Tuesday, December 06, 2005

not about religion?

Just before I left for the States, Charlie of Budaechigae II sent me a copy of a subscription-only article from FBIS.gov. The article makes a claim based on a survey of French "banlieue" (suburb) and islamic blogs, and concludes that they don't overlap much, and that, at least according to the bloggers surveyed, the riots aren't being driven by Islam. I've quoted parts of the article below (the full article contains plenty of references, which I've omitted here):

France: Riots Not Driven by Islam, Blog Study Suggests

Although some French politicians portrayed the late October riots as a Muslim uprising, a study of French "banlieue" blogs and Islamic blogs did not show Islam to be a factor in the riots. "Banlieue" blog sites, which attracted considerably more interest than the religious sites, were not substantially concerned with religion at all. These bloggers either did not mention Islam or saw the rioting as inconsistent with Islam. The religious blog sites did not comment on the riots at all; these bloggers were concerned with Islam as it relates to daily life.

"Banlieue" Blogs

Before the riots, the "banlieue" blogs--blogs posted by inhabitants of France's high-crime suburbs-- were generally affirmations of solidarity with the bloggers' particular "home turf," with pictures of themselves, their area, and their friends.

www.nls93.skyblog.com, which had over 1,700 comments but has since been removed by Skyblog administrators, posted a long list of gang rivalries among the different banlieues.

There were also postings speaking against the police and the government. After the riots began, the sites posted articles about the violence and used the comments to discuss their feelings about the events as well as to discuss their plans for additional violence.

www.cites2france.skyblog.com has over 1,500 pages about the different banlieues in France. The postings themselves are not inflammatory; however, many of its 17,000+ comments were incitements to violence and have since been removed, censored by Skyblog's team of 30 site monitors.

Religious commentary on the banlieue blogs is generally sparse. However, in several cases, bloggers asserted that the riots were either unrelated to or in contravention of Islamic principles.

A banlieue blogger who was an active writer during the riots--directing bloggers to his new blog site, www.aulnaysousboi01.skyblog.com, after his first site was removed by Skyblog administrators and then giving out his personal email address after his comments were removed from the second site--implies that religion has nothing to do with the riots. He includes on his site an article by a journalist, Fayçal Oukaci, which says that imams wrote fatwas against the violence, and cites specific imams, including Dalil Boubekeur of the Great Mosque of Paris, who said that the rioting was not connected to religion.

On 7 November on www.cites2france.skyblog.com (before its comments were removed), blogger "pfff" wrote: "Already among the destroyers, many consider themselves good Muslims ... and in the evening they will destroy, hurt, and even kill at worst ... they give a bad image to Islam, which increases prejudice in France against Arabs ... it's sad."On the same site and date, blogger "dune ARABE MUSULMANE" wrote: "Allah guides you and helps you to understand that it is necessary to express yourselves other than by the violence you understand best. Show them that you really aren't rabble and that you aren't so damned stupid as that."

There is some evidence that the banlieue bloggers were even hostile to preaching about Islam.

Banlieue blogger "bagdad77coonection" replied to another of dune ARABE MUSULMANE's postings dismissing her semonizing, saying, "judgment belongs to God, so if you want to be a good Muslim, say your prayers and let God judge."

Islamic Blogs

In general, the Islamic sites that were more extreme in their religious or political views attracted very little interest.

The most popular Islamic site studied, www.imen-noor.skyblog.com, has more than 650 comments, far fewer than the 17,000+ comments of the most popular banlieue blog. The more-than-80-page site, written by a conservative female Muslim, discusses aspects of Muslim life, such as what women can wear. The author did not post articles about the riots or recent violence.

www.benladen67.skyblog.com, an extreme pro-Bin Laden site that has since been deactivated by Skyblog administrators, attracted only two comments.


For linguistic and other reasons, it is difficult to determine the exact number of banlieue blogs (see footnotes three and five). Keywords used include "banlieue" and "cite," another term used to describe the crime-ridden suburbs. Banlieue blogs attracted large numbers of comments, in one case more than 17,000.

Although there are large numbers of Islamic blogs, they represent a small fraction of the overall French blogosphere. For example, a keyword search of "Muslim" and "Allah" (in French) on France's most popular blog site, www.skyblog.com returns more than 2,700 hits, less than 0.1% of the over 3.2 million Skyblog sites.

I'm still processing this. The above claim puts conservative "blog triumphalists" like Instapundit in an interesting situation, I think: after trumpeting the huge influence that blogs have in a given society, triumphalists cannot change tactics and claim that the above article can be ignored "because blogs don't reflect what the people really think." I suppose it could be argued that blogging in France may have a different level of influence than blogging in America (or that the people who blog in France represent a different demographic from people who blog in America or elsewhere), but that claim would probably require its own extensive survey to to be believable.

The French themselves seem to be of several minds about the situation. I'll delve into some French news articles later and see what the non-Muslim French are saying, as well as what the Muslims are saying. I'm sure it won't be a simple picture.



Jelly said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jelly said...

I hear that, I do.
But I want to hear about you being home! I'm not back there, you are,... come on!! Call me shellfish, but I DON'T CARE!