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Archive for September 2015

September 28, 2015. In the light of the present barbaric violence and drastically destructive war that devastates Syria and Iraq by the Syrian regime, on one side, and all kinds of Islamist jihadi phalanges, on another, many local Middle Easterners and Western decision-takers and opinion-makers call for protecting the minorities in the region and encourage them to form a united front of ‘alliance of minorities’ to defend themselves and grant their survival in the region. In this presentation, Dr. Awad attempted to pause at the use of the term ‘minority’ and scrutinized its factual meaning in the light of the real context that originated the revolution in Syria. He demonstrates that in the Syrian sitz im leben, the notion of ‘minority’ is definitely neither numerical nor confessionalist in nature. It is the outcome of a minoritization policy that was exerted on Syria by the ruling regime.  In the light of perceiving the ‘policy of minoritization’, which Dr. Awad sheds light on, he ends the presentation with an assessment of the ‘alliance of minorities’ trend that stems out of the above mentioned call for protecting the minorities, calling the Christians and other minorities in the region to avoid this trend and beware of its dire danger.  

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In 1914, after the Ottoman Empire joined the axis powers, German leaders convinced Ottoman rulers to declare a “Holy War” that sought to incite colonial subjects in European territories to rebel against their colonial rulers. The holy war call went out in the first weeks of November 1914 and targeted over 130 million Muslim subjects living under French, British and Russian imperial rule. These colonial territories stretched from South Asia to North Africa, including Egypt, Persia, and the Muslim populations of the Russian Empire. Although the United States was still officially neutral in the war, some Americans worried that this call for a unified Muslim rebellion would incite Muslim subjects in their own colonial territories in the Philippines to rebel against American rule. Having just recently succeeded in ending its protracted war against Filipino Muslim insurgents the previous year, Americans both in the Philippines and in the United States were particularly sensitive to any threats to this precarious and newly-won peace. This talk examined these reactions but also analyzes how these concerns drew American imperial rulers into larger global discussions about Islam, empire, self-determination, global security, pan-Islamism, and Orientalist narratives of difference. This talk concluded by analyzing how such historical fears came back to resonate once again as Americans feared that Filipino Muslims were contributing to international terrorism in the period after 9/11. It also analyzed the links between earlier and later global discussions of imperial rule over Muslims, surveillance, and the global “threat” of pan-Islamism. 

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