Boston Bombings: Rumor, Conspiracy, Denial

By Chris Lundry It has been over a week since the grisly bombing at the Boston Marathon, and with one perpetrator killed and another captured, analysts are now searching for the “why” and “how” answers. How did a seemingly well-adjusted young man fall under the influence of his brother and deign to commit such an act? Are others involved? Are there ties to a larger group in the US or abroad? Although some of these […] Read more »

Invisible Children Film on LRA More Self Promotion than Expose

by R. Bennett Furlow On March 5th, 2012 the non-profit organization Invisible Children (IC) released a short film which quickly went viral. Kony 2012 is the name of the film and campaign by Invisible Children to raise the profile of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA).  However it does more to publicize IC and its leaders than to expose Kony. Founded in 2004, IC’s mission is to make people aware of the […] Read more »

Indonesian Extremists Approve of Anonymous Crusade

by Chris Lundry Indonesian Islamist extremist supporters ar Rahmah posted a story today (2-13) on their website and Facebook page about the hacker group Anonymous’ plans for a cyber-attack on Israel. The story (here) links to the Anonymous YouTube video announcing their plans. While ar Rahmah undoubtedly supports the effort, the article quotes the video as a declaration of a “Crusade” (perang salib) against Israel. The Crusade narrative is the second most frequently invoked among […] Read more »

Osama bin Laden’s Image Appears on Toast!

By Chris Lundry It was bound to happen: London’s Daily Mail reported yesterday that the face of Osama bin Laden appeared on a Londoner’s piece of toast. I have been fascinated with how the image of Osama bin Laden became a pop cultural phenomenon after 9-11 in some parts of the Muslim world (including Indonesia, where I do much of my work). The image was usually intended to shock rather than express true solidarity with […] Read more »

Park51 Imagery and the Rhetoric of Contested Space

by Lisa Braverman A couple of weeks ago as I skimmed the news, I saw the freshly-released images of the Park51 Community Center (colloquially known as the “Ground Zero Mosque”). In the same sitting, I also performed my semi-regular check of a former professor’s co-authored blog, No Caption Needed. Perusing the two in such short succession inspired reflection on the nature of the image in strategic communication – and more specifically, the nature of the […] Read more »

Hip-Hop Ambassadors Wanted

by Jeffry R. Halverson Apparently I wasn’t the only one thinking about the diplomatic potential of Muslim hip-hop when I posted a blog about it for COMOPS Journal back in September of 2009. Recently we heard from Tyson Amir, one of the Muslim artists that I featured in the blog, and he had some interesting news to report. Amir is from San Jose, California, and currently performs with the Remarkable Current Musician Collective, founded by […] Read more »

Meh! Comedy Central Kowtows to Takfiris

by Steven R. Corman Readers of this blog may have followed the story this week of death threats issued by the website Revolution Muslim against South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone for their inclusion of supposed images of the Prophet Muhammad in part one of a cartoon first broadcast last week.  In response to the threats Comedy Central bleeped-out mentions of the Prophet’s name and made other changes to part two, broadcast this […] Read more »

Ridicule as Strategic Communication

by Kristin Fleischer In his book Fighting the War of Ideas like Real War: Messages to Defeat the Terrorists, J. Michael Waller argues that the United States already has a “secret weapon worse than death,” and it is cheap, readily available and easy to deploy. That weapon is ridicule. Although the suggestion that ridicule and satire are legitimate tools of strategic communication might receive some – dare I say it – ridicule, Waller’s argument is […] Read more »

How Natalie Portman and Johnny Depp Can Save the World

by Jeff Halverson In the war of ideas for the “hearts and minds” of the Muslim world, cultural diplomacy can go a long way. The US government may not be very popular abroad, but our cultural products certainly are. Many Muslims hate our policies, but they still love our movies, listen to our pop music, and cheer for our athletes. Extremists, on the other hand, actively try to disseminate monolithic images of “the other” to […] Read more »

Muslim Punk Rock is Nothing New

by Chris Lundry In an AP wire story picked up by numerous print and online media, Russell Contreras writes about discovering the “new movement” of Muslim-Hindu punk bands (including Boston’s the Kominas). The implication is that we are witnessing a new youth music movement that might serve as a challenge to religious fundamentalism and its extremist outcomes.  It’s a great bit of publicity for the band, but it reflects the author’s lack of prior awareness […] Read more »