anthropology, Australia, democracy, Muslims, Politcis, Religion, Terrorism

Will Australia see the development of paramilitary organisations as a response to terror fears?

I have lived in Northern Ireland (NI) for nearly five years; I conducted research, and despite that I was researching the Muslim community, through some NI friends I had access to that complex society, including the complex paramilitary reality. Indeed, it was so complex that when a friend and I wanted to start a university student’s netzine and selected an acronym as a name for it, we were informed that we had to think of a better name, since those few letters represented a not very well known but still active paramilitary group. The Northern Irish conflict, despite being prominently political, has religious connotations; Catholic Nationalists and Protestant Unionists have fought each other since the UK partitioned the island. This conflict became later known as “The Troubles”.

History is never neutral and recent history even less so, but when I asked about how the NI Loyalist paramilitary groups started, my Protestant informants told me that they started emerging in the 1960s as vigilante groups to protect Protestant neighbourhoods from attacks. They then developed into terrorist organisations opposed to a united Ireland. 

So, you might ask, what has this to do with Australia and the current terrorist threat?   Continue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Apocalypse, Australia, BBC, Ethics, Freedom, Genocide, Journalism, Research, Science, sociology

Would Artificial intelligence become strong enough to be a concern? An Anthropologist’s view

Recently there has been some robust progress in AI (Artificial Intelligence), with some scientists even successfully uploading the mind of a roundworm into a Lego robot. Although this seems to be a rather small step,  it is significant since the software was in place without any prior programming and the robot started to behave like a worm, including in its response to food. “I think big leaps have been made in the last few years,” said Geoffrey Hinton, a distinguished researcher at Google and a professor at the University of Toronto. “A.I. is undergoing a growth spurt. We’re beginning to solve problems that a few years ago we couldn’t solve, like recognising images.” Continue reading

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anthropology, Australia, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Immigration, Islam, Islamophobia, jihad, Journalism, marranci, Middle East, Muslims, Politics, Prison, Refugees, Religion, Research, sociology, Sunni, Terrorism, War on Terror

Indefinite detention for advocating jihadi violence

The Sydney Morning Herald contacted me for a comment on former judge Anthony Whealy’s suggestion to imprison terrorists and terrorist advocates indefinitely till proven de-radicalised. A short quote from my interview can be read here. Yet I wish to explain my strong objection, as a scholar whom knows well the process of radicalisation within prison, against that advice. Continue reading

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anthropology, Australia, Cartoons, Censorship, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Immigration, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islam in Europe, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, jihad, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Race, Religion, Research, Satire, sociology, Terrorism, The UK, Uk government, War on Terror

Should Muslims Apologise for Muslim Terrorists?

The debate, particularly in Australia, about whether Muslims should apologise or not for the acts of terrorism of some individuals whom are identified or identify themselves as Muslims, is in full spin. Recently a Twitter hashtag was developed where Muslims started to apologise for everything you may imagine. Some, during conversations with me, expressed their strong viewpoints:

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anthropology, Australia, BBC, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Fashion, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslim family, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, Uk government

Anti-liberal attempts: between burqa and criticism demonization

Yesterday, the British Parliament debated the ban of a garment, something that the British Parliament had not discussed since Victorian times. This time it was not the length of skirts or sleeves that the honorable parliamentarians addressed, but rather the well known (but rarely seen in western cities) burqa; banned in France, threatened in the rest of Europe, and now also under threat in the UK.

As other attempts, however, yesterday’s debate failed in imposing a burqa ban in the UK, and as the minister confirmed, Great Britain will not follow France.

The burqa is not an Islamic fashion per-se, but rather a tradition not opposed by Islamic teaching, which is probably the best way to present it. Covering the face, and in particular the mouth, has a geographical and environmental genealogy (such as the protection of skin and eyes from the dust and sand of, for instance, the Afghan desert). If such a garment is anything in Islam, it is a scholarly theological diatribe, with some sheikhs ready to wrap a baby in it, and others stating that it is not Islamic dress per-seContinue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Australia, Ethics, Islam, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Terrorism, University, War on Terror

Think Tanks, weak research and the case of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in Australia

Think Tanks, often linked to a party in the nation’s political system, are becoming increasingly popular (particularly in the US and the UK), receive funds, and produce very easily digestible research, ready-made for the rushed politician. Think Tanks do not have to adhere to the same quality standards that university research has to or, when they are supposed to meet similar standards,  there is no effective means of monitoring it. Ethical issues, ethical conduct of research and often methodology remains unexplained in reports written to impress more than explain complex issues. In an era where simplification often resembles “The Complete Idiot’s” guides, Think Tanks provide a fast, public friendly, easy to use policy support for difficult decisions.

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Academia, anthropology, Australia, CyberOrient, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, India, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islam in Europe, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, Israel, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Lebanon, Malaysia, marranci, Middle East, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, South Asia, Southeast Asia, University

Announcing the Study Contemporary Muslim Lives Research Hub at Macquarie University

As director, I am pleased to inform you that today the website for the Study Contemporary Muslim Lives Research Hub at Macquarie University was officially launched.
Study Contemporary Muslim Lives (SCML) is a research hub based within the Department of Anthropology at Macquarie University. It undertakes research on social, cultural and political aspects of contemporary Muslim communities and societies and is committed to the advancement of social scientific understandings of Muslim lives in different social and geographical contexts through excellent empirical research, scholarly publications, and active postgraduate programs.
SCML also has, among other activities, a Visiting Scholar Program. SCML welcomes applications from academics who want to carry out research as visiting scholars at Macquarie University. Visitors participate in and enrich the research-intensive and vibrant communal life of the Research Hub, which is part of the Department of Anthropology. Continue reading

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