I have no doubt that during the forthcoming “International Burn a Quran Day”, on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the pages of many Qur’ans, probably in translation, will meet fire. Fanatics, such as Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, Florida, whom planned the event, will celebrate their quite pagan ritual of purification through fire of what they see as a demonic religion which is “causing billions of people to go to hell”. They will be unaware that, in reality, they ‘share’ aspects of Islam with millions of others. They, in a certain sense, are ‘crypto-Muslims’. Continue reading
When I checked the news today, the horrific picture– selected by Time as a front-cover–of Aisha’s face, an 18-year-old Afghan woman whom was sentenced by the Taliban to have her nose and ears cut off for fleeing her abusive in-laws greeted me. International newspapers reported the news and the picture is now one of those icons of Afghanistan, which, interestingly enough, are often released in an apparent attempt to provide an ethical dimension to a war (particularly after Wikileaks leaked the massive documentation on the Afghan war) which is increasingly difficult to justify. Indeed, I am sure that many will remember the National Geographic split cover image that contained two photos of Sharbat Gula, the first having been taken at the time of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan and the second at the end of the Taliban regime. While in the first picture she is a beautiful young girl with intense green eyes and her hair gently covered by a burgundy scarf, in the second she lifts the oppressive burqa to reveal a hardship-worn face that has been marked, as the article explains, by life under the Taliban. Continue reading
Days have passed since the so-called ‘Gaza Flotilla’ was brutally raided by Israeli forces. As usual in these cases, I tend to take my time before writing my opinion. Let me start from some simple observations:
The Gaza blockade is irrational. It breaches international law and affects the most vulnerable people within Gaza. By contrast, politically, it reinforces Hamas. Indeed, anybody with even a minimum of knowledge or contacts in Gaza knows that supporting Hamas or becoming an active member remains the only solution to enjoy some benefits and relieve one’s family from the hardship of the illegal embargo, enjoying the few products smuggled through the endless number of Egyptian border tunnels controlled by Hamas. Continue reading
The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.
Obama’s speeches are becoming a classic, no less than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for those studying English, at least in Japan. Certainly, after eight years of Bushisms, Obama’s words sound like Shakespeare. Hence, few would have complained if the Nobel committee would have awarded him the Nobel in literature. Notwithstanding that, in listening to Barack Obama’s 36-minute Nobel lecture we may wonder whether a mistake has been made and if the President was supposed to receive the Nobel in Philosophy for his contribution to contemporary Sophism instead of Peace. Indeed, if Barack Obama should be compared to somebody for his Laureate Speech, it would certainly not be Martin Luther King or Gandhi, but perhaps rather John Lennon. Continue reading
Few people, both in the US and in the rest of the world, may know that the US has had its own Nazi Party, which under other different names (such as the Social Revolutionary Party) is still very active. I do not have statistics about how many Americans read or have read Mein Kampf, and even less knowledge about how many may have been influenced directly or indirectly by its ideas. Often I have heard the argument that Hitler, despite his charisma, would have never succeed in reproducing in the US what he created in Germany. This argument, in other words, suggests that something exquisitely German existed in the formation and ascension of the Nazi delirium. As an anthropologist, I have my strong reservations about this suggestion. Continue reading
In the last few days on our newspapers we have read a series of news which seems to have attracted not so much attention within academia, but which are an important social political indicator. Although I am not going to discuss them in detail, I am referring to the cases of Irfan Raja, Awaab Iqbal, Aitzaz Zafar, Usman Malik and Akbar, whose conviction of Internet terrorist activity has been quashed by the Court of Appeal on Wednesday, 13 February 2008; the government apologies over the rendition flights on 21 February 2008; the full apologies of the US government for lying to the British one over the rendition flights; the quashed control order against the convert to Islam Cerie Bullivant because of a total lack of the secret evidence provided by MI5 (merely that the accused knew some people involved or engaging in ‘terrorist activities’); and the increasingly substantiate allegation that British troops executed and tortured Iraqi prisoners. Continue reading