From Diyarbikkir to Lalish: Walking in the Footsteps of Genocide

“That evening, I found myself exhausted both physically and mentally. But there was one place I still had to visit, an old pedestrian bridge that I describe in my novel.  I thought I would spend some quiet time there, but a wedding was being celebrated on the bridge’s top. The ten- arched bridge, “On Guzlu Copry,” was built by the bishop of Diyarbakkir, Yohanna Z’oro, late in the 4th century, so his parish could cross to the other bank of the Tigris and access the Church of 40 Martyrs. I found to my surprise — and dismay — that a plaque placed on the side of the bridge when it was renovated in 2010 claimed it as the first “Islamic” bridge in Anatolia!”

…learn, learn, learn…

ArabLit & ArabLit Quarterly

Iraqi novelist Layla Qasrany traveled to Turkey to commemorate the Armenian genocide and visit sites that had appeared in her most recent novel. A side-trip into northern Iraq, where she visited a Yazidi shrine, brought depressing and hopeful news of ISIS:

By Layla Qasrany

Diyarbakir, Turkey

Diarbakýr, Turkey Diarbakýr, Turkey

We say in Arabic that there are five benefits to travel. No one seems to know just what these are, but I derived many benefits from a trip I took recently. The journey began with my arrival in southern Turkey to attend the commemoration of the centennial of the Armenian genocide, in which we paid tribute to the million-plus souls deported from Diyarbakkir who consequently died in the desert of Syria.  One benefit was that I got to walk in the path of the caravan I depicted in my latest Arabic novel.

The first thing I did on the 23rd of April was…

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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.

via

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. 

More Free Middle East historical images and data, anyone?

And what can you find here? * Audio collection materials including 200 shellac discs recorded in Bahrain, Kuwait and Iraq between 1920 and 1940. * 500 maps, charts and plans of the Persian Gulf and beyond. 1928, Map showing (A) Air Routes, established and projected; (B) Islands in the Persian Gulf; (C) Boundaries of Kuwait and Trucial Area. And; * Arabic Scientific Manuscripts from the British Library’s Manuscripts Collections, including medicine, mathematics, astronomy and engineering. Well, what are you waiting for? Start browsing here:

Open source of 500.000 images takes you back through Middle Eastern history– Your Middle East.

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Makes me remember the same illusion I had when I discovered this other collection: 

http://www.loc.gov/pictures/search/?st=grid&co=matpc

… enjoy! 

Mosul Eye: Straight from inside hell.

Destroying Mosul’s Heritage:

We apologize for not updating the page. Like most Iraqis, we have been mourning the unbearable loss of our precious relics. Once again, many unrealistic voices have been asking why the inhabitants of Mosul did nothing to stop the rampage, and once again we will say if stopping the destruction and oppression without arms were possible, 5 million Jews would not have been killed systematically during the Holocaust. There was an average of 10,000 Jews in every concentration camp vs. 50 Nazis. If freeing themselves and fighting back, with their bare hands like many are asking the people of Mosul, were an option, they would have. As for the pythons calling for a nuclear or chemical attack on Mosul, we will ask them to look in the mirror and seek the reason for all the hatred they carry inside. It is beyond shameful that Mosul receives prayers and wishful thoughts from non-Iraqis world-wide whereas Iraqis are calling for genocide of the hostage people of Mosul.

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Some notes about the destruction:

1- The footage seen in the video published by ISIS dates back to July-August 2014 and NOT February 2015. We had noted in a previous news brief last August that ISIS had destroyed the Winged Bull at the entrance of “Nirgal Gate” as well as the statues in Mosul’s Museum. We must ask ourselves why ISIS chose this specific date to post the video.

2- 90% of the statues in the museum are indeed not authentic, but rather gypsum versions of the originals which have been moved to Baghdad gradually since April 2003. However, the Winged Bull is authentic. Another important note worth mentioning is the “Yellow Obelisk” of Assyrian King Esarhaddon, and many and many authentic tablets are missing from the video footage. Our inquiries with the Museum’s employees conclude that these pieces were taken out of the Museum since early July following the detaining of the Museum’s manager (Musa’ab Mohammed Jasim) whom we have mentioned in a previous post. The manager was detained after ISIS took over the city in order to identify the exact value of the ancient artefacts. He was released later. Museum administrive Dr. Muntaha also claims the museum is no longer of any value apart from the yellow obelisk and ISIS. The obelisk vanished from the Museum on February 25th one day after German experts in Mosul evaluated its worth. How the German experts entered the city and managed to secure ISIS protection remains a mystery. However, we must wonder if the pro-ISIS propaganda made by German reporter Jurgen Todenhofer last December was part of the bargain. This should be material for a worldwide investigation as to how these Germans accessed the city under ISIS protection. Where are the journalists?

3- Sources tell us ISIS is excavating the areas around monumental sites in Mosul in search of relics, particularly around the location of Jonah’s tomb (previously). Witnesses say ISIS militiamen would spend hours in the site after sunset.

4- ISIS have destroyed 10% of the artefacts they possess. The remaining relics in Nimrod and Hatra are priceless.

5- Further investigations have led to facts that several ancient pieces from Syria and Iraq have been shipped to Turkey through shipping cars that do not belong to ISIS, but to international shipping companies. We have enough evidence to believe that business and trade is continuing between ISIS and Kurdistan & Baghdad.

6- Ancient Syriac, Arabic, and Latin manuscripts preserved in Mosul’s churches have been confiscated by ISIS months ago. These rare scripts constitute a treasure of Christian heritage. Plans are being made to sell them to antique dealers.

7- Two men who appeared in the video of ISIS destroying the relics have been identified. They shall be punished.

8- Final Note: Mosul Eye only posts updates that are well-worth noting. Even if you decide not to believe our news, please take it into serious consideration. We do not collect news for the sake of entertainment or merely reading. Several satellite channels do that. What we offer is by far more than that. We are conveying updates to those whom in concerns and are risking our lives every minute while doing so.

via

Mosul Eye

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A young women’s call “To Our Countries”

A new occasion to let us all remember that change in Middle East will come invariably from women. Let them be these women singing in exile from Sweden or the brave fighting women of Kobane.

Let this be a call for ALL OF OUR COUNTRIES… even those not in Middle East. 

Because this is not a tragedy for Arabs, Kurds, Turks, Israelis, Palestinians… and all MIddle Eastern People. 

The oldest remnants of human civilization are found in these lands.

so this is a tragedy in the bethren of HUMAN CULTURE.

A tragedy for all humans.

If Middle East keeps being lost… we will all loose… because it’s not “us and them”.

It’s US ALL.

And as far as we don’t change the way things are happening, this shit will never let the world advance.

So let’s help this voice to spread.

Let’s help  this women voice sound louder than the shots of a doshka in Kobane.

Louder than any invocation to Devil before killing someone in the name of a false concept of God.

Because God does not need our blood, ANY BLOOD, to stain the ground to make His point.

Please share. 

To Our Countries لبلادي

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21st Century Islamic (?) Inculture.

The cultural devastation of Mecca has radically transformed the city. Unlike Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo, Mecca was never a great intellectual and cultural center of Islam. But it was always a pluralistic city where debate among different Muslim sects and schools of thought was not unusual. Now it has been reduced to a monolithic religious entity where only one, ahistoric, literal interpretation of Islam is permitted, and where all other sects, outside of the Salafist brand of Saudi Islam, are regarded as false. Indeed, zealots frequently threaten pilgrims of different sects. Last year, a group of Shiite pilgrims from Michigan were attacked with knives by extremists, and in August, a coalition of American Muslim groups wrote to the State Department asking for protection during this year’s hajj.The erasure of Meccan history has had a tremendous impact on the hajj itself. The word “hajj” means effort. It is through the effort of traveling to Mecca, walking from one ritual site to another, finding and engaging with people from different cultures and sects, and soaking in the history of Islam that the pilgrims acquired knowledge as well as spiritual fulfillment. Today, hajj is a packaged tour, where you move, tied to your group, from hotel to hotel, and seldom encounter people of different cultures and ethnicities. Drained of history and religious and cultural plurality, hajj is no longer a transforming, once-in-a-lifetime spiritual experience. It has been reduced to a mundane exercise in rituals and shopping.Mecca is a microcosm of the Muslim world. What happens to and in the city has a profound effect on Muslims everywhere. The spiritual heart of Islam is an ultramodern, monolithic enclave, where difference is not tolerated, history has no meaning, and consumerism is paramount. It is hardly surprising then that literalism, and the murderous interpretations of Islam associated with it, have become so dominant in Muslim lands.

via

The Destruction of Mecca

NYTimes.com.

Paris Hilton Store vs. Opens In Mecca Mall In Saudi Arabia vs. Insult 5

I would love to have a chance to say this is not representative of Islam, or that there is a majority of muslims that don’t follow these ways, or some other views of facts but…

How to change my header while those Angry Salafi/Wahabbi/Hanabillahi Beards, wearing their short thobes keep cheering up the destruction of every single piece of heritage that gives information about the origins of Islamic culture, neglecting centuries of history, and so many possibilities of increasing the world’s knowledge about their country and the origins of the religion they say to promote…

Israelis wouldn’t have done better if they had attempted to erase every single proof of the origins of Islam, and of course they wouldn’t have done it better to discredit Saudis, and Arabs, by extension, due to their absolute lack of interest in culture and knowledge.

There are many authors that coincide in stating that every cultural advance (except maybe algebra) that Arabic civilization gave to the world, was nothing else than an extension of what they learnt and took from what was left of Rome and Greece during their expansion… and behaviors like these just confirm those opinions.

Seeing how they treated what was left of the beginning of their history (they had already deleted everything from previous periods, as Polytheism, Judaism and Christianity were not welcome anymore in Saudia) makes me feel pain and shame.

Not, of course, from a religious point of view!.

To be honest, I can respect other people’s beliefs, as far as they don’t attack other’s… but the whole Holy Sites of Islam just awake my interest in terms of their artistic, historical and humanist value, and there is nothing beyond that, for me. No offense, please.

My opinions are about art, history, culture and all those things that apparently matter little to nothing to nowadays Bedouins… and it’s shameful that they won’t give a camel’s fart about it.

But that’s the same respect they deserve from me. And from their future generations, asking why were they deprived from ethnic roots and culture, while everyone in the world has them.

Tell them then about record-high hotels and sky-scrappers, about luxury cars and Paris Hilton exclusive handbags, tell them about how life was fun and shiny as in an Islamic Disneyland, while people kept peeing and defecating over what was left of Khadija’s house. 

Eyes don’t see it…. heart does not feel it!

I’m shocked and supprised. I thought we were in a relatively safe place, where one could express one’s self. We wanted to raise questions about visual culture, between obedience and resistance. I had interesting talks with my students about silencing others, about deep misunderstandings about the concept of democracy, and how dangerous it can be to endanger it.

via Out of sight, out of mind:

Right-wing students tear down Activestills photo exhibit

+972 Magazine.

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A new proof that Israelis are mastering the Ostridge Strategy. Even when they are faced with reality, if they can’t hide it, they try to cover it up. 

It’s like if they were holding a terrible moral fart, in the middle of an important meeting with all the nations. They can exit maybe once or twice to liberate in the WC, or blame the neighbouring seats again a couple of times, if eventually someone notices what’s going on.

But some day they will have no chance to hold it… and everything that has been retained for so long will flow out freely, making everyone around turn ther faces disgusted.

Eventually they may be invited to abandon the meeting room. 

… but that time didn’t arrive yet.  

In the meanwhile, they will try to keep being creative with excuses.

Until now it worked really nicely.

Good Night, world!

‘We Can Matter’: Young Israeli Addresses Arab Idol Winner (I hope he could read it)

You are 23. I am turning 25 in two weeks. We are young, but we are no longer children. When I was fifteen, I read in an American book that “the mark of the immature man is that he wants to die for a noble cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” Now, a decade later, this idea resonates with me, and not only as an eloquent sentence in a novel. I was a combat soldier. I know what it is like to be ready to give your life for something. Yet, I would much rather live on this land alongside you than die so others can live here alone.

Look at me, because you don’t have a choice. And neither do I. We are stuck together, and we are not going anywhere. But it need not only be bad.

Your voice is beautiful. It can reach Palestinian and Arab youth all over the world. It can even reach us. It can tell a new story, one that wouldn’t conclude with “There’s no partner for peace”. It’s a story that seeks living, even if not loving. I can write it, but you’ll have to sing it.

via ‘We Can Matter’: Young Israeli Addresses Arab Idol Winner

Middle East Perspectives

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SHALOM ALEHEM – SALAAM ALEIKUM

… so close, so far… so closed.

Future will demand changes like this.

Many more…

But in the meanwhile, …. welcome!

Educated anger: Egyptian Intellectuals are fairly protesting but their ambitions are too low.

Secular intellectuals have to face Egypt’s new political reality. The ideological service intellectuals used to offer previous regimes is no longer needed. Consequently, the support previous governments used to offer for intellectuals should not longer be expected. The challenge currently facing Egyptian intellectuals is to generate sufficient independent resources and societal demands to sustain cultural production. This challenge is part and parcel of the greater challenge facing Egypt’s secular opposition seeking to generate support at the grassroots level.

Intellectuals in Egypt effectively contributed to the anti-Mubarak revolt. Ironically, the post-Mubarak regime is posing an existential threat to Egypt’s intellectuals and their professions. The answer to the challenge raised by Islamic rule is only partly political. While all kinds of political activism should be mobilised in such a struggle, political activism need to be guided by a new vision, addressing the philosophical and sociological questions of modernity, identity and democracy in a society where the state is no longer interested in the modernisation of national culture.

It is a struggle in which the contribution of intellectuals is more than needed, but this time within arrangements different from those prevailed not only in the last 60 years, but also in the past 200 years. And this is a struggle that is much more serious than facing the minister of culture.

via Legal Complaints, ‘Traitors’, and the Future of ‘National Culture’ in Egypt

 Arabic Literature (in English)

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(Cartoon by Fathi Abul Ezz)

The cancer of Egyptian society is the deep sociologycal lasitude towards change and the responsibility of self-deciding… it was clear the day they elected Mohammed Morsi to head a government of “good pietous men with moral strength” which allowed them to be relieved of the task of thinking or deciding abt all the incertitudes that the post-Tahrir times brang to them.

The day individual Egyptians learn and put massively in practice how to think by themselves, behave by themselves and decide by themselves independently of what they are told to think, do, and decide by someone else, that will be the day of victory for those who defend culture, art and education. 

That should be the war of intelectuals, their revolution, far harder and deeper than gathering in public squares to protest (with absolute legitimacy) against a rule that sends Egypt culturally back to 19th century.

Silent task of education and culturisation of a widely incult people (every people deserves the rulers they got) must be their main objective in nowadays Egypt.

In fact…. it should have been their main aim since always. But who mattered by then about Egypt’s cultural levels … if egyptians themselves didn’t. 

The Art of Civil War – By Fernande van Tets | Foreign Policy

“What period it’s from is not important. I just care how much it’s worth,” says Abu Khader, a smuggler in Majdal Anjar, a small Lebanese town on the Lebanon-Syria border. Smuggling everything from cigarettes to arms has long been a family business. But Free Syrian Army (FSA) fighters low on cash have started offering alternative payment for the guns they crave — stolen Syrian antiquities.

Cuneiform tablets, Roman friezes and statues, and Byzantine coins are particularly popular. “They give me antiquities, and I give them guns,” Abu Khader puts it simply.

An AK-47 can set you back $1,200 on the black market today, and the more desirable M4 carbine can cost around $4,500. Selling antiquities can help finance these purchases. “I have moved at least 100 objects,” Abu Khader says.

In addition to the Syrian civil war’s horrible human and economic costs, the conflict has also devastated Syria’s cultural heritage. At a February UNESCO conference, the Syrian Directorate General of Antiquities and Museums (DGAM) called the looting more damaging than the fighting that is ravaging mosques, old houses, and Crusader castles.

via The Art of Civil War – By Fernande van Tets

Foreign Policy.

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(Pic: www.rickrayfilms.com)

Happened in Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, … these countrie’s own nationals selling our heritage for nothing.

Yes. I said it right. Nothing. 

And I said it right: OUR heritage. Because it belongs to all of us. Mankind. It’s a record of what Humans have been doing since 1000’s of years ago. 

Nations come and go. People come and go. Politicians and doctrines come and go. This war will be over, same as these regimes, or what comes after them… (The Republic of Syria itself is less than 100 years old, for God’s sake… what can the whole area be in another 100? )… and those antiques are a proof that it happens as this.

They remain there to make us notice of the empty value of so much useless bloodshed. For centuries. Because at the end it was worth nothing. 

How many fights, wars, killings… through centuries. Only to leave that legacy to future generations: Antiques. Whatever they fought for, their wishes and hopes, their dream…  got lost with them. 

Our old, delicate precious records of the lessons we should keep from the past. 

In 1936-1939, during our Spanish Civil War, staff from El Prado Museum saved all the treasures they could from there, packed it on trucks and sent it out of that chaos of battles and bombings thru the french border,  to save it from destruction.

Because it belonged to all spaniards. Not them only. Also those on the enemy side. 

After the war finished, all those paintings from Velazquez, Goya, Greco, Zurbaran, Murillo… returned home. 

… The value of those artifacts destroyed or (hopefully) only lost and smuggled ilegally from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria… is infinitely higher than those treasures from El Prado Museum.

Not just in terms of money value. Not even in terms of uniqueness… It’s more valuable because it is linked not only to a single nation.

The ground we are talking about has links to East and West. Its loss is a robbery that affects us all, same as those lost Buddhas in Bami-Yan. 

What does it take to Middle Easterns to notice that they are in our same club, whatever the hell they believe in?

Maybe the answer lays in that to the question: What would have they done in 1936 in Madrid?

….. gosh.