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I have a parallel blog in French at http://anniebannie.net

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July 2016

Your phone is now a refugee’s phone [watch on a mobile]

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Why Europe can’t afford Turkey’s slide into authoritarian chaos

BARÇIN YİNANÇ

barcin.yinanc@hurriyet.com.tr

It wasn’t surprising to hear the conspiracy theories from the opponents of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan: “The failed coup played into the hands of Erdoğan so it must have been plotted by him.” But it was surprising to see this claim, which was not backed by any empirical evidence, voiced by Western colleagues.

The conviction among some foreign observers in Turkey is understandable to a certain degree. This is a country they love and it pains them to see it slide into an Islamic authoritarian regime. The future of their children is at stake, so their emotions and antipathy for Erdoğan outweigh rational analysis.

But what about observers in the West? What made some of them voice these unproven claims? Unfortunately, I put it down to orientalism and ignorance, which made them think the head of state in a country like Turkey could stage a false coup, consolidating his power at the expense of seeing hundreds of dead.

In their eyes, Turkey is a Middle Eastern country, just another third world banana republic.

Following the failed coup in Turkey I have seen postings on Facebook saying things like: “Until now I tried to convince my friends abroad that Turkey is a European country, not a Middle Eastern one; I can no longer say so.”

In her article published on CNN’s website, Jenny White, a professor of Turkish studies at Stockholm University, wrote: “Until Friday afternoon, Turkey remained a competent and stable, if problematic, country that served as a buffer between Europe and the imploding Middle East and a partner for the United States. The military action, the results of which are still unclear, took Turkey out of Europe and placed it squarely in the Middle East.”

However, the fact that the coup failed proves that Turkey is not like any other Middle Eastern country, where power can change hands at gunpoint.

Having said all this, from the earliest hours of the coup some of us predicted that it would be averted but also that it would unfortunately consolidate Erdoğan’s authoritarian rule. That of course does not bode well for Turkish democracy.

If the erosion of democracy’s main tenets – like an independent judiciary, free media, free academia and freedom of speech – which started during Erdoğan’s rule accelerates further, it is then that we will see Turkey switch to the category of Middle Eastern-type Islamic authoritarian regime. While short-sighted Turkey skeptics in Europe may rejoice over that switch, it would absolutely be against the interests of European democracies.

The refugee crisis, as well as the terrorism of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), has shown that Europe cannot remain immune to the implosion of the Middle East. The dialogue and cooperation that has taken place between Turkey and the EU has shown the former’s critical contribution to the security and welfare of the latter. In fact, the gains are reciprocal, since Turkey also suffers from the implosion in the Middle East. Such a win-win situation cannot continue unless Turkey remains democratic. It is delusional to think this could continue with an authoritarian Islamic regime in Turkey.

The current cooperation is possible only because there are still a significant number of people and institutions that have endorsed universal values in Turkey. The slide into authoritarianism will erode these institutions and lead to a brain drain from Turkey. The day might come when Europe has to face a country where mobs yelling “Allahu Akbar” (God is the greatest) to stop tanks will not even listen to their leader.

The EU and its member countries should give crystal clear messages that they stand with Turkey in its struggle against the Fethullah Gülen movement, which appears to be behind this coup. They should provide concrete support to substantiate this message.

At the same time, they should be extremely vigilant about voicing criticism wherever they see undemocratic moves. They should not wait, for example, for the Turkish Parliament to start discussing the reinstitution of the death penalty. But rather than voicing threats like “Turkey cannot be a member of the EU if it brings back the death penalty,” it should use all the channels of dialogue – both state and non-state – to explain why this would not be in Turkey’s best interests.

July/21/2016

source

Al Jazeera : The Caliph – Part 1: Foundation – Featured Documentary

 

For almost 13 centuries, from the death of the Prophet Muhammad in 632 to the overthrow of the last Ottoman caliph in 1924, the Islamic world was ruled by a caliph.

Translated from the Arabic ‘Khalifa’, the word ‘caliph’ means successor or deputy. The caliph was considered the successor to the Prophet Muhammad.

It is a term that has, at times, been abused.

In June 2014, a militant group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL or ISIS) declared the establishment of a caliphate and proclaimed its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a caliph. This proclamation was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.

ISIL had attempted to appropriate a title imbued with religious and political significance – and in doing so had cast a dark shadow over a rich history.

This is the story of the caliph, a title that originated 1,400 years ago and that spanned one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. 

For more on The Caliph view the interactive http://aljazeera.com/thecaliph

– Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe
– Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish
– Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera
– Check our website: http://www.aljazeera.com/

 

TYT Summary Of Day 1 Of The 2016 Republican National Convention

WHITE BOY PRIVILEDGE

 

‘White Boy Privilege’: Teen Performs Amazing Poem About Racism (VIDEO)
The Young Turks
A 14-year-old student wrote and recited a powerful poem about race. Ana Kasparian, Ben Makiewicz, and Kenny Hamilton, hosts of The Young Turks, break it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below.

“ATLANTA — Since the violence that shook America last week, a poem written and performed by an Atlanta teenager this past spring has been getting new attention. In fact, it has gone viral.

“White Boy Privilege” was an entry in a school poetry contest.

“To be honest I am scared of what it would be like if i wasn’t on the top rung, if the tables were turned, and I didn’t have my white boy privilege safety blankie to protect me,” Royce Mann recited at the poetry contest.

Mann’s message was a plea from a 14-year-old white male going to a private school in Atlanta: let everyone share his privileges.”

Read more here: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/atlanta-teens-white-privilege-poem-goes-viral/

Hosts: Ana Kasparian, Ben Makiewicz, Kenny Hamilton

Cast: Ana Kasparian, Ben Makiew… (More)

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver – S03E02 (HBO)

Rudy Giuliani: The Real Danger Is Black Kids! +

Omar Souleyman – Warni Warni (Official Video)

 

Warni Warni (Come to Me) English translation lyrics:
Come to me come to me
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
You can have me and my love easily
You can have me and my love easily
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
You can have me and my love easily
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
They told me that we’ll get married, I cannot live without you
They told me that we’ll get married, I cannot live without you
You’re for me like the water and the air that I breathe that I cannot survive without
They told me that we’ll get married, I cannot live without you
They told me that we’ll get married, I cannot live without you
You’re like the water and the air that I breathe that I cannot survive without
Come to me come to me
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
You can have me and my love easily
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
May God punish who tries to separate you and me
May God punish who tries to separate you and me
When are we going to be together for you to hold me in your arms?
Come to me come to me
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion
You can have me and my love easily
Oh beautiful, you charmed me with your dark complexion

Stories from Hama (Memories of Painter Khaled Al-Khani) Part I

A repost updated from  2012

Introduction by Off the Wall

A painting by Syrian painter Khaled Al-Khani

In few more days, the thirtieth anniversary of the massacre of Hama (February, 1982) will befall us. This time, the anniversary has a special meaning as Syrians, who have broken the fear barrier, are now openly talking about the events that transpired thirty years ago in their homeland. We are helped nowadays in that even the dumbest observer can recognize the lies of the Assad regime, and that has made many of us search for the real narrative of Hama, a narrative that the regime has for decades tried to suppress through its demonization of the Muslim Brotherhood, and to hide, by extension, the stories of the innocent victims of Hafez Assad and his henchmen which according to people from Hama, may have reached 40,000 murdered souls, not to mention the rapes, the pillaging and hateful acts of barbarism the aging thugs are now trying to blame each others for.

As the sons of the perpetrators of the Hama Massacre,  helped undoubtedly by some of those who participated in it, now attempt to suppress the current Syrian uprising through similar machination of brutality, lies, and deceptions, it becomes more necessary than ever for us to recover the real narrative of Hama. It is the narrative of the children who witnessed their fathers and older brothers being murdered, of women who were raped and killed in cold blood, and of entire city districts raised to ground out of vengeful hate that shames us all for its existence among our sentient specie.

My friend Khaled Al-Khani, then a seven years old child, is now a renowned Syrian painter. He tells the story of the massacre as he witnessed it and lived it through the murder of his father, his own epic journey with the few women and children who survived Assad’s murderous machine. In this and the next two posts, I will attempt to bring Khaled’s memories to English readers. It is only my way of telling the Assad gang, we will hold those who did it accountable, and we will not allow you to do the same, Never again.

This story can also be read in French, thanks to my friend annie

Part 1 (French) Histoire de Hama : souvenirs du peintre Khaled Al-Khani

**********

Stories from Hama (Memories of Painter Khaled Al-Khani) Part I

I do not know what happened to me today…? I don’t want to remain in hiding and I will go to my workshop and to every demonstration. I can no longer hide my real identity. I, the artist, have turned into a rebel ever since the Libyan embassy incident. My transformation has nothing to do with my distant memories, in Hama, of my father’s murder and the death of the city of my childhood, the rape our women, our imprisonment, our bombardment, and the subsequent conquering and forcible displacement of those who were left alive among us to the countryside as means to cover the crimes.

I swear to God I’m not hateful and I am not seeking revenge, but just retribution. My current sorrow is related to what I witness transpiring around me daily. We demonstrate, they shoot us with bullets, we then join funeral processions, and they rain a hail of lead on us. And as we walk once more in the next funeral procession, they reply with the same, and so on. We stay in our homes, they break our doors arresting us and intimidating our mothers, if I am not killed, someone else will be.

I swear to God I love life, but I love justice more. Please, tell me what to do. I do not know what befell me today? Today I remembered, more than any other day, I remembered my father. My father was an ophthalmologist in Hama. He was not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, but he sided with the people of his ravished city. Believe me, and half the people of Hama testify to that. They gouged one of his eyes while he was a live, then they killed him and horribly mutilated his body. I was little when we buried him and I remember that he had no eyes.

In February 1982, I was a 6 year old first grader. We had just finished the first school semester and had gone on spring break, and what a holiday..  At night, and as we slept, we could hear loud sounds breaking the place’s silence and turning its serenity into a murderous horror.  Obvious was the panic on my aunt who raised me and next to whom I would sleep to compensate her unfulfilled motherhood because she never married, and thus lived with us in our beautiful two-story traditional Arabic home. The rest of my family and my father and my mother slept on the second floor.  Soon, I would hear the voices of my siblings and my father and mother becoming louder coming down the stairs and entering my aunt’s room as the shooting increased. My mother said to my father “Didn’t I tell you to stay on the farm?” For many year, this sentence did not go away from my memories, and the idea that my father left the farm hurt me a great deal and remained with me until I had grown up, forgiven him and  reckoned, It was destiny.

******

The sound of firing fills life. It was the first time I heard its wheeze. It rose further and then began the thunder of explosions. As the hours passed, we got used to these sounds. Time passed and some of the neighbors started flocking to our home. Chaos is everywhere, children crying, women reading the Qur’an, and great concern. This continued for three days, and then we heard a big explosion. Father said that a shell hit the top floor. The house shook as dust filled my lungs like it filled the place and women recited Surat Yassin (the verse of Yassin). Meanwhile, a wave of sharp cries rose and father said we must leave the house as fast as possible, so we went out and people started to gather while shouting. Panic dominated everything, and we went to the house of a neighbor, then to a dark cellar thought by the men a more secure place. There were more of us than the place could accommodate. We stayed there for three days while the firing continued with no stopping. Then an artillery shell, Surat Yassin kept rising all the way to the sky, a second shell and a third, causing the cellar to vibrate madly. While no one of those who took refuge in the basement was hurt, many residents of our neighborhood perished and many were wounded. The doctor who lived in the neighborhood was able to save some. We stayed in the basement until the bombardment and firing calmed down and they got us out saying that we must leave towards safer neighborhoods. Little they knew, for they were wrong as it did not occur to them that a campaign of genocide was taking place. We went out hurriedly through the Hadher market to reach the Ameeriyyah district. We encountered streets through which we had to crawl because snipers were everywhere.

After incredible difficulties, we reached the Ameeriyyah neighborhood having just crawled the last street with my father helping my aging aunt to whose side I was totally stuck. My mother and sisters crossed with the rest of the people, and the three of us stayed. But then my father asked me to leave with everyone and I refused because I wanted to stay with my aunt who raised me. He forced me to catch up with my mother and the others and he stayed with my aunt, and this was the last time I saw my father alive.

In the Ameeriyyah district, we continued to search for a shelter and we found a cellar packed with people, but they could not let us in because our numbers were very large (most of the population of Baroudeye neighborhood). Later, they let my father and my aunt in because they were only two. The refuge in the Ameeriyyah is where my father was arrested and  where my aunt survived to witness and tell of what happened.

****

Our group followed the road towards Northern Ameeriyyah where we found a shelter large enough for all of us. We stayed in that shelter until the arrival of the “Syrian Arab Army” whence the shelter was turned into a prison. They took all the men including young men out of the shelter and promptly executed some of them right at the door and arrested the elderly men. Only women and children remained in the place. Some were crying, while the majority were forced to shout, at gun threat (“with our blood we sacrifice ourselves for you Hafez“, بالروح بالدم نفديك يا حافظ  and  “O God, it is high time for  Hafez to take your place” يا الله حلك حلك يقعد حافظ محلك) in order to worsen our humiliation. Our imprisonment lasted three days while they murdered whomever they wanted. I swear to God we stayed without food, and I still remember the smell of the place. It was unbearable. We constantly heard screaming voices outside the basement, voices of women being raped, and of and torture that would still visibly affect me whenever I recall or try to describe. Some women had few candies ad Chocolate with them, and before they took the men, one of them brought a few loaves of bread and olives that we shared, and which was barely enough for one man.  Women kept reading Qur’an continuously, albeit in hushed voice.  Then the door opened and they ordered us to get out because they said they will now execute us. We got out as we were shouting “we sacrifice our blood for you …..”, but then they told us that we must head in the direction of the Aleppo Road outside the city.

We walked, raising our arms and repeating what we were told to repeat. The landscape was surreal, the place was full of corpses, swollen, of black blood, and as we moved from one street to another, bodies and destruction were everywhere. We proceeded until we reached the Omar Ibn Khattab Mosque (of which you have been hearing lately as the place where demonstrations to demand freedom started). The Mosque was  destroyed completely, with the washing room being the only section left.  In there, there were some army soldiers who terrified us by pointing their rifles and machine guns at us forcing us to lie face down on the ground. Then they  brought us into the washing room and shut the door tightly. Some women begged the army men to kill us and let everyone else out of the city, but they refused. When we entered the washing room we found fungus covered stale bread that we ate. There were also two ornamental statues of white doves. I do not know why they were there, but to me they signaled the beginning of salvation from the bloodbath. The door remained locked for a day and a half, after which one of officers shouted a speech at us in which he said:

“she who awaits her husband or brother or son or father, don’t be waiting for him because he will not come out alive and will never return.”

They released us in the direction of Aleppo, we walked more than ten kilometers racing against time as we cried and barefoot women kept reading the Qur’an, and whenever we heard the shooting, we instantly lied down, until we reached the point where they had allowed the villagers access to help the survivors. What can I say … I swear by God, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

……….. To be continued

I encourage you to visit the online gallery of Khaled Al-Khani and see how Hama echos resonate in his work

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