DISSIDENTS SA

29 04 2010

THE FIGHT FOR THE SOUL OF ISLAM (1993)

Salman Rushdie

The following news is all taken from the first half of 1993.

In Pakistan, they said that an elderly poet, Akhtar Hameed Khan, 78, said that although he admires Muhammad, his true inspiration is Buddha. He denies having said it, but nevertheless is accused by the ulemas of blasphemy. In 1992 he was arrested for insulting the Prophet’s descendants, writing a poem about animals that the fundamentalists said had hidden meanings and allegorical. He continued to reject the accusation, but now, once again, his life is in danger.

In Sharjah, one of the United Arab Emirates, an Indian theater group, who in 1992 performed a play called “Corpse-eating Ants,” that was considered blasphemous, and which was sentenced to six years in prison for blasphemy, appealed against the sentence. Some group members were acquitted, but the sentence of one of them increased to 10 years, and the appellate court upheld the sentence of six years of another.

In Istanbul, one of the most respected secular journalists in the country, Ugur Mumçu, was shot dead in the street. Turkish Fundamentalists claimed the attack, and the Turkish government says it has evidence linking to the murderers to Iraq. The Interior Minister, Ismet Sezgin, said that at least three killings have been carried out by a group called the Islamic Movement, whose members have been trained in techniques of assassination “in an official Iranian center, located between Tehran and Qom.”

In Egypt, the assasins who in 1992 murdered the distinguished secular thinker Farag Fuda are currently on trial, but the bombs and killings of militants continue.

In Algeria, the writer Tahar Djaout is one of six secularists assassinated in a killing spree by those whom the security forces call “Muslim terrorists.”

In Saudi Arabia, a number of distinguished intellectuals form the first Human Rights group in the country. In a matter of days, many of them are expelled from their jobs, including university professorships; many are detained and imprisoned. Their trail is pending.

In Egypt, Professor Nasr Abu-Zeid, who teaches literature at the University of Cairo, is accused of apostasy for his criticism of the Islamists. Fundamentalists ask the court to dissolve the marriage of the teacher, because it is illegal for a Muslim to be married to an apostate. The alternative would be that his wife be stoned for adultery.

In Turkey, 36 writers, dancers, musicians,  and secular artists, gathered for a conference in the city of Sivas, died in their hotel, burned by a mob of Islamic fundamentalists who accuse them of being atheists and therefore from the point of view of the fanatics, deserving of being burned alive.

The United States has familiarized itself recently in a sad and painful way with the nature of the saints (or, rather, nothing saintly) of the terrorists of Islam. The crater that lies beneath the World Trade Center and the discovery of a plot to set off more giant bombs to kill prominent political figures, have shown Americans how brutal those terrorists can be.

This, and other international Islamic terrorism cases have shocked the world community, while domestic terrorism cases listed above have received much too little of the world’s attention. I suggest that this imbalance of attention represents a kind of victory of fanaticism.

If the worst vein, the most reactionary and the most medieval of the Muslim world is treated as an authentic culture, so that terrorists and the mullahs get all the headlines, while the progressive and modernizing voices are treated as minor, marginal and “occidentoxicadas “(news briefs), this allows it to be fundamentalism that defines the program.

The truth is that it is fighting a great battle for the soul of the Muslim world and, as fundamentalists gain power and ruthlessness, those courageous men and women who are willing to confront them in a battle of ideas and moral values, are fast becoming as important for us to know, understand and support, as the dissenting voices of the former Soviet Union used to be.

The Soviet state of terror also denigrated its opponents as totally Westernized and enemies of the people; also robbed women of their men in the night, as the poet Osip Mandelstam was taken from Nadezhda. We do not blame Mandelstam for his own destruction; we don’t blame him for attacking Stalin, but rightly blame the Stalinist state. In the same spirit, do not fall into the trap of blaming the theater people of Sharjah for their ants who seem somewhat macabre, or the Turkish secularists of “provoking” the crowd that killed them.

Instead, we should understand that secularism is now enemy number one of the fanatics, and their most important goal. Why? Because secularism demands a complete separation of church and state: the Egyptian philosophers Fuad Zakariya argues that Islamic societies can only be free if this principle is observed. And because secularism rejects the notion that any society of the late twentieth century can be considered “pure” and argues that the attempt to purify the modern Muslim world from its inevitable hybrids also lead to an inevitable tyranny. And because secularism is critical to our understanding of the true Muslim and considers Islam as an event inside history, not outside. And because secularism seeks to end the repression of women which is established each time the radical Islamists come to power. And more than anything because the secularists know that a modern nation-state can not be built on ideas that emerged in the Arabian desert over 300 years ago.

The weapons used against dissidents in the Muslim world are the same everywhere. The accusations are always of “blasphemy”, “apostasy”, “heresy”, “anti-Islamic activities.” These “crimes” are considered to be “insulting Islamic sanctities.” The “wrath of the people” thus created is “impossible to resist.” The defendants are people “whose blood is impure” and therefore deserves to be spilled.
The British writer Marina Warner once told me that the objects associated with witchcraft (a pointy hat, broom, cauldron, cat) would have been in possession of most women during the great witch hunts. If these were the proofs of witchcraft, all women were potentially guilty, it only needed that accusing finger pointed at one and the yelling of: “Witch!”.

Americans, recalling the example of the McCarthy witch-hunts, easily understand the power and destructiveness there may be even in this process. And what is happening today in the Muslim world should be regarded as a witch hunt of exceptional proportions, a witch-hunt developed in many countries that often results in murderers.

So the next time you encounter a story as I have repeated here, perhaps a story hidden at the bottom of an inside page of a newspaper, remember that the persecution it describes is not an isolated event but part of a deliberate and lethal program, which aims to criminalize, denigrate and even kill the best and most honorable voices in the Muslim world: its voices of dissent.

And remember that these dissidents need our support. More than anything, they need our attention.





28 04 2010

http://www.diariodecuba.net/cultura/77-cultura/1386-gibara-elecciones-de-cine-pobre.html





GGG

22 04 2010

THE GLORY OF GANDHI & GANJA

Orlando Luis Pardo Lazo

Gandhi is still worthy. The fashion of Mohandas does not fade. The gong of Gandhi rings louder every day, if we can even use the adverb, violently.

And every day it is easier to hitch oneself to Gandhi’s wagon. Because you don’t even have to know anything about the Prophet G (not even his phobia not so Hippocratic as hypocritic against the point G). It is enough to know that Gandhi is still useful for those of us who plot in the key of peace-love-and-liberty.

I even keep an ancient Apple propaganda (on this little island there are more laptops than apples). Gandhi has long since become a post-planetary digital icon. Gandhi is chic cool glam light. Gandhi sells, he’s a box-office success (ask Attenborough and company). Gandhi is on the point of having his Lennonform statute in some dead little park in Havana (with the same stealing of the glasses). And, in the midst of the provincial Chefidelity of our XXI century socialism, the frail little figure of the Hunger Striker in Chief never ceases to fascinate (a word that is a false cognate of fascism).

Among the young Gandhi is God, only equally by Papa Ras Tafari of Ethiopia Superstar. That is, only comparable to ganja: sweet hemp that still cannot be found in any legal place in our blocked Utopia (except in the International School of Cinema and Television of San Antonio de los Baños, where its cultivation is a cultural question).

In certain festivals, fairs and show business extravaganzas the drunk spit at me the abracadabra of Gandhi, as if he were the next evangelist (and in fact he is). The enthusiasm is overwhelming. And it’s logical. Gandhi, among other island unrealities has allowed these novices I and some veterans of the Peter Pan syndrome) to escape their family and country without killing themselves from boredom and desperation.

Gandhi is, then, a gun loaded with happiness. A guarantee that through the national nonsense you can open cracks where you can gasp (Gandhi as snorkel). Gandhi is the counter-discourse of our delirious and dissident Dalits, untouchable except by State Security, who forces them to meditate for weeks or months in their sacred precincts without charges (domestic empire where the light saver bulb never sets).

In this sense, we will defend our Gandhi at any price. Our ganja, we will defend while it reaches our pocket and not a police raid.

At times I’ve had the discourtesy to question Gandhi. Some, just a little. A biographical fact. A quotation although it passed by Hollywood. A truth in truth nonviolent that has survived the snake charmer.

And then the one who is depressed is me. Of course, almost no one can add much to the story. At best, trinkets from Encarta.Pasted by pre-pubertal intellectuals yesterday afternoon (tomorrow they will be Compulsory Military Service conscripts). Misunderstandings and misinterpretations. Smoke clouds (of socialite cubannabis). Gandhi as gibberish, as Buddhist bluff. Satyagrahavana of fictions.

But I think it’s very well.  The New Man doesn’t live by bread (nor sticks) alone. We lack a cheap valve for the illusion. A Gandhi in rags against the so well uniformed FAR and the mysteries of MININT. A prankster of salt evaporating under our too strong sun. A Gandhi of ganja in the midst of the fear of our Siboney Granita.

The danger of this greedy glory is when we also leave Gandheloquent to eat.





We Read OUR DAILY DAINA

15 04 2010

of “ENCLOSED CAT”
Daina Chaviano

63
I do not know who I am or where I live.
I’m not even sure of my name.
Have I seen the future from some past?
Or do I remember the past from my future?
I live on an island on the edge of the ice or in a country seething with the steam of the tropics?
Islands, islands, islands …
As if it were my fate to live always in seclusion.
In Poseidonia I lived isolated by those circles of land and water that the men had built to spin off its spiritual center from the most populated regions, as if it were possible to separate the body from head without both suffering from the mutilation …
My hermit luck haunts me.
There is always something that ends up confining me in a cloister, without letting me show what is in my Heart.
Must be this fear that sticks to the skin like leprosy, this perpetual witches’ sabbath of disguise, of meaning, not daring, of claiming to be without success.
And this humiliation divides and alienates us, tearing our existence.
It is a vivisection performed in the most cruel way.
Bringing us to hate what we love, and that fills us with guilt, we are crazy.
How I can love and hate with such fury the air around me, the sun that warms me, the earth that holds the bones of my grandparents and someday will cover mine?
It’s a fury that extend to ourselves – our friends, our families, those who were here – for letting this happen.
Sometimes I feel that hatred is transformed into an infinite pity, in a tremor of pity for my country and its inhabitants.
Then I realize that although I regret it, this moist earth as dark as the skin of its people has gotten me to the core: it is part of me.
I love its beaches and the sound of palms in the silence of the woods and the smell of rain in the country and the burning eyes of its women and men, and the sleepy faces of babies, and the pulp of its fruit in extinction.
I love this country, and my senses are imbued with its old houses and its streets full of cracks, colonial churches and in that glorious breeze smelling of salt that crosses from one extreme to another: it is the unique smell of my island, the unique flavor that is mixed with the herb offerings to the saints.
It is something I want to forget.
Because everything is a mirage that will fade away out into the street, hardly feeling the impotence gnawing at my soul, barely picking up the phone to communicate with the world, it hardly occurs to me to think that something unnamable I  said was wrong .. .
I have to forget this island, delete it from my memory, go back to my inner realm, indulge in those regions where there is no time, where every landscape is a border to escape to another world.
I just want that someday this obsession with my land will become a pleasant dream, seem like a manage of another distant saga where I wander through a country chillingly green.

58
My country is the most beautiful in the world.
There is no other place where the men look with greater mystery and promise, or where women move with the lust of the wind-swept palm trees.
It is a country I love, despite the fear that overwhelms it.
Every morning I wake up with the anguish of not knowing whether the laws were changed while I slept, and what was legal yesterday is now punishable.
My refuge is to write.
I return to my journal with the same obsession with which Anaïs returned to hers: to exorcise ghosts and order the wrongs of this life.
And I must, because the bond that binds me to it is getting weaker.
My visions are occurring with greater frequency and less control.
I do not need the talisman to escape from prison; a sunset or a candle flame is enough
But that too has isolated me from those I love.
When one has seen her own death, the meaning of life changes.
I do not care what others think of my dreams.
They are real because they are mine and I submerge myself into them to live.
I prefer those regions where archaic dangers reign, because at least I can identify them and immerse myself in a wild beauty.
Outside is different.
Outside everything is gray.
The people and events corrode, and that cancer is contagious.
Invade the souls of children throwing proclamations against an enemy they do not know.
Irreversible change occurs in the home.
It destroys the nobility of people and turns them into a blind mass manipulated by subtle threads that arise from the hunger for control, controlled aspirations, controlled desires.
We no longer know who we are, where we are going or why we are here.
Each seeks his own escape, his own salvation.
It is not possible to conspire,whisper, show anger; not even indifference is allowed.
It is too painful and we they don’t leave us much strength.
We are shipwrecked clinging to the last floating wreckage.
We only have the illusion of that promised land, splendid far beyond the shark-infested ocean.
Some will want to take risks, but most prefer to wait here end.
That is my only consolation I am not alone.
My strength is giving out, but a portion of my spirit continues to explore illicit regions.
Perhaps this quest is the last vestige of happiness that I have left.
And if it were not real the possibility of finding it, this does not make it less appealing.
Quite the contrary.
It would be proof that my soul, in spite of living with the it never surrendered to darkness.

17
I’m sick of the world, and especially him.
For some reason he hates us.
Maybe he hates all humanity.
The worst thing is that must I pretend an obedience which is farther from me every day.
For now I try to hide it, but I do not know how long I can continue playing this role.
From my room I hear his voice that surges from some loudspeaker.
I go out and see his picture, which appears frozen in that Mussoliniesque gesture: the defiant chin up and his finger that threatens us with hell.
His Majesty is as despotic God is everywhere, but even more pervasive.
At least, God does not get to listen to conversations about whether one agrees with him.
But I feel free.
I will not prostrate at the feet of any feudal lord.
I will not accept any system that does not recognize the existence of my soul.
I am not submissive, but a great liar.
I can trick him and his cohort of censors.
I can laugh at his mental defects and make fun of my assigned role: that of a sheep grateful to have been brought under the protective shadow.
If he thinks I will accept this story it is because he suffers from rampant sclerosis.
In my heart I know that he despises us all …
Especially, all of them.
So I have searched for a weapon, the most dangerous and feared: the insurrection.
But I don’t open it; it would be very easy to detect.
I am a subversive.
I adore the clandestine.
I like to move at night, like a cat casts a shadow against the wall of a deserted city.
I am happy to leave my footprints and then disappear into the darkness.
And I know other modes of survival.
I do not know where I learned them nor who taught me.
Perhaps I was born with them.
Perhaps there is a female gene that is passed in secret, a natural mutation that evolution created to provide a defense.
And that gene beats in me.
It is alive, guiding my instincts.
I can be as false as a demon, elusive as a snake, dangerous as a witch.
It’s easy to sow sedition.
It is easy to endanger the peace of His Grace Dictatorship.
To begin, I have my body.
No one, not even he, can rule my desires.
I masturbate or make love as often as I please, without asking permission.
My sex is mine and I make with it my own government.
Then I have my mind, my mental orgies, my secret worlds; and my own religion which is magic: that scarecrow of materialism, that spectrum violator of the rules they wanted to impose.
If the Unmentionable knew all this be would have been terrified of letting me loose among his flock.
It would have sounded the alarm to his agents, he crowds paid their secret police.
He would have issued the order to capture me … preferably dead.
But this strategy was not created for him to conceive.
He doesn’t suspect that someone can act otherwise than with aggression or violence.
Of course he can not imagine it.
For him, I’m just a woman.





FORGETTING ABOUT MARIEL

15 04 2010

Spanish post
April 15 2010

DESMEMORIA DE MARIEL, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.

www.diariodecuba.net/cuba/81-cuba/1190-desmemorias-del-ma…

 





ye1blogsar1ar

15 04 2010

Please click here to see the video/slide show.

an1blogsar1o, originally uploaded by orlandoluispardolazo.





Bløggøsfferæ Kubbånneskkæ

14 04 2010

http://www.medievaerk.dk/2010/04/13/i-cuba-blogger-man-for-forandring/