The Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) is an initiative undertaken by the Middle East Institute which is designed to serve two broad objectives:

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia by providing information and analysis on cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications; and

2. To foster collaborative research and other activities regarding Middle East-Asia relations through establishing an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

The Cyber Library contains publication details, abstracts and live links to full text versions of previously published works on Middle East-Asian affairs organized by country and by topic/issue.

The Experts Directory contains the profiles and contact details of a worldwide network of academics, business leaders, diplomats, journalists, researchers and other practitioners affiliated with the MAP.

The Infographics project element consists of periodically updated charts, tables and timelines depicting key trends and developments in trade, investment, migration, and other spheres of cross-regional activity.

The Publications element is organized as follows: (more…)

During World War II the Smithsonian Institution issued a number of “War Background Studies.” I recently came across #18 in this series entitled Peoples of India by William H. Gilbert, Jr. (Washington D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, April 29, 1944). I was struck by the archaic presentation of images and the overtly Orientalist writing of Gilbert, who is billed as a “Specialist in Sociology and Anthropology, Legislative Reference Series, Library of Congress” and posted an excerpt from his Introduction in a previous post. The following comments are in reference to this earlier post.

First, the old saw that a picture is worth a thousand words is as apt today as ever. In the last post the image provided there (and again above) of a British “sojourner” in a palanquin shows the Brit, prone and pith helmut at his side, staring outside his box of privilege, while there are two bare-chested bearers in front and two behind. What a compelling metaphor for the colonial view of India. There is no direct engagement between the foreigner and the people; they are merely there to take him from place to place by hand. Ironically, the caption notes that the palanquin is no longer used since the arrival of the railroad, so this image becomes a vestigial reminder of how the present occupies the past for its own comfort. Int his case the white man’s burden is turned upside down; the white man is quite literally the burden here.

Second, notice the adjectival mode in the paragraphs cited in the previous post. (more…)

Twenty six year old Saira Liaqat poses for the camera, while holding a picture of her former self before her betrothed doused her face with acid.

Scarred by acid in Bangladesh

By Nicolas Haque in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Al-Jazeera, July 11, 2009

Rahima Begum, a young woman in the village of Kaligonj in the northwest of Bangladesh, turned down the romantic advances of a neighbour and paid dearly for it.

In the dead of night, while she was asleep, her neighbour poured acid over her face, leaving her disfigured for life.

“I may be still alive but he took my life away, I have become the shame of my family and of my village. I have no where to go,” she says.

According to official figures, there are only around 200 acid-related crimes reported every year in Bangladesh. (more…)


by Hasan Mahmud,, November 20, 2008.

On October 30, 2008, the United Nations condemned the stoning to death of Aisha Duhulow, a 13-year-old girl who had been gang-raped and then sentenced to death by a Sharia court for fornication (Zina). She was screaming and begging for mercy, but when some family members attempted to intervene, shots were fired by the Islamic militia and a baby was killed.

Local Sharia courts in Bangladesh regularly punish raped minor girls and women by flogging and beating them with shoes.[1] Similar cases of punishing raped women are Mina v. the State, Bibi v. the State and Bahadur v. the State.[2] Sharia courts in Pakistan have punished thousands of raped women by long term imprisonment.[3]

You might think that such horrific barbarity cannot be the real Sharia law; that it is a misapplication of the law by ignorant clergy. Sadly, neither is true. (more…)

A year ago from August 8-13 an international conference on “Music in the World of Islam” was held in Assilah, Morocco, jointly sponsored by The Assilah Forum Foundation (Assilah, Morocco) and the Maison des Cultures du Monde (Paris, France). The papers from this conference are now available in pdf format online. Music and dance are described for Afghanistan, Algeria, Andalusia, Azerbeijan, Bangladesh, Bosnia, Central Asia, East Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Iran, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Morocco, Russia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen.

A description of the conference is described by its main organizer, Pierre Bois: (more…)

[Illustration: Ayaan Hirsi in the Theo Van Goghin film, left;alleged preparation of woman for stoning, right.]

In a New York Times op-ed published yesterday by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a controversial Dutch Somali, a relevant and timely question is asked: Where are Muslim moderates when misogynist renderings of Islam sweep the media? She has a point in noting the relative absence of condemnation of three recent tabloid news items. There is the Shi’a woman in Qatif, raped by several Shi’a men, and herself branded (to the barbaric tune of 200 lashes) guilty by a Sunni Wahhabi court for “mingling” with a man not her husband. Then the hug-my-teddy-bear-but-don’t-mention the-prophet’s-name fiasco over a naive British teacher in Sudan, and finally the case of Taslima Nasreen, a Bangladeshi writer vilified for her feminist writings that approach the controversial barzakh of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. So where are the moderates? For Ms. Ali they are phantom progressives, too blinded by their loyalty to the faith and fearful of telling truth to Muslim power. Here is her assessment:

It is often said that Islam has been “hijacked” by a small extremist group of radical fundamentalists. The vast majority of Muslims are said to be moderates. (more…)


[Illustration by Nazli Madkour for Arabian Nights and Days.]

One of my dear friends in New York City is Sid Shiff, a retired investment banker who runs the Limited Editions Club (LEC). Founded by George Macy in 1929, the LEC has become the finest private press in the US under Sid’s guidance. They have published volumes such as Rimbaud’s A Season in Hell with illustrations by Robert Mapplethorpe, an edition of Cosi Fan Tutte with illustrations by Balthus, and poems by Octavio Paz illustrated by Robert Motherwell. After the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Sid wanted to do something to promote art from the Muslim world. For me, that was a profound gesture, reacting to hate with compassion, not simply returning the hate. (more…)