Monday, August 30, 2010

Magazine for children

Carol Sanders,, Kids' magazine promotes a kinder Islam: Winnipeg mom created the glossy publication, 28 Aug 2010 "It's a labour of love," says Rawia Azzahrawi, who has a master's degree in Arabic language and literature and three children aged 14, seven and five. "We needed it... I scanned the Internet to subscribe to a magazine for my kids."

"Traditionally, print materials for kids about Islamic history and Arabic language instruction have been dry and "boring," she says. There was nothing appealing, or presented in a "fun and attractive" format, so she decided to create something that was."

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pakistan floods update, Pakistan recovery 'to take years', 25 Aug 2010

BBC News, In Pictures: The struggle to survive Pakistan floods

Caleb Daniloff, BUToday, Pakistan’s Floods: ‘Katrina on Steroids’ "BU Today caught up with Pakistani native and climate change expert Adil Najam, the Frederick S. Pardee Professor of Global Public Policy and director of the Frederick S. Pardee Center for the Study of the Longer-Range Future, to ask why a timely—and heartfelt—response to this calamity is so critical."

Children of Pakistani Floods

All Things Pakistan, Children of Pakistani Floods

KSA fatwas

Jassim Alghamdi, Saudi Gazette - Scholar calls for boycott of hypermarket, 25 Aug 2010: "Despite a Royal Decree to restrict the issuing of Fatwas to the Board of Senior Ulema and authorized Islamic scholars, a university professor was recently seen on YouTube calling for the mass boycott of a famous Saudi hypermarket which has hired female cashiers as an experimental program."

Ramadan and business in Israel

Meirav Crystal, Ynetnews, Ramadan a great holiday for advertisers, 25 Aug 2010 "People throughout the Arab world are riveted to no less than 70 television shows special for Ramadan. In Israel, viewers can enjoy the shows via their cellular networks. Orange launched four channels broadcast in Arabic, and also provides the option to download Islamic songs, video clips, and applications ...

"... Pelephone launched an American Idol style competition on Facebook. "Everyone can upload a song to Facebook. It gets voted on, and at the end of Ramadan, the winner will record a song with Hussam Habib," said Assaf Ofer, Pelephone's vice president of marketing. He also noted that mobile units are also trolling the cities and villages so that people can record their song on the spot."

Detailed article on Ramadan business activity in Israel, which has a significant online component. The article also has screenshots of adverts. I included this article in the blog, as it's an under-represented area, with many issues/implications for potential discussion ...


BBC News - Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood launches 'Islamic Facebook', 24 Aug 2010

I blogged on this a few weeks back - interesting that it is now getting some more mainstream coverage

Germany: indictments, Germany indicts three over donations to terrorists, 25 Aug 2010: "Three people who donated money to Islamist terrorist groups or praised Jihadists on the internet have been indicted for assisting terrorism, German federal prosecutors said Wednesday."

'bin Laden of the Internet'

Aamer Madhani, USAToday, Cleric al-Awlaki dubbed 'bin Laden of the Internet', 24 Sept 2010 : "Evidence is mounting that al-Awlaki is perhaps the most dangerous enemy of the U.S. because of his ability to recruit followers and inspire attacks through e-mails and websites, the CIA says. The Arabic satellite network Al Arabiya has dubbed him the 'bin Laden of the Internet.'"


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Pakistan | On the Ground "The world has been slow to react to the enormity of the floods in Pakistan. Pakistan urgently needs the world to stand with her during this grave humanitarian crisis. Acumen Fund is sharing our perspective from the ground. We urge you to raise your voice in support for Pakistan by adding to the tapestry and highlighting other ways to help."

Press release: I-Newswire, Goes Live To Kick-Start The “Halalification” Of The Internet, August 23, 2010 "Webmasters from all over the world can support add a “Halalify” button on their website to start making the Internet more Halal.

" is an initiative launched by I’mHalal( aims to make the World Wide Web a better place."

Further information on these ambitions are here:, together with instructions on how to integrate it into websites, should you so wish.


Times of India, JuD goes online to woo friends, Aug 21, 2010

"Hardline groups in Pakistan are plugging into Western online favourites Facebook and Twitter in a bid to win friends and influence people."

Rappers, Divas & Virtuosos

Link TV, Rappers, Divas & Virtuosos: New Music From the Muslim World "Modernity meets tradition in this new Link TV series, a collection of short films highlighting some of the most dynamic cultural innovators in the Muslim world today -- vibrant musicians from Iran, Western Sahara, Bangladesh, and Morocco."

They plan to stream this online. Hopefully this will be internationally, as it is a potentially interesting programme.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Call for Papers for Special Issue of CyberOrient: Online Journal of the Virtual Middle East

Information/call for papers on CyberOrient, which published my recent apps piece. Please send any responses to the email addresses below, and not to myself:

Call for Papers for Special Issue of CyberOrient: Online Journal of
the Virtual Middle East
Editors: Daniel Martin Varisco & Vit Sisler

Call Description

Today we witness an unprecedented proliferation of the internet and
satellite television as well as growing interdependency of various
media outlets in the Middle East and the Muslim world. This process
includes media that morph into each other, messages that migrate
across boundaries, and social networks that utilize multiple
technologies. The unanticipated assemblages formed by these media
contribute simultaneously to preserving traditional cultural norms and
religious values while asserting cosmopolitan and global identity;
appealing to a local audience while addressing transnational
communities; and asserting conformity with existing political order
while fueling resistance and public discontent. Therefore, this
special issue of CyberOrient aims to transcend the media-centric logic
and to analyze the impact of the internet and new media in the light
of the interdependency and hybridization within broader social,
cultural and linguistic context of the Middle East and the Muslim

Aims and Scope

The special issue of CyberOrient aims to bring together the state of
the art research dealing with the growing influence of the internet
and new media in the Middle East.

Key questions include:

- What opportunities for representation have the internet and new
media created in the Middle East, and how has it influenced popular
culture, language and norms?
- Does the proliferation of sites by individuals from various cultural
backgrounds democratize political and religious behavior in the Middle
- What does the internet and the social networks it enables offer to
groups who have not traditionally had access to an open public domain
for expression, especially women and marginalized sects?
- Does the wide range of views posted on the internet foster tolerance
and greater understanding on current issues of political and religious
- What is the impact of the virtual Islamic community on the practices
of Muslims worldwide?
- How does access to internet cafes and global connections influence
cultural norms in Middle Eastern societies?
- What role do new media such as video games and video clips play in
the identity construction of Middle Eastern and Muslim youth?

Submission Details

Please, submit a manuscript no longer than 8000 words to the editors
as an e-mail attachment to and no later than 1 December 2010. Please format your
submission as follows:
- Cover page with your name, affiliation, address, article title
- Second page with article title, abstract (150-200 words) and three
or four key words. Do not put your name on this page or on the pages
of the following text.
- Article with references at the end, following the AAA format
Please note all papers will be subject to anonymous peer review
following submission.

Important dates

1 December 2010: Deadline for manuscript submission
15 January 2010: Announcement of results of peer-review
1 March 2011: Publication of special issue

Inquiries and submission of manuscripts should be addressed to:

Daniel Martin Varisco
Department of Anthropology
200 Davison Hall
Hofstra University
Hempstead, NY 11549
(516) 463-5590 (office)
(516) 463-6250 (fax)

Vit Sisler
Institute of Information Studies and Librarianship
Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague
U Krize 8, Praha 5, 158 00
(+420) 251 080 205 (office)

About the Journal

CyberOrient ( is a peer-reviewed journal
published by the Middle East Section of the American Anthropological
Association in collaboration with the Faculty of Arts of Charles
University in Prague. The aim of the journal is to provide research
and theoretical considerations on the representation of Islam and the
Middle East, the very areas that used to be styled as an “Orient”, in
cyberspace, as well as the impact of the internet and new media in
Muslim and Middle Eastern contexts.

Faces of the Moon, Faces of the Moon: "A Palestinian woman reads from the Qu'ran in Nablus, the West Bank, on Sunday. Ramadan, the Islamic holy month, began a little more than a week ago and ends in early September. Pic via AP" Great photo! Click on the link to take a look.

Iraq theories

Tarek al-Tablawy, Associated Press, In porn, a story of Iraq's politics, 23 Aug 2010 "The titles alone - many along the lines of "The Rape of the Coeds" - offer disturbing insight into the possible psychological effects the years of indiscriminate violence have had on Iraqis."

There is an internet association with this story. Also see (if you really want to read more) Irin Carmon,, Iraqi Porn Is A Turn-On For Both Neocons & True Believers (via Gawker, which is where I picked up on this).

If you avoid the sensationalist headlines here, there is some interesting analysis and opinion.

iMuslims book review

Patrick West, Culture Wars, The internet: made for Islam?: "iMuslims is a fascinating study about Islam’s continual internal dialogue, a dialogue that the internet has heightened. It should make atheists and Christians rethink caricatures about Islam as a timeless monolith intent on world conquest, a stereotype that habitually resurfaces. It deserves to be read by many Muslims for the same reason"

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Joumana Haddad

Aida Edemariam, Guardian, Joumana Haddad: 'I live in a country that hates me', 21 Aug 2010 discusses I Killed Scheherazade: Confessions of An Angry Arab Woman (and many other issues). Also refers the Jasadmagazine, which I have previously blogged about (although the site needs updating).

Identity issues

Jemima Kiss, Guardian, Does technology pose a threat to our private life?, 21 Aug 2010 "This week Google's Eric Schmidt suggested we may need to invent new identities to escape embarrassing online pasts – while Facebook launched a tool to share users' locations. So does technology pose a threat to private life?"

Friday, August 20, 2010

al-Qaradawi on flotilla 2?

Ikhwanweb, [Muslim Brotherhood Official Website], "Al-Qaradawi to participate in Freedom Flotilla 2", 17 Aug 2010

"According to the president of the Muslim Judicial Council of Cape Town, Ihsan Hendricks, the chairman of the international union of Muslim scholars (IUMS) Dr. Yousef Al-Qaradawi, would take part in a marine convoy to Gaza Strip""

I'd be interested to see verification of this.

Facebook, Palestine and Israel

ikhwanweb [Muslim Brotherhood Official English site], Israel turns to Facebook to recruit informers, 17 Aug 2010

"According to the Palestinian resistance, Hamas, Israel has been using the social networking website Facebook for recruiting spies. Israel has been notorious for its network of informers in the West bank and Gaza in an effort to overturn the activities of Hamas.

"Users are led to believe that the Israeli intelligence knows personal information about the user pressuring them into relaying any possible information which may help Israel. In all reality, all those who log in easily access the information as it is posted for all to read."

Wikipedia issues

Rachel Shabi & Jemima Kiss, Guardian, Wikipedia editing courses launched by Zionist groups, 18 Aug 2010

"Two Israeli groups set up training courses in Wikipedia editing with aims to 'show the other side' over borders and culture."

Jury considering evidence

NPR, Grand Jury Focuses On N.C. Man Tied To Jihad Magazine, 18 Aug 2010 "A federal grand jury in Charlotte, N.C., convened to consider evidence against Samir Khan, a 24-year-old North Carolina man who is thought to be the editor of Inspire, a new al-Qaida online magazine."

Cyber law

CPJ asks Jordanian king to toss out cyber law - Committee to Protect Journalists: "The Committee to Protect Journalists, a New York-based nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to defending press freedom worldwide, is deeply concerned about a provisional law on cyber crimes that was approved by the cabinet of ministers on August 3. We believe that the law contains several repressive aspects that can be used to harass online media. The law, if you endorse it through a royal decree, would undermine Jordan's image as a free and open society."

'India's BlackBerry Brouhaha'

Neeta Lal, Asia Sentinel - India's BlackBerry Brouhaha, 20 Aug 2010 "The impasse between Research in Motion, manufacturers of the popular BlackBerry smartphones, and the Indian government continues although RIM said this week it would yield some ground in allowing "lawful and limited access" to its messenger services."

John Esposito blog post

John Esposito,, On Faith Panelists Blog: 'Will Muslims impose Shariah?', 20 Aug 2010 "One of the frequent battle cries raised by those who warn that Muslims want to overwhelm the West is that that Muslims want to impose Shariah in America and Europe. Just as critics of Islam in the West question whether Islam is compatible with democracy and Muslims can be loyal citizens, many Muslims, in light of the rise and increase of Islamophobia and threats to their civil liberties, ask if democracy can accommodate Islam."

Refers to the internet.

Conspiracy theories

Seattle Times, Lie that won't die: Obama is Muslim, 19 Aug 2010: "'The Internet has made it worse,' said Lori Robertson, managing editor of, a nonpartisan project run under the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. 'Any of these rumors are more rampant, and there's more stuff about them — blogs writing about conspiracy theories. People are exposed to it more.'"

Pakistan 'rebels' on Facebook, Twitter

Hasan Mansoor, AFP: Pakistan rebels find friends on Facebook, Twitter, 20 Aug 2010: "Hardline groups in Pakistan are plugging into Western online favourites Facebook and Twitter in a bid to win friends and influence people.

"Tweeting their view of a civilisation clash between the West and Islam, and posting comments that advocate violence against non-Muslims, groups that are officially banned in Pakistan have found a welter of freedom online."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

“The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet”

Wired, Chris Anderson and Michael Wolff, “The Web Is Dead. Long Live the Internet.” 17 Aug 2010, Wired September 2010 "Two decades after its birth, the World Wide Web is in decline, as simpler, sleeker services — think apps — are less about the searching and more about the getting. Chris Anderson explains how this new paradigm reflects the inevitable course of capitalism. And Michael Wolff explains why the new breed of media titan is forsaking the Web for more promising (and profitable) pastures."

Egyptian Blogging

Abderrahmane Mostafa, İstanbul - Bia News Agency, The Loss Of Popularity Of Egyptian Blogging, 29 Jul 2010 "The active blogs of a few years ago, which scrutinised social violence and confrontations between the opposition and the police, seem to have waned in popularity today. Their success was attained neither by Facebook nor by mini-blogs, like dormant volcanoes whose eruption has been postponed eternally."

Radio Netherlands Worldwide, Young Dutch Muslims start critical website, 24 Jul 2010 "Critical voices within the Dutch Islamic community are too seldom heard. At least, that’s the view of the group of young Muslims behind the website - 'new mosque'.

"“Islam expects Muslims to have their own points of view and to make their own choices,” says theology student Arnold Yasin Mol, “not blindly to accept everything passed down from past generations. Early Muslims were critical too.”"


Tip: Middle East Online

Screenshot:, 19 Aug 2010

Twitter and 'Ground Zero' mosque

Gillian Reagan,, The education of 'Mosque'-tweeter Oz Sultan, 18 Aug 2010 "It began when Sultan, the social media consultant hired to help Park51, the Islamic cultural center planned for lower Manhattan, sought to dispute a story in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz citing anonymous sources claiming the project was planning to abandon the controversial site it had planned to develop."

also see Aziz Poonawalla,, my final word on Park51, 18 Aug 2010

Music in Iran

Melik Kaylan, WSJ, Muzzled Musicians, Meet Your Match, 19 Aug 2010 "'I hope one day I come to see you because, every day here, it's worse and worse." The young man's guarded, disconsolate voice comes distantly from Iran on a bad Skype line. He's a well-known figure in that country's burgeoning but relentlessly suppressed underground rock music scene. Supreme leader Ayatollah Khamenei recently declared music to be "incompatible" with the values of the Islamic Republic—a declaration that effectively carries the force of a decree throughout the country. For the young Iranian caller, alias "Natch," the implications are clear, particularly for his kind of Western-style rock with lyrics in English. He has already been jailed for his musical enthusiasms and is looking to get out of Iran."

Refers to Impossible Music

Also see MySpace, The Plastic Wave

Facebook - Velayatmadaran

Elad Benari, Arutz Sheva [Israel], Iran Social Network Supports Ayatollah, 19 Aug 2010 "A new social network which has recently been launched in Iran was created especially for supporters of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

"The social network is called Velayatmadaran, a reference to “followers of the velayat,” (Iran's Supreme Leader), and is part of an attempt by Iranian officials to get in on the social networking craze which ncludes sites like Facebook and Twitter, to name a few."

Useful overview, referring to this interesting piece from RFE/RL:

Golaz Esfandiari, Council on Foreign Relations, RFE/RL: Iranian Social Networking, Hard-Line Style, 28 Jul 2010

"So far, the site has attracted some 3,000 members and includes posts of pictures of "Imam Khamenei," a reference that seeks to elevate the current supreme leader beyond his clerical status; articles about the teachings of ultra-hard-line Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi; and cartoons skewering the opposition Green Movement."

Here are a couple of screenshots from the site today:

The Arutz Sheva article also refers to this:  The Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center [Israel], Spotlight on Iran, 15-22 Jul 2010

'Half the Sky'

Ed Pilkington, Guardian, Half the Sky: how the trafficking of women today is on a par with genocide, 19 Aug 2010 "The fodder of this latterday trade in human suffering is not African people, but women. Which is why they call it "gendercide". If the supreme moral challenge of the 19th century was slavery, and of the 20th century the fight against totalitarianism, then, they write, "in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality in the developing world"."

BlackBerry issue opinion piece

Haroon Siddiqui, The Toronto Star, Siddiqui: De-encrypting hypocrisy of BlackBerry issue, 18 Aug 2010 "But it's not all about prudish Saudis stopping young men and women flirting via messaging. Or the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Algeria, India, Indonesia and Algeria failing to grasp “the reality of the Internet,” as Mike Lazaridis, RIM's co-CEO, said. They understand it all too well.

"Nor is it true, as he said, that “a lot of those people don't have Ph.D.s, and they don't have a degree in computer science.” They do. They are far more educated than he, a college dropout.

"Nor is this issue about RIM and its backers, the U.S. and Canada, being on the side of angels, while the Arabs, Indians and Indonesians are dancing with the devil.

"This is about those states wanting to eavesdrop the way our governments do."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

aQ 'under pressure'

Matthew Levitt, Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s Stein Program on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, Status Check on the Struggle against Global Terrorism, 10 Aug 2010: "The State Department's recently released Country Reports on Terrorism 2009 (CRT 2009) reveals several important trends in the evolution of global terrorism. The good news is that al-Qaeda is facing significant pressure, even as the organization and its affiliates and followers retain the intent and capability to carry out attacks."

Refers to US Dept of State, Country Reports on Terrorism [tip: Jerusalem Post]

Net theories on aQ (commentary/op-ed)

Maidhc Ó Cathail, Tehran Times : Bin Laden is dead; long live “Bin Laden”, 16 Aug 2010:


"As editor Justin Raimondo put it, Adam Gadahn is “an awfully odd figure, whose sudden evolution from a nice Jewish boy into Osama bin Laden’s Goebbels is just a little hard to take.”

"Equally hard to take is the means by which the public learns of bin Laden’s latest pronouncements.

"“Almost every statement by Osama bin Laden published on the first made public by SITE and IntelCenter,” according to a Spiegel Online profile of Rita Katz, Josh Devon and Ben Venzke, who founded the two companies that supposedly track al-Qaeda online.""

Some intriguing points in this discussion.

The writer's blog is here: Maidhc Ó Cathail

Op-ed commentary

Joshua Holland, Alternet/Ikhwanweb, Why American Needs More Muslims, 17 Aug 2010 opinion piece.

"There is no such thing as a homogenous “Islamic culture.” There is no such thing as “Muslim thought" or “Muslim beliefs.” The Islamic world is large and diverse, with modernists, progressives, conservatives and traditionalists. While the Internet is filled with ominous snippets from the Qu’ran that extol violence against infidels, similarly selective quotations can be found in any religion’s holy texts. "

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Global e-mail scams

Arab News, Global e-mail scams target the kindhearted, 16 Aug 2010: "One of the latest scams involves people impersonating employees of charitable foundations throughout the world, seeking help for Muslims and orphans following devastating disasters that recently hit Pakistan and China."

'Ground Zero mosque'

Arab News, Ground Zero mosque polarizes US - 17 Aug 2010 "US President Barack Obama’s comments on Friday and Saturday concerning the right to build a mosque near Ground Zero have sharply divided the right and the left here, with Republican strategists continuing the assault on Sunday talk shows." A prominent topic on the net at present.

New and Noted: The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Philip N. Howard

Oxford University Press: The Digital Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy: Philip N. Howard

""Globally, one in ten internet users is a Muslim living in a populous Muslim community. In these countries, young people are developing political identities online, and digital technologies are helping civil society build systems of political communication independent of the state and beyond easy manipulation by cultural or religious elites."

I've yet to see this one.


ArabCrunch, eKayf: The Arabic eHow that We Need, 16 Aug 2010 "Low quality English content might be a true case for eHow, but for the Arabic Internet, there is no content to start with. Thats is why a startup like eKayf which is a copy of eHow but in Arabic is very useful, at least there is now some Arabic content that has some editor behind it rather than content coming from Forums as 90% of that content has no real value, the prof is that most of the time google returns wrong results for many Arabic keywords."

Check it out foryourself: eKayf

الصفحة الرئيسية
Useful info there, and a user-friendly format.

"My Pen Pal, the Jihadist"

My Pen Pal, the Jihadist - Jarret Brachman | Foreign Policy "Zachary Adam Chesser, better known by his Internet sobriquet of "Abu Talhah al-Amrikee," is the 20-year-old Virginia man who was indicted this month for supporting a Somalia-based al Qaeda affiliate, al-Shabab. Most Americans learned of him in April 2010, when Chesser's media stunt wishing death upon the creators of the South Park cartoon thrust him into the national spotlight. I came to know him in a different, more personal way and believe that as frightening as the "American Jihadi" headlines surrounding him have been, the portrait that has emerged of Chesser in recent months is still a caricature that unfortunately obscures the very reason "Abu Talhah" was so dangerous."

This interesting piece featured on Jarret Brachman's personal blog a few weeks ago.

Ayman al-Zawahiri

Middle East Online, Qaeda's Zawahiri slams Turkey's ties with Israel, 15 Aug 2010 "The Turkish people must "stand up against those crimes committed by your government and army against Islam and Muslims," said Zawahiri, urging Turkey to return to the days of the Muslim caliphate.

""Turkey, the Islamic caliphate, used to protect us ... Now, the secular Turkey hands us over to the enemies of Islam and those who insult the Koran and our Prophet Mohammed."""

Online 'hate sites'

Sachin Seth, CNN, Protected by online anonymity, hate speech becomes an online mainstay, 17 Aug 2010 "As sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter become increasingly popular, they are rapidly becoming havens for people who want to speak openly about race, politics and religion without damage to reputation."

Taliban net request

Jon Boone, The Guardian, Taliban call for joint inquiry into civilian Afghan deaths considered, 16 Aug 2010 "The Taliban overture, which came in a statement posted on its website, will revive a divisive debate about whether to conduct any formal talks with insurgents who are responsible for the majority of civilian casualties in Afghanistan, and whose assassination campaign now kills one person a day on average."

Monday, August 16, 2010


Devastating Floods. One hope in front of every lost hope. – The Ushahidi Blog

Refers to


Rahla Khan, Saudi Gazette - Taraweeh truffles and other goodies, 16 Aug 2010 "When Al-Maghrib institute came along, I said, ‘Let’s make Islamic education fun so that people would want to keep coming back again and again.’ I realized the same thing while doing these videos about Ramadan: who says you can’t have fun in Ramadan? I know people (and Alhamdulillah for this) shut off their TVs, they shut off their internet and basically just hold their breath until Ramadan is over, but my theory is, if you have fun in Ramadan, then you’ll want to keep on doing more and more of the ‘Ibadat (acts of worship) even after Ramadan is over.”"

Refers to

"No One Knows About Persian Cats"

Michael Saba, Paste, Tehran Calling, 16 Aug 2010: "Bahman Ghobadi’s newest film offers a window into Iran’s underground music scene, and gives voice to the rise of an Internet-fueled rock ‘n’ roll revolution"


I haven't seen this film yet.

"Cool imams"

Katherine Marshall, Washington Post, Malaysia's cool imam, 16 Aug 2010 "Malaysia's lively debates about cool imams, how to curb child marriage, and what should be taught in schools are healthy symptoms of a complex society confronting the complicated realities of racial and religious identities in modern times."

Fatwa conflicts op-ed

Brian Whitaker, Comment is free, Guardian, Conflicting fatwas are good for Muslims, 16 Aug 2010 "In the same way that the internet is gradually teaching people they shouldn't believe everything they read on screen or in print, crazy fatwas serve a useful purpose. They demonstrate that there is no such thing as a single "correct" interpretation of scripture, and force people who have never been accustomed to doing so to start sorting the wheat from the chaff."

Fatwa shutdown

Muhammad Diyab, Asharq Alawsat, Closing Down the Fatwa Bazaar, 16 Aug 2010: "Those who were accustomed to unleashing a torrent of fatwas from their pedestals, satellite channels and internet blogs, should now learn the virtue of silence."

This opens up fatwa opportunities for other, unregulated channels outside of KSA, which has its own implications.

KSA fatwas

Heba Saleh,, Washington Post, Saudi king limits fatwas, 14 Aug 2010 "A Saudi royal order limiting the number of religious rulings, or fatwas, that can be issued is an attempt to bring order to what has become a chaotic field since the advent of satellite television and the Internet, analysts say."

Net thinking

The Observer, The internet: is it changing the way we think? | Technology, 15 Aug 2010 Based around The Shallows: How the Internet is Changing the Way We Think, Read and Remember by Nicholas Carr


Josh Halliday, Observer, Ushahidi: giving citizens the power to put news on the map, 16 Aug 2010 "In the past week, extreme weather conditions sweeping across large swaths of China, Russia and Pakistan have brought Ushahidi into new territories. Faced with the worst drought since records began, Russian bloggers found that the best way to co-ordinate a relief effort was to use Ushahidi. This should comes as no surprise, but its use from Haiti to Chile, Pakistan to Congo, Philippines to Peru, Kenya to China, never fails to astound the four-person team whose idea was born out of a close-to-home crisis."

Net language

BBC News - How the internet is changing language, 16 Aug 2010

Friday, August 13, 2010

Cairo 'soundscape' changes, Cairo mosques begin unified call to prayer, 12 Aug 2010: "The $175,000 project will equip each mosque with a receiver that will broadcast a single call to prayer from a downtown studio. Abdul Galil said every one of the city's mosques should be on the system by the end of Ramadan.

"'We are in the age of laptops and computers, technology is advanced and it is better regulated than humans,' he said.""

Will Cairo sound the same again?


Negar Azimi ,, Islam’s Answer to MTV, 13 Aug 2010 "“The media is changing everything,” Abu Haiba told me. “Television, the Internet, Facebook. We have to think faster, move faster. Time flies! 4Shbab is part of that change. It’s more than music. We have 25,000 members in the 4Shbab Forum. We get 3,000 S.M.S. a day from viewers. I have fans in Azerbaijan, Kurdistan, Iraq — you name it. We think of it as a new kind of preaching for the ‘rebound generation.’ ”"

Also see

Footnote: On their site I happened upon an article from 2009 on internet 'addiction', which is worth a look (especially for the pictures).

'Sheikh Google' in Netherlands

Martijn van Tol, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, 'Sheikh Google' confuses young Muslims, 11 Aug 2010 "Young Muslims in the Netherlands are searching the internet for answers to pressing questions about life. They want to be good Muslims in the non-Islamic Netherlands, but they often lose their bearings in the digital jungle. Could a 'cyber' imam help them out?"

Also see the equally interesting Greta Riemersma and Martijn van Tol, Radio Netherlands Worldwide, It’s raining fatwas in Morocco this summer, 7 Aug 2010 "Mustapha Khalfi director general of Attajdid says his newspaper prints fatwas to stimulate religious reform in Morocco. “We want Islam to be dynamic,” he says. There are also liberal Muslims who agree with him, such as Islamic scholar Abdelbari Zemzemi. He does not agree with most of the fatwas, but: “Everything is discussed and slowly taboos are disappearing.”"

BlackBerry India

AFP: BlackBerry 'optimistic' it can avert India ban, 13 Aug 2010 "India is battling insurgencies from Kashmir in the northwest to the far-flung northeast and mounting Maoist unrest. Islamist gunmen used mobile and satellite phones to coordinate the brazen three-day assault on Mumbai in 2008 that killed 166 people."

BlackBerry India

Reuters, BlackBerry assures India on access to services: source, 13 Aug 2010 "Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, will provide technical solutions next week, that will help Indian security agencies access its encrypted data, a government source said on Friday."

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Ramadan apps

Ahmad Al-Shagra,, 5 Apps You Need to Use This Ramadan, 12 Aug 2010

Also see Haroon Siddique, Guardian, Ramadan goes hi-tech with phone apps to help Muslims fast and pray, 11 Aug 2010

Also check out my apps piece in Cyber Orient, which came out last week

Chechen 'Stolen Brides'

Lucy Ash, BBC, This World, Chechnya, 'Exorcisms' performed on Chechen stolen brides, 10 Aug 2010

"According to some estimates, one in five Chechen marriages begins when a girl is snatched off the street and forced into a car by her future groom and his accomplices. The internet is full of videos of these "bride stealings" set to romantic music."

iPlayer users can see the programme here

iMuslims Review

"iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam is an interesting and informative work, which is well worth reading." Greg Simons, Media, War & Conflict, Book review: Gary R. Bunt iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam [note: subscription to Media, War & Conflict required]

Greg Simons is based at Uppsala University and Swedish National Defence College, Sweden

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


The National Newspaper, Ramadan begins today, 11 Aug 2010 "Mr al Hariri and his team are one of more than 50 groups around the world reporting their findings to the Islamic Crescent Observation Project (IPOC). Saudi Arabia and the UAE have also encouraged members of the public to participate by reporting their own moon sightings. “This can lead to some mistakes,” he said. “If people want to see it then they will.”

"Mr al Hariri sent a text message to the project’s representative in Qatar updating on the situation in the UAE: “Status: Not seen. Weather conditions: Hazy.” He pulled out a GPS device that can tell the position of the moon from the signals of 12 satellites."

Also see Islamic Crescents' Observation Project

For Ramadan, I have added moon data to my side bar.

iMuslims book review

iMuslims: Rewiring the House of Islam, review by Roger Hardy, Journal of Islamic Studies " ... for young super-surfers, as well as for practitioners in a growing field, it will be a valuable addition to the literature"

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

"Family Feud on Facebook"

elan, Family Feud on Facebook, 10 Aug 2010 "Thanks to Facebook, no one’s life is private anymore. There is a way of controlling what information is put out into the public sphere, but is that really helpful? Or is it a cause for greater concern? For some elan readers, apparently, Facebook has caused some family drama. elan put together a list of some of our favorite traumatic stories."

BlackBerry "reprieve" update cont/d

Reuters/Yahoo! News UK, BlackBerry gets reprieve, source says Saudi "deal", 10 Aug 2010 "BlackBerry maker Research In Motion has agreed to hand over coveted "codes" to users' phones to try to avert a ban on its Messenger service in Saudi Arabia, an industry source familiar with the talks told Reuters on Tuesday."

Women and 'jihad'

Tuty Raihanah Mostarom and Nur Azlin Mohamed Yasin, RSIS/, The Internet: Avenue For Women Jihadi 'Participation', 10 Aug 2010 "Analysts of online extremist websites have noticed a recurrent trend of jihadist attempts to engage women in the cyberworld. There also appears to be more women supporters utilising the virtual domain to express their activism."

Hizbullah hacks

ArabCrunch, “Hezbollah” Hacked “Israeli Drones” Transmissions Since Before 1996, 10 Aug 2010 "In today’s Press conference Lebanon’s “Hezbollah” Secretary General Hasan Nasrallah, displayed a video of an “Israeli drone” video transmission Hezbollah managed to hack in 1996."

Ramadan survey

Al Bawaba, Third annual survey on Ramadan traditions and practices reveals interesting results, 10 Aug 2010: "For the third year in a row, Yahoo! Maktoob Research has undergone a recent region-wide survey on attitudes and perceptions of people during Ramadan. The survey questions tackle sensitive areas related to traditions and practices giving straight and direct information of how people perceive Ramadan and how this perception changes each year. Unlike last year the number of Muslim Arabs observing the Ramadan fast this year is down by 2% (98% in 2009). The survey also revealed that a vast majority of this year's respondents (87%) prefer to celebrate Iftar with their families at home."

Website allegation, Dutch Secret Service Ran Islam Website, 10 Aug 2010: "The Dutch intelligence service AIVD has run an Islamic website in order to observe radical Dutch Muslims, De Telegraaf has revealed."

'Fatwa and public reasoning'

Amika Wardana, op-ed, The Jakarta Post, Fatwa and public reasoning, 10 Aug 2010


Haveeru Online - BML enables alms via internet, 10 Aug 2010: "Islamic Ministry has partnered with Bank of Maldives (BML) to introduce alms giving via the internet ahead of the holy month of Ramazan expected to start Wednesday."

BlackBerry debate

The Associated Press: Info freedom at center of Gulf's BlackBerry debate, 9 Aug 2010 ""A company like RIM really needs to think not just about the UAE or Saudi Arabia, but about their customers worldwide," said Cindy Cohn, legal director and general counsel for digital rights group Electronic Frontier Foundation. "If BlackBerry is willing to offer backdoor access (in the Gulf), other countries are going to want that too. And at that point it's really a race to the bottom.""

Indonesian net use

The Jakarta Globe, Ban on Porn, Prostitutes, Fireworks Promises a Quiet Start to Ramadan, 10 Aug 2010: "Following up on his promise of a porn-free Ramadan, Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring said he was confident that 80 percent of all “offensive sites” on the Internet in Indonesia were now inaccessible, including some of the most popular:,,, and"

Social networking media

Mona Eltahawy,, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter are the new tools of protest in the Arab world, 7 Aug 2010 "Khaled Said is not the first Egyptian whom police allegedly beat to death. But his death has sparked a virtual revolution that is affecting Egypt's tightly controlled society."

Monday, August 09, 2010

Minhaj-ul-Quran camp

Dominic Casciani, BBC News, Muslim summer camp preaches 'anti-terror' message, 8 Aug 2010 "Mohammed and his colleagues have stacked it with copies of Dr Qadri's lectures and tapes and every Friday they go from location to location, encouraging young people to hop on board.

"He says it gives them a chance to influence what young minds are exposed to.

""The internet plays a big part in what is going on", he says.

""If you type "jihad" into Google you'll get hundreds of results. You don't know when you click whether they're right or wrong."

Maktoob Ramadan site

ArabCrunch, Yahoo! Maktoob Launches a Tailored Website For the Holy Month of Ramadan, 8 Aug 2010 "The new site will introduce a number of features including downloads for Ramadan-specifc screen server and wallpapers, ramadan news feed via the web and desktop gadgets and a new Ramadan contest and a TV guide. Also Yahoo’s recently announced Video On Demand Channel (VOD) will be available for users to use for free on the TV guide. Yahoo said on a press release that VOD has Ramadan “related” videos and shows."

Ojuba os

ArabCrunch, Arabic Linux Distribution Ojuba Launches its 4th Edition: Riyadh, 9 Aug 2010 "Few days ago the 4th edition of Ojuba has been launched under the name “Riyadh”, the most notable features are support for 64 bit CPUs, a personal lock folder for encrypted files, activating 3G connection automatically and more." See Ojuba for more info/downloads

Ruqya practices

Arab News, Haia set to issue guidelines for practice of faith healing, 7 Aug 2010 "The Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice (Haia) is currently preparing regulations and guidelines governing the practice of ruqya (the process in which verses of the Holy Qur’an are recited to treat diseases) in an effort to stop the unlawful forms of the treatment often used by sorcerers." Tip: al-Bab Non-tech, although some of these practices are discussed and promoted online.

Jemaah Islamiyah

Asia Sentinel, Indonesia Arrests Radical Cleric, 9 Aug 2010 "A National Police spokesman, Inspector Gen. Edward Aritonang, alleged that Bashir played what he called a "key role" in appointing ustadz, or religious teachers, to provide spiritual guidance for the Aceh group as they trained in the province's jungles. Police say the cleric also appointed Dulmatin, a master bomb maker, as field commander. Police killed Dulmatin during a raid in March at an Internet café in West Java, which police have described as a terrorism command center."

The Long War Journal, Jemaah Islamiyah founder arrested for leading Indonesian al Qaeda cell, 9 Aug 2010 "Abu Bakar Bashir, the spiritual leader of Jemaah Islamiyah, was arrested by Detachment 88 for sponsoring and directing a terror cell known as al Qaeda in Aceh, Inspector General Edward Aritonang, the spokesman for the National Police, told reporters at a press conference on Monday.


Bloomberg, BlackBerry Deal May Mean Flirting Gets Harder for Saudi Youth, 9 Aug 2010 "“I’m not happy,” Khalid Ali, a 23-year-old Saudi who owns two Blackberry handsets, said at a Riyadh shopping mall. “Say I’m inviting a girlfriend to a party, it is not appropriate that anyone knows that. I won’t feel comfortable, even if the service is still there but monitored.”" 'crowd-sourced' search engine

Sydney Morning Herald, Search and chat website for the modern Muslim, 10 Aug 2010 "To this end, search results are accompanied by buttons that allow users to rate content as haram or halal (permissible), or to open a topic for discussion with others.

"It's a kind of crowd-sourced approach that enables ''everyday Islamic users'' to thrash out issues connected to Islam. This differs from existing Islamic search engines, such as, that only search approved Muslim websites or return only acceptable results."

Results look like this on my [non-scientific] test:

I like the results page, and the rating option. It's an interesting concept - let's see how this model develops. They use a photo as their opening splash page - not sure if they plan to vary it from day-to-day. Today's is a photo from Gaza...

See for yourself:

Saturday, August 07, 2010

KSA BlackBerry

BBC News - Saudi accord to prevent ban on Blackberry 'in sight', 7 Aug 2010 "An official with one of Saudi Arabia's three licensed mobile operators told AFP news agency: "A deal has been virtually reached and we are in the process of adding the final touches.""

Friday, August 06, 2010

Pakistan Floods, Pakistan Heavy rains expected in flood-hit areas, 6 Aug 2010

Adam Mynott, BBC, Pakistan's flooding sweeps south, 6 Aug 2010

CNN, Reaching Pakistan's Flood victims, 3 Aug 2010

Pakistan Floods

I've pasted a few links to charities making appeals for those affected by floods in Pakistan (other charities are available)

MSF extends services to help more flood-affected communities - news - MSF UK. Also see the photo gallery

Pakistan Floods - Islamic Relief lauches major appeal for Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan Floods - Islamic Relief lauches major appeal for Floods in Pakistan

Donate online to UNICEF's Pakistan Children's Flood Appeal

UNICEF, Donate online to UNICEF's Pakistan Children's Flood Appeal "Severe flooding in Pakistan has left over four million people in need of urgent help including one and a half million children. UNICEF is already on the ground with our partners providing emergency healthcare and safe drinking water to affected families."

Algeria BlackBerry ban?, Canada, US in talks with UAE, Saudi officials, 6 Aug 2010 "In addition to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, India is in talks with the company over gaining access, and both Lebanon and Algeria, according to a newspaper report, are reviewing the situation and might soon also might join the list." Research In Motion under pressure ...

Adnan Shukrijumah

The Jakarta Post, New al-Qaida leader knows US well | 6 Aug 2010"A suspected al-Qaida operative who lived for more than 15 years in the US has become chief of the terror network's global operations, the FBI says, marking the first time a leader so intimately familiar with American society has been placed in charge of planning attacks."

Op-ed commentary

Hicham Ben Abdallah El Alaoui, Le Monde Diplomatiquie/Middle East Online, The Arab World’s Cultural Challenge "This dynamic of Salafisation occurs even as people continue to consume a proliferation of profane and secular cultural products via television, videos, the internet and popular literature. It is easy to identify the “western” and global forces driving secular culture, and denounce it as “foreign”; but this would be to ignore the creativity with which Arabs have appropriated and transformed the contemporary means of cultural production."

Anwar Al-Awlaki

NPR, Father Of Internet Imam Plans To Sue CIA , 3 Aug 2010 "The father of the Internet's most famous radical cleric, Anwar al-Awlaki, is planning to sue the U.S. government for including his son on a CIA target list."

Allegations 'leaked'

Daily Telegraph, Mainstream Islamic organisations "share al-Qaeda ideology", 5 Aug 2010 "The report, sent to the government’s Office for Security and Counter Terrorism (OSCT), was not intended for publication but has now been leaked on the internet.

"Entitled "Preventing terrorism, where next for Britain?" it says the ideology of non-violent Islamists is “broadly the same as that of violent Islamists” adding “they disagree only on tactics.”

Indictments, Terrorism charges against 14 Somalis in US reflect 'disturbing trend', 5 Aug 2010 "The indictments involve what the government described as a “deadly pipeline” of money and militants to the organization Al Shabab, a Somali insurgent group whose leaders have pledged allegiance to Al Qaeda."

Indonesian net use

AFP: Indonesian Internet use booming, 4 Aug 2010 "The rapidly developing, mainly Muslim country of 240 million people is emerging not just as an Asian economic power, but as a global Internet power as well, analysts and insiders said."

BlackBerry jammed

AFP, Saudi Arabia to halt BlackBerry services, 6 Aug 2010 "Saudi Arabia is set to suspend BlackBerry services on Friday as concerns spread across the Middle East and parts of Asia over security issues with the popular smartphones.

"Telecommunications authorities have not said exactly when the ban will kick in, and BlackBerry users in the ultra-conservative Muslim kingdom were able to access messaging services on Friday morning."

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Virtually Islamic Re-design Part 97

I have now re-worked the design of this blog. After toying with some industrial designs, I've stuck with the old colour scheme, as readers seem to prefer it. Most of the material is in the usual place, but the coding should be more efficient(!?), and searchabilty is improved. The blogosphere/podosphere features are now at the bottom of the page. If you can't find anything that was here before, let me know...

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Virtually Islamic re-design

The main hub of my site is being re-configured. This means that all listings can now be located via This includes Islamic Studies Pathways, running since 1996, which will no longer be available on its old URL from September. The bibliographies for my books can all now be found on my central hub:

iMuslims Bibliography

Islam in the Digital Age: Bibliography

Virtually Islamic Bibliography

Islamic Blogosphere

This blog continues in its usual location. 

Floods in Pakistan

Saeed Shah, Guardian, Pakistan floods: Islamic fundamentalists fill state aid void, 3 Aug 2010 "Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a hardline Islamist organisation thought to be a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the group blamed for the 2008 assault on Mumbai, said it had 2,000 members working for flood relief across the north-west of the country and down into Punjab province."

Monday, August 02, 2010

Imam Muda - a global brand?, Reality show judging young Muslim leaders eyes expansion, 2 Aug 2010 "Producers of a Islamic reality TV show which set out to find the best young Muslim leader are hoping other Muslim countries will adopt the program's format after a successful first series in Malaysia.

"Religious scholar Muhammad Asyraf Ridzuan, 26, from Penang, was named the winner of Malaysia's “Imam Muda” or “Young Imam” show during Friday's live finale, beating 27-year-old religious teacher Hizbur Rahman to the top slot."

Plenty of coverage of this (previously blogged) series elsewhere. See the Imam Muda Facebook page. YouTube has plenty of clips too, such as:

Ramadan guidance

Rahla Khan, Saudi Gazette, Hungry for the Ramadan spirit, 2 Aug 2010

"The good news is that today, there are numerous means besides the traditional Halaqahs organized in Masjids and Islamic centers by which we can acquire authentic information: audio and video lectures, radio and TV discourses, and the internet by the scholars of Ahl-Al-Sunnah. It’s a good idea to utilize our time before the start of Ramadan in learning more about the importance of the month, the acts of worship that are considered most meritorious within it, and the best way to perform them by consulting people of knowledge."

Algeria and the net

Ennahar Online, Internet and terrorist propaganda, 2 Aug, 2010 "Internet is a double-edged sword and the role of parents is to know how to deal with their children so that they do not become victims of predators in the network."

BlackBerry suspension

Mashable, UAE to Ban BlackBerry E-mail, Web Browsing and Messaging, 1 Aug 2010 - er, that doesn't leave much "“In the public interest, we have today informed the providers of telecommunications services in the country of our decision to suspend the Blackberry services of messenger, email and electronic browsing,” stated Mohammed al-Ghanem, the chief of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority."

UK Islamic Studies Network

The UK Islamic Studies Network is now on Facebook.