Journalism and Media


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The Atlantic (June 16) has a powerful piece by Uri Friedman on Donald Trump’s rampant Muslim bashing with responses by six Muslim commentators and scholars. It is well worth reading.

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Commentary on MENA Tidningen.

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My latest post from Lund…

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The Ankara bombing: Presaging the end of the Turkish Republic?

What we have witnessed in the last two years, culminating in the horrible scenes of 10 October in Ankara, is the end of the Turkish Republic as we know it. A commentary by Umut Ozkirimli

There is something fundamentally wrong with the journalistic coverage of the twin blasts at a peace rally in Ankara – the deadliest terror attack on Turkish soil – which left more than a hundred people dead (128 according to the unofficial tally of the People′s Democracy Party, HDP), several hundred wounded and an almost ″anomic″ country behind. As if writing a detective story or crime novel, most commentators begin by asking the ″who″ question, religiously following the basic rules of the genre and creating suspense for the sensation-seeking audience – after all, the killer is usually unknown until well after the initial investigation is completed.

This is the burden of Simon Tisdall′s otherwise insightful commentary on the Ankara attacks in ″The Guardian″ which points to the Islamic State, the ultra-nationalist Grey Wolves or other right-wing groups within Turkey′s security apparatus as the most likely culprits. One might add, as the caretaker Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu did, the PKK and the left-wing DHKP-C to this list, not to mention foreign intelligence agencies for the conspiracy-minded. Yet the question is redundant, if not entirely spurious, considering the immediate and the broader context in which the bombing took place.
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Welcome to the Abou Naddara Collection website!

This website offers the complete newspapers published by the Egyptian nationalist James Sanua (يعقوب صنوع, 1839-1912) from 1878 to 1910. In addition, formerly unpublished manuscripts by the same author, articles from newspapers of the period about the journalist and his oeuvre, as well as the decorations he received are also available. Most of the material was directly scanned from the originals published at the turn of the 19th to the 20th century, and therefore contains an ample variety of magnificent and colorful lithographs.

It was financed by the Cluster of Excellence “Asia and Europe in a Global Context” of Heidelberg University and realized in a collaboration of Project B1 “Gauging Cultural Asymmetries: Asian Satire and the Search for Identity in the Era of Colonialism and Imperialism” and the Visual Resources Team of the Cluster’s Heidelberg Research Architecture.

We moderns devour news as if it were a staple food. Gone are the days when one sat down for coffee in the morning with a daily newspaper. There are still newspapers of every flavor, but news is now the product of digital media. And the news cycle grows shorter all the time. During the American Civil War it might take weeks for reports of battles to be reported in the papers. The telegraph and telephone made the news flow a bit faster, but until digital formats news was always at least a day old, if not more. Now many events are instantaneous. Mobile videos of police brutality go viral in minutes. And the sheer number of news and social media sites could easily fill up surfing all 24 hours of the day.

In the old days newspapers were selective in publishing letters to the editor. Really nasty retorts and profanity rarely made it into print. But most sites today leave space for comments from anyone. The results are pathetic. Rational discussion of issues raised is almost non-existent. Curses and lunatic projections are common. I was reading an Al Jazeera article entitled “How is ISIL expanding?” Al Jazeera disclaims all liability for anything posted as comments and well they should.

Below are some of the comments posted (apart from the spam that have nothing to do with the article). The mentality of some of the individuals matches their inability to write in English. Prejudice über alles in cyberspace:

Start cooking the popcorn as sunni and Shia showdown  looms on the horizon. ……All muslime countries  need to be destabilised and turned  into flea infested wastelands. CIA, MOSSAD  and RAW collaboration achieving excellent results.  (more…)

An Impish Desire for Imperial Déjà Vu

Daniel Martin Varisco, MENA Tidningen, May 27, 2015

A recent online commentary by Robert Kaplan for Foreign Policy displays the provocative title: “It’s time to bring imperialism back to the Middle East”. The punch line surfaces in the final paragraph: “Imperialism bestowed order, however retrograde it may have been”. Retrograde? How about brutal?

Let’s see: Mussolini made the trains run on time; Hitler brought Germany out of the humiliation of a World War I defeat; Genghis Khan lengthened the Silk Road by slaughtering just about everyone along the way. So let’s bring back the Shah of Iran, Saddam Hussein, Colonel Qaddafi and all the recently demoted dictators so we can have “order” again, the kind of “order” which is imperially blessed and apparently serves American interests.

Kaplan’s view of Middle Eastern history is about as top-down and lop-sided as you can get. Take the Sublime Porte, for example: “For hundreds of years, Sunnis and Shiites, Arabs and Jews, Muslims and Christians, in Greater Syria and Mesopotamia had few territorial disputes. All fell under the rule of an imperial sovereign in Istanbul, who protected them from each other”, he writes. Really? What romance novel has Kaplan been reading? Was there such love for the Ottoman sultans that no ethnic group ever complained? Did all these subjugated people sleep peacefully at night knowing that the Janissaries would protect them from each other? But why stop with the Ottomans?! The caliphs in Abbasid Iraq must have been all made for a Disney Aladdin movie and their mercenaries nothing short of angels? And what barbarian would have dared speak against the glorious Pax Romana of the Caesars? Forget the out-dated Sermon on the Mount. According to Kaplan, blessed are the Machiavellian despots for only they can enforce peace in the name of order, at least in what used to be called the Holy Land. (more…)

John Esposito at the Alwaleed Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding in the Walsh School of Foreign Service has just provided a unique website to chart the pace of islamophobia in the media,among the general public and in academe. Check out his new site here.

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