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

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anthropology, Censorship, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Genocide, Islam, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Politics, Refugees, Religion, Riots, South Asia, Southeast Asia, Sunni

Burma, ethno-Buddhism, racism and religious persecution

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

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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

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Academia, anthropology, Ethnic Minorities, Gender, Islam, Muslim family, Muslims, Politics, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia

Singaporean Malay teen girls from disadvantaged backgrounds: between feelings of unfulfillable responsibility and self-stereotypes?

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

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anthropology, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Islam, Journalism, Malaysia, Muslims, Politics, Religion, Research, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia

Strict, less strict, restrict: the diatribe on Muslim integration in Singapore

In the last few days the debates about religion, and in particular Islam, has unusually increased in Singapore thanks to the words of Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew, whom has urged Muslims to ‘be less strict’ in his new book “Hard Truths”. This has provoked strong reactions within not only the Malay Muslim communities but also among all Singaporeans. I have no space here to go into detail about the complex social alchemy of Singapore’s multiculturalism. Yet allow me to highlight some of the main aspects needed for my observations below. One of the main factors to remember is that Singapore multiculturalism  is affected by a rigid administrative classification of the population according to the categories of race (Chinese, Malay, Indian and Others or CMIO) and religion (mainly Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, Christianity and Hinduism).  Continue reading

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anthropology, Censorship, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Islam, Journalism, Malaysia, Muslims, Politics, Prison, Religion, Research, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia

The dangerous crypto-intolerance of tolerant Malaysia: the case of Shi’a Islam

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

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anthropology, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Immigration, Islam, Malaysia, Muslim family, Muslims, Politics, Refugees, Religion, Research, Singapore, sociology, Southeast Asia, Terrorism

Rohingyas: not solely a political problem

Burma (i.e. Myanmar) has had its first “democratic” elections in twenty years, although few, other than the ruling military junta, would have considered them free and fair. Yet some political moves, aimed to reduce the economic and political isolation of the military junta, have marked the past few months, such as the release of the opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi from from her long detention.However, about 2,200 remain prisoners of conscience in the oppressed country.

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