Thursday, March 31, 2011

SABC1 An-Nur

I'm on the programme An-Nur on SABC1 this Sunday at 8:30am South African time, talking about Islam and the internet. I recorded this on Skype back in February.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

'Saudi-Islamic Feminist Movement'

Rob L. Wagner, University for Peace 'Peace & Conflict Monitor', Saudi-Islamic Feminist Movement: A Struggle for Male Allies and the Right Female Voice, 29 Mar 2011

"Marwa Al-Saleh is the founder and general manager of, a web design and Internet marketing company in Al-Khobar and a principal advocate on the Saudi Women Revolution Facebook page. She argues that most Saudi women are unaware of their rights contained in Islam and view any kind of demand for their rights as conflicting with Islam. Rasha Alduwaisi, a 30-year-old Saudi mother who is also active with the Facebook campaign, is more blunt: “Saudi women are raised to be subordinate, and grew up with the society drilling in them that their issues are marginal.” [14]

"Al-Saleh and Alduwaisi are among today’s 7.6 million Saudi women with the median age of 23. They came of age or reached young adulthood in a post-9/11 world. They are highly educated, entrepreneurial and technologically savvy. More than 60 percent of Saudi university students studying domestically and abroad are women. Saudi women under the age of 30 grew up with satellite television, the Internet and mobile phones. Their broadened view of the world far exceeds that of their mothers and older sisters." [15]

References are here:

[14] Alduwaisi and Al-Saleh interviews

[15] Index Mundi [] (retrieved 15-03-2011)

Also see Facebook: Saudi Women Revolution Facebook
(logo left)

Facebook: 'Third Palestinian Intifada'

Contrasting views on the removal from Facebook of 'Third Palestinian Intifada':, Facebook Bowes to “Israel” Deletes “Third Palestinian Intifada” Page Unjustly, 30 Mar 2011 "The truth is that we have been following the page and did not find any calls to violence and that the page admin affirmed several times that his page does not call for violence and said that if Facebook removes the page all Muslims will boycott Facebook forever, as the “true face of Facebook will uncover.”"

Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Facebook removes '3rd intifada' page, 30 Mar 2011 "Facebook removed a page on its social networking site Tuesday that called for a third intifada against Israel, after the site’s monitors said administrators of the page were found to be participating in calls for violence."

Al-Azhar scholar criticizes Saudi edict banning protests, Al-Azhar scholar criticizes Saudi edict banning protests "Sheikh Gamal Qotb, former head of the Al-Azhar fatwa committee, said peaceful protests help promote virtue and prevent evil ...

" ... Qotb described the Saudi edict as a "big mistake," saying protesters warn officials of their mistakes before those mistakes grow larger. He said Muslim governments should allocate channels for citizens to express their opinions and give feedback to officials."

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

How Western Companies Help Middle Eastern Governments Censor The Web

Luke Allnutt, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, How Western Companies Help Middle Eastern Governments Censor The Web, 29 Mar 2011: "The recent unrest in the Middle East has once again highlighted the role of Western companies in aiding web censorship and filtering. Vodafone was heavily criticized for its role in aiding the Internet shutdown in Egypt. A subsidiary of Boeing, Narus, was reportedly involved with providing deep-packet-inspection technology to the Egyptian authorities." more on this story (previously blogged)

Use technology to spread message of religion: Imam of grand mosque in Mecca, Use technology to spread message of religion: Imam of grand mosque in Mecca, 27 Mar 2011 "The Imam of Masjid-al-Haram in Mecca, Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Sudais, on a three-day visit to India, spoke to a congregation at the Ramlila Maidan on Saturday. The programme, organised by the Jamiat Ulama-i-Hind, saw capacity crowd.

"The Imam said the followers of Islam should use advances in technology to take the message of the religion across the world. “If the Sahabah (companions of Prophet Muhammad) had not gone about spreading the Prophet’s message, Islam would not have grown. The followers of Islam should, therefore, use the Internet and electronic media to spread the religion in the modern times,” he said."

Yahya Michot on Qaradawi's Anti-Gaddafi Fatwa

opinion piece: Yahya Michot, Qaradawi's Anti-Gaddafi Fatwa: Scholarly Analysis - Miscellaneous - Shari`ah -, 29 Mar 2011

Using Virtual Life to Improve Our Real One

Maryam Bachmeier, Using Virtual Life to Improve Our Real One - Virtual Relations - Family -, 29 Mar 2011 "Virtual realities and virtual communities are here to stay. As Muslims striving toward living according to eternal truths, we do so as we pass through time and changing environments. Developing safe, strong, healthy, and moral virtual communities will be very important as the fact of globalization is no longer news."

Monday, March 28, 2011

Facebook: 'Third Palestinian Intifada'

I've been picking up some interesting coverage on the Facebook page(s) 'Third Palestinian Intifada'. For example, see Ha'aretz, ADL slams Facebook for refusing to remove 'third Intifada' fan page, 26 Mar 2011 "The fan page, which has over 308,395 fans, is dedicated to encourage the outbreak a third Intifada in Israel, and warns that if Facebook removes the page "all Muslims will boycott Facebook forever."

Also view Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Facebook 'monitoring' page calling for 3rd intifada, 28 Mar 2011 "The Facebook social networking site is monitoring an Arabic-language page which calls for a “third intifada” against Israel, but the site’s bosses have concluded that it has not gone beyond the bounds of acceptable speech, and have decided not to remove it, The Jerusalem Post learned on Sunday.

"The Facebook page, called “Third Palestinian intifada,” has attracted over 330,000 fans since going online, and has issued a call for a mass march into Israel from neighboring countries."

There's also (predictable) Facebook campaigning against 'Third Palestinian Intifada'.


'Taliban Twitter', Social Jihad Network: Taliban Twitter, 24 Feb 2011 "As part of an apparent strategy by the Afghan Taliban to broaden their online reach by using social media websites, the organization has created several accounts on Twitter, the user-generated realtime updating platform."

Just picked this useful article up.

Key sources: Syria

I've been following events over the weekend using these resources:

Facebook, Syria Revolution [الثورة السورية ضد بشار الاسد]

Syrian Uprising 2011 Information Centre


'Made in USA': Net Censorship products

Paul Sonne & Steve Stecklow, Wall Street Journal, U.S. Products Help Block Mideast Web, 28 Mar 2011 "As Middle East regimes try to stifle dissent by censoring the Internet, the U.S. faces an uncomfortable reality: American companies provide much of the technology used to block websites."

Thursday, March 24, 2011

HolyBookers 1 – Facebookers 0

Jo Johnson, The Spectator, Web Exclusive: HolyBookers 1 – Facebookers 0, 22 Mar 2011 : "Wael Ghonim, Google’s head of marketing and an emblematic figure for the Facebookers, also looks deflated on the day of the referendum, after riffing to a half-empty auditorium in the trendy Zamelek quarter of Cairo about the need to get more people onto the internet. But he also says it is time to stop isolating the Brothers. “They are not terrorists. They are part of us. We must give them a chance. They’ve promised not to go for a majority and I believe they’ll show restraint.”"

Interesting article/op-ed from the MP for Orpington.

aQIM Droukdel speech, Qaeda Maghreb leader slams Libya intervention, 21 Mar 2011

NHK’s Project Wisdom, ‘Internet Growth Affects The World’

Further info on NHK’s Project Wisdom, ‘Internet Growth Affects The World’ which I participated in earlier this week. Also see

Panel details

Video clip (recorded prior to the programme)

Iran SSL attack

BBC News - Iran accused in 'dire' net security attack, 23 Mar 2011: "The attack was mounted on the widely used online security system known as the Secure Sockets Layer or SSL."

"Sudan to unleash cyber jihadists"

BBC News - Sudan to unleash cyber jihadists, 23 Mar 2011 "Sudan's ruling National Congress Party has warned that its "cyber jihadists" will "crush" internet-based dissent.

"It follows an increase in anti-government campaigns organised on Facebook and Twitter.

"Senior NCP official Mandur al-Mahdi warned opposition groups that its "cyber battalion" was leading "online defence operations"."

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Student challenges laptop seizure

AP/, Under suspicion: Student challenges laptop seizure, 21 Mar 2011 "Pascal Abidor, an Islamic studies doctoral student at McGill University in Montreal, fears the U.S. government will forever have its eye on him.

""I have no control over who I am anymore," he told The Associated Press recently. "What I do with my life doesn’t matter. How I am perceived and how I want to be perceived are not connected anymore.""

Research issue.

Taliban Employs Modern Weapons In 'War of Words'

Bashir Ahmad Gwakh, Radio Free Europe / Radio Liberty, Taliban Employs Modern Weapons In 'War of Words', 16 Mar 2011: "'Wars today cannot be won without media. Media aims at the heart rather than the body, [and] if the heart is defeated, the battle is won.'

"This conclusion, reached by Abdul Sattar Maiwandi in an interview published recently on the website Al-Emarah, is not groundbreaking. The importance of winning the 'war of words,' as Maiwandi describes it, to winning an actual war has long been understood.

"But consider the source. Maiwandi is the editor in chief of Al-Emarah, which is an official Taliban website. And while the Taliban officially banned photography, movies, and the use of the Internet when it was in power in Afghanistan -- considering them un-Islamic -- today the militant group cannot deny the potential of such media as tools of propaganda and recruitment.""

Useful article, with screenshots and analysis. I write about some of this in iMuslims and other work. Also check out some of the feedback ...

Online Dating: A Muslim Guide on How to Be Safe

SuhaibWebb/, Online Dating: A Muslim Guide on How to Be Safe, 22 Mar 2011: "Their increased popularity over the last decade is proof that matchmaking sites will continue to grow and couples will increasingly meet for the first time through the Internet. This phenomenon is also apparent in the Muslim community. A Google search of “Muslim matchmaking” calls up over 400,000 sites. With more Muslims turning to the Internet to find a spouse, there needs to be a discussion of the positive and negative aspects of meeting people online."

Al Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam

Farwin Fousdeen,, Al Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam: "Mohammed Akram Nadwi’s Al Muhaddithat is an uplifting read for Muslim women. Uplifting for women who, for far too long have applied the deen (Arabic for religion, a way of life, a path) under the exclusive scholarly guidance of men, wondering where are the women scholars of Islam?"

Tsunami messages

Soroor Ahmed,, Calamities in Japan and tsunami of absurd messages in India, 23 Mar 2011: "Either it is a deep-rooted conspiracy to malign the image of Islam or the handiwork of those Muslims who are mentally still in the Stone Age but pretend to be in the Cyber Era.

"Within days of tsunami-cum-earthquake, which devastated north-east Japan, leading to the death of at least 20,000 people, internet and mobile phones are flooded with absurd messages, almost all sent by Muslim youths. They are as such: “Japan was first to ban Hijab (Burqa)”; “First country to stop teaching Holy Quran”; “First country to tear pages of Holy Quran”: “It is totally Anti-Muslim” and “It is Allah's Azaab on special Islamic day, Friday”.

"The truth is that nothing can be more removed from Islam than circulating such messages, which have nothing to do with the teachings of Quran and Prophet"

Cleric calls for ban on net talaq

Times of India, Cleric calls for ban on net talaq, 17 Mar 2011 ""The uttering of triple talaq at one go among Muslims should be made invalid. Now, several people have made a mockery of this process by using new technologies to get a divorce," said member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Asghar Ali Imam Mahdi Salafi. "By uttering the word talaq thrice at a time, married men are exploiting women," added Salafi, who is also the general secretary of Markazi Jamiat Ahl-e-Hadees Hind."

Monday, March 21, 2011

'Project Wisdom'

I contributed to an NHK programme panel for 'Project Wisdom' today, on 'Internet Growth Affects The World' - no broacast date yet. There's a preliminary short clip from a Skype interview I gave last week for their website. Other contributors were Mona Eltahawy, Tarek El Khoury, Shuji Hosaka and Ethan Zuckerman. More details to follow as I receive them.

Afghan photos

Reuters, U.S. army apologizes over "repugnant" Afghan photos, 21 Mar 2011

"Germany's Der Spiegel magazine published pictures Monday of American troops posing over the bloodied body of a man it said had been killed illegally in Afghanistan, drawing an apology from the U.S. army."


Don't forget that you can join my Facebook page, for more updates on my research.

Visit Gary R. Bunt - Facebook and send me a request to join.

I'm also on Twitter @garybunt

Social networking sparks dramatic changes

N. Janardhan, Yemen Observer, Social networking sparks dramatic changes, 19 Mar 2011 "Technology has made not just news, but also views, increasingly difficult to restrain. Television, weblogs, Facebook, mobile text messaging and tweets, among others have both evoked and satisfied popular thirst for alternative opinions. It appears that the official establishments are caught in their own trap — they do not wish to allow the media a free rein; yet they are unable to absolutely check the flow of information via new media channels.

"This reality has fuelled the aspirations of social and political reformers, thus having a noticeable impact on the official foundations. In its own humble way, new media has become a channel of expression that acts as a safety valve, allowing pent up frustration to ease."

Protest outside Bahrain embassy in London

AFP: Protest outside Bahrain embassy in London, 20 Mar 2011: "Police estimated 600 people took part in the protest which organisers said was publicised through social networking websites Facebook and Twitter, in an echo of the methods used to galvanise demonstrators across the Middle East."


Telegraph, Jolitics: Bebo founder's political social network launches, 21 Mar 2011: "Michael Birch, a serial entrepreneur, is using his experience of founding social media site Bebo to create a platform for grass roots political campaigners to have their voice heard.

"The venture, called, launched today ahead of Wednesday’s Budget."

Friday, March 18, 2011

Yasir Qadhi profile

Andrea Elliott, New York Times, Why Yasir Qadhi Wants to Talk About Jihad, 17 Mar 2011 "In the basement of the religious-studies building, Qadhi settled into an empty room, flipped open his MacBook Pro (encased in Islamic apple green) and dialed in to an Internet conference call with more than 150 of his AlMaghrib students. “I want to be very frank here,” Qadhi said, his voice tight with exasperation. “Do you really, really think that blowing up a plane is Islamic? I mean, ask yourself this.”"

Also see Muslim Matters, Yasir Qadhi | The Lure of Radicalism and Extremism Amongst Muslim Youth, 18 Oct 2010 [don't think I blogged it first time around]

More info: AL Maghrib Institute

There's also a reference to Zaid Shakir

Some analysis of the article can be found in The Economist, What world are you living in?, 18 Mar 2011

opinion piece: 'Will Egypt's youth meet history's challenge?'

opinion piece: Walter Laqueur, CBS News, Will Egypt's youth meet history's challenge?, 17 Mar 2011

"It isn't clear what sort of staying power or political undergirding the Twitter crowd has--and, in the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood and other groups continue to hold intellectual power. Just as the youthful hope of January was so high, the youthful despair coming could be equally great. The road to freedom and democracy will be long."

Yemen declares 'state of emergency'

Yemen declares 'state of emergency' - Middle East - Al Jazeera English "Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Yemeni president, has declared a nationwide state of emergency, after a violent crackdown on anti-government protests killed at least 41 people, and left scores more wounded, in the capital Sanaa."

also see @WomanfromYemen

'Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media'

Nick Fielding and Ian Cobain, Guardian, Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media, 17 Mar 2011 "The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda."

Thursday, March 17, 2011

'Gitmo in the Heartland'

Alia Malek, The Nation, Gitmo in the Heartland, 28 Mar 2011 edition I've included this because it refers to members of the Holy Land Foundation, which I have blogged about in the past.

"Ghassan [Elashi]’s incarceration at Marion demonstrates one of the biggest problems with the CMUs and with the terrorist designation generally—how broadly and capriciously they are applied. “It is one thing to use restrictive isolationist tactics against the leader of a gang or terror group who, if he could communicate freely with the outside world, would wreak violence on innocent people—that’s not an illusory concern,” says David Cole, of Georgetown University Law School and The Nation’s legal affairs correspondent. “But when you define ‘terrorist activity’ to include material support that can involve no violent activity and no intentional support of violent activity, then you are relegating nonviolent offenders to these very extreme conditions that are entirely unwarranted.”"

Obviously, there are a number of perspectives on this. This article would be useful for a seminar discussion.

'Blogging the revolution from the al-Jazeera forum in Doha'

Guardian, Media Talk podcast: Blogging the revolution from the al-Jazeera forum in Doha, 16 Mar 2011 "This week, Media Talk comes from the al-Jazeera forum in Doha, the annual media and political conference organised by the Arab TV network, which flies in participants and delegates from all around the region to take part. In the light of the well-documented involvement of social media in the recent uprisings in the Middle East and north Africa, the organisers rearranged the conference line-up, inviting bloggers and online activists who have been involved in the various revolt."

Podcast pop-up

Indonesia perspective

Diani Panjaitan, Jakarta Post, It’s time for the media to fight terrorism, 17 Mar 2011 "People have already initiated dialogue to have their voices heard. They have turned to the Internet: blogs, Facebook, Twitter and other online media. Many of them are Muslims who refuse to have terrorists define Islam or Indonesia.

"But with severe digital divide and the fact that mainstream media is still the dominating channel for most Indonesians, voices that condemn violent acts are left unheard, muffled by the infamous acts of terrorism. Furthermore, with the increasing censorship and Internet filtering by the government, justified by anti-pornography proponents, there is no guarantee that the Internet discourse won’t soon vanish as well."

'Abu Youtube al-Libi'

Jarret Brachman, Abu Youtube al-Libi, 13 Mar 2011 analysing the hits/embeds on an aQ YouTube video

"Internet Surpasses Traditional Media as News Source"

Qichen Zhang, Open Net Initiative, Internet Surpasses Traditional Media as News Source, 14 Mar 2011 "This week, the Pew Project for Excellence in Journalism released their official findings on the state of news media. Called "The State of the News Media 2011," the report showed the Internet as the only growing medium for news in the United States. With only television maintaining its dominance over online news sources, all other forms—newspapers and radio among them—have been shrinking."

Details here of The State of the News Media 2011, paying particular attention to Emily Guskin, Tom Rosenstiel and Paul Moore of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, Network News: Durability & Decline.

Tawakkul Karman

Alice Hackman,, A woman leading change in Yemen, 9 Mar 2011 "Amidst the protest movement in Yemen challenging the 30-year rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh is journalist and human rights activist Tawakkul Karman, a woman who challenges Western notions of Muslim women in a pre-(or post-)revolution Middle East."

Iranian hackers

AP, Report: Iran's paramilitary launches cyber attack, 14 Mar 2011 "Iranian hackers working for the powerful Revolutionary Guard's paramilitary Basij group have launched attacks on websites of the "enemies," a state-owned newspaper reported Monday in a rare acknowledgment from Iran that it's involved in cyber warfare."

opinion: 'Urbanised Islam behind Pakistan's Sufi shrine bombings'

Opinion: Irfan Al-Alawi, Lapido Media [London],, Urbanised Islam behind Pakistan's Sufi shrine bombings, 15 Mar 2011 "As many analysts have observed, radical Islam is an elite phenomenon reflecting the rising expectations and frustrations of educated people who have no time to learn the complexities of the religion.

"Wahhabi-takfiri practice, which is stripped down and easy to absorb, is more attractive to busy professionals than traditional and Sufi Islam, which calls on the believer to dedicate time to study and other religious works."

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

'Islamism and the Like Button'

Matthias Bartsch and Holger Stark, Spiegel Online, Islamism and the Like Button, Can Radicalization Via Facebook Be Stopped? "When "Abu Reyyan" wrote about the work of the Frankfurt police department on Facebook, his words were full of hate. "Just look at how devious these dogs are," wrote the young Kosovo Albanian, "those rats!" He was inspired to write after police searched the apartment of a Muslim imam in Frankfurt, a man "Abu Reyyan" revered, on Feb. 25. He was outraged by the search."


Telegraph, Al-Qaeda a 'money making machine', 16 Mar 2011


The Week, 'Jihad Cosmo': An al Qaeda women's magazine

"Al Qaeda has launched a women's magazine called Al-Shamikha, which translates to "The Majestic Woman." It combines beauty and fashion tips with terrorist-related content. The first issue's cover featured a photo of a sub-machine gun with a smaller insert of a veiled woman."

Widely covered story (with reports of varying quality); as with all magazines, difficult to determine the 'authenticity' of this. It's not the first jihad oriented magazine to focus on this sector.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011


Al Jazeera, Bahrain imposes state of emergency, 15 Mar 2011

Yemen update, Yemen Expands Crackdown on Pro-Democracy Movement, Deports Journalists "Anti-government protests are swelling in Yemen amidst U.S.-backed President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s refusal to step down after more than 32 years in power. On Monday, dozens were wounded after state forces opened fire on demonstrators in Marib province. As unrest grows, the Yemeni government is cracking down on international media coverage of the protests. Four journalists, including two U.S. citizens, were arrested and deported on Monday. We speak with Yemeni activist and blogger in Sana’a, Atiaf Alwazir, and to Gregory Johnsen, a Near Eastern studies scholar at Princeton University currently in Cairo."

'Yemen's youth find their voice'

Mohammed Jamjoom, CNN, Yemen's youth find their voice, Mar 10, 2011 excellent report:

Friday, March 11, 2011

King Hearings

NPR, King Hearings To Revisit 'Radical Muslim' Question, 10 Mar 2011 "New York Rep. Peter King's hearings on what he has characterized as the "radicalization of Muslims in America" open Thursday amid a clamor of outrage from many quarters.

"King, Republican chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security, has been branded by critics as racist, and his planned series of hearings characterized as an attack on an entire religion and reminiscent of the Cold War Communist witch hunts of the 1950s."

I've blogged this here because the internet has emerged as a subject/subtext within some of the dialogues. Ed Husain claims in a CNN op-ed that "King hearings a victory for al Qaeda, 20 Mar 2011. "It would have been wiser, and more productive, for King to focus on recruitment, radicalization and the conveyor belt to terrorism through networks that operate in prisons and online. How do we stop that flow?"

Also see: New America Media, Commentary, Behrouz Saba, What Makes a Muslim-American Radical? America's Own Wars on Muslims "Only the images of such endeavor can ensure security at home while reflecting the best of our ideals abroad, offsetting the years of inadvertent propaganda with which America has rewarded Al Qaeda."

And finally (for now):

Other opinions are available ...

2nd edition of Arab Media Outlook, New report looks at digital media in Arab world, 10 Mar 2011"A report detailed in a press release on Sunday said that digital media in the Arab world will continue to move forward as a result of the youth in the region. According to the Arab Media Outlook report published by the Dubai Press Club, North Africa is leading the digital move toward news and media."

Here's the report: Dubai Press Club & PWC's 2nd edition of Arab Media Outlook [pdf]. It runs to a couple of hundred pages, so needless to say I haven't read it yet!

"Foreign media obstructed in Libya, threats in Yemen and Kurdistan", Foreign media obstructed in Libya, threats in Yemen and Kurdistan, 10 Mar 2011

Also see Dominic Ponsford, Press Gazette, Libya: Guardian man 'held', Times and ITN enter Zawiyah, 11 Mar 2011 "Award-winning Guardian journalist Ghaith Abdul-Ahad is reported to be in Libyan custody after going missing for four days."

Libya: propaganda issues

Derek Henry Flood, Asia Times Online, Rebels outgunned, overstretched, 12 Mar 2011

"Seeing the success of the rebels' highly effective marketing campaign with its slick stickers, billboards and retro flags from the pre-1969 rule of the Islamic Senussi movement, Gaddafi has his counter-narrative in full swing with multiple state television channels alternately showing kooky press conferences, fighters denouncing the rebels, and a ticker on television, conveniently in English and Italian, predicting an imminent scandal about to topple the government of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who has recognized the rebel governing council in Benghazi."

'Arab World: How Much Does Internet Access Matter?'

Jillian C. York, Arab World: How Much Does Internet Access Matter?, 9 Mar 2011 Some useful pointers here.

"Libyan civil war sees Internet decline"

IT News Africa, Libyan civil war sees Internet decline, 11 Mar 2011 "As civil war appears to engulf Libya, access to the Internet by the country’s citizens continues to be problematic and nearly non-existent, analysts and observers have noted."

'Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya'

John Hilary, Comment is Free, Guardian, Internet activists should be careful what they wish for in Libya, 10 Mar 2011

Also see Ben Wikler's response

Thursday, March 10, 2011

'How Social Media Changed Arab Resistance'

Sohail Dahdal,, How Social Media Changed Arab Resistance, 4 Mar 2011
"The rise of social media made a set of online tools for revolution readily available and accessible to the largest demographic in the Middle East — youth. Put a powerful tool of communication in the hands of a handful of highly motivated, highly educated activists with the potential to reach the largest and most important demographic of the society and add to it the spark of what happened in Tunisia — and you have the perfect storm.

"There is no doubt that social media played a major role in the recent revolts but equally looking at the current events unfolding there are clear indicators that social media will only ever be a tool of organising. The streets are the place where revolutions can create facts on the ground."
Olivia Alabaster, Daily Star Lebanon, AUB lecture examines impact of youth-generated media in region, 10 Mar 2011 "The social, cultural and political vacuum in Arab public life has led to the flourishing of youth-generated media, a major component in the uprisings across the region today, according to Joe F. Khalil, visiting assistant professor at the Northwestern University in Qatar.

"Khalil gave a lecture titled “The Making and Unmaking of Uprisings: Reflections on Youth-Generated Media” at the American University of Beirut Thursday evening, in which the assistant professor examined the interactions between independent, youth-driven media and mainstream, traditional networks of communication."

'Dateline Jakarta: Sex, Hypocrisy and Video Tapes'

Joe Cochrane, Jakarta Post, Dateline Jakarta: Sex, Hypocrisy and Video Tapes, March 10, 2011 "I see nothing wrong with people changing their minds about an important issue. Nobody’s perfect and a bit of self-reflection and calm, cool reasoning is healthy. So in that spirit, I’d like to announce that I have changed my mind and am ready to be an enthusiastic supporter of Information Minister Tifatul Sembiring’s antipornography campaign.

"However, I do have one condition: Tifatul must stop trying to filter Internet pornography coming into Indonesia, and instead block the pornographic movies and pictures starring Indonesian lawmakers and their mistresses that are being exported into cyberspace."

Google Arabia MENA versions for YouTube, YouTube Launches Localized Versions for MENA, 10 Mar 2011 "Google Arabia announced today the arrival of a new feature to the world’s most popular video sharing service, YouTube, allowing users to view the most popular videos in their country, along with those on the rise in popularity as well."

tweet on this story Wael Ghonim

'Day of Rage'

Ian Black, Guardian, Saudi expectations high before Friday's 'day of rage' protests, 10 Mar 2011 "Demonstrations are rare in Saudi Arabia – a country with no legal political parties or mass movements – and even committed reformists admit they are anxious about taking to the streets. "There is no history of public protests, even in support of the government," said Jaafar al-Shayeb, a city councillor and businessman in al-Qatif. The Facebook organisers of Friday's event are breaking new ground. "No one knows who is behind the protests," said Waleed Abu al-Khair, a human rights activist in Jeddah. Some fear a ploy by the secret police to entrap protesters."

On Facebook, see

'We support Saudi 'Day of Rage'

In the interests of balance, there's also 'We are against the 'Day of Rage' in Saudi Arabia'

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Reading List: Zahra's Paradise

Extract from 'Zahra's Paradise'
Press release from First Second Books

"Zahra’s Paradise, a graphic novel about the social and political situation in today’s Iran, is serializing online every Tuesday and Thursday at and will be published in book form on September 13th, 2011—in over a dozen languages simultaneously. Over 160,000 unique visitors have followed Zahra’s Paradise since it launched."

Libya update

تأهب بمصراتة وقصف للزاوية ولانوف

Twitter #Libya

Including the following tweet:

Ibn Tarabulus, "Gaddafi wants to thank the international media & community for staying silent while he destroyed the city of Zawiyah #Libya #Gaddafi"

CNN, Defiant Gadhafi calls for countrymen to defend Libya, 9 Mar 2011, Libya govt forces pound revolutionaries east & west, 9 Mar 2011

and especially

Alex Crawford, Sky News, Special Report: Rebel-Held Town Under Siege, 9 Mar 2011

Libya: No-Fly Zone

avaaz, Libya: No-Fly Zone, "As Qaddafi's jets drop bombs on the Libyan people, the UN Security Council will decide in 48 hours whether to impose a no-fly zone to keep the government's warplanes on the ground."

Online campaign

Islamic Virtual University, Board of Trustees of Islamic Virtual University meets in Sharjah [press release], 8 Mar 2011"The Board of Trustees of the Islamic Virtual University is meeting at a second session at ISESCO Regional Office in Sharjah, from 9 through 10 March, to take necessary measures and identify appropriate mechanisms to launch this project, which is part of the action taken by the Federation of the Universities of the Islamic World, a body affiliated to ISESCO."

Ayman al-Zawahri on Egypt

AP/, Al-Qaida No. 2 calls for Islamic rule in Egypt, 8 Mar 2011

"Al-Qaida's Ayman al-Zawahri made the appeal in an Internet audio message released Friday, his second recording since Mubarak was forced out on Feb. 11. It is unlikely his call for an Islamic state will resonate among the overwhelming majority of those who took part in the 18-day popular uprising and seek a democratic system to replace Mubarak's autocratic rule."

Egypt: "A great conversation" (Ahdaf Soueif)

Ahdaf Soueif, Guardian, In Egypt it was silence or shouting. Now it's a great conversation, 8 Mar 2011 "Some 4,000 years ago, Egypt descended into a great chaos that lasted two centuries. In the literary "complaints" of that time the refrain is the despairing, rhetorical: "To whom should I speak today?" For us, it's the worst thing: to have no one to speak to. And when we, 4,000 years ago, managed to speak to each other again, the result was the Middle Kingdom: a thousand years of great civil projects, commerce and art. Today, everywhere in the country, a great conversation is going on."

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Evgeny Morozov commentary

Facebook and Twitter are just places revolutionaries go | Evgeny Morozov | Comment is free |, 8 Mar 2011 "Tweets were sent. Dictators were toppled. Internet = democracy. QED.

"Sadly, this is the level of nuance in most popular accounts of the internet's contribution to the recent unrest in the Middle East."

Moussavi website

"Moussavi website: Tear gas fired to disperse Iran protesters, 8 Mar 2011 "Security forces in Iran's capital used tear gas to disperse protesters near Revolution Square Tuesday, according to the website of opposition leader Mir Hossein Moussavi."

Monday, March 07, 2011

'Tweets From Tahrir' Collects Egypt Posts in a Book

Julie Bosman,, 'Tweets From Tahrir' Collects Egypt Posts in a Book, 6 Mar 2011: "Some of the earliest and most raw reports of the revolution in Egypt were published on Twitter. Now an enterprising publisher, OR Books, has gathered many of those Twitter messages for a book, “Tweets From Tahrir,” a narrative of the revolution told in snippets of 140 characters or less."

Iran 'Welcomes Hackers'

Golnaz Esfandiari, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Iran Says It Welcomes Hackers Who Work For Islamic Republic - 7 Mar 2011: "“Regarding the cyber issue, we welcome the presence of those hackers who are willing to work for the goals of the Islamic Republic with good will and revolutionary activities,” said Brigadier General Gholamreza Jalali, adding that those hackers who he said are working against people will be dealt with."

Germany - video poster sentenced

AP (CP), 16-months prison term for German who posted Islamic terror videos on the Internet, 4 Mar 2011 "A German court has sentenced an 18-year-old to one year and four months in prison for posting threatening, Islamic extremist videos on the Internet."

Music and protest

I'm catching up on reading after travels, so I'm a bit late posting this one:

Andy Morgan, Observer, From fear to fury: how the Arab world found its voice, 27 Feb 2011 ""The Donkey and the Foal", Negm's poisoned paean to Mubarak and his son, Gamal, was set to music by Ramy Essam, a young engineering student who became the Billy Bragg of Tahrir Square. He sang the song to ecstatic crowds with the ancient Negm beside him, still standing tall. Essam went to Tahrir Square early in the uprising with his guitar and cobbled together a song called "Leave" from all the inventive slogans that were flying around the square. It became the hit of the uprising, going viral on YouTube and the Huffington Post, before being picked up by CNN and then TV networks around the globe. Essam lived in Tahrir Square's tent village for the entire revolution, composing songs, and playing almost every hour on one of the many stages that had sprouted there."

I didn't post Essam's video of 'Leave' at the time, so here is the YouTube remix:

Facebook Official Ramy Essam page

The above article also links to numerous other artistes (some of which I have blogged about before). It would be good to compile an album (or albums) of protest materials.

'What Libya Learned from Egypt'

James Cowie,, What Libya Learned from Egypt, 5 Mar 2011 "Libya's nationwide Internet blackout is entering its second full day. From a technical standpoint, it's clear that this is a very different strategy than the one used by Egypt in the last days of the Mubarak regime. The ultimate outcome is probably going to be the same. Let's take a few minutes to compare the two, and think about the implications for future Internet engagements in the Jasmine Revolution."

Google Transparency, Libya

Google Transparency, Google Search (Unencrypted), Libya Traffic Divided by Worldwide Traffic and Normalized, 6 Mar 2011

Libya net cuts

The Register, Libya's internet goes dark as upheaval spreads, 4 Mar 2011 "According to figures supplied by Google's Transparency Report, traffic flowing between Libyan computers and YouTube began a precipitous drop starting at 5 am GMT on Thursday. Four hours later, traffic vanished altogether and had yet to recover at time of writing. Libyan traffic to GMail, Blogger, and other services showed a similar pattern."

also see Jonathan Terry, Libya’s Internet still blocked, 7 Mar 2011 "Libya’s Internet, which had been returning to normal late last week, has once again been almost entirely shut down by the government, as violence continues across the North African country, a Google Transparency Report said over the weekend. As of Monday morning, there was only intermittent access and most Libyans could not log on to the Internet."

'In Search Of The Internet Kill Switch'

Jon Orlin, Techcrunch, In Search Of The Internet Kill Switch, 7 Mar 2011 "The complete internet shutdown this week in Libya involved a new way to turn off web access for an entire country. Earlier this year, the total internet blockade in Egypt backfired and emboldened the protesters. China is well known for blocking internet services, but it’s not just China. Of course, having the government turn off the internet could never happen in the United States. We couldn’t condemn the action in other countries while at the same time plan it here. No one would even suggest such a thing, right?


Reading List: Australian Religion Studies Review

Australian Religion Studies Review 23.3. is a 'cyber- issue'. In relation to this blog, Steven Fink's "A New Domain for Co-Workers of God" and Roxanne D. Marcotte's 'The New Virtual Frontiers: Religion and Spirituality in Cyberspace' (the latter downloadable for free here as a pdf) are particularly relevant.

Sunday, March 06, 2011

Qatari blogger detained, Amnesty: Qatari blogger detained, 5 Mar 2011 "Amnesty International says a blogger and human rights activist has been detained incommunicado in Qatar and is at risk of torture or other ill-treatment.

"The UK-based human rights group said Sultan al-Khalaifi was arrested on March 2 by around eight individuals in plain clothes, believed to be members of the security forces."

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Mediterranean Microcosm workshop

The Mediterranean Microcosm workshop - Florence, 25-6 Feb 2011 "The Project has been promoted and is being conducted by the Italian Institute of International Affairs (IAI) in cooperation with the Center for the US and Europe of the Brookings Institution, in Washington, and with the Robert Schuman Centre of the European University Institute (EUI), in Florence."

Details of a recent workshop, which I contributed to (talking about social networking and 'web 2.0' in relation to events in Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Bahrain, Yemen, and elsewhere). The pdf includes a list of contributors. I found it a very useful event. Expect a chapter related to this later this year, as part of a book based on the project.

Video praising 'British Al Qaeda martyr' raises fears over fresh terror attack in UK

Video praising 'British Al Qaeda martyr' raises fears over fresh terror attack in UK | Mail Online, 2 Mar 2011 "A British Muslim has apparently been filmed alongside Al Qaeda fighters in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area for the first time." I have yet to view this video.

Pakistan govt told to block anti-Islamic websites

Times Of India, Pakistan govt told to block anti-Islamic websites - 1 Mar 2011 "With Facebook and several other websites allegedly featuring blasphemous material against Prophet Mohammed and the Quran, the Pakistan government has informed a court here that all required steps are being taken to block objectionable and anti-Islamic portals."

Tunisian rap

Wadah Khanfar: A historic moment in the Arab world

Wadah Khanfar: A historic moment in the Arab world | Video on

Cartoon perspective

Gaddafi, Mubarak and Ben Ali Meet in Satirical Cartoons | Digital Islam

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Rebels Smash Holes in Libya's Internet Firewall

Neal Ungerleider, Fast Company, Rebels Smash Holes in Libya's Internet Firewall, 28 Feb 2011 "As anti-Qadaffi rebels gain the upper hand in the Libyan Civil War, opposition forces are managing to gain control of the Internet."

Telling Libya's story over the Internet

Los Angeles Times, Telling Libya's story over the Internet, 27 Feb 2011 "Suleiman Zjailil is a modern-day town crier. He spends his days driving his battered car back and forth across the border with Egypt, smuggling out grainy cellphone videos so the world can see the news from his quarantined land."