May God Help Us, if He Exists

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I was going to write about something else, I have done research for a Middle Eastern topic, as some readers know I love the Middle East and am dedicated to write about sides of this region that usually are unnoticed in the Western media.

But then there was the terror attack in Turkey. This photo supposedly shows activists from the Socialist Youth Association Federation, snapping a group selfie before the bomb blast in Suruc. Turkey, the country that has sailed up from poverty and created a large middle class and that hosts a vivid civil society – now pulled back by the murder machine of we-know-who.

Before that, it was the Eid blasts all over. On a holiday that is sacred to many.

Before that, there was Tunisia, a country where I was supposed to go visit friends in a few days time, in Tunis and Sousse, only having to cancel it when Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs changed their travel recommendation.

Before that there was the Charleston massacre.

So I lost my inspiration tonight. In this very moment, this is what I feel:

I think we will remember this time as a dark turning point in history, when dark powers started to outweigh the good ones, and terrorism conquered co-existence. May God help us, if he exists.

Photo copyright: unknown

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Girls Night Out!

I have had some of the craziest nights out in my life when being in the Middle East. Cities like Beirut, Istanbul and Damascus offer an amazing night life, where people put away their troubles at the door and do their very best to have fun, not limited by the bar closing at 1 am or queuing for a humiliating number of hours before maybe being let in. Yes, I have been clubbing in New York too, I still consider my Middle East partying experiences the very best!

When I first started travelling in the Middle East I was surprised by how people I met could spend a fortune on their outfits and drinks when I knew so many of them were struggling just to get by; students depending on their parents and recent graduates with low salaries in ridiculously expensive cities. But even if the show-off hurts the pockets, I learned to have fun and not care about tomorrow’s worries – a good lesson for a Lutheran Swede.

One night in Istanbul me and my girlfriend took the bus from our gloomy hostel and hopped off in Taksim area, walking around aimlessly until we heard some reggae music and popped in to the Riddim bar, that still exists, but at that time only was a small bar crowded with the alternative people that Taksim loves , or vice versa. We had no plans for the night, not the right outfits and not enough money, but we quickly made friends with the bartender who treated us to drinks, then early morning made us company to a rooftop club where people made out, smoked pot and discussed how to get away from doing the military service, until they fell asleep on the many pillows on the top floor. On the street downstairs a fight broke out and someone pulled a gun (but no one got shot), the party continued anyways. At 6 or 7 am the tired staff that wanted  had to shake everyone awake and force them into the elevator. A night like that would never had happen in the quiet little university town I was living in back home.

But a girls night out for me in the Middle East, can also mean playing tawla and smoking sheesha until late hours, while discussing the most important things in life; love and relationships. I guess these things never change?

Photo: copyright Sweden and the Middle East Views Blog

Turkish Police Brutality Silenced Online

Protesters in IstanbulJenny, please write about this in your blog! The government is doing terrible things to the people and our media is just playing mute and deaf

A Turkish friend e-mailed me today. She’s a regular Turkish young woman, uninterested in politics, who never showed any interest in activism or talking politics with me before. Attached was a link, where it said Turkish police had gassed the protesters with teargas, gassed the subway in Istanbul and an emergency room where patients of the attack had been treated. The link is now removed, as are blogs I’m trying to access- it seems the media is really being silenced from somewhere higher up.

A number of protesters had gathered in Taksim, the beautiful heart of Istanbul where protesters usually gather, to act against that the Gezi Park was to be taken down in order to give place to something else. Having known political activists in Turkey I know how the police and military usually used hard core methods when cracking down on activists – but this brutality is something new to me. Probably also to my friend, a patriot at heart, who never complained about her country before.

I will not publish the most horrific photos here as I want to keep the blog free from such pictures (you can easily find such pictures online anyway), but I’m asking you to share my blog post and these news. Turkey is a popular tourist resort that is trying to enter EU. The never ending brutality towards minorities and the population that are protesting in a peaceful, democratic way can only come to an end if the international community starts to be aware and put pressure on the current government. If Turkish bloggers can’t share the news, let us who are outside do it.