Anti-Semitism, Arab-Israeli conflict, Democracy and Justice, Islamophobia, Israel/Palestine, Journalism, Middle East, Muslims, The UK

Richard Littlejohn’s “War on Britain’s Jews”, or the spiral of intolerance the 9th of July Channel 4 broadcasted Littlejohn’s documentary The War on Britain’s Jews. He introduced his documentary on his Daily Mail column, and if you do not want to watch all of it, Littlejohn himself has offered a taste in his column.I have to admit that I agree with Tony Greenstein about Littlejohn as a journalist and about his documentary. Tony Greenstein in The Guardian has stated:


If Channel 4 was seriously concerned about anti-semitism then the last person to present it would have been Richard Littlejohn. This is the same person who said of the Rwandan genocide: “Does anyone really give a monkey’s about what happens in Rwanda? If the Mbongo tribe wants to wipe out the Mbingo tribe then as far as I am concerned that is entirely a matter for them” – which is a direct take from the late Alan Clark‘s infamous remark about “bongo bongo land”.He has also called the Palestinians “the pikeys of the Middle East” and suggested that it was time to “wring [their] necks”. “Pikey” is a racist reference to Gypsies, one of Littlejohn’s pet hates, along with gays and asylum seekers.

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anthropology, Democracy and Justice, Europe, Iran, Islam in Europe, Israel/Palestine, marranci, Muslims, Research, sociology, University

Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life

As Founding Editor, I am pleased to bring to you this inaugural issue of Contemporary Islam: Dynamics of Muslim Life, the first social scientific journal devoted to the study of contemporary Muslims and their communities and societies. Tragic events have marked the beginning of this century, globally affecting Muslims and non-Muslims alike. The escalation of violence in the aftermath of 9/11, the unprecedented number of conflicts simultaneously affecting Muslim countries, as well as political attempts to redraw social ‘new orders,’ have changed how people (Muslim and non) speak, discuss, refer, diatribe, stereotype, defend, vilify, exalt, orientalise, define, represent, study, live, re-think, conserve, reform, reject, and revert to Islam. At the same time, it is not so rare to come across more or less direct contentions that Muslims are uncritical slaves to a fixed and unchanging set of religious dogma. In other words, Muslims are assumed to believe, behave, act, think, argue, and develop their identity as Muslims despite their disparate heritages, ethnicities, nationalities, experiences, gender, sexual orientations, and, last but not least, individually unique minds. Yet Islam can only exist as part of processes, as part of interpretations, culturally shaped and affected by our shared condition of being humans. Continue reading

Democracy and Justice, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Lebanon

Heartless and Mindless Terror on Terror

In the aftermath of September 11th, when the US government was asked to restrain any impulsive retaliation against the Taliban-led Afghanistan, every politician was very aware that the War on Terror was not a conventional war. It is particularly difficult to frame the War on Terror within the old-fashioned, but still attractive, domain ‘war’. We don’t need Hobbes to remind us that wars need states, armies, governments, and, last but not least, diplomats and diplomacy to stop them. We also should consider the problem of how to define ‘terror’. In a strict definition of the word, we can say that War on Terror is a tautology as war inevitably uses terror to force the enemy to surrender. So I can reduce the rhetoric expression ‘War on Terror’ to its basic meaning of “Terror on Terror.” In the aftermath of September 11th and its consequences, Terror on Terror makes more sense indeed. Continue reading

Apocalypse, Arab-Israeli conflict, Democracy and Justice, Israel/Palestine, jihad, Lebanon

Secularism in action?

I am very depressed because of what is happening in the Middle East. I had decided to respect my hopes and wait until the end of this inhuman craziness before expressing my feelings and comments. Now, I have to admit that the craziness will probably go on for a long while yet.

So, I have decided to take refuge from all these illogical and brutal military actions by hiding and sheltering within my scholarly armour. I shall leave to others, more expert than myself, the condemnations, the scream of supports, the sharp indignations, the terrorist labelling, and the human rights mysterious and magical spells. I am an anthropologist, an academic. My only defence to all this mindless madness is to try to make sense of it; of course, in a flood of useless words, fragile quotations, and gothic cathedral constructions of the intellect, which, however, cannot save even half of one life. So, here my shelter from the bombing of unwished contemporary realities.
First, it is important to deconstruct one point. “Israel is not ‘the Jew’”, my very religious Rabbi friend repeated again and again to me. I have no problem to believe him: a state cannot be a person or represent what today is a very heterogenic faith: Judaism. A person is a human being. To be Jewish means to be a person born within (or rarely convert to) a certain religion and holding certain beliefs, or ‘feeling to be’ a Jew (i.e. identity). I have not the space (actually time) to expand further this reductionist discourse, so let me pass to the second logical point. Zionism is not Israel; leave aside ‘the Jew’. An ideology can help to build a state, but a state cannot be an ideology, leave aside the personification of a person, ‘the Jew’. Continue reading