Friday, February 26, 2010

The other wireless ...

As a fan of radio (remember that?), I was pleased to read this from the Guardian (Elisabeth Mahoney, Guardian, Backdoor Broadcasting Company, 26 Feb 2010), and found a number of elements useful for readers of this blog. Here are some samples ...

Sound lectures:

Humayun Ansari – The ‘Muslim World’ in British Historical Imaginations

Seema Alavi – Fugitive Mullahs and Outlaw Fanatics

Sound Projects:

Ines Lechleitner – A Space of Translation (based on a soundscape of Tehran)

Pat Thomas (piano) – ‘Islam’s Contribution to Jazz and Improvised Music’ plus performance

I listen to most of my favourite radio programmes via podcasts these days. I'm sure there's plenty more at backdoorbroadcasting.net relating to the blog's subject area - I plan to put these on my iPod to start with, and go from there.

Issues of comedy ...

Mind, Body, Soul, Suburban Capitalist Islam – Comedians, 23 Feb 2010 "Comedy clubs.. another entertainment refuge for the suburban capitalist regular old American… “American Islam” hasn’t left those alone, entering these same bars and clubs, playing off their Muslim identity. Once a realm for drinks and smoke, subtract the drinks and its ok. Comedians such as these are the opening acts for large conferences (the crowd in one of the videos is huge), or the Muslim boy bands that have been identified earlier." Part of a series of posts on 'cultural issues' and identity. This post includes clips from 'Allah Made Me Funny'. As a great scholar once said, "It's the way you tell 'em!".

"Castells and the Global Cybersecurity Heuristic"

Tim Stevens, ubiwar, Castells and the Global Cybersecurity Heuristic, 25 Feb 2010 "The current storm about cybersecurity in the US has rightly been the subject of some skepticism, not least from yours truly, but it’s worth remembering that there is a world beyond the US."

Interesting post, referring to Manuel Castell's Communication Power (OUP, 2009)

Maroc Telecom

globalarabnetwork.com, $1.15 billion Maroc Telecom income in 2009, 25 Feb 2010 "Maroc Telecom, the Moroccan phone and internet company controlled by Vivendi SA, said its 2009 net earnings fell to 9.42 billion dirhams ($1.15 billion) adding that its consolidated revenue rose 2.8 % to 30.34 billion dirhams. "

"Fast food" fatwas

«, فتاوى الزواج» تحولت إلى , «وجبات سريعة» بحثاً عن المتعة الجنسية! alriyadh.com,

Interesting article/opinion piece by Nawal al-Rashed in al-Riyadh discussing the influence of 'fatwas' in relation to misyar marriages (and other contexts), and suggesting that - on some occasions - they are a "quick fix" (or "fast food") solution provided by lesser-qualified authorities or scholars.

Arab News revamp

Happened to see this when reading the article below. I noted the redesign of Arab News recently: this is a good summary of developments. Saudi Jeans also makes the following comment:

Saudi Jeans, Arab News Redesigns, 15 Feb 2010 "I believe that the local internet scene is still lacking on many levels, and there are many opportunities to create excellent Saudi content especially in Arabic. The attempts that we have seen so far in this field are very weak and leave much to be desired."

I'm a regular reader of Arab News. The redesign isn't as cutting edge as I had anticipated.

Saudi Jeans on Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak

Saudi Jeans, Kill Me Now, 25 Feb 2010 "For someone who would probably enjoy the lifestyle of a caveman, Shaikh Abdul-Rahman al-Barrak has an impressive ability to occasionally make news headlines with his ridiculous, albeit dangerous, fatwas. His latest fatwa called for opponents of the kingdom’s strict segregation of men and women to be put to death if they refuse to abandon their ideas."

The 'fatwa' surfaced on al-Barrak's supporters' webpage albarrak.islamlight.net, although I am having trouble accessing the content today (not sure why) ...

Hamas in UK

Martin Bright, The Jewish Chronicle, Britain now centre for Hamas support, 25 Feb 2010 "Britain as a Focus for Hamas's Political Propaganda and Legal Activities in Europe warns that this country's tradition of toleration has allowed supporters of the Palestinian terrorist organisation to develop a sophisticated activist and media operation."

See Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (Israel), Britain as a Focus for Hamas’ Political, Propaganda and Legal Activities in Europe, 21 Feb 2010

Thursday, February 25, 2010

iMuslims Review

"iMuslims is the best overview of the Muslim Internet to date. It is up-to-date, comprehensive, and should be compulsory reading for students and scholars of Islam, media, and politics in the Middle East."

Sune Haugbolle, H-Net, H-Levant, The Muslim Internet, Feb 23, 2010

Review of i-Muslims, which raises some interesting issues regarding the identity/-ies of "i-Muslims". I very much welcome informed criticism of the nature presented in this review, although I don't have time now for a detailed response. In one way, I see the term "i-Muslims" as a multi-faceted and very flexible approach to exploring multiple identities of internet users (who happen to be 'Muslim') online. I'd like to unpack some of the other comments in the review at a later time. Hopefully, my book will encourage others to explore the questions raised in Sune Haugbolle's review.

The review also features on the pages of the Copenhagen University Middle East and Islam Network

Facebook language fix

Digital Inspiration, Do You Speak Multiple Languages on Facebook?, 24 Feb 2010 tech fix

aQ "Toward a Dignified Life" video

Views from the Occident, Al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula: "Toward a Dignified Life" ..., 24 Feb 2010 "Al-Qa'ida (Qaeda) in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) released a new video, "Toward a Dignified Life," on February 23, produced by its media outlet, the Al-Malahim (Epics) Media Foundation. Aimed in large part to the discontented people in southern Yemen (formerly South Yemen), it is built partially around a May 2009 audio message from AQAP's amir (leader), Abu Basir Nasir al-Wuhayshi (Wuhayshi), "Message to Our People in the South." Footage of Yemeni politicians and analysts, as well as others (including the editor-in-chief of the London-based Arabic-language daily newspaper, 'Abdul Bari 'Atwan), is interspersed throughout the video."

"US Muslims Debate Choice Of Arabic, English In Sermons"

Interesting article, which reflects ongoing discussions elsewhere:

Rachel Zoll, AP/Huffington Post, US Muslims Debate Choice Of Arabic, English In Sermons, 21 Feb 2010 "On suhaibwebb.com, a Web forum for Muslims in the West, writer Abu Majeed said in a post last month that while his English-language sermons were accepted without protest at several U.S. mosques, he was derided by one South Florida congregation as a modernist who violated Islamic law. Foreign-born imams, or prayer leaders, who moved here to serve immigrant communities, have sometimes reinforced the thinking that only Arabic is acceptable. Other mosques might use Arabic and Urdu – a language from Pakistan, India and elsewhere in Asia – but no English."

See suhaibwebb.com for more information.

Pashtun tribes-Israelites "link" theory

AKI, Pakistan: Scholar confirms link between Israelites and Pashtuns, 24 Feb 2010 "Pashtun tribes in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India have Jewish ancestry and converted to Islam in the 7th century AD when their leader, Imarul Qais, met the Prophet Mohammed in Saudi Arabia, a top Pashto scholar has told Adnkronos International (AKI)." Non-tech story, interesting theoretical discussion (other opinions are available); expect this one to light up discussion boards.

Radical Middle Way social network launches



netimperative.com, Muslim social network launches, 25 Feb 2010 "Ahmed Musa of Radical Middleway said: “Xcite Digital impressed us with their proposals for redeveloping the site and marketing to young Muslims in the UK. Radical Middle Way provides a platform for members to connect with each other as well as providing news on specific events, lectures and teachings from key speakers. It has become pivotal to the development of the Muslim community and we are keen to develop the site and welcome young members to join in the discussions.”"

Still in Beta at present.

Iran: censorship

Reza Zia-Ebrahimi, Guardian, Comment is free, Bombard Iran ... with broadband, 24 Feb 2010 "One of the pillars of its repressive policy has been media propaganda depicting protesters as vandals and stooges of foreign powers. In pursuing this policy, the government actively curtails alternative sources of information in the country (especially the BBC and VOA broadcasts in Persian), thoroughly filters sensitive websites used by protesters to communicate (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter etc) and reduces internet speed to just about nil to render video streaming or uploading impossible. It has even moved to ban Gmail.

"The technology to overcome this already exists. Households and businesses in areas with poor infrastructure connect to the internet through satellites."

Logo confusion


Telegraph, Controversial new US defence logo compared to Islamic crescent and star, 25 Feb 2010 "As well as resembling the Islamic flag, it has been said to bear a “scary” likeness to the campaign symbol President Barack Obama used in the electoral race against Senator John McCain in 2008, according to right-leaning blogs and websites."

wiki-Ikhwan

Evgeny Morozov, Net.Effect, Muslim Brotherhood's mysterious Wikis, 24 Feb 2010 "In case you needed another proof that one doesn't have to be a pro-Western, pro-secular, and pro-democracy liberal to take advantage of opportunities offered by new media, here it comes. A recent article in Al-Masry Al-Youm discusses efforts by Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to document their own history on the Web. And what are the tools they've chosen to do it? Wikis!"

'Islamic rap music'

Streetdawa Channel, Can We Listen To Islamic Rap Music? "Islam and music, does it need it, is it allowed, is thier benefit in music and what are the harms. Rap, Hip Hop how much street culture is intwined within it and can Gangster-life roll with islam." Shaikh Ibraheem Zaidan provides a response to this question.

Google translation of Virtually Islamic blog



Google Translate: Virtually Islamic blog. In response to reader requests, I have included a link to a machine-translation into Arabic of this blog, for a test period. The usual warnings about machine translations apply, but I hope some readers find it helpful.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

MENA Facebook use

itp.net, MENA region accounts for 2.5% of Facebook users, 24 Feb 2010 "There are about ten million active Facebook users in the Middle East and North Africa region, making up about 2.5% of the social networking site's total base of 400 million active users worldwide."

Botnet impact

itp.net, Facebook and Maktoob accounts compromised by botnet, 24 Feb 2010 "Egypt was found to be the country worst affected by Kneber with close to 7,000 infected systems, followed by Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States and Pakistan."

'Blackburn Resistance'

Lancashire Telegraph, Blackburn 'terror' trial video footage released, 23 Feb 2010

"The videos have been released to the media after they have been played to the jury at Manchester Crown Court.

"The homemade footage shows the men firing weapons in the air at the back of their homes.

"Another piece of film, titled the 'Blackburn Resistance', shows two of the men dressed in camouflage crawling across woodland in Corporation Park, Blackburn."

This shows an extract of a much-longer clip.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Report + commentary

jarretbrachman.net, RevolutionMuslim.com Seeks to Refute West Point CTC Study, 15 Feb 2010

It refers to Scott Helfstein, Nassir Abdullah, Muhammad al‐Obaidi, Combating Terrorism Center at West Point, Occasional Paper Series, Deadly Vanguards: A Study of al‐Qa’ida’s Violence Against Muslims, Dec 2009 [PDF] I haven't read this report yet.

"Lebanese IPhone Apps"


Thanks to arabnewsblog.net, Lebanese IPhone Apps, 23 Feb 2010 for this one:

Qifa Nabki, The iPhone App Store Comes to Lebanon, 21 Feb 2010 "Wouldn’t it be great if Lebanon’s problems could be solved by saying, simply: “There’s an app for that?” Now they can."

Humour piece. Could easily be transferred to other contexts...

Najibullah Zazi

cbs4denver.com, Najibullah Zazi Pleads Guilty, 22 Feb 2010 "Najibullah Zazi, of Aurora, has pleaded guilty in federal court in a plot to attack New York City with homemade bombs. Zazi pleaded guilty Monday afternoon on charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, supporting terror."

Video report

Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman

Cindy Wockerm, The Daily Telegraph (Australia), Indonesian militant Muhammad Jibril Abdul Rahman accused of helping fund Jakarta hotel bombings, Feb 23, 2010,

"An Indonesian militant who used numerous aliases and codenames including “Prince of Jihad” and “Irhaad 007” has gone on trial in Jakarta accused of helping to arrange the funding for last year’s Jakarta hotel bombings ...

"... Jibril, the publisher of a Jihad magazine known as a Jihadmagz and a radical Islamic website, faces charges of assisting terrorist acts and hiding information and using fake identities and faces a maximum 15 years in jail if convicted."

Monday, February 22, 2010

Meedan



Guardian, News translation website Meedan aims to improve Arabic-English relations, 21 Feb 2010 "A new website hopes to bridge the divide between the west and the Middle East, by allowing English speakers to read news articles originally printed in Arabic – and vice versa.

"San Francisco-based Meedan, which launches tomorrow, will provide translations of news articles in both languages in an attempt to help foster better relations between the two."

I've been tracking Meedan for several months in Beta, and have linked to it several times. Now it has an official launch. Recommended for students,in particular.

Wajhy


LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, New website lets Muslims and Arabs put best face forward online, 21 Feb 2010 "Ever wished your avatar was as stylish, devout or politically conscious as you are? Now it can be, with the new online service Wajhy, which allows users to customize their online persona with traditional Arab dress and accessories like a virtual keffiyeh."

So, I had a go at this (above) but - alas - will have to return to the drawing board. See wajhy.com to have a go yourself.

SocialEyez



arabcrunch.com, With the Launch of the 1st Arabic Social Media Monitoring Service, Will Regional Marketers Turn into Social Media?, 16 Feb 2010 "Educating the public that millions of Arab Internet users actually turn to social media everyday might change the backward thinking of traditional marketer: There are around 7 million members from the Arab world on facebook, 100s of thousands of blogs coming from users from this region, and around 40% traffic from Arab ISPs is going to Youtube as the major telecom operators reveled so during last year Arab Advisor Conference. Let alone the ever growing users who are joining Google Buzz, Twitter and other social media platforms such as ArabCrunch.NET and Netlog."

Also see SocialEyez

Facebook acquire Octazen

arabcrunch.com, Facebook’s First Acquisition in a Muslim Country- Octazen Solutions, 20 Feb 2010 "Facebook spokesmen told GigaOM that this is a “talent acquisition” and that Octazen will remain based in Malaysia, making them the first Facebook’s “visible” full time employees based in Asia. ( We heard there are few of others who work form 2 Arab countries.)"

Here's the GigaOM report by Liz Gannes

UAE domain names

The National, Internet domain first for UAE, 15 Feb 2010 "The UAE will become one of the first countries to launch domain names in non-Latin characters later this year, the country’s telecommunications regulator says."

"Is 'Avatar' Secretly Pro-Palestinian?"

Ted Swedenburg, Is 'Avatar' Secretly Pro-Palestinian?, 21 Feb 2010 opinion piece, linking to pix of the 'Avatar' protest

Mobile phones

AFP/TerraNet, Mobile phones become pocket banks in poor countries, 22 Feb 2010 "The rise of banking transactions through mobile phones is giving a whole new meaning to pocket money in parts of the developing world that lack banks or cash machines."

For Those About to Rock ...

al-Bab, Headbanging against repression, 22 Feb 2010 "Today, Freemuse, an international organisation advocating freedom of expression for musicians and composers, has published a report: Headbanging Against Repressive Regimes.

"You don't need to like heavy metal music to see its significance. Mark LeVine, the report's author, writes that underground genres of popular music "are avatars of change or struggles for greater social and political openness. They point out cracks in the facade of conformity that is crucial to keeping authoritarian or hierarchical and inegalitarian political systems in power." In China, for instance, metal "has become a bellwether for the contradictory processes of cultural and economic liberalisation coupled with entrenched authoritarian rule"."

Here's the Freemuse report [PDF]

I have discussed Mark LeVine's work in previous posts.

Twitter Revolution(?)

The Irish Times, The revolution was not tweeted, Feb 20, 2010 "The protests following last year’s Iranian election were hailed as the ‘Twitter Revolution’. But a new reports claims Twitter had little or no effect on the events that unfolded. So does social media have a role to play in social activism? asks MARY FITZGERALD Foreign Affairs Correspondent." Extra marks for the Gil Scott-Heron influenced headline.

Op-ed on Iran

Roger Cohen, Op-Ed Columnist, NYT, Target Iran's Censors, 18 Feb 2010, "Iranians are resourceful. On thumb drives, SIM cards, encrypted photo files and the like, they’d get Haystack software into the country. The United States is shooting itself in the foot by making this illegal. Hillary Clinton’s speech on the importance of an open Internet was good, but right now it’s just a speech. Don’t shut down on Iran; open up to its promise. Sanctions are a feel-good impasse."

GIMF

theglobeandmail.com, Quebecker gets life sentence in Internet bomb plot "Said Namouh, 37, who plotted over the Internet from his basement apartment in Maskinongé, Que., was handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 10 years."

Iran cyber warfare

Hamid Tehrani, Global Voices Online, Iran: Cyber Islamic Militarism on the March, 19 Feb 2010 "The internet is usually touted as a space for dialogue and peaceful exchange, but in the case of Iran, the political conflict has also morphed into new forms of online “warfare” where the most powerful weapons are those that silence free speech."

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh case

PA, Hamas chief 'put himself at risk', 21 Feb 2010 "A Hamas leader assassinated during a visit to Dubai last month exposed himself to attack when he breached security protocol by talking about his trip over the phone and making hotel reservations on the internet, the militant Islamic group has said."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

"Blogger loses job for uncovering fake virginity story"

Global Voices Online, Marwa Rakha, Egypt: Blogger loses job for uncovering fake virginity story, 12 Feb 2010 "Egyptians began wondering if Egypt will start importing Chinese Hymens and Amira Al Tahawi, who used to work with Radio Netherlands at the time, got fired for blowing the whistle over the fabricated Chinese hymen story."

Marwa Rakha has outlined the chronology of this case, which I picked up via Hussein M. Dajani on Facebook, so read Rakha's post in full.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Facebook

After neglecting my Facebook for some time, I've now been trying to revive my Facebook entries. Some of them contain stories and other material that don't make it into my blog. The links are as follows:

Gary R. Bunt "wall" page.

Gary R. Bunt "profile" page.

Scanners and modesty

Niraj Warikoo, freep.com, Airport body scanners violate Islamic law, Muslims say, 11 Feb 2010 "The Fiqh Council of North America – a body of Islamic scholars that includes some from Michigan – issued a fatwa this week that says going through the airport scanners would violate Islamic rules on modesty."

Cable break update

Allan Jacob, Khaleej Times, Internet Speed Unaffected by Snap in Cable from Iran, 12 Feb 2010 "Internet users in the UAE are experiencing normal speeds despite neighbouring Iran finding it slow to browse due to a fault in the undersea fibre-optic link between the Fujairah coast and the Iranian port of Jask in the Arabian Gulf.

"Both Internet service providers in the UAE, etisalat and du, on Thursday denied their operations were hit by the cable break."

"Dante’s Inferno" computer game

The National, Electronic Arts bans its own game in Middle East, 12 Feb 2010 "The decision this week by Electronic Arts (EA) to pre-emptively call off the sale of Dante’s Inferno in the Middle East followed a recent spate of bans by government censors in the region targeting releases deemed inappropriate to the country’s cultural and religious values."

Dante’s Inferno in the Middle East? Er, the absence of punctuation here is perhaps an oversight in this interesting report. The title *is* "Dante's Inferno" [links to EA UK]

StreetDawa.com

StreetDawa.com have brought together a series of YouTube clips in an accessible and easy to navigate format. It includes Q&A interpretations on specific issues, and guides on Islamic principles. I haven't had a chance to view them all yet. It offers viewers a chance to send in questions.

Here's one sample, from Haitham al-Haddad, who has links to the Muslim Research and Development Foundation.



There's a further sample here, which is on the front page: "How do I pray":

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Iran protests

Twitter, #iranelection
#iranelection (Bsalamati)

Press TV, Millions of Iranians mark victory of Islamic Revolution, 11 Feb 2010 "Millions of Iranians across the country have taken to the streets to celebrate the 31st anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution." ...





BBC News, How Iran's political battle is fought in cyberspace, 11 Feb 2010 "They called it the "Twitter revolution". Iran's post-election protests showed the world the power of new media to organise and publicise opposition in a controlled society.

"On the anniversary of the Islamic revolution in 1979, once again Twitter, Facebook and other internet tools could be crucial in helping the opposition organise another major protest."

Times Online, Live: anniversary of Iranian revolution: Following news reports, internet messages and video from Tehran on the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution, 11 Feb 2010

Guardian, Iran protests: live blog, 11 Feb 2010

CNN, Iran obstructing links to outside world, opposition members say, 10 Feb 2010 "Residents of the Iranian capital said Wednesday that text messages on many messaging services have been blocked and Internet speeds have slowed to a crawl.

"The Internet "comes on only a few minutes each day, but you never know when," one Iranian wrote in an e-mail to CNN, which he said took seven hours to send. "This has been going on for more than four days now. I contacted my Internet provider and they said it is out of their control.""

computerweekly.com, Iran blocks Gmail, 11 Feb 2010 "Iran has reportedly blocked Google's Gmail service to the country to encourage citizens to use a national e-mail service instead."

"Funny, She Doesn’t LOOK Like An Arctic Explorer"

amazingwomenrock.com, Funny, She Doesn’t LOOK Like An Arctic Explorer, 9 Feb 2010 "Shayla- and abbaya-clad Elham Al Qasimi is about to knock some strongly held stereotypes on the head.

"She’s poised to be become the first United Arab Emirates National, and thus also the first UAE National WOMAN, to attempt reaching the North Pole unassisted and unsupported."

Twitter: oxfordgirl

Matthew Weaver, Guardian, Oxfordgirl vs Ahmadinejad: the Twitter user taking on the Iranian regime, 10 Feb 2010 "Known only by her Twitter name, Oxfordgirl has emerged as a crucial link between the protesters and the outside world. "Before they started blocking mobile phones I was almost co-ordinating people's individual movements – 'Go to such and such street,' or 'Don't go there, the Basij [militia] are waiting,' " she said. "It was very strange to be sitting in Oxford and co-ordinating things like that.""

Twitter: oxfordgirl

iMuslims Review

"iMuslims in an excellent guide to the emergence of 'specific forms of online Islam'. What is really new, as Bunt shows so powerfully, is the contribution of concerned and thinking Muslims, with no background in traditional education..."

Adnan Farooqi [Assistant Professor in Dept of Political Science and Coordinator, Centre for Zakir Husain and Gandhi Studies, Jamia Milia Islamia, New Delhi] has reviewed iMuslims for The Book Review February 2010. This review isn't online.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Orient I 2010

Orient I, 2010 [links to PDF]

This contains research articles relating to this blog:

Eugenia Siapera, "Networked Palestine: Exploring Power in Online Palestinian Networks"

"As more and more Muslims come online, the new online Muslim publications are revealing a diversification of Islam and its interpretations, which are detached from authors and authorities, thereby in many ways echoing the operations of the public sphere in early (European) modernity. As Gary Bunt (2003) has shown, the internet has diffused and redistributed religious power, which has now left the confines of the famous madrasas and circulates in the various sites offering fatwas and other religious advice."

An interesting discussion about networking in Palestinian contexts. Scroll down to the section in the PDF.

The journal PDF also includes (in no particular order): a discussion by Bettina Gräf on "Media Fatwas, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Media-Mediated Authority in Islam"; this on podcasts: Jan Scholz, Tobias Selge, Max Stille, Johannes Zimmermann, "Listening to more than Islam. Approaching identities through the auditive dimension of podcasts". There is also Carola Richter, "Virtual Mobilisation: The Internet and Political Activism in Egypt"

Dress code issues

Bassam Za'za', Gulf News, Man claims fiancee hid beard under niqab, 10 Feb 2010 "An Arab ambassador said he decided to call off his wedding immediately after he discovered that his wife-to-be, who wears a niqab, was bearded and cross-eyed.

"The ambassador claimed that the bride's mother deceived his mother, when she went to see his Gulf national wife-to-be, by showing her pictures of the bride's sister"

My Name Is Khan





watblog.com, My Name Is Khan Premiere To Be Streamed Live Online On Facebook – Is Web The Future Of Bollywood?, 10 Feb 2010

Facebook, My Name Is Khan

Hacking targets

BBC News, Political hacktivists turn to web attacks, 10 Feb 2010 "Political activists are increasingly using net attacks as a means of protest, reveals a report."

UK government 'initiative' on web

Tim Stevens, ubiwar.com, Crowdsourcing Counterterrorism, 4 Feb 2010 "In conclusion, this reporting and adjudication mechanism looks to be the ‘least worst’ thing government could have done. It hasn’t announced that this will ’solve’ the problems as they see it, and it hasn’t sought to grab the headlines by launching it. If managed well, this could have some real effect on online behaviours government sees as undesirable. It takes the heat off ISPs and hosting companies, restores a degree of responsibility to consumers, and is unequivocal that there is actually very little content likely to be affected."

Facebook 'fatwa' update

Joseph Mayton, bikyamasr.com, Al-Azhar says no fatwa against Facebook, 9 Feb 2010 "One avid Facebook user said that even if al-Azhar was to issue a fatwa, “it is unlikely any of us would think about following it because it doesn’t make sense. Blaming Facebook is an excuse for the lack of opportunities and poor lives we live in Egypt.”"

Iran: service delays

Con Coughlin, Telegraph, Iran's mullahs are desperately trying to pick a fight with the West to save their own skin, 10 Feb 2010 "What are we to make of the increasingly hysterical outpourings from Iran’s hardliners as they approach the 31st anniversary of the Islamic revolution – which will be celebrated throughout the country on Thursday?"

To be read in conjunction with

LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, IRAN: Internet access, text-messaging service down as 22 Bahman protests approach, 8 Feb 2010 "After connections worsened, Iran's communications minister, Reza Taghipour, told a state broadcaster (via Agence France-Presse): "The cause of the reduced service in recent days is that part of the fiber-optic network is damaged." The minister asserted that the damage to an undersea cable was due to shipping traffic and anchoring. As for the concurrent slowing of text-messaging service, Taghipour attributed the disruption to "changing software.""

This is an online equivalent of "leaves on the line" (a popular excuse for service delays on British railways over the years).

Taqwacore

religiondispatches.org, Taqwacore Roundtable: On Punks, the Media, and the Meaning of “Muslim”, 10 Feb 2010 "What do you get when you add taqwa, or God-consciousness, to the punk suffix “-core”? Can something be Islamic without being religious? As journalists try to get a handle on this genre- and culture-bending mashup, RD associate editor Hussein Rashid gets right to the source."

Indonesia research

AP, Study: Pop culture helps Indonesia fight terrorism, 10 Feb 2010 "The world's most populous Muslim-majority nation, Indonesia has prevented widespread development of extremism and marginalized the al-Qaida-linked network Jemaah Islamiyah, said Magnus Ranstorp, research director of the Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies at the Swedish National Defense College."

Not sure if the research has been put online yet. See Center for Asymmetric Threat Studies for more information

Mohammed Atif Siddique

Scotsman, Scot freed after his terror sentence was quashed insists: 'I'm not a terrorist, I'm more of a numpty', 10 Feb 2010 "Siddique insisted he was innocent of plotting to cause carnage in the centre of Glasgow. He said: "I admit to being a stupid loudmouth but I never planned to hurt, let alone kill anyone anywhere ...

"... The bulk of his sentence - six years - was for having material on his computer which a reasonable person would think was intended for use in a terrorist act."

Monday, February 08, 2010

Abu Musab al-Suri

Jarret Brachman, Abu Musab al-Suri Still Matters Online, 6 Feb 2010 "Al-Suri’s work is still running rampant through the forums"

'Iranian opposition websites under cyber attack'

iranian.com, Iranian opposition websites under cyber attack, 7 Feb 2010 "Amir Kabir Newsletter and Advar News, two independent student websites in Iran were attacked by internet hackers, the Iranian Cyber Army. The two sites are amongst the few remaining sites that report from within Iran, independent from the government. The organizers of the two sites have been amongst the many targets of government crackdown on post-election protesters."

'Conversation with a Cyber Jihadi'

Views from the Occident, Conversation with a Cyber Jihadi, 5 Feb 2010 online dialogue, together with screenshots from various sources

Qur'an interpretation

'varjavand', iranian.com, 'Quran Misconstrued': The Quran should be interpreted by unbiased experts in a positive, constructive way "Regardless of the source of its revelation, the Quran should be revered by Muslims and be interpreted by unbiased experts in a positive, constructive way for the betterment of all Muslims. I find it ironic that some demagogues try to apply medieval rules to modern time and spread their gloomy version of Islam through the use of state of the art information equipment such as computers, wireless electronics, and the Internet. One would think they would prefer to utilize medieval modes of communication to promote their medieval ideas and to underscore their rejection of modernity." opinion piece

Banda Aceh Sharia police [Wilayatul Hisbah]

Hotli Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Banda Aceh: Sharia police: who are they?, 8 Feb 2010

"After several years of service with the sharia police, Nur Aminah described the application of sharia law in Aceh today as not fully appropriate and correct. She blamed the situation on the intense flow of modern information through the media as well as the Internet.

"“As a result, a lot of youth and women in Aceh follow external cultural trends. Besides, it’s hard for WH personnel to control Aceh’s public moral conduct if society itself is unwilling to exercise self control,” she added."

'Facebook fatwa' update

Amro Hassan, Babylon & Beyond blog, LA Times, Al Azhar denies Facebook fatwa, 7 Feb 2010 "Facebook may lead to sexual liaisons and illicit affairs, but Al Azhar's Islamic Research Academy has refuted reports that its fatwa committee issued a ruling against the social network.

""The committee hasn’t issued any decrees regarding Facebook," said Sheikh Saied Amer, head of the academy's fatwa, or religious-edict, committee. "We haven’t even had any inquiries about the religious legitimacy of using it or not.""

Also see Gulf News, Facebook fatwa raises eyebrows in Egypt, 8 Feb 2010 ""Such fatwas give a very bad impression about Islam and Muslims," said Hussain Abdul Azeem, a commerce school post-graduate. "I use the Facebook to communicate with my friends worldwide and learn about the latest news. Do I really commit a sin as the one who issued the fatwa claimed?" he told Gulf News."

"Militant Video Shows Abducted American in Iraq"

Associated Press, Video: Militant Video Shows Abducted American in Iraq, 8 Feb 2010

'Generation Jihad' on BBC

Preview: Guardian, Generation Jihad, 8 Feb 2010 "In this three-part series, Peter Taylor examines the threat still posed by a tiny minority of radicalised young men seduced by fundamentalist Islam. Tonight, he interviews two such men, both recently released from jail, as well as examining the case of Hammad Munshi, who at 18 was Britain's youngest convicted terrorist. Glib explanations like poverty or poor education don't explain the Munshis of this world – the aggrieved young men, mesmerised by the medievalist, anti-modernist rhetoric they are exposed to via the web, are generally well educated. Plenty of sane Muslim voices offer perspective."

Programme page: BBC,Generation Jihad "In the first episode, Peter hears from those convicted under Britain's newest anti-terror laws and investigates how some of the most notorious terrorists came to be radicalised. He finds a generation that has shed the moderate Islam their parents brought to this country, and instead have adopted a faith that they believe compels them to stand apart from Britain and its values."

Also see Peter Taylor, BBC, Young British Muslim ex-prisoners unrepentant on views, 8 Feb 2010

Friday, February 05, 2010

Putting 'fatwas' into perspective

Joseph Mayton, BikyaMasr.com, What you didn’t know about the Islamic fatwa, 4 Feb 2010

" ... with so much consternation and a lack of acceptance of the supposed “Islamic edict” as so often translated in English and Western press, the question should not be about which fatwa is issued, but really, what is a fatwa and why they don’t matter, many scholars argue.

"“A fatwa is the opinion of a religious sheikh and while we would like to believe they are binding, history tells us otherwise. We have no clergy in Islam and only God and Sunna (deeds and sayings of Prophet Mohamed) are truly binding,” said a prominent sheikh at Al-Azhar’s office of conversion recently when asked about a fatwa that Muslim children should not name their teddy bears after the Prophet.

"“They are kids and they are having fun. It should be taken as a sign of faith, not bigotry,” he added."

Egyptian Facebook fatwa

AKI, Egypt: Fatwa forbids Muslims from Facebook, 5 Feb 2010

"A top Egyptian cleric has issued a fatwa forbidding the use of the popular social networking site Facebook, saying Muslims using such sites must be considered "sinners".

"Statistics show that divorce rates have rised since the advent of Facebook and it has sharply increased marital infidelity, Sheikh Abdel Hamid al-Atras said.

""It's an instrument that destroys the family because it encourages spouses to have relations with other people which break Islamic sharia law," said al-Atrash, quoted by pan-Arab daily Al-Sharq al-Awsat."

Not sure of the source of these statistics.

aQ Facebook 'Friends'

Murad Batal Al-shishani, Jamestown Foundation, Taking al-Qaeda’s Jihad to Facebook, 5 Feb 2010 "The author has searched Facebook using keywords such as "jihad," "al-Qaeda," "al-Zarqawi," "Bin Laden," etc. and found a number of pro-al-Qaeda groups (“groups” on Facebook are applications created by users with common interests, fan-bases, advocates of a cause, etc). The author found that the number of members in these groups, which use names such as "Zarqawi," "al-Jihad al-Rayyan," "al-Qaeda," "Yusuf al-Batar battalion," etc. range from 50 to 150; however, groups using the name "Osama bin Laden," (there is more than one) tend to have more members, sometimes in excess of 400."

This is an interesting article. Al-shishani makes the further point, however:

"Compared to the number of participants in jihadi web forums, these numbers are comparatively low..."

Indonesia internet zombie film controversy

AFP, Indonesian Islamists block horror film: producers, 5 Feb 2010 ""Hantu Puncak Datang Bulan" (The Menstruating Ghost of Puncak) was screened to a selected audience in Jakarta earlier this week and was due for general release on Thursday.

"The producers said they made significant cuts to the film before it was approved by the mainly Muslim country's censorship board, including most of the sex scenes.

"But uncensored clips on YouTube have caught the attention of Muslim clerics and radical youth groups, who appear not to understand that the edited version is different.""

Details (if you really need them) of this zombie film can be found here: indonesiamatters.com, Hantu Puncak Datang Bulan, 4 Feb 2010

Iran Supermarket revolution



Robert Tait, Guardian, Iran launches first online supermarket: New site aimed at revolutionising shopping is approved by internet-hostile regime, 4 Feb 2010 "A state-linked technology group has established the country's first online supermarket aimed at revolutionising the shopping experience in a country generally lacking the gleaming emporiums that can be found elsewhere.

"Meydoonak.com is offering 2,500 grocery and household items at competitive prices. The supermarket will initially cover Tehran and operate from 8am till midnight six days a week excluding Fridays, the Islamic day of rest."

'Cable cut' in Iran

Ali Sheikholeslami, Bloomberg/businessweek.com, Iran Says Cut Disrupts Internet; Opposition Blames Government, 4 Feb 2010 "A partial Internet disruption in Iran that began Feb. 1 was caused by a cable cut, the government said, while the political opposition alleged authorities caused the shutdown to limit communication by groups that plan protests on the Feb. 11 anniversary of the Islamic Revolution."

Thursday, February 04, 2010

aQ

Jarret Brachman, 2 More Web Jihadists Announced Dead, 1 Feb 2010 "My argument was that we are only going to see more and more web jihadists crossing over the proverbial threshold and going operational. Well, almost on cue, the al-Qaida forums are reporting that two jihadist web users are dead."

Taqwacore film

Nen Fulton, Salt Lake Tribune, Sundance: American story, Muslim vernacular, 29 Jan 2010 "Few subjects, let alone in film, are more of a tightrope walk than Islam in America. Eyad Zahra, director of Sundance film "The Taquarecores," screening in the Next category, said it's a walk he was eager to make."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

GIMF statement

Views from the Occident, English Translation: Advice & Compassion in Speaking about the Market Bombings in Peshawar, by Al-Qa'ida Central's Shaykh 'Attiyatullah (Attiyatallah), 1 Feb 2010 "The Global Islamic Media Front (GIMF), a shadowy transnational jihadi-takfiri media outlet, has released a translation of an Al-Qa'ida Central (AQC) senior ideologue's recent short essay about the market bombings that have wracked Peshawar, Pakistan for the past four months. Shaykh 'Attiyatullah ('Attiyatallah), whose real identity remains unknown and debated among analysts, has produced a number of written materials for AQC."

Marc Sageman interview

PBS Newshour, In Hunt for al-Qaida, 'Lone Wolves' a Rising Threat, 1 Feb 2010 "The leadership of al-Qaida is, by and large, on the run, says counter-terror expert Marc Sageman. Unfortunately, he tells Margaret Warner, more "lone wolves," such as the accused Christmas Day airplane bomber, have emerged as the new face of the terror threat."

Links to MP3 interview.

al-Awlaki

Robert F. Worth, NYT, Cleric in Yemen Admits Meeting Airliner Plot Suspect, Journalist Says, 31 Jan 2010 "Mr. Awlaki’s new call to kill American officials here illustrated once again his radicalism, which has led counterterrorism officials to watch him closely for at least a decade. Born in New Mexico, Mr. Awlaki had contacts with three of the Sept. 11 hijackers at mosques where he worked in San Diego and Falls Church, Va. His eloquent defenses of violent jihad in sermons and on the Internet are widely believed to have radicalized many young Muslims."

Nigeria/AQIM

AFP, Qaeda offers to train, arm Nigerian Muslims: SITE, 2 Feb 2010 "Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) leader has offered to train and supply Nigerian Muslims to carry out "violent jihad," in an Internet message, US-monitoring agency SITE said on Tuesday."

Taliban propagation strategies

Abdulhadi Hairan, huffingtonpost.com, A Profile of the Taliban's Propaganda Tactics, 1 Feb 2010 "Online internet forums and social networks are also used as part of this propaganda network. All the content posted on official websites is subsequently posted on Pashto and Dari forums for a wider audience and lengthy discussions. Videos are shared on youtube and other information on facebook, etc. As certain members of these online networks forward the videos and information to other groups and people, the propaganda content reaches to hundreds of thousands of people inside and outside Afghanistan and Pakistan and becomes part of the global campaign for jihad and, as a result, attract youths to join the insurgent forces or support it financially." This is a very detailed report on an under-represented area.

al-Fallujah

AFP/inquirer.net, Wanted Saudi extremist dead—US monitors, 2 Feb 2010 "SITE said a user on the al-Fallujah jihadist forum had posted a message about the death of Muhammad bin Ali al-Mutlaq, number 74 on the 85-strong Saudi list."

Monday, February 01, 2010

Anwar Ibrahim

Thomas Fuller, NYT, Trial of Opposition Leader Could Reshape Malaysian Politics, 31 Jan 2010 "During more than three decades in politics, Anwar Ibrahim has spent a good share of his time behind bars — from his detention during his days as a rabble-rousing student leader in the 1970s to his imprisonment a decade ago on charges of abuse of power and sodomy."

More information: Anwar Ibrahim Blog
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Wikipedia)
Nurul Izzah Blog

I write about Anwar Ibrahim (and supporters') use of the internet in my books.

Tarek Mehanna case

Shelley Murphy, Boston Globe, Taking refuge where his woes began, 1 Feb 2010, "As he sits in a Plymouth jail awaiting trial on terrorism charges, Tarek Mehanna, with the help of his brother on the outside, posts his thoughts, poems, and prayers on freetarek.com, a website that clocks the seconds he has spent behind bars. It also urges “100 heroes’’ to donate $10 a month to pay for such things as his snacks and stamps ...

" ... Mehanna, an Egyptian-American who received his doctorate two years ago from the Massachusetts College of Pharmacy, is accused of translating Al Qaeda documents - including the widely circulated “39 Ways to Serve and Participate in Jihad’’ - from Arabic to English and posting them on websites that advocate jihad in an effort to radicalize others and incite violence. He also is accused of adding slick graphics and English subtitles to videos that glorify terrorist leaders, using encrypted computer programs in a bid to hide his handiwork."

Auto Wudu Washer


Reuters/Khaleej Times, Muslim washing rite goes hi-tech, 1 Feb 2010 "A Malaysian company has invented a machine it says will help Muslims purify themselves before prayers without excessively wasting water.

" ... The device, which also emits recorded verses and is 1.65 metres (5 ft 4.96 in) tall, only uses 1.3 litres (0.3 gallons) of water compared to the conventional methods, which usually involve leaving faucets running for the duration of the washing ritual, which can last for several minutes."

I think I have blogged about this before. The developers, AACE Technologies, have more information here on their Auto Wudu Washer

Security issues

Global Arab Network, Tunisia: Enhancing network security to promote E-exchanges in Arab world, 31 Jan 2010 "The Arab Forum on “ Security of E-exchanges and Public Key Infrastructure” called for holding activities that meet the needs of the Arab region in the sector of e-exchanges and public key infrastructure.

"Experts in certification, e-security and e-trade and exchanges attended the Forum organized in Tunisia by the Arab Organisation of Information and Communication Technologies (AOICT) under the aegis of the Arab League and with the support of the Islamic Development Bank."

Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki

Andrea Elliott, NYT, The Jihadist Next Door, 31 Jan 2010 Extensive profile of 'Abu Mansoor Al-Amriki',(Omar Hammami), with a strong internet thread throughout.

'Militant Leadership Monitor'

Jamestown Foundation, Militant Leadership Monitor new publication [subscription required]