Archive for the ‘Religion’ Category
BBC Four’s Storyville documentary about Pussy Riot, the Russian feminist punk group, and founders of a new feminist movement, was extraordinary.
AS Wikipedia describes them, “they stage unauthorized provocative guerrilla performances in unusual public locations, which are edited into music videos and posted on the Internet. Their lyrical themes include feminism, LGBT rights, opposition to the policies of Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom they regard as a dictator, and links between the leadership of the Russian Orthodox Church and Putin.”
“Art is not a mirror to reflect the world, but a hammer with which to shape it” ran the Bertolt Brecht quote at the programme start.” notes the Telegraph reviewer.
They also cited Guy Debord.
The great merit of the documentary was that it showed the strength of their movement, their personal courage, and their ideas without forgetting some of the doubts people may have about their actions.
The film makers pointed out that the very Cathedral where they staged their most famous protest (Cathedral of Christ the Saviour (Russian: Храм Христа Спасителя, Khram Khrista Spasitelya) was demonilished on 5 December 1931, by order of Stalin’s minister Kaganovich, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour was dynamited and reduced to rubble.
It was rebuilt long after the Soviet era, in the 1990s.
That the believers come in different kinds, and that they have rights too.
At a time when Christians are under physical attack in many lands, we should not forget this.
Human rights have no exceptions, none.
Free Pussy Riot!
After, “The attack by Somalia’s al-Qaeda-linked rebel group, al-Shabab, at an upscale mall in Nairobi has killed at least 59 people and wounded 175 others, Kenya’s interior cabinet secretary said.
Multiple barrages of gunfire erupted on Sunday morning from inside the building where there is a hostage stand-off with the attackers nearly 24 hours after they stormed the Westgate shopping centre using grenades and assault rifles.”
The Guardian adds,
Covering the Christian name on his ID with his thumb he approached one of the attackers, whom he described as Somali, and showed them the plastic card. “They told me to go. Then an Indian man came forward and they said, ‘What is the name of Muhammad’s mother?’ When he couldn’t answer they just shot him.”
Now, there is this,
A suicide bomb attack on a church in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed at least 60 people, police said.
The attack occurred as parishioners left the building after attending Sunday mass, police said.
“After the service ended, people started to come out and the suicide bomber rushed towards them,” said Najeeb Bogvi, a senior police officer in Peshawar.A hospital spokesperson said that at least 120 people had been wounded in the attack.
These two atrocities have a one, very clear, link.
Highgate Sage Ali Speaks on Syria.
In his latest foray (LLB 28th of August) Tariq summed up the Syrian situation,
The aim of the ‘limited war’ as set out by the United States and its European vassals is simple. The Syrian regime was slowly re-establishing its control over the country against the opposition armed by the West and its tributary states in the region (Saudi Arabia and Qatar). This situation required correction. The opposition in this depressing civil war needed to be strengthened militarily and psychologically.
The present war is essentially driven by anti-Iranian forces,
Ever since the war and occupation of Iraq, the Arab world has been divided between Sunni and Shia components. Backing the targeting of Syria are two old friends: Saudi Arabia and Israel. Both want the regime in Iran destroyed. The Saudis for factional reasons, the Israelis because they’re desperate to exterminate Hizbullah. That’s the endgame they have in sight and Washington, after resisting for a bit, is playing ball again. Bombing Syria is the first step.
In lines that may well have been an attempt to rival Dean Swift he outlined the position of the United Kingdom,
It’s foolish to get too worked up about Britain. It’s a vassal state, de facto governed by a National Government that includes Parliamentary Labour. Its political parties have accepted permanently situating themselves in the ‘posterior of the White House’. Cameron was gung-ho for a war some months ago. When the US went cold on the idea, Downing Street shut up. Now they’re back in action with little Ed saying that he backs the war ‘reluctantly’, the most pathetic of positions. Conservative backbenchers are putting up a stiffer resistance. Will more Tories vote against than Labour? We shall see.
Ali described how his position evolved until September 2012 as follows (in Counterpunch),
From the very beginning, I have openly and publicly supported the popular uprising against the family-run Baathist outfit that rules Damascus.
But, as in Egypt, once the euphoria of the uprising and its success in getting rid of a hated despot evaporates, politics emerge. What is the strongest political force in Syrian politics today? Who would be the largest party in parliament when free elections take place? Probably the Muslim Brothers and in that case the experience will be educative since neo-liberalism and the US alliance are the corner-stone of the Turkish model that Morsi and other colleagues in the region seek to emulate. For half of the last century, Arab nationalists, socialists, communists and others were locked in a battle with the Muslim Brothers for hegemony in the Arab world. We may not like it (and I certainly don’t), but that battle has been won by the Brotherhood. Their future will depend on their ability to deliver social change. The Egyptian and Syrian working class have played a huge part in both uprisings. Will they tolerate neo-liberal secularism or Islamism for too long?
A NATO intervention would install a semi-puppet government. As I argued in the case of Libya once NATO entered the fray: whoever wins the people will lose. It would be the same in Syria. On this I am in total accord with the statement of the Syrian Local Coordinating Committeespublished on 29 August 2011.
What will happen if the present situation continues? An ugly stalemate. The model that comes to mind is Algeria after the military, backed strongly by France and its Western allies, intervened to stop the second round of an election in which the FIS were going to win. This resulted in an attritional civil war with mass atrocities carried out by both sides while the masses retreated to an embittered passivity.
This is why I continue to insist that even at this late stage a negotiated solution is the best possible way to get rid of Assad and his henchmen. Pressure from Teheran, Moscow and Beijing might help achieve this sooner than the military posturing of Sultan Erdogan, his Saudi allies and their surrogates in Syria.
ln criticising this position. the Syrian Leftist site, Syrian Freedom for Ever, claimed that,
TARIQ ALI says we are witnessing in Syria a new form of re-colonisation by the West, like we have already seen in Iraq and in Libya.
Many of the people who first rose against the Assad regime in Syria have been sidelined, leaving the Syrian people with limited choices, neither of which they want: either a Western imposed regime, “composed of sundry Syrians who work for the western intelligence agencies”, or the Assad regime.
The only way forward, in the interests of all Syrians, says Ali, is negotiation and discussion. But it is now obvious that the West is not going to let that happen because they are backing the opposition groups who are against any negotiation.”
What remains of this at present?
With greater confidence Ali now observes,
Every single Western intervention in the Arab world and its surrounds has made the conditions worse. The raids being planned by the Pentagon and its subsidiaries in Nato are likely to follow the same pattern.
After praising Boris Yeltsin as a democratic socialist (1) , and voting Liberal Democrat in the 2005 General Election (2), Tariq Ali is famed on the left for his canny nose for the Zeitgeist.
That is, his capacity for getting things completely wrong.
The Morsi outcome could be classed in the thick file of Ali’s efforts in this direction.
Now that said many of us will find that Ali’s geopolitical analysis fairly convincing (Robert Fisk says as much).
That he was wrong about the British Parliament and Labour’s willingness to defy Washington puts him the company of thousands, to no disgrace.
Vassals, little Ed, posteriors, and pathetic as they all may be, they didn’t act in the predicted way.
They may continue to show some independence, though this is less certain.
But there is not a word in Ali’s analysis about the fate of the Syrian democrats opposed to Assad.
Or how any democratic forces can be supported.
Not a dicky bird.
That really sticks in the craw.
(1)Ali’s Revolution From Above: Where Is the Soviet Union Going? (1988) is also dedicated to Yeltsin, whose “political courage has made him an important symbol throughout the country.”
(2) “In the tightly fought battle for the Hornsey and Wood Green constituency, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of prominent writer and film maker Tariq Ali, who says he will be backing the party in the forthcoming General Election. Mr Ali, who lives in the constituency, is a long-time critic of the Government over the war in Iraq.” (Here) The Liberal Lynne Featherstone, won the constituency,
Raid on Femen (link to Official site).
FEMEN have accused Ukrainian police of planting weapons in their Kiev bureau.
The feminist group, known for their bare-breasted protests, have denied being in possession of items included a World War II pistol and a grenade, during a police raid.
Crude mock-ups showing Russian President Vladimir Putin in a snipers’ crosshairs were also found. The police said they were responding to an anonymous tip-off.
“Half an hour ago policemen came and told us that there had been a complaint about weapons and explosives being stored in our office. We of course did not take it seriously, but the fact that seconds later the whole special group appeared shows that everything has been planned in advance,” said FEMEN co-founder Anna Gutsol.
There are no reports of arrest, but the offices have been sealed off and many activists were rounded up for questioning.
This morning Libération reports,
After the discovery of weapons in their headquarters in Kiev, feminist activists have decided to close their local offices, saying it is no longer possible to work because of constant surveillance by the police.
Even before this incident, ” It was no longer possible to work in the office, where we were all the time listened to and monitored by the ‘special forces’. ” declared their local leader, Anna Hutsol.
The newspaper adds,
The Femen movement, founded in the Ukraine, but whose HQ is now in Paris, had for some years carried out actions across the world, denouncing sexism and discrimination against women. Their supporters appear suddenly, their breasts bared, and their bodies covered with writing, in order to attract attention. The group also denounces homophobia, the collusion between the state and the Church, authoritarian regimes, and election fraud.
Agence France Press just reported,
Kiev police spokesman Igor Mikhalko told AFP on Wednesday that the police had launched a criminal probe into illegal possession of weapons by the group, which could lead to a jail sentence of five years.
No one in the group has been charged but the investigation continues and the women could be called in for further questioning, Mikhalko said.
Hutsol told AFP that the group had already decided to move out and that the police raid had “strangely coincided” with its last day in its offices.
Police questioned activists until late Tuesday before releasing them, Hutsol said.
Femen’s female activists have become well-known in Ukraine and abroad for baring their breasts to protest at discrimination against women and other rights violations.
The group has claimed that Hutsol and other activists were beaten by special services last month in an attempt by the government to pressure them to halt their protests, which target figures including Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The group will continue its activism in Ukraine, Hutsol vowed.
“We are not stopping our activities in Ukraine, we are just moving out of the office.”
“Now to plan and prepare our next protests we will gather in different places.”