The Home Office’s counter-terrorism communications unit has named its top 20 most influential “pro-Islamic” political bloggers.
The list forms part of a mapping exercise carried out on behalf of the Home Office to estimate and track the scale and influence of Islamic bloggers in Britain.
The results of the exercise, which was carried out in 2008 but only published today, show that a network of Islamic bloggers who post on British politics does exist but is still relatively small and draws its information overwhelmingly from mainstream media, mainly the Guardian and the BBC.
The research was carried out by the Home Office research, information and communications unit (RICU) to see if there were new ways of ensuring the government’s counter-terrorism messages reached people in the Muslim community who did not read or watch mainstream media.
It pinpointed 140 “pro-leaning Islamic” blogs when it was carried out in 2008 by David Stevens of Nottingham University.
“Compared with other political blogging communities this is not terribly high,” the study says. “As suspected, any pro-Islamic blogging community is likely to be still in its early stages of development in quantitive terms. However the existence of Islamic blog-feed sites (that list recent posts across Islamic blogs in one place) indicates that the community is reaching something of a critical mass.”
The project is primarily concerned with how “radical Islamic messages” are disseminated in Britain, yet it notes that many blogs are not overtly or mainly political in this sense, but contain such messages or references to them.
It says a large anti-jihadist and anti-Islamic blogging community exists which is far larger and more cohesive than the pro-Islamic blogging community.
The top 20 list compiled as a “snapshot” in 2008 includes several based outside Britain but posting on UK politics in English. The top five sites listed are Ali Eteraz, Islam in Europe, the Angry Arab News Service, Indigo Jo Blogs/Blogistan and Daily Terror. Ali Eteraz is the author of Children of Dust – a memoir of Pakistan that was named on the New Statesman 2009 books of the year list – and has been a regular poster on Comment is Free.
The list only covers blogs published in English. Some, such as Angry Arab, which publish news articles in full from various sources draw heavily on the New York Times, al-Akhbar and Ha’aretz. But once these are excluded much UK-related material is drawn from the Guardian, the BBC and the Times. Very little material is drawn fromal-Jazeera, Islam Online or other Islamic-focused media.
A Home Office spokeswoman said that after the research was undertaken it was decided to focus on sending the government’s counter-terrorism messages to Muslim communities through national mainstream media, including publications such as the Muslim Weekly and Daily Jang.
The top 20 list appears in a Home Office document, titled Estimating Network Size and Tracking Information Dissemination among Islamic Blogs, which was written in 2008 but only published yesterday.
1) Ali Eteraz
The blog by Ali Eteraz, the author of the Islamic memoir Children of Dust, no longer appears online. Mr Eteraz now writes for The Guardian.
2) Islam in Europe
The Islam in Europe blog describes itself as “the premier source for news about the Muslim community in Europe”. It focuses on Belgium, the Netherlands and Scandinavia. The blogger – who identifies herself as Esther – is also on Twitter under the name IslamBlog and has a Facebook group called Islam in Europe Blog.
3) Angry Arab News Service
Written by the Lebanese academic As’ad AbuKhalil, based in the United States, the Angry Arab News Service describes itself as “A source on politics, war, the Middle East, Arabic poetry and art”.
4) Indigo Jo Blogs
Indigo Jo Blogs, at the domain blogistan.co.uk, claims to specialise in “politics, tech and media issues from a Muslim perspective”. It is written by Matthew Smith, also known as Yusuf, a 33-year old British convert to Islam who lives in New Malden, south London.
5) The Daily Terror
The Daily Terror describes itself as providing “selected annotated media/blog links on Muslims in Britain and whatever”. The blogger, Yunus Yakoub Islam, lives in West Yorkshire is on Twitter under the name Julaybib.
6) Yahya Birt
Yahya Birt is a British Islamic journalist whose bills his blog as “Musings on the Britannic Crescent”. He is on Twitter as YBirt.
7) Mujahideen Ryder
Mujahideen Ryder describes itself as “not the average Muslim blog”. It covers religion, sports, politics and the Middle East from a Muslim perspective and is written by a young Guyanese American who also works as a web developer in Maryland. The blogger is on Twitter under the name mujahideenryder.
8 ) Rolled Up Trousers
The blog of Osama Saeed, now the Scottish National Party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Glasgow Central, has turned its attention from Islamic matters to the more mainstream political issues of wind farms, high speed rail and Trident.
The Ijtema blog is written by what it calls “a congregation of Muslim bloggers”. It aims to bring together what its editors consider “the best of the Muslim blogosphere” and covers religion, art, family and current affairs. It is on Twitter under the name Ijtema.
The blogger Saifuddin is an American Sunni Muslim who describes his blog as “the travelogues of a traveller”.
11) The White Path
The White Path blog is written by Mustafa Aykol, a Turkish political commentator, and covers the topics of religion, politics, science and culture. Its name is taken from the literal meaning of the author’s surname.
12) Gardens of Paradise
The Gardens of Paradise blog describes itself as “a pathway into a paradise containing rivers and birds, palaces and comforts; an endless bliss, eternal and everlasting. A pure life …” It aims to persuade its readers to convert to Islam.
13) Ahmed’s World of Islam
Ahmed’s World of Islam – a blog on religious wisdom and prayer – is no longer being updated. Its author now blogs on similar subject matter at Haq Islam.
14) Unique Muslimah
Unique Muslimah is a female Muslim blogger who lives in what she calls the “wild, wild West”. Her blog, she says, “exposes the delights, flashbacks and sombre experiences that adds a little spice to who she is today.”
The AE – or Alternative Entertainment – blog is written by a British Muslim and covers religion, humour and current affairs.
16) Knowledge Seeker
Adnan Tariq has been visually impaired and partially deaf from birth. He blogs about Islamic knowledge.
17) Imam Johari
Written by Imam Johari Abdul-Malik, an American Islamic outreach worker, the Imam Johari blog rallies Muslim communities to stand up for the environment, end violence against women and work to eradicate poverty.
18) Sheikhy Notes
Edited by Arfan Shah, a British Muslim, Sheikhy Notes colleges notes and videos of lectures given by traditional Islamic scholars.
19) Islamic Thinkers Society
The Islamic Thinkers Society blog is written by what it describes as “less than a handful” of Muslims based in the United States, and aims to “bring change through intellectual and political struggle”.
The MAQASID blog is protected and requires a login to view.