My Education Key Fundraiser at Tawheed Center in Farmington

November 23, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Adil James, TMO

PB190152Sohail Khan of MyEducationKey.com, with many prominent supporters, described his website and performed a fundraiser this past Saturday evening at the Tawheed Center.  About 200 people attended the fundraiser.  Sohail Khan described the MyEducationKey project, emphasizing its themes of being useful to people everywhere, empowering people world-wide with high quality education–for everyone, everywhere.  The website provides all levels of education through video-taped lectures.  Interactive education is available from kindergarten through graduate school, including ACT/SAT prep, and professional development.  Instruction is provided by excellent professors. 

Some of the universities that have already contributed lecture series are MIT, Berkeley, Stanford, Yale, Harvard, and more.

In the future, Mr. Khan explained to TMO, there may be degree programs available and possibly accounting, but for now students pursue their educations on the site on an ad hoc basis.

The site is perfect as a supplement for a separate educational system–high school students (including non-Muslims) through testimonials on the site have explained that they use Myeducationkey to cover holes in their understanding of what they have learned in their full time school.

Several of the evening’s speakers spoke of their deep happiness at being able to, in a sense, attend MIT for the purposes of learning a subject.  People in their sixties expressed the hope that in fact the site provided a way for them to continue to learn.

The site already has very impressive statistics.  13,500 video lessons have been uploaded to the site.  47,000 lectures have been watched.  The site has received 800,000 hits.  Students, (university and primary/secondary), in the US, Pakistan, India, and China, have sought knowledge through the site.

Future plans for the site include global outreach, courses of professional development, teachers being able to create their own courses, mobile apps, multiple languages, virtual classrooms, and much much more.

This is a project helpful to all of humanity that was started by Muslim insights and contributions, a 501(c)(3) organization.

Several educators including Dr. Mohammed Syed, Dr. Nasser Ahmed, and Mr. Saleem Khalid spoke of their admiration for the project.

If you are interested in donating, please visit myeducationkey.com.

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End in Sight to Lebanon’s Crippling Internet Problem

October 6, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Oliver Holmes

2011-10-05T172718Z_162890397_GM1E7A6045E01_RTRMADP_3_LEBANON-INTERNET

An engineer is seen working on Microwave seamless connectivity equipment, at the rooftop of TerraNet heaquarters, an Internet Service Provider (ISP), in Beirut October 5, 2011. On Saturday, the Ministry of Telecommunications introduced a new, high-speed and cheaper Internet plan for private Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell on to customers. The plan aims to reduce end-user prices for digital subscriber lines (DSL) by 80 percent, while raising speeds up to eight times. 

REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

BEIRUT, Oct 5 (Reuters) – For Sara Darwiche, it has been more than problematic running her fast-paced Internet company out of Lebanon, a country with Internet access that is among the worst in the world.

The “invite only” website ChouChic.com gives its members the opportunity to buy surplus stocks of fashionable clothes at discounted prices. It works on the idea that the scarcity of the clothes coupled with the time limit on sales — 48 hours to a week — will nurture impulse buying and push up sales. The strategy is called flash selling.

But for ChouChic’s main customers, who are Lebanese, there is nothing flashy about buying online here.

“Sometimes the website cuts and people think the sale is over. It really affects the quality,” she told Reuters. “We open our sales everyday at noon and for some reason the Internet usually cuts out then for five minutes.”

For a company aiming to sell the majority of stock in the first ten minutes of a sale opening, connectivity issues can be devastating.

“We needed a lot of modifications to compensate for the slow Internet,” she said, adding that the website was now hosted in the United States. “For luxury fashion, it needs to look like the goods are in front of you so the resolution of the photos needs to be high. But we had to lower the resolution as upload speeds were too slow.”

Lebanon is regarded as a fortress of Arab entrepreneurship, with a vibrant services sector and a business community that is famed for its unyielding tenacity even during the depths of war. But sluggish and expensive Internet has been an embarrassing blot on the economy, and Internet-based companies such as ChouChic are rare.

On Saturday, the Ministry of Telecommunications introduced a new, high-speed and cheaper Internet plan for private Internet Service Providers (ISP) to sell on to customers. The plan aims to reduce end-user prices for digital subscriber lines (DSL) by 80 percent, while raising speeds up to eight times.

If it is implemented smoothly, the plan will provide relief to hundreds of thousands of Lebanese Internet users and could boost economic growth. But for years to come, the economy may bear the scars of the political bickering, vested financial interests and negligence that kept Lebanon in the slow lanes of the information superhighway.

MISSED OPPORTUNITIES

“While other countries in the region have capitalised on (the Internet), we have missed it,” said Nassib Ghobril, chief economist of the Byblos Bank Group.

“They have moved ahead of us and now have a comparative advantage. A lot of companies that rely on the Internet look elsewhere to base themselves.”

Ookla, a company that tests Internet speeds around the world, has often ranked Lebanon last on its global Net Index, and the country has generally been lower down than many less developed nations such as Afghanistan and Burkina Faso.

“Lebanon is a services economy and society. Not having Internet is like not having foreign languages,” Khaldoun Farhat, CEO of private ISP provider Terranet, said at his offices opposite Beirut’s port.

Farhat has repeatedly tried to bypass what he calls a “narrow view” of the Internet by the Ministry of Telecommunications. He bought Internet capacity from satellites, made failed requests to buy bandwidth from nearby Cyprus, and tried to import his own Internet equipment which got stuck at customs, he says, for over a year.

“When I wake up, the first thing I think about is, will we get increased capacity today?” he said.

Businessman Mark Daou spent the last few months campaigning for faster internet through a Facebook group titled “Lebanese Want Fast Internet”, which has almost 50,000 supporters.

“Slow speeds affect me in the advertising business as all our resources are on the Internet. Especially now as many of our clients are asking for a lot of online advertising,” he said.

“I have to wait for Saturday night, when Internet usage is low, to upload files to Saudi and Dubai.”

Lebanon has long had the physical capacity to supply cheap, high-speed Internet; in December 2010 a 13,000 km (8,000 mile) submarine fiber optic cable linking the country to India, the Middle East and Western Europe began operating. But access to the cable was delayed until July by bickering between the Ministry of Telecommunications and Ogero, the government’s land-line provider, over usage rights.

The dispute was considered politically motivated as the ministry and Ogero are controlled by opposing sides of Lebanon’s political spectrum, which is deeply divided by religion, sect and economic ideology.

“In the telecoms sector, everyone wants a piece of the pie. It’s a cash cow,” Daou said. “The sector is almost completely controlled by the government. It has 80 percent of the market and the private sector cannot buy fixed licences. Private companies have to renew their Internet licence every year.”

A lack of revenue sources in other economic sectors, Daou said, has made the government see the Internet as an important source of funds. “The government was the only supplier. They needed the money to finance the treasury. It was generating money and nobody was complaining,” he said.

Lebanese Minister of Telecommunications Nicolas Sehnawi told Reuters that successive governments were unable to push through laws to cheapen and speed up connectivity.

“Other (fiber optic) cables in the region were connected before. In those countries, the internal governments have more manoeuverability. We have had big periods of paralysis.”

Last week, a 1 megabit per second (Mbps) connection, the second-fastest option at the time, cost around $76 per month. Under the new pricing plan, a 1 Mbps connection will be the slowest option available and cost around $16.

Economists and business leaders say the economic benefits could be considerable. They quote a 2008 report commissioned by the Ministry of Finance which estimated 10 percent growth in broadband penetration would increase gross domestic product by as much as 1.5 percent.

ChouChic’s Darwiche said she was looking forward to upgrading her website. “We are going to add many functions and the images are going to be a lot clearer.”

Two major ISPs which rely on Ogero for bandwidth supply, Terranet and IDM, have already upgraded their Internet services to comply with the new plan.

Even now, however, there is still concern among some private ISPs that Ogero, which controls around 80 percent of Lebanon’s Internet cables, will delay further in providing the upgraded service.

“There is not a single person in the country that can obstruct the decision. It will be implemented in a matter of hours and days,” Sehnawi said on Saturday in response to such allegations.

But a poll conducted by the “Lebanese Want Fast Internet” Facebook group found only 11 percent of the 1,631 people who replied said they had their DSL packages upgraded to higher speeds over the weekend.

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Terrorism in Norway: Connections to US Extremists Geller & Spencer

July 28, 2011 by · 2 Comments 

By Bill Warner

NORWAY/

Norway’s Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store (R) addresses inside the World Islamic Mission Mosque as Crown Prince Haakon (L) looks on in Oslo, July 26, 2011.

REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

Anders Behring Breivik was was/is deeply involved with the “Counter-Jihad” blogosphere of Pamela Geller and her Atlas Shrugs website and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch along with UK far right groups such as the EDL and the “Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE) Norway’. Stop the Islamization of Europe (SIOE) Norway is directly linked to NYC extreme right wing blogger Pamela Geller and her Stop the Islamization of America (SIOA) http://sioaonline.com/

The Norwegian daily VG quoted one of Breivik’s friends saying that he had become a right wing extremist in his late 20s and was now a strong opponent of multi-culturalism, expressing strong nationalistic views in online debates. Breivik had talked admiringly about conversations he had had with unnamed English Defence League (EDL) members and the organisation Stop the Islamification of Europe over the success of provocative street actions leading to violence.

“I have on some occasions had discussions with SIOE and EDL and recommended them to use certain strategies,” he wrote two years ago.  “The tactics of the EDL are now to ‘lure’ an overreaction from the Jihad Youth/Extreme-Marxists, something they have succeeded in doing several times already.” Contacted about the allegation by email by last night the EDL had not answered.

According the website Atlantic.com, Anders Behring Breivik expressed extremist Islamophobic views on forums and criticised immigration policies. He argued on a Swedish news website that the media were not critical enough about Islam and claimed that Geert Wilders’ Party for Freedom in the Netherlands was the only ‘true’ party of conservatives.

Norway mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is the white face of the Anti-Muslim right wing nut world inspired by Pamela Geller of “Atlas Shrugs” and Robert Spencer of “Jihad Watch”, told you so about these people.

Time for the FBI to shut down Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s SIOA hate macine. SIOA/SIOE/EDL Neo Nazi Summit in Europe this Summer Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller To Officiate The Hate Fest in France Que Up The Riot Police.

Anders Behring Breivik regularly posted on a Norwegian right-wing site called http://www.document.no/ in 2009 and 2010, the editor of the site Hans Rustad said, SEE BELOW, Anders Behring Breivik’s comments about Pamela Geller and Robert Spencer’s Jihad Watch the EDL and SIOE, Document.no posting 2010-02-17 back to 2009-09-07;

“I (Anders Behring Breivik) feel it is important to create a pan-European platform for rhetoric / objectives / policy analysis / research of historical factors relevant to so and transfer this knowledge to every nation. It pan-Europeiske/US environment Robert Spencer (Jihad Watch), Fjordman, Atlas (Pamela Geller), Analekta + 50 other EU / U.S. bloggers (and Facebook groups) is the epicenteret for policy analysis and has been for some years.

I recommend to you all also strongly recommended to extend Facebook their networks, using the daily quota of 50 invitations to connect with Brits, French, Swedes, etc. Join groups that SIOE – Stop the Islamisation of Europe, Against Multiculturalism, join Progress Party. Watch the web pages “gates of vienna”, “brussels journal”, “Jihad Watch“, “religion of peace” etc. Read Fjord Man’s work “Defeating Eurabia”. This is as the perfect Christmas gift for family and friends.

All remember the July riots in Marseilles and other French cities where the media were instructed not to report the news, see (Pamela Geller “Atlas shrugs”) http://atlasshrugs2000.typepad.com/atlas_shrugs/2009/07/media-blackout-violence-infrance.html

The whole conflict between GDP and EDL (English Defense League) started with a change of leadership in the EDL for a few months ago. They threw out the racist and denounced the BNP. They chose instead SIOE’s ideological basis that is more or less mainstream view on the right side in Western Europe now (Vienna School of Thought).

Nick was very offended and began to demonize the EDL. Although they are now attacking each other as they compete not at all as these are two quite different fronts. 90% of all votes in the EDL continued GDP (Since this is the only alternative to multikulti in the UK) and 90% of GDP supports EDL regardless of what Nick had to think.

Second, Labour governs intelligence service. They had never in his life supported the EDL as these create a lot of positive attention for the cultural conservative movement in the UK. I have on some occasions discussed with SIOE and EDL and recommended them to use conscious strategies.

EDL is an example and a Norwegian version is the only way to prevent Flash / SOS to harass Norwegian cultural conservatives from other fronts. Creating a Norwegian EDL should be No.3 on the agenda after we have started up a cultural conservative newspaper with national distribution.

There are political forces in Oslo who want to mass-act subsidized / low cost “Islam-blocks” in Oslo West for “better integration“. As far as I know, only the Progress Party / Conservatives who oppose the moment so it can actually become a reality over the next decade. Can you name ONE country where multiculturalism is successful where Islam is involved?

I have great respect for how the Marxist-humanist networks in Norway are able to use their power optimally through “force Multiplication” and cooperation. They are insanely hard-working, skilled in the consolidation and hard-working and most on the right side has a lot to learn from them.

I myself am a Protestant and baptized / confirmed to me by my own free will when I was 15. But today’s Protestant church is a joke. Priests in jeans who march for Palestine and churches that look like the minimalist shopping centers. I am a supporter of an indirect collective conversion of the Protestant church back to the Catholic. In the meantime, I vote for the most conservative candidates in church elections.

Lou Dobbs of CNN was hit by the unofficial section and he ultimately chose to go. It is not unlikely that he was forced out because he changed his ideological standpoint in the course of his career. He became more and more critical of Muslim mass immigration to the U.S. which was not consistent with CNN’s politically correct line.”

Bill Warner Sarasota Private Investigator www.wbipi.com.

“Mideast Tunes” Jams for Change

June 30, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, TMO

“We work against repression, discrimination and persecution” ~ Mideast Youth

guitarsIt’s no secret that the recent “Arab Awakening”, which has already toppled a couple of Middle East governments and sent others into a tailspin, could never have reached such epic proportions as it has without the Internet and specifically social media outlets. Countless numbers of protests and mass amounts of information have been catapulted into the global arena, courtesy of bloggers and social media activists. The power of the Internet has proven to be a force to be reckoned with–much to the chagrin of governments seeking to quash its effect. For the youth, in particular, social media is not only an excellent way to share information but it is also a vital way to cope with the anger and frustration that comes as a direct result of the political upheaval.

Most youths in the Middle East have to deal with political turmoil from the time they are born and many, unfortunately, will have to grapple with it right up until their deaths. For this reason many youths turns to different forms of self-expression, such as art or music, to cope.  Some politically active youths have taken to the underground to create unique music stylings that would be unwelcome, and in many cases illegal, in the mainstream media of their specific country. For years, the underground politically “amp-ed” music scene of the Middle East was one that was rarely seen and even less heard. But thanks to MidEast Youth, which is a grassroots cyber social activism network based in the Middle East, more and more youths have a welcome platform to share their politically-inspired music with the world.

In 2010 Mideast Youth launched Mideast Tunes, which is an online cyber stage that showcases the musical talents of various underground solo artists and bands in the Middle East. According to the mission statement on its website, “Mideast Tunes is dedicated to providing a platform for emerging musicians in the Middle East. Our aim is to encourage, inspire and expose talented young artists across the region.” The genres featured on the site range from heavy metal to hip-hop and everything in between. Some of the current artists featured include ‘Sop’ which is a hip-hop band based in Palestine and ‘Disturb the Balance’ which is an alternative rock band based in Saudi Arabia. The tunes may be different but all of the artists featured on Mideast Tunes share the same plight to create viable and positive social change with their music.

The website does not charge users or bands a fee for features to ensure that everyone has the freedom share their voice. However, it does rely heavily on donations to keep it up and running.

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Saudi Arabia Detains Bloggers over Protest: Activists

April 28, 2011 by · Leave a Comment 

JEDDAH (Reuters) – Authorities in Saudi Arabia have detained two Shi’ite bloggers this week for taking part in demonstrations in the country’s oil-producing Eastern Province, a Shi’ite website and activists said on Wednesday.

The Sunni Muslim monarchy of Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter and major U.S. ally, does not tolerate any form of dissent. It has not seen the kind of mass uprisings other countries in the region have over the past few months.

But minority Shi’ite Muslims in the Eastern Province, who have long complained of discrimination — a charge the government denies — have staged small demonstrations, which have led to some protesters being detained.

Shi’ite website, www.rasid.com, said on Wednesday police had stormed the houses of Mustafa al-Mubarak, 26, and Hussein al-Hashem, 25, arrested them and confiscated their computers,
The website also said a 58-year-old man named Samir Aldahim was also detained for taking part in the demonstrations.

A spokesperson for the Eastern Province police could not be reached for comment.

“The series of arrests are still continuing today,” said one activist who declined to be named for fear of being detained.

“Even ordinary people have been detained for taking part in demonstrations. They are summoned while at work or taken from their homes,” he said.

A Human Rights Watch report issued this month said Saudi Arabia had arrested over 160 activists since February.

“In this last week there were no less then 10 detentions, and they were all transferred to jail. Their families believe it is because they have participated in demonstrations,” the activist said.

(Reporting by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Sophie Hares)

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Kuwait Exposed

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

ScreenShot003 Keeping secrets is a centuries-old ritual that typically occurs between friends and foes alike, held in a sacred trust that is often dependent upon just how juicy the ‘dirt’ is you have on one another. By definition, a secret is simply something that you don’t want someone else to know. Unfortunately, most people spill their secrets to a trusted friend or confidant and often find that the secret is not always kept in the confidence it was intended. If the secret revelations of some high-profile celebrities splashed all over the news in recent months is any indicator, the leaking of other people’s dirty laundry is big business.

Despite the conservative nature of the Middle East, most of the populace has just as many secrets as their western counterparts do. However, the spillage of secrets in the Middle East is not as ‘foot loose and fancy free’ as it is in the West. Certain secrets can land people in the slammer or worse. So, for many, they have little choice but to keep their secrets tucked safely inside where they slowly eat away at their very core.

For this reason alone, a string of secret exposing and tattle-telling websites have popped up on Kuwait-operated servers to help people in the tiny Gulf state clear out whatever skeletons they have lurking in their closet. The most recent website called ‘Kuwait Exposed’ was launched this past week. The website is very simplistic in nature, as minimalist as it is supposedly confidential. No one really knows the face, or faces, behind it. And the website’s mission statement leaves everything to the imagination, albeit in very questionable English, “Think of this place as a confession box, a place where you can share whatever you cant share out there in the real world. No one will know you, but you’ll get that junk of trash out of your mind. Sometimes things cant be shared with no one, its hard to, feel free to share whatever on your mind on here, this is our confession box. Let go on now, throw it all up!”

A foray into the posts is quite revealing and a bit painful as human tragedy is brought up close and personal. There is something a bit disconcerting about reading about the deep dark secrets of others. One anonymous poster shares, “Like every high school, there are always the girls who gossip and spread harsh rumors. Well, I was one of them and ruined someone’s high school days. She was practically the most beautiful girl on campus, with the most awkward personality among the other girls. With only one of two friends, she occasionally kept to herself and could be called a loner. I was envious of her beauty, and decided to make up the most random and crazy rumors which were mere lies concerning her having relationships with boys, even girls. Then on, she was the talk of the school. Fingers were pointed at her all the time. I always wondered if she ever questioned the origins of these lies.” There are dozens of entries that have already been shared, with romance and bitter scorn making up the bulk of posts.

Some critics of the new website has lambasted it as a mere imitation of another Kuwait-based website called Post Secret Kuwait, where users can send in their secrets on digital or real (delivered by mail) postcards. Others have said they detect a similar writing trend by most of the posters thus accusing Kuwait Exposed of being a scam. Quite notably the website administration issued this statement earlier in the week, “Thank you to every one who criticized us, either positively or negatively, we appreciate every word you guys said about us no matter how harsh or judgmental it was, we believe and respect different opinions, and we are open to hear any more future critiques.”

The website has gotten off to a running start thanks to some local bloggers in Kuwait helping it get off the ground. In it’s first week, Kuwait Exposed racked up over 10,000 hits. Looks like exposing secrets, in Kuwait at least, just might be the new national pastime.

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Indispensable IslamOnline Must Not Fail

April 15, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

By Ramzy Baroud, Countercurrents.org

A widely popular Islamic website has been, until very recently, an undisputed success story. IslamOnline arrived at a time that millions of Muslims needed a common platform and a unifying outlet. Here was a website that neither shunned nor alienated. Its influence was upbeat and positive, rather than destructive or divisive. While it wasn’t an apologetic outlet, it reached out to patiently and progressively present Islam and Muslim issues to the world. These were understood and communicated by hundreds of scholars and qualified journalists, who toiled day and night from their Cairo offices.

Then something happened to abruptly bring the noble mission to an end. The success story suddenly became a terrible nightmare for hundreds of IslamOnline’s principled employees. The website (IslamOnline.net) remained online, but it was barely updated. Instead, videos were circulated on youtube, showing tired-looking IslamOnline staff chanting in the lobby of their building in Cairo. They were demanding the return of their editorial freedom and rights. They were calling for justice. These bright journalists, some of the finest in the region, should have been sitting behind their computers screens writing, editing and managing ‘live dialogues’ between inquisitive readers and learned scholars. Instead they were seated on the floor with signs and banners, shouting in coarse voices.

Something had gone horribly wrong.

Hadeel al-Shalchi tried to explain in a recent Associated Press report: “The Qatari government has forced out the moderate leadership of a popular Islamic Web site and plans to reshape it into a more religiously conservative outlet, former employees of the site said.”

According to the AP report, “The site was thrown into turmoil…when the owners attempted to change its approach, prompting 350 of its workers in Cairo to go on strike. Management in Doha then cut off their access to the site and have been updating it with news articles but not the diverse content IslamOnline is known for, said the former employees.”

IslamOnline is funded by al-Balagh, a Doha-based company. Al-Balagh was headed by well-respected Sheik Youssef al-Qaradawi, a most sensible and judicious religious authority. He is known, and much liked, for his progressive views on Islam. Al-Qaradawi is also very popular among Muslims around the world, not least because of his daring political views, his strong anti-war, pro-resistance stances and moral clarity on many issues. In short, al-Qaradawi is the antithesis of religious clerics who would do as they are told.

A striking IslamOnline editor described to me how the crisis developed. It sounded something similar to a coup: the Sheik was removed from al-Balagh, the site’s directors were relegated, a new management was installed (in fact imposed), and even the website passwords were changed so that employees could no longer access it. Devastated and enraged by the unwarranted moves, about 350 employees went on strike – only to find themselves subject to legal investigation by some company lawyers for exercising what is universally accepted as a fundamental right. The editor tells me that they were harshly criticized in particular for their uncompromisingly courageous coverage on Palestine and Gaza. Indeed, IslamOnline had worked tirelessly to bring greater awareness of the struggle in Palestine, to Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike.

Following the tragic events of September 11, few websites have played the vital role that IslamOnline has. Its editors did not serve the cause of fanatics, with their dreadful interpretation of the world and themselves, and nor did they adopt the mouthpiece position in favor of Arab governments. Equally important, they did not try to falsify a ‘moderate’ position to please any government – Arab or any other. Instead, they truly reflected and genuinely expressed the views of mainstream Muslims from all walks of life, and from all over the world. It was truly an impressive feat to see such an independent editorial line emerging from one Arab capital and largely funded by another.

But it seemed too good to be true – thus the terrible, chaotic and devastating changes that brought this vital to a standstill. The very means of presenting an eloquent Muslim voice to the world has been threatened.

The story of IslamOnline is being presented as that between rival Arabs: governments, groups and individuals. Reductionist terminologies– such as conservatives vs. moderates – are once again permeating the often predictable Middle East discourse. Many questions still remain unanswered.

In fact, the story of IslamOnline pertains more to media freedom and editorial independence in Arab countries than much of the above. The struggle is between the self-serving politicking few, and hundreds of media professionals – brilliant and inspiring young women and men who made up the staff at IslamOnline. For them, IslamOnline was not just another job. It was a mission, a calling even, and millions of readers around the world appreciated their work, every word of it.
One can only hope that IslamOnline will find its way back, with its current employees and current editorial line intact. The success story must not be allowed to end. Individual ambitions cannot stand in the way of this rare generational mission that is now simply indispensable.
- Ramzy Baroud (www.ramzybaroud.net) is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story” (Pluto Press, London), now available on Amazon.com.

Advertise Here on The Muslim Observer Website!

March 4, 2010 by · Leave a Comment 

To begin advertising on our site just click here—you can do the whole process by yourself (of course we have to approve your ad before it appears on our site, which could take as long as two business days).

The Muslim Observer is an exciting newspaper with a vibrant website—every day on average about 1,200 of your potential customers peruse our website.  Why not reach them directly?  The TMO website is not only read by Muslims—many people from many walks of life and people from around the USA and around the world read this website for a different point of view.  American Muslims are typically doctors, engineers, professionals who are active and affluent—great customers!

Take a look at a slideshow of some of our recent statistics:

As you can see, our numbers by and large have continually improved over the last few years, to the point now where we have on some days 2,400 unique human visitors on our site, each one viewing at least one page on the site and potentially more, not to mention the advertising that appears before them.

To begin our automated process for advertising on our site just click here—you can do the whole process by yourself, any time of day or night, 24/7! Of course we have to approve your ad before it appears on our site, which could take as long as two business days.  Or call us at:  two-four-eight-426-7777.

Thank you!

Please have a look around our website while you’re here! 

Free Live Online TV Streams

December 22, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

Free Live Online TV Streams

from TechCrunch by Nik Cubrilovic

onlinetvchannels

Most television studios have caught up with the web and made their shows available online, either with their own websites or with an aggregate effort such as Hulu. However most studios are still far away from offering live television online, leaving web users having to revert to an alternative means to source live TV web feeds. TVChannelsFree is a website that has aggregated live streaming video sources for almost 3,000 TV channels, and they can all be viewed with just a web browser.

Channels originate from over 80 different countries – from Eurosports through to local US governement programming. The site couldn’t be easier to use and access, and the performance of the streams is usually excellent. Some of the streams that are available originate from the stations own website, but in most cases the stream is either pirated, has bypassed geo restrictions or has bypassed a pay wall. Most streams are in Windows Media format, but there are others in Flash, Quicktime or SopCast.

In most cases it isn’t clear whos bandwidth you are using, but a quick look under the hood shows that the host servers range from being Akamai and Limelight, to network websites through to private servers. Technically this site, and others like it, are simply linking to the content (via a media embed) but as has been seen before this usually isn’t solid grounds for a defence when the copyright lawyers coming knocking. With the the big US networks imposing geo-restrictions on their web content, and thousands of other TV channels around the world without a web presence, the only choice at the moment for many is sites like TVChannelsFree.

If you are bored of the selection at TVChannelsFree or can’t find a particular channel, take a look at other similar sites such as ChannelChooser, wwwitv and beelinetv. They have a large number of channels in common (and seem to share the same sources) though some have categories of streams that others may not.

AMU Alumni Celebrate Sir Syed Day in New York

November 25, 2009 by · 1 Comment 

By Shaheer Khan

4124274104_9de05ca7f4

Zakir Ali Khan Receiving the Award.

Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, the founder of Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) was born on October 17, 1817. Sir Syed, the famous 19th century scholar, historian and social reformer spent most of his time on promotion of social, economic and educational conditions of Indian Muslims.

Sir Syed’s untiring and painstaking efforts over a long period of time bore fruit when he was able to establish the Mohammedan Anglo Oriental (MAO) College in 1875, which subsequently developed into Aligarh Muslim University in 1920. The institute was founded with the primary objective of removing the educational backwardness of the Muslim community. In this task Sir Syed sought cooperation of all the communities and the institute was open to all, irrespective of caste creed and religion. For Sir Syed Ahmed Khan it was impossible to conceive the growth and progress of India without simultaneous development of communities in harmony, brotherhood and cooperation. Today AMU symbolizes on the one hand the secular ideals of the Republic of India and on the other the aspirations of more than 150 million Muslims in India.

The AMU alumni are spread in large numbers in all over the world. On Sir Syed’s 192nd birth anniversary-on October 17- hundreds of thousands of students, alumni, and well wishers of AMU around the world celebrated the founder’s day popularly known as ‘Sir Syed Day’.

The AMU Old Boys’ Association in New York also celebrated the day at Akbar Restaurant in Long Island, New York.

The evening started with light refreshments. The formal program started off with the recitation of some verses from the Holy Qur’an by Ms. Naila Ali. Mr. Faiq Siddiqi and Well known TV personality in New York was emcee for the program.

Secretary of the association, Mr. Muzaffar Habib presented the annual report and thanked the volunteers and sponsors. He stressed the need to keep the Aligarh tradition alive and spoke about what needs to be done to achieve association’s goals. He presented a plaque to Mr. and Mrs. Riaz Alvi for their services to the association.

Ex-president of the association Dr. Masood Haider presented the obituaries of Dr. Abdul Bari and Haneef Akhgar Malihabadi, popular poet of USA, who passed away this year. Mrs. Bari was presented a plaque to recognize the contributions of her late husband to the association.

On the occasion, Mr. Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan was also honored with “Life Time Achievement Award” for his outstanding services to the continuation of the spirit of the Aligarh Movement and to the cause of higher education in Pakistan. The prize carried cash amount of Rs. 1, 00,000 and Citation.

Born in 1926 at Rampur (UP) Zakir Ali Khan did his B.Sc. in 1945 and B.Sc. Engineering in 1948 from the Aligarh Muslim University. He is one of the founders of the Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi. He has served as the general secretary of the Aligarh Old Boy’s Association, Karachi for almost 4 decades and has edited the Association’s monthly magazine ‘Tehzeeb’ for many years.

The author of number of books Zakir Ali Khan was awarded the first ‘ International Award for Literature’ instituted by the Aligarh Muslim University, at last year’s world alumni summit at Aligarh.

The keynote address of Zakir Ali Khan was equally inspiring. He shared Aligarh anecdotes and wisdom that just had to be appreciated and emphasized on team work which resulted in the establishment of Sir Syed University. Mr. Khan said that the best tribute to Sir Syed is to take his educational movement forward.

Mr. Zakir Ali Khan expressed his gratitude for the award and he donated the whole prize money to the welfare of AMU students.

The first part of the program ended with the traditional singing of the Tarana of AMU which was presented by a group.

The second part of the program was dedicated for an interesting Mushaira wherein some famous poets from India and Pakistan including Tahir Faraz (India), Abbas Tabish (Pakistan), Meraj Faizabadi (India), Waseem Barelvi (India), Zamin Jafri (Canada), Saleem Kausar (Pakistan), and Manzar Bhopali (India) were invited who enthralled the audiences for almost four hours.

A new website (www.aligarhmovement.com) on Sir Syed and his mission “Aligarh Movement” was launched by one of the flag bearer of Aligarh Movement, Muhammad Zakir Ali Khan.

The proceedings started with a brief introduction of the website and its developer, Mr. Afzal Usmani by this scribe.

Mr. Afzal Usmani spoke on the need of a website where introductory information and Sir Syed, Aligarh movement and prominent Aligarians is easily accessible. He said that the new website would fill the vacuum and would inspire others to work in this direction.

While inaugurating the website, Mohammad Zakir Ali Khan expressed the need of such website which can fulfill the void in cyberspace to carry on the mission of Sir Syed and Aligarh Movement. This is an era of information Technology and people look for information on internet because it is easy and accessible from anywhere on a click of a button. He congratulated Mr. Afzal Usmani, the brain behind this website and his team and extended his support to make this website as a reference portal for all the information of Aligarh Movement to carry on mission of Sir Syed.

Prof. Waseem Barelvi, famous Urdu poet also spoke on the occasion. He appreciated the efforts for making the material on Sir Syed, his associates, and Aligarh movement available at one place.

Afzal Usmani requested everyone to share any information which they consider will be relevant for the website.

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Tricky PETA’s “Muslim” Website

November 1, 2009 by · 6 Comments 

By Adil James, MMNS

Editor’s Note:  PETA has addressed all of the most pressing concerns that TMO had about its website, and that is a credit to its founder, Ingrid Newkirk, and also to Kathy Nizzari and Hanif Akhtar, who all took the time to respectfully address our concerns.  The main concern was that the site should say it is sponsored by PETA, which it now does, “Sponsored by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals” at the bottom of the page, a little hard to read but it is there.  The second major concern was the “empty ritual” language referred to below.  Actually PETA has been quite sensitive and responsive in addressing TMO’s major concerns, compared to which all our other concerns are minimal.  We may disagree about the substantive issues relating to animal treatment, but we no longer have ethical concerns about their website.

 

Farmington–October 28–If you had asked me October 19th about PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) I might have said, “aren’t they the people who protect animals?”

IslamicConcerns I would not have gone into the issue of their calling fish “sea kittens,” or their spraying fake blood to ruin the furs that people wear, or their doing demonstrations around the world wearing minimal clothing.  These things I found out about in the course of my writing this article. PETA after all wasn’t really on my plate–not really on an agenda related to Islam. 

But now things have changed.  PETA launched a website called Islamic Concerns (www.islamicconcerns.com) early last week, and we at TMO received a press release rather proudly proclaiming that fact.  I immediately went to the website and searched in vain for the notice that PETA is behind the website.  No “about” page saying “PETA proudly produced this website.” No acknowledgment that the website islamicconcerns.com was commissioned by non-Muslims with a non-Muslim agenda (as per editor’s note above this has now changed).

At a glance the website appears fine.  In large letters it says Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim.  The website is very attractive, at least until you start reading it or trying to see who is behind it.

At a closer look the website is problematic.  It stated until last Thursday that the slaughter of animals after hajj is “an empty ritual.”  (After TMO raised this issue with PETA they removed that language from their site although the site still argues against sacrificing animals in a more oblique way).  The site quotes a “scholar” who argues that all of the ahadith relating to dogs are incorrect.  The site fails to advertise that the entire website is commissioned by non-Muslims with a secular agenda.  It argues that the prescribed method for slaughtering animals in Islamic and Jewish law is too painful and should be amended to include stunning prior to slaughter.  The “fatwas” on the website are a smorgasbord of bizarre material, whatever fatwas suited the fancies of the non-Muslims who built the site.  The Muslims involved in the site care deeply about animals but do not appear to care very deeply about practicing Islam.  The website states conclusory fatwas unsupported by Islamic scholars, for instance that eating meat from animals who have themselves eaten pork is haram–this may or may not be true, but if it is it should come from a real scholar.

The website advocates extreme and unnecessary solutions to legitimate problems.  Admittedly factory farms likely feed chemicals and reprocessed animals to their livestock, and engage in other unsavory practices, and perhaps there is unnecessary mistreatment of such animals precedent to slaughter.  But if you sincerely want to help Muslims eat halal and wholesome meat, then the response to this problem is to support small farms, not to go vegan.

Also granted, animal testing is sometimes cruel.  But the solution to this is not to throw blood on people or to protest or yell and scream.  The solution is to live a simple lifestyle in which as much as possible we use the materials that don’t need animal testing–the same materials we use in following the sunnah of Prophet (s).

Immediately after learning of the site and seeing it I called PETA’s designated spokesperson on the issue, Kathy Nizzari, and in answer to my first question, “Did any Muslims contribute” to the site, Ms. Nizzari proclaimed that the “very devout Muslim” Hanif Akhtar had been involved. Nizzari, the primary spokesperson for PETA’s Islamic Concerns website, asked that I speak with Akhtar rather than her about the site.

I interviewed Mr. Akhtar three days later, last Thursday, and I say with sincerity that I respect Mr. Akhtar for his honesty and his taking the time to talk with me. 

Mr. Akhtar is not “devout,” any more than I am devout. He does not pray more than other Muslims, nor does he have a great deal of knowledge of Islam.  He is a practicing vegan (no meat no dairy) (originally from Pakistan), as are his entire family–he does not eat meat and will state with conviction that there is a branch of Muslims who believe that ahadith should not be followed.  In speaking about dogs he quoted from the surah called “Ashabul Kahf” (actually al-Kahf), speaking of the dog who was mentioned in that surah.

Still, he respects Prophet (s) and will not go as far as to state that he puts his vegan beliefs above the teachings of Prophet (s).  Confronted with the problematic issues on the website listed above, he sounded legitimately surprised and promised to speak with other PETA people about what is on the site, for example he said he “took exception with the website” in calling the slaughter of animals after hajj “an empty ritual.”   He promised to address this issue with others at PETA, and in fact a week later we no longer see that language on the site.  He said he did not know about the (still) missing “about” page. Again, he seems sincere to me, even if perhaps not religious, and certainly not “devout.”

While he admits he uses leather he says no one else in his family does.  An apparently sincere and honest man, but this is not a person who can be relied on as an expert in Islam or Islamic law. Likely PETA has never employed any such person.

Mr. Akhtar works on a purely voluntary basis for PETA, and provided some guidance in a review capacity on the website–if he saw a problem, he explained, he mentioned it to the PETA staff which corrected it–”just minor spelling mistakes,” he said. But in a cursory review of the website I was able to find the several significant problems listed above that he said he was unfamiliar with.

The Muslims who worked on the site always appear to be at the periphery.  When i mentioned Muslims to Nizzari, she pointed at Akhtar.  When I mentioned Muslims to Akhtar, he pointed at Nizzari.  One does not appear to be Muslim at all, and the other, for all his sincerity, is by his own admission not religious. 

Although the website supposedly provides Islamic law on subjects related to Islamic diet, there is no consistent school of thought referred to.  Mr. Akhtar mentioned a person named Ali–whose last name he would not share with me–who contributed to the website but was currently “in Iran,” therefore I assume he is Shi’a which is I guess a starting point although there is no attempt to clarify that perhaps the Islamic Concern website is built on Shi’a law.  There are different schools of thought, Ja’fari, Hanbali, Hanafi, Shafi’i, Maliki. 

Non-Muslims may believe that a handful of fatwas plucked from around the Muslim world form a convincing argument, any Muslim knows there is discipline involved.

So far we addressed the ethical issues of the website.  On a practical level, this website is a rather large block of uncertainty cast apparently by an extreme minority secular organization–so this is not likely to work. 

Moderate Muslims will be incensed that PETA is trying to trick them.  Shi’a are never going to accept this website when their religious authorities are marja’iyya.  Practising Sunnis are not going to take Islamic advice from shadowy online “Islamic” sites, especially insofar as they contravene the Sunnah of the Prophet (s).  Maybe some young impressionable Muslims will be swayed by the site, but the backlash against the site will likely outweigh any gains PETA might make.

How can it be Islamic to become a vegan animal worshipper who calls fish kittens, when the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (s) is to eat meat, and to wear leather–just the leather socks alone that Prophet (s) wore are proof of this.  What about other sunnahs involving leather? Muslims care about animal welfare, but it is not Islam to unbalance the world to the extent that the central concern of life is that no animal be harmed in any way.

So my advice to PETA, make a website, it’s okay.  But admit who you are and do not try to trick us.  And do not expect to change the world too much with this latest attempt to subvert Islam in the interests of promoting a secular and crafty agenda. One piece of advice from Qur`an–enter houses by their front doors.

It is no virtue if ye enter your houses from the back: It is virtue if ye fear Allah. Enter houses through the proper doors: And fear Allah. That ye may prosper.

Baqara:189 (Y. Ali)

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Repackaging Islamism

July 16, 2009 by · Leave a Comment 

By Rafia Zakaria

Capture7-16-2009-4.06.06 PM

Couched in a corporate structure that relies on savvy marketing, attractive rhetoric and smart, modern packaging, projects like IslamOnline represent the effort to change in appearance and language what remains the same in substance.

The headquarters of IslamOnline.net is palatial building located on the outskirts of Cairo. Away from the dirt and unrelenting traffic of the bustling Egyptian capital, its shiny and brand new campus is located across the street from an equally palatial mosque. If you’ve spent any time in Cairo, the glass ensconced air-conditioned office of this Qatari-funded online empire can be a welcome respite from the desert heat, undoubtedly for both the casual visitor as well as the nearly one hundred Egyptian men and women who work here.

According to its publicity materials, IslamOnline strives for “an Islamic renaissance” and envisions itself as becoming the largest and most “credible reference on Islam and its peoples”. The website hosts a number of features from “news” to “politics in depth” to “family” and “art and culture”. A whole section is devoted to “Euro-Muslims”, even though the website is based in the Middle East; assumedly perhaps because much of traffic for the website comes not from Egypt itself but from Muslims living in Europe.

The technology is slick, the graphics trendy and the young, energetic staff quite committed to the avowed project of rebranding Islam. Words like “moderate” “diverse” and “plural” are recurrent in the vocabulary of the editors, used repeatedly to describe both their mission and their purpose.

These two facets of IslamOnline, its Egyptian staff and Western consumers and the conscious rebranding of Islam are worthy of attention.

Take first the savvy rhetorical repackaging that is insistent on the fact that the “Islam” it is peddling is both “moderate” and “diverse”. When questioned regarding what constitutes “moderate” Islam, however, the editors are resolute in providing synonyms instead of concrete responses. Ignored thus is the idea that diversity, in essence, stands for the representation of a variety of views that include the extremes, while moderation stands for a particular selection which avoids the extremes.

Also ignored is the reality that selecting what is moderate therefore inherently invokes a judgement and an interpretation regarding what is considered to be so. For instance, on the issue of hijab, the editors of IslamOnline state that the moderate position is that all Muslim women are required to wear the hijab; this is also, they insist, the “majority” position but the process of enumerating what a “majority” means, or why conflicting interpretations are ignored is again left unexplained. The same women who denounce the intolerance of Europeans toward women who wear the headscarf are thus unwilling to tolerate that a Muslim woman can refuse to wear one and still practice her faith.

This lack of self-awareness among the editors of IslamOnline and the self-described promoters of the “correct” and “moderate” Islam is disturbing given the stated aims of the organisation. It is difficult indeed to discern whether the editors and staff of this web-based dawa organisation are being deliberately evasive regarding their project of proffering a particular definition of “moderate” Islam or truly ignorant of their own role in advancing a project whose strings are being pulled by their financiers.

The geographical dynamics of both the headquarters of IslamOnline as well as the constituents of its staff add further complications to the question. 180 Egyptians, men and women, some commuting up to two hours each way, brave the heat and dust of Cairo to work in this air-conditioned glass building reeking of Gulf money. Sitting in neat cubicles, they collect news articles and fatwas for Muslims around the world, most notably in the West.

Their writings say little or nothing at all about the rising unemployment in Cairo, the blatant poverty visible on every city street, or the lack of political process in their country. In fact, these proximate realities, experienced undoubtedly by editors and staff, are all not represented in the conversation and largely the content of IslamOnline. In the deliberate divorce of these two realities then, IslamOnline, in the real and not virtual sense, represents outsourcing at its best: the relegation of dawa to Egyptian Muslims propagating an Islam envisioned by their Gulf financiers.

The disjunction is obvious not simply in the economic disparity between the largely Egyptian producers of IslamOnline, its Qatari backers and its largely Western consumers, but also in the avowed rhetoric of diversity versus its project of propagating the “correct” Islam. The Sharia section, which according to their own statistics is the most popular section of the website, is run by a doctoral student from Al-Azhar University. In his words, the process of compiling the “diverse” and “moderate” views espoused by IslamOnline stands for the effort to combine “authentic” opinions on various subjects from all four Sunni mazhabs. Shiite schools of thought fail to make this authenticity cut and hence are not represented.

A similar conclusion could be reached about the propagators of “authentic” Islam of IslamOnline; a document retrieved from IslamOnline reveals that nearly ninety percent of the sheikhs recruited to provide fatwas are Arab sheikhs with little or no representation for Southeast Asians, South Asians and Muslims from other non-Arab ethnicities.

In conclusion then, the Islam of IslamOnline stands for Islam as understood largely by Sunni Arabs. There is indeed nothing wrong with such a project; Sunni Arabs just like Iranian Shiites or South Asian Sufis have the right to propagate and disseminate information about their particular take on the Islamic faith. Indeed, there is something laudable and commendable also about providing Egyptian Muslim youth with a well funded and inviting workplace where they can interact and earn good livelihoods while living their faith.

The pernicious aspects of projects like IslamOnline lie in the unsaid agendas that undergird their stated goals. Calling a website “IslamOnline” instead of “MuslimsOnline” makes a very particular claim about representing a single and correct doctrinal position whose truth is substantiated by a particular interpretation of religious text. Disguising such a claim in the glib rhetoric of “diversity” and “plurality” while simultaneously excluding entire swathes of Muslim practice such as Shiite theology suggests a deceptive condescension toward both Muslims and non-Muslims consumers of the website.

In larger terms, projects like IslamOnline represent a novel new turn taken by the Islamist project that consciously seeks to redefine itself as “moderate”. Couched in a corporate structure that relies on savvy marketing, attractive rhetoric and smart, modern packaging, it represents the effort to change in appearance and language what remains the same in substance. This new and repackaged Islamism thus continues to privilege Sunni and Arab interpretations of Islam as ultimately authentic and correct but under the glib pretence of being committed to both moderation and diversity.

Rafia Zakaria is an attorney living in the United States where she teaches courses on Constitutional Law and Political Philosophy. She can be contacted at rafia.zakaria@gmail.com.

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The ‘Block’ That Wasn’t

September 25, 2008 by · Leave a Comment 

By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS

 

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It has got to be the shortest decree in the history of Kuwait and, if not, it’s sure gotta be close. This past Tuesday news broke that the Ministry of Communication issued a memo to all ISP servers in the State of Kuwait to block the world famous YouTube social networking and video-sharing website. The reason being that several videos were uncovered recently that were derogatory to the Prophet Muhammad (s) and which made a mockery of the Holy Qur`an. However, less than 24 hours after the decree was made, it was rescinded. Most likely, the Minister noticed that he could ‘flag’ a video deemed to be inappropriate and YouTube would remove it. As expected, the videos in question have already been removed.

YouTube is huge in Kuwait, with more than 59,000 videos from both citizens and expatriates in the tiny Gulf nation being available on the site. Immediately after the news about the block hit, not surprisingly it was leaked from a worker at one of the primary ISP’s in Kuwait to a local blogger, a frenzy of blog activity followed suit. One blogger had this to say, “If they block YouTube they might as well just go all the way and block the Internet completely.”

Kuwait boasts one of the most open freedom-of-speech stances for local media in the entire Gulf region. However, the latest political elections saw more religious-minded MP’s maintain a firm grip on parliament. Censorship in Kuwait is set to push the boundaries of what residents have seen in the past with the primary TV stations coming under scrutiny recently for not showing enough Islamic programming and favoring a bonanza of Western comedies and dramas instead.

28541-skype_blocked This is not the first time that the government has censored the Internet. The popular website Skype is no longer accessible for residents of Kuwait. However, the reason for the block was not religious but rather economics. Skype users in Kuwait were able to make cheap International phone calls, which took a huge piece of the ‘pie’ away from the Ministry of Communications. However, while the Skype website is blocked the service is still operational. Computing wizards in Kuwait discovered early on that the Skype installation program could be emailed to them and then downloaded right to their PC. Completely blocking Skype is impossible given that it runs on encrypted tunnels.

Other countries in the Gulf have exercised their right to block Internet content that is questionable or forbidden in Islam. All the Gulf States block pornography in every way, shape or form. Some have even gone as far as to block both dating and matrimonial websites. However, some countries have blocked internet content for the sake of their own reputations. In 2006, the Dubai government blocked YouTube because two Armenians filmed a documentary about the human trafficking of Armenian women and girls to Dubai. The duo used hidden cameras to shed light on an underground prostitution ring that thrives in Dubai. Like Kuwait, Dubai eventually rescinded the ban and YouTube was once again available.

The Internet is growing by leaps and bounds with unprecedented amounts of information, whether good or bad, at the tips of most everyone’s fingertips. The challenge for governments to filter that information grows increasingly hard, as the internet has given anyone who wants their voices to be heard a boundless audience.

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