Should Muslims Apologise for Muslim Terrorists?

The debate, particularly in Australia, about whether Muslims should apologise or not for the acts of terrorism of some individuals whom are identified or identify themselves as Muslims, is in full spin. Recently a Twitter hashtag was developed where Muslims started to apologise for everything you may imagine. Some, during conversations with me, expressed their strong viewpoints:

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Anti-liberal attempts: between burqa and criticism demonization

Yesterday, the British Parliament debated the ban of a garment, something that the British Parliament had not discussed since Victorian times. This time it was not the length of skirts or sleeves that the honorable parliamentarians addressed, but rather the well known (but rarely seen in western cities) burqa; banned in France, threatened in the rest of Europe, and now also under threat in the UK.

As other attempts, however, yesterday’s debate failed in imposing a burqa ban in the UK, and as the minister confirmed, Great Britain will not follow France.

The burqa is not an Islamic fashion per-se, but rather a tradition not opposed by Islamic teaching, which is probably the best way to present it. Covering the face, and in particular the mouth, has a geographical and environmental genealogy (such as the protection of skin and eyes from the dust and sand of, for instance, the Afghan desert). If such a garment is anything in Islam, it is a scholarly theological diatribe, with some sheikhs ready to wrap a baby in it, and others stating that it is not Islamic dress per-seContinue reading

Repeating the same mistakes? The Libyan revolution, tribes and the risk of Afghanistization

A tiger cannot change its stripes, nor a leopard its spots, so too have the US, UK, France and Italy appeared to have not learnt very much from previous disastrous interventions within Muslim societies and nations. The revolution in Libya is more complex than a majority of mass media reports, both in the US and Europe, suggest. After an attentive survey of newspaper articles and online news, I can affirm that the public may not be fully informed of the reality in Libya and the dark side of one of the most complex ‘Arab Spring’ revolts.  Continue reading

Burqu’ing freedom: the danger of ‘moral civilizing’

The year 2010 appears to be marked by the ‘war on burqas’ (the Switzerland minarets being an exception). While Belgium has formally moved to ban niqabs and burqas, Italy used regional laws to fine Muslim women using niqabs, and Quebec has imposed a ban for anyone wearing one to enter government places, including hospital and casualty departments (see this article for more information). The majority of European nations, such as France, are still debating the matter. Both politicians and experts recognize that the number of people who wear a face veil (click here to avoid any confusion about them as often happens) on European streets are very few, and in Belgium they are even less than fifty. It would not be so unimaginable to suggest–even starting from my own observations–that today in the west there are more Muslim women wearing miniskirts than face veils.
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In memory of the anthropologist Germaine Tillion

Yesterday, Germaine Tillion has died at the age of the age of one-hundred. Few students of anthropology probably can tell you who Germaine is despite the fact that she has been one of the anthropologists who have contributed not only to the understanding of the Mediterranean region, particularly North Africa, but also to the freedom of Europe from the nightmare of fascism and Nazism. She has been a ‘partigiani’ and also a prisoner at Ravensbrueck; a personal experience which would mark her life and her future commitment against torture and oppression.

Germanie Tillion’s fieldwork took place in the Aures region of Algeria from 1934 to 1940. The material she collected has been at the centre of her two most famous works The Republic of Cousins: Women’s Oppression in Mediterranean Society and Il etait une fois l’ethnographie.

After the end of the Second World War, Germaine Tillion, despite wishing to study the ideology and reasons behind the Nazi crimes and the use of the camps, accepted professor Louis Massignon’s pressing suggestions and decided to go back to Algeria in 1954. She observed, and was the first to do so among ethnographers, that one of the main issues which Algeria was facing, and that would have affected its future, was the migration from the countryside to the cities, which caused a severe impoverishment of the migrants. Continue reading