Troll or hero? The sex blogger who's offending Muslims

  • 3 May 2015
Alvin Tan's video mocking the Islamic call to prayer has been viewed more than 400,000 times
Alvin Tan's video mocking the Islamic call to prayer has been viewed more than 400,000 times

Sex blogger, agent provocateur, trouble-maker - or freedom of speech activist?

These are all phrases that one of Malaysia's most infamous bloggers, Alvin Tan, uses to describe himself. He has a history of posts that have been highly divisive in the Muslim majority nation, and his latest stunt has involved once again offending Muslim sensibilities with a controversial Facebook post.

In the video, Tan, bare-chested and wearing sunglasses, plays the piano while singing a lyrically garbled version of the Azan - the Muslim call to prayer. Underneath the video, he has written: "Please don't badger me about the wrong lyrics ... First, this is a cover, so creative modification is permitted. Second, I ain't a suicide bomber."

It's been watched more than 400,000 times and, as might be expected, it has prompted extremely strong reactions, especially from Muslims. "Alvin Tan, shame on you!" one commented. "This is one of the [most] terrible insults I ever seen," another said. "Disgusting." Others, though were more complimentary. "Good effort … I'm Muslim & I'm not angry," read one comment. "One day you will be one of of us, brother."

Tan's posts expose the running debate in Malaysia about religion. About 60 percent of Malaysians are Muslim, mostly from the Malay ethnic group. But it's a multi-ethnic and multi-faith country, with significant Buddhist, Christian and Hindu minorities. More than a fifth of Malaysians are, like Tan, of Chinese ancestry. He justifies his statements by claiming to stand up for secular, liberal values - and says the fact he's been arrested for what he's posted shows how Malaysia doesn't guarantee freedom of speech.

Read full article Troll or hero? The sex blogger who's offending Muslims

Make-up memes mock Russian bikers

  • 2 May 2015
Members of the Russian Night Wolves Motorcycle Club ride to the Mount of Glory memorial complex in the village of Sloboda, some 25 kilometres east of Minsk, to honour Soviet soldiers of WWII, on 26 April 2015.
Russia's Night Wolves bikers, known for their support of President Vladimir Putin, are subject to US sanctions for their involvement in the Ukraine conflict

The macho image of a controversial Russian motorcycle club took a hit online after one of the bikers mentioned their "make-up bags" in a TV interview.

They've been called Putin's "Hells' Angels", known for their support of the Russian President. Ten bikers from Russia's Night Wolves motorcycle club were turned back when they tried to enter Poland from Belarus earlier this week. They were aiming to get to Berlin to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II later this month.

Read full article Make-up memes mock Russian bikers

The Welsh language election debate

  • 2 May 2015
The welsh flag

English speakers: there's a whole other political debate about the UK election taking place in the Welsh language. But it's not particularly large.

More than half a million people speak Welsh, it's been a language of politics and government since the Welsh Assembly was created in 1998, and the Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru has been visible across the UK media in the run up to the general election on 7 May. But on social platforms it seems that very few speakers are choosing to take part in political discussions online - at least in the Welsh language.

Read full article The Welsh language election debate

Who is Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby?

  • 1 May 2015
Marilyn Mosby delivers news of the charges
Marilyn Mosby was applauded for her swift action and defiant attitude

Marilyn Mosby has captured the world's attention after she announced she was pressing charges against Baltimore officers in the death of Freddie Gray.

By the end of her speech, the Baltimore prosecutor's name was a top trending term on Twitter in the United States. The #MarilynMosby hashtag has been used over 700,000 times on Twitter in the week since the protests began.

Read full article Who is Baltimore prosecutor Marilyn Mosby?

The virtuoso performance - at a bomb site

  • 1 May 2015

Videos of an Iraqi cellist performing at the site of a car bomb attack in Baghdad which killed several people this week were widely shared online.

Karim Wasfi's defiant performance echoes the story of the cellist of Sarajevo, who played in the besieged city during the Bosnian conflict in the 1990s. Wasfi explained to BBC Newsday why he decided to fight violence with music.

Read full article The virtuoso performance - at a bomb site

'American diplomats: we are all blondes'

  • 1 May 2015
The American Ambassador to Turkey
The US Ambassador to Turkey has shared this photoshopped image of himself on Instagram

The US Ambassador to Turkey has Photoshopped his hair blond, in an escalating war of words between Turkish and US officials.

The mayor of Ankara has a controversial record on social media. Ibrahim Melih Gokcek is a member of the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and a staunch supporter of Turkey's President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He's regularly used Twitter to attack political opponents and what he sees as the "foreign lobby," including a sustained campaign against a BBC reporter covering the 2013 Gezi Park protests, which the BBC saw as intimidation. This week he turned his ire on the acting spokeswoman for the US State Department, Marie Harf.

Read full article 'American diplomats: we are all blondes'

The off-stage winner of Thursday's TV event

  • 1 May 2015

On social media there was one clear winner of Thursday's TV event: the audience.

The result of the UK general election is as uncertain as ever, and commentators were divided on which of the three party leaders participating in the television interviews on Thursday night came out on top. But there was rare across-the-board approval of one thing: the tough questioning by a studio audience in Leeds.


Read full article The off-stage winner of Thursday's TV event

Busker anthem is surprise UK election hit

  • 30 April 2015

A troupe of roving British buskers have shot to fame on Facebook after a radical protest song struck a chord with voters preparing to elect the country's next government on 7 May.

The group Phat Bollard makes a living travelling around the UK playing to passersby in city centres. A mobile phone recording of their song "Millionaires", which criticises big business and peoples' attitudes towards the homeless, has been viewed nearly three million times on Facebook.

Read full article Busker anthem is surprise UK election hit

The women of the Chinese internet remain defiant

  • 30 April 2015
Protest poster of five women
This image of the five women arrested in China was one of the most widely tweeted outside the country

Despite the arrest and continued interrogation of China's most prominent online feminists, women in the country are continuing to protest against sexism using the internet.

All over the world, feminist political statements are a staple of social media. Consider attention-grabbing pictures of wedding dresses soaked in blood, to protest against domestic violence. Or the male toilets occupied by women - designed to highlight the lack of female facilities. Like many such actions, those protests were designed by savvy activists to get millions of clicks.

Read full article The women of the Chinese internet remain defiant

A Chinese businessman's awkward English

  • 30 April 2015
Youku screenshot of Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun speaking at a launch event in India
A Chinese businessman's speech in English has been viewed nearly half a million times on Youku

Is it brave or embarrassing to speak in a language you're not quite fluent in? That's the question being asked in China after a famous businessman gave a short speech in English.

It was a pretty standard opening line: "Hello. How are you?" But the fact that it was delivered in English by one of China's most prominent businessmen immediately captivated the audience. Lei Jun, founder and chief executive of phone company Xiaomi, was in India for a launch event last week.

Read full article A Chinese businessman's awkward English