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
Many questions remain unanswered in the violent riots which have shaken England recently. As could be expected, some have blamed the “failed” experience of multiculturalism. In reality these riots are very different from previous ones that have thrown neighborhoods into chaos (see the 2001 English riots, the Leeds 2001 Harehills riot, the 2005 Birmingham race riots, or even the most recent 2010 UK student protests). While the context in which the above riots developed are clear (community frustration, neighborhood-specific inter community tensions, and traditional student protests gone wrong), the recent riots are unusual in many aspects, such as the heterogeneity of those involved, the dynamic of how they started, a lack of apparent common strategy and a lack of shared reasons for rioting. Continue reading
You cannot ban a religion or a ‘religious sect’. You can only persecute people because of their beliefs and practices. Often many forget this simple truth. If banning a religious movement may appear to be a simple administrative act, the real consequence is the oppression of families, devotees and often innocent individuals whose only crime is to have a different vision of the world and spirituality. Often these minorities suffer ostracism, prison or even torture in the name of the ‘security’ and ‘unity’ of the majority. Yet it is these acts of discrimination or, in some countries, overt violence, which often bring a country towards conflict and may even open the door to fanaticism. Continue reading
A few days ago, the head of MI5 Jonathan Evans has undertaken the unusual step of revealing, among other aspects linked to the security of the UK, his own concerns that a number of soon-to-be-freed inmates are still ‘committed extremists and likely to return to terrorist activities.’ As an anthropologist who has conducted one of the most in-depth research projects on Muslims in prison in the UK, his quite alarmist announcement did not take me by surprise. I am pretty sure that Mr Evans has every right to be concerned. Yet the British public needs to also know why today we find ourselves in such situation and where the political responsibility lies. Continue reading
I am pleased to inform you that my book ‘Faith, Ideology, and Fear: Muslim Identities Within and Beyond Prisons‘, published by Continuum, is now available. This book is based on my 4-year-research both within UK prisons as well as outside them. I have written about the research itself before. You can find the book both in bookstores as well as Internet sellers such as Amazon.com. Unfortunately, as many academic books today, the publisher has decided to issue first the hardback and consider a paperback only in the case that, after one year, the book has sold enough. So, if you are interested in reading it, and you cannot afford the price, ask the librarian at your university or public library to acquire it (there is also an electronic copy which is cheeper). Below I shall offer a summary of the chapters. If you wish, you can read the full Introduction on my personal website. Continue reading
as many of you may have noticed, I have not posted here for a while and I have to say that I am not so happy with an average of one post per month.
Yet, I have been particularly busy during these few months, both conducting research as well as writing and presenting papers.
So, I am glad to announce that very soon I will publish a new post and I will try to commit myself, despite the many commitments, to at least a post per-week.
meanwhile, if you are in Singapore on the 13th of October, and wish to know more about my current research in Southeast Asia, you are very welcome to attend this event below Continue reading
I am pleased to inform my friends and readers that my latest book Understanding Muslim Identity Rethinking Fundamentalism, is finally on the bookshelf of (more or less virtual) book shops.
Another book on Islamic fundamentalism?’ I can hear the question echoing among friends, colleagues and readers. Since 2001, more than 100 books and 5,600 articles have been published on Islamic fundamentalism. Broadening the research to agnate labels – such as Islamism (about 200 books and 243 articles), political Islam (345 books and 4,670 articles) and Islamic extremism (only 16 books and 1610 articles) – we can appreciate the amount of scholarly publication pressed into the past seven years.
So, why write another book? I have tried to explain the reasons in the Introduction, which you can read for free. The book provides a very different analysis of what has been labeled ‘Islamic fundamentalism’, and what I prefer to call ’emotional Islam’. Continue reading