Closing the week 31 – Featuring the March of the Extremists

Most popular on Closer this week:

  1. Islamizing Europe – Muslim Demographics
  2. Nederlandse jongeren in Kenia
  3. The tragic death of Marwa el Sherbini

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Featuring the March to Extremism in Europe
The March to the Far Right – TIME

The March to the Far Right

Front-page feature by Catherine Mayer on the turn to the far-right in Europe, focusing on four parties: the BNP, France’s Front National (FN), Hungary’s Jobbik and Geert Wilders’ Partij voor de Vrijheid (Party for Freedom, PVV).
Sunny on Pickled Politics provide us with some useful comments:
Pickled Politics » The rise of the far-right across Europe

1. It’s good that Geert Wilders is being included in the list of the ‘far-right’. I’ve been saying this for ages. It’s also worth nothing that he has supporters in the UK, especially Douglas Murray of the Centre for Social Cohesion. That tells you a lot about their politics.

2. The writer does a good job of capturing the dilemmas for anti-facists:

…the urgent question is how best to contain the surge. Deny far-right leaders the oxygen of publicity? Tricky — they have a democratic mandate. Confront them? That risks casting them as martyrs, victims who tell unpalatable truths. Expose the racism that often underlies professions of patriotism? Well, yes, but that assumes voters choose far-right parties in ignorance of their views, rather than because they strike a chord. Steal their nationalist thunder by taking tough lines on issues such as immigration? This smacks of capitulation to the very ideas critics seek to defeat.

3. There are some hints towards, but not a deeper look at the solutions. These would be: (a) have politics more about grassroots campaigning and organising; (b) have Parliament more representative of class, gender and race; (c) raising rather than doing anything about people’s concerns (on immigration, globalisation, poverty, housing etc), as Sarkozy has done, while promoting diversity.

I do wonder however if these parties can simply be called far right. Much of their features and those of its constituences pertain to what Seymour Lipset has called ‘extremism of the center’ (combined with right wing extremism): On Post-Fascism

As one of the greatest and most level-headed masters of twentieth-century political sociology, Seymour Martin Lipset, has noted, fascism is the extremism of the center.Fascism had very little to do with passéiste feudal, aristocratic, monarchist ideas, was on the whole anti-clerical, opposed communism and socialist revolution, and–like the liberals whose electorate it had inherited–hated big business, trade unions, and the social welfare state. Lipset had classically shown that extremisms of the left and right were by no means exclusive: some petty bourgeois attitudes suspecting big business and big government could be, and were, prolonged into an extremism that proved lethal. Right-wing and center extremisms were combined in Hungarian, Austrian, Croatian, Slovak para-fascism (I have borrowed this term from Roger Griffin) of a pseudo-Christian, clericalist, royalist coloring, but extremism of the center does and did exist, proved by Lipset also through continuities in electoral geography.

Today there is nothing of any importance on the political horizon but the bourgeois center, therefore its extremism is the most likely to reappear. (Jörg Haider and his Freedom Party are the best example of this. Parts of his discourse are libertarian/neoliberal, his ideal is the propertied little man, he strongly favors a shareholding and home-owning petty bourgeois “democracy,” and he is quite free of romantic-reactionary nationalism as distinct from parochial selfishness and racism.)

The same can be said I think for Geert Wilders and his Freedom Party. With fascism it shares a strong sense of (cultural) nationalism, a protectionist view of economy, suspicion of religion and a strong belief in the superiority of Western civilization. Simple slogans and truisms, anti-intellectualism and anti-establishment are very much part of the its political spirit. It is also very much concerned with freedom and liberty of the people although the current parties are more concerned with the freedom of the individual than with the freedom of the people as an organic whole. The political views of Wilders and others are not necessarily grounded in fascism (and this is where much of the comparisons are flawed I think) but they relate to particular aspects of social life in which many people are concerned about. The political center among a population does not have to be fascist or extremist in the sense of a consistent ideological approach but they may favor extreme approaches to fringe groups who are labelled as asocial, anti-societal, deviant, dangerous or radical. In this case the perception that Islam is a problem ‘we’ have to solve urgently is widely shared with political parties on the center and left who think Islam can and should be changed and parties on the right who think Islam cannot be changed and therefore has to be stopped. Therefore at least Wilders’ PVV (I’m not sure about the other parties) I think can be analyzed better as ‘extremism of the center’ its main claim being Europe is becoming Islamized. A thesis that has been severely contested and proves flawed:

IRR: Christopher Caldwell dissected

‘Can Europe be the same with different people in it?’ asks the question on the front cover. For Caldwell the question is purely rhetorical, particularly when these ‘different’ people are Muslims. At the end of his book he concludes that: ‘It is certain that Europe will emerge changed from its confrontation with Islam. It is far less certain that Islam will prove assimilable’ since ‘when an insecure, malleable, relativistic culture meets a culture that is anchored, confident, and strengthened by common doctrines, it is generally the former that changes to suit the latter’. If Muslims should not prove ‘assimilable’ then what should be done with them? The nuanced observer does not say, but he does not need to, when so many others are saying it for him. And the uncritical reception given to this artful anti-Muslim diatribe in liberal circles is a depressing reminder of the extent to which its essential assumptions have moved from the political margins to form a new mainstream consensus.

Links: Debates on Iran and Leftist Politics « OPEN ANTHROPOLOGY

As often happens in the heat of debate, the “really big” assumptions behind certain perceptions remain unquestioned. I believe that these are some that need to be addressed before the debate can continue fruitfully:

1. When writers use the term “left” what exactly do they mean?
2. Are all leftists anti-imperialist?
3. Are all anti-imperialists leftist?
4. What theory, or theories, of imperialism are at work here in order for us to know what writers mean by imperialism, and for judging the basis on which Iran’s current regime is anti-imperialist?

The cultural significance of Internet practices « media/anthropology

The ethnographic study of Internet in 2000 gives us useful baseline: Miller and Slater, Hine, Zurawski. Key debate was whether you could study online phenomena in their own right, without tracing them back to their everyday offline contexts. On one side of the debate, Miller and Slater argue starting point should be the myriad practices and specific contexts of daily life, including online practices as part of – not apart from – those contexts. They back this up with ethnography of Internet on the island of Trinidad and among Trini diaspora. On the other side, Hine argues you can indeed study online practices and communities in their own right, and seeks to demonstrates this with own ethnographic study of online groups formed in support of an English nanny accused of killing a baby in America.

In this article I review four works completed eight years later, in 2008. What are the debates now? What’s the state of the anthropological/ethnographic study of the Internet eight years on, the new baseline? I argue that the online/offline methodological debate has been revived with Boellstorff’s ethnography of Second Life and should not be dismissed or explained away as it remains important. But I also suggest we need to pay heed to the great labour of the new generation of anthros studying the internet of empirically documenting and seeking to understand Internet practices both ethnographically and historically (esp. Kelty). These include online/inworld practices studied in their own right (Second Life) as well as practices that traverse sites and domains (Free Software, internet filmmaking, digital integration projects).

The theoretical approaches adopted in order to assess the cultural significance of these new Internet practices merit attention as well: recursive publics (Kelty), techne (Boellstorff), actor-network theory (Hinkelbein), practice theory (Roig).

Personal noteI think this is a very important review that takes up the old online-offline debate again. In our researchgroup both Carmen Becker and myself are dealing with the issue.
Teaching Anthropology: Welcome to My World

Enough said?

Now does everyone understand why I rant so much. Any and all expressions of pity, outrage, disgust, and disbelief are most welcome.

Making Sense of Darfur » Blog Archive » Poverty and Maldistribution: Sudan’s Fundamental Security Challenge

In the recent US Congressional hearings on a review of US policy on Sudan, little was said about the crushing burden of poverty that confronts the average Sudanese– from the outskirts of Khartoum to the outer fringes of this vast and isolated country; the perennial displacement of people occasioned by conflict ,disease, and climate change; and the lack of opportunity and isolation imposed on a generation of Sudanese by both national and international actors. While Darfur represents its most wretched and heart wrenching visage, displacement and destitution visited upon a hapless people is no less apparent in the Nuba Mountains, the Red Sea hills, the rolling plains of Blue Nile State, the drowned cataracts of the Nile, the formless shantytowns of South Sudan, and the teeming suburbs of Khartoum etched on the desert sands. Such is the reality of Sudan.

ethnosnacker: Ethnography & the arts

I must admit to having no idea what we would uncover when I proposed a small study to try to understand how the arts (galleries, concerts, theatre, etc.) fitted into people’s lives.

Op-Ed Columnist – Not a Victim, but a Hero –

After being kidnapped at the age of 16 by a group of thugs and enduring a year of rapes and beatings, Assiya Rafiq was delivered to the police and thought her problems were over.

Then, she said, four police officers took turns raping her.

The next step for Assiya was obvious: She should commit suicide. That’s the customary escape in rural Pakistan for a raped woman, as the only way to cleanse the disgrace to her entire family.

Instead, Assiya summoned the unimaginable courage to go public and fight back. She is seeking to prosecute both her kidnappers and the police, despite threats against her and her younger sisters. This is a kid who left me awed and biting my lip; this isn’t a tale of victimization but of valor, empowerment and uncommon heroism.

“I decided to prosecute because I don’t want the same thing to happen to anybody else,” she said firmly.

Rise in Canadian ‘honour killings’ should not be ignored: expert

As many as 5,000 women and girls lose their lives — most at the hands of family members — in “honour killings” around the world each year, according to the United Nations.

Up to a dozen have died for the same reason in Canada in the last decade, and it’s happening more often, says Amin Muhammad, a psychiatrist who studies honour killings at Memorial University in Newfoundland.

“There are a number of organizations which don’t accept the idea of honour killing; they say it’s a Western-propagated myth by the media, but it’s not true,” he says. “Honour killing is there, and we should acknowledge it, and Canada should take it seriously.”

Patriarchy and violence against women exist in all societies

Immigrant and Muslim women are often put in a paralyzing position when violence occurs against such women in Canada.

This position is a result of the media’s misunderstanding of how patriarchy manifests itself in societies around the world, including North America. This misunderstand forces us and our communities to fight the racism in media reports and readers’ commentaries when we should otherwise be facing the challenge of eliminating all forms of control and violence against women and children.

[…]Gender violence must be analyzed comprehensively, not viewed as a “cultural problem” among certain communities. If a white man kills his partner and/or children, he is seen as a murderer and a “bad apple.” But when non-whites and non-Christians kill, the crime is often called an “honour killing” and entire communities and cultures are labelled as “backward.”


Indeed, as Adeema Niazi of the Toronto-based Afghan Women’s Organization states: “Violence against women exists everywhere.”

Middle East Online

Muslim women use mosques to reclaim their rights

Patriarchy progressively challenged by female reformers in the name of original Islam.

By John Esposito – WASHINGTON, DC

Like the status of women in all the World’s religions, in Islam and Muslim societies patriarchy played and in many cases continues to influence the status and roles of women. The place of women in the formative period of Islam reflected Qur’anic concerns for the status and rights of women as well as the patriarchal structure of the societies in which Islamic law was developed and elaborated. The status of women and the family in Islamic law was the product of Arab culture, Qur’anic reforms, and foreign ideas and values assimilated from conquered peoples. While the Qur’an introduced substantial reforms, providing new regulations and modifying local custom and practice, at the same time, much of the traditional pre-Islamic social structure with its extended family, the paramount position of males, the roles and responsibilities of its members, and family values was incorporated.

A new source of women’s empowerment today has become active participation in the mosque and use of Islam’s tradition to reclaim their rights in Islam. Reformers today emphasize that just as women during the time of the Prophet prayed in the mosque, so too today they actively exercise that right. In the centuries after the death of Muhammad, women played a small but significant role as transmitters of hadith (prophetic traditions) and in the development of Sufism (Islamic mysticism). Gradually, however, women’s religious role and practice, particularly their access to education and the mosque, were severely restricted. Male religious scholars cited a variety of reasons, from moral degeneration in society to women’s bringing temptation and social discord, to restrict both their presence in public life and their access to education and the mosque.

Walid El Houri: Neda and Marwa: a Tale of Two Murdered Women

On June 20th 2009, Neda Agha Soltan was shot dead during the post-election protests in Iran. The protests occupied the largest news segments around the world, with analysts and commentators predicting the fall of the Iranian regime and the dawn of freedom breaking in “the axis of evil.”

Neda’s death became an icon of the Iranian opposition and a symbol for millions of people of the injustice of the Iranian regime and the defiance of the protesters. Neda’s death was put in context. It was taken from the personal realm of the death of an individual to the public realm of the just cause of a whole society.

On July 1st Marwa El Sherbini, an Egyptian researcher living in Germany, was stabbed to death 18 times inside a courtroom in the city of Dresden, in front of her 3-year-old son. She had won a verdict against a German man of Russian descent who had verbally assaulted her because of her veil. Her husband, who rushed in to save her when she was attacked in the courtroom, was shot by the police. Marwa’s death was not reported by any Western news media until protests in Egypt erupted after her burial. The reporting that followed focused on the protests; the murder was presented as the act of a “lone wolf,” thus depriving it of its context and its social meaning.

The fact that media are biased and choose what to report according to their own agenda is not the issue in this case. What the comparison of the two murders shows, is that European and Western societies have failed to grasp the significance and the importance of the second murder in its social, political, and historical context.

Burqas, Bans and Feeble Women « Nuseiba

In Mythologies Roland Barthes’s suggested that signs could be used as signifiers for other concepts; those concepts he identified as mythologies formed to perpetuate an idea of society. The myths are artificial constructions, adding a new layer of meaning over text and speech. He highlights that what we accept as being a natural, inductive relationship between the text and the myth is in fact an illusory reality constructed in order to mask the real structure of power.

In her approach Haussegger uses the burka as a loaded symbolic text for an idea – the oppression and subjugation of women. And like Barthes notes, to symbolize is to be. So, even if a garment does not literally restrict, if it signifies restriction then the garment restricts all those who wear it, freely chosen or not. But the myth of oppression constructed around the burqa deprives the burqa of substance; the burqa is distorted to suit the needs of the myth. Though it remains within the concept, it is “half-amputated … deprived of memory … [it is] speech wholly at the service of the concept. The concept, literally, deforms, but does not abolish the meaning … it alienates it.”


I’m not denying the use of the burqa to oppress and subjugate women. But to then deny that the burqa inhabits a number of uses and roles along with oppression is to deny the inherent dynamism of the burqa. Linking it to one myth and generalising that experience to the whole of Muslim women is patronising and smacks of neo-colonialism. As Nazish Brohi argues in her article “At the Altar of Subalternity: The Quest for Muslim Women in the War on Terror Pakistan after 9/11?, “this selective invocation is reducing spaces for women’s personal identity formation and its political articulation, and by coopting the very language of women’s rights and empowerment and investing in it political strategies, has rendered it ineffective.” And the lingering question remains: banning a garment, a single piece of clothing, doesn’t necessarily combat the ideology that is used when the burqa is forced onto women. A ban would be an empty, symbolic gesture perpetuating another myth and another power structure: Australia’s control over the Others in our midst, dictating that “we” know about democracy, Australian-ness and compassion while “they” do not.

What’s it like being a gay Muslim? | UK news | The Guardian

What’s it like being a gay Muslim?

EastEnders’ current romantic storyline featuring a gay Muslim character has caused a stir. But what is it really like to be gay within Britain’s Muslim communities?

Only 367 Muslim women in France wear full veil – report | World | Reuters

Only 367 women in France wear Islamic veils that cover their faces and bodies, a newspaper reported on Wednesday, undermining the position of politicians who are pushing for a ban on the garments.

A panel of legislators is studying the issue of whether the number of women wearing such veils is on the rise and why. The panel is expected to say in coming months whether it backs a ban on the veils in public places, as advocated by some politicians.

Ramadan » Hilarious Introduction to Ramadan

Ramadan this year starts in just three weeks. Last Ramadan I was in Indonesia and bootleg copies of a Malaysian produced animated Ramadan TV special were circulating. Upin and Ipin are a pair of Malay twins about 5 or 6 years old whose gang of friends include an Indian boy, a Chinese girl, and two other Muslim boys. I recently showed this to my children as an effort to start teaching them about world religions. They loved it, they laughed so hard. And they learned something about Islam as it is lived, or at least nostalgialized in Malaysia.

Because the series was created to educate Malaysian kids about Ramadan, it is perfect for teaching about Ramadan to American kids.

Virtual Sphere

Saudi Gazette – Google’s abuse of power to take over popular

“Will we just hand over a million dollar website for free?” questions Yusuf.
“First they said our logo and images were identical to theirs, which was a big lie. Then they changed their direction and called us up on the phone saying we should give them the domain because they are Google, the biggest and most powerful company on the Internet and they can make it difficult for anyone who gets in their way.
“Then they came up with the idea that our domain name sounded too much like theirs and it was confusing people who use the Internet. For that reason, went to the controllers of the Internet itself with their claim and requested what is called arbitration.”
But Sheikh Yusuf Estes says his website’s name cannot be mistaken for Google’s. “Does anyone really have trouble making a distinction between the word ‘youtube’ and ‘youtubeislam’?”
“The fact is, Google got sued for exactly what they claim we are doing, but in their case there really was no difference in the sound. When they bought YouTube for $1.3 billion, the company sued them as they owned that name on the Internet for 10 years before Google did,” he added.
What Sheikh Yusuf is worried about is the possibility that Google may misuse the website by advertising Haraam things and using it for un-Islamic purposes.
He calls on every Internet user to support his campaign by spreading the message and speaking up against the takeover, as time is running out.
“Without notification in advance, our server,, sent an email stating due to a decision made by arbitration on the Internet, they are going to give our domain name to Google,” he said.


Bekeerd in Elspeet – Trouw

Het christelijk geloof gaf haar niet langer wat ze nodig had. Dus begon Helma Frens (17) een zoektocht langs de wereldreligies. Uiteindelijk belandde zij bij de islam en vond wat ze zocht. Bekeren was toen een kwestie van tijd en durf.

Droomland Marokko stelt vrome moslim teleur – Binnenland – de Volkskrant

Ahrazem is in Nederland opgegroeid, hij woont in Limburg. Aan de Hogeschool Zuyd in Maastricht studeert hij sinds 2006 Arabisch, en hij heeft in Marokko net een cursus Arabisch achter de rug bij het Nederlands Instituut in Rabat. In het begin voelde hij zich gefrustreerd dat uitgerekend hij, die een goed moslim wil zijn, op zijn tellen moet passen in Marokko, het land dat hij altijd meer als zijn vaderland beschouwde dan Nederland.

Nederlands Juridisch Dagblad NJD § Juridisch nieuws – Moslima-verpleegkundige Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis krijgt standaard correctiefactor (c=1)

Het Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis heeft het helemaal gehad met de wensen van een moslima en verzoekt tot ontbinding van de arbeidsovereenkomst. Met succes, 2 augustus a.s. is haar eerste ‘vakantiedag’.

Centrale vraag aldus: in hoeverre mag een ziekenhuis door middel van een kledingvoorschrift (te weten het dragen van korte mouwen) inbreuk mag maken op het grondrecht van een moslima-verpleegkundige om zich te kleden overeenkomstig haar geloofsovertuiging (dwz het dragen van lange of driekwart mouwen)?

Iets waar werkgever en werknemer toch in goed overleg een werkbare oplossing voor hadden kunnen vinden? Normaal wel, maar niet op de dialyse-afdeling. De arbeidsovereenkomst wordt ontbonden en wel onder toekenning van een vergoeding, bepaald met neutrale factor c=1, want de moslima-verpleegkundige kan zich niet schikken in geboden tegemoetkomingen van werkgeefster.

Wettelijk kader in deze casus onder meer de ‘WIP-richtlijn’, die volgens advocaat van werkneemster veelvuldig wordt geschonden in het ziekenhuis.

De inbreuk die het Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis met het kledingvoorschrift maakt op het grondrecht van de verpleegkundige om zich volgens haar geloofsovertuiging te kleden oordeelt kantonrechter mr. G.J. Roeterdink op 13 juli 2009 ‘noodzakelijk, proportioneel en gerechtvaardigd’.

Onderarm moet tot maximaal 15 cm boven pols onbedekt; was ze bij 25 cm wel in dienst gebleven?

Nederlands Juridisch Dagblad NJD § Juridisch nieuws – Moslima-verpleegkundige Jeroen Bosch Ziekenhuis krijgt standaard correctiefactor (c=1)

Vanwege haar islamitische geloofsovertuiging is [verweerster] verplicht haar armen, inclusief de onderarmen, zoveel mogelijk te bedekken. Om die reden heeft zij gevraagd om onder de bedrijfskleding lange mouwen te mogen dragen en, indien dat niet mogelijk is, om drie-kwart-mouwen te mogen dragen waarbij de onderarm tot maximaal 15 cm. boven de pols onbedekt is.

Het Ziekenhuis heeft het verzoek van [verweerster] in overweging genomen en heeft daartoe gedurende het jaar 2008 meerdere in- en externe adviezen (o.m. van een lid van genoemde Werkgroep) ingewonnen, doch is tot de conclusie gekomen dat moet worden vastgehouden aan bedrijfskleding met korte mouw.

Joods en Wilders stemmen –

Prominente joden als Job Cohen, Harry de Winter en rabbijn Soetendorp zijn felle tegenstanders van Geert Wilders. De joodse PVV-stemmers zijn minder bekend. Maar ze zijn er wel. ‘De joodse elite wil niet dat er gepraat wordt over de woede onder de joden.’

2 thoughts on “Closing the week 31 – Featuring the March of the Extremists

  1. Nu begin je zelf te radicaliseren Martijn. Alsof fascisme bestreden dient te worden met fascistoïde ideeën…
    There are some hints towards, but not a deeper look at the solutions (! no pun intended).
    These would be: (a) have politics more about grassroots campaigning and organising; i.e. non-parliamentary action
    (b) have Parliament more representative of class, gender and race; i.e. corporatism
    (c) raising rather than doing anything about people’s concerns (on immigration, globalisation, poverty, housing etc), as Sarkozy has done, while promoting diversity. Quote: “Het drama van de 20ste-eeuw, toen miljoenen geworpen werden in oorlog, honger, scheiding, deportatie en dood, werd niet geboren uit een excessief idee van God, maar uit zijn geduchte afwezigheid” Sarkozy werd voor deze haatzaaiende uitspraak terecht door de groenen en de socialisten ter verantwoording geroepen.

    • Hoe bedoel je met zelf radicaliseren en fascisme bestrijden met fascistische ideeen?

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