Islam, Women and Middle Eastern Media

The Middle Eastern media pushes an image of a united Muslim community which is against Western influence in the area as being the dominant identity of Islam; yet reporting by Arab and other regional media reflects the fractured nature of the religion. There are four main issues to assess when looking at representations of Islam; the representation of women, extremism, sectarianism, and of course the “Muslim Street”.

I am using the news media as the basis for this discussion.

An identity crisis has been gradually developing between Sunni and Shia Muslims, which becomes evident through reporting on the sectarian warfare in Iraq and other conflicts zones. As is the case here in the West, there is always a level of focus upon extremist Islam in the Middle Eastern media. Continue reading Islam, Women and Middle Eastern Media

Punishment of Saddam Hussein

On Sunday the 5th of November an event occurred which shook, and sometimes shocked members of the Iraqi blogosphere; Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. For those who don’t know the court case was in relation to the slaughter of 148 civilians in the town of Dujail 1982, as revenge for a failed attempt to assassinate Saddam Hussein. Iraqi’s in the Middle Eastern blogosphere reacted in different ways- but one thing was clear; they know he’s guilty, but is he getting off too easy?

The first and most important place to start with this report is over at Asterism. Here Salam Adil has already written a round-up of discussion about the Saddam verdict in the Iraqi Blogosphere; make sure you check it out. Next most important is probably this post by Zeyad from Healing Iraq, also a round-up of the Iraqi blogosphere’s responses. Another round-up of responses from the Iraqi blogosphere was also completed this week, however this time not from within the Iraqi blogosphere. Continue reading Punishment of Saddam Hussein

We are all the same (really)

While Muslim’s leaders demand apologies and the Muslim street breaks out in protest against the Pope’s use of an anti-Islamic quote from a 14th century Byzantine leader, many bloggers look at the reaction wondering why?.

Keefy from Adventures in Dubai posted the entire text of the pope’s speech and bet most of the protesters had not read it. Ramrumple wonders why it’s not OK to portray Hassan Nasrallah (Hizballah Leader) in a comical sketch, but it’s OK for al-Jazeera TV to do the same by portraying the pope as shooting down peace (in the form of doves)? Iraq Pundit gives an almost comical commentary of how the situation has unfolded, pointing out the irony in these violent reactions. He also wonders why there is no reaction from the Muslim street when hundreds of Muslims are killed each day in Iraq in the name of Islam.

Iraq The Model, one of the most popular blogs in the Middle East, tries to look at things from a different perspective, using an academic approach by quoting respected Arabic books on Islamic History. However a few days later Omar posts his anger about what he calls a “War on Peace” by Islamic extremists.

In the comments section of this post there was an interesting conversation about the role of militant islam’s role in global terrorism. Two interesting comments were posted by “bg” on the 25th of September the first was the introduction to an excellent “weekly roundup” of radical islamic activity around the globe written by by Charles Bird from Obsidian Wings. Thesecond comment sampled and linked this article, which discusses true role of Osama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda network (literally, The Base network) in organising and perpetuating militancy among Islamic extremists around the globe.

There were over 150 comments from people all-over the globe on that particular post, and the same or more on most other recent posts at Iraq The Model; this blog is a very successful forum for discussion about Iraq and the Middle East in general. There was much other discussion in the Middle Eastern blogosphere aside from the Pope issue. As usual there are always some stories of hope such as the post “Iraqi Muslim Amongst Jewish People! Felt Welcomed!” from 24 Steps To Liberty, an Iraqi blogger who moved to America very recently.
Truth Teller, the Iraqi doctor who blogs at “A Citizen of Mosul” briefly tells the story of having to move his clinic somewhere safer due to poor the security situation. Discussion about the Middle East outside of the blogosphere tends to be limited to professional opinions, journalistic reporting or discussion about western policy and wars in the area.

Just search Google for “Online Discussion” + “Middle East” and see for yourself. However in the Middle Eastern blogosphere, especially for those who delve deep into the comments sections, there is a wealth of practical analysis and discussion about moving forwards. What’s most impressive is how some people like the Tel Aviv university lecturer Ze’ev Maoz can breach cultural boundaries and discuss the situation realistically.

I have recently been asked the question “is the blogosphere going to bring a solution to the problems in the Middle East?”. To this I must say no, it is not the solution itself, it will definitely be part of the solution. But to end this post here is something from Hala_S to remind us that we all come from the same place.

Ramadan and Warfare in Iraq and Lebanon

Life goes on as norm in the Middle Eastern blogosphere with much discussion about politics, politicians and their many promises and failures. However one clear distinction can be noticed in the Lebanese blogosphere, the argument of who won the recent war in Lebanon. The question however is not who gained from this conflict, rather it appears to be who can shout we won the most//loudest.

The findings from the Brammertz Report, a study into the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005, was cause for discussion. BOB, from Bob’s Blog found several interesting points in this report and highlighted them in his post on the Lebanon Bloggers Forum entitled My take on Brameretz report.

This report and the many protests organized by political powers in Lebanon have brought back memories of theCedar Revolution, the series of protests in response to Hariri’s assassination, leaving many wondering what has changed since March 14, 2005? For those who have never seen nor heard of the Cedar Revolution, I will add some protest-photos at the bottom of this post. Continue reading Ramadan and Warfare in Iraq and Lebanon

Online Media and the Blogosphere

Online media has established itself as an increasingly important medium for discussion about political, religious and cultural issues, particularly in regards to “hot topics” such as war in the Middle East.

Within this context conversations tend to emerge around individual events such as the invasion of Iraq, September 11 or, for an up-to-date example, the capture of al-Qaeda in Iraq’s deputy leader “Abu Ayyub Al-Masri”. The advent of blogging and the sub sequential emergence of the Iraqi blogosphere have challenged the traditional western-lead course of online discussion.

The success of the Iraqi blogosphere in becoming the leading forum from which online discussions about Iraq emerge, inevitably lead to the development of strong blogging communities amongst other Middle Eastern cultures. During the recent invasion of Lebanon by the Israeli Defense Force, online discussion regarding Israel and Lebanon was hugely influenced by the two countries respective blogospheres.

Traditional media were even caught by bloggers printing falsified information and images as the situation unfolded. (See these: 1234). Continue reading Online Media and the Blogosphere