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Books and Documents

Islam and the Media

Egypt's War on Journalism
Marwan Bishara
Egypt's War on Journalism
Marwan Bishara

In a leaked video aired by Al Jazeera, the general in charge, Abdul-Fattah el-Sisi, took a keen interest in journalism. “It takes a long time before you’re able to affect and control the media,” he said. “We are working on this and we are achieving more positive results, but we have yet to achieve what we want.” But what dictatorship wants to wait? ...

 
Pakistan's YouTube Ban: Proof That the Constitution is non Est
Yasser Latif Hamdani
Pakistan's YouTube Ban: Proof That the Constitution is non Est
Yasser Latif Hamdani

The Pakistani legal system is held hostage by the religious right in this country, which is incapable of thinking rationally. Consequently, even the most progressive judge is hard pressed to uphold the sacred fundamental rights promised to Pakistanis under the constitution…

Education in this country was first destroyed by the ‘White Angrez,’ and now the same is being done by the ‘Black Angrez.’” Never mind that, by that logic, Pakistan began in 1947 with a population that was only 15 per cent literate, and then in eight years that number more than quadrupled — thanks, no doubt, to bureaucrats like Mr Jan — before nefarious English lovers started the decline....

Burn Notice
Nadeem F. Paracha
Burn Notice
Nadeem F. Paracha

Malala’s book, I am Malala, is openly available in book stores in the Sindh and the Punjab provinces, even though initially some private schools decided not to make it a part of their libraries, fearing violence from the extremists. In the KP however, the book has been treated like a live grenade by the province’s government. Though there are hardly any good book stores left in cities like Peshawar, the KP government is hell-bent on keeping the book out....

 

But for years now, a far more insidious practice has crept into the world of both newspaper and television journalism: ‘generic’ pictures of war which do not actually show what the reader or viewer believes he or she is looking at. The pictures are real enough.  They haven’t been doctored or ‘touched up’. But they do not historically belong in the context in which they appear….

 
Hate Speech Online a Growing Problem
Sam Caldwell
Hate Speech Online a Growing Problem
Sam Caldwell

“Anonymity, physical distance, and the openness of online society make the expression of hate more prevalent online than in face to face interactions in society.” However, such expressions continue to manifest in physical form….

Suspended Animation
Amina Jilani
Suspended Animation
Amina Jilani

As was once written a long time ago in our press, a press, which for reasons various has always, even in its heydays of freedom, been subjected to certain censorship flowing from the Constitution and the law and to self-censorship due to threats emanating from militant political parties, religious fanaticism and intolerance, a lack of a sense of humour, or, as now, downright terrorism: “One good thing about censorship is that there is usually some way of getting round it. This is not always true about self-censorship.”....

 

Getting inspiration from this role of the media, different militant groups launched their own media products during the war, which not only helped them attract financial and human resources but also propagated their ideologies and promoted their concept of jihad. They did not trust the privately-owned mainstream print media or the government-run radio and television and preferred established their own media to create a community of firm believers.1 Religious publications were not a new phenomenon in Pakistan. Despite their sectarian and political affiliations, the sphere of these publications was wide -- spanning intellectual debates, religious reforms, dialogue with other faiths, and socio-political issues -- and their readership very limited. It mainly consisted of religious scholars, intellectuals, journalists, writers and students of the relevant subject. But the new media was very narrow in its vision and its target audience was more general. It not only damaged the image of ‘serious religious publications’ but also dealt a fatal blow to the professional ethics of Urdu mainstream media. This new form of media has now taken root and is a parallel media industry in Pakistan. Their publishers claim that if allowed free competition, they can capture the mainstream media market overnight.2

 
A Part-Time Jihadist
Burak Bekdil
A Part-Time Jihadist
Burak Bekdil

We did not call your Prime Minister a jihadist. It was his party fans, and the dictionaries did not give us many choices in translating the word into English (I wish Thesauruses gave us the options “humanist” or “environmentalist” for “mücahit,” but it did not). We have no objection to how Mr. Erdoğan’s loyalists call him. It’s their choice…

 
Workers and ‘New Media’
Farooq Sulehria
Workers and ‘New Media’
Farooq Sulehria

Paradoxically, when the ‘tax on knowledge’ was repealed, the radical press did not flourish; instead it dissolved. On the one hand, it was ‘commercialisation’ of the popular press that entailed sensationalism (to maximise sales). It was also during this period that beats such as crime and sports found their place in the press. These are neutral topics....

 

Based on the results of monitoring the mainstream Israeli media (secular and religious), conducted over two years, this article addresses the most prominent cases of racial incitement against Arabs and Muslims, justified by biblical texts and fake historical facts. Every day, the Israeli public is exposed to ideas in the media which influence their perceptions of Arabs and Muslims and solidify existing negative views….

Aunty Vigilante
Nadeem F. Paracha
Aunty Vigilante
Nadeem F. Paracha

But these days, moralistic vigilantism has not only become a televised affair, it is being conducted by men and women who may find transvestites, dating couples and tipsy cops repulsive, but are likely to spend their free time frequenting cinemas, boogying at weddings and shopping at trendy malls....

 

Recently, a telecom company introduced a mechanism that keeps track of your good deeds through Twitter. I wonder if they are looking towards acquiring an outsourced contract from ‘upstairs’...

 

He gets agitated a bit: ‘Come home early and do what? Watch RAW agents on TV? Stop acting like killer mafia MQM and corrupt PPP, Mom. And where is that liberal fascist?’ Mom is perplexed: ‘Who?’ ‘Dad, Mom, Dad. Where is he?’ ‘He’s watching TV. A re-run of Seinfeld, I think ...’ ‘Liberal fascist! No, fake liberal! Actually fake liberal fascist! No, genuine liberal fascist thus fake liberal ...!

 
Digital Jihad
Razeshta Sethna
Digital Jihad
Razeshta Sethna

Senior Al Qaeda leaders have referred to varied media activity to promote their strategic narrative. With the Afghan war, regional and local militant organisations provided fighters for Afghan Taliban groups and Al Qaeda units, offering training and media collaboration.....

 

The next morning, when the program had been loaded on to the internet, I was astonished to note that the audio level from my end had been turned down so low that my voice was inaudible. However AA was hurling abuses against me and these were coming through loud and clear. I also noted that AA and OMJ would occasionally appear full-screen whereas I was shown as a tiny image even when speaking. This was clear manipulation and bias at the technical level……

 

As is the case when using special codes or symbols to communicate, participants seeking confidentiality avoid using words that get flagged by intelligence agency monitoring networks — such as those of al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, ISIS, al-Zawhri, bin Laden or al-Zarqawi — by substituting them with prearranged code words.....

 
Media: Not So Independent
Farooq Sulehria
Media: Not So Independent
Farooq Sulehria

The media’s ideological role is further demystified when viewed through its political economy. The media’s political economy helps us determine who owns and controls it. While ownership is easy to establish, it is an understanding of the ‘control’ that helps demystify the myth of ‘independent media’. ‘Independent media’, unlike state-run and ‘alternative’ outlets, depends on advertisers….

 

More than the absence of any effective law enforcement actions, the silence of the crony intellectuals of the ruling Awami League, although predictable, is pathetic and painful; they seem to have conveniently overlooked such a blatant violation of the constitutional rights to the freedom of speech and expression, of thought and conscience. Yet, these are the people who wax eloquent when talking on television talks-shows, seminars and symposia, and writing in the print media, about these ideals….

The Empire of Media and Mind
Aijaz Zaka Syed
The Empire of Media and Mind
Aijaz Zaka Syed

The world media today is hopelessly owned and controlled by a few US and Europe-based corporations and moneybags. So if most of the western media networks appear biased against Arabs and Muslims, as often seen in the Palestine-Israel narrative, it makes sense. Leading lights of the all-powerful Israeli lobby either have a stake in US newspapers and television networks or simply bully them with their financial and political clout.....

 

Facebook pages and Twitter accounts remain active disseminating hate speech, vilifying democratic institutions or calling for annihilation of Shias and Ahmadis. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan remains active online as do anti-Shia outfits . Lastly, a national debate is needed to ascertain if puritan bureaucrats or opportunist politicians should be the ultimate judge and jury to arbitrarily define ‘morality’, ‘obscenity; and ‘blasphemy’. Most importantly, why has the fact that the internet is being policed been such a hush-hush affair!.....

I mean, it just sounds a little too ridiculous, doesn’t it? Terrorists Snap chatting, having Android battery trouble, or Skyping with their bosses about their perfect fitting bomb vest over a cup of Quahwa? Speaking of Skype, here are some #TerroristSkypeIDs I found on Twitter. (Please don’t block Twitter, okay, Sindh government?)...

 
Environmental Jihad
Shajuti Hossain

One must think twice, maybe three times, before using religious terminology. Words that are commonly used in the media to describe “religiously motivated” acts of violence are of special concern….

 

Unfortunately, this isn’t true of Shah Jahan, a most secretive man on whom there isn’t as much published. Perhaps, this was deliberate, given the bloody fashion in which he came to power, with the slaughter of all his brothers, and the grief he came to in the end under his son, who in turn, killed two of his brothers and forced the third to flee the country. But it is a shame....

 
Muslim Press in India and the Bangladesh Crisis
Professor C. M. NAIM
Muslim Press in India and the Bangladesh Crisis
Professor C. M. NAIM

No radical change occurred in the thinking of the Indian Muslims either. Their immediate reaction to the various developments in the crisis were, as we saw above, more imbued with fundamentalism in some respects than the responses of the Pakistanis. One got the feeling that the thinking of a significant and large group of Indian Muslims was still very much governed by two potentially most dangerous notions, namely: (1) there is one Muslim nation, one Muslim language, and one Muslim culture; and (2) those who are not with them in these beliefs are against them, and, therefore, against Islam itself.

It was similar irrational thinking that had led them, prior to 1947, to give overwhelming support to the demand for Pakistan, a demand that allegedly arose out of a desire to protect Muslim minorities but which in its fulfilment left them high and dry. That demand got the support that it did because it appealed to the Indian Muslims' belief that, having "ruled over India for one thousand years," they could only be either kings (in Pakistan) or king-makers (in India). Mr. Jinnah asked the Indian Muslims to unite for Pakistan, without offering them any details of what that Pakistan was going to be like. "Unite and remain separate from the non-Muslim, who should have no say in Muslim affairs," that was the cry in those days. That still seems to be the cry raised by a large number of the leading elements in the community.  

It is a dismal picture indeed.

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