Syria and the New Level of Madness

Some Syrians I know complain that the world doesn’t pay attention to Syria. I don’t agree on this. Having worked with humanitarian aid, I can recount plenty of conflicts that goes on in the world that has less international attention in media and social media, even almost non-existent.

In DRC, large areas have never been under government control, and the way the different rebel groups are performing massacres has escalated into a race to the bottom, where they try to surpass each other.

In Pakistan, the deserted tribal area FATA has seen an increase in human rights violations not only from the Taliban but also from the counterattacks of the military.

In Egypt, criminal groups are kidnapping and torturing Eritrean refugees fleeing the brutal Eritrean regime for ransoms of money.

How many people would know the details of these conflicts? Hands up, please.

Syria is quite well covered in the international and social media. Westerners who had no clue what Syria was before the war, have seen pictures from the war zones on the evening news for the last five years.

What stands out with Syria to me, is the level of madness that plays out on prime time TV before our eyes, with no real solution or intervention ahead. Bashar Al Assad keeps repeating that  his army are targeting terrorists – while civilians, mothers with their babies, aid workers, medical doctors, are being killed in front of our eyes. Whatever the dictator says, social media counters it, to no avail.

Syria to me is not a forgotten conflict. It’s a new level of madness.

Your Values & Loneliness

The world is falling apart and people’s minds are going downhill with it.

Intolerance are increasing everywhere. People with intolerant views believe they are finally right.

What before was off the record is now on the record. Everything is possible. Everything is true. It’s like the Holocaust never happened. WWII never happened.

You try to stick to your values anyhow. You try to stick to what’s right. Maybe not stick up for, but stick to. That’s the least you can demand from yourself.

Does it pay off? Maybe for your soul.

Does it pay off for your every day life? No.

Does it pay off for your social life? No.

Does it pay off for your relationships? No.

At the other end of sticking to your values in a time when most people don’t, comes this: loneliness.

All Religious Groups Should Show their Support for the LBGT Community Now. But Will They?

Catching my breath after the Orlando massacre on innocent visitors at a gay club. I have been wondering if any of my American friends could have been around, especially any of my gay friends; also my cousin is gay and living in US since a few years, but none of them have been in Orlando, so I’m fine. For now.

After a while, a photo was shared by the Swedish Islam Academy, a respected institute in Southern Sweden, with a statement commenting on the massacre. I read it, curiously. Would the Islam Academy take a stance for equal rights for the LBGT community? Would they condemn attacks on homosexuals? This kind of reconciliation would be very needed in this moment.

This is what the message from the Islam Academy said (my translation):

“Another terror attack has affected innocent civilian people. This attack is unfortunately not the first one and probably not the last. While terrorist groups are being affected by military losses in the Middle East we will probably see more cowardly terrorist attacks affect different parts of the world. Regardless of whether the people who perform these attacks are lone maniacs or organised groups, these attacks are being born out of the same evil ideology. An evil and devilish ideology that has nothing to do with God or Religion. 

This violence that these terrorist groups are performing are affecting Christians, Jews, and others, but they are even affecting Muslims. They easily blow up a church, a synagogue, a dance club as well as they blow up a mosque.

The lastest act was directed towards a LGBT club in Orlando, USA. For the vast majority of Muslims, there is no doubt that this act is pure evil that needs to be condemned. It is important to clarify that regardless of Islam’s or Muslims’ views on LGBT issues, this cowardly killing of civilians can not be legitimised by Islam and the traditional Muslim faith. Muslims and Muslim organisations around the world have clearly condemned this terrorist act, like they condemn other acts of violence that affect civilians and innocent people.

It is also important in the context to remind that the Syrian and Iraqi people are constantly being affected by this violence and this evil. We can never forget their suffering and exposure. We continuously need to pray and actively work for a quick and impartial end of the conflict.

Our thoughts and prayers goes out to all people around the world that are being affected by unjustified violence. We ask God to remain the security and safety in our country, Sweden, and around the world. We also ask God to strengthen and protect our Muslim brothers and sisters from potential reprisals.

Peace!

 Signed by the chairman of the Islam Academy.

How did I feel after reading the lengthy message? The answer can be summarised by one word: disappointed.
Why? We all know that many people around the world are being victimised again and again and again. This is not something new. In Uganda, gay people are being oppressed by the state, sometimes even lynched by mobs. In DRC Congo, different rebel groups have been trying to outmatch each other in a race to the bottom, where massacres have been outranking one another. In Afghanistan, the ethnic minority group Hazara people have continuously been victims of deadly attacks. In Egypt, the Christian minority have been subjects of massacres several times.
I was disappointed, and I wish I could have told the Islam Academy this:
One victimised group doesn’t oust another one. When one group have been victimised, massacred, killed; please don’t suddenly bring up another victimised group that you are fond of. You mentioned the Syrian and Iraqi people, but there are many, many more, and it doesn’t really make sense. This time, it was the already oppressed LGBT community that was being brutally massacred by a lone ranger who believed he had support in the Islamic State (and he did), and maybe he believed he had support other Islamic groups? All religious groups have had a low tolerans towards the LGBT communities historically – and being a religious community, you need to show that this is wrong. Otherwise there is a great potential for future lone rangers to believe that they have the right to perform similar massacres again.
Show the LGBT community compassion during these hard times, this community and no others, just during this difficult time. There is a time and place for everything, and this time, it’s their time. And what’s more important: show that you respect human rights for everyone. Show that you respect human rights for the international LGBT community.
Now is not the time to point at other massacres. Now is the time to show compassion to this very group that have been victimised. Show that you can see the bigger picture. If you do this, I won’t have to be disappointed with you.
Unfortunately, I’m not in touch with the Islam Academy personally. That’s why I, instead, decided to share my views here. I hope that they might read it. And if they won’t, maybe some of their sympathisers. Now is the time to stand up for the rights if the LGBT community. For all of us.

How to Fuck up Your Kids Using Religion as a Tool

Do you have a hatred inside you that you wish to transfer to your children? Do you channel the hatred by religion? Is hate more important to you than children feeling safe and loved? This piece is for You.

Dear Hater,

This is how You should roll it.

Speak directly the kids that You want to transfer the hate to – Your kids, Your grandkids, other kids that You are taking care of or have an influence over, kids that are dependant on You and Your care in order to feel safe and secure, and therefore have no other or little other reference they can relate to, no other safety net, no other strong role models that they can rely on instead, when You start your hateful indoctrination.

Tell the kids that there is A Certain Religion that is bad, simply bad with no specific reason. Tell the kids that whoever belongs to That Religion is dirty, unclean, unfaithful, greedy, cheap. Any negative adjective You can use – use it for That Certain Religion.

Use a stereotype for anyone coming from That Certain Religion. Tell the children about the certain features of that religion. These people have certain hair colours, noses, facial features. That’s how you can tell they belong to That Religion.

The people from That Religion is all bad. Everything they do, they’re bad. You can never be friends with them. You can never go to school with them. You can never be neighbours with them. You can never work with them. This, the children needs to know. Before they start school, they need to know. They can never accept other people as individuals. Everything should be filtered in the dirty filter that You use for life.

Does anyone in the children’s extended family belong  to That Religion? Did they, God forbid, marry an outcast who belongs to That Religion? Did someone make the unforgivable crime of converting? Tell the children that all these people that have committed that unforgivable sin will be punished for what they did. Family or not, religion cuts through everything. They don’t celebrate the same religious occasions as You and the children do, and therefore, they are bad. They will never be able to enter certain religious places because of their religion. Even when life is over, when they’re dead, they won’t find peace. They will burn in hell. Hell, to children, is scary. Use that fear as an incitement. Fear filters everything. Fear is a useful filter against love. Fear is a useful filter against happiness.

You hope that You succeed. Succeeding in passing on the hate is,  first and foremost, the ultimate goal for the children that You care for.

But wait! Somehow, with one child or more, You were not successful. The children grow up, slowly but steadily along a rocky path, and where fear had it’s way, hate somehow didn’t make it. They could not buy the concept of hate, but they could not resist the concept of fear. Confusion and anxiety took the place where You hoped hatred would be.

You did not succeed. The children are not haters the way You hoped. But they are not secure, happy, grown up persons. Any hateful comments, they flinch and dodge. Any hateful comment, they might attack. Any hateful comment, it hurts them as if a bullet went straight to their heart.

You have made everything poisoned. Any religious holiday, any family gathering, it’s all attached to the fear and confusion, to the hatred You hoped would be planted in their heart.

You have succeeded, but You have not succeeded. You have created a damaged, fearful person where You hoped hatred would have been a part of the child, now the grown up person’s, spine. The hate have stopped, but the pain hasn’t. The pain probably never will. You have succeeded, but You have not succeeded. Where You wanted a strong hate to take place, something else took it’s place.

In the worst case for You, the grown up child recent everything that You were standing for. The grown up child might recent You and Your ways, even long after You have left this life. But the grown up child is still not happy. Still not secure. They are just fucked up. But they won’t carry on Your hate. This means, You have really not succeeded at all.

Regards,

Someone who’s not carrying on with Your hate

Happy Assyrian New Year!

Yesterday it was the Assyrian New Year, the year of 6766. Happy Assyrian New Year, everyone!

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The Iraqi and the Assyrian flag

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Girls in traditional Assyrian dresses

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Photo credits: Tourism in Iraq and Assyrian National National Library

 

 

“The Existing ‘Us vs. Them’ Dichotomy Has Recently Gotten Extremely Ugly and Inhumane”

Another, as expected, terrorist attack, another round of tensions getting high in all directions.

One of my friends wrote that he won’t add the Belgian flag because of the previous oppression of Congo, and that Belgium had brought this on to themselves.

Some friends were upset that the bombings in Belgium received more attention than the ones in Istanbul.

Some blamed the uncontrolled influx of refugees with terrorist sympathies; the failure of the European intelligence services; the failure of the social policies for integration in Europe.

A Kurdish friend of mine nailed it down like this:

The existing ‘us vs. them’ dichotomy has recently gotten extremely ugly and inhumane.”

Heartbroken, as always, I scrolled though all these comments on social media. Then suddenly, this popped up. My Muslim Syrian friend who I gotten to know in Syria in 2013, a colleague whom I worked with, who has since gone to Belgium as a refugee, still struggling to rebuild his life, posted a public post on Facebook:

For those who stuck in ‪#‎Brussels‬ ‪#‎Bruxelles‬ ‪#‎Belgium‬ after cancelling all the flights, I can offer a place to stay overnight in.

That for me, at least, became my own light in this darkness.