Yesterday the tenth anniversary of 9/11 was commemorated in New York. Yet the commemorations started more than one week in advance with newspapers, TVs and magazine building up the momentum. There is little need to summarize the incredible amount of special dossiers, reports, commentaries and documentaries which have been written during these days for a tragedy that happened ten years ago. The commemoration of 9/11 is becoming increasingly interactive with questions like: “do you remember 9/11?” or “share your 9/11” and similar collective archiving of personal memories, often shared every year for the past decade. Continue reading
After World War I western nations have their own Unknown Soldier to commemorate those soldiers who lost their life serving their countries and whose identity was lost forever together with their lives. Some nations, like the UK, used their main churches to host the grave of the Unknown Soldier, others, like Italy, built monumental shrines. Yet the intention in any case is the same: to glorify self-sacrifice in the name of the nation. Although marked by an aura of religiosity, the monument is very much secular paraphernalia. Painted as a symbol of civil piety, the Unknown Soldier is a self-glorifying institution of Durkheimian mimesis. Continue reading
It was during the autumn of 2001 that I met Kafeel Ahmed, a fellow student at Queen’s University of Belfast. I was a PhD student in the anthropology department, researching Muslims in Northern Ireland and Europe; he was a student in aeronautical engineering. Kafeel, an Indian Muslim born in Bangalore, was a very active member of the Islamic Students Society of Northern Ireland (ISSNI). Unsurprisingly, he became one of my respondents and contacts. I still remember his jokes about me being Italian, and the references to the film ‘The Padrino’. Kafeel, the Kafeel who I knew from 2001 to 2003, when I left Belfast, was a very welcoming person, very reserved and shy. Yet when you came to know him better, you discovered his intellectual side, his strong belief in Islam as justice and God’s love. He was a very calm, quite ‘westernised’ Muslim, ever ready to laugh at jokes. Interested in sport, particularly cricket, we spent time speaking at my preferred coffee shop in Botanic Avenue about Muslim identity, the experience of living in Northern Ireland as a Muslim, the tension between India and Pakistan, and the Palestinian Intifada. Continue reading
To be a cartoonist has never been easy. Fewer and fewer people in the world have a real sense of humor or understand satire and sarcasm. Naji al-Ali has been a cartoonist who expressed his criticism about Palestine, the oppression of Palestinians and Palestinian political life, in a powerful way.
His pen was sharp and his cartoons powerful, so powerful that somebody, if not a real consortium, decided to kill him in London twenty years ago. Indeed, on July 22, 1987, he was shot in the face, at point blank range, as he left the London offices of the Al Qabbas newspaper. He died after laying in a coma for 5 weeks. Continue reading