anthropology, Australia, BBC, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Fashion, Freedom, Gender, Immigration, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslim family, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, sociology, Uk government

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

Advertisements
Standard
Academia, anthropology, Fashion, Islam, Islam in Europe, Islamophobia, Journalism, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, Sunni, Terrorism, University

Prayer bumps, Muslim haters, and the danger of scientific popularization

Recently I came across a short article titled: The Muslim ‘prayer bump’ and Traumatic Brain Injury. Since I am interested in both religion as well as neuroscience, I eagerly read the short post. To my disappointment, I had to conclude that this was another, yet more sophisticated and insidious, attempt to demonstrate that Islam has horrible consequences for practising individuals. The gist of the article is as follows. Muslims pray five times per day, and as part of the Muslim prayer (salah), the Muslim prostrates and  touches the ground with his or her forehead and nose (sujud). The article proceeds to inform the reader that in doing so, millions of Muslims develop what, in Islamic jargon, is called  zebibah (Arabic for raisin), or a prayer bump. In other words, the repeated pressure of the head on the prayer mat will produce a discolouration of the skin in the area of contact, and in some cases, apparently, provoking a ‘bump’. Continue reading

Standard
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

Standard
Academia, anthropology, Islam, marranci, Politics, Religion, Research, Research Metodology, sociology

Leaving the AAR (American Academy of Religion): lacking transparency

After nearly ten years of membership and $2000 US dollars, I have finally decided to leave the American Academy of Religion, the most important association representing scholars from different fields of the study of religion. I pondered my decision for a while, hoping that my doubts, questions and suspicions might have been answered and clarified. This was not the case. The AAR, which also acts as a lobby in the US  to preserve and foster the field of religious studies, aims to be an international association. My experience, as I suggest below, shows the contrary. The reality is that the AAR is fully US-centric both in privileging scholars in any aspect of the association’s life and in the topics discussed and how they are discussed.  Continue reading

Standard
Uncategorized

Italy: do not ask for a mosque but rather smoke your daily weed

It would be a good news, among the bad, if you were a Baye Faal Muslim of Gambia and, with your Muslim Rasta dreadlocks and ready to enjoy your daily dose of wisdom weed. Indeed, today you would have come to know that the Italian State, controlled by not-so-post fascist parties, may not allow you to have a real mosque to pray in, and oppose your constitutional right to have your freedom of religion respected, but recognise your right, as Bayee Faaal Muslim, to have your Afghani weed.
Today the Italian Cassazione (High Court) has decided that Rastafarians are allowed to posses and smoke high quantities of Marijuana (read here for an English short version of the story) despite the very restrictive Italian law. Continue reading

Standard