Thursday, September 30, 2010

'The Shi'a religious parade standard'

BBC Radio 4, A History of the World in 100 Objects - Tolerance and Intolerance - 1. The Shi'a religious parade standard, 28 Sep 2010 "Neil MacGregor's world history as told through things. This week he is exploring the development and co-existence of faiths across the globe around 400 years ago, looking at objects from India and Central America, Europe and Indonesia that embody the political consequences of belief. Today he is with a remarkable object from Shia Iran, that in the 16th Century was open to the co-existence of faiths. The object he has chosen is a symbol of Shia faith, a standard or Alam that was carried at the front of Shia processions. They were often so tall and heavy that they would require great physical strength to handle. Neil visits religious sites in Isfahan to reflect on the spiritual climate of the time. Hossein Pourtahmasbi, from the Iranian community in London and a former alam carrier, describes the tradition. And the Iranian historian Haleh Afshar reflects on the shifting position of Shia Islam within Iran over the centuries."

A 15'00 radio programme, well worth checking out (apparently available to listen again until 2099)

Subcommittee on Terrorism, Nonproliferation and Trade discussion

AFP, Lawmakers decry US failure to stop 'jihadi websites', 29 Sep 2010 "US lawmakers lamented their inability to shutter Internet websites set up by violent Islamist groups such as Al-Qaeda that aim to inspire, recruit and train would-be extremists."

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Hossein Derakhshan, Iranian blogger given prison term, 29 Sep 2010

"Hossein Derakhshan, known as the "blogfather," handed nearly 20-year sentence for "propaganda" and "collaboration"."

See for campaign information.

Also see

'Terrorists of London'

Tariq Alhomayed, Asharq Alawsat, Terrorists of London, 29 Sep 2010 "Of course I do not mean that everybody who grows a beard should be monitored, but what is important is to monitor and track anybody who issues a fatwa inciting hatred or murder. This is because incitement is more dangerous than murder; the actions of somebody who fires a bullet ends when he pulls the trigger, however somebody inciting hatred and terrorism is capable of recruiting new terrorists everyday which would see the situation further destabilize and innocents being targeted, including British citizens. If the British are not too concerned with regards to the threat that this represents to the Arab or Islamic world, is it reasonable that they are unconcerned about the safety of their own citizens?"

'The battle against cyber-jihad'

Brian Whitaker, Comment is free, Guardian, The battle against cyber-jihad, 28 Sep 2010: "The battle against cyber-jihad
New research suggests closing down extremist Islamic websites is no substitute for directly challenging their religious ideology"

Follow-up on yesterday's posting on the new Quilliam Foundation report.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

'The Laptop James Bonds'

Neal Ungerleider, Esquire blogs, The Politics blog, The Laptop James Bonds, 22 Sep 2010 "For all their commitment to destroying modern society, jihadists are surprisingly fluent in social media, organizing over an extensive network of comment boards and chat rooms. Somalia's al-Shabaab and Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula have YouTube accounts, Hezbollah has an Internet television channel, and Hamas posts to Twitter. While America's intelligence services monitor some of these forums, a loose coalition of thrill-seeking, all-American bloggers is helping keep the rest of us safe by exposing terrorist plots — despite threats to their own lives."

'Cheering for Osama: How jihadists use internet discussion forums'

Quilliam Foundation, New Quilliam report published, 27 Sep 2010 press release. " ... Quilliam publicly launched its latest report, Cheering for Osama, a major new study of Arabic-language jihadist websites. The report is based on an 18-month study of around twenty Arabic-language pro-jihadist web forums. Among these are prominent sites such as ‘al-Faluja’, ‘al-Hisba’ and ‘Medad al-Suyuf’, all of which are regularly used by al-Qaeda, its affiliate groups and their supporters to distribute pro-jihadist statements, propaganda videos and ideological tracts."

Links to:

Mohammed Ali Musawi, Cheering for Osama: How jihadists use internet discussion forums, Quilliam Foundation, 2010 [pdf]

I haven't read this report yet.

Also see this report in Asharq Al-Awsat:

جهاديون يستخدمون مواقع تبث من بريطانيا للترويج للإرهاب


Sophia Kishkovsky, NYT, Chechnya Coerces Women on Dress, Activists Say, 27 Sep 2010

"Women in Chechnya are under pressure to adopt Islamic dress, according to human rights activists and an Islamic fundamentalist video circulating on the Internet in the latest example of deteriorating women’s rights under Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the president of the restive southern Russian republic ...

"Footage on the Internet shows women in dresses with short sleeves and no headscarves being sprayed with paint from passing cars. Mr. Kadyrov told Chechen television in July that he approved of such action."

This issue was previously noted on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Paintball Attacks On Chechen Women Prompt Outrage, 18 Jun 2010

Tajikistan, jihad and the net

Khayrullo Fayz, BBC Uzbek Service, Tajikistan youth turn to radical Islam, 27 Sep 2010 " is the website of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), an al-Qaeda-affiliated Central Asian group that now fights alongside the Taliban from a base in northern Pakistan.

"Written in local and Arabic languages, it offers a mix of Islamic texts, atrocity videos and exhortations to join the jihad."

Note: is currently down

"Arab Women in the Face of Challenges of the Information Society"

AICTO, Hannan Taha,, Tunisia Hosts Conference on Arab Women and Information Society, 27 Sep 2010 "The Conference, held by the Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organisation (AICTO), aims to thoroughly look at means that would help reinforce equality between men and women, and assist Arab women, notably through the multiple uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs), to fully play their role in stimulating their countries' development processes and in developing a lasting information society."

This sounds like a useful conference, so it will be helpful to monitor the findings. Hopefully, we can see some blogging from it ... More information can be found here:  Arab Information and Communication Technologies Organisation

The programme is here [pdf]

No Facetime on UAE iPhone

David George-Cosh, The National, UAE iPhone lacks video feature, 26 Sep 2010 "The latest edition of the iPhone does not carry Apple’s free video calls application in the UAE, a feature similar to the banned Skype service."

“Meet a Jihobbyist”

Jarret Brachman, A New Series: “Meet a Jihobbyist” "... each post will profile a different online jihobbyist who, odds are, you’ve never heard of. Now, I’m not picking out the scariest or most fiendish looking jihobbyists. Quite the contrary, this series will highlight just how human, layered and multi-dimensional these guys are." This promises to be useful.

Playbook v iPad

Telegraph, BlackBerry unveils Playbook tablet to rival iPad, 28 Sep 2010 "The tablet will be able to run Adobe’s Flash, which Apple’s iPad doesn’t, and offer micro-HDMI and micro-usb ports. It weighs just 400g and includes dual HD cameras for video calling."

The Playbook v iPad competition should make the options for buyers more interesting.

Evading censorship

Rebecca Wanjiku, PC World, Online Activists Tap Tools to Escape Censorship, 26 Sep 2010 "Internet activists in the Middle East, South and Southeast Asia are increasingly using collaborative Internet sites as well as circumvention and anonymity tools to avoid censorship, according to participants at the international "Internet at Liberty" conference sponsored by Google."

al-Shabaab analysis

Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, Threat Matrix, Critical questions regarding the role of foreign fighters in Shabaab, 27 Sep 2010 "The idea of al Qaeda fighters as force multipliers is not made up. There is a science to measuring TTP’s (military tactics, techniques, and procedures), and the migration of TTP's from one theater of combat to another is rigorously measured. If bomb-making techniques that were perfected in Iraq are found in Somalia, that strongly suggests that foreign fighters are making an impact. (It’s also possible that these TTP’s were transmitted via the Internet, but my strong inclination is that in-person training is more valuable than "virtual" training.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Virtually Islamic changes

I have now removed the blogrolling link to the Islamic blogosphere, previously in the side-bar. It's quite a long list, and can now be found here: Islamic Blogosphere.

I've also added a twitter feed to the sidebar. Essentially, the twitter feed links back to stories to be found on this blog (the - almost - daily blog in 140 characters or less!). It also links to my Islam in Britain pages. You might want to subscribe to my twitter feed via @garybunt.

'Battle of 'Aafia Siddiqui.'

Views from the Occident (Twitter Specials): "Battle of 'Aafia Siddiqui": Al-Qa'ida Central Releases Video of Attack on Pakistani Military Post in Landi Kotel, 24 Sep 2010: "Al-Qa'ida Central's (AQC) media outlet, the Al-Sahab (The Clouds) Media Foundation, has released a short video entitled 'Battle of 'Aafia Siddiqui.'"

Book review - When Religion Meets New Media

Claire Badaracco, Campbell, Heidi A.: When Religion Meets New Media | Communication Research Trends, Sep 2010: Book review - haven't seen the volume yet, but it will be of interest to many readers of this blog.

KSA control issues, L'Arabie saoudite dément vouloir contrôler les blogueurs, 24 Sep 2010: "Le responsable des médias nationaux au ministère de l'information, Abdoulrahman Al-Halazzaa, clarifiant des propos tenus auparavant, a précisé que la loi ne ferait qu'encourager les blogueurs et les modérateurs de forums à s'enregistrer. 'Nous n'avons pas l'intention d'exiger une licence pour eux. Il y en a tellement que nous ne pouvons pas les contrôler', a-t-il dit au sujet des milliers de blogueurs et modérateurs saoudiens. 'Ce n'est pas obligatoire, ce n'est pas prévu', a ajouté M. Halazzaa."

Ikhlaas and the Dark Knight (opinion piece)

Nadya Aweinat,, Bu nu nu nu…Ikhlaas! Lessons from the Life of Batman, 23 Sep 2010: "Oh Ikhlaas…The Islamic concept of sincerity we hear repeated like a broken record at each and every Islamic function. Whether it be a political endeavor, community service project, or religious class, the one topic that seems to keep recurring is that of sincerity. As one of my teachers so eloquently puts it: “What we find repeated the most is that which we need to be reminded of the most.”

"This seemingly unattainable quality is one that I often found difficult to grasp in utter totality…that is until I watched Batman: the Dark Knight."

I thought this was an interesting connect between ikhlaas and Batman from Nadya Aweinat on MuslimMatters - also see the comments below the article.

BTW We've had superheroes on the blog before, notably 'The 99' - I think this is the first post mentioning Batman.

Internet wiretaps

Yahoo! News, Report: US would make Internet wiretaps easier, 27 Sep 2010

Mohammed Reza Shajarian

NPR, Mohammed Reza Shajarian: Protest Through Poetry, "He's also Iran's most famous protest singer — even though, strictly speaking, his music doesn't directly protest the government at all."

A welcome antidote to some of the more depressing pieces of news that appear on this blog. It includes a couple of YouTube clips.

Hossein Derakhshan

Los Angeles Times, IRAN: Persian 'blogfather' Hossein Derakhshan faces death sentence | Babylon & Beyond, 23 Sep 2010 "Hossein Derakhshan was revered as the "blogfather" of Iran even after he alienated much of the online community by renouncing his reformist ideals to become one of the government's staunchest defenders."

More on the situation of Hossein Derakhshan.

Yahoo ME

Rapid TV News, Yahoo Middle East to stream Al Jazeera news, 26 Sep 2010

Iran International Digital Media Fair

PressTV - Iran to hold Intl. Digital Media Fair, 25 Sep 2010 "Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance is planning to hold the country's 4th International Digital Media Fair in the capital city of Tehran.

"The annual event will be held from October 9 to 16, hosting Iranian and international companies at the site of Tehran's Grand Prayer Grounds."

Specialized search engines, Specialized search engines not 'Google killers', 27 Sep 2010 "Reza Sardeha, founder and CEO of Muslim search engine I'mHalal, said the site gets an average of 350,000 search queries daily compared with 10,000 six months ago."

Friday, September 24, 2010

'30 days through Muslim America'

Bassam Tariq, Aman Ali,, 30 days through Muslim America photo collection, with some impressive shots.

Also see 30 Mosques 30 States

Aafia Siddiqui: reaction and internet campaigns

Benjamin Weiser, NYT, Scientist Gets 86 Years for Firing at Americans, 23 Sep 2010 "The case of the scientist, Aafia Siddiqui, 38, had attracted wide attention, including in Pakistan where she was portrayed by politicians and the news media as a heroine, as well as from human rights groups. Her lawyers had requested a sentence of 12 years, while prosecutors had pressed for a life sentence."

Dawn,  Pakistanis furious over Aafia Siddiqui’s sentence, 24 Sep 2010

Iftikhar Ali, APP, US rights group calls Aafia’s prison sentence ‘unfair and unjust’, 24 Sep 2010

Ashraf Khan, AP, Pakistan to fight for terrorist convict's release, 24 Sep 2010 "Pakistan's prime minister called a female scientist convicted of trying to kill U.S. interrogators in Afghanistan "the daughter of the nation" on Friday and vowed to campaign for her release from an American jail."


This issue is, naturally, gaining momentum online. In the context of this blog, here are a few related links to campaigns:

Facebook: Justice for Aafia Siddiqui

Justice for Aafia 

Dr Aafia Siddiqui: The Prisoner 650

CagePrisoner: Aafia Siddiqui 

Hossein Derakhshan

Richard Spencer, Telegraph, Iranian prosecutors demand death penalty for 'blogfather', 23 Sep 2010 "Hossein Derakhshan, 35, who has both Iranian and Canadian nationality, won his nickname after developing a blog platform for Persian characters that was widely copied by online activists and commentators."

A Facebook campaign page can be found here: Free Hossein Derakhshan // Libérez Hossein Derakhshan This is regularly updated, and links to other campaigns.

I write about Derakhshan's blogging activities in my book iMuslims.

Qur'an burning incident

Press Association/Guardian, Six held over suspected Qur'an burning, 23 Sep 2010

""The arrests followed the burning of what are believed to have been two Qur'ans in Gateshead on 11 September," the spokesman said. "The incident was recorded and a video placed on the internet."

"In a video posted on YouTube, six young men in hooded tops and scarves can be seen pouring petrol on a book and setting it alight, before burning another."

Hijab and the net paper

Heather Marie Akou, Interpreting Islam through the Internet: making sense of hijab, Contemporary Islam, Volume 4, Number 3 / October 2010 [go the 'Current Issue' tab - subscription required]

Summary: "Hijab, the practice of modesty or "covering," is one of the most visible and controversial aspects of Islam in the twenty-first century, partly because the Qur'an offers so little guidance on proper dress. This forces Muslims to engage in ijtihad (interpretation), which historically has resulted in vast differences in dress around the world. By transcending some of the boundaries of space, time and the body, the Internet has emerged as a place where Muslims from diverse backgrounds can meet to debate ideas and flesh them out through shared experiences. After discussing hijab in the Qur'an and other traditional sources, this article explores the use of cyberspace as a multi-media platform for learning about and debating what constitutes appropriate Islamic dress. The last section focuses on a case study of the multi-user "hijablog" hosted by, which represents one of the largest in-print discussions on hijab ever recorded in the English language. On this blog and other forums like it, ijtihad has become a critical tool for debate on matters such as hijab, which are important but sparsely discussed in the Qur'an."

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

"A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 1)"

Joas Wagemakers, Jihadica, A Crash Course in Jihadi Theory (Part 1) — jihadica, 21 Sep 2010 "Nowadays, books and fatwas on any given subject related to jihadi thought can easily be found and downloaded from the internet. As a service to those who can’t see the forest for the trees anymore or to those people who simply want a brief overview of what every budding jihadi theorist should know, the Shari’a Council of the Jama’at al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad in Gaza (not to be confused with the Shari’a Council of the Minbar al-Tawhid wa-l-Jihad, on which I wrote previously) produced what can be described as a crash course in jihadi theory some time ago. The book, entitled The Gift of the Unifiers on the Most Important Issues of the Basics of Islam (also available here), describes the theoretical underpinnings of jihadis’ animosity towards Muslim states and their policies in a mere 273 pages. This post is the first of a series in which I discuss this book."

aQ Pakistan

The Long War Journal, Senior German al Qaeda operative thought killed in Predator strike in Pakistan, 22 Sep 2010 "The possibility that [Bekkay] Harrach was killed was first reported in the German newspaper Munich Focus. US intelligence officials contacted by The Long War Journal said they are investigating the reports of Harrach's death and believe he may have been killed in an attack that targeted a Haqqani Network compound in Pakistan."

"Extremist websites skyrocketing"

BBC News, Extremist websites skyrocketing, says Interpol, 21 Sep 2010: "The sharp growth in extremist websites is making recruitment much easier for al-Qaeda, according to Interpol head Ronald Noble." Not exactly a headline ...

Monday, September 20, 2010

HarassMap Egypt

Jack Shenker, Guardian, Women in Egypt get hi-tech aid to beat sexual harassment, 19 Sep 2010 "HarassMap, a private venture that is set to launch later this year, allows women to instantly report incidents of sexual harassment by sending a text message to a centralised computer. Victims will immediately receive a reply offering support and practical advice, and the reports will be used to build up a detailed and publicly available map of harassment hotspots."

NYPD Analytic Unit

Alan Feuer, NYT, The Terror Translators, 17 Sep 2010 "The unit’s linguists monitored jihadist Web sites for useful hints or boastful chatter. Others searched the Internet — sometimes using methods as basic as typing “Times Square car bomb” into Google, but filtering the results through eyes trained to see obscure tidbits. Eventually, they came across a YouTube video posted by the Pakistani Taliban, claiming responsibility for the plot."

Hacking conference, Computer hacking: Who benefits?, 19 Sep 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Mohammed Arkoun

Carool Kersten, Critical Muslims, Mohammed Arkoun (1928-2010), 15 Sep 2010 "After Mohammed Abid al-Jabiri (cf. blog post of 16 May 2010) and Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd (cf. blogpost 6 July 2010), a third innovative Muslim intellectual has just passed away as well. Mohammed Arkoun died yesterday in Paris."

German imam training

Andrea Brandt and Maximilian Popp, Spiegel Online, Will Efforts to Train Homegrown Muslim Leaders Fail?, 16 Sep 2010 "The German government plans to enlist imams educated at German universities to improve the integration of young Muslims in the future. The program, however, threatens to create a conflict between Germany and Turkey and with Muslim organizations."

Facebook, Facebook Unfreeze FB Page of Suspected WikiLeaks Whistleblower Bradley Manning, "Yesterday facebook has frozen Bradly Managing facebook supporters page has been and the admin could not login to update it and post information or links on the page.

"The network of supporters emailed facebook but noreply, but after Wikileaks Tweet about the matter and BradllyManaging supporters post along with other supporters efforts the page is unfrozen."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

'Love in a Headscarf', Love in a Headscarf: Muslim Bridget Jones"It took Shelina Zahra Janmohamed ten years of fixed blind-dates to find Mr. Right. An arranged marriage? Poor thing. A tradition that is “oh so old-fashioned,” and “uncool,” and receives instant sympathy. But guess what, Shelina’s story is anything but a misery memoir. Love in a Headscarf is an uplifting, honest, and, for a change, humorous account of a British Muslim woman in search of “the one.” It was recently launched in India and is currently number 2 on the bestseller list."

She also writes the blog Spirit21

Report: 'Public Life, Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe'

Tom Heneghan, Reuters, Low support for radicalism among European Muslims, 15 Sep 2010
"Support for radical Islamist groups is low among European Muslims and some leading groups with overseas roots are now cooperating with local governments and encouraging Muslims to vote, according to a new report."

Here's the report's main page: Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe, 15 Sep 2010

The full PDF report is here Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, Muslim Networks and Movements in Western Europe [PDF]. The primary researcher was Peter Mandaville.

I haven't read the report yet. There are some references to the internet on it.

'Dude, you have no Qur'an!', Angry Texas skateboarder grabs Qur'an from would-be burners: 'Dude, you have no Qur'an!', 15 Sep 2010

"After a Qur'an was soaked with kerosene, Isom took matters into his own hands, grabbing the book and leaving the group empty-handed.

""I snuck up behind him and took his Qur'an. He said something about burning the Qur'an and I was like, dude, you have no Qur'an, and ran off," Isom told an Amarillo TV news station."

Hacking, Muslim hacker destroys website of Florida group defending Christian convert, 14 Sep 2010 "A hacker has attacked the website of the Florida Family Policy Council (FFPC), a group assisting the Christian convert Rifqa Bary. The hacker said he made the attack because of the group’s thinking about “Great Islam.” The loss of the website could have consequences for the 2010 election in Florida, the group claimed."

al-Ikhwan al-Misreyoun, Activists launch 'Egyptian Brotherhood' to counter sectarianism, 15 Sep 2010 "Sham’ee Asaad, a Coptic writer and thinker, along with two others, Islam Gawish and Mervat Youssef, have launched a Facebook campaign titled al-Ikhwan al-Misreyoun (the Egyptian Brotherhood) which, they say, aims to reject “the sectarian classification of Egyptians.”"

Facebook issues

Press Trust of India, On Facebook, young Muslims turn away from Islam, 7 Sep 2010 "A handful of Pakistani Muslim youths are beginning to question the existence of God and in the process giving up Islam to become atheists.

"Still a small number, the trend seems to be telling of pressures that the image of militant Islam has had on them. A Facebook group has been floated for Pakistan's agnostics and atheists by Hazrat NaKhuda, a former Pakistani Muslim."

'Globalization and media' opinion/interview

Cigdem Akti, World Bulletin, Globalization and media, 14 Sep 2010 Interview with Contemporary Islamic Thought Institute President Mohammed al-Asi and Crescent magazine Editor in Chief Zafar Bangash, providing their opinions on a range of issues, including the internet:

"[Zafar Bangash] Of course the media is a part of the global world, they control that. I think it is possible to create an ultimate media now, in today's world, with the Internet and so on and you can bypass their system. Of course it is not easy, it requires a lot of resources, but I think we are beginning to see that we can break their stranglehold they have. Through the Internet, a lot of point of view are coming out. Again, you see, the tragedy is that very often the west is able to subvert that process. In the media there is something called news and there is something called noise. If you can suppress the news, then you can make a lot of noise all around. You can't figure out what is the truth."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Australian net issue

Natasha Robinson, The Australian, Iranian cleric preaches to Sydney via net, 11 Sep 2010

"Dr Leghaei, deemed by ASIO to have carried out "acts of foreign interference", said he planned to continue to give his regular Friday sermons via the internet from Iran.

"As you can see, technology has made life much easier," Dr Leghaei joked during the live broadcast yesterday. "I don't need any visa . . . to come to Australia and join you - we can watch and see each other."."

Search engines

Allan Jacob,, The Islamic way to a safe search, 15 Sep 2010

"The focus is to develop revolutionary new search technologies that solve search problems. ‘‘Alternative search engines are built for the great mass, which makes them extremely mainstream oriented, while search is mostly culturally biased. This means that search algorithms should calculate the culture, mindset and lifestyle of the user in the determination process of relevancy.’

"As for revenue, the search engine begins testing its advertising platform in two weeks with some high profile brand names. “We’re confident to hit a RPS(Revenue per 1,000 searches) of 1/5 of Google’s already in the first quarter of 2011.”."

aQ fatwa impact discussion, Islamic scholars denounce Ramadan bloodshed, 14 Sep 2010

"In terms of the effect that such fatwas have in attracting more young people to join organisations affiliated with al-Qaeda, Dr. Ammar Ali Hassan, an researcher specialising in the affairs of Islamist groups, told Al-Shorfa that the impact of al-Qaeda and its various cells on the Internet declined significantly during the past three years.

"Unlike previous years when al-Qaeda recruited members through the internet, as was the case in the bombings in London and Madrid, Hassan said several factors have caused the fatwas issued by al-Qaeda to lose credibility among the younger generation."

'Hit 'delete' and move on' (op-ed)

Irfan Husain, Dawn, Hit 'Delete' and Move On, 15 Sep 2010 "Given how easy it is for somebody to post an offensive image or message on the Internet, are Muslims going to get worked up each time this kind of thing happens? The thing to realise is that there are many nuts out there in cyberspace. I should know as I get my share of hate mail and threats, but I find that pressing the ‘delete’ button on my laptop is a better option than getting annoyed or frightened. So collectively, why can’t we all just hit the ‘delete’ button instead of taking to the streets every time some nut posts something Muslims find sacrilegious?"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

More searching questions: Google Instant and 'Islam'

I enjoyed reading this article about Google Instant: Charlie Brooker, Guardian, Google Instant is trying to kill me, 13 Sep 2010 Brooker notes: "As the name suggests, this all happens instantly. It's the internet on fast-forward, and it's aggressive – like trying to order from a waiter who keeps finishing your sentences while ramming spoonfuls of what he thinks you want directly into your mouth, so you can't even enjoy your blancmange without chewing a gobful of black pudding first."

Brooker's article was helpful, and I agreed with much of what he said, including the impact on productivity(!).

It was also relevant as, since Google's launch of Instant, I'd been considering its implications in relation to the core subjects of this blog. In my strictly unscientific and time-restricted test, firstly using as a default and a general search for 'Islam', this is what happened today:


"is" [14.9.10]


"isl" [14.9.10]

"isla" [14.9.10]


"islam" [14.9.10]
"Islam" first crops up on the second screenshot ("isl"), sandwiched between the Isle of Man and the Isle of Wight(!). No doubt that Islam Channel, Islamic Relief, Islamic Finder and Islamway will be pleased about their prominence through Google Instant, and it'll be interesting to know whether this influences levels of traffic.    

I'm curious to see whether other search engines adopt similar approaches to Google Instant, which may just prove to be irritating to some users(!). There may be a market for slower search, and certainly there's lots of different ways of delivering data, whether it's about Islam or anything else.

The same unscientific test could be usefully applied to other terms, although I don't plan to to that now. It could also be utilised for other versions of Google - it would probably require a simultaneous multi-language search of some kind.

Out of curiosity, this is the same test on


"isl" 14.9.10

"isla" 14.9.10

"islam" 14.9.10
On this one, Islamorada (which is a place in Florida) appears inbetween Islamic Calendar (which goes to a series of possible calender links) and Islamic Finder.

As I discuss in iMuslims and my other work, search can make a difference to the type of information surfers acquire about Islam, especially those seeking introductory data (which goes back to the foundations of this website and Islamic Studies Pathways). Given that Google remains the primary search engine for many users, it's certainly something worth looking at in more detail, and I'd welcome some more research/methodology in this area to augment these initial notes and observations.

And of course, the results could be different tomorrow...

'Religious Search Engines'

Useful report:

Habiba Nosheen, NPR, Religious Search Engines Yield Tailored Results, 13 Sep 2010 "Some Jews, Muslims and Christians are abandoning Yahoo and Google and turning to search engines with results that meet their religious standards."

Kashmir protests

Daily Mail, Indian police kill 18 and wound more than 100 in Kashmir during Koran-burning riots, 14 Sep 2010 "Most broadcasters have given scant coverage to the still-unidentified man who was hustled away from an anti-Muslim protest in New York after he tore and burned pages from a Koran.

"Other such burnings, conducted in America on 9/11 or posted on the internet shortly after, have also been ignored".


CSM, A virtual world that breaks real barriers, 10 Sep 2010

"In Second Life's Al-Andalus, a virtual world patterned after medieval Andalus in Spain, avatars of Muslims mix with avatars of Jews and Christians to strive for a more perfect union."

I write about SL in iMuslims.

Monday, September 13, 2010


Observer, Iran: women on the frontline of the fight for rights, 12 Sep 2010

'Iraq Resistance' worm claim

John Leyden, The Register, Cyber-jihad hacker claims credit for 'Here you have' worm, 13 Sep 2010

"The cracker, who uses an Iraq Resistance email address associated with the worm, told IDG that "the creation of this is just a tool to reach my voice to people maybe ... or maybe other things". The miscreant confessed surprise at the spread of the worm, which accounted for an estimated 10 per cent of internet spam last week, spread."

'Qisset Hob'

Riad Abu Awad, AFP, Love on the net wins Egypt hearts in Ramadan soap, 11 Sep 2010 "Broadcast throughout Ramadan, the month-long soap opera "Qisset Hob," or "Love Story," has been praised by critics as a just portrayal of the rise of radical religious ideas -- and of the Internet -- in everyday Egyptian life."

Halal business

A couple of interesting articles from relating to this blog:

Joanne Bladd and Claire Ferris-Lay,, Planet Islamic: the $2trn battle for the halal market, 9 Sept 2010 "From Malaysia to Manchester, the global halal industry has exploded. Spanning from food, to fashion, to finance and pharmaceuticals, buying Muslim is big business and multinationals globally are slugging it out for a taste."

I'mHalal 1st anniversary

Joanne Bladd,, World's first Islamic orientated search engine 'almost viral' "The founder of I’mHalal, the world’s first Islamic orientated search engine, has said the site is seeing an “almost viral” surge in traffic as it celebrates its first anniversary."

See I'mHalal

Islam in China

Edward Wong, NYT, Celebrating Id al-Fitr Under Watchful Eyes of China, 13 Sep 2010 "In recent months, the authorities in Xinjiang have let up on some of the harsh security measures they took after the rioting — Internet services have been restored, for example — but officials here still believe they have plenty of reasons to be anxious. "

'Instant crises'

AP, In a wired world, the crises come instantly, 12 Sep 2010 "The world has always had its cranks and crackpots, its intolerance and religious bigots. But only in this wired generation has word of outrages against others' beliefs flashed around the globe in an instant, to create instant crises."

9-11/Ground Zero issues and commentary

Philip Sherwell, Telegraph, America's agony: September 11 anniversary marked by anger and controversy, 11 Sep 2010 "For almost a decade, this has been a day of solemn remembrance, private memories and shared sorrow for the relatives who gather to honour the nearly 3,000 people killed by al-Qaeda terrorists on that dreadful day in 2001."

Terry Jones' website down

Wired, Koran-Burning Church’s Website Yanked From Internet, 9 Sep 2010, "Thursday’s removal of the site comes as President Barack Obama urged the Florida pastor not to burn the Koran on the 9-year anniversary of the 9/11 terror attacks. “This could increase the recruitment of individuals who would be willing to blow themselves up in American cities or European cities,” Obama said. Hours after Obama’s plea, the pastor, Terry Jones, obliged.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

"Learn Arabic with Maha", Palestinian-Italian launches online Arabic lessons, 8 Sep 2010 "Maha Yacoub, a Palestinian-Italian living in the city of Livorno on the western coast, starting her teaching career with private tutoring then moved to the video sharing website YouTube where she launched the channel "Learn Arabic with Maha.""

See Maha's blog Learn Arabic with Maha, and here's her YouTube channel

Twitter saves hostage

Greenslade blog, Guardian, Kidnap victim pulls off tweet trick, 8 Sep 2010"A Japanese journalist who was held hostage in Afghanistan for five months managed to send out reassuring messages via Twitter.

"Kosuke Tsuneoka fooled his captors when they asked him how to use a new cell phone. While demonstrating how it worked he sent two tweets that revealed he was alive."

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Peter Sanders' photos

Emily Wither, CNN , Former rock 'n' roll photographer puts Islam in front of the lens, 31 Aug 2010 "Former rock 'n' roll photographer and Muslim convert Peter Sanders says he is trying to show the true face of Islam through his photography."

Sanders' photos are well-worth checking out, if you haven't seen them before. CNN have a mini-slide show here.

Iran search engine plans

VOA, Iran Plans to Create Domestic Internet Search Engine, 30 Aug 2010 "Iran is vowing to replace Western internet search engines with its own homegrown version, amid complaints from the country's supreme leader that the net is being used to corrupt Iranian youth ...

" ... Iranian TV spoke with information technology experts, who demonstrated the prototype of Iran's own internet search-engine, dubbed "ya haq", or "the truth", in an apparent play on words with the U.S. search engine Yahoo. The new site is expected to be fully operational by 2012."

Potential Ping issues, Apple’s Ping Censoring the Name Osama?, 6 Sep 2010 "We received a tip from one of our readers saying that Apple has censored the word Osama adding *** after the “O” and before the “a” in its new music social network Ping with iTunes."

Ping is the new social networking tool for iTunes, which comes with the latest update of the software.

KSA fatwas

AP/Asharq Alawsat, Saudi Telecom Shuts Websites Violating Fatwa Edict, 5 Sep 2010 "Saudi Arabia's telecom regulator has shut down three websites that were violating a government decree limiting the issuance of religious edicts to the country's most senior group of clerics, authorities said Saturday."

Also see Brian Whitaker, al-Bab, 'Fatwa' websites closed, 7 Sep 2010

The issue also features elsewhere, including al-Arabiya, which refers to the closure of Islam Q&A (Shaikh Munajjid) - one of the sites I discuss in my writings:

بسبب كثرة فتاواه رغم قرار حصرها على أعضاء هيئة كبار العلماء
السعودية تحجب موقع "الإسلام سؤال وجواب" للشيخ المنجد

The TV channel al-Osra' has also been closed (although its website is still up):

Muslim Nation, Saudi Arabia MCI to close Islamic channel ‘Al-Osra’, 7 Sep 2010

Petraeus on Qur'an burning threat

AP, Top US commander: Burning Quran endangers troops, 7 Sep 2010

"The comments from Gen. David Petraeus followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center — a small, evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy — to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States that provoked the Afghan war."

Ahlam Mosteghanemi, Algerian author preaches to women on Facebook, 5 Sep 2010 "Algerian novelist Ahlam Mosteghanemi launched on her Facebook page a series of religious sermons addressed to women and focusing on ways of choosing a good husband."

For more info, see Facebook: Ahlam Mosteghanemi and

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Dubai BlackBerry theory

arabcrunch, Dubai Chief Police: BlackBerry Ban is Due to “Israeli” & US Spying On The Country, 3 Sep 2010 "In a meeting at the house of Dr. Saed Salamn head of Ajamn network Dhahi Khalfan Tamim Dubai Police chief said that United States of America is the first beneficiary from absence of BlackBerry surveillance in his country, and said that USA has an interests in Spying in his country."

Mohammed ElBaradei

AP/, ElBaradei denounces family photo smear campaign, 3 Sep 2010

"Egypt's most serious presidential challenger has accused President Hosni Mubarak's government of posting Facebook photos of his daughter in a swimsuit in an attempt to discredit him, a local newspaper reported on Saturday."

Geert Wilders

AFP/Sydney Morning Herald, Aust Muslim calls for beheading: report, 3 Sep 2010, "According to De Telegraaf, Sydney-born Muslim cleric Feiz Mohammad called on extremists in an internet chatroom to "chop off his [Geert Wilders] head" and accused Wilders of "denigrating" Islam."

Kashmiri issues/YouTube

WSJ, Rocks, YouTube Undergird Kashmiri Protests, 3 Sep 2010 "A little-known Kashmiri separatist leader is spurring stone-throwing protests against India with tactics such as YouTube recruitment videos and protest calendars published in local media, fostering protracted violence that is bedeviling New Delhi."

For information purposes, here's an example of these tactics, with graphic images and a speech by Masarat Alam Bhat:

Saeed Kamali Dehghan, Guardian, Iranian journalists' website puts Ahmadinejad spin on Barack Obama: Website promises 'an Iranian viewpoint on Barack Obama's opinions', 2 Sep 2010 "The news of its creation first appeared this week in a series of government-sponsored websites and news agencies, which endorsed it as an independent source of information about the life of Obama, his administration and issues such as 9/11, Israel and Iran's nuclear programme.

"The website has attracted nearly 100,000 visitors in its first week. It introduces itself as a group "that believes that Barack Obama isn't only a name but a political phenomenon"."

Useful article. Naturally, also see They've done a professional job on the design.  It would be useful to undertake a detailed analysis of the content and its implications, including symbolism and writing style.  Will this be the start of a trend, with other world leaders having web sites with a .ir suffix?

UAE internet research

Sokol, D. and Sisler V. Socializing on the Internet: Case Study of Internet Use Among University Students in the United Arab Emirates. In: Global Media Journal, Vol. 9, Iss. 16, 2010 "This paper analyzes socializing on the Internet and attitudes towards the Internet as a medium of social interaction among university students in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It stems from a larger research project conducted at seven different institutions of higher education in the Abu Dhabi Emirate between 2007-2009 through anonymous questionnaires."

Arabic language issues

BBC News - Reading Arabic 'hard for brain', 4 Sep 2010 "The University of Haifa team say people use both sides of their brain when they begin reading a language - but when learning Arabic this is wasting effort."

Friday, September 03, 2010

Morocco 'candid camera' ban, Fatwa bans Morocco’s candid camera, 2 Sep 2010

"Sheikh Adnan Zohar, member of the Fatwa Committee at the Scholarly Council in the Atlantic city of el-Jedida, issued a fatwa prohibiting Taxi 36, aired daily on state T.V. since the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan, and similar candid camera shows ...

" ... Islamic scholar Sheikh Mohamed al-Taweel disagreed with Zohar and refused to condone the prohibition of candid camera shows."

Thursday, September 02, 2010

India BlackBerry issues

Josh Halliday, Guardian, BlackBerry wins the battle but not the war in India, 1 Sep 2010 "After weeks of standoff between south Asia and North America, the Indian authorities yesterday won limited access to data from BlackBerry smartphones. The 800,000 users of the devices in the country had been threatened with a blackout because of the Delhi government's growing fear that militants could use the BlackBerry's secure network to plot terror attacks without fear of being monitored."

UAE BlackBerry issues

Khaleej Times Online - Etisalat, du keep BlackBerry plans open, 2 Sep 2010

Austrian video game

Spiegel Online, Austrian Anti-Muslim Video Game: 'We'd Rather Have Sarrazin than a Muezzin', 2 Sep 2010

"Austrian police are investigating a video game released by the right-wing Freedom Party, the former political home of the late Jörg Haider, that invites players to stop the construction of minarets and mosques. But the politician behind the campaign answers his critics with: "We'd rather have Sarrazin than a muezzin.""

Op-ed on censorship issues

Ersu Ablak, Hurriyet Daily News and Economic Review, Could the Saudi's be more flexible about the Internet than the EU?, 1 Sep 2010 "It is a fact that Radical Islamists and terrorist groups use the internet. However I don’t believe that banning websites is the real answer."


Reuters, Interview: UK Islamist says like-minded U.S. groups expanding, 2 Sep 2010 "U.S. officials are worried about the emergence of so-called homegrown militants in the United States who apparently radicalized themselves by visiting Internet sites that host strongly anti-Western Islamist commentary written in English."

Hacking off-target, Islamic hackers invade website of Belvoir Castle in protest over Israeli foreign policy. 1 Sep 2010 "A spokesman for the castle said they had no idea why the early 19th century property had been targeted in such a manner.

"The spokesman said: "We don't know why they have done this to us.

""It happened on Friday afternoon and we've had our IT chap working to try to fix it.

""We've nothing to do with Israel or the Middle East, I just help to organise the teddy bears' picnic.""