“Everywhere you see houses and churches on fire”

The year is 2015. It has now been exactly 100 years since the genocide took place. The perpetrators and most of the victims are gone. The Turks and Kurds of today are not the ones guilty of genocide but a process of reconciliation has not occurred.

Some Kurdish leaders and organizations have recognized Kurdish clans’ involvement in the massacre but from the Turkish side there is only silence. It hurts in your heart. But not only the cruel massacres and the holocaust on the Christians; not only did you see your entire family and your relatives killed, thousands of villages being emptied of its indigenous people and your entire history annihilated, but today they say that it never happened. It hurts within you. You can still feel the smell. The process of extermination against you is continued today, 100 years later.

Far from all Turks and Kurds were responsible for the massacre. There are examples of Turkish, Kurdish and Arab families who adopted children or protected persecuted, to save them from a sure death. There are documented cases where governors refused to follow government orders of the massacres. There are also examples of Kurds who protected Christian villages against other Kurds.

The night of April 24, 1915, the first phase of the genocide began when 250 Armenian doctors, lawyers, politicians, government officials, teachers, writers, poets and other intellectuals who could become the core of a future resistance, were arrested overnight and executed within 72 hours. Therefore April 24 is counted as the start of the genocide.

The genocide that destroyed over two million Christians and that emptied the Syriac village of Kerburan, twice. The night is still your friend. For the night is when you still hear your mother’s voice, calling your beautiful name.

The year is 2015, but a part of me died in 1915.

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Reliving the Armenian genocide: “Everywhere you see houses and churches on fire” – Your Middle East.

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Armenian women crucified by Kurdish clans in Deir-El-Zor, 1915… but at least they have acknowledged their role in the hell experienced by Armenians 100 years ago. 

Mona Eltahawy keeps making me like her…

Looking at the state of Libya and Syria today, post-Arab Spring, do you ever wonder if this was worth it?

No. I often compare Egypt to a house in which every window and door has been closed shut for the past 60 to 65 years. The revolution basically opened a window in that house. And you can imagine the stench that comes out after all those years. It’s horrible, and your first instinct is to close it because it stinks. But the only way to get the smell out is to continue to open all the windows.

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Mona Eltahawy Doesn’t Need to Be Rescued – NYTimes.com.

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Still… let’s be fair!

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/books-and-media/book-reviews/why-mona-eltahawys-provocative-new-book-headscarves-and-hymens-falls-short-in-its-goal-to-change-the-arab-world/article24009841/

A movie to remember why people dies crossing the Mediterranean to reach places where they’re not welcome…

This road movie portrays the perilous journey of well-known intellectual Yassin al-Haj Saleh and young photographer Ziad Homsi through Syria, at a time when the country edges towards the brink.

Yassin (53), who spent 16 years in prison for belonging to the Syrian left, goes underground in 2011 to serve Syria’s popular uprising, while Ziad (24) – occasionally fighting with the rebels – takes photographs in his hometown Douma. In this Damascene suburb – where Yassin and his wife Samira Khalil found shelter – the two men meet and become friends.

Together, they embark on an adventurous journey through the desert to al-Haj Saleh’s native town Raqqa in Northeast Syria. Upon their arrival, Raqqa is occupied by the “Islamic State in Iraq and Levant” (ISIS), which also kidnapped two brothers of Yassin.

Consequently, the thinker leaves for Istanbul to pursue his writing for the revolution, hoping for a reunion with his wife Samira who remained in Douma. Ziad – abducted by ISIS on his way back – rejoins Yassin after his release, hoping to return home soon. All hopes are shattered when Samira gets abducted jointly with human rights lawyer Razan Zeitouneh.

And the film ends while Syria tumbles into a yawning abyss.

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Our Terrible Country | Doc Alliance Films: Your online documentary cinema.

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This movie is full of pearls of knowledge and wisdom, all of them learnt sourly during these years of hell for Syria.

The most important of all…. Syrians’ main enemy is not Assad, it’s not Daesh… it’s no one from outside.

Their most terrible enemy is deeply rooted inside them.

And it will be like this for generations. 

Yazidi means “I was created”

Who are the Ezidis?

Many Kurds know the Ezidis as refugees, IDPs, even as devil worshippers – though mostly through biased media reports. Kawa wants to learn the truth about the people’s religion and daily life. In this ZLR episode Kawa goes to a Ezidi community in Lalesh, the main Yazidi temple complex in the KR. He meets a young man called Zaid, who shows Kawa various aspects of Ezidi life; from how they eat, to prayer in their temple, to who is protecting them from IS. Zaid and his family were on Mount Sinjar and along with others subjected to much horror and deprivation.

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Who are the Ezidis? – Middle East Alliance.

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Never stop learning, people… never. 

Aleppo’s Christians’ own Friday of Pain…

Feeling the most frightened and vulnerable are the city’s sizable religious minorities, foremost of which is the Christian community whose neighborhoods have borne the brunt of the recent carnage. For many, the timing was no coincidence.

“They attacked us on one of our most holy of days, this is a clear message to us. They want to drive us out of our homes, to get rid of us entirely. This is their aim. What have we done to them? Why is there silence about this?” Umm George, a visibly anguished resident of Sulaimaniyah, told Al-Monitor. She like many others was camped outside the government-run al-Razi hospital where most of the dead and wounded were taken.

Umm George had a sister inside who was seriously wounded and fighting for her life. Her sentiment was widely shared among others there, with some wanting revenge exacted, while others just raised their hands up to the sky, defeated, and prayed for an end to the madness. The feelings of helplessness and despair were enmeshed with those of bitterness at the perceived inability of the government to protect them. “They don’t care about Aleppo; it is a forgotten city,” was one phrase you would hear often repeated to many nods of agreement.

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Aleppo’s Christians face rising violence – Al-Monitor: the Pulse of the Middle East.

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On Holy Friday, Christians mourn the death of Jesus, His martyrdom and his burial, after He was charged with “heresy” or “apostasy” for those intolerant religious men who condemned Him. Old times, new times, same symbolism. 

Men are free. That was God’s present to us. And freedom comes with a responsibility. We should think which is our responsibility in actions like these of Aleppo. Of course these Arab Christians, these Nasrani, aren’t the only victims in that hellish scenario… but they are the ones who can teach us, the Western Christians, the real value of faith. 

More than any other. 

I just hope we, mankind, can save them, and keep them in that part of the world… or they will vanish in time as the Spanish Mossarabs did. 

I, at least, will pray. 

Why Israel does not help palestinians in Yarmouk?

From afar, it’s hard to recognize them. They are swaying human shadows, staring out into space, faces gaunt and their bones protruding from the skin that’s meant to cover them. But if you look at them closely, you’ll see who they are: They are the children and grandchildren of those who were expelled in 1948 (or who fled, or migrated – choose whatever word salves your conscience).

You can claim that you are not involved; after all, the decapitating sword is not your sword, and the hand that besieges and starves them is not your hand. All you (and your parents) did was lead them and their parents respectfully to the jungle, and then you turned on your heels to enjoy the villa and get drunk on the fragrance of the orchard and vineyard.

But what did Abd el-Hadi do to you (from the Arabic poem by Taha Muhammad Ali, “Abd el-Hadi Fights a Superpower”)? Since his expulsion from his Garden of Eden a curse pursues him, generation after generation. This Abd el-Hadi, “In his life, he neither wrote nor read/In his life he didn’t cut down a single tree/Didn’t slit the throat of a single cow/ In his life he did not speak of The New York Times/Behind its back/Or raise his voice to a soul/Except in saying ‘come in please, by God, you can’t refuse!’” (English by Peter Cole).

Meanwhile, in the northern part of the jungle, the forces of Syrian President Bashar Assad (the lion) are besieging the Yarmouk refugee camp and preventing the distribution of food, drugs and basic items. To the question of why the siege – after all, the camp didn’t rebel against Assad – there is no answer. Nor is there an answer as to why the Islamic State is butchering the camp’s residents. And when logic evaporates, all paths lead to more and more atrocities, until one reaches “the deepest circle of hell,” as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon put it. Ban is apparently a bit too optimistic, because the Arab hell has an infinite number of steps en route to the lowest rung.

Meanwhile, no moral question is being raised regarding Israel’s role in creating the killing fields there. On the contrary, one literary knight has established that the world is divided between the Jews and the Jew-haters, so perhaps now is the time to ascertain whether those human shadows lined up for slaughter at Yarmouk are Jew-haters. If so, then they’re apparently getting what they deserve.

But among Jews there are many who think differently. Amos Oz’s unsettling book, “The Gospel According to Judas,” is likely to arouse many thoughts in the reader. In my view, the book’s central question is: Was there no other way aside from the brute force of David Ben-Gurion? Was there no other way to establish a state for one people without destroying the present and future of another people?

History, as we know, can’t be changed, but examining historical events is crucial to changing how we relate to the past. And if we succeed in creating hypothetical options for events of the past, perhaps we can change the future. Given the horrific tragedy of the Yarmouk refugee camp, it is time for Israel to think differently about the Palestinian people, some of which is part and parcel of this country and its future.

Is it not time to whiten the black image of the Zionist movement a bit among Palestinians, as a refreshing start to forging a relationship between the two peoples? Why doesn’t Israel coordinate with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Arab leadership to absorb Yarmouk refugees in the PA-controlled territories and among Israeli Arabs, as was suggested in the Haaretz editorial on Thursday (“Help Yarmouk’s refugees,” April 9)?

Instead of running to the end of the world to show the beautiful face of Israel, extend a hand to your neighbor. Learn something from Jordan, a country that has no moral or political obligation to Syria yet has already absorbed more than a million refugees from there. For once in your life, do something that you can relate proudly to your grandchildren. Let them say with pride that in Yarmouk, the process of reconciliation with our cousins began.

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Why doesn’t Israel help Palestinians in Yarmouk? – Opinion – Israel News | Haaretz.

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I guess the answer to this is the same to that question of “why Israel has never attacked those islamists roaming their Syrian borders, or even cured some at their hospitals, while never hesitated in attacking Syrian or Hizbullah targets?”

Realpolitik. Vomitive as usual. 

Kurdish Artist Rostam Aghala’s Response to IS in Arts

Sweden and the Middle East Views

There’s plenty of resistance to the Islamic State in the Middle East, resistance that deserves far more attention than it gets internationally. One artist in Iraqi Kurdistan, Rostam Aghala, has delivered his response to the terrorists in form of paintings. He let me share his works on my website, and I’m happy to be able and show the world his art.

“Islam and Daesh” (Daesh = Arabic acronym for the Arabic version of Islamic State)

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Photo credit: copyright of all paintings, Rostam Aghala

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