The IslamOnline Affair

Pic of IslamOnline strikers from Flickr user Ahmed Abd El-fatah

Over the last few days, Egyptian media circles have been up in arms about a strike at IslamOnline.net, the portal about Islam, Islamists and politics in the Muslim world. The chief meme being put out by employees and their supporters is that the "moderate" brand of Islam the site had promoted is being pushed out. A new board has come in at the Islamic Message Society of Qatar, which owns the site. Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi, the board chairman and founder, is said to be considering resigning. The new board wants to take the site in a more Salafist direction — for instance, board members objected to mentions of Valentine's Day on the site. All of this info, of course, comes from the strikers so we have to take their word for it, the board is staying mum.

Now, I've always been irked at people describing Qaradawi as a moderate. But IslamOnline, which is not always necessarily so moderate, did put out an excellent media product and fascinating debates about Islamists, notably the Egyptian Muslim Brothers (I suspect that more than a few Brothers work at IslamOnline). I notably remember reading there the most trenchant critique of the Brothers' political party program there, by a leading member of the group. It also has very wide discussion of social and personal problems from an Islamic perspective. Overall, while it wasn't my proverbial cup of tea, it was possibly the most professional new media publication in Egypt, and certainly more "moderate" than Qatari wahhabis (they're not much talked about, but are just as bad as their Saudi counterpart).

The strike thus far has featured a huge sit-in at the Sixth October City office of the site, which was broadcast live online, and vigils. And it's very much the talk of the Egyptian Twittosphere.

There's been some good reporting on this, here are a few links:

Islam On-Strike | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt

Going Off-line | Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt

Daily News Egypt - Full Article (DNE: I thus punish you for not putting the headline of articles in the title of the page.) 

IslamOnline website in crisis as employees in Egypt stage sit-in | World news | guardian.co.uk

Links for 09.17.09 to 09.19.09

A few day's worth...

Orientalism’s Wake: The Ongoing Politics of a Polemic | Very nice collection of essays on Edward Said's "Orientalism" from a variety of supporters, critics, academics including Daniel Varisco, Robert Irwin, Roger Owen, etc.
The Sources of Islamic Revolutionary Conduct | I have not read in detail this small book by a US Air Force analyst, but scanning through it I see rather odd choices. For instance there are long chapters comparing Christianity and modern secularism to the Islamist outlook, except that it's never quite clear whether the latter means the outlook of engaged Islamist activists or ordinary Muslims. There is also copious quoting from Sayyid Qutb's "Milestones" as if it was representative of all Islamic thinking. Someone should give this a detailed look (and I'd be happy to post the result.) [PDF]
Al-Ahram Weekly | Egypt | A clean break | On Cairo's garbage collection crisis.
Irving Kristol, Godfather of Conservatism, Dies - Obituary (Obit) - NYTimes.com | Leaving behind a disastrous intellectual, social, economic and political legacy: alleged liberalism on social issues that shirks from real change, supply-side economics, and of course an imperial war doctrine.
Are Morocco And Algeria Gearing Up For Arms Race? « A Moroccan About the world around him
Big mouth - The National Newspaper | Bernard Heykal on how the strength of al-Qaeda is impossible. Which makes sense, at least if you try to do it from the Bin Laden tapes as all the silly pseudo-analysis of last week showed.
Ikhwanweb :: The Muslim Brotherhood Official English Website | Very much like the new look of the Muslim Brothers' English website, which I hadn't checked in a while. They have a very useful "today's news" feature that can also be used for archives by date.
Al-Ahram Weekly | Economy | Depleting Egypt's reserves | A good article with details on the Egypt-Israel gas deal and why it may be a bad idea in terms of resource management, never mind political and financial sense.
Al-Qaradawi's Fatwa Asharq Alawsat Newspaper (English) | The alleged liberal paid by intolerant Islamists in Riyadh attacks the alleged moderate Islamist paid by Doha:

A news item reported in the Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper revealed that Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi had issued a fatwa prohibiting Iraqis from acquiring US citizenship on the grounds that this is the nationality of an occupier nation. However this fatwa has nothing to do with the reality on the ground, and contains more political absurdity then it does religious guidance. Sheikh al-Qaradawi himself is an Egyptian who possesses Qatari nationality, which was given to him after he opposed the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel. However when an Israeli office was opened in Doha, al-Qaradawi did not renounce his Qatari nationality.

Freed Iraqi shoe thrower tells of torture in jail | World news | guardian.co.uk

| "His brother Uday told Reuters: "Thanks be to God that Muntazer has seen the light of day. I wish Bush could see our happiness. When President Bush looks back and turns the pages of his life, he will see the shoes of Muntazer al-Zaidi on every page.""
BAE to axe 1,100 jobs and close site | Business | guardian.co.uk | So Tony Blair quashed the Yamama inquiry to save jobs (or so he says) but BAe still carries out layoffs?
Seinfeld, Sacha Baron Cohen and Natalie Portman slam Toronto Film Festival protest - Haaretz - Israel News| Some stars come to Israel's side in the tiff over TIFF.
GDC | Economist Conferences| Economist infographic shows public debt around the world.
FT.com / Middle East / Politics & Society - Investors seek to revive faded glory of Cairo | On investment in Downtown Cairo properties and plans for gentrification. Look out for another article on this soon.
No concrete proof that Iran has or has had nuclear programme – UN atomic watchdog | Just a reminder that the press reports have spinned things wrongly - this comes straight from the UN: "17 September 2009 – Refuting a recent media report, the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) today reiterated that the body has no concrete proof that Iran has or has ever had a nuclear weapons programme."
Egypt Islamic Authority Says Women Can Wear Trousers - International News | News of the World | Middle East News | Europe News - FOXNews.com | The world is going to hell -- what next, capris?
BBC NEWS | Middle East | 'Many killed' in Yemen air raid | Serious turn in Yemen's trouble -- bombing a refugee camp!?


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