Thursday, November 08, 2018

'Hashtag Islam' - Indian sub-continent version

Pentagon Press edition - Hashtag Islam

My book 'Hashtag Islam' is now available to order in the Indian sub-continent from Pentagon Press. This is a special edition (hardback) with a different cover.


It's also available via the usual bookshops, and from

Monday, November 05, 2018

Recent headlines:

More details on these and other stories can now be found on the new Virtually Islamic blog:, “I’d prefer to die in Poland”: Chechnya’s most famous YouTuber in exile faces deportation to Russia 
Said Temsamani, Eurasia Review, Morocco: Interactive Radio, TV And Social Media To Enhance True Values Of Islam – OpEd  
Hadith centred programme promoted by Moroccan King Mohammed VI.  
Jamie Prentis, The National, Russian trolls stoked UK hatred of Islam after terrorist attacks, 1 Nov 2018 

amaliah, #ProtectYoungHijabis the Hashtag Formed to Protect Over 900 Young Muslim Women From One Sexual Predator, Do Arab Governments Control Arabic-Language Twitter?

C.J. Werleman,, How do white Muslims experience Islamophobia? Social media linkage to this interesting article/opinion piece.
"I'm white and English. I've never faced racism in my life. I became a Muslim, then people would hurl abuse as I was no longer white," tweeted Christopher John George. "I never knew how bad it felt until I was on the other side… it is DISGUSTING."

"His tweet illuminates not only how Islamophobia is a virulent form of racism, but also narrates an untold story of the Muslim experience in western societies today - the story of how white converts to Islam are now considered by some racists as traitors to their race."

University of Wales Trinity Saint David, UWTSD Academic focusses on Islam in cyberspace with new book release

"An international publication focussing on how cyber-Islamic environments are transforming religious authority has been released by a UWTSD Lampeter based academic."

Monday, October 29, 2018

Recent headlines

These and further stories on the new Virtually Islamic blog:

 Sufism in Uzbekistan

Sufism in Uzbekistan discussed in great BBC programme:

'Honour Killing' video

'Honour killing' video shocks Syrians

Abu Qatada discussion

Trump and Far-Right

Trump and the far-right article by JM Berger

Mona Haydar profile

Mona Haydar profiled

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Virtually Islamic Blog

Please note that I'm primarily now posting on but will be maintaining this blog/archive too.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Malaysia Syariah-compliant browser

I discuss Islam-friendly apps and browsers in 'Hashtag Islam', and here's a new option: The Star Online, Syariah compliant web browser aims to make the Internet a better place, Sep 28 2018 "… SalamBrowser, touted as the world’s first syariah-compliant web browser, which Salam Web claims will eliminate inappropriate content from the search results." There have been several attempts at this kind of browser product before, so it will be interesting to see how effective it is compared with mainstream products.


9News, The secretive IT unit helping Islamic State supporters hide in dark corners of Internet, 24 Sep 2018  "Afaq's purpose is to help Islamic State jihadists and supporters to remain safe and secure online, while they actively recruit would-be fighters and spread violent propaganda across the Internet."

Gender and jihad

Nikita Malik,, Why Do We Underestimate The Role Of Women In Terrorist Organizations?, 26 Sep 2018 "It is important to remember, moreover, that Islamic State was the first terrorist organization to spearhead a systematic campaign to reach out to women – using gender specific propaganda to do so. The group later inspired others, including the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban, or TTP) to follow suit and produce content tailored specifically for its ‘jihadi sisters’, and elaborate on their role in promoting the mujahideen (fighters)."

Thursday, September 27, 2018

'One Day in the Haram'

Review of 'One Day in the Haram':

Leslie Felperin, Guardian, One Day in the Haram review – a fascinating glimpse inside Islam's holiest site, 6 Sep 2018

"A trip to the mosque’s social media office offers an insight into how modern technology is used to service ancient traditions, and that tension between old and new is woven throughout the movie, which is in itself an artefact representative of that duality."

I discuss the issue of social media and pilgrimage in 'Hashtag Islam'.

I'm looking forward to seeing this. As it stands in the UK, it is only available on Amazon Prime at present. I'm hoping that a DVD release is imminent.

Mosul Eye

Guardian, Lucy Lamble, Small Changes, The Mosul historian who risked his life to blog about life under Isis – podcast, 26 Sep 2018 "When his beloved city was occupied by Islamic State, Iraqi Omar Mohammed was determined to document every atrocity – as anonymous blogger Mosul Eye" Essential listening!

Friday, September 14, 2018

New home for blog

I'm now blogging on the website, but will continue to place summarised posts here too. 

Recent posts

Contesting identities within cultural insecurity

Currently taking a look at this interesting thesis, which draws on a number of elements associated with the study of cyber Islamic Environments. Kathleen Woodhouse-Ledermann, Contesting identities within cultural insecurity: The case of Muslim women in contemporary France (Rutgers, 2018) [PDF download]

Twitter reacts to Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s demise

Express Tribune, Twitter reacts to Begum Kulsoom Nawaz’s demise, 11 Sep 2018

'The next billion users': Google targets India's lucrative mobile market

Guardian, 'The next billion users': Google targets India's lucrative mobile market, 11 Sep 2018
"As mobile markets in developed world near saturation, Google rolls out Neighbourly, its first Indian-inspired social network"

Women Warriors

This looks like an interesting read:
Nickolay Nickolov, Mashable, Women Warriors

"“The situation doesn’t favour women,” says Maryam Ado Haruna who works with the Center for Information Technology and Development (CITAD), a Nigerian organisation using tech to develop good governance. Religious beliefs and cultural trends can contribute to attitudes about who can and should access the internet. “The way parents deny access deliberately and husbands deny wives a— they think our religion, Islam, means that internet is not for Nigerian women,” Ado Haruna says."

Man arrested after breakfast with woman in Saudi Arabia

BBC News, Man arrested after breakfast with woman in Saudi Arabia, 10 Sep 2018 "In the 30-second video, the man and woman briefly joke about eating their breakfast together, with nobody else invited."
Contrasting views were expressed on social media from Egypt and Saudi Arabia in relation to this incident.

Monday, September 03, 2018

Hashtag Islam

Hashtag Islam - print version
I'm very pleased to have received my first printed copy of 'Hashtag Islam'. It's been great to have had the chance to work again with series editors Bruce B. Lawrence and Carl W. Ernst - alongside Executive Editor Elaine Maisner and the excellent UNC Press team. The book is out in October.

Sunday, September 02, 2018

New and Noted: Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia

Knut Lundby (editor), Contesting Religion: The Media Dynamics of Cultural Conflicts in Scandinavia, De Gruyter

Another one for the Reading List.  The good news is that it is Open Access!  The book includes contributions from Knut Lundby, Mia Lövheim,  Lynn Schofield Clark and Mona Abdel-Fadil 

Shahira Yusuf

Observer, Shahira Yusuf: 'I have always felt beautiful', 2 Sep 2018 "It was just before the 2016 referendum, as she became aware of the lack of NHS funding, that Yusuf decided to study politics – the Grenfell Tower fire cemented her decision. She plans to start a politics degree this year, balancing (she offers a nervous smile) modelling and studying. But often the two will leak into each other, as, with her newly elevated platform, she uses Twitter for activism, and finds herself discussing Brexit and immigration in the make-up chair."

Extremists exploiting small social media websites, experts warn

BBC News, Extremists exploiting small social media websites, experts warn, 1 Sep 2018 "The likes of Facebook and Twitter have responded to calls to remove extremist content over the last 18 months."

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Commercial Break: Hashtag Islam - Australia and New Zealand

Hashtag Islam can be obtained through all the usual channels in Australia and New Zealand, including through Footprint Books. Their October catalogue has details and prices.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Publishers Weekly Review: Hashtag Islam

Publishers Weekly, Nonfiction Review, Hashtag Islam: How Cyber- Islamic Environments Are Transforming Religious Authority

" ... by investigating how Muslim communities are utilizing (and being transformed by) the ongoing worldwide digital revolution, this work proves to be an important addition to literature on contemporary Islam."

New and noted: Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine,

Hannah Fry, Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine, Penguin Books

Another one for the Reading list (helped by her TV documentary 'The Joy of Winning').  

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

CIC Saudi Arabia

It's been interesting to review the output of CIC Saudi Arabia on Twitter during Hajj 2018, presenting human stories within the hajj.  Some examples are below (check my @garybunt Twitter feed for more):

The following video isn't on theYouTube channel yet, but here's a Twitter link: in contemporary times, the long distance journey to hajj on foot becomes all the more remarkable #hajj CIC Saudi Arabia, [@CICSaudi], "Hajj is over but for Othman AlShahin the journey is not over yet. The man who walked 450km to Hajj (the equivalent distance of #Paris to #Geneva) is now on his way home by foot. "

New and noted: LikeWar: How Social Media Became The Locus Of 21st Century War

Interesting review of Peter W. Singer and Emerson T. Brooking's book 'LikeWar: How Social Media Became The Locus Of 21st Century War' via - another entry for the Reading List.  Task and Purpose, LikeWar: How Social Media Became The Locus Of 21st Century War

Tatar Muslims

CJ Werleman, Middle East Eye, How Russia is trying to erase Tatar Muslims Analysis/opinion.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Dina Torkia interview: the Muslim fashion blogger talks Boris Johnson and burkas

Guyss I’m so excited for tomorrows @thetimesmagazine issue, mainly cuz I’m featured in it! LOL make sure you pick it up and have a read of my interview.. it’s juicy as always 👊🏼🤗 📸@tomjacksonfotoThe Times, Dina Torkia interview: the Muslim fashion blogger talks Boris Johnson and burkas

Profile of Dina Torkia, high profile fashionista based in Wales. Interesting in terms of her social media use in particular. (Pay walled article).

 "Dina Torkia is a social media sensation, a Muslim fashionista with more than two million followers. But her fans get a lot more from her controversial posts than how to look fab in a hijab. Julia Llewellyn Smith meets her at home in Wales."

This is an excellent article.

'Manufacturing Consent: Saudi and Amazon Deploy Twitter Bots to Insist They Are Virtuous'

albawaba, Manufacturing Consent: Saudi and Amazon Deploy Twitter Bots to Insist They Are Virtuous Allegations.

Hajj: how globalisation transformed the market for pilgrimage to Mecca

Seán McLoughlin, The Conversation, Hajj: how globalisation transformed the market for pilgrimage to Mecca, 15 Aug 2018

Iran hacking allegations

Independent, Iranian hackers attack UK universities to steal secret research allegations. "Hackers linked with the Iranian government are targeting universities and academic institutions around the world as part of a major campaign to steal unpublished research and obtain intellectual property, security researchers have revealed."


The Times, Pilgrims make progress with haj app "This year the authorities have been determined to clean up the image of the haj, the annual pilgrimage of millions of Muslims to Saudi Arabia’s holy cities. In an attempt to bring it up to date, this week’s haj was, the government insists, “green, healthy and high-tech”." [pay walled article]

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Monday, July 23, 2018

Temporarily off-line

Hashtag IslamI'm currently off-line and not updating this blog. I am still tweeting @garybunt. I will be updating the blog in due course.

In the meantime, my new book is published in October by the University of North Carolina Press.  It's available through all the usual channels. 

Normal service on this blog will be resumed as soon as possible.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Approaches to Digital Religious Studies

Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR),'Approaches to Digital Religious Studies' with Prof. Gary R. Bunt (University of Wales Trinity Saint David), 16 Apr 2018 "This presentation explores the approaches towards analysing researching religions in cyberspace, based on two decades of experience in analyzing, researching and writing about Islam and Muslims on the Internet. The field is virtual, but has a real-world impact on many levels, with increasing implications for Muslims in local and global contexts. As such, it has become an important subject for academic study. Specific and innovative methodological approaches are required, and these continue to evolve in response to changing issues and technological shifts. The presentation will reflect on experience to date, and consider ways in which digital content can be integrated into academic discourse, drawing upon approaches which are multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary in nature."

"Taqiyya": How An Obscure Islamic Concept Became An Obsession Of Anti-Muslim Activists

buzzfeed, "Taqiyya": How An Obscure Islamic Concept Became An Obsession Of Anti-Muslim Activists "I mean, 99.99% of Muslims don't even understand what taqiyya is, but every alt-right Twitter troll is an expert on Islamic theology now."


wsj, Indonesia’s Islamic Floggings Will Move Indoors Where Kids Can’t See and to stop viral videos

Islamic authority in Kurdistan issues fatwa against cryptocurrency

Rudaw, Islamic authority in Kurdistan issues fatwa against cryptocurrency "The KRG’s Supreme Fatwa Board has ruled against dealing in OneCoin, a type of cryptocurrency, most notably because of unknown sources dealing with it."

Digitising in Dubai

The National, Juma Al Majid’s quest for universal knowledge brings the world’s treasures online "Based in Deira, Dubai, the centre is situated close to the airport. Planes buzz low overhead, casting large shadows on the ground. In the digitisation room, copiers are at work at 11 desks, aiming for a target of 2,000 pages a day. Klieg lights illuminate each glass-topped machine, while workers take and return books from the wheeled carts next to them. The room, though stuffy with the heat of bodies and activity, hums with purpose."

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Dreaming in Za'atari : Stories after Syria

Virtual reality tour of Za'atari.

'Salafis' in Germany

Deutsche Welle, Number of Salafists in Germany has doubled in past five years, 4 April 2018 "The number of individuals in Germany recognized as adherents of Salafism has reached a new all-time high, the interior ministry said. The growth is particularly fast in Germany's smallest states."

IS loyalty pledge

Reuters, Islamic State militants renew loyalty pledge to 'caliph' Baghdadi, 4 Apr 2018

"Malaysia can be Islamic fintech leader"

Malay Mail, Malaysia can be Islamic fintech leader, says Fitch Group unit, 5 Apr 2018

Israeli websites hacked

Alaraby, Hacked Israeli websites declare ‘Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine’ "Numerous homepages of Israeli schools, hospitals and municipalities displayed pictures of Friday's protests in Gaza, emblazoned with "Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine" and accompanied by muezzin chants, after being hacked by cyber group Anonymous on Tuesday evening."

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

New and Noted: Digital Middle East

Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age, Edited by Mohamed Zayani (Hurst) "Digital Middle East sheds a critical light on the continuing changes closely intertwined with the adoption of information and communication technologies in the region. Drawing on case studies from throughout the Middle East, the contributors explore how these digital transformations are playing out in the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres, exposing the various disjunctions and discordances that have marked the advent of the digital Middle East."

The Male Chaperones of Muslim Dating Apps

Hussein Kesvani, The Male Chaperones of Muslim Dating Apps discusses Muzmatch, which I refer to in my next book

"How resilient is the Islamic State's digital operation in 2018?"

Twitter thread from Raphael Gluck, who asks "How resilient is the Islamic State's digital operation in 2018?"

The Ghosts of Islamic State

Christoph Reuter, Spiegel, The Ghosts of Islamic State

Muslim Women's Day

HuffPost, Why We Need A Muslim Women’s Day

 MuslimGirl, 3 Ways to Make a Difference on #MuslimWomensDay 

Image via

Hyperlinked Sympathizers

Samantha Weirman & Audrey Alexander, Hyperlinked Sympathizers: URLs and the Islamic State, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism

Friday, March 16, 2018

Grey's Anatomy's hijabi intern steals the show

Image result for dr qadri grey's
Stepfeed, Muslim character in Grey's Anatomy took off her hijab ... and people lost it "If you needed yet another reason to obsess over American series, Grey's Anatomy, then you'll be thrilled to know Dr. Dahlia Qadri, the show's first hijabi intern, stole hearts everywhere with one bold, daring move." And it received many positive responses on social media.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Islamic State’s English-language magazines, 2014-2017

Ingram, Haroro. “Islamic State’s English-language magazines, 2014-2017: Trends & Implications for CT-CVE Strategic Communications.” The International Centre for Counter-Terrorism – The Hague 8, no. 15 (2018) One for the reading list. I look at some of these issues in my next book. "This paper provides a quick reference guide to IS’s English-language magazines released between June 2014 and September 2017 examining key themes and propaganda strategies deployed across three issues of Islamic State News, four issues of Islamic State Report, fifteen issues of Dabiq and thirteen issues of Rumiyah"

Friday, March 09, 2018

Watchdog: Western tech used for hacking in Turkey, Syria, Watchdog: Western tech used for hacking in Turkey, Syria"A Canadian company's hardware is being used to hack internet users along Turkey's border with Syria, researchers said Friday, adding that there were signs that Kurdish forces aligned with the United States might have been targeted.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Indonesia blocks Tumblr

Reuters, Indonesia Says it Blocks Services on Blogging Site Tumblr over Pornography "The world’s most populous Muslim-majority country has stepped up efforts to police online content after a rise in hoax stories and hate speech, and because of anti-pornography laws pushed by Islamic parties."

Review of The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies

The Digital Orientalist, Review of The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies Useful review of The Digital Humanities and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. Edited by Elias Muhanna. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016. It's expensive in hardback/Kindle editions, but a paperback will be out in September 18.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

PM raises human rights concerns in Saudi crown prince visit

BBC News, PM raises human rights concerns in Saudi crown prince visit, 7 Mar 2018 "The prime minister expressed particular concern about the case of Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger sentenced to 1,000 lashes and 10 years in prison for "insulting Islam" online."

Parsons Green: Alleged bomber 'trained by IS in Iraq'

BBC News, Parsons Green: Alleged bomber 'trained by IS in Iraq' "Asked in the Home Office interview whether he had had any training from the Islamic State group Mr Hassan allegedly said: "They trained us on how to kill. It was all religious based"."

Monday, March 05, 2018

Their son went to Syria. They’re facing 14 years in prison for trying to send him money

Toronto Sar/thespec, Their son went to Syria. They’re facing 14 years in prison for trying to send him money "Jack Letts, who has both British and Canadian citizenship, converted to Islam as a teenager and went to Syria in 2014. By the following year, he told his parents he was desperate. Scared that Daesh would kill him, he begged them to send money for smugglers so he could escape."

Erdogan’s Next Target as He Restricts Turkey’s Democracy: The Internet

NYT, Erdogan’s Next Target as He Restricts Turkey’s Democracy: The Internet, 4 Mar 2018 "For seven years, with an unholy blend of the racy and the religious, Mr. [Adnan] Oktar has presented his show daily via satellite, cable and the internet, where he expounds on Islamic creationism, peace and love, often to a studio audience of women in miniskirts and plunging necklines.
"Religious conservatives in the government now say they want to shut him down. But critics say that Mr. Oktar has become a convenient trigger for the government to pursue wide-reaching restrictions on internet content and broadcasters."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

App used in battles against Islamic State `was a game changer´

Press Association/Daily Mail, App used in battles against Islamic State `was a game changer´, 18 Feb 2018 "An app created using a map seized from Islamic State was a “game changer” in the battle to defeat the extremists in Raqqa, a British man who fought the murderous group has said."

Board game in Mecca controversy

Step Feed, Women playing board game in Mecca's holy mosque spark controversy "Four women seen playing a board game in the premises of Mecca's holy mosque sparked online controversy across Saudi Arabia on Monday. "

2017 Review VOX-Pol

VOX-Pol ‘Violent Extremism and Terrorism Online in 2017: The Year in Review’,February 21, 2018

Hizballah video game

The New Arab, Protect Shia shrines from IS jihadists in latest Hizballah video game ""Holy Defence" is the latest Hizballah-inspired shooter based on the Lebanese militant group's recent battles against the jihadist group in Syria and at home."

Image source

Monday, February 19, 2018

Indonesia net control

Reuters/Indian Express, New Indonesia internet system blocks more than 70,000 ‘negative’ sites "Indonesia's new tool to block online content has successfully helped block over 70,000 websites that show negative content, including extremist propaganda and pornographic imagery."

Package containing 'witchcraft spell' found in Medina... authorities undo it

Stepfeed, Package containing 'witchcraft spell' found in Medina... authorities undo it This issue became the subject of online discussion.

Egyptian woman beats her harasser, gets him arrested and goes viral

Stepfeed, Egyptian woman beats her harasser, gets him arrested and goes viral "In a video capturing the incident, the woman can be seen chasing after the man, then calling on passersby to help her stop him from escaping. Her attempts at getting the man arrested succeeded and he was eventually handed over to police."

Friday, February 16, 2018

Iran App claims

Mail Online, Iran may be using ‘weaponized' apps available on the App Store and Google Play to spy on MILLIONS of people around the world, report claims, 15 Feb 2018 "The report [from the National Council of Resistance of Iran] claims that the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has created spyware-enabled apps for 'cyber-surveillance and repression' that are available on the App Store, the Google Play Store and GitHub with the goal of 'monitoring and preventing' new political uprisings."

Met Police interview

CTC, A View from the CT Foxhole: Neil Basu, Senior National Coordinator for Counterterrorism Policing in the United Kingdom Long interview.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Islamic e-wallet

Zawya, Alizz Islaic bank launches ewallet

Morocco: “The women scholars here are even more important than men.”

Dina Temple-Raston, The Female Quran Experts Fighting Radical Islam in Morocco "The morchidat program leverages a woman’s familial and social influence to combat radical Islam at the level of the sidewalks—and at individual mosques. “We’ve found over the years that if we have women organize something at the mosque, 450 people show up. If the men are put in charge, they’re lucky if 25 guys make the effort,” El-Azaar said."

Social media and conflict

David Patrikarakos, Independent, War in 140 characters: How social media has transformed the nature of conflict, 14 Feb 2018 "It was the reinvention of reality, and the likes of Twitter and Facebook were at its heart. In an extract from his latest book, author and journalist David Patrikarakos says we need a new narrative to understand where battlefield now lies."

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Monday, February 12, 2018

Iran Controls Information with Halal Net

VOA, Iran Controls Information with Halal Net, 9 Feb 2018 "In the past four years, Iranian officials have permitted wider use of the internet, hoping that will help create a modern economy. Today, almost half the population has smartphones. This means they also have cameras and internet links permitting broadcast by anyone to anywhere."

Germans Shocked by Young Jihadists

VOA, Germans Shocked by Young Jihadists, 11 Feb 2018 "Now, a top German official is calling for cancellation of laws restricting security surveillance of children under the age of 14. Hans-Georg Maassen is the head of the country’s domestic intelligence agency. He argues that Germany is facing serious risks from what the media calls “kindergarten jihadists.”"

Friday, February 09, 2018

Turkey Censorship Allegations

The Conversation, Robots, kittens and Netflix: Turkish curbs on the media reach ludicrous levels, 9 Feb 2018 "Citizens of Turkey have long bypassed existing internet regulations by using VPN (Virtual Private Network) and other methods to get round the blockage of certain websites. The latest draft decree certainly points to a further step towards a dystopian future for Turkish freedom of expression and human rights, but it could also instigate new imaginings for the future of social and digital change." Opinion

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Iranian women defiant against compulsory hijab

Deutsche Welle, Iranian women defiant against compulsory hijab, 6 Feb 2018 "A new wave of protests against the compulsory wearing of hijab has spread across Iran, resulting in the arrests of dozens of women. The government has accused the protesters of being under the influence of drugs."

Law and Order: Dubai

BBC News, Click, Law and Order: Dubai Tech and surveillance in Dubai: "Click is in Dubai meeting the newest members of the police force, police Bots."

How the internet 'punishes' Palestinians

Al Jazeera, How the internet 'punishes' Palestinians "In the past two years, Palestinians launched several campaigns accusing tech companies of discrimination and bias, with hashtags such as #FBCensorsPalestine and #PayPalForPalestine going viral."

Islam, Women and Me

BBC, Islam, Women and Me, 31 Jan 2018

Mehreen Baig's very personal documentary, which includes a visit to a 'Sharia Council', a discussion on dating apps, and her negotiations with her father about moving out ... The programme is available on iPlayer for the next month.

Friday, February 02, 2018

Bangladesh's New Generation of Militants - opinion and analysis

Siddharthya Roy, The Diplomat, Bangladesh's New Generation of Militants, 29 Jan 2018 "Providing propaganda, inspiration, and tutorials through shareable videos, audio sermons, e-magazines, and other digital content is the main trade of the Islamic State in South Asia. There is next to no coercion or monetary compensation. Individuals go from being the boy/girl next door to a terrorist almost entirely on their own effort. All the Islamic State does is provide a template to which vulnerable individuals mold themselves and content which inspires and educates." Opinion and analysis

Net influence

The Guardian, Finsbury Park attack: man 'brainwashed by anti-Muslim propaganda' convicted, 1 Feb 2018 "The Guardian understands a review has been launched into the extreme right by the Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre. Sources say it is assessing how determined they are to kill, how able they are to murder, what their motivations are, and how they spread their propaganda and get recruits." See my Islam in Britain blog for more on this case

#GirlsOfRevolutionSt/ #WhiteWednesdays

Guardian, Tehran hijab protest: Iranian police arrest 29 women, 2 Feb 2018 "One recent image taken from Mashhad shows a religious woman, in full chador, standing on a telecoms box holding up a headscarf, in solidarity with women who - unlike her - don’t want to wear it."

Screenshot below from Twitter: #GirlsOfRevolutionSt  Also see دختران_خیابان_انقلاب# and the hashtag

Also see CNN, Iranian women take off headscarves to protest veil law, 31 Jan 2018


BBC Trending, Iranians compare Shah's regime with clerics'  "The hashtag has been used more than 25,000 times since Tuesday. Of those few tweets with their location tagged or verified, most were coming from in or near Iran, with a fair share from countries such as the US, the UK and Germany, which have large Iranian communities."

Newsweek, Iran on Twitter: Persian Users Made This Hashtag go Viral, 27 Jan 2018 "Following the recent anti-establishment protests across the nation, Iranians have taken to Twitter to compare the country before the 1979 revolution with Iran today, making the hashtag #What_we_gave_vs_what_we_got go viral."


[screenshot @]

Thursday, February 01, 2018

The slow death of al-Qaeda in Algeria

Middle East Eye, The slow death of al-Qaeda in Algeria

"In Algeria this week, Abu Rouaha al-Qassantini - real name Adel Seghiri - was killed by the Algerian army in Jijel, about 400km from Algiers.

"He was the propaganda chief of AQIM, creator of the al-Andalus magazine and mastermind of the propaganda forum "Ifriquya al-Islamiyah" (Islamic Africa), which acted as message board between groups in the region and al-Qaeda in the Middle East."

The bureaucracy of evil: how Islamic State ran a city

Ghaith Abdul-Ahad, Guardian, The bureaucracy of evil: how Islamic State ran a city part 1 of a series by Ghaith Abdul-Ahad

New & Noted: Music of the Islamic State

Survival Vol. 60, Iss. 1, 2018

Friday, January 26, 2018

Thursday, January 25, 2018

"Banned: How Facebook harms free speech in Egypt"

"Dania Akkad, Middle East Eye, Banned: How Facebook harms free speech in Egypt, 25 Jan 2018 Analysis and opinion. "The social media platform was lauded as a critical factor behind the uprisings – or "The Facebook Revolution" – which began on 25 January 2011 and drew tens of thousands of Egyptians onto the streets, changing their country’s trajectory.
"But Egyptian opposition activists of all political shades and stripes told MEE that during the past year, the company has repeatedly banned their pages and shut down their livestreams after trolls repeatedly reported their posts."

May at Davos

ITV News, Theresa May to demand more from Facebook and Google to fight online terror - but has she identified real enemy?, 24 Jan 2018 "Governments are more likely to see them as ‘publishers’ or ‘broadcasters’, just like ITV, which should be entirely accountable for the content it hosts." Also see BBC News, Davos: Theresa May to warn tech firms over terror content, 25 Jan 2018

Isis steps up online propaganda war after defeat in Raqqa warning, 'We are in your home'

Independent, Isis steps up online propaganda war after defeat in Raqqa warning, 'We are in your home', 23 Jan 2018 "Jihadist posts picture of himself outside New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art just before New Year's Eve on terrorist web channels as ominous reminder of threat group still pose." Draws on material from SITE

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

"The Islamic State Is the God That Failed in the Middle East"

Murtaza Hussain, The Intercept, "The Islamic State Is the God That Failed in the Middle East", 21 Jan 2018 "Not only did the jihadis lose in their grand confrontation with local regimes and the international system — a confrontation that they repeatedly promised that God would not let them lose — their brief attempt at implementing their ideal society was stained by an unforgettable litany of crimes and disasters. Rather than inaugurating a new Golden Age of strength and security, the idea of a “caliphate” today looks like just another modern radical movement that promised a new paradise on earth, before violently destroying itself and its adherents." Analysis

Monday, January 22, 2018

Qatar profile

An excellent long read on Qatar, including reference to social media issues: Declan Walsh, NYT, Tiny, Wealthy Qatar Goes Its Own Way, and Pays for It "The Qataris appear to have returned fire on the hacking front. For months American news media outlets have received stolen emails intended to embarrass Mr. Otaiba, the Emirati ambassador. The emails appear to come from Russia, but Saudi media reports say Qatar was behind them.
"Qatar denied any involvement in the hacking. “Qatar, as a matter of policy and principle, does not engage in cyber crimes or traffic in ‘fake news,’” the government said in a statement to The Times on Sunday."

Friday, January 19, 2018

Malaysia: Cryptocurrency

Mohd Noor Omar, Star Online, Resolving cryptocurrency conflicts, 16 Jan 2018 "Ikim will be conducting a roundtable discussion next month on the issue and will gather experts to present their views on cryptocurrency, with discussions on the syariah compatibility, compliance and governance."


Renad Mansour, Hisham al-Hashimi, Foreign Policy, ISIS, Inc. 16 Jan 2018 "Despite its defeat on the battlefield, the Islamic State is using Iraq’s black market to stockpile millions of dollars to fuel its coming insurgency."

Palestinian blogger rejects beauty industry award over Gal Gadot sponsorship

Middle East Eye, Palestinian blogger rejects beauty industry award over Gal Gadot sponsorship " founder Amani al-Khatahtbeh turned down Revlon's Changemaker award due to Israeli actor's 'ambassador' role at company."

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

'Flaming, Trolls and Memes: Digital Dimensions of Coexistence in Cyberspace'

Here's a link to my presentation 'Flaming, Trolls and Memes: Digital Dimensions of Coexistence in Cyberspace' from the #Coexistence Conference held in Cardiff @MuslimWales which has just been released.

House of Saud - 2

BBC, House of Saud "This episode tells the inside story of how some of the most prominent and richest Saudi royals were caught up in the purge. The detentions opened the door on a highly secret world of kickbacks and bribes on a monumental scale, which have also embroiled many foreign governments and some of the world's leading companies."

The Dawn of British Jihad

BBC Radio 4, The Dawn of British Jihad have yet to hear this. "In this programme, Mobeen Azhar sheds light on the people and organisations involved in this early wave of British involvement in Jihad - the youth organisations which helped send hundreds of young Brits to fight overseas."

Forthcoming book: Imams in Western Europe

Imams in Western EuropeMohammed Hashas, Jan Jaap de Ruiter, Niels Valdemar Vinding (editors), Imams in Western Europe (Amsterdam University Press)

This book is coming out in April 2018 - although appears quite expensive at €129. Here's the description:

"As European Muslims and Muslims in the Middle East diverge, imams in Europe have emerged as major agents of religious authority who shape Islam’s presence in Western societies. This volume examines the theoretical and practical questions concerning the evolving role of imams in Europe. To what extent do imams act as intermediaries between European states and Muslim communities? Do states subsidise imam training? How does institutionalisation of Islam differ between European states?"

I understand from Facebook that Claudia Carvalho has a chapter in it on "‘i-Imams studying female Islamic authority online’"

'Mecca Journeys'

Murat Cem Menguc, Hyperallergic, Documenting Experiences of Mecca Both Sacred and Irreverent "Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys at the Brooklyn Museum is an exhibition that examines the confrontation between the authentic and imagined Mecca, and of pilgrims with the tourism industry." Exhibition detail here: Brooklyn Museum, Ahmed Mater: Mecca Journeys

Religion, Media, and Materiality: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religious Authority

This looks like an interesting programme. CERES, Religion, Media, and Materiality: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Religious Authority, 17-19 Jan 2018 "Religious practice necessarily involves the use of media to bridge the gap between immanence and transcendence. Scholarship has been increasingly interested in the relationship between religion and media and how material and immaterial objects become entangled in religious belief-systems and practices. In this respect, the issue of authority emerges as paramount."

De-centring Shiʿi Islam

Morgan Clarke & Mirjam Künkler, De-centring Shiʿi Islam, British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 45, Iss. 1, 2018 part of an issue on Shiʿi Islam

Are Shia Militias Jihadist?

Daniel Gerlach, Zenith, Are Shia Militias Jihadist?, 20 Dec 2017 "The ideology of resistance is a distinct feature of powerful armed groups in the Middle East. It is time to introduce a new concept and, probably, a new term." Maybe this should be framed as a question? It's an interesting article.

The Others: Foreign Fighters in Libya

Aaron Zelin, Washington Institute, The Others: Foreign Fighters in Libya " In this richly detailed Policy Note, Aaron Zelin breaks down the components of the Libyan jihad, including country-by-country statistics on fighters. He also meticulously traces the routes taken by jihad aspirants from various African points of origin to Libya. In thus offering a deeper understanding of the foreign-fighter phenomenon, its evolution, and its potential trajectories, this study provides invaluable insights for mitigating related problems in Africa and Europe in the years ahead." PDF available

Facial recognition

Arwa Mahdawi, Guardian, Finding your museum doppelganger is fun – but the science behind it is scary not available in the UK yet: "Facial recognition technology allows Google to find the artwork you most resemble – but it also supports the rise of the surveillance state."

Monday, January 15, 2018

A New American Leader Rises in ISIS

Atlantic, A New American Leader Rises in ISIS "A two-year investigation identifies one of the very few Americans in the Islamic State’s upper ranks—and sheds light on the dynamics of radicalization."

Alt-right net

Amerlia Tait, New Statesman, “Let’s colonise MySpace!”: inside the alt-right’s internet " Gab is a social media platform just like Facebook or Twitter – except in the crucial ways it is not. Founded to take on “the left-leaning Big Social monopoly”, Gab prides itself on its dedication to free speech. As a result, much of the far-right is attracted to the site, with many migrating there after Twitter banned neo-Nazis from its platform in December."

Sticking a Pin into the Inflated Castle of Knowledge about Islam

Here's an interesting article by Mona Abdel-Fadil which (among several themes) refers to studies of ijtihad: Religion Going Public, Sticking a Pin into the Inflated Castle of Knowledge about Islam

Financial Desperation Leads ISIS to Sell Its Own Coins Online, Financial Desperation Leads ISIS to Sell Its Own Coins Online, 14 Jan 2018 "Facing financial setbacks, the Islamic State (ISIS) is turning to more unorthodox methods for raising money: selling its own currency on the web. A new Meir Amit Intelligence and Information Terrorism Center report cites an ISIS publication from last month, touting the terrorist group’s minted coins." Note: this article was written by Steven Emerson, and draws on information from the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center At the Israeli Intelligence Heritage and Commemoration Center.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Iranian regime's 'halal' internet stifling protest

Alexander J Martin, Sky News, Iranian regime's 'halal' internet stifling protest, 11 Jan 2018 "When Iranians protested in the streets to express their frustrations with the country's clerical regime, the first casualty of the demonstrations was their ability to freely receive and transmit information."

Bassem Youssef

Bassem Youssef: The wild story of ‘Egypt’s Jon Stewart’

IS 'Virtual Caliphate'

ChannelNewsAsia/AFP, Islamic State retreats online to 'virtual caliphate' "On the brink of defeat in Iraq and Syria, the Islamic State group has been taking refuge in its "virtual caliphate" - but even online, experts say it is in decline." opinion

Salafi satorial choices

Moses E. Ochonu, Mail & Guardian/The Conversation, Why the sartorial choices of Salafi clerics sparked a debate on morality in Nigeria, 11 Jan 2018 " The debate about modernity, Islam, and morality has migrated to online platforms because the internet is relatively anonymous. This has given both sides greater freedom to express their views. The debate encapsulates the ongoing ideological struggle in northern Nigerian Islam between those who live and defend a modern lifestyle, and those suspicious of Western modernity and the unmediated influence of Western education and culture."

House of Saud: A Family at War

Initial reaction to House of Saud: A Family at War, broadcast on BBC2 this week (and available on iPlayer).

This relates to episode one. I haven't viewed it all yet, but was interested to see its coverage of Bosnia. See the reviews here: Telegraph, House of Saud: A Family at War, review: an eye-opening documentary that lifted the lid on Saudi Arabia and terrorism and Independent, TV Review (second section).

I'm looking forward to seeing the remainder of the series, and to reading further comments on the programme from regional experts.

Mental health issues

Yonat Shimron, RNS, How US mosques are dealing with Muslims’ mental health issues, 9 Jan 2018 "A year ago, a group of mental health experts who are also mosque members agreed to volunteer their time to provide the service. Members can now go online and pick from among six mental health experts — including a family therapist, chaplain and a substance abuse counselor — for a free and confidential session."

Pakistan: #JusticeForZainab

aljazeera, Parents of raped and murdered girl, 7, seek justice 

Background on the awful circumstances linked to #JusticeForZainab.

The JusticeForZainab hashtag is trending.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Yemeni Bride

La sposa yemenitaal-Monitor, Graphic novel brings human side of Yemen to life
"Battaglia’s account is based not just on personal impressions, but also thorough research and interviews. Each story is depicted in a color indicating its theme: There is red for daily life events, blue for on-the-ground reporting on complex issues, and yellow for spirituality and the comparing of Eastern and Western values." Details of the Italian version are here

Malaysian election

Asia Times, In election mode, Najib bids to shine online, 10 Jan 2018, "The coalition’s move is belated recognition of the power of online and social media in swaying public opinion and capturing votes after recent poor showings at the polls, including a loss of the popular vote in 2013."

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