Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ibn Taymiyya jihad fatwa (re-)interpretation

Tom Heneghan, Reuters India, Muslim scholars recast jihadists' favourite fatwa, 31 Mar 2010 "Prominent Muslim scholars have recast a famous medieval fatwa on jihad, arguing the religious edict radical Islamists often cite to justify killing cannot be used in a globalised world that respects faith and civil rights.

"A conference in Mardin in southeastern Turkey declared the fatwa by 14th century scholar Ibn Taymiyya rules out militant violence and the medieval Muslim division of the world into a "house of Islam" and "house of unbelief" no longer applies."

More information: Mardin Conference from where the above screenshot is taken. The website contains details of the scholars who attended. There's a transcripts page, which presumably will be updated in due course.

Egypt: cybercrime workshop

George Haddad,, Egypt: Workshop on fight against cyber-crime, 29 Mar 2010 "An announcement said the two-day seminar, to be held on 30 and 31 March 2010 in Cairo, Egypt, will gather 245 participants nominated by the respective ministry or national authority of the beneficiary country. It will present the phenomenon of cybercrime, discuss the legal framework, and focus on responsibilities of the law enforcement agencies and Internet service providers."

قطر .

Hannan Taha,, Qatar Receives Approval for Arabic Internet Domains, 30 Mar 2010 "The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) announced that Qatar has received approval to have its internet domains written in Arabic, one of the first countries in the world to receive approval to use non‐Latin language scripts in domain names. Once implemented, Internet Domains ending in the Arabic equivalent of “.qatar”(" قطر ." ) can be registered in Qatar’s native Arabic‐language."

Nigerian Shaira Court Facebook and Twitter 'ban'

Ayo Okulaja, Next, Sharia court upholds ban on Facebook, 31 Mar 2010 "A Sharia court sitting in Kaduna on Tuesday upheld last week’s ruling that an online discussion on the first wrist amputation in the country be banned.

"The online forum was launched by the Civil Rights Congress (CRC), a civil society organisation, to mark the 10th anniversary of the first Sharia-court ordered amputation in Nigeria - that of Buba Bello Jangebe, alias ‘Kare Garke’ (ranch raider), by the Zamfara State government.

"The Magajin Gari Sharia court last week ordered the CRC and its head, Shehu Sani, to suspend its online debate on the amputation through an interim injunction that restrained the respondents from opening a chat forum on Facebook, Twitter, or any blog for the purpose of the debate on the amputation of Mr. Jangebe pending yesterday’s hearing of the case."

Also see, Victor Ulasi, Update: Nigerian religious court bans the use of Facebook and Twitter, 30 Mar 2010 "The President of the Association of Muslim Brotherhood of Nigeria, Ustaz Safiyan Abubakar made it known that on no grounds should the internet be used to discuss Sharia in such place that is abominable to God, or neither is anyone allowed to make mockery to Islam just because he is a human right activist.

"We are not against Civil Right Congress discussing about the arm amputation of Mallam Bellow Jangebe in anyway because the amputation was politically inspired but the discussion of Sharia been supreme or not supreme and deciding if the Sharia is right or wrong is totally unacceptable because Islam is Supreme and Sharia is been practiced by the teachings of Islam. Facebook and Twitter are unholy place to talk about Sharia, doing that is an intimidation and undermining of the teachings of Islam. Only a foul gives to dog what is holy,” Abubakar added."

Moscow metro bombings

Reuters, Russia's "silent war" spills into Moscow, 30 Mar 2010 "Russia says the bombings, which killed 39 people, were carried out by a group with links to the North Caucasus, giving credibility to statements by Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov that he would attack Russian cities and energy pipelines."

Guardian, Suicide bombers kill nine more in Russia, 31 Mar 2010

CBC, Black Widows: The brides of Allah, 30 Mar 2010 "The Black Widows is what Russian journalists call female Islamist suicide bombers who have participated in more than 30 attacks that have killed about 900 people in Russia since July 2001, when Khava Barayeva and Luisa Magomadova rammed their explosives packed truck into a Russian military headquarters building in the Chechen village of Alkhan Yurt."

Paul Quinn-Judge, Foreign Policy, Russia's Terror Goes Viral, 29 Mar 2010

"The metro bombings in Moscow make clear that terrorism is far from exorcized from Russia. So where has it been hiding these last few, quiet years? The Web..."

"... Now that he is gone, Buryatsky is quickly becoming an online legend, reinforced by his letters, now being selectively released by guerrilla websites. They depict his hatred for "dying Russia" and the "pigs" who serve it, and his own growing obsession -- a "wild hunger" as he called it in one letter -- to become a shahid, or martyr. It would not be surprising if his last message -- the one filmed on his phone and later confiscated by the FSB -- surfaces on some guerrilla website, leaked by sympathizers inside the local police. "

Monday, March 29, 2010

Microsoft translator widget

Gaith Saqer,, Translation War Intensifies: Microsoft Launched Translator Widget in 32 Languages Including Arabic and Chinese, 25 Mar 2010 "Microsoft released Maren a desktop Transliteration application last year, and already has 150,000 downloads according to sources, an app that is superior to Yamli and Ta3reeb as It works on all MS Windows applications where users can compose documents, blogs, e-mails, instant messages, or even leave comments on friends’ Facebook pages all in Arabic."

Maren is here

I've previously blogged on these tools. Here's the widget for this page:

As with all machine translations, this carries an accuracy warning! I cannot get it to function in the sidebar at present.

A Middle East bookshelf

Brian Whitaker has provided this useful A Middle East bookshelf as an introductory reading list. There are some good suggestions here, and plenty of scope for discussion...

Abu Yahya al-Libi('s brother)

Jarret Brachman, Today I Interviewed Abu Yahya al-Libi’s Older Brother, Abd al-Wahhab Muhammad Qaid (Abu Idris) "In what I would call the culminating interview of my career, today I spent 2-hours with Abu Yahya al-Libi’s older brother in the warden’s office at Bu Salim Reform and Rehabilitation Center (prison). No photos allowed on this one, which is too bad b/c I cant possibly convey how surreal of an experience this was."

I think this interview/scoop will be very interesting.

Saudi Arabia

David George-Cosh, The National, Yahoo aims to go local in Saudi Arabian expansion, 23 Mar 2010 "Yahoo, the world’s second-largest internet search company, has applied for a trade licence in Saudi Arabia to establish a sales and editorial presence in the kingdom’s growing media market."

Saudi Arabia

Tom Gara, The National, Saudi Arabia looms largest in Web development visions, 27 Mar 2010 "As the Arab Web industry found its voice at its first gathering last week, there was talk of an entrepreneurial boom in Jordan, Dubai’s digital advertising industry and the emergence of Cairo as an online centre.

"But ask a Web business, or more importantly, an online advertiser, where they want to see their digital properties growing, and the answer is almost unanimous: Saudi Arabia."

Saot Al Arab, Saot Al Arab, What Would You Do If You Were The Leader? "Saot Al Arab (The voice of Arabs) is an interesting and ambitious non-profit project that was recently launched for the Arab world, asking visitors what they would do if they were in the leader’s chair, what would be the first project they would launch."

Interesting idea, transferable to other contexts

"Oh Allah, we seek refuge with You from the snooze button"

Aishah,, Oh Allah, we seek refuge with You from the snooze button, 29 Mar 2010 "It’s 5:45 and your Fajr alarm has just begun ringing. You tried to be smart and set the alarm and your ringer as the same tone so you’d think that someone was calling you, because, of course, answering a call is much more exciting than trying to figure out how to snooze the alarm this early in the morning. But, you’re smarter than you thought, and caught on to the trick. The reverse psychology failed." non-tech (apart from the alarm clock - but a nice piece)

Hissa Hilal

Independent, Saudi woman poet lashes out at clerics in 'Arabic Idol', "The X Factor it isn't – but Abu Dhabi's live poetry talent contest, The Million's Poet, which is broadcast across the Arab world, features something far more subversive than its British equivalent could ever manage.

"Tonight, Hissa Hilal, a mother-of-four from Saudi Arabia, takes to the stage in the last round of a competition that she has taken by storm with a scathing critique of the conservative clerics who hold sway in her country. Her poetry has earned her the praise of the judges, the acclaim of the viewing public – and more than a few death threats."

Middle East Online, ‘Fatwa’ poetess makes it to Million’s Poet final, 18 Mar 2010

Discussion on Hissa Hilal features prominently online

Islam Online "on-strike" [update]

صوت إسلام أون لاين
The above link goes to Voice of, a blog collecting videos, campaign information and news on this major story. Some recent 'catch-up' links are below:

Ramadan Al Sherbini, GulfNews, Website workers defiant after boss dismissed, 26 Mar 2010

Fox News, Moderates forced out of top Islam Web site, 26 Mar 2010

"The Qatari government has forced out the moderate leadership of a popular Islamic Web site and plans to reshape it into a more religiously conservative outlet, former employees of the site said Thursday.
Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, the widely respected cleric who co-founded IslamOnline and is known as a relative moderate, is no longer the head of al-Balagh, the company which funds the Web site, said his secretary, Youssef Aboul-Naga."

I was surprised to see Fox describe al-Qaradawi as 'relative moderate'(discuss) ...

Zawya, Negotiations beak down between IOL staff and Qatar, 26 Mar 2010

"Representatives of Abdullah El-Naggar, head of Media International's board and member of the board of Al-Balagh foundation, IOL's main funder, met Thursday afternoon with a team of lawyers headed by Yasser Fathy.  
""They demanded that all employees resign in order to receive their financial packages," Fathy told Daily News Egypt.

""This is a [classic] case of Egyptian employees being hampered at the hands of a foreign management."", Ousted Islamonline's employees launch new website, 26 Mar 2010  

"The launching of a new website project titled "Alam Al-Umma" or "Islamic Nation Information," was revealed after the website Islamonline's employees were unjustly relieved from their positions on the website earlier this month."

Diana Mukkaled, Asharq Alawsat, IslamOnline: What Moderation?, 26 Mar 2010

""Whatever the case may be, this is a crisis that raises a question that relates to all aspects of Islam in the post-9/11 era; what kind of media for what kind of Islam after more than a decade of crises where politicians, philosophers, and activists have explored and analyzed everything connected to Islam to the point that the media is leaning towards irrational fear rather than towards research and knowledge?""

Hadeel al-Shalchi, AP, Moderates forced out of top Islam Web site, 26 Mar 2010 "Fathi Abu Hatab, who has been with the company for 10 years, said repeated pressures from management to change the site's approach prompted them to go on strike.

""Our Doha correspondent wasn't allowed to cover the Doha Film Festival because it was deemed unIslamic. We were receiving complaints (from management) about our discussions on women's health, homosexuality, and films.""

'Jihadi Cool'

Dina Temple-Raston, NPR, Jihadi Cool: Terrorist Recruiters' Latest Weapon, 26 Mar 2010

"With so many terrorism cases emerging in the U.S. in the past nine months, experts are trying to understand why so much is happening now. One explanation has less to do with religion than with adventure. The latest wave of jihadists traveling to Pakistan and elsewhere for training may have been motivated by a sense of jihadi cool."

I have referred to this concept in iMuslims and elsewhere. The link has audio, transcript and report.

Conference announcement: The Arabic Language and the Internet/اللغة العربية والإنترنت

Conference announcement: 

La Fondation Temimi pour la Recherche Scientifique et l’Information

The Arabic Language and the Internet

In recent years, the internet has come to dominate our lives. E-mails and instant messaging and chat are rapidly replacing conventional forms of communication. The Web is becoming the first resource people use for information enquiries, leisure and general activities. All of this has generated an expansion in the variety and creativity of language. This phenomenon is spreading worldwide (see Crystal regarding English, 2001, 2004, 2006 and Danet and Herring, 2007 for a variety of languages including Arabic). The linguistic plurality in the Arab world and the addition of the new factor (the internet) make researching this area not only fascinating, but also necessary. The emergence of the Internet made the debate over the status of the Standard Arabic (high) and the various dialects (diglossia) (low) more or less out of date, especially with the appearance of a “new” forms of writing that is making its way into Arabic literature, encouraging the use of the dialect (e.g. Ayza Atgawiz عايزة أتجوز(2008), Ruz bi laban li shakhsain رز بلبن لشخصين (2008) and many more by Dar Al Shourouq). As a direct reaction to this phenomenon, debate in the Arab world, including calls of “saving” Arabic are taking place across the region. “New” organizations have appeared, decrying the impacts of globalization on the Arabic language, culture and identity and calling for an immediate rescue of the language (e.g., the new Lebanese Organization “Fi’il Amr” فعل أمر. Its aim is not only to preserve the language, but also to seek ways of making it adaptable to the new technologies and to highlight the dominance of foreign languages, particularly English in the everyday use. The linguistic hegemony is manifested on the internet in various ways. It appears in the discourses related to language, identity and power (e.g., Arabic hegemony over the local language of Tamazight, the dominance of French/English as the languages of the colonizers and their relationships with the global hegemonic power of the West over East).

The internet has also opened up a public space in which all manner of ideas and ideologies interact with each other and compete for attention, each making arguments through the debates that take place on websites, blogs, Facebook, Tweeter…etc (e.g., the Islamist versus the Secular websites) without a confident answer that this public sphere is actually leading to “change”. Their messages are transmitted through the use of language, which in itself is loaded with power-related issues that contribute to either the existing culture or help in the emergence of a new cultural field. The internet has helped the emergence of e-Arabic. It is a language (e-Arabic) that mixes, borrows and adapts, uses numbers, Roman letters, Arabic script characters, emotions and words from other languages (English and French) to engage not only with the globalised discourse as such but also to examine the specific ways in which the local frames the global. The questions that arise are related to whether or not this “new” language is strengthening or weakening Arabic? Is this not a case of language variations as a result of contacts and change? Is change here a “blessing” and part of a natural cycle or “curse” on Arabic? In other words, what is the scale of the impacts of globalization on Arab(ic) language and culture?

The organizers, the Centre for the Advanced Studies of the Arab World (CASAW) based in the United Kingdom and Fondation Temimi pour la recherche scientifique et l’information (FTRSI) in Tunisia have made significant contributions to producing research on the society, history, and cultures of the Arab world. Both have Arabic as a central research preoccupation. This conference aims at exploring the latest research on Arabic and the Internet, from within the Arab world and intentionally, in the fields of linguistics, cultural studies, political science, sociology, literature, history and geography. The organizers seek to examine language as an embedded component in every discipline. Therefore, possible topics might include, but are not limited to:

• Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) and dialects in and their relationship with the internet.
1. Arabic diglossia, power and identity formation
2. Multilingualism in the Arab regions.
3. National language versus foreign/second language and their manifestation on the internet.

• Arabic language, literature and the visual arts and their role in shaping the cultural field in the Arab world under the impact of the Internet.
1. The emergence of “new” Arabic literature as result of internet use.
2. Use of image (Flickr), social networks (Facebook, Tweeter...etc) as forms of expression.
3. The relationship between the internet, Arabic literature and culture in general.

• Arabic language and power and the question of “change” in the Arab world both virtually and physically.
1. The role of Arabic Language Academies in monitoring and regulating the new terminologies.
2. In what way “change” is received/assimilated in the Arab world?
3. How different/similar is the “change” (if any) between the virtual and the physical spaces?

• The cyber sphere and the marginal/oppositional voices appearing in the Arab world. The emergence of “new” voices virtually, what forms of Arabic they use and why?
1. Marginal and oppositional voices in the Arab world.
2. The emergence of local voices promoting local languages (Tamazight...etc).

Proposals across disciplines are welcomed. Please send abstract of 250 words by email to both:

Prof. Temimi: /
Dr. Anissa Daoudi:

The deadline for submission is June 2010.

مؤسسة التميمي للبحث العلمي والمعلومات
ومركز الدراسات المتقدمة للعالم العربي تنظمان :
المؤتمر الثلاثون لمنتدى الفكر المعاصر حول :
اللغة العربية والإنترنت
مؤسسة التميمي:_10 – 13 ديسمبر  2010
المنشور الأول

أصبحت شبكة الإنترنت في السنوات الأخيرة تهيمن على حياتنا وغدت رسائل البريد الإلكتروني والرسائل الفورية والدردشة، قد عوضت وبسرعة الأشكال التقليدية للاتصالات، حيث تمكنت شبكة الانترنت من أن تصبح المصدر الأول الذي يلجأ إليه الجميع من اجل البحث عن المعلومات، والأنشطة الترفيهية والعامة وهذا ما أدى إلى توليد وتوسيع دائرة توظيف اللغة العربية تجاه هذه الظاهرة، شأنها في ذلك شأن بقية اللغات في العالم والتي تفاعلت معها سلبا وإيجابا  (انظر كريستال فيما يتعلق باللغة الإنجليزية، 2001، 2004، 2006، ودانيت وهيرنج، 2007 لمجموعة متنوعة من اللغات بما فيها اللغة العربية).أما بالنسبة للغة الضاد فقد أدّى ظهور الإنترنت إلى جعل النقاش حول اللغة العربية الفصحى واللهجات المختلفة (diglossia) احدى مظاهر التعلق بهاته اللغة، وخاصة مع ظهور "نماذج" جديدة من الكتابة التي بدأت تجد طريقها إلى الأدب العربي، من خلال تشجيع استخدام اللهجة المحلية *. وكرد فعل مباشر لهذه الظاهرة، فإن النقاش في العالم العربي، يتضمن الدعوات المتضاربة فمنها من يتباكى ويطالب "بإنقاذ" اللغة العربية ومنها من يرى في ذلك نتاج طبيعي وصحي لاحتكاك اللغات المختلفة بعضها مع البعض.
وقد ظهرت أيضا منظمات "جديدة"، تدعو إلى شجب آثار العولمة على اللغة العربية والثقافة والهوية وإنقاذ فوري للغة على سبيل المثال، المنظمة اللبنانية الجديدة "فعل أمر والتي هدفها ليس فقط الحفاظ على اللغة العربية، ولكن أيضا البحث عن سبل لجعلها قابلة للتكيف مع التكنولوجيات الجديدة، وتسليط الضوء على هيمنة اللغات الأجنبية عليها، وبخاصةً اللغة الانجليزية في الاستخدام اليومي. وعليه فإن البحث في هذا المجال ليس مجرد موضوع للاستهلاك فقط، بل أمرا ملحا وضرورياً أيضاً.
إن مظاهر التعدّد اللغوي في العالم العربي جعل من قضية الهيمنة اللغوية ملفا دقيقا جدّا تتضح وتبرز آثارها جليّة على شبكة الانترنت بطرق مختلفة. وقد برزت في الخطابات التي تتعلق باللغة والهوية والسلطة. وهيمنة اللغة العربية على اللغة المحلية مثلا الأمازيغية، وهيمنة اللغة الفرنسية / الإنجليزية بوصفهما من لغات المستعمر وعلاقاتهما مع القوى العالمية المهيمنة في الغرب على الشرق. كما فتحت شبكة الانترنت أيضا الفضاء لبروز الرأي العام والذي يؤشر على مختلف الأفكار والأيديولوجيات التي تقوم بالتفاعل مع بعضها البعض وتتنافس على جلب الاهتمام بها، بفتح منابر للنقاش على مواقع الانترنت (مثل بلوجات، فيس بوك، تويتر... إلخ ). نأخذ عـلى سبيل المثال، المواقع الإسلامية والعلمانية، ونجد أن كلاهما يعمل لجلب أكبر عدد من القراء والمنخرطين دون الحصول على إجابة أكيدة بأن هذه المعركة قد تساعد في الواقع على"التغيير"، وكل هاته المعارك تنتقل عن طريق استخدام اللغة، والتي هي في حدّ ذاتها محمّلة بقضايا مرتبطة بالسلطة وتساهم في إثراء الثقافة الحالية أو تساعـد في نشوء حقل  ثقافي جـديد. لقد ساعـدت شبـكة الإنترنت عـلى ظهـور الـلغة العربية الإلكترونية(eArabic). إنها الـلغة (e-Arabic) التي تقوم بمزج واستعارة وتكيّف، واستخدام الأرقام والحروف الرومانية والحروف العربية والصور التي تعبر عن المشاعر(emotions) والكلمات من لغات أخرى (مثلا اللغة الإنجليزية والفرنسية) للمشاركة ليس فقط في النقاش العولمي، ولكن أيضا لدراسة الطرق المحددة التي تمتزج فيها الأطر المحلية بالعالمية. وكل هذا يؤدي إلى طرح أسئلة حول ما إذا كانت هذه اللغة الجديدة تقوم بإضعاف أو تقوية اللغة العربية؟ أليست هذه التباينات اللغوية نتيجة للاتصالات والاحتكاك المؤدي إلى التغيير؟ وهل التغيير هنا هو "نعمة" أم هو جزء من دورة طبيعية أو "نقمة" على اللغة العربية؟ وبمعنى أخر، ما هو المقياس لتأثيرات العولمة على اللغة العربية كلغة وثقافة؟
وقد خطط مركز الدراسات المتقدمة للعالم العربي (CASAW) ومقرها المملكة المتحدة ومؤسسة التميمي للبحث العلمي والمعلومات (FTRSI) بتونس بتبني مشروع عقد مؤتمر بهذا الخصوص متناولين عديد الإشكاليات حول المجتمع، والتاريخ، والثقافات في العالم العربي. وهذا انطلاقا من تعامل هاتين المؤسستين الأكاديميتين مع اللغة العربية باعتبارها الوعاء الحضاري لهذا الاهتمام البحثي الرئيسي. ويهدف هذا المؤتمر إلى استكشاف أحدث الأبحاث في مجالات اللغة العربية والإنترنت، من المشاركين العرب والدوليين، في مجال اللسانيات والدراسات الثقافية والعلوم السياسية وعلم الاجتماع والأداب والتاريخ والجغرافيا. أما الموضوعات المحتملة تناولها فهي على التوالي :
أولا - اللغة العربية الفصحى الحديثة (MSA) واللهجات وعلاقتها مع شبكة الانترنت :
1 - ازدواجية اللغة العربية  diglossia، والسلطة وتشكيل الهوية.
2 - التعددية اللغويةmultilingualism  في العالم العربي.
3 - اللغة القومية مقابل اللغة الأجنبية أو اللغة الثانية ومظاهرها على شبكة الانترنت.
ثانيا - اللغة العربية والأدب والفنون البصرية ودورهم في تشكيل الحقل الثقافي في العالم العربي تحت تأثير الإنترنت :
4 - ظهور الأدب العربي "الجديد" نتيجة لاستخدام الانترنت.
5 - استخدام الصور (فليكر)، والشبكات الاجتماعية (فيس بوك، وتويتر... الخ) بوصفها أشكالا للتعبير.
6 - العلاقة بين الانترنت والأدب العربي والثقافة بصفة عامة.
ثالثا - اللغة العربية والسلطة، ومسألة "التغيير" في العالم العربي :
7 - دور أكاديميات اللغة العربية في مراقبة وتنظيم المصطلحات الجديدة.
8 - الطريقة التى تم بها تلقى /استيعاب  "التغيير" في العالم العربي؟
9 - مدى اختلاف / تماثل "التغيير" (إن وجد) بين المساحات الفعلية والمادية؟
رابعا - اللغة العربية والأصوات المعارضة :
10 - الأصوات الهامشية والمعارضة في العالم العربي.
11 - وظهور أصوات محلية تقوم بتعزيز أو تحسين اللغات المحلية (الأمازيغية والفرنكو-عربي... الخ).
إن جميع المقترحات من مختلف التخصصات، سوف تكون موضع ترحيب. وعليه نوجه إليكم المنشور الأول لهذا المؤتمر مرفقة ببطاقة الاشتراك، فالرجاء التفضل بملئها وإرجاعها إلينا قريبا، مع العلم أن مؤتمرنا سوف يعقد في الفترة ما بين 17 و19 من شهر نوفمبر 2010.
فالرجاء التفضل بإعلامنا بتأكيد مشاركتكم في هذا المؤتمر المتخصص ومدنا لاحقا بموجز للبحث على أن يتم  توجيهه إلى كل من : الأستاذ التميمي : /
- الدكتورة أنيسة داودي هذا وسوف نمدكم بكل المعلومات الجديدة حول هذا المؤتمر.

د. أنيسة داودي
د. عبد الجليل التميمي

Saturday, March 27, 2010

منى الطحاوي تتضامن مع العاملين في اسلام اون لاين

Mona Eltahawy discussing Islam and the net, focusing on her support of Islam Online staff (with a reference to iMuslims)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Number crunching: MuslimWestFacts

I attended an interesting lecture by Dalia Mogahed today in London, relating the findings of the Gallup/Coexist Foundation World Poll. It reminded me that there's a great deal of useful data available on MuslimWestFacts associated with perceptions, opinions and trends. The findings are also available in Arabic, and appear to be regularly updated. It's a great resource, especially for students/researchers, and was effectively summarised by Mogahed in her presentation. You can read more in John L. Esposito and Dalia Mogahed, Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think (Gallup, 2008).

Hawza Project

Details on the Clerical Authority in Shi'i Islam Project, which focuses on the roles of hawza in education and training. Project updates, including future activities, can be obtained via a contact form on the site.

Al Azhar English Training Centre

New Generation is a social networking site organised by Al Azhar English Training Centre (AAETC) in Cairo, a joint project between the British Council, the UK Foreign Office and Al Azhar University. It's a place where students can participate in English language discussion groups, blogs, forums and photos. Students are interested in discussing religion with other students in the UK (and elsewhere). It looks like a good initiative (and a lot of fun for the students). If you are interested, contact the blog directly - and not myself...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Research on blogging

Alan Travis, Guardian, Government names most influential 'pro-Islamic' bloggers, 23 Mar 2010 "The Home Office's counter-terrorism communications unit has named its top 20 most influential "pro-Islamic" political bloggers.

"The list forms part of a mapping exercise carried out on behalf of the Home Office to estimate and track the scale and influence of Islamic bloggers in Britain."

The report (pdf) is here I haven't had a chance to read this report yet, so will reserve comment. The data was compiled in April 2008, so there has been a delay in the information emerging into the public sphere.

Some details on the Home Office Research, Information and Communications Unit activities are here The author is David Stevens of Nottingham University, who has previously published related works:

# STEVENS, D., 2009. In Extremis: A Self-defeating Element in the 'Preventing Violent Extremism' Strategy. Political Quarterly, 80(4), 517-526.

# STEVENS, D. and O'HARA, K., 2009. The Devil's Long Tail: Religious Moderation and Extremism on the Web. IEEE Intelligent Systems, 24(6), 37-43.


Babylon & Beyond, LA Times, Online serial 'Shankaboot' brings Arabic drama into the new millenium, 21 Mar 2010 "A beautiful girl with a checkered past and the poor delivery boy who loves her – it could be any soap opera on one of hundreds of Arabic channels, but it's not. "Shankaboot" is a digital experiment in storytelling made for the Web, and its success could usher in a new genre of serial drama in the Arab world.

""In the first 10 episodes, we are introducing lovely, interesting characters that young people can identify with," producer Katia Saleh told The Times. "Down the line, [we'll] introduce other topics that would appeal to Arab youth and are not brought up in the mainstream media, something appropriate for the Web.""

Here's episode one (spot the CTU link) and two:

More episodes to follow (they're up to episode 4).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Dubai SMS

BBC News, Dubai jails Indian pair for 'sexy texts', 17 Mar 2010 "Steamy text messages have resulted in a three-month jail sentence for an Indian man and an Indian woman in Dubai."

Netherlands online shopping

NRC Handelsblad Media Netherland, Online Islamic sex-shop opens for business, 19 Mar 2010 "Not knowing whether his religion would allow the trade in sex products, Aouragh visited an imam, who in turn consulted a Saudi sheik. It was allowed, he learned, as long as the products were halal and meant to improve sex within marriage. "There is even a fatwa on the subject." That just left the problem of how to tell his parents. "It's a forbidden subject for the first generation here,” he said. Whenever his parents bring the matter up, Aouragh tries to quickly change the subject. “I tell them: yes, um, could I have some more tea?”"

Haystack in Iran

Aleks Krotoski, Observer, Austin Heap: how I helped Iran's citizens to beat the censor, 21 Mar 2010

"Austin Heap, the programmer from California, explains how he created Haystack, the software that broke the grip of Iran's censors after the disputed 2009 election."

Details: Haystack


Anand Giridharadas, NY Times, Africa's Gift to Silicon Valley: How to Track a Crisis, 14 Mar 2010 "This kind of everyone-as-informant mapping is shaking up the world, bringing the Wikipedia revolution to the work of humanitarians and soldiers who parachute into places with little good information. And an important force behind this upheaval is a small Kenyan-born organization called Ushahidi, which has become a hero of the Haitian and Chilean earthquakes and which may have something larger to tell us about the future of humanitarianism, innovation and the nature of what we label as truth. "


Friday, March 19, 2010

Cyber crime

BBC News, Cyber crime losses in US almost 'double' during 2009, 19 Mar 2010 "One scam that proved popular in 2009 involved people receiving an e-mail from the "Ishmael Ghost Islamic Group". The sender claims he has been told to assassinate the recipient and their family. Only by giving a donation to a UK group that helps Islamic expatriates will the death threat be lifted.""

Islam Online "on-strike" [update]

Bibi-Aisha Wadvalla, Guardian, Comment is free, Why we're on strike at IslamOnline, 18 Mar 2010 "The dominoes came falling down as we learned that Qatar had blocked Egypt's access to the server. Then it was revealed that a contract – of which nobody seemed aware – between al-Balagh and Media International (which produces the website for al-Balagh) ends on 31 March and will not be renewed, and all employees will be released. The duplicity by Qatar persisted, with promises made to compensate those who resigned. They reneged on the deal a day later."

Anwar al-Awlaki

VOA News, Yemeni-American Cleric Calls for Violence in US, 18 Mar 2010 "Yemenis say he is little known in his home country, because he grew up in America, and preaches in English. But on the Internet, he is the jihadist equivalent of a pop-star. His audio lectures have gone viral, as he tries to radicalize young Westerners by tugging at their heartstrings."

Thursday, March 18, 2010

IOL update, Ashraf Khalil, Hossam el-Hamalawy,Islam Online staffers win?, 17 Mar 2010 "Strikers were informed around 9 PM that an emergency meeting had been held for the board and general assembly of the Islamic Message Society, the Qatar-based religious NGO that funds the site and which is headed by the influential Egyptian-born Sheikh Youssef el-Qaradawi. The attendees voted to suspend the authority of two new members, who striking staffers viewed as the primary reasons behind rising newsroom tensions that eventually led to the staff walk-out."

Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Daily News Egypt,, Islam Online sit-in continues after mass resignation, 17 Mar 2010

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Facebook, Facebook Shows Respect to its Muslims Users and Deletes the Fake “God” Fan page!, 16 Mar 2010

'The New Landscape of the Religion Blogosphere'

Social Science Research Council Online, The New Landscape of the Religion Blogosphere haven't read this report yet, so I'm not sure how much of its content relates directly to this blog. See the comments from Heidi Campbell, SSRC & the New Landscape of the Religious Blogosphere

Online recruitment

AP, Recent cases show challenge of US terrorists, 17 Mar 2010 "Jihadi groups that recruit and inspire are nebulous and in many cases small and connected only by extremist ideology espoused on the Internet. The appeal is the notion that "somebody does want me," said Jack Tomarchio, a former top intelligence official at the Homeland Security Department."

'al-Qaida in Aceh'

Niniek Karmini & Chris Brummitt, AP, Indonesian militants recruit fighters in video, 18 Mar 2010, "Part or all of the video briefly appeared on a militant-linked blog on the Internet, released by the militants soon after the camp was raided, the first documented case of a terrorist training camp in Indonesia for five years. Two short clips are currently available on YouTube."

"Pakistan Charges Americans With Terrorism"

NYT, Pakistan Charges Americans With Terrorism, 18 Mar 2010 "Pakistani authorities have said that the men, encouraged by Internet contacts with a Pakistani militant, traveled to Pakistan last year seeking to wage jihad against American troops in Afghanistan. They were arrested in mid-December in the city of Sargodha, and have been jailed there since."

Uzbekistan censorship allegations

Forum 18, UZBEKISTAN: Internet censorship continues, 16 Mar 2010"Uzbekistan continues to impose widespread and swift internet censorship on Russian-language websites, Forum 18 News Service notes."

New England 'radical network'

PR Newswire, New Video Shows Radical Islamic Network in New England, 17 Mar 2010

Sheikh Youssef al-Ahmad: "Rebuild Holy Mosque", Rebuild Holy Mosque to keep sexes apart, Saudi cleric says, 17 Mar 2010"A hardline Saudi cleric has suggested demolishing the Holy Mosque in Mecca and rebuilding it in a drastic bid to prevent men and women from mingling during pilgrimages. Sheikh Youssef al-Ahmad told a Saudi satellite television channel Wednesday that the mosque should be demolished and replaced with a new one featuring "10, 20 or 30" floors.

"The floors would then be divided between men and women, al-Ahmad said in video footage posted on the Internet."

Islam Online update, Deena Khalil, IslamOnline was more than a job, 17 Mar 2010 "We, the editors of and all its subsidiary websites, hold strong to the Qur’anic verse that says “Thus we have created you a community of the middle way” (Al-Baqarah 2:143). We are passionate about Islam, and we are passionate about the Islamic principle of moderation in all things. We are not here just because this is our job, we are here because we believe in this message, and we love this message, and we want to contribute to its being heard.

"I can safely say that the overwhelming majority of IoL workers, from managers to editors to journalists to everyone else, has lived every minute in this company based on this statement. IoL is not a normal company. This place has so much heart, it really did feel like one big family."

Abdel-Rahman Hussein, Daily News Egypt,, Over 300 Islam Online employees resign, 16 Mar 2010 "The majority of Islam Online (IOL) Egypt's 330 staff submitted their resignation following a two-day sit-in spurred by warnings of mass lay-offs and employee investigations by the website's Qatari owner.

"The sit-in, at IOL's Egypt headquarters in Sixth of October City, continued for the second day Tuesday after staff at the Cairo office were informed Monday that the holding company Al-Balagh Foundation would not renew their contracts when they expire at the end of March."

Jack Shenker, Guardian, Workers' jihad at Islamic website, 16 Mar 2010 ""We're all resigning," Fathi Abu Hatab, a former IslamOnline journalist and one of the strike leaders, told me over the phone from inside the building. "If we lose this battle then IslamOnline as we know it will be dead. We were an exception – in our professionalism, in our moderation, in our refusal to be bound by hidden agendas. And like all exceptions in the Arab World, we've come to the end of the line.""

Ashraf Khalil, Times Online, Islam Online faces collapse after Cairo staff revolt over ‘religious pressure’, 17 Mar 2010

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Islam Online "on-strike" [update]

Comprehensive coverage of this from Eman AbdElRahman, Global Voices Online, Egypt: IslamOnline Employees Strike, 16 Mar 2010 "It is worth mentioning that this strike may be the first instance in which strikers use new media efficiently and effectively to draw all the attention needed to support their cause, from continuous Twitter updates to Live streaming."

There's a Facebook group: IslamOnline Supporters

Also see:

Ashraf Khalil,, Islam On-Strike, 15 Mar 2010

"Hundreds of employees of the widely read Islamic news website Islam Online walked off their jobs Monday afternoon, plunging the organization into chaos and calling its future into question. As of Monday evening, several dozen employees were staging an angry sit-in at the website’s main office in 6th of October City.

"The dispute, according to current and former employees, stems from long-simmering tensions between the website’s Cairo newsroom and a new board of directors based in Qatar. Striking employee Fathi Abu Hatab said the site’s new directors had been interfering in editorial content and seeking to alter the moderate tone and diversity of that content, which he says are the site’s signatures."

Also see Joseph Mayton,, Islam Online in crisis as administration threatens to fire journalists, 15 Mar 2010 "Prominent Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawy, who is technically the owner of Islam Online, has been out of touch during the ordeal. Employees attempted to get in touch with him, but to no avail. HMLC said that the sheikh “had promised the workers all of their rights and the continuation of the Cairo branch or he would resign, but it seems the Qatari side has taken advantage of Qaradawy’s health and his trip to Saudi Arabia.”

"The law center said this was an attempt to take advantage of the situation while he is away.

"This left the Egyptian blogosphere up in arms over the development, which has been updating the situation constantly. According to reports, the new administration wants a more “conservative approach” to what has long been considered one of the few voices for moderate Islamic perspectives online in both English and Arabic."

One senses that a question to 'Ask the Scholar' on industrial action may be appropriate at this juncture. I will continue to follow this dispute and its ramifications.

Skype in Persian Gulf

LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Skype plans to open Persian Gulf office in effort to tackle ban, 15 Mar 2010 "At a recent media conference in Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, Skype announced plans to open an office in the Persian Gulf in the next few months in a move to try to lift a ban imposed on the service in several parts of the region and develop strategic partnerships in the area, media reports say."

'Enemies of the Internet' report

LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, MIDDLE EAST: Iran and Arab countries "enemies of the Internet," says report, 15 Mar 2010 "As of last week, the advocacy organization Reporters Without Borders counted nearly 120 bloggers, journalists and others behind bars for their online activities — more than any other time since the creation of the Internet."

See Reporters Without Borders, Web 2.0 versus Control 2.01, 12 Mar 2010 and read the report Enemies of the Internet (pdf)

Skype ban rumours

Joseph Mayton,, Banning Skype rumors in Egypt, 15 Mar 2010 "Egyptian bloggers have been musing over whether the international calling site Skype will be blocked in the country. Global Voices first reported the rumors after a few bloggers commented on Vodafone Egypt purportedly told them they could not access Skype using their 3G mobile modem device. The rumors have yet to be substantiated and mystery surrounds the possible move to limit the use of the internet calling application."

Halal food dispute

David Sapsted, The National, Halal dispute over Kentucky Fried Chicken

"A trial involving the sale of halal poultry at dozens of outlets of a fast-food chain across Britain has left groups of Christians and Muslims embroiled in two very different controversies.

"On one hand, non-Muslim groups are setting up internet petitions against KFC’s move to sell halal-only products in the trial at 74 of its outlets across the country. On the other, Muslims themselves are questioning whether, in fact, the poultry being sold is truly halal."

Dede Med, "internet hummus queen"

Wall Street Journal, Shawarma, Ready-to-Eat: Arab Cuisine Invades Camp Pendleton, 16 Mar 2010

"Before she opened her stand, Ms. Hazime, who is also a real-estate broker in Irvine, Calif., had already built up a loyal following for her cooking. Her online alter ego, "Dede Med," is the reigning Internet queen of the mashed chickpea spread called hummus. Ms. Hazime's Web site, featuring recipes, is called "Dede's Mediterranean Kitchen ." She teaches cooking with short, online videos.

"Her hummus video has had more than 343,000 views since it was posted three years ago.

"Ms. Hazime's husband, who owns a computer business installing Google applications, manages her online career. Each night, Mr. Hajibrahim logs onto his computer from the couple's small apartment and searches Arabic food recipes to see where his wife ranks."

Dede Med is here, and looks great. The site contains lots of familiar recipes! Of course, everyone has their own version of key dishes. We certainly need more food on this blog (not just food for thought). I plan to try this out in due course:

TRA bans Facebook site

Abdulla Rasheed,, TRA bans offensive Facebook page in UAE, 16 Mar 2010 "The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) instructed all internet service providers in the UAE to block a specific site on Facebook that is insulting to God, the prophets and Islam.

""TRA received numerous calls and complaints from internet users expressing their anger against unidentified people who created a site on Facebook that is offending to God, prophets, messengers, the Holy Quran and even to all God's books," said Mohammad Al Ganem, TRA General Manager."

Jamie Paulin-Ramirez

NYT, In Ireland, a Hearing on a Plot to Kill a Swedish Cartoonist, 16 Mar 2010 "Ms. Paulin-Ramirez’s mother, Christine Mott, 59, said in an interview last week in Colorado that her daughter announced her conversion to Islam last Easter and became increasingly estranged from her family. She said that Ms. Paulin-Ramirez had been in contact with a man named Ali via the Internet, and that in the months before she left for Europe she had spent a lot of time on the computer, even neglecting her son from a previous marriage, Christian, 6, who is now in a state-run children’s home in Waterford."

Monday, March 15, 2010

The LSDP Top 100 Global thinkers of 2009

Someone sent me this link today: the LSDP [Lo Spazio della Politica] Top 100 Global thinkers of 2009. I seem to have made it to No. 73 (!).

Workshop announcement: “e-Arabic and Cyberspace: the Marginalized Voices”

Sponsored by the British Academy and in association with the American University of Sharjah, UAE; Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW); School of Modern Language and Cultures and the School of Government and International Affairs, Durham University, 10th and 11th June 2010

The recent proliferation of media platforms in the Arab World has provided an extraordinary number of perspectives from which to analyse civil society and its development. Hot on the heels of the ‘Al Jazeera revolution’, cyberspace is now viewed as having quickly overtaken satellite television in terms of its capacity to house and engender the discussion and expression of ideas and opinions that would not normally find their way to the public arena. These ‘marginalized’ groups with their diverse claims based on recognition are the focus of this workshop. Examples of these groups include, women, ethnic/religious minorities (e.g., Kurds, Berbers, Armenians, Shi’ites in Sunni-majority societies, Copts, Druze, Jews in Arab countries), LGBT, the socio-economically disadvantaged, to mention a few.

‘Arabic cyberspace’ is characterized by varying registers of the Arabic language and the incorporation of various dialects and borrowing from foreign languages. These various linguistic manifestations can be termed ‘e-Arabic’ and are a central theme of this workshop. This e-Arabic is a ‘new’ language used on the internet and mobile telephony which mixes, borrows and evolves, using numbers, Roman letters, Arabic script characters, emoticons and words from other languages, to engage not only with the globalised discourse, but also to highlight the specific ways in which the local frames the global. Blogging in particular, has become a popular way of reaching out to others with similar political, religious, cultural, social or economic interests and forming interest networks unrestricted by geographical boundaries. Recent findings published by the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society at Harvard University suggest that the largest dialectical linguistic groupings in the Arabic blogosphere were Egyptian, Saudi Arabian, Kuwaiti, Levantine/English, mixture), Syrian and Magrebhi/French mixture. Thus the usage of Arabic dialects is itself an important aspect of cyber discourses and provides a new area of inquiry for the assessment of the implications of diglossic manifestations in broader cultural forms.

Possible topic areas include, but are not restricted to, the following:

- e-Arabic in language and literature (new forms & mainstream literature).
- Gender and Arabic cyberspace
- Ethnic minority voices/publics (e.g. Kurds, Berbers)
- Religious minority voices /publics (e.g. Copts, Shia, Druze, Jews)
- The socio-economically disadvantaged
- The use of social networking technologies in civil society and political opposition movements.
- Relationship between groups and their registers of expression in Arabic
- The use of e-Arabic in the communicative process
- Potential dominance of particular dialects (Egyptian, Levantine etc.)
- The structural layout of ‘Arabic cyberspace’, i.e. who says what and where (geographically)

Papers concerned with oppositional and marginalized voices within the virtual realm and interdisciplinary approaches are particularly welcomed. Abstracts of 250 words should be emailed to Dr. Anissa Daoudi ( Deadline for the submission of abstracts: 30th April 2010.

Musical Interlude: Umm Kulthum

Neda Ulaby, NPR, Umm Kulthum: 'The Lady' Of Cairo "At a moment when the Arab world was buffeted by modernity — the aftershocks of colonialism, corrupt leadership and the new Israeli state, Kulthum's voice was a lodestar. Part of tarab is the idea that listeners are as important as singers; that there's a powerful, spiritual exchange between them that is crucial to the performance. And Umm Kulthum and her audience together created something sweet and whole."

Refers to the documentary A Voice Like Egypt (1996). Here's a clip:

Opinion piece: 'Jihad Jane and the Muhammad cartoons'

Wajahat Ali, altmuslim, Jihad Jane and the Muhammad cartoons, 15 Mar 2010 "As an artist who relishes creative freedom, I resist calls that advocate artistic censorship or pander to political correctness. However, art – whether it be through words or images – has never existed within an isolated vacuum, and generally draws upon and animates the existing cultural context of the day." Opinion piece

"Shaykhs Need Advice, Too", Yahya Ibrahim: Shaykhs Need Advice, Too, 15 Mar 2010 "One of the problems with internet scholarship, convention groupies and seminar murids is the negative effect they inflict upon the heart of the “Shaykh.” This is not my unique observation. Rather, it is from years of observing, discussing and questioning various lecturers, callers and organisers of Islamic educational conventions, seminars and classes."

"Iran's cyber-police hack US spy sites"

The Register, Iran's cyber-police hack US spy sites, 15 Mar 2010, "Iranian security forces have arrested 30 people accused of waging cyber-war against the country with the backing of the United States.

"A few hours after announcing the arrests the Islamic Revolutionary Guards said they had hacked 29 websites they allege are funded by US spooks. The sites use a cover of human rights activity to disguise an espionage network."

Friday, March 12, 2010

Google SMS Palestine

Gaith Saqer,, Updated: Google: Special Treatment to Palestine The Only Country in the World that has Free Gmail SMS After US!?, 11 Mar 2010 "Google has a neat gmail feature that lets user to send free text messages (SMS) to their friends directly from your Gmail account that works the same way gtalk works. Gmail SMS service was originally launched only for US mobile numbers in 2008. But now it has been available in Palestine for free via the palestinian mobile operator Jawwal..."

Saudi Arabia

LA Times, Babylon & Beyond, Man in sexually suggestive YouTube video is arrested, 10 Mar 2010 "Again, a controversial, sexually charged video has gone viral in Saudi Arabia. And, again, it appears to have ruffled the feathers of Saudi guardians of morality." [tip: Mona Eltahawy]

Also see al-Bab, Saudi jailed and flogged for gay video, 11 Mar 2010 "A 27-year-old Saudi man from Jeddah has been sentenced to 1,000 lashes, a year in jail and a fine of 5,000 riyals ($1,330) after appearing in an amateur gay video."

'To Cyberwar, Or Not to Cyberwar' (round-up of articles)

Tim Stevens,, To Cyberwar, Or Not to Cyberwar, 12 Mar 2010 "Just to round up a few bits and pieces about this are-we-at-cyberwar-or-not business. Sorry for the reflexive nature of this post but there are quite a few posts that need drawing together in one place."

US-Iran cyber warfare

UPI, U.S. targeting Iran's Internet?, 11 Mar 2010 "Washington is backing a measure that would restrict Iranian access to technology meant to block or limit access to the Internet, a report says."

Indonesian presidential address

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono,, Stereotypes do our peoples an injustice, 11 Mar 2010, "I was taken aback when I learnt that in a recent Lowy Institute survey, 54 per cent of Australian respondents doubted that Indonesia would act responsibly in its international relations. Indeed, the most persistent problem in our relations is the persistence of age-old stereotypes - misleading, simplistic mental caricatures that depict the other side in a bad light. Even in the age of the internet, there are Australians who still see Indonesia as an authoritarian country, or as a military dictatorship, or as a hotbed of Islamic extremism, or even as an expansionist power."

'Jihad Jane' allegations

LA Times, Internet making it easier to become a terrorist, 11 Mar 2010 "The abrupt transformation of Colleen R. LaRose from bored middle-aged matron to "JihadJane," her Internet alias, was unique in many ways, but a common thread ties the alleged Islamic militant to other recent cases of homegrown terrorism: the Internet."


RTB News, The Islamic Dakwah Centre has conducted a Course session on Strengthening the Aqidah, 11 Mar 2010 "Towards further strengthening the Islamic belief, the Islamic Dakwah Centre has conducted a Course session on Strengthening the Aqidah Ahli Sunnah Wal Jemaah and the Syafiee Sect for teachers of secondary, technical and vocational schools in the Brunei-Muara District ...

" ... The course was a follow-up response to a meeting with the Minister of Religious Affairs on the spread of terrorism via various means including the internet and books."

Saudi Arabia

Reuters, Saudi Arabia urged to drop case over abuse of Web, 10 Mar 2010 "Human Rights Watch urged Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to drop charges against a Saudi man who used the Internet and other media to complain about red tape as he tried to get state funding for his brother's medical treatment."

Shaikh Muhammad Tahir-ul-Qadri

Carla Power,, Can a Fatwa Against Terrorism Stop Extremists?, 12 Mar 2010

Tom Evans, CNN, Amanpour, Islamic scholar who condemned terrorism: 'I am not afraid', 12 Mar 2010

American Muslims and social media

Madhavi Bhasin,, (Visiting Scholar, CSAS, UC Berkeley), Muslims and New Social Media, 11 Mar 2010 overview. "A group of young American Muslims has taken upon themselves to put these impressive features of the social media to constructive use. They have sought to create a space where the Muslims, generally viewed as insulated and segregated, connect and interact within and outside the community. Contrary to popular expectation, this aggregate of diverse forums is not limited to explaining Islam; it is not confined to focusing on a liberal/moderate enunciation of the Quranic texts. It is simply a social networking tool for Muslims; platforms where Muslims discuss cooking skills, relationship problems, political views, economic concerns and even meet their long-lost High School crush."

"Pilgrim Non Grata in Mecca"

Maureen Dowd, NYT, Op-ed, Pilgrim Non Grata in Mecca, 9 Mar 2010, "I was tempted to turn my abaya into a black masquerade cloak and sneak into Mecca, just hop over the Tropic of Cancer to the Red Sea and crash the ultimate heaven’s gate."

Cartoons re-printed, Swedish newspapers reprint Mohammed cartoon, 10 Mar 2010 "Dagens Nyheter, a Stockholm-based daily, said it printed the picture as part of its news coverage of the alleged plot but made clear it was also a gesture of solidarity with the artist."

Political Islam Online

Political Islam Online is now back. "Dedicated to promoting timely understanding and debate on a broad spectrum of ideas and trends in Islam and the Arab World through filtration, translation and analysis of original language texts."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

UAE Online shopping

bi-me, UAE has the highest average online shopping spend, says MasterCard, 9 Mar 2010 "The latest survey on online shopping habits by MasterCard Worldwide revealed that in fourth quarter 2009, the UAE had the highest average online shopping spend in the Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa region, of US$1,048, compared to a slightly higher figure of US$ 1,193 a year ago."

Yemen aQAP analysis

Asharq Alawsat, Yemen: A Talk with Al-Qaeda Expert Abdul-Ilah Haydar, 9 Mar 2010 "Abdul-Ilah Haydar, a Yemen-based terrorism expert, talks to Asharq al Awsat about his visits to territories where Al-Qaeda elements and its sympathizers are present. Haydar also revealed details about his meetings with a number of the terrorist organization's leaders, including Abu-Basir, who is the Emir of the Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), his deputy Al-Shihri, and the commander of the military wing Abu-Hurayrah, in addition to meeting with the other man wanted by the United States of America, Anwar al-Awlaki."

Iran: online marriage advice

Press TV, Young Iranians get marriage license, 10 Mar 2010, "Iranian officials are to launch a series of online courses to promote marriage and sponsor premarital trainings according to the Iranian culture and Islamic standards."

More information: (screenshot above)

'Jihad Jane' allegations

Google Trends, 'Jihad Jane' 12th most popular search on in past hour

First Post, ‘Jihad Jane’ linked to Irish arrest of Muslim plotters, 10 Mar 2010 " suburban American housewife who dubbed herself 'Jihad Jane' has been charged with plotting terrorist acts in Europe on the orders of Islamic extremists she met on the internet."

Dan Goodin, The Register, Suburban woman accused of using net to recruit terrorists, 10 Mar 2010 "According to prosecutors, [Colleen] LaRose began a series on online correspondences with unindicted co-conspirators after posting a comment on YouTube under the alias JihadJane that stated she was "desperate to do something somehow to help" Muslim people who were suffering. She said her blond hair and blue eyes were assets that would allow her to "blend in with many people"."

Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi

aljazeera.netبأزمة قلبية أثناء زيارة للرياض:
وفاة شيخ الأزهر سيد طنطاوي 24/3/1431

AP, Egypt's top Muslim cleric dies of heart attack, 10 Mar 2010 "Top Egyptian cleric Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, whose moderate views angered conservative Muslims, died of a heart attack Wednesday during a visit to Saudi Arabia, the state-owned news agency reported. He was 81."

Al Jazeera, Al-Azhar head dies in Saudi Arabia, 10 Mar 2010

Useful commentary/obituary: The Arabist, Sheikh Tantawi, 1928-2010 "Tantawi leaves a mixed legacy behind him: overall, the immediate verdict may be that he was too liberal for conservatives, too conservative for liberals, too compliant with the regime for those who want al-Azhar to be independent, and too independent for those in the regime who needed Azharite support to enact policy changes on issues as varied as Palestine, banking and TV game shows. The overall image is of a man besieged on all sides, but adept at fighting bureaucratic battles in the bloated, clerical civil service that al-Azhar has become."

Expect plenty more coverage in the next 24 hours.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

"Next Generation Peacebuilding in Iraq"

United States Institute of Peace, Next Generation Peacebuilding in Iraq is interesting in terms of this blog, as it will include a webcast from Iraq. [today, 2 pm to 3:30 pm (Eastern)]

Also see Meedan, The US Institute of Peace webcast "Next Generation Peacebuilding in Iraq"

مؤتمر "بناء السلام للجيل القادم بالعراق": بث مباشر عبر موقع معهد السلام الامريكي

It will be interesting to learn what audience this picks up.

Ethan Zuckerman's perspective on 'Internet freedom', Beyond breaking firewalls: how to fight net-censorship "Ethan Zuckerman's new piece on Worldchanging, "Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention," looks at the technical and social limitations of circumvention of censoring firewalls that we love so much as a tool for helping people in repressive regimes liberate themselves."

And here it is:

Ethan Zuckerman,, Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention "I strongly believe that we need strong, anonymized and useable censorship circumvention tools. But I also believe that we need lots more than censorship circumvention tools, and I fear that both funders and technologists may overfocus on this one particular aspect of internet freedom at the expense of other avenues. I wonder whether we’re looking closely enough at the fundamental limitations of circumvention as a strategy and asking ourselves what we’re hoping internet freedom will do for users in closed societies."

Original link: Ethan Zuckerman, My Heart's in Accra, Internet Freedom: Beyond Circumvention, 22 Feb 2010

I haven't read this fully yet.

Aljazeera app

Gaith Saqer,, AlJazeera Launches Its Arabic Live Streaming iPhone App for Free, Makes its Symbian/WinMobile App Free, 2 Mar 2010 "The number one TV news station in the Arab world, Al Jazeera, has just launched its Arabic channel Live streaming iPhone app for free." I'll have to try this one out.

Google Arabia

Interesting article on the hotting up of the Arabic language search-engine (+) market. I particularly liked the 'doodle' used to accompany the article (above)

Gaith Saqer, Google to Push for a Larger Expansion in the Arab Region, 8 Mar 2010 "Until recently Google presence in the region was with a small office in Dubai, Cairo and Saudi Arabia, with a small team whose focus was in Google Ad words, marketing, PR and Arabizing some of its products, excluding the fully Arabic Google’s Ejabat. While all the development work for Google has been carried out from its center in Switzerland.

"However, we see now a major change in that direction as we see bigger regional push from Google, as its now seeking to employ more people in the region. This comes few months after Yahoo!’s acquisition of the largest Arab portal : Maktoob."

Article: "Life in the Gazan "Buffer Zone""

Pam Rasmussen, Sabbah Report, Life in the Gazan "Buffer Zone", 8 Mar 2010 interesting use of for reportage: "The Israelis call it the "buffer zone." Gazan NGOs often call it the "hot zone." But to the Palestinians who live near this wide swath of land alongside the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel, it is fertile land where their children played and they made a decent living by raising wheat and olives. That is, until Israel declared the land off limits to Palestinians."

Belguim: aQ trial commences

CNN, Trial starts in Belgium for suspected al Qaeda cell, 8 Mar 2010 "A trial for nine terror suspects accused of having ties to al Qaeda opened in a Belgian court Monday, with the main defendant suspected of nearly launching a terror attack just hours before a 2008 European Union summit in Brussels.

"That defendant, Malika el Aroud, and her husband, Moez Garsallaoui, are charged with heading a terrorist cell linked to al Qaeda and running a Web site that glorified suicide bombings and urged young Muslims to sacrifice themselves in jihad, or holy war."

Moscow Times, Rebel Ideologist Killed After Filming Last Sermon, 9 Mar 2010 "A Muslim convert accused of organizing the deadly Nevsky Express train bombing in November and a series of other attacks was killed by special forces in Ingushetia shortly after he recorded a farewell online sermon, officials said.

"Islamic insurgents confirmed the death of Said Buryatsky, 28, on their web sites Monday and posted a photograph of the bearded Buryatsky's blood-splattered face. The rebels said Buryatsky became a "martyr" on March 2."

Also see RFE, Militant Website Confirms Buryatsky's Death, 7 Mar 2010 ", the website of the Ingushetian front of the North Caucasus insurgency, today confirmed official claims that one of the six militants killed during a special operation on March 2 in the village of Ekazhevo, south-east of Nazran, was Said Buryatsky, who over the past two years gained a reputation as ideologue of the Islamic militancy headed by former Chechen President Dokka Umarov."

This points to