Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Question (3)

A paradox: how should liberal, tolerant Europeans protect their values, even as they protect the rights of the less liberal minorities in their midst?

Arabs bear brunt of gene disorders

According the National, Dubai's newspaper, Arabs suffer from one of the highest rates of genetic disease in the world, according to a research institute. Some 906 genetic disorders have been identified in Arabs and their descendants, reports the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies (CAGS), and about 200 of those are prevalent among Arabs in the GCC alone.

Several common diseases in the UAE, Oman and Bahrain have reached epidemic levels – more than 100 cases per 100,000. They include thalassaemia (a blood disorder), diabetes, breast cancer and Down’s syndrome. Less common genetic disorders in the Emirates include muscular dystrophy and kidney disease.
About 63 per cent of the genetic conditions in Arab populations are due mostly to marriage between close relatives such as first cousins, clinically known as consanguinity.
Such marriages, deeply ingrained in Arab culture, are on the rise in the UAE, where the rate is the fifth-highest in the Arab world. In Dubai, 40 per cent of marriages are between relatives, according to the latest statistics. In Al Ain that figure reaches 54 per cent, and in Abu Dhabi 32 per cent. Across the Arab world, Sudan and Mauritania have the highest rates, amounting to two-thirds of all marriages. However, consanguinity is on the decline in, for example, Egypt and Tunisia.

More about the I-net bans in Turkey

With a decision from June this year the Beyoğlu (Istanbul) Public Prosecutor's Office now blocked access to MySpace and Last FM, two of the world's biggest sites for socializing and music-sharing. Both artists and internet users voiced their disapproval of the decision.

The decision to block the two internet portals and also the Turkish site AkıllıTv.com ('Smart TV) was taken by the Public Prosecutor's Office of Beyoğlu, a centrally located district of Istanbul. It was not authorized by the Supreme Council Telecommunication.
The decision was dated 26 June, however, the Beyoğlu public prosecutor's office did not explain why access to the websites was blocked with a delay of almost 3 months on 20 September. According to the prosecutor's office, the decision was a result of a court case filed by the Association of Interconnected Ownership Right Phonogram Producers (MÜYAP).
Users who wanted to access the sites in the past days had to read the following announcement: "Access has been blocked to this site due to a court decision. Access is denied by decision no. 2009/45 of the Turkish Republic Beyoğlu Public Prosecutor's Office, dated 26.06.2009."

The Turkish website "sansuresansur.org" ('censor to censorship') prompted internet users on their website not to accept the bans without a word of protest. Musician Aylin Aslım wrote the following on her facebook site:
"Blocking access to myspace.com is serious injustice to independent musicians in Turkey. We do not want to be forced to return to music channels and record companies with their filthy politics. We want our music to be available freely to everybody who wants to listen to it".

On the day the blockage was effected, MÜYAP published a news item on its website entitled "Turkey on rank 7 in Europe concerning blockages". The news starts as below:
"In comparison with other European countries internet users in Turkey spend more time in the internet and access a larger number of web pages".

Mehmet Tez from Milliyet daily newspaper commented the blockage on his own web page hafifmusik.org ('light music'): "Well done! A great success. Turkey is proud of you".
Myspace is one of the world's biggest sites of socializing and music sharing. Many artists communicate with their fans in their personalized section of myspace and share their music releases for free.

Last FM is a web based radio site where the members can create their own program by using their personal archives. Other users can also listen to those personalized programs. Users are being charged if they exceed a certain limit. Some record companies and artists share their music on this site.

Akıllı TV is one of Turkey's interactive video-sharing sites. There is also a TV channel with the same name.

Access to youtube.com has been blocked for 16 months now on the grounds of "contents contrary to Atatürk". After the ban of youtube.com other sites like blogspot.com and dailymotion.com were censored as well. Access to geocities.com is still blocked. (BÇ/VK)
Source: Bianet.org

Muslim men in Holland miss family after breaking fast (by Freek Schravesande)

Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the Ramadan fast, is all about nice food, presents and visiting family. But not everyone breaking their fast in the Netherlands can be with their families.

Mercator Square in Amsterdam was bustling with activity on Sunday. Men in neat suits were talking animatedly on their cell phones, families were ringing the doorbells of apartments, groups of girls in high spirits were heading downtown. But Mustafa Birgul (40) sat on a bench by himself, waiting for a call from a friend. On the first day of the three-day celebrations after the Islamic month of fasting he missed his family more than ever.
"These are the hardest days of the year," Birgul said. "My wife, family and three children live in Turkey. I wish I was able to visit them this Eid but as long as I don't have a residence permit, the immigration services won't let me go back." In retrospect, Birgul might have preferred to stay in Turkey altogether. "It was the right choice economically: I have a tailoring business. But what else have I got here? Nothing really. I work and I walk around. I would feel much stronger if my family were with me. I miss my seven-year-old daughter most."

So he spent part of the holiday on the phone with his family and was waiting to go for a drink with a friend.

Birgul is not the only one who is alone during Eid. Around the Mercator Square area many coffee houses, cafés, cannabis-selling coffee shops, cafeterias and international call shops were full of Moroccans and Turks, mostly men, for whom it appeared to be an evening like any other.
In the Canan coffee house three groups of men were playing cards. The owner Haydar Sastim (41) had put some sweet treats on the counter and strangers shook hands. "But apart from that, it is business as usual," Sastim said.
Like Birgul, he phoned his wife in Turkey, but he failed to get hold of her because the lines were busy. Millions of Turks all over Europe, especially in Germany, were trying to reach their families at the same time.
Sastim wished his wife were with him. He has been trying to get her into the country for a while now. "I got furious at the courts. My wife is not a criminal and I run my own business, I told them. But, alas, we are not really free here in the Netherlands, are we?", said Sastim, who has lived in the Netherlands for over 20 years.

Life has been hard on him, he says. "The business has declined since they introduced paid parking until midnight here. The economy is depressed. And I miss my wife, along with the mountains, the sea, the park, the food. That's why I am considering moving back to Turkey, for good."
There were some Muslims who chose to be alone for part of the holiday. At the FEBO fast food place Cuneyit Karakest (24) and a friend were eating a hamburger. "We have been surrounded by family since four in the morning. First we did the prayer with the men, while the women stayed home to prepare the food. Then we all ate together: olives, goat's cheese, tea, salads. And all these relatives came over."
When he was younger Karakest chose to run downtown with friends soon after breakfast. "A lot of young people still do that. But it ís a holy day. Plus, we are getting older."
But he still escaped for a minute to get what he missed most during Ramadan. "Fast food."
(Today is the last day of Bayram)

Day Opening - September 22


Tea House of Castle Zeist, the Netherlands.