Category Archives: Eastern Mediterranean// Méditerranée de l’Est

How Racism Is Fueled By Fear 


Cyprus, New York Times, 1964:

WAS Aphrodite, who rose from the sea at Paphos on the island of Cyprus, really the Goddess of Love? As bullets cracked through the air and spattered the mud‐brick walls of Ayios Theodoros; as 18‐year­old Mustapha, the son of the Turkish mukhtar (headman) of the village, lay nn his iron bedstead steadying his rifle on the windowsill and took aim at a window down the street (where in all probability a Greek youth of the same age, with whom he had talked in friendship a matter of days before, was steadying his own gun); as one gazed down on the waxen, lifeless face of Andreas, a Greek youth with dark curly hair and long black eyelashes, shot in the back as he tried to run for his life, it seemed that the island of Cyprus was bewitched with evil, hate and fear.

I’m writing this not because I’m writing anything new. In fact, I don’t even write that much. I’m writing because I see no other way to express myself.When i asked my mother what happened back in 1974 in Cyprus she simply answered to me two worlds  “war” and “religion conflict” but she never mentioned what happened during that war and she always kept telling me about her life before the war and how simple were their lives back then before the killings, before Junta before the Turkish army.

In a reality of fear and terror, it’s easy to forget that sometimes fear can lead to racism. Living in constant fear can influence our attitude towards the source of our stress. Sometimes the source of the stress is another social group that we have political conflict with. Often we call them terrorists or murderers, and we generalize all the people of their ethnicity as potential terrorists. That’s why we need to be careful about justifying racist acts as self defense.

Racism and discrimination have been used as powerful weapons encouraging fear or hatred of others in times of conflict and war, and even during economic downturns.

racism-psych-discrimination-scheme

The illusion of equality in recent years has been shattered and the whole European Union is forced to look itself in a mirror that had been avoiding for years: the mirror of racism, intolerance toward others, toward the diverse in color, religion, sexual orientation, economic status of other member states. Each country has lights and shadows inside and has to mediate between these two forces as the Cyprus case.

I keep an eye while i read some blogs or news sites around the web and here to find where’s the truth and where there is an indoctrination of propaganda in the text. Sometimes people who come from outside the Near East and they present theirselves  as experts are often one-sided experts who follow pathetically the thoughts of someone without any critical thinking and this without talking with both sides of the story but just hear and read or watched a video somewhere. But this is their “truth” or how the world is represented/ given to them and is hard to change their minds or their truth or is even harder to change the truth of the far-right wing nationalists as they believe that they are always correct when they spread fear and hate. Sometimes you just need to intervene and say “Stop” but they are going to tell you you are a “mongol” as well and you should keep your mouth shut. Indeed, the present time is not favourable for leftish “Princess and the Pea” fairytales in the Near East.

Racism hides a great fear beneath it, a fear to face what is unknown, a fear to leave certainties. It is the intolerance of who is convinced of its superiority and fears to abandon the rigid structures that supports it. Without a shadow of doubt, fear is the number one factor that creates ignorance. And once ignorance is involved then people get hurt…or even die.

Walter Lippmann:“We must remember that in time of war what is said on the enemy’s side of the front is always propaganda, and what is said on our side of the front is truth and righteousness, the cause of humanity and a crusade for peace.”

Two worlds coexist today in Cyprus. Probably every conflict is fought on at least two grounds: the battlefield and the minds of the people via propaganda. The good guys and the bad guys can often both be guilty of misleading their people with distortions, exaggerations, subjectivity, inaccuracy and even fabrications, in order to receive support and a sense of legitimacy.

Whether we are talking about ethnic cleansings, group hatred or retraction of equity laws under the guise that these are unfair, the underlying issue is the same. One group, threatened by the perceived loss of power, exercises social, economic and political muscle against the Other to retain privilege by restructuring for social advantage. The majority of Turkish Cypriots has left the island and the Turkish Cypriot Youth which remains in the North struggles with the embargo and the new dictatorship in Turkey under Erdogan’s new Era.

On the other hand some Greeks still say that Cyprus should be unified with Greece as it’s greek That’s why a vote passed through the Cypriot Parliament to “celebrate” every year the referendum that took place back in 1950 in which 97% of masculine voters (Greek Cypriots) voted  in favor of the Union with Greece (Enosis). Some stupid Greeks burnt Turkish Cypriot houses back in 1963 after the independance. Historically speaking the Greek government rejected  twice the demand of Greek Cypriots for Enosis even when they had the opportunity to claim it.

turkish cypriot

turkish cypriotsTURKISH CYPRIOTS CLEANSING

missing cypriots
1974: credit: ΔΩΡΟΣ ΠΑΡΤΑΣΙΔΗΣ

Indeed, many Greek Cypriots blame the nationalist ideology of the military dictatorship of Greece 1967-1974 as ultimately responsible for dividing their country in the name of Enosis, destroying its political force as a national aspiration in the process.

The recent vote in the Cypriot parliament is a bad piece of legislation sponsored and supported by people with hate in their hearts with the sole aim of scuppering the talks currently taking place to bring peace and reconciliation in Cyprus.

For the history, Great Empires as the British one, have always conquered by dividing and ruling.  Without giving an excuse to anyone,  British wanted to keep their colonialism on the island by any means. Therefore they hired Turkish Cypriots to fight against the Greeks. It has been documented that Kissinger planed the coup d’état in Cyprus by the  US-controlled Athens military junta and the turkish invasion at the same time just 5 days later. The fear of the other won prevailed and we’re still living the result of this conflict until today. This may be an example of how many years other countries around will have to wait until finding a peaceful solution.

invasion of cyprus

cyprus children british military
cyprus children british military

CYPRUS TURKISH INVASION

 Oranges and apples can not live together they say. But i don’t see something different that one nose two legs one face two hands : too simple for them.  Some Turkish as the Grey Wolves “commando” Bahceli say that Cyprus is Turkish and we must throw all Greeks into the sea again as they did one century ago in Turkey:

“If they (Greeks) want to fall into the sea again, if they want to be hunted down, they are welcome, the Turkish army is ready. Someone must explain to the Greek Government what happened in 1921 and 1922. If there is no one to explain it to them, we can come like a bullet in the Aegean and teach them history all over again,” Bahceli threatened.

The greater the tension, the more the Turkish current government needs new enemies, the more it divides society.

Abroad, the continual drive to find enemies for domestic consumption leads to haphazard foreign policy. Today, Erdogan invests in division, in fear, in populism. Cynicism benefits the government for as long as citizens tolerate it.

In the past, before the border opening in Cyprus, as a very young boy, I had thought about meeting a Turkish and been horrified about them and wished that there was some way to remove them from the planet. That is what they used to teach you at school: fear. But I had never understood their fear. Why Turkish are afraid of us? I had never seen them as fellow human beings struggling with the issues of being human and having fears just as I struggled with being human and my fears. As we know, if fear is allowed to rule in our life it leads to much negative and violent behavior. But for those of us who believe in God or to humanity, there is a call to us to work to find positive ways to channel the energy that is generated in us by fear.

Fear breeds misunderstanding of different people, different races. And, it is this misunderstanding that then breeds hatred. This type of hatred is founded on lies, mistruths and mistrust of ‘others’, simply because of religion, skin colour or nationality. Again, the lack of communication between people of different religions and cultures is stark. This breeds animosity, misunderstanding and hostility – which then leads to hatred.

Greece and Cyprus were for more than 400 years occupied by Turks (Ottomans), and we were taught to believe that for every crime committed towards the Greeks, Islam was responsible. The Turks were Muslims and their crimes were reflecting their religious beliefs.

Fear is immobilizing and it keeps us separated. Our “them and us” mentality has no place in a country that is working to be a democracy, an EU state and it certainly has no place in our communities. We are challenged by the difficulties to see everyone as being connected to us and to understand that our overall wellbeing is related to theirs.

It is unsurprising that the black shirts of the Greek Cypriot nazi party  Elam sponsored legislation for children to celebrate the plebiscite that treated Turkish Cypriots as non existent. Their ideology holds that it is right to discriminate against whole sections of the population on grounds of race and religion and to wallow in the celebration of such hateful intolerance.

The Nazis used to do it on the back of Jewish people and celebrated their intolerance in the torch-lit marches of the Hitler Youth. Racism has played its part in the destruction of whole generations of families who knew nothing but fear.

We are in this journey together and we need one another to create the world that supports the highest quality of life for everyone. Our work continues to be that of making it clear that there is no place for any racist ways of thinking and to make the effort to build bridges to one another so we can support the highest quality of life possible for everyone in this country and across this planet.

*Victims pictures are from both communities 

 

A BARD’S LIFE OF LOVE: KARACAOĞLAN


Karacaoğlan is a 17th-century Ottoman Turkish folk poet and ashik. His exact dates of birth and death are unknown but it is widely accepted that he was born around 1606 and died around 1680. He lived around the city of Mut near Mersin. His tomb, which was organized as a mausoleum in 1997, is at Karacaoğlan hill in the village of Karacaoğlan, Mut, Mersin. In this regard, he was the first known folk poet and ashik whose statue was built.

His poetry gave a vivid picture of nature and village life in Anatolian settlements. This kind of folk poetry, as distinct from the poetry of the Ottoman palace, was emphasized after the foundation of the Republic of Turkey in 1923 and became an important influence on modern lyric poetry, with Karacaoğlan being its foremost exponent.

Karacaoğlan was a captivating folk poet who took pleasure in capturing women’s hearts. He was handsome with dark features and soulful eyes. His love poems are among the most enchanting in the Turkish language. He sang these as he accompanied himself on a simple string instrument called the saz. Many of them were improvised when the poet was inspired by the delights of nature or the beauty of women.

The topics of his poetry reflect the nature in which he was embedded, along with the Turkish nomadic culture of the Toros mountains of which he was a part. The main themes of this poetry stemmed out of nature, love, longing for home, and death. As with other Turkish folk poetry of his time in Anatolia, his language was expressive, yet unadorned, direct, and simple. With a big heart, he fell in love with women and wrote poetry about them getting water from a fountain or making bread. His poetry were in the forms of koşmatürkümanivarsağıüçlemedestangüzelleme and koçaklama. More than five hundred of his poems have survived to this day.

This “bard of love” lived in the 17th century (no one really knows his years of birth and death). He was probably raised among nomadic tribes in Southern Turkey. But, during his long life (he lived to be seventy or possibly eighty), he roamed far and wide, singing his poems in innumerable places. He went to towns and villages in Anatolia and visited Egypt, Tripoli, and the Balkans. His life of love, of poetry, of music became legendary. Today, people in many parts of Turkey cherish Karacaoğlan’s simple, melodious, touching lyrics.

In his youth, Karacaoğlan was passing through a town. Strumming his saz, he came upon a rose garden. As he grew ecstatic from the vivid colors and the exquisite smell of the roses, suddenly his eyes fell on an indescribably beautiful girl sauntering among the flowerbeds. He stood there, bewitched. He was already feeling in his heart the flames of love – – and, unable to restrain himself, he broke into song. The lovely young woman took a few steps toward him and listened with heart and soul. When the song was over, she started to walk away without uttering a word. Alarmed that he might never lay eyes on her again, the poet implored: “You are the loveliest of all lovely women. Please stay a while. At least tell me your name?” She hesitated. Then, in a barely audible voice, she said, “Elif.”

Karacaoğlan was struck by the symbolic significance of “Elif”, a name common among the Turks for many centuries: It is derived from “aleph”, the first letter of the Arabic alphabet, with the numerical value of l. Elif stood there, the epitome of gracefulness, dainty as a leaf. For the young poet, this slender girl was the beginning of all things.

They exchanged a few polite words. She had heard of the minstrel. After a few sentences, she revealed that she was married and had children. Karacaoğlan was distressed: He had found and lost his beloved in the same instant. He also found out that she came from a well-to-do family and could read and write.

Desperately in love at first sight, the young minstrel began to serenade this exquisite woman. He chanted a poem that has enchanted the Turks for more than three centuries now. The poem celebrates her among the many splendors of nature – – and bemoans the pain inflicted by unrequited love:

With its tender flakes, snow flutters about,
Keeps falling, calling out “Elif… Elif…”
This frenzied heart of mine wanders about
Like minstrels, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Elif’s robe is embroidered all over;
Her eyes – like a baby goshawk’s – glower.
She smells lovely like a highland flower,
With those scents calling out “Elif… Elif…”

When she frowns, her glance is a dart that goes
Into my heart: I fall into death’s throes.
In her white hand she holds a pen – she knows
What she writes, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Right in front of her home a trellis stands;
There’s Elif, holding glasses in her hands.
It’s as if a duck whose head has green strands
Gently floats, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

I am the Minstrel: your slave for my part.
There’s no love for other belles in my heart.
Unbuttoning the shirt, I tear apart
The collars, calling out “Elif… Elif…”

Rumors were afoot among the people who heard these poems and songs that the handsome minstrel lavished on Elif. When her husband heard the rumors, he asked the feudal lord of the region to take action. Already in trouble because of his satirical poems criticizing the powers that be, Karacaoğlan was forced to leave town and his beloved Elif.

During his travels, he fell in love again – – this time with the daughter of another lord. He had just arrived in a town where he noticed a large gathering in front of a luxurious mansion. They told him the lord was holding a contest among poets. Karacaoğlan went in and sang a few of his love lyrics. Everyone was spellbound. He was declared the winner. The lord became his patron and often invited him to recite and sing.

Karacaoğlan found the lord’s daughter Suna adorable. But he was cautious and circumspect. One day, when he was strumming his saz in the garden, Suna came to him and said: “I just love your poems. Would you please compose a poem for me? Please…”

The minstrel broke into song immediately. For his Suna he started a poem that started with…

Loveliest of all, how lovelier you are now
Since no one else saw you, no one laid eyes on you:
That black lovelock of yours is curled up on your brow
Since there is no braid on it, just no braid on you.

and ended with…
Call, go on, keep calling out, Karacaoğlan:
The rock weighs heavy only in its own place.
The brave young man might cool off if his loved one
Gives him no embrace, gives him no loving embrace.

So, a passionate love affair started between Suna and the poet.
But, before long, her father heard about the affair and was so furious that he had Karacaoğlan thrown into jail.

After some time, Suna found a way of having him escape. About to leave, Karacaoğlan begged her to elope with him. But she was reluctant to abandon her family’s life of wealth and power for a wandering poet’s life of hardship. So, Karacaoğlan bade farewell and went on the road all by himself.

Wherever he went he was never without the company of beautiful women. They took a fancy to him…many of them chased him…they cherished his love lyrics.

Karacaoğlan always responded affectionately. When he ran into three wonderful beauties who did a special dance for him, he mused heartily and a bit naughtily:

If I were to love the elders the best,
Wouldn’t that be unfair to the youngest ?

The great Anatolian minstrel spent the rest of his life roaming villages and towns, hills and valleys. He had countless love affairs and composed tender lyrics as well as erotic poems for the women he loved.

Some of his poems express a chilling fear of death. It was as if the poet kept traveling far and wide to make it impossible for death to catch up with him:

Death, do not tire yourself out by stalking me;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.
You won’t spare me, you shall have me in the end;
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I often roamed from this highland to that plain
Where I would eat, drink, be merry, entertain.
I kept fleeing from you, yet you came again.
Death, be gone for a while, come some other time.

Howling like the gray wolf has not been my fate.
This false world I can neither praise nor berate.
With friends and loved ones I failed to congregate.
Be gone for a while, Death, come some other time.

I am the Minstrel who is gripped by dismay
In the garden where nightingales sing and play.
Stop! You snatched my father and mother away –
Be gone for a while, come some other time, Death.

The people of Anatolia feel that Karacaoğlan escaped death, because his lovely poems and songs have achieved immortality.

His poetry in songs: Ala Gözlerini Sevdiğim Dilber ( A beauty whose hazel eyes I love)

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in the fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I was crying for days, for nights, never smiled
I was searching, but haven’t found the cure for my anguish
For so many years had no gratitude
Show me some kindness, don’t send me away

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

I wandered around the mountains and stopped here
I found myself in fire of your sorrows, my love
I found myself in hopeless griefs
That’s enough, don’t burn me

A beauty whose hazel eyes I love
Don’t gossip about me with the world
Don’t stand before me showing your white neck
Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Don’t kill me before my fatal hour

Sources:

1.Prof. Talat S. Halman Chairman, Department of Turkish LiteratureBilkent University http://www.byegm.gov.tr/YAYINLARIMIZ/newspot/2001/sept-oct/n5.htm

2.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karacao%C4%9Flan

Palestine sous les Yeux de Banksy// Palestine through the Eyes of Banksy (En/Fr post)


Banksy is an anonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist and film director of unverified identity. Banksy is the pseudonym of a “guerrilla” street artist known for his controversial, and often politically themed, stenciled pieces.Their satirical street art and subversive epigrams combine dark humour with graffiti executed in a distinctive stenciling technique.

banksy soldier palestine
Credit: banksy.co.uk

Banksy’s works of political and social commentary have been featured on streets, walls, and bridges of cities throughout the world.Banksy’s work grew out of the Bristol underground scene, which involved collaborations between artists and musicians. Banksy says that they were inspired by 3D, a graffiti artist who later became a founding member of the English musical group Massive Attack.

banksy cattie gaza
Credit: Banksy.co.uk

Most of his fans didn’t really want to know who he is for years.His work not only includes many powerful, often controversial images, but they may also be found throughout the Internet as viral images. In 2015, he decided to travel to Palestine and the West Bank, where he stenciled nine images on the Bethlehem Wall. These images were an instant hit and virally exploded in the Internet.

banksy gaza art children
credit: banksy.co.uk

Back in 2015, the mysterious British street artist published a video on his official website in which he unveils his new works in Gaza city and raised awareness of the living conditions of its inhabitants.

Continue reading Palestine sous les Yeux de Banksy// Palestine through the Eyes of Banksy (En/Fr post)

La nouvelle politique énergétique de l’Union Européenne met des obstacles à l’extraction du gaz naturel chypriote


La nouvelle politique de l’Union Européenne concernant le règlement de l’extraction du gaz naturel s’avère être un nouveau problème ayant des implications économiques et politiques énormes pour la République de Chypre, dans l’étape transitoire vers la mise en place de l’approche économique durable à horizon 2050.

En effet, jusqu’à récemment, l’Union Européenne reconnaissait clairement la nécessité des États membres insulaires, en particulier ceux qui sont géographiquement isolés tel que l’état chypriote et elle incluait notamment le gaz naturel à leurs choix énergétiques visant la transition vers une économie verte. Maintenant, la Commission Européenne propose de tels critères techniques admissibles pour tous les polluants, mais qui, dans la pratique excluent le financement ou le soutien européen des projets et des infrastructures pour l’exploitation du gaz naturel.

Les nouveaux critères proposés sont en train de bouleverser la politique d’investissement actuelle de l’Union Européenne dans l’industrie d’approvisionnement en gaz naturel portant sur la transition économique sur un futur durable. En outre, le risque que ces « critères techniques » soient intégrés dans les futures politiques et législations de l’Union Européenne est bien visible, et par conséquent, dans le cadre des futures programmes de financement de l’Union Européenne ayant des impacts défavorables, en plus du niveau de l’investissement des infrastructures de gazoduc et de gaz naturel, dans des secteurs tels que l’eau, l’agriculture et d’autres.

costas mavrides
M. Costas Mavrides au Parlement Européen

Ainsi, lors d’une conversation houleuse ayant pour objet la révision du règlement européen concernant la perspective des orientations pour les infrastructures énergétiques transeuropéennes, (dans lesquelles on trouve le gazoduc East-Med), j’ai été surpris par les … déclarations assez vagues des ministres compétents à Chypre, et en m’appuyant sur leurs déclarations, si je ne connaissais pas la réalité, je pourrais penser que tout va bien !

La semaine dernière, j’ai insisté auprès du Commissaire européen responsable pour signaler que sa proposition ignore la géographie des certains États membres , tels que les Etats membres insulaires isolés et que celle-ci renverse les politiques et la législation européennes en vigueur relatives à la transition écologique pour la croissance verte. En plus, tout en ignorant la position désavantageuse de pays comme la République de Chypre, des pays comme l’Allemagne, disposant d’une infrastructure gazière existante, continueront de bénéficier du gaz naturel. La politique de l’Union Européenne devrait être la reconnaissance de la particularité géographique et de ne pas punir les États membres insulaires isolés.

La décision finale sera prise par l’Union Européenne au cours du mois d’avril. Avec la Représentation permanente de la République de Chypre auprès de l’Union Européenne, nous continuerons de poursuivre notre coopération sur cette question préoccupante ! Cependant, la question a d’énormes implications économiques et politiques pour la République de Chypre et elle ne peut pas être abordée que par un seul député européen, ni seulement par la Représentation permanente. La question doit être soulevée au sein de l’Union Européenne au plus haut niveau politique !

Note: La cheffe du bureau du procureur de la Cour pénale internationale (La Haye) décidera d'ici juin 2021 s'il y a lieu de renvoyer ou non l'affaire (depuis 2014) contre des responsables turcs concernant l'affaire de colonisation illégale à Chypre. Le gouvernement de la République Chypriote est dans un silence absolu. Depuis des semaines, nous demandons au Président et aux ministres concernés de prendre une position officielle sur ce sujet. Préfèrent-ils, dans le cadre d'un bon climat des négociations sur la question chypriote, perdre l'affaire plutôt que de documenter le crime de la colonisation illégale devant la Cour ?

Costas Mavrides, député européen DIKO (S&D), Président de la Commission politique pour la Méditerranée costas.mavrides@europarl.europa.eu

costas mavrides diko