A real Orwellian story

Few British newspapers, and even less European, have reported the Orwellian plans of Brown’s increasingly illegitimate (and barely democratic) government for a 2008 version of Big Brother’s 1984. The main idea is to collect the largest database in the world though logging all the communications (from old phone to the Internet) of Her Majesty’s Subjects. A massive government database holding details of every phone call, e-mail and time spent on the internet by the public will be held in the most ‘secure’ place: the British Home Office. Of course, the reason behind this massively expensive, and entirely futile, database is to save us from terrorism….or isn’t it?The only way to know if the New Labour government is really fighting terrorism or transforming itself into a party of Orwellian magnitude is to check its record before the word terrorism possessed the ascetic face of the evergreen (nearly immortal, and surely elusive) Osama. Continue reading

Why do they enjoy doing their porridge?

Recently the Crown has claimed its first success in prosecuting, under Section 5 of the Terrorism Act 2006, a wannabe ‘jihadi’, Mr Sohail Anjum Qureshi. Mr Sohail Qureshi, 29, pleaded guilty at the Old Bailey to charges of preparing to commit terrorist activity and possessing items of use to terrorists, including a night vision scope and medical supplies To count this sentence as the first success of a quite unsuccessful piece of legislation is like to celebrate for a faux victory. I will explain the reasons below. Yet let me observe some aspects of the case. Here’s what the BBC has to say about it

Continue reading

Spencerdanism: A new cult?

Finally Mr Spencer has answered my questions, of course in Spencer’s style, despite his traditional protestation and much crocodile tears, sees a great degree of victimization, demonization of the ‘enemy’, and manipulation of others’ viewpoints. Yet this post is not about Spencer’s answers, which in any case you can read and draw your own conclusions about. It is not about his lack of humour, and his self-centric business related, attitude. It is more about the kind of people who seem to orbit around him.

Indeed, due to such a reality, it becomes impossible to have any serious (or even humorous) discussion with him. You can read the slandering comments by his supporters posted on his post about me (with some comments lacking humour and sounding more like a jihadist-style rant), and the hundreds that I have received on my blog: some unpublished because of the vulgarity within them, and others which have even included, more or less serious death-threats.

I am an anthropologist, and as such I am fascinated by the situation. I may have discovered a new cult: Spencerdanism. Continue reading


Dear all,

As you may have noticed, there has been a reduction in the number of posts on my blog. Despite interesting events concerning Muslims in the West, the reason is because I am drowning in paperwork. I have also organised some events – which now, of course, I have to attend. The first one is a panel at the Deutscher Orientalistentag, entitled Muslims and Globalisation: Lives, Dreams and Experiences.

However, the most important is a symposium that I have organized with Springer to celebrate the first volume of my journal, Contemporary Islam; Dynamics of Muslim Life.

If you wish to have more information, you can find it here:


Beyond the Stereotypes:Dynamics of Muslim Life in the Globalized World

Meanwhile, while trying to reach Freiburg im Breisgau (and believe me, it’s a bit of an adventure), I will write a post about cyberterrorism since I have been contacted by a journalist about the case of Mohammed Atif Siddique. The enigma of the Sphinx this time is, ‘can the Internet alone transform a young Scots student into a “wannabe suicide bomber?”


Stop the word, save the world

Sometimes reading an Italian newspaper can provide you with news that otherwise would remain unnoticed in the more globalized Anglo-Saxon mainstream mass media. This is particularly true when the guy in the spotlight is an Italian professor and lawyer, who today is the Vice President of the European Commission, Prof. Franco Frattini. Frattini is certainly not a Google supporter. In different cases, he has criticised the company and their policies. Of course, Google is certainly not a paladin of privacy at all, and the way in which it manages the billions of data and information about us makes it a bit Big Brotherish. Prof. Frattini, who is the commissioner responsible for Freedom, Security and Justice, is a cybersceptic and this is certainly not something unusual for Italian politicians. Not unusual is also the Italian, and increasingly EU, tradition of suggesting ridiculous solutions to serious issues. Continue reading