Muslims and the media in the blogosphere
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In the past two decades a virtual Ummah has evolved in cyberspace. While some of these websites are targeted specifically at Muslims, others attempt to provide outreach on Islam or counter Islamophobic bias. As noted by Jon Anderson, in his pioneering work on Islam in cyberspace, Muslims were among the first engineering students to create websites at the dawn of the Internet, before mainstream Islamic organizations posted official websites. There is a wealth of material by Muslims in English and Western languages, some of it archived for research. This article explores the methodological problems posed in studying the range of Islam-content blogs, from private individuals to religious scholars, as well as Muslim websites that feature comments from readers. The focus of the paper is an analysis of blogs about Islam or by Muslims that either act as watchdogs on the media or try to provide alternative views to the mainstream media of competing Muslim groups. Researching these blogs as a form of e-ethnography calls for a rethinking and refining of anthropological methodology as e-ethnography.
KeywordsInternet Muslim blogs Islamophobia Ethnography
This article has benefited from the stimulating discussion at the Workshop on Muslims and the Media, Princeton University, where it was first presented in May, 2008. I thank the participants, especially for the readings by Juliane Hammer and Roxanne Marcotte.
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