Focus: The Muslim World & the Internet


Dr. Eugenia Siapera
Networked Palestine. Exploring Power in Online Palestinian Networks

This article is concerned with the question of power in Web 2.0 networks. It focuses on the issue of Palestine, and seeks to show the new power configurations in these kinds of network. Implied in the rhetoric of Web 2.0 is that power and hierarchy are somehow diffused, decentralized, and to an extent also disabled. Within this often celebratory language, there is a tendency to dismiss power structures and hierarchies as no longer relevant in the days of network organisation. This paper poses therefore the question of power in an explicit way, seeking to trace its new configurations within Web 2.0 applications. In empirical terms, the question of power will be discussed in a case study looking at ‘Palestine’ in the context of Web 2.0. The choice of Palestine is significant: in a global geopolitical environment which has turned Palestine into an underdog, fighting an uneven fight, considerably disadvantaged and impoverished, the blogosphere offers an apparently more egalitarian space within which it can voice its concerns. But are the networks developed really egalitarian? Where is power located within these networks, and what are its accomplishments for Palestine? This paper will address these questions through studying a Palestinian issue network and a blogging network. In both cases, three main questions will be asked: Who (or what) has power over the network? What is the power of the network? What are the power dynamics within the network? The findings suggest that offline power structures and hierarchies both enable and limit Palestinian networks. Secondly, that the actual efficacy of the networks under study is limited, and finally, that while the blogging network appears to be egalitarian this is probably because it is a network of similar blogs operated by people of very similar educational and cultural background.

Networks, Palestine, Blogosphere, Internet

Jan Scholz, Tobias Selge, Max Stille, Johannes Zimmermann
Listening to more than Islam.
Approaching identities through the auditive dimension of podcasts

Trying to reach beyond essentialist concepts often employed in the field of Internet-related Islamicist research, this article wants to suggest an approach to Islam-related online contents that focuses on the specificities of the different media available to the producers of such contents and on the decisions of the latter related to this diversity. The approach will be illustrated by analysing the oral and performative aspects of the audio medium podcast represented by a number of selected podcasts featuring Islamic contents and produced by Muslim groups and individuals.

Islam, Podcasts, Internet

Matthias Brückner
Ein islamisches Tabakverbot?
Untersuchung anhand moderner islamischer Rechtsgutachten

Some Islamic jurists try to establish a prohibition of tobacco by way of analogy to the intoxicating effect of alcohol. This remains doubtful because an intoxicating effect of smoking does not exist. Smoking rather does harm to the body than to the spirit. As fatwas have a strong interactive aspect, they fit in very well with the Internet. Since 1995, myriads of fatwa online services have come into life. Meanwhile, the number of online fatwas is uncountable. It is estimated that the number is at least higher than 100,000. The Internet makes the differences of opinion more visible. A contradicting opinion may be “just one mouse click away.” The habits of a mufti may influence his opinion as well. Muftis who are smokers themselves just have the option to allow the use of tobacco, such as e. g., Ayatollah Khui.

Islam, Tabak, Rechtsgutachten

Dr. Abdel Hakim K. Al Husban, Dr. Mahmood Na'amneh
Primordial Ties Vis-à-Vis Citizenship: The Particularity of the Jordanian City

This paper seeks to investigate the vital role played by the primordial attachments which are based on ties of blood, race, language, region, and religion in shaping the Jordanian society and identity. In a society like Jordan, which is labelled as a tribal society and is largely produced and reproduced by primordial loyalties and attachments, concepts of the individual and citizenship seem almost non-existent. Throughout this paper, it is argued that unlike the European city, the Jordanian city has played a crucial role in producing, reproducing, maintaining and reinforcing tribal affiliations and identities. Moreover, the paper illustrates the essentialist mosaic and segmentary models of collective identity which are adopted by Western scholars in particular when studying the Arab world including the Jordanian society.

Jordan, Citizenship, Language, Religion