Gianluca Casseri: the Dracula of Florence? Making sense of racism and Muslim-phobia that kills

On the 13th of December, in my birthplace Florence, an Italian gunman killed two street vendors from Senegal, wounded another three, and committed suicide when the police reached him. The killing was racially-motivated and Gianluca Casseri, 50, was a writer for and member of CasaPound, a neo-fascist group. The Senegalese street vendors he killed (Samb Modou, 40yrs old, and Diop Mor, 54yrs old) lived in Italy for a considerable time and leave behind their wives and children in Senegal. The life of migrants in Italy, in particular for Muslims such as the Senegalese, is known. The xenophobic Lega Nord has built its political reputation on the exploitation of Italians’ frustration with a badly managed migration policy and an increase of refugees.  Continue reading

Jihad Beyond Islam: open access book

I am pleased to inform you that my publisher Berg has decided to join the Social Science Open Access Repository and to make my first book, Jihad Beyond Islam(2006) available legally for download with no costs but strictly under the Creative Common License.

In this first work I discussed through an anthropological approach how we can make sense of violent actions perpetrated by a minority of Muslims. I try to show why these Muslims may ‘feel’ the necessity of be part of a violent movements or engage in isolate violent actions. Yet the book is also a strong criticism of how anthropologist have understood Muslims (discourse continued, developed and expanded in The Anthropology of Islam) and even the concept of personal ‘identity’ and culture. Continue reading

9/11 commemorations: ritualizing and celebrating civilization rhetoric

Yesterday the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was commemorated in New York. Yet the commemorations started more than one week in advance with newspapers, TVs and magazine building up the momentum. There is little need to summarize the incredible amount of special dossiers, reports, commentaries and documentaries which have been written during these days for a tragedy that happened ten years ago. The commemoration of 9/11 is becoming increasingly interactive with questions like: “do you remember 9/11?” or “share your 9/11” and similar collective archiving of personal memories, often shared every year for the past decade. Continue reading

What was Osama bin-Laden for Muslims?

bin-Laden is dead. A decadent symbol has been assassinated. For some time before his demise, his influence on contemporary terrorism had been on the wane. Most likely Osama had little choice but to agree to retire to his Pakistani prison under the ‘supervision’ of the Pakistani secret services and Taliban tribes.  I did not write any blog post at the time of bin-Laden’s execution. There was nothing to say. His story has had the feel of a work of fiction from beginning to end, complete with impressive pyrotechnics, blood and splatter, where the director, producer and star of the drama was none other than bin-Laden himself. He died as he wished: one bullet in the chest, a few stumbling steps, and a final gore splattering bullet in the head. Continue reading

The English riots: multiculturalism, ‘the roba‘ and the crowd

Many questions remain unanswered in the violent riots which have shaken England recently. As could be expected, some have blamed the “failed” experience of multiculturalism. In reality these riots are very different from previous ones that have thrown neighborhoods into chaos (see the 2001 English riots, the Leeds 2001 Harehills riot, the 2005 Birmingham race riots, or even the most recent 2010 UK student protests). While the context in which the above riots developed are clear (community frustration, neighborhood-specific inter community tensions, and traditional student protests gone wrong), the recent riots are unusual in many aspects, such as the heterogeneity of those involved, the dynamic of how they started, a lack of apparent common strategy and a lack of shared reasons for rioting. Continue reading

Europe, anti-Islam movements and the three monkeys: the Oslo attack

I was in Florence spending some time with my family when yesterday the local news informed me of a car bomb in Oslo, followed only moments later by news of a horrible mass shooting. Immediately the newscasters told us that it may be an Al-Qaeda attack in revenge of Norway’s marginal role in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the more recent Libyan air campaign. Islamic terrorism has hit Europe again. Immediately a flurry of comments about the high number of Muslims living in Oslo appeared – yet these were quickly substituted, upon confirmation that the culprit behind the bloodshed was a tall blonde man, with comments about the danger of ‘converts’. Continue reading

Genes, marriages, cousins and upset British Muslims

Recent headlines in British newspapers announce another controversy about Islam and Muslims. This time it is not a novel or another stupid cartoon to challenge the very much stressed British Muslim population, but instead a branch of science: genetics. Indeed, Prof Steve Jones, one of Britain’s most eminent geneticists, who lectures at University College London, has warned at The John Maddox Lecture at the Hay Festival that the level of inbreeding among the nation’s Muslims is endangering the health of future generations. Continue reading