Sochi Puts Russian Muslims in Spotlight
Discrimination Olympics: Meddling with Muslims in Sochi
Why Putin’s Islamophobic policies pervade the Winter Olympics at Sochi.
Last updated: 17 Feb 2014 09:19
Rampant Islamophobia has cast a shadow of danger during these Olympic Games, writes Beydoun [Getty Images]
Sochi’s more than 20,000 Muslims helped build the infrastructure and stages for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia, where Muslim athletes from a range of participating nations will compete within these multi-million-dollar stadia, slopes, and structures, vying for gold and the glory that comes with Olympic victory.
However, for Muslims in Sochi, the rampant Islamophobia has cast a shadow of concern and danger during these Olympic Games. Coverage of the Sochi games mentions Islam and Muslims exclusively in the form ofterrorist threat, head-scarved “black widows“, and, the familiar conflation of religious observance with national security concerns.
While the Opening Ceremony showcased the well-crafted face of a “New Russia“, age-old Russian hate toward the LGBTQ community, and indeed, both indigenous and visiting Muslims, are also prominently displayed in Sochi.
During its buildup, NBC’s Bob Costas stated that the Sochi Games will, “take place against a backdrop of questions about policy differences, security, cost overruns and human rights issues, including Russia’s anti-gay propaganda law”.
The firestorm against Sochi’s brazen homophobia leading up and during the Olympics was fierce, capped by President Barack Obama sending a US delegation led by openly gay athletes. The message, from news desks and the Oval Office, was clear – the US opposed the structural homophobia built into the Sochi Olympics.
No similar statements were made of the pervasive Islamophobia encircling the Games. Rather, the media and political rhetoric in the US toward Muslims and Islam are aligned with those of Russia, and linked inextricably to terrorism. American misalignment with Russia’s per se homophobia, and its converging interests with Moscow’s framing of Muslim threat, highlights the ever more relevant observation of Derrick Bell, who held that: “Domestic civil rights policies are only promoted when they advance majoritarian (white) interests abroad.”
The policing of Muslims stateside, and its nexus to the “global war on terrorism”, has – in large part – erased word of Sochi’s brazen Islamophobia from news headlines, and, hushed the US government from calling into question the religious freedoms of Muslims in Russia.
20,000 Muslims, zero mosques
Like its rigid stance against homosexuality, Islamophobia is built deeply within the brick and mortar of Russian law. New – like Old – Russia, violently persecutes its religious minorities. The Olympic City sits on the edges of the Caucasus Mountains – the site of the 19th century decimation and displacement of Circassian Muslims. In an effort to pacify resistance, the Czar followed by Soviet strategy focused on shuttering mosques, and eliminating religious centres and meeting spaces as a strategy to ethnically cleanse the indigenous Muslims. This Russian tactic of blanket suppression has outlived czars, the Soviet Union, and still lords over the Muslim population surrounding and within the Caucasus region.
In the Mother Jones article “Why Sochi has no mosques“, Tim Murphy writes that Sochi does not have a single mosque within its bounds for its 20,000 Muslim residents. The vast majority of these Muslims “migrated to the city over the last decade to take jobs building the Olympic facilities”. The nearest mosque is in the village of Tkhagapsh, roughly 50 miles from Sochi. Likely in an effort to preempt disruptive protests, Anatoli Rykov, the interim mayor of Sochi, told reporters that talks to build Sochi’s first mosque would begin after the Olympics.
Prayers rooms have been availed to Muslim Olympians. The accommodation of Muslim athletes, however, is hardly a symbol of tolerance. But rather, a blatant effort to quell dissidence within the Olympic Village, while simultaneously, denying the rights of Sochi’s Muslim residents to practice their faith.
Sochi’s mosque-less limits is emblematic of a deeper animus toward Muslims. Conspicuous markers of Muslim identity, including beards or headscarves, legal status and Chechen or Circassian nationality, will instantly mobilise the 50,000 police forces patrolling the city.
In short, Sochi is no place for Muslims, and the Steering Committee’s welcome for the Games’ Muslim athletes will surely expire as soon as Olympic flame is put out.
Sochi: A modern Potemkin Village?
The Sochi Games have been called a “moment of personal glory” for Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. A $51 bn grand circus for the Russian strongman, showcasing his financial mettle and might for the entire world to see. However, Putin’s arrogance is only one dimension of how these Games will be remembered after its end on February 23.
Without question, Putin backs the modern Islamophobic policies in Russia today. However, the phobia that mixes with religious animus with empire, xenophobia and a racially narrow conception of authentic Russian identity, precedes the modern czar by centuries. Beyond the billion-dollar Olympic Structures that symbolise “New Russia” are deeply entrenched phobias and systems of hate that no sublime opening ceremony or state-of-the-art stadium can hide.
When the crowds are gone and the world’s cameras are far away, Sochi will be remembered as a modern “Potemkin Village”, built atop the hollowed pillars of hate that survived the fall of walls and the crumbling of iron curtains. After the final medal is awarded in Sochi, these will stand as the lasting symbols of the Winter Olympics 2014.
Khaled A Beydoun is the Critical Race Studies Teaching Fellow at the UCLA School of Law.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.
10 Indian Things Loved the World Over
Republic Day is round the corner and it’s time to fill the atmosphere with some spectacular patriotic activities. From donning the tri-colour to waving the flag and throwing theme based parties, the passion among the masses is contagious. Nationalistic fervor has gripped the nation and some of the people have found crazy ways of manifesting their love for the country. It is so overwhelming to see the entire nation come together and stand united on the day.
There are many truly innovative ideas doing the rounds of Republic Day fashion circles such as flag shaped haircuts, tri-colour tattoos, the Bahgat Singh look, tri-colour cushion covers, coffee mugs, key chains, caps, tees and more. After sitting glued to the TV sets watching the parade in the morning, the entire day is dedicated to the celebration of our nationality. Being an Indian has its own perks and there are certain things that are only found in this multi-faceted part of the world. Let’s explore such unique things that make us feel proud to be an Indian on this Republic Day:
This traditional wear has enhanced the beauty of Indian females since time immemorial. With a regional variety available in every state, a woman has several options in her wardrobe to choose from.
3 Pashmina Shawls
These luxurious ultra-smooth shawls are considered the crowning glory of any saree. Every Indian woman possess a pashmina or inherits one from her mother. Find here some great Pashmina shawl Collection.
4 Darjeeling Tea
A staple at every Indian household, the aroma of Darjeeling tea itself is enough to enliven your senses.
This vibrant footwear is worn by both men and women and looks extremely charming. Find here some amazing Jutti‘s
Cricket is not a game but a religion and Sachin Tendulkar is the God, who is revered by one and all.
7 Ayurvedic Products
The magical remedies of the ancient traditional acience, Ayurveda have been a part of the nation for ages. Even today it is available in the form of cosmetics and healthy snacks.
8 Indian Classical Music
Music and movies are our favourite pursuit. Lot of kids still learn classical music at an early age and make a career in it. There is a reason why Ravi Shankar and Zakir Hussain became global stars.
Long before the gymnasium age, Indians had developed yoga to heal their body and mind. Now a rage all over the world, it is a part of our daily exercise regimen.
10 And of course Indian Curry
Buying Guide: 20 best mobile phones in the world today
techradar |7 days ago |Posted By: Anshuman Singh
Best mobile phone: 20-16
What’s the best mobile phone? Our verdict on the best smartphone/best phones – constantly updated
We’ve all got at least one mobile phone each, right? We’ve probably got about three or four nowadays, and that counts giving your old Nokia 3310 to your Mum a few years ago.
But while you used to be able to just bank on the new Nokia or always get the next Sony Ericsson because it had a half-decent camera, there are now so many great options out there from loads of manufacturers.
The trouble is, how do you decide which is the best one for you?
Well, this is where we make it easy. Because here we have our continually updated comparison of the top 20 best smartphones currently adorning phone emporiums up and down the UK.
The last update saw the HTC One maintain its place at the top of the charts, holding off multiple challenges from Nokia, Samsung, LG and Sony (namely the Galaxy S4) – showing the smartphone market still has a fair few players.
But the HTC One is nearly a year old. That’s an age in smartphone terms, and Apple’s in there too, doubling down by bringing out a phone at the same price (the iPhone 5C) and pulling no punches with the supercharged iPhone 5S, so where have both landed in our top 20?
But it’s by no means a ‘can Apple topple HTC’ kind of race – as HTC has created a cheaper version of the One (the HTC One Mini, of course), LG’s gone all out with the aptly named LG G2, and even Sony is continually pushing the smartphone envelope with the all new small-yet-powerful Sony Xperia Z1 Compact – so who knows who will be number one these days?
And now Google is playing fast and loose with consumers’ wallets, thanks to offering the ultra-cheap Nexus 5 and the even ultra-cheaper Moto G – could those be the phones for you?
If that still doesn’t help, well, there’s always our extensive mobile phone reviews pages as well – or check out our personally crafted smartphone buyer’s guide:
And when you’ve decided which new phone to buy (and checked out the best mobile phone deal), why not cash in your old one with our phone recycling price comparison service?
Here are our rankings for the best mobile phones around, currently available in the UK.
20. Samsung Galaxy S3
With the Samsung Galaxy S4 (and friends) now launched, the S3 has predictably fallen down the rankings thanks to there being a better phone to recommend.
But don’t worry: the S3 is still a strong phone: it’s got loads of features we want and more, and raised the bar once again in terms of what consumers should be expecting in terms of battery life, processor speed and media management.
Would we recommend you buy one if you’re hankering for a spot of Samsung? Yes, but only if you’re trying to save money, as the S4 is a much better version of this phone indeed.
Price isn’t the only reason the Samsung Galaxy S3 is worthy of consideration though. Smart Stay, Super AMOLED HD screen, up to 128GB storage, Music Hub, removable battery, quick camera; for the price, this phone still delivers in ways that many others on the market can’t.
If you’re after a decent slab of Samsung tech, the Galaxy S3 is an OK choice. It’s getting on a bit, hence the slip down the rankings.
Samsung faced an almost impossible task in trying to create a worthy sequel to the Galaxy S2, and while this is an older model, it’s still worth a look.
- Samsung Galaxy S3 review
- Compare the best Samsung Galaxy S3 deals
19. Samsung Galaxy Note 2
Many (including us, we admit) were not convinced when the original Samsung Galaxy Note launched. Who on earth would want something so big to make their calls and surf the internet, even with a glorified stylus? Cue awkward silence.
Millions of you, it would appear. The Galaxy Note sold by the bucketload, so how do you follow that up? With something better, of course – the Samsung Galaxy Note 2, which has shifted 20 million units worldwide, and now is the elder statesman thanks to the new Galaxy Note 3 appearing.
Still a strong and eye-catching device, the Galaxy Note 2 is well-connected, and thanks to that increased screen size (up to an eye-bulging 5.5-inches), is, among many things, a quality media player.
Samsung has achieved something special here, because it has made the Galaxy Note 2 bigger than the original, but pulls it off so that you don’t notice it too much and anyway, it’s the features that make it so amazing.
Air View, Multi-window, a dock that can turn it into a fully-fledged computer – it’s all here, people..
As a phone, it’s big, but once you get over that, if you can, it’s great. As a PMP, it really does excel, but there are better options on the market (Note 3 and Sony Xperia Z Ultra, for instance).
Ultimately, there’s no getting away from the fact that the Samsung Galaxy Note 2 is a niche device. But it does almost everything it sets out to do perfectly, with grace, class and maximum functionality.
With a lower price, it’s still powerful enough to last for at least a year or two, so we have no qualms recommending it as a viable option for your next phone.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 2 review
- Compare the best Samsung Galaxy Note 2 deals
18. Samsung Galaxy S4 Active
Want the Samsung Galaxy S4 but are too worried about dropping it in the bath or flinging it into a sand dune? Well, you can either not do either of those things, or buy the Samsung Galaxy S4.
With a powerful IP67 water and dust proof case the Active is far more hardy than a lot of the top end devices currently on the market.
The only other handset which can match the rugged credentials of the S4 Active is the Sony Xperia Z, (and Z1 successor, of course) although those being covered in glass front and back makes them feel far more fragile.
While the 5-inch display may not sport the Super AMOLED technology of the S4, the full HD resolution still makes for an excellent visual experience which is only really bettered by its namesake, the LG G2 and the HTC One.
If you’re in the market for a super powerful smartphone which you can take on extreme activities, swimming and in the bath then sure the Galaxy S4 Active is the best around, although that’s a pretty limited market.
And hey, chuck it in a bucket of water and your mates will be seriously impressed (honest).
We’ve only got this phone so far down on the list as we don’t think huge amounts of users will be desperate to add the heft to an S4 to make it a bit more life proof, and that isn’t going to be something most people will worry about.
But if you want the security of a phone that can withstand a few knocks but doesn’t scrimp on the specs or usability, then you could do a lot worse than checking out the S4 Active.
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Active review
- See the best Samsung Galaxy S4 Active deals here
17. Nokia Lumia 925
What’s better than a top Windows Phone 7 handset? A Windows Phone 8 one, and we’ve got no qualms about telling you this is one the best high-end Windows Phones out there.
Simplicity is the key here, the Lumia 925 does the basics well, from contact integration and calling, to web browsing and messaging. The camera is market-leading, and offers excellent performance from low-light to jumpy videos.
The 8.7MP PureView camera on the back of the Lumia 925 is actually one of the best we’ve used, and for anyone looking to get a top end cameraphone: you need to seriously consider this Nokia, although a glut of handsets (Sony Xperia Z1 Compact, HTC One, LG G2 and iPhone 5S) have all stepped up their game significantly to offer strong camera experiences too.
The 4.5-inch display is also a good’un, crisp and clear it makes watching movies, surfing the web or Facebook stalking an enjoyable experience, thanks to the PureMotion HD technology on offer.
And you can even use it with gloves on… what more could you want? You’re right: hologram messages. But they don’t exist yet.
The Nokia Lumia 925 is a worthy ambassador for Windows Phone 8 and probably a strong part of the reason Microsoft decided to acquire the Finnish handset division.
It’s not got the clout to take on the likes of the HTC One and Galaxy S4 just yet, but it’s still a great choice if you’re not sold on Android or iOS but don’t want to give up a powerful phone.
- Nokia Lumia 925 review
- Compare the best Nokia Lumia 925 deals
16. iPhone 5C
What’s this? A new iPhone not making it into the top five? Wait… not even the top ten?
Well, you can’t really blame us. This isn’t a new iPhone – it’s last year’s device in brand new package with more colours to choose from.
There are more LTE bands to choose from too, which is important to UK buyers as it means it can give superfast speeds from all the networks.
It’s still a really rather good phone, with the Retina display still giving market-leading colour reproduction, a strong camera and the best App Store around.
We’ll be honest: this is the place the iPhone 5 would have occupied since it’s been usurped by the iPhone 5S.
This is, in our eyes, essentially the same phone with a new skin. There will be loads of people looking to buy it simply because the iPhone now comes in pink or green, and to those we say: look at the Lumia range. Nokia’s been doing the same thing for years and at a much, much cheaper price point.
The iPhone 5C is the same as a every phone from Apple: too expensive for what it is, but if you’re desperate for such a device from the Cupertino brand then this is still a strong handset to plump for.
- iPhone 5C review
- Compare the best iPhone 5C deals
Best Mobile phone: 15-11
15. Sony Xperia Z
The Sony Xperia Z is no longer the top dog for the Japanese firm since the Xperia Z1 (and now the Xperia Z1 Compact) has launched. But when it came out, the handset was definitely the most impressive the firm has launched either in its current guise or as Sony Ericsson.
You can see the Sony influence throughout the handset as it oozes quality and build from the large screen, which fits close to the edges of the bezel, to the intelligent camera that allows you to snap some really premium photos without needing to fiddle about with the settings.
And it’s water and dust resistant too, which makes it excellent for general life business. There’s a certain freedom that comes from knowing that the heart-stopping moment of your phone falling in a pint of beer is gone for good.
It’s also packing a microSD card slot in an nicely-thin chassis, for which we laud the phone even higher. Add to that the Bravia Engine 2, (which is as much as you need – the Z1’s Triluminous technology doesn’t really further the message much further forward.)
It doesn’t run the Snapdragon 800 processor, but it does have a good spec list and uses them well – a crisper video experience, a more powerful camera, being waterproof, expandable memory are all great elements.
While it doesn’t quite pack the clout of the phones from HTC and Samsung, the Xperia Z is a phone that says Sony is definitely back at the sharp end of the smartphone game.
It’s a shame it hasn’t dropped in price much since its successor appeared, but there’s still a lot of decent tech in a phone that really pushed things forwards in terms of waterproofing.
- Sony Xperia Z1 review
- Compare the best Sony Xperia Z1 deals
14. Sony Xperia Z Ultra
The Xperia Z Ultra is the kind of phone we love to take out for a spin once in a while: it’s so packed with tech, and is so light and thin, that we can’t help but laud it.
The camera is powerful, the waterproof shell impressive and the Snapdragon 800 chip is really strong. On top of that the large 6.4-inch screen is full of good Sony tech, and the IPS addition means it looks so much better than the Z and Z1.
Then again, this is a massive phone… so big, it’s even winning awards as a tablet. It’s really, really big, and you’ll need to want it rather badly to shell out the large amount of cash you’ll need to in order to own one.
The Xperia Z Ultra is one of those devices that makes you gasp. Partly because of its beautiful design and partly because its specs are so great. It’s a phablet, but Sony wants you to also remember it’s a phone.
The market is increasingly getting competitive and the Galaxy Note 3 is a strong challenger. But if you need something bigger, the race is strictly between the Xperia Z Ultra and the Galaxy Mega. And this wipes Samsung’s offering off the table.
- Sony Xperia Z Ultra review
13. Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini
Samsung has created a mid-range handset, putting itself right against the 4G-toting Sony Xperia SP and Nokia Lumia 820 – but most importantly now in a war with the HTC One Mini too.
The Galaxy S4 Mini takes the design language of the full-fat S4, and does well to shrink it down without losing the same ‘atmosphere’.
A vibrant screen, bright and clear enough, added to the fact it’s only 4.3-inches large, mean the S4 Mini is a lot easier to hold in the hand, and the camera is as powerful as we’d expect on a phone of this size and price point.
What you get with the Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini is a far better trade off of price and features than you got with the Samsung Galaxy S3 Mini, and a phone that sits very comfortably within the S4 range.
It’s got a lot of the S4 power at a lower price point, and while the S3 to S3 Mini divide was just too great in our eyes, the S4 Mini is a lot closer to its bigger brother.
It lacks the power of the main version, but strips out the right amount of stuff to still be desirable.
- Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini review
- Compare the best Samsung Galaxy S4 Mini deals
12. Nokia Lumia 1520
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a trailblazing 6-inch smartphone that forges a path for Windows Phone 8 into true high-end territory. And what a swathe this oversized phablet cuts – it’s huge.
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is a well put together smartphone with Nokia’s typical build quality.
Its 6-inch 1080p display is a thing of beauty, and is a great way to watch videos and view photos on the go.
Nokia has produced another excellent camera phone here, learning lessons from the Nokia Lumia 1020 and the Nokia Lumia 925 to produce a very well balanced snapper.
However, there’s also no denying that this is a ridiculously large phone, and whipping one out in public will be as embarrassing as it is tricky to wield for those who appreciate a little subtly and mobility from their phones.
Then there’s that age old problem of the Windows Phone 8 ecosystem, which still lacks apps, not to mention a video store to fully capitalise on that cinematic screen
The Nokia Lumia 1520 is an absolute beast of a phone that we suspect only the large-handed and generous pocketed will be able to live with day to day.
Those who accept the challenge will find the most capable Windows Phone 8 device yet, with top-of-the-range specs that include a stunning 1080p display and a superb 20-megapixel camera.
It’s not quite the Windows Phone phablet we’re waiting for, but it’s a massive step forward.
- Nokia Lumia 1520 review
11. Sony Xperia Z1
The Sony Xperia Z1 is another powerhouse of a phone. With a 20.7MP camera with G Lens technology, the ability to withstand rain, snow and sand and a superfast Snapdragon 800 processor running the show, it’s clearly a great handset to have around.
It also comes in a variety of funky colours, has a pleasing build quality that helps justify the higher price to a degree and basically offers the best of the Sony brand in a smartphone.
We do have a few reservations insofar as the Z1 doesn’t really carry the mantle the Xperia Z created; it’s got a massively uprated camera and screen technology, but neither particularly wow.
Don’t think that this is anything less than a leading phone from Sony. It’s just that the added thickness to accommodate the camera doesn’t impress enough to plop it into the top five, nor the sub-par screen, and after the really great showing from the Xperia Z, we were a little disappointed.
However, the slick interface that make Android feel more simple, the fun Walkman and Movies app and the overall power and battery life make this a really nice phone that once again shows Sony knows how to make a smartphone.
- Sony Xperia Z1 review
- Compare the best Sony Xperia Z1 deals
Number 10: Nokia Lumia 520
10. Nokia Lumia 520
The Nokia Lumia 520, much like its big brother the Nokia Lumia 620, is a jack of all trades and a master of none – although it really manages to make a good fist of everything it tries, for the low, low price tag it carries.
It looks good, it’s got a decent screen both in terms of size and resolution, it rarely stutters or slows down, it’s great for calls and messaging, reasonable for media and okay for photos.
To achieve a lower price point the 520 has had to strip away a few things – there’s no NFC, compass, camera flash or front facing camera here.
But on the other hand it’s also got a bigger screen, a larger battery, a sleeker, slimmer, lighter build and the same processor and RAM as the Nokia Lumia 620, so in many ways it’s actually better.
Combine that with a lower price tag and we reckon that this just might be the best entry level Windows Phone 8 handset that you can buy and certainly the best value.
The Nokia Lumia 520 certainly isn’t an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy beater – but it’s a superb Windows Phone device that you can pick up for under £100. If you’re a fan of a simple interface with some quality add-ons, then you should definitely look at Nokia’s latest attempt to win over the smartphone naysayers.
- Nokia Lumia 520 review
- Compare the best Nokia Lumia 520 deals
Number 9: Samsung Galaxy Note 3
9. Samsung Galaxy Note 3
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is alive and kicking and breathes yet more life into a mobile form factor many thought would be dead on arrival, ramping up the specs and the size to give us a new monolith of mobile.
It may be big, but the 5.7-inch display is fantastic and the Full HD Super AMOLED technology makes everything pop from websites to movies.
You’re able to fit a lot more on screen at a time and that means less scrolling in messages, on websites and down your long contact list and that can only be a good thing.
What really impressed us with the Galaxy Note 3 though was its battery life and sheer speed under the finger. We’re used to a day at best when hardcore using the device, but we got far past that without breaking a sweat throughout our tests.
The speed of the Snapdragon 800 quad core processor, combined with 3GB of RAM, means this is the least-slouchy phone we’ve encountered in a while.
The Samsung Galaxy Note 3 is a great phone and if you were to own one you wouldn’t be disappointed. It provides a great onscreen experience – as long as your hands are big enough to reach across it – and its stuffed so full of tech to almost warrant its lofty price tag.
Its size will be a real stumbling point for many and we’d recommend going into a store and just holding the Note 3 for a while to see if it’s something you can cope with – in short, we want all this but in a form that we can hold easily, at a lower price and without the S Pen.
So, essentially, we’re really looking forward to the Galaxy S5.
- Samsung Galaxy Note 3 review
- Compare the best Samsung Galaxy Note 3 deals
Number 8: HTC One Mini
8. HTC One Mini
If you hold both the One and the One Mini, you’ll struggle to tell the difference, apart from the fact one is smaller than the other (obviously). The aluminium build quality pervades, and it’s hard to believe that you’re not holding one of the premium devices on the market.
Even the polycarbonate band that runs around the edge of the phone is unobtrusive, which means you get a distinctive design that doesn’t impact on the way the One Mini sits in the hand.
We love that the functionality of the One Mini isn’t compromised from its larger relative, with the likes of UltraPixels and BoomSound all involved without being watered down.
HTC has been very clever in the design of this phone by bringing nearly every great element of the One to the smaller version, and packaging it in a way that still makes it very attractive.
In short, it’s a cheaper version of the larger phone that scales down the processor and drops the price. Good combo, HTC.
Would we recommend the HTC One Mini? Absolutely – the mid-range market renaissance is something we didn’t expect, but is an area that HTC is intent on winning – and we think it’s managed that with the One Mini.
We really love the aluminium shell, the UltraPixel camera and BoomSound on board, plus we get to play with the latest version of Android as well as all the cool apps like the Music Player, which show lyrics to songs as they’re playing. Actually, we’re just happy to have the headphone-boosting amplifier on board – as long as our songs are nicely audible, we don’t really care.
There’s a sub-class of phones around at the moment that try and replicate top-end features in the mid-range market, and while this isn’t the best phone in that class any more (we’ll serve that title to the Sony Xperia Z1 Compact) it’s still a cracking buy.
- HTC One Mini review
- Compare the best HTC One Mini deals
Number 7: Moto G
7. Moto G
Motorola’s back, and it’s kicking off its global smartphone revival with the keenly priced Moto G handset. A mid-range handset with a low-end price tag – we’re talking around £100 in some stores.
On paper the Moto G looks like an excellent handset for the price, and in practice it lives up to the billing.
As the Nexus 4 did with the mid-range market, the Moto G has turned the budget end on its head with features found on handsets double its cost.
It exceeds its rivals in several key areas, from the well defined 4.5-inch display to its 1.2GHz quad-core processor and guaranteed Android 4.4 KitKat update. There’s a lot to love about the Moto G for its price.
Motorola must have cut some corners to get the price of the Moto G so low, and the camera is one area which has seen the compromise, but that’s one of the only gripes.
So here’s the upshot: Motorola is back folks, it’s official. It may not be the return we would have predicted – there’s no flagship phone stuffed full of the latest tech – but arguably what the now Google-owned firm has done is even better.
The Moto G is a top notch, low cost smartphone and we wholeheartedly recommend this as the best budget mobile currently on the market.
- Moto G review
- See the best Moto G deals
Number 6: iPhone 5S
6. iPhone 5S
Did you see this one coming? The iPhone 5S behind five other Android phones in our rankings? Some think it should be higher, some think lower – it depends on your level of Apple love.
Never has a company polarised opinion in the smartphone world like Apple – and with the iPhone 5S, so many are quick to decry it while others know it to be the smartphone they’ve been waiting for.
And let’s make no bones about it: this is a stunning phone, with a gorgeous two-tone finish, a high-res screen with good colour reproduction, a 64-bit chip and that all-powerful TouchID sensor that lets you unlock your phone with a simple fingerprint.
The iOS 7 update is one that we sorely, sorely needed and does bring a lot more power and control – as shown by the impressive and pervasive Control Center.
We really like TouchID, the processor might be a little useless now but definitely brings a touch more zip to things, and the M7 chip for fitness apps will be very exciting in weeks and months to come as app developers get their paws on it.
The main problem we have with this phone, spec list aside, is the fact the iPhone 5S is STILL very expensive… we’re not sure how such sky high prices can be charged when equivalent smartphones are available on the market, plus it still has a small screen compared.
Let’s not beat around the bush here: the iPhone 5S is still one of the great smartphones in the world thanks to a great package of technology, design and UI intuition.
iOS 7 is the update we’ve needed for a while, and does a lot to help keep Apple current at the sharp end of the market – but we still can’t wait to see what the iPhone 6 will bring, as essentially this is still the same phone as the iPhone 5 but with a better engine under the hood.
- iPhone 5S review
- Compare the best iPhone 5S deals
Number 5: Samsung Galaxy S4
5. Samsung Galaxy S4
All change at the top! Samsung managed to hold off HTC at the top in 2012, but this year the supreme stylings of the HTC One proved too strong against a phone that’s a slightly-better-version of its predecessor.
Well, that’s not really fair – it’s only in looks that it’s too similar, and sadly that was one of the biggest issues most users had with the S3. It’s not the world’s biggest smartphone crime, but it’s enough to keep it from the top spot.
There’s a lot, a lot, to love with the Samsung Galaxy S4 though: whether it’s a powerful camera, a brilliant screen, a long-lasting battery or just a fluid experience, there’s everything you could want in a smartphone right here.
The cost is a tad higher than on other smartphones, but thankfully still cheaper than iPhone level and is descending as we wait for the imminent sequel. If only it was made out of something a little more premium…
LG has now taken its second spot too – here’s hoping the Samsung Galaxy S5 brings something that’s really rather special to halt its slide down the charts.
There’s no doubt that this is one of the best smartphones ever made – it’s clear, powerful and does everything we’d expect a flagship phone from Samsung to do.
It’s just a shame that the perceived ‘innovation’ doesn’t really add anything: motion gestures, smart scroll and it’s other non-contact bedfellows didn’t take smartphones to the next level, which is what we needed in the face of Ultrapixels and BoomSound.
Make no mistake though: you’ll love the Samsung Galaxy S4 if you choose to go for it, as it’s an amazing phone with some really cutting-edge features.
- Samsung Galaxy S4 review
- See the best Samsung Galaxy S4 deals
Number 4: Google Nexus 5
4. Google Nexus 5
So we’ve updated our review with the new phone software, and thankfully things are a lot better now. The battery is improved, the camera a little more stable, and the low cost is still in place.
You already know we like Android 4.4, the clever implementation and the £299 price tag. We love the high power CPU, the quality screen; even the rubberised outer shell.
You can get the LG G2 for £100 more though, and that offers a far superior camera, better battery life (it’s better, but not brilliant) and a huge slew of extra features – it really depends if you’re a fan of the stripped-down experience.
We’re glad to put this smartphone higher up in the rankings, as it’s one of the cheapest out there in terms of bang for buck.
It’s a great phone that hits the marks well – it lacks something in terms of innovation, but that’s not a problem for those that want to be able to run all manner of apps and games at a decent price. It doesn’t come in at the same price point as previous Nexii, but it’s still jolly cheap.
- Google Nexus 5 review
- See the best Nexus 5 deals
Number 3: Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
3. Sony Xperia Z1 Compact
Hey Sony, lovely to have you back near the top. What’s this? A phone without a 1080p screen? A smaller battery? Are you MAD?
Wait, we get it. This is the mildly-nonplussing Xperia Z1 shoved into a smaller frame, with almost nothing compromised (the above two points aside). With a 4.3-inch screen it’s one of the most easy to use devices in the hand, coming in next to the iPhone 5S, but it does it with a much lower cost and a great battery life to boot.
On top of that it’s waterproof and has expandable memory, plus a superb screen. Well played, Sony – we can’t wait to see what else you do in 2014.
Want a great phone that’s just a little bit smaller without losing all the power? If so, then we’ve found your ideal device. Strong CPU, great battery and expandable memory are traits we love to see.
It’s been launched with a palatable price tag as well – so head on down to your local emporium and throw it in some water. Because it’s waterproof too, not because you’re a vandal.
- Sony Xperia Z1 Compact review
- See the best Sony Xperia Z1 Compact deals
Number 2: LG G2
2. LG G2
Wait, an LG phone in at number two? Believe it people; LG has made a phone that not only impressed us but ran the HTC One very, very close for the top spot.
We don’t know where to start in terms of extolling the virtues of this new handset from the South Korean firm: it’s got an insanely good screen, quality camera, the best audio pumping out from its speakers and headphone jack… the list goes on.
We even came to tolerate, then love, the power and volume buttons being placed on the rear. These aren’t ideal, but the ability to knock on the screen makes it really easy to interact with this impressive device.
There’s so much on offer here that we can’t help but recommend it to anyone looking for the best smartphone powerhouse.
The only things that we dislike are the cluttered UI (pull down the notifications bar and you’ll see why) and the plastic casing, which drops the premium feel of the phone.
But launching at £400 on PAYG, along with comparable contracts to six month old phones, is a really nice touch from LG, and we reckon it’s going to pay dividends.
- LG G2 review
- See the best LG G2 deals
Number 1: HTC One
1. HTC One
Don’t fear HTC fans – your darling is still number one. As our only five star phone, its combination of impressive UI and stunning aluminium build means it was always safe in the number one
It’s nothing to do with the quality of the S4 or the LG G2 – outstanding phones in anyone’s book – but more the fact HTC has managed to bring out a smartphone that’s worthy of any user’s consideration.
The supreme aluminium chassis, the Full HD screen and the simplified version of Sense 5.0 sitting on top of Android Jelly Bean (plus KitKat any day now!) means it’s a pleasure to use and recommend this handset.
The new innovations are also pleasingly more than just marketing gimmicks; Zoe functionality allows the creation of delightful video highlight reels, and the Ultrapixel camera means you’ve got a much wider range of shots available thanks to being stunning in low light.
With power, poise and beauty all combined in this innovative phone, HTC has proved it can more than still cut it with the big boys when it comes to bringing out a lust-worthy flagship smartphone – and it’s also proved that it still knows how to beat the Samsungs and LGs of this world into third and second place with ease.
We’re now starting to wonder how long HTC can hold its place at the top, and with 2014’s best and brightest approaching, you might want to wait to see what’s coming up – but with that metallic frame, there’s no short supply of users ready to coo all over it the second it lands in their hand.
- HTC One review
- See the best HTC One deals
You might also like…
If a phone isn’t in the top 20 best phones in the world list, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth giving two hoots about.
Here’s a few handsets you might want to think about should none of the above tickle your fancy… although you’re clearly VERY hard to please:
Motorola Razr HD
A former top 20 resident the Motorola Razr HD is still a decent contender and has only dropped out of our best phones list due to newer handsets elbowing their way to the top.
While this phone lacks in some areas (let’s be honest: a dual-core processor doesn’t get anyone’s heart racing any more, despite being able to handle most tasks) it still has a clear screen, simple OS and a really strong battery at its heart.
Many will be taken by the almost stock Android platform it uses, and the fact it’s got an additional HDMI port means it’s easy to sync your phone up to a big screen – plus it doesn’t cost the earth.
Motorola Razr HD review
- Compare the best Motorola Razr HD deals
Huawei Ascend Y300
Fancy stepping into the smartphone market but don’t want a phone that’ll cost you the earth? Then why not check out the capable Huawei Ascend Y300, yours for just £100.
At that price you’re not going to get any breakthrough technology, but with Android Jelly Bean, a dual-core processor and a 5MP rear camera it offers plenty for the first time user.
You don’t get 4G, NFC or a shiny metal chassis, but the Y300 offers a solid build a reliable – if not slightly sluggish – interface.
Huawei Ascend Y300 review
Nokia Lumia 720
The Nokia Lumia 720 is a great smartphone and though some may be put off that it’s rocking Windows Phone 8 over Android, if you’re in the market for a mid-range mobile this is certainly worth considering.
If offers a bigger screen then the excellent, but small Lumia 520 and it won’t make a massive dent in your wallet if the Lumia 925 is out of your price range.
It is up against some tricky, and more established Android competition, but if you fancy taking the plunge for something new you can’t go wrong with the Lumia 720.
- Nokia Lumia 720 review
- Compare the best Nokia Lumia 720 deals
Everyone is going touchscreen these days, BlackBerry’s even got the Z10 and Z30 now, but for those of you still reliant on a physical keyboard to type the Q10 is one of the few options available to you.
While the Q10 may struggle to match the top end Android and iOS handsets in terms of features, apps and value, it does offer the best physical typing experience on the market – and for some that’s all they need to hear.
- BlackBerry Q10 review
- Compare the best BlackBerry Q10 deals
Huawei Ascend P2
The Huawei Ascend P2 is a highly capable smartphone and offers a strong line up of features and a decent level of specs – it just doesn’t excel at anything, or wow us with amazing features.
If you fancy a powerful handset on a budget then the Ascend P2 is a decent shout with a quad-core processor, 4.7-inch HD display, 4G connectivity and a 13MP camera.
It’s not going to win any races against the likes of the HTC One or Galaxy S4, but you’ll be safe in the knowledge you got decent value for money.
- Huawei Ascend P2 review
- Compare the best Huawei Ascend P2 deals
Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom
If you’re one of those people who plays by their own rules then you won’t be taken by any of the generic slabs of plastic and metal which are today’s smartphones – you’ll want something different, something out there, something a little bit off the wall. Meet the Samsung Galaxy S4 Zoom.
Is it a phone? Is it a camera? Well it’s kind of both. From the front it looks like another Samsung clone, but flip it over and there’s a whacking great optical zoom camera lens plastered on the back.
It’s big, brash and heavy and that will put a lot of people off, but it you want a device which can take some impressive pictures and make the odd phone call you may fall for the S4 Zoom’s… umm… charm?
- Haute Hijab and the Halal Dollar
- By LAILA ALAWA
Growing up, I was always hard-pressed to find my name in the rows of souvenir keychains on sale at the many museums my family frequented. There were Jennifers, Sarahs, and Amys, but no Laila. I never stopped looking for my name, though, hoping that one day I’d see it.
With the recent news about the strength of the Muslim American dollar, I think that time will be coming very soon. Companies are beginning to take notice of a market that has, for the most part, remained untapped.
As Mariam Sobh reports, a 2010 study by marketing firm Ogilvy Noor showed that the Muslim American consumer market was worth $170 billion—a number that reflects a population of Muslim Americans near eight million.
With that comes a great deal of purchasing power, says Lisa Mabe, of Hewar Social Communications, quoted in Sobh’s piece for WBEZ Chicago: “There are millions of consumers just waiting to see which brands will be smart enough to engage with them, and those who do will see first-hand not only their spending power but their brand loyalty and brand advocacy.” Missing the Muslim market today, she says, would be like missing the Latino market in the 1990’s.
In the meantime, though, the Muslim market is being pursued by entrepreneurs working from within.
With the heightened sense of identity and pride that followed the backlash of post-9/11, Muslim Americans were actively looking to promote a more positive face to Islam. Prior to 2000, items were for the most part imported from abroad, remnants of the homelands immigrants at the time identified more with. With the changing face of the Muslim American community, however, new needs and desires were reflected in the market. A report written by the Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project revealed that two thirds of the Muslim American community are immigrants, but that has shifted over the years given the new generations of children that are born and raised American.
The shift, and accompanying attitude change, is reflected in the businesses that have arisen around the new demand. Suddenly, halal food and fashion industries are flourishing, and it is no longer a struggle to find the perfect hijab or some halal-prepared beef.
Granted, many fashion businesses are still operating online, but the subculture emerging from the advent of Muslim fashion has been a community of fashionistas and designers that have only served to be the new role models and style icons for youth growing up in America—Muslim or not. Whiffs of Muslim fashion could even be found in the mainstream fashion trends this past year, with long, flowing skirts and colorful turbans—a spinoff of the more traditional hijab that Muslim fashionistas have been developing for some years now—found amongst many mainstream designers.
As a Muslim American woman, I have begun shifting away from more mainstream styles and begun finding that options that appeal to me more, both in uniqueness and style, are options created and sold by Muslim American designers. What is the need, then, for me to turn to styles like Zara or Forever 21 when there are brands like Simply Zeena or Haute Hijab?
Although it remains to be seen whether American companies will latch onto this underutilized demographic, Muslim American communities have begun realizing—and proving—that they don’t need a pity-party campaign launched by an American company. Instead, they are simply going after their community needs and filling what needs to be serviced. Is it possible, then, that when the time comes that more American companies begin to pay attention to this consumer market, that the community will already have moved on?
Even among American companies, only very few have begun paying attention to the value available in the Muslim American community.
Although it can be argued that Muslim Americans need and use the same products that all Americans do, the need for catering to our community is deeper rooted. Representation of Muslims in the media, particularly in product advertisements, have been for the most part reliant on stereotypes and geared towards the general American community—which can lead to ignorance rather than acceptance.
Furthermore, lazy depictions—or a general absence of depictions—means that a potential Muslim American consumer might feel dissuaded from handing over her dollar. With the growing Muslim American market, I have noticed a trend in which consumers are more picky in the companies they choose to support.
However, it appears the tide is beginning to turn, particularly among frontrunner companies like Coca Cola and Best Buy. Although there was an advertisement late last year featuring a niqab-clad woman and her American soldier husband for a SnoreStop mattress campaign, less stereotypical portrayals are emerging. In the controversial Coca Cola Super Bowl ad, we saw a hijab-clad woman and her friends among the diverse cast. In a very deliberate way, the ad told Muslim Americans that they were now a part of the day to day diversity roster.The resulting backlash came not from Muslim Americans—who celebrated the few seconds she graced the screen —but from Islamophobes upset over the fact that Muslims were portrayed as a normal part of American society.
In another, much less high-profile advertisement, Best Buy featured an Arab individual by the name of Mustafa. Implied amongst the message for a high screen television was his normalcy—and the potential market of Muslim Americans.
Perhaps a future awaits us in which headscarves are sold amongst other clothing in mainstream stores, where it is okay to be featured in an advertisement without backlash, and where Muslim American kids can proudly sport souvenir keychains with their names on them.
How Muslims helped Ireland during the great famine
by Mehedi Islam
Company plans to beam free Wi-fi to every person on Earth from space
- An ambitious project known as Outernet is aiming to launch hundreds of miniature satellites into low Earth orbit by June 2015
- Each satellite will broadcast the Internet to phones and computers giving billions of people across the globe free online access
- Citizens of countries like China and North Korea that have censored online activity could be given free and unrestricted cyberspace
- ‘There’s really nothing that is technically impossible to this’
You might think you have to pay through the nose at the moment to access the Internet.
But one ambitious organisation called the Media Development Investment Fund (MDIF) is planning to turn the age of online computing on its head by giving free web access to every person on Earth.
Known as Outernet, MDIF plans to launch hundreds of satellites into orbit by 2015.
And they say the project could provide unrestricted Internet access to countries where their web access is censored, including China and North Korea.
The New York company plans to ask NASA to test their Outernet technology on the International Space Station (left) so that they can begin broadcasting Wi-Fi to web users around the world (right)
Using something known as datacasting technology, which involves sending data over wide radio waves, the New York-based company says they’ll be able to broadcast the Internet around the world.
The group is hoping to raise tens of millions of dollars in donations to get the project on the road.
The Outernet team claim that only 60% of the world’s population currently have access to the wealth of knowledge that can be found on the Internet.
This is because, despite a wide spread of Wi-FI devices across the globe, many countries are unable or unwilling to provide people with the infrastructure needed to access the web.
The Outernet project is aiming to raise tens of millions of dollars to launch hundreds of miniature satellites known as cubesats to make their dream a reality
The company’s plan is to launch hundreds of low-cost miniature satellites, known as cubesats, into low Earth orbit.
Here, each satellite will receive data from a network of ground stations across the globe.
Using a technique known as User Datagram Protocol (UDP) multitasking, which is the sharing of data between users on a network, Outernet will beam information to users.
Much like how you receive a signal on your television and flick through channels, Outernet will broadcast the Internet to you and allow you to flick through certain websites.
THE OUTERNET PROJECT TIMELINE
‘We have a very solid understand of the costs involved, as well as experience working on numerous spacecraft,’ said Project Lead of Outernet Syed Karim, who fielded some questions on Reddit.
‘There isn’t a lot of raw research that is being done here; much of what is being described has already been proven by other small satellite programs and experiments.
There’s really nothing that is technically impossible to this’
But at the prospect of telecoms operators trying to shut the project down before it gets off the ground, Karim said: ‘We will fight… and win.’
If everything goes to plan, the Outernet project aims to ask NASA for permission to test the technology on the International Space Station.
And their ultimate goal will be to beginning deploying the Outernet satellites into Earth orbit, which they say can begin in June 2015.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2552177/Forget-Internet-soon-OUTERNET-Company-plans-beam-free-wi-fi-person-Earth-space.html#ixzz2sYu2urIT
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Not so very long ago, in the middle of a casual chat with a long-time acquaintance in a local café, I made a comment that changed the entire direction of the conversation, “You know, just this morning I read in the Qur’ān that…”
No sooner had I finished my sentence than my conversational partner – completely side-stepping the observation I had made – quizzically asked “Why are you reading theQur’ān?”
I was momentarily struck dumb. Why am I reading the Qur’ān? Why wouldn’t I be reading the Qur’ān? After all, I had just spent the previous year reading the entirety of the King James Version of the Bible, including its often overlooked Apocrypha; thus my now taking up the Qur’ān made perfectly logical sense to me. It continues the direct lineage of the faiths collectively known as the People of the Book, it’s the guiding scripture of over a billion of the world’s presently living inhabitants, and it’s a book I had not previously read.
However my inquirer would have none of this. That I had spent a year daily working my way through the King James Version made perfect sense and was even laudable to her, “but the Qur’ān…” She then began equivocating somewhat disconnectedly, bouncing through assorted themes that betrayed her entire understanding of the book to have come from the all-too-often sensationalistic popular American media.
“Have you ever read it for yourself?” I gently interrupted.
“Good heavens no!” she exclaimed. “Why would I?”
The conversation plays over and over in my head – especially the “why would I?” What can really be said in response to that? How can one successfully explain to another person whose entire understanding of a particular subject is not only mistaken but dangerously misguided that the opinions they hold are such – especially when their opinions seem to them to be so commonly held by so many others?
I have come to the conclusion that the best I can do is to offer my own reasons for reading the Qur’ān. As I have noted, I took up reading it following the completion of my reading of the King James Version of the Bible. In addition to my reading through the St. John’s Reading List, I like to have a religious book on my reading table at all times as I find it keeps my mind well balanced between the things of this world and “what dreams may come.”
However I have also long wanted to undertake a reading of the Qur’ān in response to some xenophobic themes I have noticed becoming increasingly common in American society; particularly anti-immigrant and anti-religious minority themes. In the case of Muslims in the U.S. – many but by no means all of whom are both immigrants as well as members of a religious minority in what is a predominantly self-described Christian country – these themes often exact an exceptionally high toll upon them.
Thus, ever the one to cling desperately – despite far too many social experiences that would seem to prove the contrary – to the guiding principle that knowledge is the best tool with which to correct the damage wrought by ignorance, I made the assumption that through reading the Qur’ān for myself, I would thus be in a better position confidently to refute misperceptions of it when I encountered them. Of course, this would depend upon one key thing being true: were the popular negative opinions I have so often heard voiced about it actually unjustified by the facts.
From everything I have read thus far – I have reached Sūrah 45 reading in reverse order from Sūrah 114 (this reverse order method of reading was recommended to me by Dr. Ingrid Mattson, who I sincerely hope will forgive me if I in any way have misunderstood her explanation and thus misrepresent it, as a good way for a first time reader to acquire a better understanding of key concepts contained in the latter portion of the book at an earlier time during the reading) – I can honestly say that I have yet to read a single thing about which I have found myself in the least troubled or that would in any way justify any of the negative commentary regarding the book that has become too easy to hear and read in the popular American (and European, for that matter) media.
What I have found in my reading is a remarkable collection of wise counsel that returns again and again to themes that I cannot believe anyone of any faith would find objectionable: encouragement to do good works, concern for the poor, devotion one’s parents, the importance of honesty, praise of humility, and most importantly, the absolute necessity of complete faith in God as all-knowing and supremely merciful. Indeed, I have found what I have read thus far in the Qur’ān to be more directly applicable to how best to live one’s life than the scriptures of the Bible upon which I myself was raised.
To be sure, I still have much to read before I will have read the entire Qur’ān. In fact, even then I will not properly have read it but only an English interpretation of it; the true Qur’ān, according to what I have elsewhere read regarding Islamic theology, being only fully intelligible when read in Arabic (a belief I very much respect having read the New Testament of the Bible both in English as well as in Greek and having seen for myself the effect of translation upon any text). However I can honestly say that I cannot recall when last I have been so wholly enthralled by any book I have previously read, either in regard to its content or how much I feel I have gained (both intellectually – acquiring a first-hand understanding of the content of the book itself – as well as spiritually) as a result.
Thus as to the question of “why would I?” I think I can now offer a number of good reasons. The acquisition of knowledge regarding any subject one does not understand, or misunderstands, is always to be desired. Knowledge can lead to wisdom, which can in turn be a very effective correction to ignorance wherever it is found – be that in one’s society or in oneself. Wisdom can also overcome fear, which both arises from and perpetuates ignorance. And finally, it is through seeking to know and understand, by at the bare minimum reading one another’s guiding scriptures, how those with whom we share this world variously interpret the reasons why we are here and what is expected of us in living our respective lives that we can better hope to do so in peace.
For those who might like to join me in reading the Qur’ān, the Council on American-Islamic Relations has a wonderful program through which a copy of the same edition I am presently reading – The Message of the Qur’ān complete with the original Arabic text as well as translated, transliterated, and annotated by Muhammad Asad – will be sent directly to you for the cost of the postage necessary to send it. For all seekers of knowledge and understanding, such a generous offer is one that it is difficult to in good conscience justify refusing.
WASHINGTON, January 6, 2014 — While the Middle East appears to dominate much of the discourse relating to Islam and Muslims, the growth of Muslim communities in countries such as Brazil seems to go unnoticed.
The rise of the religion in the country has become so widespread, that it has permeated the entertainment industry. A popular “telenovela” called “O Clone” features a heroic Muslim woman, who wears the Islamic hijab (scarf), as the main character.
Paulo Pinto, of Brazil’s Fuminense Federal University, believes that O Clone introduced many fascinated Brazilians to Islam and its practices. The show was highly regarded in the country, and taught many Brazilians common Islamic phrases, such as “Alhamdullilah” (Praise be to God), which was said by characters on the show after sneezing and other situations indicating happiness; “Inshallah” (God willing), used for planning future events; and “Mashallah” (It was God’s will), typically used for congratulating someone on a particular accomplishment.
Young Muslims shorten the three on various forms of social media, and it is not uncommon to see the phrases abbreviated as “aA”, “iA”, and “mA” on Facebook. The second letter is intentionally capitalized because it refers to Allah, which is the Arabic word for God.
The well-known Islamic greeting “Salaam Alaikum” (Peace be to you) becomes “SA” or even “ASA.”
The show has been syndicated to several countries, and even airs on Telemundo in the United States. In typical fashion for modern television, an updated remake is being filmed.
According to Imam Khaled Taqi el-Din, founder of the Ali bin Abi Taleb Islamic Center in Sao Paolo, and current President of the Supreme Council of Imams and Islamic Affairs in Brazil and the Manager of Islamic Affairs at the Federation of Muslim Associations of Brazil, Latin Muslims are fiercely patriotic.
He told OnIslam.net, in an interview “Brazil is famous for maintaining good relations with Arabs and Muslims… Moreover, it is a state based on freedom, law, and citizenship rights.
“Arabs -both Muslims and non-Muslims- played a large role in the economic and political advancement of Brazil. There are about 10 to 12 million Brazilians from Arab origins which is a large number. They enjoy a lot of freedom. It is a country that recognizes all sects and religions on equal basis. There are many organizations protected by the state with the mandate of opposing all kinds of religious discrimination.
“Brazil also stood firm against pressures to introduce harsh measures to put Arabs and Muslims under strict surveillance following the 9/11 explosions, preferring to deal with the issue rationally and wisely.”
A recent posting on ShiaChat.com advertised a series of religious commemorations throughout the country, giving times and dates of services, as well as the following summary:
“The Brazilian Islamic community also follows this tradition in major cities with Islamic presence in the country. Muslims from São Paulo, Curitiba, Foz do Iguaçu and Ponta Porã will gather in their mosques to show their appreciation for the Islamic cause and a great sorrow for the suffering of Imam Hussein (as), the grandson of Prophet Mohammed (SAW), and his followers.”
The post is referring to the historical (7th century CE) Imam Husain, the grandson of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad. Muslims around the world focus their attention on Imam Husain, culminating with the religious day of “Arbaeen”, which marks the end of mourning rituals for the fallen leader.
The Rio Times says “According to a census conducted by the IBGE (Brazilian institute for geography and statistics), the number of Muslims living in Brazil has risen by 29.1 percent between the years 2000 and 2010. The survey also indicated that the largest number of Muslims can be found in São Paulo, followed by Paraná, Rio Grande do Sul, Rio de Janeiro and Minas Gerais.”
Brazilian Islam has grown in reach as well, expanding outside of the country. A recent exhibit in Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, showcased the history and art of Brazilian Muslims.
Pakistani newspaper The Nation, reported on the display “The exhibition aims at showing Pakistanis a little known side of life and culture of Brazilian Muslim community. The Ambassador of Brazil, Alfredo Leoni, inaugurated along with Rector National University of Sciences and Technology, Engr Muhammad Asghar, inaugurated the photo exhibition at the NUST.”
The University of Wisconsin, Madison campus asserts that the growth of Islam in Brazil is not from immigration or from large increases in births from traditional Muslim families. Instead, researchers from the school state that the increase to the population of Muslims in Brazil are converts “largely from Catholic Brazilians and those of other non-Muslim backgrounds (Protestantism, Spiritism, and no religious background).”
Why Sochi Has No Mosques
But Sochi’s impasse only underscores the larger issues facing religious freedom in Russia. The mining city of Kostomuksha recently scrapped a mosque construction project, approved six years ago, due to local protests. Another approved plan, for a mosque in the steppe city of Novokuznetsk, also fell through. And as international religious freedom advocate Katrina Lantos-Swett pointed out at an event at Washington’s Heritage Foundation last week, Moscow “has two million Muslims, but only four mosques”—a number that’s not likely to change now that mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said the city has reached its limit.
In Putin’s Russia, there’s at least one construction boom the government can’t seem to get behind.