To all Muslims: Open invitation to talk.

I hereby invite any Muslim – mere believer, devout worshiper or radical fundamentalist – for a talk. I’ll make tea and if budget allows there will be biscuits too. You see, I’d like to understand what is going on right now across large swats of the small humid lump of mud we call home: Killings, burnings of Embassies, burnings of flags and more. And it seems to be but the start. All due to a repulsive, amateurish, ignorant and frankly completely deranged video. A video that would have garnered all but twenty viewers, had it been on any other topic.

Here’s my problem (which I hope you’ll help me solve): I believe that assaulting someone – let alone killing – because of deeply unjustified insults, is wrong. I further believe that resorting to physical violence of any kind as a reaction to an argument – to words and gestures – is wrong. No matter how stupid, repulsive or insulting it may be. I believe in dialog first and if that does not work before I get completely exhausted, indifference. Words, accusations, disgusting videos and satirical cartoons – no matter how awful – cannot affect me if I choose not to let them.

I also believe that if a person speaks out in ways that are completely unacceptable, it is wrong to condemn the entire nation of which he happens to be a part. Nobody speak on behalf of a whole nation – not even the King or the President. Every nation has its share of deranged and misguided people: Look no further than the peace loving country of Norway. If engagement is chosen, then it should be with the individuals or groups concerned. And without resorting to violence.

Why are people taking out their anger on people who have played no part in the provocation? Most of whom are no doubt as shocked and angered as the very people who resort to such levels of violence.

Anyone, in my view, who resort to violence in the face of words, lies and unfounded accusations, expose a weakness of the mind. A monumental lack of self control. He is, I find, an even lesser human being than the provocateur.

Can we talk about that? Can you help me understand?


The battle over new Internet domains is being fought right now

This is the first article in a series that examine Internet governance. How it is organized, exercised and what impact is has on you.

Mark Twain once said : « Buy land, they’re not making it anymore». However, with the rising sea levels he might have been too optimistic. But what is lost to high water can perhaps be won elsewhere. The Internet is expanding: there is new land to be had. And although it is virtual, it could well turn out to be worth more than premium pay-dirt.

Let me introduce “ICANN”. If you haven’t heard about this organization, you are in good company: Most haven’t. The acronym stands for the “Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers” and they are for all practical purposes the landlords of the Internet. With a difference: unlike their Earth-bound name sakes, they can conjure up endless plains of virgin land without sending a single soldier out on conquest. And they are doing just that, right now. More than 1400 new Top Level Domains are set to be created in the next twelve months. But some of these uncharted territories come with the label “here be monsters”…  More …

Guys, we have a problem: we commit 400.000 sex crimes every year.

Are you ok with that?

Actually, the figures are much worse: The above number comes from the UN and is based on police records from 80 countries in 2008 (as for the remaining 113 UN members you are allowed to wonder if they are serious about their membership). But that may just be the small tip of a gigantic iceberg: Researchers suggest that between 70% and 95% of all rape crimes are never reported. Taking the 70% estimate would mean that more than 1.3M women are raped or sexually assaulted each year. And very close to 100% of it done by men. Add to that domestic violence, harassment and other acts considered criminal and the scale of male aggression becomes staggering. If these “incidents” had a single pathological label, it would be the biggest entry in the the World Health Organization’s database. A rampant disease of sexual violence.

What’s wrong with us men?

I know that numbers on this issue are fraught with uncertainties, uneven data capture and reporting norms, giving rise to hot debates. Some (mostly women) say they are much bigger and others (mostly men) that women cry “rape” whenever it suits them. In the absence of quality data and tools, that discussion leads down the shouting-match alley, which, as we all know, is blind. A situation that ought to motivate some serious initiatives to at least produce better data.

Unfortunately the data capture and reporting effort seem to deteriorate: Over the past years the number of UN member states submitting their reports have dropped from 84 to 57. In 2010, less than a third of UN members cared to send any data at all. And that is not because sexual violence is on the decline. Quite the contrary: In 2009, 73 countries reported a total of 420.000 police recorded offenses while in 2010 (the most recent data), only 57 countries send their data, yet the total reached 373.000.

So who aren’t reporting? Read the rest …