I have written before about Burma (Myanmar) and its persecuted Rohingya population as well as the lack of interest both in the ASEAN countries as well as in the western mass media (see The other, invisible suffering of Burma, Rohingya Odyssey: a silent cultural genocide?, Rohingya Muslims and injustice: a security issue, Rohingyas: not solely a political problem, Selling lives: Rohingyas face deportation from Bangladesh). Since June, Burma and its Rohingya Muslim population have attracted a wider mass media presence. On May 28, in a village in the central part of Rakhine State, three Muslim members of the Rohingya ethnic group allegedly raped and killed a Buddhist woman. Retaliation did not take long and on June 3, a group of Arakan attacked a bus carrying Rohingya in southern Rakhine and 10 people were killed. Continue reading
Are Muslims integrating or not? Are they loyal to their non-Muslim nations or not? Do we have an enemy within? Many questions for many answers. Normally mass media and in particular newspapers are the main sources of these questions and surveys and polls are the answers. Many questions and many surveys, more or less official, methodologically sound or unsound, private and public, ideological or apologetic have followed 9/11 all around the ‘Western world’. Many numbers and few words are used to convince the public that Muslims are either dangerous aliens or better citizens than the non-Muslims. A battle of opposite perspectives with only one thing in common: numbers.
The main discussion tends to be integration. Muslims are tested and re-tested about the state of their integration, even when they have been an integral part of a country for three or more generations. Continue reading
Recently, those who have been following the news may have noticed an increase of terrorist attacks and the general persecution of Shi’a Muslims, particularly within Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and recently Palestine together with less reported, but still significant, events in Indonesia and Malaysia, among other Sunni majority countries. In the case of Pakistan, 3,700 civilians, mostly Shi’as, have been killed and another 7,700 wounded in sectarian violence since 1989. In Afghanistan, Bahrain, and Iraq, several thousand Shi’as have been ruthlessly murdered in sectarian violence (see South Asia Terrorism Portal). There is no doubt that, in the last decade alone, Shi’a civilians have been massacred within Sunni majority countries. Hence it is legitimate to ask whether Shi’a Muslims may have become, in a sense, ‘halal meat’. Continue reading
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
During my 3 years of research in Singapore, as part of a wider research on Malay youth in Singapore, I studied the social identity formation of Malay teen Muslim girls from socially and economically disadvantaged families. Methodologically, not only have I conducted in-depth interviews but also, thanks to organizations such as Clubilya, 4PM and Petrapis, had the opportunity to engage in participant observation of several group activities involving these girls. Facebook has furthermore provided a level of access that years before would have been imaginable to an anthropologist studying youth. Continue reading
To write about the Middle East is always difficult, but to write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is even more so. Emotions, religious fanaticism and global geopolitical interests make this region the trap of many commentators, journalists and academics whom wish to propose ‘the best solution’. Analysis seems to be the only refuge. 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