Friday, February 27, 2009

Nebahat Albayrak For Wilders

What would Geert Wilders say or think when he knew about her being in Brussels, putting the case forward before the EU. I am referring to Nebahat Albayrak, the Dutch Deputy Justice Minister met with EU counterparts yesterday in Belgium (News in Dutch) to protest the decision made by British government on the 12’th of this month to deny entry to United Kingdom? Based on my little knowledge on how an extremist like Wilders would think of the situation, he would say to himself:

  • She is doing her job, fulfilling duties towards the kingdom based on her post in the government
  • She is an exception to other Muslims, maybe because she does not wear the headscarf, so she is an integrated Muslim into Dutch society
  • Maybe he thinks that “She fears me, her party and fears my party; the government fears me, because it is getting more popular than ever, especially after the Heathrow incident.”

This is funny, the last person I would think of is a Muslim and an Immigrant (it doesn’t matter which country he or she from) defending Geert Wilders and helping him in submitting his case (and do the promoter role for his film, Fitna) as part of waging war against his version of Islam and his delusions about how Muslims would look like. Everyone knows that Wilders is against migration of foreigners to the Netherlands, but Albayrak is an immigrant, she was born in Istanbul, Turkey. Wilders is against Islam, but Bebahat Albayrak is coming from a Muslim country. In addition, when Albayrak was appointed at her post, the right wing Party for Freedom, which is the party Wilders established and lead tried to prevent the installation of both her and of her fellow Muslim MP Ahmed Aboutaleb (of Moroccan origin, who is now the mayor of Rotterdam). The party of Freedom also tried to pass a motion of no confidence in parliament then directed against all parliamentarians or executive branch politicians with dual citizenship, claiming these politicians have a loyalty conflict or have the appearance of having one. Nebahat Albayrak has a Turkish and a Dutch passport. The motion was rejected by the Tweede Kamer (the lower house), since no other party than the Party for Freedom supported it.

I don’t believe that it her duty as a minister responsible for the justice of her own people is the only reason that made her convinced to go to Brussel and put the case in front of the EU parliament. She even was debating the essence of that decision by wondering how come Wilders is not considered a threat to public security to Italy while in another EU country, Britain in this case is considered otherwise. By the way, its worth to mention that the Dutch Deputy Justice Minister’s visit to Brussel was part of a meetings to discuss free transport and free movement of people in European community nations.

I guess that the teachings of Willem van Oranje to his citizens and followers about tolerance and accepting the other has gave results after all. It happened before; Fitna was lame after all, though!

Cigarettes Stubs

She is a short woman in her 50, I think, grim face with glasses, wearing pink plastic gloves and covering her jeans and thick blouse with plastic cover, like rain-coat, holding a small bucket in one hand. She moves with energy that is definitely not equal to her age. What is she doing? Her task was to collect scattered cigarettes stubs from the floor that have been left from previous day at the building entrance. She collect them and put them in the bucket, moves to another spot and do the same quickly. Sometimes she slows down, and suddenly speeds up. She even goes to the little circled gardens bordering the main gateway of the building and looks for cigarette stubs there.

While watching her, I was wondering if smokers from that building be as they are, careless, if they were observing that old woman and the work she is doing? Would they have sympathy for her and trash their finished cigarettes in the designated place and spare that woman effort and time?

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can You Give Me A Call?

Hearing the star trek peep I have on my mobile phone gave me the indication that an sms was received. So I picked up my recently-considered-a-very-outdated GSM and after a couple of pressing buttons I see the following message "can you give me a call?"

I looked to the sender, never knew that telephone number, OK, how do you expect me to call if you don't put your name at the end of the message?

Almost the same thing happened last month when I received an sms from someone (he called me later) with his new gsm number without saying who he was.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Contrast or Harmony

This image from Panamanga


One of the best things in life, morning coffee. I took this picture during my last visit to London, while drinking morning coffee at a small restaurant that looked like a museum of Hollywood in 1960's. Beautiful.

Next In March

I am looking forward to two important dates next month: The first is on 4 March and is related to Sudanese president, Omar Al Basheer, which despite all international debate on whether its legality, a decision will be made by The International Criminal Court on whether to trace and issue an arrest warrant against him - unless some magic word would be spilled, such as “Chinese should back off”! In the past few days, news agencies and sources voiced louder concerns on the horrible situation in Darfur, and how Al Basheer is the sole responsible for the genocide committed there, and that some super effort to be put to bring peace to that region. That was also echoed, by American super star, George Clooney during his meeting with US president, Barak Obama. The meeting followed a visit the American actor managed to do to the 250000 refugees living in hardship in camps on the Sudanese-Chadian border. George Clooney was denied entry visa to Sudan to visit Darfur (why would the Sudanese government deny that visa request in the first place?). However, Clooney might call for a “juridical process” to topple the Sudanese president, yet, I don’t know if he supports the more aggressive and louder voices coming from the rebels who expressed their readiness to topple the whole Sudanese regime once and for all.

The second important date is 11 March: it is the date which the fate of Tariq Aziz will be determined. As many know, Aziz is one of Saddam’s right hands in the past, he is now in custody and just finished standing trial among others from the former regime (including two of Saddam’s half-brothers) for the execution of Iraqi business men in early 1990s. I can’t imagine that this man would be let free. For many, Tariq Aziz is a treasure of information. He would be a millionaire if he was given freedom and safe-haven from writing books on the Saddam’s bloody era and the role he played in Iraq’s foreign and local policies: knowing about the secrets Saddam’s inner circle is thrilling. In addition, imagine if this man begins speaking on the secret communication channels with the old Soviet Union, and more dangerous on how his office was the main contact-center for the secret communications in early and mid 1990s between Iraq and Israel.

I can’t imagine Traiq Aziz will ever make it alive and live the day to stand trial again, this time for his role in the invasion of Kuwait.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Can You Read This?

If you are not able to read this, stretch your eyes on each side and try to read the sentence in the picture above. What do you read?

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Sun of the Netherlands

I put my jacket on and went at the entrance of the building to have a smoke, when a colleague of mine joined me. He looked up in the sky and asked: where did the sun go? I gazed back at him. It has been cold, very cold for the whole month - even was snowing a little a couple of days ago. I told him "what are you talking about?" He replied that the sun was shining earlier in the morning. I didn't see the sun he was talking about, I answered back "are you kidding? the sun is like a very quick visitor in the Netherlands, appear for a very short time and then disappear behind that curtain of gray sky for the rest of the day.

I think it is the weekend magic that is getting into that nice colleague of mine! Otherwise, I would recommend him one of two things to do: the first is to see a psychiatrist, and the second is to migrate to another country.

For The Greater Good of God

Are you a man of peace
Or man of holy war
Too many sides to you
Don't know wich anymore
So many full of life
But also filled with pain
Don't know just how many
Will live to breathe again

A life that's made to breath
destruction or defense
A mind that's vain corruption
bad or good intent
A wolf in sheep's clothing
Or saintly or sinner
Or some that would believe
A holy war winner

They fire off many shots
and many parting blows
Their actions beyond a reasoning
only god would know
And as he lies in heaven
or it could be in hell
I feel he's somewhere here
or looking from below
But I don't know, I don't know

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

More pain and misery in the history of mankind
Sometimes it seems more like
the blind leading the blind
It brings upon us more of famine,death and war
You know religion has a lot to answer for

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

And as they search to find the bodies in the sand
They find it's ashes that are
scattered across the land
And as their spirits seem to whistle on the wind
A shot is fired somewhere another war begins

And all because of it you'd think
that we would learn
But still the body count the city fires burn
Somewhere there's someone dying
in a foreign land
Meanwhile the world is crying stupidity of man
Tell me why, tell me why

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

For the greater good of God

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

For the greater good of God

He gave his life for us he fell upon the cross
To die for all of those who never mourn his loss
It wasn't meant for us to feel the pain again
Tell me why, tell me why

from the song "for the greater good of God" by Iron Maiden

The Triumph of Death

The first time I saw that painting was in late 1980's, on the cover of an un-official greatest hits album of heavy metal band, Black Sabbath. I don't remember anymore how long it was, staring at every detail of that horrific piece of art. In the beginning and before starting searching for the origins of this painting I thought it was a depiction of some event from Dante's Inferno's i.e. The Divine Comedy, but I was proven wrong when I knew that the original author is no one but the Belgian artist Pieter Breugel "the Elder", born in 1525 in Breda, the Netherlands but lived all his life in present day Belgium (between Antwerp and Brussels). He died in Brussels, on September 1569. Breugel is considered by many as the greatest Flemish painter of the 16'th century. One of the distinguished trade-marks of this artist are the details he emphasized on in each of his paintings. He focused mainly in his work on landscapes and peasant's life. These trade-marks he used granted him some uniqueness regarding his work, mainly what I call it the manipulation in the different dimensions illustrated on his paintings that gives some sort of a story telling - see his stunning work on "Netherlandish Proverbs" or "Fall of Icarus", or the amazing "The Tower of Babel ", and all these little details spotted here and there on each painting. "The Triumph of Death" was no difference from the typical Breugel style. The painting was completed in 1562 - some 6 years before the 80 years war in the lower lands, led by Willem van Oranje. It has been made by oil on panel with 117 x 162 cm in size.

This painting is about skeletons, all about skeletons - reminds me of the movie "army of darkness". These skeletons is in full charge attacking mankind of all sorts.

The first impression I take from looking into the details of this painting is that no discrimination whatsoever regarding the life-style or class of humans, all must die, from the king to the peasant, man or woman, old or young, it doesn't matter, all were destined to be dead. In addition, the painting doesn't show the end of the story, there is an ongoing process, the advanced skeletons on each side approaching in huge numbers, the attempt by some to stop them, the skeleton on the horse carrying a lamp looking for skulls (maybe), the net held on each side by other skeletons trapping humans in it - and maybe throw them to the water near by, while another skeleton riding a horse and with his sceythe harvesting what comes in his way of human souls.

I can imagine the artist sitting on his own, thinking and calculating the ways of killing human beings; by sword, drowning, hanging, beheading, slitting throats, even by the fear of what to come. In addition, one can see death that comes from animals in the form of a sort of a mutilated dogs and horses predating peasants and other humans. Pieter Beugel did also illustrated the devastation that death would bring to a whole civilization - smoke here and there on different places. So death is extending its arm to include nature, the ground and the sea.

Another observation that I see it as a very strong and effective of the artist is his group of skeletons wearing like Romans watching the massacare, with a huge cross erected in the middle at a panel, with a man dead hanging from the edges of that panel. Is this a symbol of the artist view on religion during that time? a time of conflict between the various Christian groups, which involved political domination and military oppression? Or is it that these skeletons do believe in God as human do and that's an indication at such?

But wait a minute, when I look at the big tent far near the coastline, where thousands of skeleton queuing and waiting for their turn in the slaughter, would the sinking ships indicates something like a failed attempt to purge those skeletons from existence? or were these skeletons came by sea?

I realized a fact after reading about this great actor how he became famous with his simplicity in the way he made his paintings. However, one of the things I was puzzled with is the women that was sitting with an open book in her hand and her face looking down at the man sitting at her feet and playing music on his lute. In spite of all this blood bath, there are who are doing two things, reading a book (praying maybe?) and playing music! Speaking of music, Beugel did align music to the advancement of the mass of skeletons by putting a skeleton standing at a higher spot and hammering on war-drums.

Some sources assume that Peiter Beugel predicted in this painting what would be happening to his people in years to come i.e. the 80 years war and how death and plague (which is also can be considered as a theme for this - both existed at that time) can take over everything.

The original painting is displayed at the Museo del Prado, Madrid, Spain.