Antwerp – It looks like Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, had a successful transition to democracy. Ben Ali has fled the country and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda won the elections in October 2011. They allegedly take Turkey as an example; a secular democracy governed by a party with an Islamic identity. Lately, however, there have been tensions between Islamicists and secular liberals and the economy is still very fragile. In April the government puts a ban on demonstrations which generated new protests (New York Times). This weekend at the Sfinks Festival in Boechout, Belgium, I spoke to the Tunesian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, currently living in France, about Tunisia and her music.Continue reading “In France I found my Tunisian identity”- an interview with Emel Mathlouthi
Since June 2007 the people of Gaza are being confronted with strict morality rules of the Hamas, a fundamental Islamic movement, who governs the Gaza portion of the Palestinian Territories. For example, it is forbidden to participate in the New Star, a talent show broadcast on Palestinian television. This is annoying for pop singers who wants to be heard outside of Gaza. But the situation of the female singers is more than annoying. A female singer is being seen as equal to a prostitute. If they want to sing, they can do it quietly at home in front of the family but not publicly. As we already saw in Afghan Star, the documentary, it can be quite problematic for women to sing in public in Afghanistan, but it doesn’t seem to be any better in Gaza, Iran or orthodox Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem.Continue reading Religion and the taboo on female chant
French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to draft a new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide. The French parliament recognized the killing of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War as genocide in 2001. In December 2011, The French MPs went further, approving a bill that would make denying the Armenian genocide a criminal offence punishable by a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros. France’s top court struck it down last month as unconstitutional. Sarkozy, running for re-election next month, stressed again to the Armenian Diaspora in France (around half a million strong) his commitment to a new law.Continue reading The Ottoman Armenian
Italy – Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who recently resigned due to the severe economic conditions besetting his country, has launched the new anthem of his party. The song entitled “People of Freedom” is the latest addition to the specific marketing strategies that distinguishes Berlusconi’s party since many years. As usual, lyrics are based on the keyword of his party/organization: freedom.