IJB fourth most influential “pro-Islamic” blog, says government report
Last night I got word that my blog had been named in a British government report as the fourth most influential “pro-Islamic” blog. The report, published by the Home Office as a PDF file, is based on research carried out by David Stephens of Nottingham University in early 2008. The report claims that the blogging community is small compared to the anti-Islamic blogging community clustered around sites like Little Green Footballs, but that “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”.
However, there are quite a few flaws in this report. Is this meant to report on self-identifying Islamic or Muslim blogs generally, or just those based in the UK or which comment heavily on British politics? If the former, the top 20 should surely have included what were still highly influential blogs then: Sunni Sister, Izzy Mo’s blog, Writeous Sister Speaks, Mere Muslim and Umar Lee’s blog. The first four have since been removed and the last has become inactive as of this month, but they would certainly have been more influential than mine in April 2008, although certainly not on UK-specific issues as they were all American blogs. Ali Eteraz has stopped blogging since then in favour of publishing articles elsewhere and writing books. How exactly is research carried out nearly two years ago still relevant, anyway?
And what is their definition of “pro-Islamic”, anyway? One of the blogs in the top five, the Angry Arab News Service, is run by a self-proclaimed atheist while another, Islam in Europe, is obviously not run by a Muslim and is not exactly “pro-Islamic” in my observation either.
It was noted that much of the sources used in the British blogs was sourced from the mainstream media, not specifically Islamic sources such as Press TV or Al-Jazeera, even the English branch. Specifically, much of the material came from the Guardian, the BBC and the Times. Personally, I do not use the Times that much; I used to use the Telegraph’s website quite a lot, but these days the traditionally Tory media are much more prone to xenophobia and Islamophobia than they used to be. I’ve read the Guardian since I was at school. I’ve read it long enough to trust it to some degree and just because some of its writers might not have the same views as me on Islam or other aspects of politics, it doesn’t mean I can’t gauge what’s useful from it and what’s not. It has a wider range of views in its opinion columns than any of the other “quality” papers, including the Independent where the right-wingers are balanced only by Johann Hari and Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. I don’t have time to read several media outlets per day; I tend to rely on the BBC for news and the Guardian for deeper investigation and comment.
So, this is not a very useful piece of research. Its main flaw is that it’s out of date, and blogs are usually individual efforts which come and go as the author sees fit. The most successful are the group blogs such as Muslim Matters, but that site (which has commented on British political and community matters on a number of occasions) isn’t mentioned on the report. While it’s nice to get recognition and to get my blog mentioned in the Guardian, the ranking really doesn’t mean anything given the lack of valid and current data to back it up.
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