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

Afghanistan, anthropology, Ethnic Minorities, Iraq, Islam, jihad, Lebanon, Middle East, Muslims, Politics, Refugees, Religion, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Sunni, Terrorism, War, War on Terror

Shi’a Muslims: halal meat?

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

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