year. The organization responded by expelled all of them. However, these students maintain a very active presence on the Internet, and blogging is their main tool for recruitment."

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani

Azar Nafisi,, Sakineh and Neda, 25 Jul 2010a "Last summer the image of a 23-year-old Iranian girl, named Neda, dominated the media and internet as the world witnessed on the television and internet screens her being shot and killed while participating in a protest against Iran's rigged presidential elections. Over a year later, as we celebrated Neda's life and mourned her death, another very different image caught the world's attention: that of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old mother of two."


AFP, French hostage may have died before raid: PM, 27 Jul 2010 "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) said Sunday it had killed Michel Germaneau, 78, in revenge after French and Mauritanian soldiers killed six of its militants in a raid on one of their camps in Mali last week.

"Some French officials suggested privately then that the aid worker's captors may had already killed him weeks before the raid, and on Tuesday Prime Minister Francois Fillon became the first to do so in public."

Also see Le Monde, 'Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique s'est concentrée par défaut sur le Sahara', 23 Jul 2010 "Jean-Pierre Filiu, professeur au Centre d'études et de recherches internationales (CERI) de Sciences-Po et auteur de l'ouvrage Les Neuf Vies d'Al-Qaida (Fayard, 2009), décrypte le rôle joué par Al-Qaida au Maghreb islamique, organisation à l'origine de l'enlèvement du Français Michel Germaneau."

'The Afghanistan War Logs'

Guardian, Afghanistan: The War Logs "This series of reports on the war in Afghanistan is based on the US military's internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. Read more about the logs and how the Guardian investigated them."

Also see Wikileaks, Der Spiegel, and NYT.

Having just got back from my trip to WOCMES, I haven't had a chance yet to look at these documents in relation to the content of this blog and my general research.

Viral video issue

Daily Star, 'Burka Babe Fury', 27 Jul 2010 "Islamic groups have demanded that a viral version of the ad should be removed from the internet where it has already had millions of viewers."

Friday, July 23, 2010

cnn, Man accused of trying to join Islamist militants appears in court, 22 Jul 2010

"In April, Chesser [Zachary Adam Chesser], who also goes by the name Abu Talhah al Amrikee, authored a post on the radical Islamic website that included a warning to the creators of the TV cartoon series "South Park" after an episode included an image of the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit.

"The posting on says: "We have to warn Matt (Stone) and Trey (Parker) that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.""

Papal visit, Police monitor internet for threats against the Pope during his visit, 21 Jul 2010 "Questions about the Pope’s safety arose last week after a post on the Leicester-based website suggested that Muslims in Birmingham use the opportunity of the papal Mass to protest against the Pope."


Mary Flynn, abcnews, God? There's an App for That: Apps Are Making It Easier to Access Religious Texts, Prayers and Practices From Anywhere, 22 Jul 2010 following on from my presentation on this issue here at WOCMES, here's a related article. "Most Muslims are raised with family members to guide them through the customs, traditions or even how to pray, she said. She has had to make her own way with the help of Internet research (, and she relies heavily on her iPhone apps for reference. Among her collection of apps is an Islamic dictionary, a digital copy of the Quran and another that helps her learn Arabic."

My article on apps should be out online in a couple of weeks.

Hajj registration online in Qatar issues

Gulf News/, Decision to free up Haj registrations in Qatar evokes mixed response, 22 Jul 2010 "According to one Haj operator, the government’s move to centralise the registration system and make it online is imprudent since some applicants could get away with providing false personal information.

"“Another issue is that most of the people going for Haj are old and not familiar with the internet, so they would find it hard to register online,” he said, according to the daily."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Still in Barcelona. I missed the first part of Peripheries Become Centers: New Media Borderlands in the Middle East (chair: Dale Eickelman). I did catch Tsuyoshi Saito discussing “Homelands and Home Pages: Contemporary Amazigh Identity in Southern Morocco”; this is an important but under-represented area of research, so I hope to read more in due course. Then Heather Browne discussed aspects of Facebook in Cairo: there were some important updates on recent events (some of which I have blogged here). Yves Gonzalez-Quijano was the discussant, and provided an informed summary: he has edited a new book on Arabic cyberspace (in French) which I'll be reviewing here soon.

This afternoon, I chaired a session New Media in the Middle East Revisited: Networked Audiences and Digital Communities organized by Vit Sisler. We'd put this together over the past few months. It was a very hot lecture theatre! It was good to hear Jon Anderson on “Networked Audiences". Ho Wai-Yip talked about “Speaking to the Arab Street beyond the Great Fire Wall: China’s Arabic International Channel as a New Silk Road Station”: it included some discussion on al-Qaradawi's visit to China, and its representation on China TV, and some interesting material on the new international media approach of China. Vit gave a paper on “Digital Heroes: Video Games and Identity Construction in Iran”, with some important examples of Iranian computer games industry developments: I think his paper will be published somewhere in due course. I discussed in my paper some new elements of my research, focusing on mobile platforms and apps - my article on apps will be out in a couple of weeks time, I understand, on Cyber Orient. I'm thinking of putting a podcast of my presentation out on this site, probably next week (as I forgot the lead to my recorder - so much for digital immediacy!). It's been useful to find out the levels of interest in cyber-activities in this conference. The place has been very busy.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


As part of a session on Palestine/Internet: On-line Imagination, Activism and Archiving here at WOCMES, Miriyam Aouragh from Oxford Internet Institute discussed “Cyber Intifada: Palestinian Activism in the Age of Web 2.0”. There was a lot to pack into a 20' slot, so I'm going to check out her forthcoming book Palestine Online - Transnationalism, Communications and the Reinvention of Identity (IB Tauris) when it emerges. Only drawback: the book is listed at £56.50 in hardback only (according to the catalogue link), which doesn't lend itself to accessibility or limited budgets. Hopefully it'll make a cheaper paperback edition, so we can all read about this important research.

There were some other papers relating to this blog in the session: May Farah explored “Virtual Nationalism”, based on fieldwork in Lebanon and elsewhere - I'd like to read more on that subject.

The issue of archiving came up in Helga Tawil-Souri's paper “Creating a Digital Palestine”, which discussed (this is a useful resource that I have previously recommended to students>. Archiving is an inceasingly important issue, that I have referred to in my own work, and will be discussing tomorrow.

Related to this, Laila Shereen Sakr videolinked a paper “On Archiving Gaza” - there were some technical difficulties in the presentation, and I'd have liked to have heard more: she is involved in some very interesting work, notably R-Shief. There are some more tech/net related papers in the next few days, which I'll be attending.

Monday, July 19, 2010


This blog comes to you from the World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies, Barcelona. There are several media linked papers on the programme, relating to social networking and the media. I heard useful discussions presenting research on comparing issues in Tunisia and Egypt; a paper on authorship of blogs; and also a detailed piece on the phenomenon associated with the genre of books emerging from blogs, specifically in Egypt. More to follow on this conference in due course. I am giving a short presentation, and chairing a session later in the week. I'm also sensing considerable interest in the developments in digitised Islamic studies resources at the conference, as well as the (related) work of the Islamic Studies Network.

Salafi logo

Jarret Brachman, Lions, SalafiMedia.Com, Oh My…, " is one of the leading English-language online promulgators of the next generation of hardline Jihadi-Salafi media. I’d like to focus your attention on their primary logo: a ferocious lion." Find out what's the connection between this and a major literary figure(!??)

Arab women in social media study, Accolades for NU-Q study on Arab women in social media, 15 Jul 2010

"Social media use among young Arab women is creative and innovative, according to a first-of-its-kind study conducted by researchers at Northwestern University in Qatar (NU-Q).

"The study revealed young Arab women have a deep respect for the community and the family. They are also more discerning when it comes to controlling information available in public, which leads to a high level of creativity in their use of social media

"Ivana Chalmers, NU-Q’s risk assessment specialist, and former faculty member Rodda Leage teamed up to conduct the research, which focused on social media use among women undergraduates at Education City, Doha."

The research can be found in a chapter from Girl Wide Web 2.0 - I'm still looking for info on this (there is an earlier version of the book available)

Lahore attacks

The International, Six injured in Lahore internet cafe blasts, 19 Jul 2010"The two time-devices went off at around 4:10 pm, shortly after media persons received a short message (SMS) on their cell-phones. Tehreek-e-Tahafuzze- Pakistan has claimed responsibility for the explosions and termed it a move against illegal activities being carried out at net cafes."

'Inspire' 'aQ' magazine: update

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR, Al-Qaida Magazine Draws Attention, But Few Fans, 19 Jul 2010 "Ever since it appeared on the Web several weeks ago, al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula's Inspire magazine has been the subject of intense scrutiny by U.S. intelligence officials." Further background on 'Inspire', which has been previously blogged here.

Also see this from Bill Warner, NY DAILY NEWS VERIFIES MY POST OF 7/12/2010, Former New Yorker Samir Khan behind graphics of new Al Qaeda recruiting magazine "Inspire". [his caps]. Mr Warner is a private investigator.

The article is here: Alison Gendar, NY Daily News, Former New Yorker Samir Khan behind graphics of new Al Qaeda recruiting magazine Inspire: officials, 18 Jul 2010 "Khan has been in Yemen since October - and the mag was posted by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen branch with ties to American-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki uses English to get his message out in the West.

"If Khan is behind Inspire - with articles like "Make a Bomb in the Kitchen of Your Mom" - he's joined a trend that has intelligence officials worried."

John L. Esposito op-ed

John L. Esposito, CNN, Islamaphobia and the Muslim center at Ground Zero, 19 Jul 2010 "The charge that Muslims do not condemn terrorism has been made repeatedly, despite that post-9/11, many Muslim leaders and organizations in America and globally have consistently denounced acts of terrorism. But major media outlets do not seem to find them newsworthy, and thus they must be found in smaller outlets on the internet."

Gaza water-pipe ban

Diaa Hadid and Ibrahim Barzak, AP, Some Gaza women smolder over Hamas' water-pipe ban, 18 Jul 2010

"Gaza's Hamas rulers have banned women from smoking water pipes in cafes, sending plainclothes agents through popular beachside spots Sunday to enforce the edict. Some women in the Palestinian territory are grumbling." Internet cafe link to this story of "'hubble-bubble' trouble" in Gaza.

Friday, July 16, 2010

al-Andalus 2.0 in SL

Joshua Fouts, Saudi Aramco Magazine, al-Andalus 2.0, Jul/Aug 2010
  "In the sl community called Al-Andalus, several hundred people—from Singapore, St. Petersburg, Jiddah, London, Houston, and cities and towns across more than a dozen real countries—are beginning to explore what convivencia might mean today. In real life, some of the more active Al-Andalus members are accomplished professionals; they include a Russian ballerina, a Saudi accounting student, a retired British engineer and a Houston attorney."

Also see Joshua Fouts,, New Article in Saudi Aramco World: Al Andalus 2.0

MENA trends

Ben Flanagan and David George-Cosh, The National, Internet overtakes television in Middle East, 15 Jul 2010 "Internet users in the MENA region spend more time surfing the web than they do watching television, prompting analysts to predict a rise in spending on online advertising."

Net influence: KSA, Egypt

Economist, Thank you and goodbye: For good or ill, change is coming to Egypt and Saudi Arabia soon, 15 Jul 2010 "But the closed political systems of Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the uncertainties of dynastic power-mongering and the corruption inherent in patronage-ridden autocracies still often leads to plotting at the top and frustration that could spill over into anger at the bottom. That becomes more likely as the internet, mobile phones and easier travel make people far less easy to control."

Google Trends on Pakistan

Kelli Morgan, FoxNews, No. 1 Nation in Sexy Web Searches? Call it Pornistan, 14 Jul 2010 (update)

"The Muslim country, which has banned content on at least 17 websites to block offensive and blasphemous material, is the world's leader in online searches for pornographic material, has learned."

Note: this is according to Google Trends.

'Inspire' op-ed

Peter Hoekstra, WSJ, Al Qaeda Goes Viral: The terrorists' latest recruiting device: an English language Internet magazine, 15 Jul 2010 "Although al Qaeda has long employed the Web, DVDs and video games to reach mass audiences, the sophistication and provocative nature of this publication suggests it is intended to "go viral"—or spread rapidly among many Internet users—in the English speaking world, especially in the United States."

Note on op-ed writer: "Mr. Hoekstra, a Republican from Michigan, is the ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence."

Abu Dhabi fatwa issues

The National, Unofficial fatwas ‘should be avoided’, 15 Jul 2010
"Imams will call on Muslims to shun unauthorised fatwas in today’s sermon in an effort to curb fundamentalism and rigidity in religion.

"The sermon advocates moderate interpretations of Islamic law, stressing that issuing fatwas, or religious edicts, is a “big responsibility”."


Hetty Musfirah,, Need to protect Muslim youths from radical ideologies: Islamic Religious Council, 16 Jul 2010 "The Islamic Religious Council of Singapore, MUIS, in its Friday sermon, has reminded the Muslim community to protect the young from being influenced by radical ideologies.

"It said one way of doing so is to ensure that they are being taught by qualified and recognised religious teachers. Accredited teachers are listed on the MUIS website."

For more see MUIS

Indonesia internet, Indonesia to ask internet providers to block pornography, 14 Jul 2010 "“We will send a formal request to internet service providers to be more pro-active to every complaint related to pornography because we don’t have the instruments to block it,” said Gatot Dewa Broto.

"There are nearly 180 internet service providers in Indonesia, including ten major ones such as state firm Telkom and Indosat, Broto added. The ministry is still considering whether there would be sanctions for those who don’t comply, he added."

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"The New Arab Cyberscape: Redefining Boundaries and Reconstructing Public Spheres", The New Arab Cyberscape: Redefining Boundaries and Reconstructing Public Spheres "The literature review chapter "The New Arab Cyberscape: Redefining Boundaries and Reconstructing Public Spheres" co-authored by Sahar Khamis and Vit Sisler has been recently published in Communication Yearbook 34 edited by Charles T. Salmon and published by Routledge."


Telegraph, Ask Rick: online banking, Islamic calendars, faulty batteries, computer recycling and user accounts, 13 Jul 2010 Islamic calendars advice in the Telegraph (also check out my Islamic Studies Pathways pages)

Afghanistan net crackdown: update

Dan Murphy, CSM, Afghanistan's threat to censor Facebook? Hasn't happened yet, 13 Jul 2010 ""How do they think they're going to censor the Internet," ask Nader Khan, a young man who said he goes online every day at an Internet cafe in Kabul's upscale City Center mall. "I haven't noticed any change.""

Boko Haram statement

AP, Nigeria sect leader lauds al-Qaida, threatens US, 13 Jul 2010 "Imam Abubakar Shekau, a deputy for the Boko Haram sect whom police claimed to have killed during the July 2009 violence, issued the statement on a jihadist Internet forum."


Paul Armstrong, CNN, Somali militants ready to terrorize world?, 13 Jul 2010"Ahmed [President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed], once a senior, moderate figure in the ICU [Islamic Courts Union], said al Shabaab has also reached out to the Somali diaspora living in the West, radicalizing young Muslims via the Internet and encouraging them to move back to the country to join the "Jihad." The group have become particularly adept at using the media in this way to announce details of attacks that it has carried out."

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

"Pakistan's Islamist shock jocks"

Rob Crilly, Telegraph, Pakistan's Islamist shock jocks face ban on glamorising terrorism, 12 Jul 2010 "Pakistan's Islamist shock jocks, who are blamed for promoting anti-American conspiracy theories on almost 100 different TV channels, could be silenced by new laws banning shows that glamorise terrorism."

Anwar al-Awlaki and Singapore

Kumar Ramakrishna,, Self-Radicalisation And The Awlaki Connection, 13 Jul 2010 "Thanks to the Internet, jihadist ideologues such as the charismatic Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, enjoy a global reach. That this reach extends even into Singapore’s homes has been underlined by the news that a full-time national serviceman has been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), while two other Singaporeans have been issued with Restriction Orders, for being radicalised by Awlaki. The episode underscores the importance of two factors: first, recognising the early warning indicators of religious extremism; and second, the ability of Singaporeans to recognise distorted religious teaching when they encounter it online or elsewhere."

Monday, July 12, 2010

Uganda bombs

Reuters/Toronto Sun, Uganda bombings kill 74, Islamists suspected, 12 Jul 2010

Darul Uloom Deoband on fatwas

The Statesman, Islamic scholars question relevance of fatwas, 11 Jul 2010 "From banning wearing of wig during prayers to prohibiting having test tube baby. Islamic scholars are now raising questions on the relevance of a number of such fatwas issued by the country's largest seminary the Darul Uloom Deoband."

Vuvuzela 'fatwa'

Now that the football has finished ...

Digital Spy, UAE 'issues fatwa on vuvuzelas', 12 Jul 2010 "The United Arab Emirates has reportedly issued a fatwa (non-binding Islamic opinion) on vuvuzelas."

3 jailed

BBC News, Would-be suicide bombers jailed for life, 12 Jul 2010

"As the three men were sentenced, Mr Justice Holroyde said: "Each of you agreed to join with others in this conspiracy, with each of you intending that you would kill members of the general public and yourselves by acting as a suicide bomber.

""In furtherance of that conspiracy, each of you [Savant, Khan and Zaman] recorded a suicide video in which you described yourself as being blessed by the opportunity to take part in that mission."

"In these so-called "martyrdom videos" the men denounced the West and explained why they had chosen to blow themselves up."

Anwar al-Awlaki

ANI/, Al-Qaeda to execute all blasphemers, 12 Jul 2010, "Anwar al-Awlaki, an US-born Yemeni cleric declared in an Al-Qaeda magazine article for the execution of anyone who commits blasphemy."

AQIM statement

AFP, Qaeda threatens to execute French captive: US monitors, 11 Jul 2010 "Al-Qaeda's north African branch issued an Internet message on Sunday threatening to kill a French hostage kidnapped in Niger unless Paris meets demands within 15 days, US monitors reported."

Clerical blog training

Nazila Fathi, NYT, Clerics to Work Within Schools of Iran’s Capital, 11 Jul 2010, "Authorities also announced they were training pro-government forces to start blogs to increase the government’s influence on the Internet, the Fars news agency reported. More than 18 million people use the Internet in Iran, according to figures from the government, which has blocked hundreds of pro-reform Web sites and arrested dozens of bloggers.

"The head of the Basij militia force, Mohammad Reza Naqdi, told Fars last week that the force was planning to increase its Internet capability threefold by the Iranian new year next March. “We have plans to transform the Basij and increase its influence,” Mr. Naqdi was quoted as saying."

Friday, July 09, 2010

Khaled Said

Mona Eltahawy,, Brutality in Egypt Prompts Facebook/Twitter/YouTube Protest "After Alexandria businessman Khaled Said died in police custody, Egyptians mourned, protested and organized rallies using the power of social media."

See the Facebook page:
انا اسمى خالد محمد سعيد
There's now an English version: Facebook - Khaled Said

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Reminder @garybunt

Don't forget that you can pick up a (very) condensed version of this blog at Twitter: @garybunt. I generally update it daily with key words from this blog.

Also check out the Facebook: Gary R. Bunt page.

Virtually Islamic is also blogged on Facebook, and of course there is an RSS feed too.

However you may be accessing this content, I hope you find it useful.

Lebanon bloggers' concern

meedan, Lebanese bloggers rally to stop ICT law, 7 Jul 2010 "A new Information Communication and Technology (ICT) law in Lebanon has sparked anger amongst Lebanon’s online community who fear the new law, which is pinned as a way to regulate e-commerce, could lead to a misuse of powers due to the vagueness of the law."


Jerome Taylor, Independent, Beautiful and Islamic: the new look on the catwalk, 2 Jul 2010 "“Islam has a really amazing definition of beauty,” she [Hana Tajima] says. “Hijab is about how a woman can be beautiful without placing overt emphasis on her sexuality. In western society it’s quite difficult to separate the two. I design clothes that are beautiful in the way that women find each other beautiful.”

"Tajima made a name for herself amongst fellow Muslim fashionistas through her blog Style Covered, which receives about 2,000+ hits a day from women looking for tips on how to look good in hijab."

More more info, see Style Covered

Indonesia update, Sex and politics collide as Julia Perez takes on Indonesia’s conservatives, 8 Jul 2010

"In cosmopolitan Jakarta talk about sex is more common, but a recent sex video scandal has ignited concern about increasing conservativism and the impact pornography has on children. When the videos, involving two of the country’s biggest celebrities, went viral on Facebook and YouTube it sparked a debate about the need for more Internet censorship.

"Throughout June Indonesia was captivated as the government threatened to charge the stars involved under a controversial pornography law. Perez worries that her latest film, “Istri Bo’ongan,” (now showing) a twist on “Meet the Parents” that stars Perez as the lead character’s sexy, stand-in girlfriend, could make her the government’s next target."

Egyptian identity issues

Baher Ibrahim, Guardian, CIF, An Egyptian, and an Arab, 8 Jul 2010 ""We have thousands of years of history, culture and civilisation. They have nothing but oil barrels. Were it not for oil, they'd still be living in tents" is a commonly expressed sentiment– although it doesn't stop Egyptians from temporarily migrating to the Gulf in search of a better life. And, judging from thousands of forum posts I've read on the internet, the feelings of disdain are mutual. Many Egyptians also prefer to dissociate themselves from the term "Arab" because they feel it has become equated with terrorism following 9/11."

German jihadis

AFP/, Syrian arrested in Germany over Qaeda propaganda, 7 Jul 2010  "Hussam M. is believed to have used Internet forums and blogs belonging to the German section of the "Global Islamic Media Front" and the "Al-Ansar Media Battalion" since 2007 to attract militants to the various Al-Qaeda groups."

Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura, Muis sounds alert on DIY radicals, 8 Jul 2010, "The Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura (Muis) - the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore - has called on the Muslim community to be on the alert for individuals who develop radical religious views, especially those who may be swayed by online or video materials."

I did research on MUIS some years back, as part of my PhD.

Also see: Teo Xuanwei, TodayOnline, The virus that is Al Awlaki, 8 Jul 2010 "He was just a teenager pursuing a diploma at a local polytechnic, when he started listening to lectures of radical ideologues online. Soon, Muhammad Fadil Abdul Hamid was avidly surfing the Internet in search of jihadist propaganda and videos."

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Al-Shabaab demo

CNN, Anti-government protesters march in Somali capital, 5 Jul 2010 "Al Shabaab has reached out to Somalis living in the West, radicalizing young Muslims via the Internet and encouraging them to move back to the country to join the jihad. It controls much of central and southern Somalia and large parts of Mogadishu."

Singapore detention

AFP/, Singapore detains 'radicalised' army trainee, 6 Jul 2010 "The MHA said Muhammad Fadil had "initiated online communication" with the radical cleric and "expressed his desire to fight alongside Anwar" in places like the Palestinian territories, Iraq and Afghanistan.

"He then "made online contact with a suspected Al-Qaeda recruiter who encouraged him to fight in Afghanistan," researched information on bomb-making and posted a video justifying suicide bombing, MHA said."

Indonesia net

Karishma Vaswani, BBC News, Indonesia sex scandal stirs internet debate, 5 Jul 2010 "Here, as in other countries, the web has become a vital part of everyday life, especially for Indonesia's youth.

"It is a forum for complaints about politicians, a place to chat and connect with friends and family, and a tool for expression.

"The question this country is wrestling with is whether a new-found love of technology can co-exist with traditional values and religious beliefs."

Monday, July 05, 2010

Matt Bradley, The National, Muslim Brotherhood launches its own version of Facebook, 1 Jul 2010 "IkhwanBook, which is already up, running and accepting members at, borrows many of the same social concepts – such as image and video sharing, live chatting and online “friendships” – that attracted some 400 million users to the original Facebook after only six years."

This is a very useful article. The site is in its early days at present, so it will be interesting to observe responses to it (it will work with Facebook Connect).The groups and fora don't have many members at present. 

Centre for Social Cohesion report, Britain is hub of Violent Islamism Worldwide, Says Centre for Social Cohesion's New Report, 5 Jul 2010 Press release. "Islamist Terrorism profiles 127 Islamism-inspired terrorist convictions and attacks in the UK, spanning the decade 1999 to 2009. It outlines the links the individuals had to terrorist groups; their nationality and ethnic origin; their age, hometown, occupation and education; which other terrorists they were connected to; the legislation used to convict them; and more. This data is analysed to show the trends among those involved in Islamism-inspired terrorism."

Also see Centre for Social Cohesion, Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections

"Al-Qaeda inspired terrorism is the greatest national security threat facing the UK. Islamist Terrorism: The British Connections presents the most comprehensive ever overview of the UK's connections to violent Islamism worldwide."

There is a link to a preview pdf. The report apparently runs to 500+ pages, although I've only had a chance to glance at this preview. I haven't got a copy of the full report. The Centre self-publishes a variety of reports, including several relating to the themes of this blog. Information on the Centre is profiled on this Wiki page.

Millatfacebook, Updated: “Resilient” Millatfacebook is Back Online, 2 Jul, 2010

There would now seem to be more than one Millatfacebook.

KSA: "fraudulent" fatwas

Independent, Saudi clerics battle over adult-breastfeeding, music fatwas, 4 Jul 2010 "The comments by Obeikan and Kalbani brought rebukes from top-level clerics seeking to get control of a debate that has erupted into freewheeling public discussions in the media and on the Internet.

"In his Friday sermon at Mecca's Grand Mosque, the influential Sheikh Abdul Rahman al-Sudais lashed out at what he labelled "fraudulent" fatwas, likening their originators to market vendors selling fake or spoiled goods."

Pakistan Lahore bombings update

Ayesha Siddiqa, Tribune, Who’s behind the Lahore attack?, 3 Jul 2010

"The Hizbut-Tehrer (HuT), a movement for global jihad’s Pakistan chapter, has already committed its findings for its supporters and potential followers on the internet and its press releases."

Also see the following op-ed from Hizb-ut-Tahrir Pakistan (Hizbut-Tehreer), The nexus of Blackwater and the rulers, 2 Jul 2010 "Hizb ut-Tahrir strongly condemns the bomb blasts in the Mosque adjacent to Ali Hajvairy’s (May Allah have mercy upon him) grave that killed more than 40 and injured around 200 Muslims. After a lull, America and its private army, Blackwater and DynCorp, have once again started the blood bath."

Chinese internet protest, Muslims Protest Selling of Fake Goat Meat in Northwest China, 4 Jul 2010

"The Muslim populace demanded that the guilty party be severely punished, forcing Government authorities to hold a press conference and depose two bureau chiefs. Local Muslims tried to spread words of caution by Internet, but their information was censored.

"On June 26, Islam Online in China ( reported that several hundred Muslims in Gansu traced the fake goat meat to its production site on June 8 and discovered that it was actually thinly sliced pork labeled as kosher goat meat. At least 200 tons have been produced, of which 180 tons have been sold in markets or eaten by consumers."

Ayatollah Mohammed-Hussein Fadlallah

A range of coverage relates to Ayatollah Fadlallah's death:

Bayynat, 5 July 2010 (screenshot)

Daily Star, Lebanon mourns loss of Sayyed Fadlallah, 5 Jul 2010 "“Sayyed Fadlallah has died this morning,” senior aide Ayatollah Abdullah al-Ghurayfi told a news conference, flanked by the late cleric’s son, Sayyed Ali Fadlallah.

"“The father, the leader, the marja [religious authority], the guide, the human being is gone,” Ghurayfi said."

LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, Hezbollah spiritual mentor Fadlallah dies at 74, 5 Jul 2010 "His death highlights a vacuum of spiritual leadership within Lebanon’s Shiite community and likely will spur a power struggle within the religious establishment and soul-searching among the faithful."

NYT, Grand Ayatollah Fadlallah, Shiite Cleric, Dies at 75, 4 Jul 2010 "Since the early 1990s, he adopted a more pragmatic tone, preaching against the division between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. He raised money for a sprawling international network of charities and willingly met with prominent Americans, including critics of his beliefs, and considered dialogue with the enemy an Islamic imperative."

For an alternative view, see Con Coughlin, Telegraph, Sheikh Falallah was the terrorist mastermind behind the Lebanon hostage crisis, 5 Jul 2010 "Don’t be fooled by all the tributes that are pouring out following the death in Beirut at the weekend of Sheikh Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, the so-called spiritual leader of the radical Shi’ite Muslim militia Hizbollah..."

Bayynat have been prominent in placing online the opinions of Ayatollah Fadlallah, as I have discussed in my writings.  

Indonesia internet

Jakarta Post, Eight declared suspects for posting celebrity sex videos on web , 5 Jul 2010 "A lawyer representing Ariel said Monday Ariel was relieved that eight people had been named suspects by police for posting on websites sex videos allegedly featuring him and two actresses."

Friday, July 02, 2010

'Inspire' 'aQ' magazine: update

Ian Black, Guardian, Al-Qaida puts celebrities and bombs online with Inspire magazine: Website appears to be brainchild of fugitive US-born radical preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, 1 July 2010 "But the launch of its summer 2010 edition has so far been troubled. It advertised an article by Awlaki – "May our souls be sacrificed for you" – that failed to appear, as did all but the first three pages of the entire 67-page magazine. The rest of a PDF file posted on friendly websites showed only garbled computer code."

Also see Spencer Ackerman, Wired, Watch Out, Condé Nast: Al-Qaida Launches English-Language Lifestyle Mag, 1 July 2010 "In its creation of a distributed virtual training camp for propaganda, recruitment and development of al-Qaida’s bench, as-Sahab is the literal version of Lifehacker.

"Which makes Inspire look anomalous. It’s not, apparently, online yet. Ambinder reports that a virus corrupted an attempted upload on extremist websites on Wednesday. And it’s not apparently an as-Sahab product: It bears a banner of al-Malahem Media, the publishing arm of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, a franchise of al-Qaida that trained Abdulmutallab on putting bombs in his underwear. And that’s even more fishy: Al-Jazeera’s Gregg Carlstrom tweets that it’s not al-Malahem’s typical logo."

Take a look at this useful Wired article for in-article links. Both these articles are very informative. I have previously blogged about this aQ magazine. Despite the media coverage (somewhat sensationalistic in places), it isn't the first English language magazine to have the aQ label; it may be the first AQAP English magazine, and of course there has been a great deal of aQ related English language sites/fora/multimedia content out there (see iMuslims on this issue). The media excitement it has generated means that (if it is 'authentic'), it has already served a purpose well worth the few hours it would take to put together. As with all content of this nature, there can be authenticity issues on a number of levels, and I think this is no exception. Regarding Inspire, I've only seen three pages so far, although I did take a look at several fora to see if there was any further information or content; there have been claims that the original pdf has a virus attached - which is somewhat unusual. Let's see if any more real content emerges, so that it can be put into some kind of perspective.

Lahore attacks

BBC News, Deadly blasts hit Sufi shrine in Lahore, 2 Jul 2010 "Two suicide bombers have launched a deadly attack on a Sufi shrine in the eastern Pakistani city of Lahore.

"At least 42 people died in the blasts at the popular Data Darbar shrine late on Thursday evening, officials say."

"The shrine is largely frequented by members of the majority Barelvi sect, who are seen as heretics by the Taliban."

Details on the mosque are here: wikimapia, Shrine of Hazrat Data Gunj Bakhsh (Ali Hujwiri) (Lahore)

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Ongoing case

LynnNews, Student 'posted terrorist propaganda online', 1 July 2010, "An east London law student posted Islamic terrorist propaganda onto the internet after being radicalised himself, the Old Bailey has heard."

Pakistan net update

Hasan Khan,, Ban on websites in Pakistan deemed counter-productive, 29 June 2010 "Most students at FAST, rated one of the best universities in Pakistan, opposed the ban, he said. “Practically nobody can block a site as every internet user knows how to unblock it”, he said. “Look, if you block one site, they can open several others”."

'Inspire' AQAP launch

Marc Ambinder, Atlantic Monthly, Al Qaeda's First English Language Magazine, Is Here, 30 June 2010 "As the U.S. struggles to manage its efforts to influence opinion about Al Qaeda abroad, Al Qaeda on the Arabian Peninsula has produced its first English-language propaganda magazine.

"It's called "Inspire," and you can read parts of it below. A U.S. official confirmed that the pages correspond to the version its open-source collectors had obtained."

More here: Lloyd Grove, The Daily Beast, A New Magazine for Terrorists, 30 June 2010 "It’s apparently the project of New Mexico-born jihadist Anwar al-Awlaki, a Yemen-based former imam who is said to have “inspired” three of the 9/11 hijackers; the perpetrator of the Fort Hood massacre, Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan; the Christmas Day underwear bomber, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; and the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad. The 39-year-old Awlaki—dubbed “the bin Laden of the Internet”—is a prime target of U.S. counterterrorism operations."

Also: Blake Hounshell, Foreign Policy Blog, Is al Qaeda's new English-language magazine any good?, July 1, 2010

According to the chapter listing, there's an article on encryption ["How to use Ansar al-Mujahideen: sending and receiving encrypted messages" in an section on "Open Source Jihad"]. I'll be taking a look at that in due course.