Most popular on Closer this week:
- Veil, For a Change
- Het einde van religie in Europa?
- Egypt: After the Revolution by Samuli Schielke
- Diyanet in Turkey and the Netherlands – Transnational politics and politicization of research by Thijl Sunier
- Catastrophe and Independence – Continuing Claims of Memory
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Featuring Women2Drive Saudi Arabia
Saudis arrest YouTube activist challenging ban on women drivers | World news | The Guardian
Saudi authorities have arrested an activist who launched a campaign to challenge a ban on women driving in the conservative kingdom and posted a video on the internet of her behind the wheel, activists said.
Campaign by Saudi women to drive began on both facebook and Twitter: “On Fri Jun 17th, we women in Saudi will start driving our cars by ourselves.” You may follow fb link and on Twitter @Women2Drive.
Manal, a 32-year-old woman, is planning something she’s never done openly in her native Saudi Arabia: Get in her car and take to the streets, defying a ban on female drivers in the kingdom.
Us women in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia are the ones who will lead this society towards change. While we failed to deliver through our voices, we will not fail to deliver through our actions. We have been silent and under the mercy of our guardian (muhram) or foreign driver for too long. Some of us barely make ends meet and cannot even afford cab fare. Some of us are the heads of households yet have no source of income except for a few hard-earned [Saudi] Riyals that are used to pay drivers. Then there are those of us who do not have a muhram to look after our affairs and are forced to ask strangers for help. We are even deprived of public transportation, our only salvation from being under the mercy of others. We are your daughters, wives, sisters, and mothers. We are half of society and give birth to [the other] half, yet we have been made invisible and our demands have been marginalized. We have been deliberately excluded from your plans! Therefore, the time has come to take the initiative. We will deliver a letter of complaint to our father the King of Humanity and the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques calling on him to support the Women of June 17.
Xenophobia and Governance of (Muslim) minorities
The new faces of the European far-right « The Immanent Frame
Two hitherto marginal but rising forces proved pivotal in the 2009 European elections: a burgeoning Green movement and a renascent far-right. On one hand, the British National Party won its first entry to the European Parliament, while in the Netherlands a rich multicultural heritage has been challenged by the electoral victories of the nativist Party for Freedom (PVV). On the other hand, the breakthrough of environmental groups on the political scene was celebrated everywhere in Europe. In Germany, where there was already a strong Green tradition, and in France, they outstripped the center parties in unprecedented fashion. But since the election, the actions of the Greens have remained virtually invisible, while the far-right never ceases to occupy the public stage, shaping societal debate across Europe and positioning itself as a viable alternative political force.
The return of the figure of the foreigner in Europe questions the ways in which Europe has sought to reconstruct itself after a historical moment of deep importance: the fall of colonial empires. Medias and public opinion usually refer to two contemporary facts that define Europe, its contours, its ‘spirit’: the rise and fall of Nazism and totalitarianism, summarized in the Second World War and the ‘Fall of the Berlin Wall.’ Both occurred in Europe. However, the creation and fall of the colonial empires, events of considerable importance in the making of modern Europe, is very rarely included. The ways in which colonialism and its end have shaped Europe are not quite part of European cartography. What occurred in the colony is never entirely seen as the creation of modern, democratic Europe but as a monstrous perversion carried out by ‘uncivilized’ men. The colony is externalized, excised from political thought, framed between the beginning of colonization and its end. The ‘colonized’ is a foreign figure, framed within fixed categories, lazy, ungrateful, aggressive, violent, sexist. His woman is ‘oppressed,’ veiled, caught in tradition. The figure of the foreigner remains opaque, someone who is entirely a stranger, unable to ‘integrate’ European culture and values. And yet, only through this integration might the stranger enter civilization.
Religious intolerance is a daily reality in Europe, mainly targeted at Muslims. We need to better understand the dynamics behind the new trend of laws and popular opinion banning minority religious expression and stigmatizing Islam.
So suddenly there has been a curious reversal in the fortune of Muslims and Jews in Holland. For Muslim organizations, this controversy has become an opportunity to demonstrate their reasonable willingness to adapt Islamic practice to the findings of modern science and the norms of Dutch society. For Jews, it has been to discover that they have been demoted from Holocaust survivors to a religious minority like any other. Suddenly it matters more that they are ‘religious’ than that they are ‘Jews.’ Neither the international pleas personally addressed to Dutch political leaders by the American Simon Wiesenthal Center, nor public statements from European rabbis, nor calls to remember the proud Dutch tradition of tolerance towards the Jewish community have made any difference. That is to say, today, so far as the secularist Dutch majority is concerned, once religious Jews disagree with them they are little different from Muslims: trapped in stubborn irrationality and medieval practices. Liberal secularism is on its way to becoming the new group-think.
The very public disagreement between the two law enforcement agencies disrupted the usually tidy media narrative about “homegrown,” Muslim American terrorism, disrupted by vigilant and effective surveillance. Suddenly, messy notions of entrapment and false accusations targeting stigmatized minorities started to seep into the mainstream discussion.
Bulgaria is one of the few countries in Europe which for more than 50 years has been an example of tolerance – ethnic, religious and other forms – and no one should damage this, Foreign Minister Nikolai Mladenov said after a clash outside a mosque in central Sofia between supporters of ultra-nationalist party Ataka and Muslims led to injuries and arrests.
Violent clashes erupted between sympathizers of the nationalist Ataka (The Attack) party and local Muslims at the Bania Basha mosque in the center of Bulgaria’s capital, Sofia, during today’s nationalist demonstrations against the mosque’s loudspeakers.
The Arab Revolutions and Beyond
Reflections on the (In)Visibility of Copts in Egypt
I’ve been thinking lately about the circumstances under which Coptic Christians emerge on the Egyptian socio-political landscape. Those circumstances tend to be, in a word, ugly. Copts become a visible religious community when they are attacked. And then Westerners in particular wonder: “Who are the Copts?” (I should also point out, however, that although well aware of the existence of Copts, or al-aqbat in Arabic, most Egyptian Muslims are equally unfamiliar with Coptic religiosity.) This strange play between visibility and invisibility is the problematic that I take up here, arguing that what is desirable for Copts in a new Egypt is a visibility that takes seriously their religiosity. I do so by drawing on ethnographic fieldwork I have been doing among Copts and reflecting on recent events in Egypt.
Attacks on churches, communal divisions – Cairo has recently seen conflicts between some Muslims and Coptic Christians. But who exactly are the Copts and how did they come to be in Egypt? Part of the answer lies in Coptic art.
Europe has dramatically changed its tune. Having once embraced Arab autocrats it is now supporting democracy in the Middle East, selectively. In Libya, they are intervening militarily, although Gaddafi was until recently a guest of honour in their capitals.
This diplomatic double dealing might be common place in international relations, but it is now being dressed-up in the moral hyperbole of humanitarian intervention.
To some, the NATO-led intervention has complicated the natural progression of the Arab awakening; others feel that despite their cynical calculations Western powers are, for the first time, on the right side of Arab history.
Empire travels across Europe’s centres of power to examine the hypocrisy of the Arab world’s closest neighbours.
The Arab uprisings seemed tailor-made for the “new Turkey” to exert its much-vaunted influence in the Middle East. Since the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power almost nine years ago, Ankara has actively courted the region, cultivating warm relations with certain Arab countries, winning plaudits from Rabat to Ramadi for its principled stand on Gaza, and using its prestige to solve problems in Lebanon, Iraq, and Syria. A central focus of Turkey’s so-called “zero problems” foreign policy has been a concerted effort to improve and expand relations with the countries to its south and east. Now, with millions of Arabs standing up and demanding their freedom, Turks are not the only ones to have held up the “Turkish model” — the democratic development of a predominantly Muslim society in an officially secular political system — as a possible way forward for the rest of the Middle East.
Although last winter’s peaceful popular uprisings damaged the jihadist brand, they also gave terrorist groups greater operational freedom. To prevent those groups from seizing the opportunities now open to them, Washington should keep the pressure on al Qaeda and work closely with any newly installed regimes.
In the past 100 days, two Egypts have emerged. One is revolutionary Egypt, driven by ideals and demanding reform and institutional change. And then there is the other Egypt, in which the military tries to maintain law and order. In certain areas, those two Egypts conflict; in other areas, they converge. Right now, they are torn apart and heading in very different directions.
Her use of Twitter, for instance, is fascinating to me. Journalists have long done research by looking at such tools as government-issued reports. But by examining data from Twitter, Shereen Sakr can come up with first-hand findings.
Mohamed MorsyFollowing a symposium in London organized by the Egyptian Community in the United Kingdom, a diaspora association of Egyptian Muslims in Britain, Arabist reader Dalia Malek had the chance to follow up with Muslim Brotherhood Guidance Council member and president of Justice and Freedom Party Mohamed Morsy and ask further questions about his lecture. She sent in this transcript of the interview and her notes on Morsy’s lecture.
On the weekend of May 7 and 8, in the Cairo district of Imbaba—an impoverished working-class neighborhood that has been a stronghold of militant Islamists in the past—a group of Salafis tried to force their way into Saint Mina Church, a local Coptic house of worship. They were demanding the release of a woman, Abeer, an alleged convert to Islam whom they claimed—without evidence—the church was holding against her will. (Christians here have long alleged that Islamists kidnap their girls, rape them, and force them to convert to Islam. In recent weeks, those allegations have grown. Now, some Salafis have been making similar charges about Copts.).
FOR many years now, we’ve heard American commentators bemoan the violence of the Palestinian national movement. If only Palestinians had learned the lessons of Gandhi and Martin Luther King, we hear, they’d have had their state long ago. Surely no Israeli government would have violently suppressed a non-violent Palestinian movement of national liberation seeking only the universally recognised right of self-determination.
Banna, whose views are widely criticized in religious circles in Egypt, said that promoting the idea of a civil state on the condition that it should be based on religion, is “a fallacy.” His words represented a not-so-hidden attack on the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), which calls for a civil state with an “Islamic reference”.
During an interview with Al-Masry Al-Youm, Banna said that most Muslims today are Salafis, a fact that he attributes to the closure of the door to ijtihad (the process of making a jurisprudential decision by interpretation of the sources of the Islamic law), and people’s blind following of Salafi interpretations of Islam.
The revolutionary protests sweeping across the Arab world has left me wondering if this is one step closer to gay rights or if we have yet to reach that stage of tolerance, open mindedness and acceptance in our lifetime
A once unimaginable movement is emerging from within Israel’s insular Orthodox Jewish community: homosexuals demanding to be accepted and embraced, no matter what the Bible says.
I do not remember that the anniversary of Nakba was as hot and as intense as today seriously. The people want the right of the return , the people want to return back to Palestine.
Israeli troops opened fire on pro-Palestinian demonstrators attempting to breach its borders on three fronts, killing at least 13 people. Scores more were wounded at Israel’s borders with Syria, Lebanon and Gaza.
Salafi Muslims are often associated with militant Islam and violent groups such as Al Qaeda, though most Salafis disavow violent jihad. Repressed for decades by secular dictators such as Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Zine Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, Salafis may find new breathing room now that the Arab Spring has ousted such leaders. Here are five facts to help you understand them.
The Salafis have been accused of inciting recent violence, although there is no conclusive proof to that effect. The group did not initially support the Tahrir Square protests, but have gained great power in its aftermath.
Sectarian incidents like the burning of churches in Imbaba have put the spotlight on Salafis. Who are they, and what do they espouse, asks Amani Maged
Rape, sex and race
The DSK arrest could be bad news for French Muslims | FP Passport
That said, the arrest would seem to be bad news for one constituency: immigrants. If the scandal cripples the Socialists, the far-right may come to be seen as Sarkozy’s primary competition in the race, meaning the president will have to pander even more to anti-immigrant sentiment. As Jonathan Laurence and Justin Vaisse wrote in March about Sarkozy’s recent denunciations of “multiculturalism” — which hasn’t, in any case, been official policy in France for years — as a transparent ploy to appeal to supporters of the Le Pen family’s brand of right-wing politics:
There’s a very big difference between consensual sex and assault. Our media’s screwed up coverage of DSK’s rape charges and Schwarzenegger’s groping would suggest otherwise.
The questions of class and power dynamics are real, important and significant ones in any conversation about either of these cases. Noticeably absent from the conversations I’ve read so far, however, is an acknowledgment of complex racial issues that may be involved.
The alleged victim in the Strauss-Kahn case is an African immigrant to the United States.
The mother of Mr. Schwarzenegger’s non-marital child is speculated by some to be Latina.
As with previous speeches, it’s well written and was well delivered. There is a certain consistency with the Cairo speech, as Obama highlights. There is an endorsement of the idea of freedom and democratization (not that any US president has ever delivered a speech in praise of dictatorship — it’s an easy score.) There was an admission of US interests in the region that would have otherwise made this speech simply too hypocritical (it’s going to be attacked for that anyway). I’m just not sure why those interests should include concern for one state’s security (Israel’s) and not others. Nor why self-determination in the pursuit of liberty is something that doesn’t apply for Palestinians. But here we tread old ground.
Maps matter. Metro’s and London’s transit maps present distorted geographies in order to make the system’s organization clearer. They have become iconic, but the way they present distances shapes people’s understanding of space and distance in their region.
The expectation that Islamic studies scholars were prepared to “cover” the Islamic tradition and speak to its beliefs and practices on a normative, global basis was stressful for many of us. The idea that we could speak with authority about the practices of 1.4 billion people who speak dozens of languages and have inhabited the planet for the last 1400 years is absurd, of course. Like other academics, Islamic studies scholars are trained in certain fields of knowledge; in the best of programs, they are trained to be exceedingly careful about claiming too much. The pressures to become the academic voice of Islam both on campus and in the media frequently led scholars to abandon caution. We reached for our copies of the Encyclopedia of Islam and sent out queries, sometimes quite urgently, to the AAR Study of Islam listserv. “What does Islam say about x?” was the way questions were often framed. We were not allowed to answer, “It depends.” What was generally desired, it seems, was a fatwa, an authoritative ruling on what the Qur’an, the Sunna, and the ulama say about “x,” not a lecture on how the historical practices of real people refuse easy generalization.
Are members of the ‘hacktivist group’ Anonymous defenders of truth and seekers of knowledge, or simply a bunch of cyber terrorists? Jana Herwig investigates
In this 11 minute animated talk, Matthew Taylor argues that scientific study of humans in the tradition of the Enlightenment has taught us, ironically, that Enlightenment values alone cannot be trusted to usher humanity into a better future.
Geert Wilders should not be on trial for his words on Islam. But mainstream politicians must confront and not appease him
How the fate of female-driven movies came to rest upon the success of “SNL” star Kristen Wiig’s new comedy
? This audacious project has foundered more than once and even this time its success hung by a thread. Daniel Barenboim performed a concert in Gaza with a group of European musicians. Hans-Christian Rößler reports
Imago-obsessie bedreigt de vrijheid van universitaire media
Daar waar de Balkenende-norm een doel dient – ik ken trouwens niet één Marokkaanse graaier bij de (semi-)overheid of in het bedrijfsleven… – is de Bouali-norm dus een compleet zinloze standaard, waar we heel snel van af moeten. Eerst was er alleen maar aandacht voor de “slechte” Marokkaan en nu is er aandacht voor de “wenselijke” Marokkaan. Maar wanneer komt er eens aandacht voor de echte en menselijke Marokkaan?
Hoe ironisch dat de Westerse toon en seculiere houding die de verschillende leiders hanteerden, minder heeft gedaan voor het imago van de Arabische wereld dan de simpele, maar volhardende acties van de mensen nu. Blijkt het gewone volk de taal van de diplomatie en PR beter te begrijpen dan de in dure, Westerse universiteiten opgeleide despoten.
Het Openbaar Ministerie vervolgt Abdullah Haselhoef voor fraude. De NOS meldt dat hij naar schatting 2,5 miljoen euro aan kinderopvangtoeslagen zou hebben ontvangen voor opvang die in werkelijkheid nooit heeft plaatsgevonden.
Het is juist dáárom gekmakend, omdat diezelfde mensen iedereen voortdurend inpeperen dat je “niet te snel moet oordelen”, “genuanceerd” moet denken en “niet vanuit je onderbuik moet reageren”. Wát een gotspe. Als je de PVV niet meteen en ondubbelzinnig veroordeelt (maar haar handelen en voorspoed probeert te verklaren vanuit het recente verleden), kom je frontaal in contact met hún onderbuik! En die onderbuik is harder, strakker, gemener en onverbiddelijker dan de boze en soms hysterische onderbuik die rechts parten schijnt te spelen. Het is de onderbuik van de georganiseerde uitsluiting en verkettering.
Song of the Week