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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America, anthropology, Democracy and Justice, Ethics, Ethnic Minorities, Freedom, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Islamo Fascism, Islamophobia, Muslims, Neocon, Politics, Religion, Terrorism, War on Terror

Why Pastor Jones (together with similarly minded people) believes in tautological Islam

I have no doubt that during the forthcoming “International Burn a Quran Day”, on the ninth anniversary of the September 11, 2001 attacks, the pages of many Qur’ans, probably in translation, will meet fire. Fanatics, such as Pastor Terry Jones of the Dove World Outreach Center, Florida, whom planned the event, will celebrate their quite pagan ritual of purification through fire of what they see as a demonic religion which is “causing billions of people to go to hell”.  They will be unaware that, in reality, they ‘share’ aspects of Islam with millions of others.  They, in a certain sense, are ‘crypto-Muslims’. Continue reading

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anthropology, Australia, bin-Laden, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Islam, jihad, Journalism, Muslims, Politics, Prison, Religion, Singapore, sociology, Terrorism, War on Terror

The high cost of three bullets: how to create martyrs

Indonesia today is celebrating the election of Barack Hussein Obama as President of the United States because of his youthful links with the country. Some other people, in Australia, are waiting to celebrate the execution of the infamous Bali bombers, responsible for the carnage in Bali while others, as the Majority of British relatives of the victims, are still trying to stop the execution and commute it to a life-sentence. I do not want to discuss here whether the death penalty is a just punishment, or efficient, or if, as it actually seems to me, shooting them (instead of using lethal injection) is equivalent to an act of torture. Certainly, to be killed, mutilated, or left to die slowly with metal shrapnel in your body by a terrorist bomb is no less a torture – but eye-for-eye justice is often debatable

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anthropology, democracy, Democracy and Justice, Ethnic Minorities, Europe, Freedom, Immigration, Islam, Islam and Christianity, Italy, Refugees, Religion, Singapore, sociology

The three new ‘I’s of Italy: Ignorance, Intolerance and Injustice

As many of you know, I am in Singapore enjoying the multi-ethnic and religious diversity of this city-state. I have also enjoyed different styles of communities’ hospitality. All marked by respect for the guest (in my case an evident foreigner) and friendly smiles. Many people here dress in their traditional clothes, their religious symbols, and speak their ethnic languages. Nobody fears the other as everybody is the ‘other’ to somebody else. Singapore can only survive if this delicately balanced harmony is maintained and preserved. To do so, one word is essential: respect.We should be honest, Singapore has its issues and problems. Racism exists, stereotypes are strong, foreigners are not always loved. Yet I live in an ordinary HDB (Public housing), stay with ordinary people and eat at ordinary food stalls, and the degree of ‘respect’ and ‘tolerance’ for the ‘other’ surely is at the highest level I have encountered in a modern society. Continue reading

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Academia, anthropology, Australia, marranci, Muslims, Research, sociology, University

From drizzle to clear blue sky: leaving the University of Aberdeen for UWS

One of the characteristics of academic life is often mobility. I have been very mobile in the last ten years. And now it is time to move again. By the 31st August 2008, I officially leave the University of Aberdeen, Religious Studies, since I have accepted UWS’ offer for a new position as Associate Professor (UK equivalent of Readership) in the Anthropology of Islam. UWS, together with Melbourne University and Griffith University, has given life to an innovative centre for studying Islam and Muslims, The National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies (NCEIS), which aims to deliver world-class, multi-disciplinary teaching and research in Islamic Studies at a regional, national and international level. I will contribute, in different ways, to the development of this ambitious project. Continue reading

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