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
“Hey Abid, why are you here? Do not take anything, okay? I know what your people do.” Aimed towards the ears of a black man whom had just entered, the hoarse voice of Lamin echoed throughout the mosque. The black worshiper left. I turned towards Lamin, an elderly Libyan migrant from Misrata whom I had met recently. I asked if he knew the man whom just left. He replied “no, I do not know him, but I know his people.” I was confused why he called him ‘Abid’. To my natural question of how he knew the man’s name, he replied “all of us in Misrata call blacks Abid. They are fake Libyans, since we are white Arabs. All these Abid are criminals: they steal everything, our jobs, our homes and even lands because Gaddafi likes them”. Abid was a nickname charged with a painful reference to the dark history of slavery, so common in the history of Mediterranean countries. In Libya, the slave trade continued at least until the 1930s, although some cases can still be documented today. Indeed Abid means slave. Continue reading
A tiger cannot change its stripes, nor a leopard its spots, so too have the US, UK, France and Italy appeared to have not learnt very much from previous disastrous interventions within Muslim societies and nations. The revolution in Libya is more complex than a majority of mass media reports, both in the US and Europe, suggest. After an attentive survey of newspaper articles and online news, I can affirm that the public may not be fully informed of the reality in Libya and the dark side of one of the most complex ‘Arab Spring’ revolts. Continue reading
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
Imagine that your country suffered an average of 71 suicide attacks per-year. Imagine that these suicide actions killed an average of 1,140 civilians per year, all among the most poor and in need. If you cannot imagine such an Armageddon then you can have it for real: it is called Pakistan. Today, as many other days, a suicide bomber (this time a woman, but children have also been employed previously) killed more than 40 people at a food distribution centre. It is the most poor who have paid the highest price – often simply because they are easy targets: queuing for food, shopping at the market or praying to a saint for hope that ended up drowned in their own blood. It is becoming easier to die in Pakistan, particularly in the North-West frontier, than to live. About three people die daily, yet there are no candlelight vigils, no minutes of silence and no ceremonies. The dead are mere numbers in your morning newspaper, seemingly unworthy of the fanfare that often accompanies European deaths.
Dutch anti-Islam MP Geert Wilders, set to become a shadow partner of the next coalition government, goes on trial in Amsterdam on Monday for inciting hatred against Muslims. Wilders’ Freedom Party together with other parties forming the next coalition have agreed to ban the burqa. Yet this is surely the least controversial move since it has already been implemented by other European states, such as France. The peroxide blonde Wilders sees his own trial as an attack on freedom of speech in the Netherlands. His lawyer reported that Wilders thinks that “in the Netherlands, one must be able to say whatever one wants, barring incitement to violence.” Continue reading
A few days ago, the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans has undertaken the unusual step of revealing, among other aspects linked to the security of the UK, his own concerns that a number of soon-to-be-freed inmates are still ‘committed extremists and likely to return to terrorist activities.’ As an anthropologist who has conducted one of the most in-depth research projects on Muslims in prison in the UK, his quite alarmist announcement did not take me by surprise. I am pretty sure that Mr Evans has every right to be concerned. Yet the British public needs to also know why today we find ourselves in such situation and where the political responsibility lies. Continue reading