A profile on Michel Houellebecq. [The Guardian] [Books]
“It’s not my role to be responsible. I don’t feel responsible,” he says. “The role of a novel is to entertain readers, and fear is one of the most entertaining things there is.” To him, the fear in Submission comes in the dark violence at the novel’s start, before the moderate Islamist party comes to power. Was he deliberately playing on a mood of fear in France? “Yes, I plead guilty,” he says. For Houellebecq, the job of a novelist is foremost to hold a mirror up to contemporary society.[more inside]
Lahore Landing, an interactive documentary. "It all started when Taahira went to Karachi for a journalism internship ... Over Skype calls, she shared with us her experience – from underground indie rock concerts to alfresco BBQ nights. It surprised us. It seemed that all the media shared about life in Pakistan was a world of violence and terrorism when it was a lot more than that." [more inside]
Déjà Lu republishes locally-selected scholarly articles from journals connected to regional anthropological associations around the world. The result is a PDF-heavy but fascinating collection of long reads on obscure topics. Via. [more inside]
"There are many like me. We don't believe in a monolithic practice of Islam. We love Islam, and because we love it so much we refuse to reduce it to an inflexible and fossilized way of life. Yet we still don't fit anywhere."
Abdel Kader Haidara awarded Germany's 2014 Africa Prize for rescuing Timbuktu manuscripts. Under his direction centuries' worth of texts were smuggled out when the city was taken by book-burning religious conservatives in 2012. The collection is currently in Mali's capital Bamako where it is being preserved and digitized. More text, slideshow, video, previously previously previously [more inside]
Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
Step inside this surreal world where religious piety meets psychedelic softcore porn, led by the world’s foremost Islamic creationist. "Followers of Harun Yahya (1, 2, 3) wear drag make-up and practice a “sexed-up, Disney version of Islam” that helps promote conservative Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s vision of a modern, Muslim Turkey."
Inspired by her father's struggle against fundamentalism in Algeria in the 1990s, Karima Bennoune interviewed hundreds of people of Muslim heritage from dozens of countries who also work for social reform. She hopes their stories will counterbalance oversimplified narratives about majority Muslim nations. Bennoune's website provides an excerpt from the book, and she is interviewed on Open Democracy (transcript).
A Moroccan man whose wife wears a veil has been denied citizenship on the basis that he has failed to assimilate into French society. [more inside]
Back in 2004, the Chicago Tribune published an investigative series about the state of Islam after 9/11. [more inside]
Abdelrahman Zeitoun is a Syrian American businessman who spent the days after Katrina paddling around New Orleans in a canoe, saving elderly people and feeding stranded pets. His efforts were brought to a halt when he was detained by the Bush administration on suspicion of being a terrorist. [more inside]
Muslim heritage is an intriguing and rather pretty website detailing contributions of a thousand years. Make sure to see the timelineand events sections. Their new "weblog" seems to be shaping up to be interesting too, have a rummage.
When Iranian paper Hamshahri (in Persian) launched a contest for Holocaust cartoons, an Israeli group responded in turn with a contest of their own for cartoons that make fun of Jews. Too bad it closed yesterday, or the Dutch branch of the AEL could submit theirs. (WARNING: some of the linked content may be offensive to readers' ethnicities, cultures, religions, or tastes.)
They hate Flickr for it's Freedom. An ISP (and government controlled monopoly) in the United Arab Emirates has decided to ban access to Flickr for it's citizens, apparently due to the complaints of a couple of UAE expats in the UK and Canada. Of course, said blockage won't apply to them. Most interestingly, they blame the rest of the world's non-flesh-fearing photographers as opposed to their ISP (and by proxy their own oppressive government.) Now Flickr joins Skype, AtomFilms, Friendster, AOL, and anything from Israels top-level domain, as outlawed content and services in the UAE (related study here). Well, if they don't care, why should we? Via linkfilter.
A View from the Eye of the Storm. An Arab intellectual in Europe ponders on the Muslim world and comes to some interesting conclusions. Israel is a sideshow. Iran is the most dangerous country in the world.. in the long run the only way for us (the West) to win the war of terror is to force the problem nations to reform both politically and culturally.via Steven Den Beste weblog
The new Islam. Husam Tammam and Patrick Haenni in Le Monde (English version) describe the new forms of Islamic culture taking shape in Egypt. I follow the Islamic world fairly closely, but this was news to me. Does it herald an Islam that can live with the rest of the world (and vice versa)?
This entry, both with the hijab [veil] and the nashid [religious chant], into consumerism and syncretism with non-Arab models, has led to an implicit questioning of the old puritanism of the 1970s and 1980s - and above all a questioning of the principle of the ideologisation of religion. The change is important: we could trace similar patterns in the Islamic economy, increasingly affected by the ups and downs of international finance; or in Islamic charity, which has been rethought, within a framework of neoliberalism, as a security net to replace the state's withdrawal from this area (a withdrawal the Islamists have widely supported).(Via Path of the Paddle.)
Muslim states hate us because their culture is backwards and corrupt, according to a Wall Street Journal editorial. The writer, tired of America-bashing, explores the inferiority complex of the Arab world: "Like Third World Marxists of the 1960s, who put blame for their own self-inflicted misery upon corporations, colonialism and racism--anything other than the absence of real markets and a free society--the Islamic intelligentsia recognizes the Muslim world's inferiority vis-à-vis the West, but it then seeks to fault others for its own self-created fiasco. Government spokesmen in the Middle East should ignore the nonsense of the cultural relativists and discredited Marxists and have the courage to say that they are poor because their populations are nearly half illiterate, that their governments are not free, that their economies are not open, and that their fundamentalists impede scientific inquiry, unpopular expression and cultural exchange." via kuro5hin
Ever wonder about the Islamic Calendar? finishing up the month of Rajab about Oct 16 "The number of months with Allah has been twelve months by Allah's ordinance since the day He created the heavens and the earth. Of these four are known as sacred" (Holy Quran, ch., v 36)Muharram, Rajab, Dhul Qadah and Dhul Hijja are considered to be sacred months. Fighting during these sacred months is considered to be a sin. I am so ignorant of other cultures.
Here's an interesting take on the whole western ideals v eastern ideals idea. The collapse of the Soviet Union as harbinger of the collapse of the west? Well, maybe not from the perspective of your average neo-libertarian. From the perspective of someone who didn't buy into the Enlightenment, from where springs both liberal democracy and marxism, then it may just look like one process. Interesting article from the 'Other Side of the Hill'.