The militant Sunni group Isis has said it is establishing a caliphate, or Islamic state, in the territories it controls in Iraq and Syria.
This is not the first border we will break, we will break other borders," its spokesman warns. Standing on a border sign he threatens to "break the borders" of Iraq, Jordan and Lebanon. [more inside]
Forty maps that explain the Middle East.
Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
Saudi Arabia's royal family are planning to demolish a library sitting on the remains of Prophet Muhammad's birth home to make way for the imam's residence and a presidential palace
. The Saudi royal family are adherents of Wahhabism
, a radical branch of Islam; by their beliefs, they have destroyed many Islamic heritage sites
as they consider the preservation of relics of Muhammad's life to be akin to idolatry.
In two weeks of blood and fire, one of the greatest intellectual
and cultural legacies
the world had ever seen came to an end. Crushed under the hooves of a mighty foe (in one case literally
), a dynasty
, an empire
, a city
, and a library
all disappeared. It was perhaps the swiftest and most complete collapse of a civilization ever, still felt to this day
. Now, how about for some context? [more inside]
"The Ideology of Hatred": An interview with Niza Yanay
- "Once we understand how hatred operates as an apparatus of power relations, and particularly how the discourse of hatred is motivated and mobilised in national conflicts, serious questions about misrecognition, veiled desires and symptomatic expressions arise. These questions have, to a large extent, been left unaddressed in studies of hatred between groups in conflict." [more inside]
Dalal al-Mutairi, the senior book censor for the Kuwaiti government, sits down for a chat about her job and what it entails.
This weekend marks the time of the Hajj
, a core pillar of Islam in which great tides of humanity
venture to the ancient city of Mecca to honor God.
Predating Mohammed's birth by centuries, the pilgrimage comprises several days of rites
, from congregation like snow on Mount Arafat
and the ritual stoning of Shaitan
to the circling of the sacred Kaaba
cubical monolith Muslims pray toward daily
) and kissing the Black Stone
(colored by the absorption of myriad sins, and believed by some to be a fallen meteorite
While the city has modernized
to handle this largest of annual gatherings -- building highway-scale ramps, gaudy skyscrapers for the ultra-rich
, and tent cities the size of Seattle
-- it remains mysterious, as unbelievers are forbidden from entering its borders
Richard Francis Burton became famous for touring the city in disguise
to write a rare travelogue
, but contemporary viewers have a more immediate guide: Vice Magazine
journalist Suroosh Alvi, who smuggled a minicam into the city to record The Mecca Diaries [alt]
, a 14-minute documentary of his own Hajj journey.
Browse the manual
to see what goes into a Hajj trip, or watch the YouTube livestream
to see the Grand Mosque crowds in real time.
, a Palestinian-American poet and activist
now based in New York, writes about being a Muslim immigrant
and also a woman challenging conventions
. Spotted by Russell Simmons for Def Poetry Jam
, she has performed pieces about love in the time of war
, exoticising beauty
, and a touching ode to her father
, among many others
. Suheir has just produced and released her first feature film Salt of This Sea
, up for the Cannes Films Festival and possibly an Oscar, and recently performed in Ramallah
for the 2009 Palestinian Festival of Literature
Obama speaks in Cairo: "I have come here to seek a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world."
Text is here
. He quoted the Koran and highlighted a subject he avoided during his campaign - his own family's ties to Islam, his youth in Muslim Indonesia and even Chicago's Nation of Islam. An early roundup of US right wing reaction
, and US left wing reaction
, and the Middle East
by more than 20 contemporary artists from the Middle East
is being showcased
at the Saatchi Gallery.
isn't (like so much western art) about consumerism or celebrity or art itself; it's about suicide bombers
, religious police, unending war
, and the denigration
in Islamic societies."
22 basic suggested readings on the Middle East
from history professor and informed commenter on Middle Eastern affairs Juan Cole
"Is the Administration’s new policy aiding our enemies in the war on terrorism?" New article by Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker.
The practical future of the country formerly known as Iraq.
[NewsFilter, but a significant acknowledgement of something long-in-coming.]
Animated video broadcast on Iran's IRIB
state television, apparently aimed at children, seemingly promotes the virtues of becoming a suicide bomber. Coralized wmv link
The Simpsons are going to... the Middle East!
As a treat for viewers during Ramadan, Dubai-based network MBC
has dubbed 30 episodes of the Simpsons into Arabic
. But in order not to offend their audience, this version of Our Favorite Family is, well, a bit different; for instance, Homer (rechristened Omar) doesn't eat bacon or drink beer. Speculation about the fate of other characters abounds, One Angry Arab
is not impressed
, self-described "Muslim Refusenik
", urges moderation
after the Newsweek-Quran scandal. Earlier this month, Manji launched a public campaign
("independent thinking") with a claim for Islamic pluralism and "the aim of setting up a foundation for young, reform-minded Muslims to explore and challenge their faith."
--doing business according to Shari'a. ...Pious Muslims are not allowed to invest in industries that have ties to tobacco, alcohol, weapons, pornography or pork products. Since the law prohibits banks from charging or paying interest, Noriba and other Islamic Financial Institutions (ifis) instead make money by using a system based on the sharing of capital gains or losses.
But even with post-Sept. 11 suspicions that Islamic banks may fund terrorist organizations, demand for the services of ifis is on the rise from the towers of Bahrain to the streets of London. Indeed, they represent one of banking's hottest sectors. ...
Socially-conscious investing of a different sort?
Well, for a fact or two, The Beirut Wall Isn't Falling
, Lebanon is not Ukraine
and it is not democracy that's on the march in the Middle East
. And while remembering all those arguments made 1,500 deaths ago
--not to mention those so far uncounted but estimated at 100,000+ civilian deaths
--let it be, all the while the Iraq War compels Pentagon to rethink Big-Picture Strategy
, it is that American military intevention which makes America as a Revolutionary Force
in the Middle East, according to some. Meanwhile, Kishore Mahbubani
, author of Beyond the Age of Innocence: Rebuilding Trust between America and the World
lists Five Strategic Mistakes
the West has made which continue to destabilize the Islamic world. Along related lines, comes The Origins of
al Qaeda’s Ideology: Implications for US Strategy
Sound bites, wishful thoughts and stage managed demonstrations aside, could it be something more thoughtful might be required? Say, like, Understanding Islamism ? (Now available in new slow acting convenient Word or pdf form)
Say, Which War Is This Anyway ?
is an provocative proponent of the American Empire
theory, indeed. Here are excerpts from his Blow Back: The Cost And Consequences of American Empire
I heard Johnson interviewed on Episode II, War And Conflict In The Post-Cold War, Post-9/11 Era
of The Whole Wide World
The Cold War and its central conflict - the physical and ideological battles between the United States, the Soviet Union and their proxy states - imposed a certain logic and consistency on the world. Take that away and add the bloody wars in the Balkans, Africa and the Middle East in the ‘90s as well as the terror attacks and warnings of more recent times and you get a very confused picture of a world at war. Is this breaking storm in Iraq about oil, democracy, freedom, empire, culture, water, diamonds, modernizing Islam or nation building in the Middle East? Some, one or all of these things?
It was an excellent program and well worth your listen, either by RA now or mp3 later. (From listening to the radio)
Mideast vs West.
From a conservative-libertarian point of view, what's wrong in the Muslim world, what caused 9-11, and how to fix it. Even if you don't agree with the author's conclusions (maybe especially
if you don't agree with the author's conclusions) the piece is worth reading, as an exceptionally clear and forceful articulation of these ideas.
Link found on Arts & Letters Daily
Once Insular Americans Now Studying Up on The World
According to this LA Times article, Americans are suddenly getting interested in the world outside its borders, with a special emphasis on Islam and the Middle East. How about you? Run into any websites or books that help make sense of it all? link via AllAboutGeorge via mefi text ad
Israel is not the real issue
the piece speaks for itself. Many have blamed our foreign policy, our support of Israel, our bombing of Iraq. This view sees a different issue and confrontation.
Osama Bin-Laden confederate due to be sentenced tomorrow.
Saudi citizen Mohammed al'Owhali, convicted for arranging the 1998 US Embassy bombings in Africa, is due to be sentenced on September 12, 2001. From indications, that would be at the US Courthouse in Foley Square
, which is about a mile from the World Trade Center. A possible reason for the timing?