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Another week has passed and it's time for us to provide you with another Good Reads post. This time round E&M's Veronica Pozzi is taking up the challenge and shares articles that got her thinking about how IS uses social media and how this particular battle is fought in Berlin. Her final pick is about sexual and religious identity in Europe.

 

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Veronica, Sixth Sense

 

ISIS: When the recruitment starts on SoundCloud

 

In a period in which the Islamic State (IS) appears on the front pages of newspapers across different European states, it is somehow frustrating to note the lack of good journalism on the topic. Despite the huge media attention that IS gets, and also in the light of recent events in France and Syria, it seems that there is a general lack of original stories, a lack of journalists who do not only work with press agencies but who have actually been "out and about" and can provide some essential shoe-leather reporting.

 

That is why I was so happy when I stumbled across this article co-written by Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet for The Washington Post. Set in an immigrant neighborhood in south Berlin, the story revolves around a liberal mosque that, for years, has been a progressive and tolerant place where battered Muslim women could seek help in divorcing. But now a further problem claims the mosque's attention: IS and its recruitment of young, European Muslims.

 

Starting around the time that the infamous Denis Cuspert, a Berlin based rapper who started to spread radical views via his songs three years ago before going to fight in Syria, came to prominence, the recruitment process of new Muslim fighters for the IS is now run online. This article by The Local focuses on SoundCloud's jihadi accounts asking young Muslims to go and fight in Syria using the power of music and it connects this trend with Germany's law and efforts to oppose the IS. But this is just an example of how IS uses social media and Internet to spread its radicalism: this recent article posted by BuzzFeed (yes, they do also serious and investigative journalism) focuses on how IS is currently threating Twitter founder and employees after their decision to block several pro-jihad accounts. 

 

Published in Good Reads
Friday, 22 August 2014 00:00

Good Reads – 22/08/2014

Another week, another selection of the best European reads, brought to you by two of E&M's editors. Frances and Bettina share a few gems they've come across online, ranging from an article about British POWs in Germany during the First World War to attempts to set the most recent outbreak of the Gaza-Israel conflict in its cultural and historical context, highlighting the role of regional and international stakeholders and Europe's hypocrisy in the affair.

Frances, Sixth Sense editor

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At home in enemy territory

Ever since visiting the exquisite Italian Chapel in Orkney, which was built by captured Italian soldiers during the Second World War, I have been intrigued by the fates of prisoners of war – both military and civilian. So it was with some interest that I stumbled upon Stephen Evans' recent article on the BBC website about the 5000 British citizens interned at Ruhleben on the edge of Berlin between 1914 and 1918.

These men were not soldiers, but civilians who happened to be in Germany when war broke out across Europe: everyday folk simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Despite many privations, they were determined to make the best of their lot and set about establishing not just order, including class and racial hierarchies, but also a degree of comfort. As Evans engagingly explains, they grew flowers in biscuit tins, organised rugby and cricket matches, put on plays and, in fact, ended up far better off than the people living in the German capital at the time. Even the name of the detention camp is somehow appropriate: roughly translated, it means "the quiet life". 

Published in Good Reads
Tuesday, 05 August 2014 00:00

Anti-Semitism is haunting Europe

 

Palestinian flag
Photo: Elvert Barnes; Licence: CC-BY 2.0
The Israeli-Palestian conflict has long been a contentious issue around the world

 

With the escalation of military operations in Gaza, anti-Israel protests are on the rise in a number of European cities. Alarmingly, these protests often appear to have an anti-Semitic tone that is not related to the conflict in the Middle East. According to Laetitia Grevers, instead of criticising constructively, many demonstrators rule out political debate and create a climate of hate.

Europe’s political institutions are enjoying the summer break. Local politics has taken a back seat and citizens' attentions are turned towards more global concerns. Thousands of them have taken to the streets to protest against the military offensive in Gaza. And it is here that anti-Semitism has been flaring up across Europe.

The biggest demonstration took place in London three weeks ago with 10,000 protesters. Some demonstrators claimed that Israel is continuing "Hitler's war of annihilation" and seeking a "final solution". In France riots quickly turned violent: two Parisian synagogues were attacked with baseball bats and sticks and cars were set on fire. Demonstrators shouted: "Death to the Jews!" or "Jews get out!". These views are far removed from the political debate on the conflict in the Middle East. Paris' chief rabbi Haim Korsia is demanding that the French no longer downplay the rise of anti-Semitism within their society.

Published in Contentious Europe
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