Sunday, January 30, 2011

What's happening in Tunisia and Egypt?

Thousands turned out today to welcome Islamist leader Rached Ghannouchi after more than 20 years in exile, as he eyed a political future for his Ennahda movement after the fall of Tunisia's regime.

"God is great!" Ghannouchi cried out, raising his arms in triumph as he walked into the arrivals hall of Tunis airport, with thousands of cheering supporters crowding around him before driving off to visit his family.
The crowd intoned a religious song in honour of the Prophet Mohammed, as supporters held up olive branches, flowers and copies of the Koran.
"I am so happy to be bringing him back home. I never thought I would see my brother again alive in Tunisia," his sister, Jamila, told AFP.
There were also dozens of people protesting his arrival at the airport, holding up placards that warned against Islamic fundamentalism. But they are in the minority!

The 69-year-old said he was elated as he checked in for his historic flight at London's Gatwick airport, where he posed with a Tunisian flag and embraced relatives before boarding for a country that he has not seen since 1989.
"When I return home today I am returning to the Arab world as a whole," he told reporters, adding that Ennahda (Awakening) now planned to register as a political party and take part in the country's first democratic elections.
The interim government installed in the north African state after the fall of president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali on January 14 has granted unprecedented freedoms and allowed key exiles to return despite bans from the old regime.
Ghannouchi, a former radical preacher who says he now espouses moderate ideals similar to Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was persecuted in Tunisia ever since founding his Islamist movement in 1981.
He still officially has a life sentence hanging over his head for plotting against the president, although the new government has drawn up an amnesty law for convicted activists like Ghannouchi that now has to go before parliament.
"There is still confusion regarding the political situation.... The interim government is changing its ministers every day, it's not stable yet and its powers are not clear yet," Ghannouchi told reporters before leaving on today.
In contrast to his preachings from the 1970s in which he condemned the rise of secular ideas in his homeland and the advances in women's rights, Ghannouchi also said that Sharia Islamic law now had "no place in Tunisia". But that's exactly what Khomeiny said on a question of a French journalist in 1979 just before heading to Tehran, what kind of republic Iran will be in one year: 'exactly the same kind of republic as France!

Therefore, people tell different things such as Najwa, a teacher who said she was imprisoned for wearing an Islamic veil, said: "Everything that's said about him are lies... He's a moderate Islamist."
Mohammed Mahfoud, 37, a trade unionist, said: "I have come to pay homage."
But the views on the streets of Tunis were far more critical of Ghannouchi.
"He has not said what he plans to do. He could cause trouble and destabilise the upcoming elections," said Amenallah Darwish, a 29-year-old lawyer.
Naima, who wore a veil, said: "Many people were imprisoned because of him, young people lost their future. No-one is happy about his return. He lived the good life in London while others paid a heavy price."
Some feminist groups are worried that Ghannouchi's return may signal a rise in political Islam that could endanger their hard-won rights.
Hundreds of women rallied in the centre of Tunis on the eve of Ghannouchi's arrival, saying they would defend their rigths against conservatives.
Asked about some of this concern on today, Ghannouchi was dismissive.
"This fear is only based on ignorance," he said, because Ben Ali's regime had "worked to distort all its opponents, described them as terrorists or being against modernity. All of these allegations have no basis in reality."
Ghannouchi fled Tunisia two years after Ben Ali came to power in a bloodless coup in 1987. In elections in 1989, which were heavily falsified, an Islamist-backed coalition still managed to win 17 percent of the vote.
Shortly after that, persecution of leading Islamists began and Ghannouchi went first to Algeria and then to Britain in 1991. Hundreds of Islamist activists who stayed behind were thrown into prison, often on flimsy charges.
İnteresting is to see what's happening today in Egypt. Last night some 34 key members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood escaped from prison and today the Muslim Brotherhood there asked the independent Mohamed El Baradei to 'negotiate' with Mubarak on their behalf. Mohamed El Baradei is seen as close to Iran and can be the 'usefully idiot' for the Muslim Brotherhood to gain power and dictate Egypt. What will happen with the Suez canal and what will happen with Gaza. Will the later be armed by an Egypt ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood? And what will happen with Israel when all surrounding countries are ruled by religious fanatics? Isllamo-facists?

The Iranian uprising had many of the hallmarks of today's Egypt. The Shah of Iran was the corrupt despot. He had lined his pockets, was ruthless against political opposition, and was perceived by his subjects to be a puppet for the West.
When the young took to the streets 32 years ago they thought they were signing up for a new era where they would be able to determine their own future.
But those idealists were superseded by another group: the clerics. Just as the shah had kept the clerics in check, it is Hosni Mubarak today who keeps the Muslim Brotherhood – the radical side of the Muslim faith – under control. Within months the Iranian revolution unleashed the Islamic Republic.
Faith is never a bad thing and it has a simple appeal. Ordinary people who are tired of poverty and the opulent lifestyles of the old guard can be easily swayed by the wholesome values of religion.
It is a miserable fate in the Muslim world that the choice has to be between self-enriching despots and controlling clerics who covet power over every aspect of life

The unbearable randomness of being

The unbearable randomness of being

Day Opening - January 30

summer composition...

Saturday, January 29, 2011


Amsterdam a Yuppie Hub

As immigrants keep moving to Dutch cities and natives move out, natives in Amsterdam, especially rich ones, are multiplying, new figures show. And immigrants settling in the capital increasingly come from rich, Western countries.


Whereas women of Dutch descent are having more children, those of foreign origin are choosing to have smaller families, Amsterdam's Urban Planning Service found. At the same time, the number of immigrants 'from Morocco, Turkey, Surina and the Dutch Antilles, the countries where most of them used to come from, have been falling steeply.
Though the capital continues to draw newcomers, they now tend to come from the European Union and English-speaking countries. At the same time, Amsterdam is also attracting more and more immigrants from China, Brazil and India. Most of them are highly educated and no longer come from rural areas but from university cities.

Child friendly

The falling birth rate among immigrant women, especially Turkish and Moroccan ones, seems to be the result of their rising employment rates. Increasingly, they also attain higher education levels. Dutch families in Amsterdam, by contrast, now often have three children. The average birth rate in the Netherlands is 1.75 children per woman.
Large young families say they are happy in Amsterdam, which is becoming increasingly child friendly, allowing parents to take their children anywhere on their special carrier cycle. The new IJburg quarter, on the capital´s eastern outskirts, is also proving popular with families.
Demographer Julian Jansen of the Urban Planning Service says he is happy with the developments. “Amsterdam's mission to become a metropolis where highly-educated are eager to live and work has succeeded”, he told the newspaper de Volkskrant. His major concern is that not enough new houses are being built. As the capital´s population ages, and those who retire stay, there won't be enough houses to accommodate all the newcomers. That, in turn, could threaten its labour potential, as people who can't live in Amsterdam are less likely to work there.

Iran hanged the Dutch-Iranian women Zahra Bahrami

Reports from Iran say Iranian-Dutch woman Zahra Bahrami was hanged on Saturday for selling and possessing drugs. The authorities dismissed repeated pleas by the Netherlands which had sought details about her case.
Bahrami's execution is the latest in a slew of hangings carried out by the Islamic republic in January. Her execution takes the total number of people hanged in Iran so far this year to 66, according to media reports.
"A drug trafficker named Zahra Bahrami, daughter of Ali, was hanged early on Saturday morning after she was convicted of selling and possessing drugs," the Tehran prosecutor's office said.
Bahrami, a 46-year-old Iranian-born naturalised Dutch citizen, was reportedly arrested in December 2009 after joining a protest against the government while visiting relatives in the Islamic republic.
The prosecutor's office confirmed on Saturday that she had been arrested for "security crimes."

But elaborating on her alleged drug smuggling, the office said Bahrami had used her Dutch connections to smuggle narcotics into Iran. But that is of course BS:
"The convict, a member of an international drug gang, smuggled cocaine to Iran using her Dutch connections and had twice shipped and distributed cocaine inside the country," it said.
During a search of her house, authorities found 450 grams of cocaine and 420 grams of opium, the prosecutor's office said, adding that investigations revealed she had sold 150 grams of cocaine in Iran.
"The revolutionary court sentenced her to death for possessing 450 grams of cocaine and participating in the selling of 150 grams of cocaine," it said.
The Netherlands had been seeking details about Bahrami's case and had accused the Iranian authorities of refusing the Dutch embassy access to the prisoner because they did not recognise her dual nationality.

"I cannot confirm (her execution). Iranian media announced the news, we have not yet been approached by the Iranian authorities," Bengt van Loosdrecht, a Dutch foreign ministry spokesman, told AFP on Saturday.

On January 5, Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal expressed "extreme concern" about Bahrami, and said that he had "asked the Iranian authorities to provide immediate clarification" about her case.
"We insist on information, the possibility to provide her with consular assistance, and a fair course of justice," Mr Rosenthal said in a statement at the time.
Bahrami's execution brought the total number of people hanged so far this year in the Islamic republic to 66, according to an AFP tally based on media reports.
There has been a spike in hangings this year in Iran, especially of convicted drug smugglers.
The spate of executions has drawn criticism from Catherine Ashton, Europe's chief diplomat and the point person in talks between world powers and Iran over Tehran's controversial nuclear programme.
"The European Union is deeply concerned about the use of the death penalty in Iran. Executions are taking place at an alarming rate," she said on Thursday.
Ashton's statement came after Iranian state media on Thursday reported the hanging of 10 drug traffickers.
"In addition, abhorrent practices such as public executions and suspension hanging continue to be used, in contravention of Iran’s international obligations," added Ashton, restating the EU policy of global opposition to capital punishment.
Along with China, Saudi Arabia and the United States, Iran has one of the highest numbers of executions each year, with adultery, murder, drug trafficking and other major crimes all punishable by death.
Saudi Arabia and Iran use the vulgair Sharia to kill its children!

Day Opening - January 29

Girl and her candle, Ladakh, India

Thursday, January 27, 2011

"The Turkish Series" will follow you!!!

There is a new fashion in Greece. Almost every T.V. channel has a “Turkish Series”. Yes, you heard it right. Actually, it started about 5 years ago with “Yabanci Damat”. The story had some similarities with what I had. A Greek guy and a Turkish girl gets married. There are thousand things happens around them including problems etc. (this part is not similar)

Every time I was flying to Thessaloniki airport, the passport control officer was making the same stupid joke: “Aaa! You are Nazli!” I could not tell him directly what I thought: “No, God`s sake!” So, I had a fake smile on my face till I got back my passport.

After a couple of years, we got married and I moved to Thessaloniki. Then, silence. No trace of Turkish series. Last year suddenly, “A Thousand and One Night” was on air. There was a huge success in Greece and I became “Sehrazat”. They named me after every lead actresses with a big dark eyes. This year they show 3 series at the same time thus they are confused how to call my name. :)

Simply Turkish series are full of drama. Poor beautiful girl, rich man, pregnancy, mother has a cancer, father dies because his daughter makes a child out of marriage bla bla bla. How about Greek series? Very simple. A beautiful girl with a beautiful guy. They meet up somehow, having an affair. She discovers he has another girl friend. The other girl tries to separate them and always a gay friend who does funny stuff. Ah! By the way, 80% of the episode happens to be in bed, hugging, kissing, having sex.

OK, I need to admit that I am not a T.V. person. I lost that habit while I lived in dormitory during university. 1000 girls in a same building and only “one” T.V. Since then, I prefer to do other things like reading a book, writing short stories (trying to write actually) or just simply horse around.

Well, I am sure you are wondering what is the big deal? Did you read any of Constantine Kavafis` poems? He has some amazing poems and one of them says:

New lands you will not find, you will not find other seas.
The city will follow you. You will roam the same
streets. And you will age in the same neighborhoods;
in these same houses you will grow gray.

That is how I feel about it. I think “the city, the habits, the T.V. series” are following me!

Have a good day!

Day Opening - January 27

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Arab world and the taste of freedom

Revolution leads to Islamic fundamentalism. This is the argument wielded by authoritarian Arab leaders against proponents of democracy. But the argument has been proven wrong in Tunisia, according to many pundits: so far, radical Muslims have had no significant role in the uprising.

The spectacular overthrow of the dictatorial regime of Zein el-Abedeen Ben Ali in Tunisia has sent shock waves throughout the Arab world and beyond. Nobody imagined that the government of Ben Ali, former political security officer and Tunisia’s president for 23 years, would collapse as suddenly as it did.
The immediate reactions from the ailing authoritarian Arab regimes and their long oppressed people were in stark contrast.
For the frustrated, unemployed, impoverished urban youth of Arab countries, the Jasmine Revolution unleashed a tidal wave of hope and inspired renewed agitation for badly needed change.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets in almost all Arab capitals to express support for the Tunisian revolution - or to try and bring down their own dictators. A newly-energised civil society has been given fresh courage to challenge the absolute authority of governments.
For the ageing Arab regimes it was an alarming moment of truth; change is inevitable and sooner or later it will come.

Short-term remedies

Many Arab countries scrabbled to offer short-term remedies. Protesters have been allowed to blow off steam, hasty economic concessions were made and pre-emptive security has been put in place to control the situation. But that control is unlikely to last long.
However, it seems unrealistic to me to expect a domino effect to sweep away the stagnant authoritarian Arab governments in the weeks or months to come. There are formidable local, regional and international obstacles to any such rapid change in the region.

Berlin Wall

What happened in Tunisia can better be compared to the Gdansk Solidarity Strike in Poland, which began a decade-long process that eventually toppled the communist state, rather than the abrupt and dramatic fall of the Berlin Wall.
The most significant aspect of the Tunisian revolution is that Islamists did not play a prominent role in fomenting and leading a popular uprising - and nor are they expected to be particularly influential in the near future. This despite the fact that former president Ben Ali capitalised on scaring the West for 20 years with warnings that the only alternative to his corrupt regime were radical Islamists.
The legacy of 55 years of rigorous secularism leave little room for a sudden lurch to fundamentalist Islam in the widely westernised Tunisia. Its relatively healthy economy (despite the crippling corruption of the Ben Ali Family), well-organised labour movement and small, professional, non-politicised army are also good omens for a smooth transition.

The case may be very different in other key Arab countries like Egypt and Syria. Any upheavals that bring down the despotic regimes in those two countries will make the Muslim Brothers the most likely alternative as the most active and best-organised political grouping. And their vast oil revenues make the conservative semi-Islamic/paternalist regimes in the Gulf States more stable for the time being.

Fear of Islamists

The important lesson to learn from the Tunisian revolution, for both Arabs and the West, is that holding back change for fear of Islamists will only blow wind into the sails of the most radical and fuel chaos and violence.
The fact that new and traditional media played a decisive role in the Jasmine Revolution is compelling evidence that there is a limit to the effectiveness of suppression, isolation and turning away from the rest of the world - and that modernity is not an option we Arabs can simply ignore.

Decades of social, political and cultural stagnation have eroded the legitimacy of both traditional and secular dictatorships in Arab countries beyond repair.
There is a widespread belief in the Middle East that the West is protecting and maintaining dictatorial regimes in the region. Whether that is true or not, it is undoubtedly in the interest of the West to take an active role in working together with Arab countries to sketch a workable route for the inevitable tide of history: the tide of freedom.

Day Opening - January 26

taking a picture...

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Press freedom in Europe

Press freedom in the Netherlands is not at risk, according to the annual Press Freedom Index. But Reporters without Borders (RwB), which issues the ranking, is critical about the media's agreement not to publish unofficial photographs of members of the Dutch royal family.
Reporters without Borders spokesman Olivier Basille said that press freedom in many European countries is slowly being eroded:
"The situation is getting worse than it was 5 or 10 years ago. Instead of protecting press freedom, we just have new registrations, new draft laws, in all the European member states today."
The Netherlands, Finland, Sweden and Switzerland top the the Press Freedom Index rankings; the main European culprits are Romania, Italy and Greece.


A new media law which came into force in Hungary on 1 January led to heated discussion in Europe. A Hungarian government watchdog is has been given the power to fine journalists who fail to report "objectively" or "with moral responsibility". And that includes foreign journalists.
Dutch Euro MP Sophie in 't Veld is in favour of a Europe-wide press freedom monitor as part of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, but RwB wants nothing of the sort, Mr Basille said:
"They want to talk about press freedom, but what do they want to do? Immediately they want to 'organise' it. It is very simple to protect press freedom. It's not a good idea to organise it at the EU level, with a council, agency or organisation to check press freedom. No, you have the Fundamental Charter; article 19 says freedom of information, and freedom of getting and diffusing information, have to be guaranteed. It's very clear like that, we don't need more."
What should the European Parliament do? "Very simple,"says Mr Basille. Adopt a resolution condemning Hungary's new media laws - which would have already happened, complete with references to dictatorial tendencies, if Syria or Turkey had implemented a similar media law. "But Hungary is an EU member state, which apparently makes things a lot harder."

Note: Turkey ranks 138 out of 178 on Press Freedom

Day Opening - January 25

Orgami/Books - Read!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Iran hangs women!

The Iran government has confirmed that the Dutch-Iranian woman Zahra Bahrami has been sentenced to death. A spokesman for the Iranian Foreign Ministry made an official announcement over the weekend. Insiders say it is unusual for the death penalty to be announced in advance.
Iranian Human rights activist Sadegh Naghaskar told that the death sentence was referred to in an interview with the state news agency Irna. The Dutch Foreign Ministry has confirmed this.


Naghaskar is concerned about the fate of the 45-year-old woman who was found guilty of possessing cocaine. "In principle she could be executed any moment now, but it could just as easily be several months." He says she has been transferred to an isolation wing of the prison known as 'Methadone'. This houses a number of political prisoners accused of possessing drugs.
Speaking from Tehran, Bahrami's daughter Banafsheh Najebpour told of her fears about her mother. Her only hope is that the Dutch government is prepared to put pressure on Iran. Officially, an appeal against the conviction still has to be heard.
The prosecution claimed Bahrami was carrying 500 grams of cocaine, while the Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman said it was more than a kilogram. Human rights activist Naghaskar regards the charge as ridiculous: "The accusation was only made to make the death penalty more acceptable to the West. In reality she will be hanged for contacting the opposition during last year's demonstrations."

Two people were executed in Iran on Monday: Jafar Kazemi and Mohammad Ali Hajaghaei were hanged for filming the demonstrations against President Ahmadinejad last year. Sadegh Naghaskar says 97 people have been hanged in the last three weeks.
Still people in Europe and Turkey (and elsewhere) are defending the Islamo-facist regime in Tehran. Europeans still don't get it that the Islam promoted by Milli Görüs, Fetulah movement, the MHP political party, Hamas, Hizbollah etc. etc. are there to misuse the Western democracies in the end to impose their mediaval views on people who simple don't agree with their opinions!

Day Opening - January 24

the silence of thunder

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Uttarayan- The festival of kites

January 14 and 15 are the days of Uttarayan and Vasi Uttarayan respectively. This festival is huge in Gujarat. I got together with a friend and arranged a big get-together, met old friends after almost five years, in some cases, almost eight!

Sharing with you some photos.

We had to be very careful to not cut kites from our own group by mistake.

Only a few take up "serious" kite-flying. For the rest, it's talk talk talk.

And chill out. And eat eat eat.

This kiddo got pretty bored by the end of the day


That's India for you.

In trance on a busy street in Buenos Aires - beauty of Life!

Two greek: "δυο μικροι αγγελοι"

dancing the tango on Tis Nefelis, by Haris Alexiou :)

Day Opening - January 28

Villiage of Atwarghah, western Indian state of Gujarat