This essay discusses changing images of island Southeast Asia and its Muslim populations in the modern Arabic press during the late colonial period. It commences by surveying the general informational letters sent to the largely pro-Ottoman papers of Beirut and Cairo during the 1890s by increasingly vocal local Arabs who were seeking to redress their situation as second-class colonial citizens. Thereafter, it considers the role played by Malays, Javanese, and other Southeast Asians in the globalizing Arabic media. In doing so, it demonstrates that although many Southeast Asians bought into and actively participated in the often Arabocentric program for Islamic reform in their homelands, they were by no means in agreement that their situations were any worse than those of other Muslims or that they could all be treated under one ethnic rubric.

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