Closing the week 22

Most popular this week:

  1. Islamizing Europe – Muslim Demographics
  2. Criminalisering van islam?
  3. Een impressie van het Nationaal Islam Congres

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Invisible Culture – An Electronic journal for Visual Culture: Interview with Benedict Anderson by Cynthia Foo (Open Access)

On October 1, 2008, Benedict Anderson presented a talk at Columbia University in which he discussed his upcoming book, a biography of the Chinese-Indonesian journalist Kwee Thiam Tjing. Having found a book of Kwee’s writings in a second-hand bookshop in Indonesia in 1962, Anderson describes his surprise that no one could identify the pseudonymous author, who wrote what Anderson considers to be “the greatest piece of prose written in the first half of the 20th century by anybody in Indonesia.” For years after Kwee’s death, Anderson explains, details of the journalist’s life and work were forgotten. It was only recently that Anderson was himself able to write about the author, in the process considering the role of cosmopolitanism in the life of the colonial subject.

And another interview can be found at Post-Colonial Studies:

In developing his theories, Anderson observes that the notion of “nation-ness” is, in the recent years, becoming a principal force in many aspects of modern thought. Both the rapid expansion of the United Nations, and the political unrest caused by conflict between and within “sub-nations” around the world (Imagined 3), are evidence that nationalism is, indeed, recognized as modern political moral hegemony.

Yet despite the influence that nationalism has had on modern society, Anderson finds the origins of the concept inadequately explained and recorded. His purpose in writing Imagined Communities is to provide a historical background for the emergence of nationalism — its development, evolution, and reception.

International (English)

anthro:politico: Ritualized Consumption

What if “Western” rituals are based on having the power to consume? Advertisers and marketers have recognized the value of this idea for years. We’re forever hearing about the buying power of kids vs. tweens vs. teens and the strengths of those markets. Now ages are frequently marked by what consumer products are appropriate – for example, what’s the right age for your kid to get their first cell phone, and how is that determined by society-at-large?

Somatosphere: Teaching Anthropology of the Body

In hindsight, it seems much easier to work with the simple idea that all of our analytical frameworks are developed to respond to particular problematics, whether social, institutional, political, conceptual. This is something close to an anthropological cliché, but I think that it remains useful when thinking about how to organize knowledge in an area as rich as contemporary anthropological literature on the body.

Useful syllabi on virtual worlds and technology | Savage Minds

Random cruising around the IntarWeb today I tumbled over two interesting sources for syllabi on virtual worlds and the IntarWeb itself. First, Tom Boellstorff has syllabi on Culture in Virtual Worlds and Culture Power Cyberspace on his department website. You’ve read the ethnography, now vicariously take the course! Seriously, though, its great for Tom to share these syllabi—circulating syllabi is key to building community and scholarship about topics.

Also, as some of you may know, Polity Press has a series of small introductory readers on blogging, hacking etc. But there is more to it than just that—they have a website that looks like a sort of mini-online community, complete with blog and, yes, syllabi and reading resources.

Current Controversies: Ian Hacking | Forum

I am a conservative reactionary. I know that although my genetic inheritance constrains my possibilities of action and choice, I do not believe it is my essence or constitutes my identity. My question could be put: how long will it take before this attitude becomes extinct? We know that the genomic revolution will radically change the material conditions of life for soon-to-be-born generations. My question is: what will be the conception of self for those people soon to come?

CULCOM – Thomas Hylland Eriksen: The cartoon controversy and the possibility of cosmopolitanism

Let us suppose that secularised Danes were to take the religiosity of Muslims seriously and treat it with respect, much as they treat their old parents with respect. In that case, they would easily know how to maneuvre in order not to offend them. Not even trying to maneuvre indicates a strong inclination not to live in the same society even if one lives next door to each other. The kind of cosmopolitan attitude leading to restraint can be compared to the underlying reasoning behind the ban on smoking in public, which is these days being implemented in many parts of the world – but, ironically, not in Muslim countries! A Swede who lives part of the year in Cairo, part of the year in Göteborg, told me that in Göteborg he can have his beer any time anywhere, but he has to go outside to smoke; in Cairo it’s the other way around. The point is, however, that supposing I smoke and you do not, and we are in a room together, I might just tell you that if I smoke and you don’t, we both enjoy our liberal freedom. This is the problem of the cartoon controversy and the simplistic liberal responses to the offended reactions among Muslims. Muhammad cartoons to them are like tobacco smoke to an asthmatic.

Hat tip: – anthropology in the news blog – For an Anthropology of Cosmopolitanism

here some notes on anthropology and cosmopolitanism.

After the controversis around the Mohammed-cartoons, media loved talking about culture and religion wars and Huntingtons clash of civilisation. But maybe we should have talked more about cosmopolitanism than culture war. Isn’t cosmopolitanism more common than fundamentalism?

FRA – European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights

This EU-MIDIS report on Muslims provides data on how Muslims across the EU experience discrimination and victimisation. It covers Muslim respondents with diverse ethnic origins in 14 Member States.

Guernica / The Genocide Myth

The Genocide Myth
An interview with Mahmood Mamdani

In his latest book, Mamdani attacks the Save Darfur Coalition as ahistorical and dishonest, and argues that the conflict in Darfur is more about land, power, and the environment than it is directly about race.

“The Save Darfur movement claims to have learned from Rwanda,” writes Mahmood Mamdani in his new book, Saviors and Survivors: Darfur, Politics, and the War on Terror. “But what is the lesson of Rwanda? For many of those mobilized to save Darfur, the lesson is to rescue before it is too late, to act before seeking to understand.” His book is an argument “against those who substitute moral certainty for knowledge, and who feel virtuous even when acting on the basis of total ignorance.” Americans think Darfur is a tragic genocide. Mamdani thinks the reality is more complex. His ideas should be taken seriously for a number of reasons, especially because he provides a road map to a workable peace settlement.

ICSR – The International Centre For The Study Of Radicalisation And Political Violence

Political extremists and terrorists are increasingly using the internet as an instrument for radicalisation and recruitment. What can be done to counter their activities? Countering Online Radicalisation examines the different technical options for making ‘radical’ internet content unavailable, concluding that they all are either crude, expensive or counter-productive.It sets out a new, innovative strategy which goes beyond ‘pulling the plug’, developing concrete proposals aimed at:

* Deterring the producers of extremist materials
* Empowering users to self-regulate their online communities
* Reducing the appeal of extremist messages through education
* Promoting positive messages

Countering Online Radicalisation results from the first systematic effort to bring together industry, experts and government on the issue of online radicalisation. Its insights and recommendations are certain to be of great interest to experts and policymakers around the world.

International Crisis Group – B92 Indonesia: Radicalisation of the “Palembang Gr

Indonesia has earned well-deserved praise for its handling of home-grown extremism, but the problem has not gone away. In April 2009, ten men involved in a jihadi group in Palembang, South Sumatra, were sent to prison on terrorism charges for killing a Christian teacher and planning more ambitious attacks. Their history provides an unusually detailed case study of radicalisation – the process by which law-abiding individuals become willing to use violence to achieve their goals. The sobering revelation from Palembang is how easy that transformation can be if the right ingredients are present: a core group of individuals, a charismatic leader, motivation and opportunity. Another ingredient, access to weapons, is important but not essential: the Palembang group carried out its first attack with a hammer and only later moved to making bombs.

[…]By contrast, funding was not a particularly important factor in radicalisation, nor was access to the internet. With the exception of the gun and a large donation of potas­sium chlorate for bomb-making, the group scraped together what it needed locally, and it was not much. The biggest expenses were round-trip bus tickets and a house rental at about $20 a month. All com­mu­ni­cation took place by mobile phone or through face-to-face meetings; there appears to have been almost no use of computers.

The 2009 Arab Public Opinion Poll: A View from the Middle East – Brookings Institution

Event Summary
As President Obama prepares to address the greater Muslim world from Egypt, understanding the mood and opinions of the Arab public is a critical challenge. As the people of the region respond to a wide range of dynamics—including American efforts to jump-start the Middle East peace process, stabilize Iraq and halt extremist gains in Pakistan and Afghanistan—accurately gauging Arab public opinion is vital.

Arab public opinion in 2009 | Marc Lynch

The key findings:

* Iraq was the single most important issue influencing Arab attitudes towards the Obama administration.
* Obama is personally inspiring some hope, but deep skepticism remains about U.S. foreign policy.
* Iran has lost ground with Arab public opinion but is not seen as much of a threat.
* Arabs prefer Hamas to Fatah, but want to see a Palestinian national unity government.
* The Syrian Embassy is likely tickled pink that Bashar al-Asad was the highest rated Arab leader in the question “which two world leaders outside your own country do you admire most.”

In my brief comments, I noted that we’re still a long way from having the kind of data necessary for Nate Silver-style analysis of these surveys, but there is more and more data out there to work with.

Paint by numbers – The National Newspaper

There has been a dramatic increase in recent years in the amount of polls conducted by Arab governments and NGOs – helping to correct the emphasis of the first wave of post-September 11 surveys carried out by American organisations, which were overwhelmingly narcissistic: How do Arabs feel about America? About American policies? About American leaders? In short, how do Arabs feel about the issues Americans care about? These polls produced results, but without any sense of how much the issues really mattered to the people being surveyed. For instance, survey research has consistently found that economic and quality of life issues – rather than American policies or politics – are foremost among Arab concerns.

Opinion research that explores deeper cultural matters and local political issues will be far more useful than news-making surveys about anti-Americanism. Mark Tessler, who heads the Arab Barometer project – and is the leading American academic working on Arab public opinion – argues that efforts should be directed toward “explanation rather than descriptions” in order to assemble a complex picture about attitudes and their causes rather than bullet-point numbers.

“FIFTY PER CENT ARABS HOPEFUL ABOUT OBAMA” is fine for headline writers, but it is far less important than acquiring a sense of why they are hopeful, or about what would vindicate, or dash, their hopes.

Thoughts on religious (Islamic) revival
Free market faith | New Humanist

Free market faith
Globalisation is leading to more belief, not less. Caspar Melville talks to the editor of The Economist about his new book tracing the rise and rise of religion

New Statesman – God Is Back: How the Global Rise of Faith Is Changing the World

Contrary to what evangelical rationalists preach, it is perfectly possible both to be modern and to believe in God. But there is no reason to assume that the American religious model will prevail

From Fatwa to Jihad: The Rushdie Affair and Its Legacy by Kenan Malik – Times Online

Alarmed by race riots in the 1980s, local and national government in Britain embarked on a multicultural strategy. Respect was to be accorded to different ways of life and, fatally, these ways of life were to be classified as communities with their own “community leaders”.

In a way, it worked. Racism did, indeed, decline. But the price was high. The creation of “communities” replaced racism with tribalism and, in 2005, tribal riots between blacks and Asians broke out in Birmingham. These riots were caused by multiculturalism. Before the council told them they were members of a “community”, they were just people living together in the same place. “Hostility,” writes Kenan Malik, “is not in the blood of Asians or African-Caribbeans. It is in the DNA of multicultural policies.”


From Fatwa to Jihad tells, for the most part brilliantly, this baleful tale. Malik is well-placed to do so. He was born in India and came to Britain at the age of five. His mother was Hindu and his father Muslim, but he did not have a religious upbringing. Racism, not religion, formed his early radicalism as it did that of many non-whites in this country.

Commonweal – A review of religion, politics and culture

Why are the most unlikely people, including myself, suddenly talking about God? Who would have expected theology to rear its head once more in the technocratic twenty-first century, almost as surprisingly as some mass revival of Zoroastrianism? Why is it that my local bookshop has suddenly sprouted a section labeled “Atheism,” hosting anti-God manifestos by Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and others, and might even now be contemplating another marked “Congenital Skeptic with Mild Baptist Leanings”? Why, just as we were confidently moving into a posttheological, postmetaphysical, even posthistorical era, has the God question broken out anew?

Thierry Chervel: Submission in advance – signandsight

At the high point of the dispute over the cartoons, the Dutch politicican Ayaan Hirsi Ali came to Berlin, of all places, to give a speech defending the rights of the cartoonists. She herself pointed out the connection between the two totalitarianisms. As a dissident Muslim, she used the example of Eastern European dissidence which was rewarded with the collapse of the Wall. But her gesture was not understood. Essentially, what happened to her was worse than what had happened to Rushdie, who was at least defended and protected. In 2004 a young extremist named Bouyeri assassinated the filmmaker Theo van Gogh who, together with Hirsi Ali, had made the film “Submission”. Bouyeri thrust a dagger into van Gogh’s chest, to which was attached a note: “I know, oh Ayaan Hirsi Ali, that you shall go under / I know, oh fundamentalists of unbelief, that you shall go down.” These words got around.

Writers like Ian Buruma and Timothy Garton Ash took them up and amplified them, half-consciously, half-unconsciously, equating the “fundamentalists of the Enlightenment” with Islamic fundamentalists. Garton Ash later recanted. What remained was the insistence by Hirsi Ali’s opponents that her activities were useless, that her intransigence was itself driving Muslims into a corner, that her denial of the faith meant she represented nothing and thus was unable to contribute to the integration of Muslims into Western society. Tariq Ramadan was the man to listen to, they said. Hirsi Ali was threatened with losing her Dutch citizenship. She left for the United States whereupon the Dutch government stopped paying for her security. Cassandra doesn’t live here anymore. God is great.

The European Left cried no tears for her. She had long been decried as a useful idiot of reactionary forces. In a striking parallel to the fate of many ex-Communist dissidents, Hirsi Ali found no home on the Left. Rushdie, too, had to admit that he had been mistaken. In his “Satanic Verses” he had declared that the war on racism in Britain, on Hindu nationalism in India, on Islamism, was part of the Left’s greater purpose. But he was doubly mistaken: Islamism has a universalist thrust which makes it more dangerous than mere xenophobia. Yet the Left prefers battling Islamic dissidents to fighting Islamism.

One World, Under God – The Atlantic (April 2009)

For all the advances and wonders of our global era, Christians, Jews, and Muslims seem ever more locked in mortal combat. But history suggests a happier outcome for the Peoples of the Book. As technological evolution has brought communities, nations, and faiths into closer contact, it is the prophets of tolerance and love that have prospered, along with the religions they represent. Is globalization, in fact, God’s will?

Heirs to Fortuyn? –

For much of the American left, Western Europe was nothing less than an abstract symbol of progressive utopia.
[City Journal]

This rosy view was never accurate, of course. Europe’s socialized health care was blighted by outrageous (and sometimes deadly) waiting lists and rationing, to name just one example.

[…]Deborah Scroggins wrote in The Nation in 2005 that “Muslims make up only 5.5 percent of the Dutch population, but they account for more than half the women in battered women’s shelters.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali-Dutch advocate for democracy and women’s rights, would no doubt say far more than half: When she was working with women in Dutch shelters, she writes, “there were hardly any white women” in them, “only women from Morocco, from Turkey, from Afghanistan—Muslim countries—alongside some Hindu women from Surinam.” When she and filmmaker Theo van Gogh tried to highlight the mistreatment of women under Islam in the 2004 film “Submission: Part I,” he was killed by a young Muslim extremist.

[…]Yet despite these disavowals, American media have routinely echoed the leftist establishment’s unjust calumnies.

A seminal example was a March 2002 New York Times article by Marlise Simons about Pim Fortuyn, the Dutch politician who, according to the article’s headline, was “Proudly Gay, and Marching the Dutch to the Right.” Though Ms. Simons acknowledged that Fortuyn criticized Islam because it offered “no equality for men and women and because . . . the imams here preach in offensive terms about gays,” she nonetheless echoed the Dutch establishment’s characterization of him as a menace to Dutch values, making sure to mention that he had been widely compared with Mussolini and Haider. A few weeks later, Fortuyn was murdered by an environmental fanatic taken in by similar claptrap.


Who will win the war for the soul of Western Europe? The Islamofascists and their multiculturalist appeasers, many of whom seem to believe that their job is not to defend democracy but to help make the transition to Shariah as smooth as possible? The nativist cryptofascists? Or Pim Fortuyn’s freedom-loving heirs? Interestingly, while Western Europeans have been heading in one direction, Americans have chosen to go the other way, replacing a president more loathed by the European elite than any in history with a man whom the same elite has celebrated to an unprecedented degree, often depicting his election as a mystical act of atonement for all of America’s past sins, real or imagined.

The final question, then, is whether the Western European left’s condescension toward America, and the American left’s habit of holding Western Europe up as a socialist paradise, can survive the combination of Europe’s right turn and the elevation of Barack Obama.

Mr. Bawer is the author of the upcoming “Surrender: Appeasing Islam, Sacrificing Freedom.” He blogs at

Roxana Saberi
Full transcript of NPR News interview with Roxana Saberi | INFORUM | Fargo, ND

MS. BLOCK: I interviewed your father back in April, while you were still in prison, and he told me that you had made statements under pressure – under threat – while you were being held in Evin prison. Was that the case, and if that was the case, what did you confess to under duress?

MS. SABERI: That was the case. As has been seen in the past, one of the ways that people get out of these kinds of situations is to make a confession, and even be videotaped making this confession, even if this confession is false. And so, under pressure, I did the same thing. After I realized that nobody knew where I was, I was very afraid, and my interrogators threatened me and said, if you don’t confess to being a U.S. spy, you could be here for many years – 10 years or 20 years, or you could even face execution.

And I thought, well, if something happens to me, my family doesn’t know where I am, maybe they would never find out. And so I made a false confession and I said yes, I’m a U.S. spy. But because my conscience got the better of me and the god that I believe in – the god that I thought had abandoned me when I was first imprisoned – I realized, was always with me. And I realized that he was not pleased with what I had done by making this false confession. I recanted my confession, knowing full well that I would jeopardize my freedom.

And indeed, that’s what happened

Israel moves closer to banning mourning of its independence – Haaretz – Israel News

Israel moves closer to banning mourning of its independence
By Haaretz Service
Tags: Israeli Arabs

Public commemoration of Israel’s independence as a day of mourning could become a crime subject to prison penalty, should a bill approved on Sunday by a ministerial panel be brought to the Knesset and cabinet for vote.

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday approved a preliminary proposal which would make it illegal to hold events or ceremonies marking Israel’s Independence Day as a “nakba,” or catastrophe.

Rather than holding barbecues and parades on Independence Day, Israeli Arabs and Palestinians usually take the day to commemorate the dispersal of Palestinians during the 1948 War of Independence.

An unusual couple, an unlikely marriage – The Globe and Mail

An unusual couple, an unlikely marriage

Young groom’s passion for researching terrorism brought him into the Khadr family

From Friday’s Globe and Mail, Saturday, May. 23, 2009

They are among the most unusual of couples. Joshua Boyle, 25, is the son of a tax judge whose empty home was shot up. Zaynab Khadr, 29, is the sister of Guantanamo Bay detainee Omar Khadr – and Osama bin Laden attended her first wedding in Afghanistan a decade ago.

The divorced single mom and the research fanatic met over the Internet – their mutual interests in Wikipedia and the war on terror helping them stake out common ground. This year they married – quietly – but their romance was propelled into the public eye after thieves fired several .22-calibre bullets into the groom’s family home.

Now, they talk about their marriage, the break-in and overcoming prejudice – including a suspicion that Mr. Boyle is a spy. A rally outside an abortion clinic, they said, also helped bring them together.

Detainee Who Gave False Iraq Data Dies In Prison in Libya –

Detainee Who Gave False Iraq Data Dies In Prison in Libya

A former CIA high-value detainee, who provided bogus information that was cited by the Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq war, has died in a Libyan prison, an apparent suicide, according to a Libyan newspaper.

A researcher for Human Rights Watch, who met Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi at the Abu Salim prison in Tripoli late last month, said a contact in Libya had confirmed the death.

Libi was captured fleeing Afghanistan in late 2001, and he vanished into the secret detention system run by the Bush administration. He became the unnamed source, according to Senate investigators, behind Bush administration claims in 2002 and 2003 that Iraq had provided training in chemical and biological weapons to al-Qaeda operatives. The claim was most famously delivered by then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell in his address to the United Nations in February 2003.

Dutch International
Dutch liberal leader: Holocaust denial should not be a crime – Haaretz – Israel News

Dutch liberal leader: Holocaust denial should not be a crime
By Cnaan Liphshiz

A proposal to decriminalize Holocaust denial in the Netherlands by the leader of the Dutch liberal party touched off controversy in the party on Wednesday and drew criticism from prominent Jewish figures and from the political establishment.

Dutch-Jewish poet masks Israeli roots to win Arab prize – Haaretz – Israel News

Dutch-Jewish poet masks Israeli roots to win Arab prize
By Cnaan Liphshiz, Haaretz Correspondent

One name sticks out from the list of winners in the prestigious El Hizjra poetry competition intended for Dutch Arabs, which was announced two weeks ago – Tuvit Shlomi, press officer for Holland’s largest Zionist group.

Dutch firebrand aims to bring down European parliament | My Sinchew

Wilders faces a trial at home for his anti-Islam utterings and was recently barred from entering Britain to stop him spreading “hatred and violent messages,” particulary in his movie “Fitna” in which he said Islam was fascist.

But he is at the height of its popularity at home and the PVV hopes to take up to four of the 25 Dutch seats in the 736 member EU assembly, despite advocating its demise.

He declared in a recent newspaper interview that he wants “to bring it down from inside.”

“Wilders holds up Europe, Islam and immigration as evils,” political analyst Alfred Pijpers said, recalling how Dutch voters rejected a proposed European constitution in a 2005 referendum.

‘In islam is niet alles zo zwart-wit als in de Koran’ – Roosendaal – Regio – bndestem

Is een islamitische slager een ander soort ondernemer dan een katholieke slager?

Voor het antwoord op die vraag heeft Gerard de Winter uit Roosendaal een boek geschreven: ‘Maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen vanuit een islamitisch perspectief’. Het boek is het resultaat van een onderzoek van De Winter in het kader van zijn studie Religiewetenschappen aan de Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen. “Ik ben die studie begonnen uit nieuwsgierigheid naar de invloed van religie op mens en maatschappij. Tegelijkertijd houd ik me in mijn werk als marketing-adviseur bezig met maatschappelijk verantwoord ondernemen. Die twee dingen heb ik in mijn onderzoek samengebracht en dan toegespitst op de invloed van de islam. Ook om eens op een andere manier een duit in het zakje te doen over al die discussies over de islam.”
Zie ook:
* ‘Als moslim verkoop ik geen drank’ De boeddhaïsering van Nederland

Theo Salemink is universitair docent Geschiedenis van kerk en maatschappij in de negentiende en twintigste eeuw aan de Universiteit van Tilburg. Samen met Marcel Poorthuis schreef hij Lotus in de Lage Landen. De geschiedenis van het Boeddhisme in Nederland. Beeldvorming van 1840 tot heden. Ze kregen voor dit boek de Gouden erepenning van het Teylers Godgeleerd Genootschap 2009.

Door: Fatiha Bazi

Uw boek Lotus in de Lage Landen laat een kleurrijk overzicht zien van hoe het boeddhisme vanaf de negentiende eeuw voet aan wal krijgt in Nederland. Kunt u kort vertellen hoe het beeld van Boeddha door de jaren heen is veranderd?

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