Another example of a Western government (this time the British) seemingly incapable of understanding the nuance and shade in the non-Anglo world. How comforting to know that writing about Islam and being critical of the “war on terror” makes one a potential target for government intrusion:
The UK Home Office last week released a study naming the most influential “pro-Islamic” bloggers in an attempt to estimate the scale and influence of Islamic bloggers in the UK.
Published by Contest,the country’s counter-terrorism strategy and its supportive arm – the Research, Information and Communications Unit (Ricu) – the study estimates and trackS the scale and influence of Islamic (and pro-leaning) bloggers who post in English on topics pertaining to politics in and about the UK.
The report also measures the reach of social networking within the Islamic blogging community and provides some form of hierarchical structure to it.
Like the Berkman Center’s mapping of the Arabic-language blogospherethe study used link analysis as a method to determine popularity of certain blogs.
Link analysis is used to map relationships between blogs and other sites by studying the outbound links coming from the sites designated by a study.
However, unlike the Berkman Centre’s study, which focused on the wider Arabic-language blogosphere and encompassed over 35,000 blogs (6,000 of which were then mapped, and 4,000 of which were hand-coded by Arabic-speaking researchers), the Ricu study looked at around 140 blogs.
These were identified (by the primary researcher, using keywords) as “pro-Islamic,” gathered from the blog directories BlogCatalog, Blogorama, (the now defunct) BritBlog, eTalkingHead, and Technorati, and found via keyword searches on Google Blog Search.
The researchers then identified the top 20 blogs for deeper analysis.
But some media analysts have criticised the list as a shot in the dark, which compiled a list of some sites which have little to no relation to Islamic bloggers.
The first blog on the list is that of Ali Eteraz, a Pakistani lawyer and novelist, whose book made it to Oprah’s gilded book list.
He has contributed online for Jewcy, a website which The Guardian called “a cultural icon at the forefront of a new wave of Jewish culture and pride”, and the Huffington Post.
Edip Yuksel, a leader in the American Islamic reform movement, says Eteraz is the last man to be associated with terrorism.
“Listing Ali’s name in a research to track terrorists is a travesty of truth. Muslim intellectuals like Ali are our best hope for global peace, justice and progress,” Yuksel said.