August 11 2010
Radio Netherlands Worldwide carried a feature this week of several sites created to cater to the needs of young Dutch Muslims seeking “to combine Islam with living in a secular country like the Netherlands”. Featured websites include Polder Mosque, an online mosque for young people which treats Islam as part of Dutch society, and Maroc.nl, a popular discussion platform for Dutch-speaking Muslims. The RNW coverage emphasizes the confusion which can result from the many voices represented in the busy marketplace of internet forums. Mohammad El Aissati, founder of Maroc.nl, suggests that an authoritative voice emerging from the fray would most likely belong to “an imam who speaks Dutch, understands the questions of young Muslims in the Netherlands and advises them via the internet, the digital Mecca of this generation.”
From his home in Austin, Teas, Shahed Amanullah runs six popular websites that explore topics of interest to Muslims – with two more expected to launch shortly. Amanullah’s mini-internet empire include a website that reviews restaurants that meet Islamic dietary restrictions, another that reviews mosques, and one that explores gender issues – but his highest-profile website is “alt.muslim.com” – a forum for Muslims and non-Muslims to explore contemporary, often controversial topics as they intersect with Islam. These topics include terrorism, politics, culture, and comedy. The Washington Post interviews Shahed Amanullah on his reasons for creating these communities, the changing perception of Muslim Americans post 9/11 and moving into the Obama administration. “My job isn’t to convince people that Muslims are perfect. My job is to convince people that Muslims are human,” he says.