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Posts Tagged ‘murder’

This is what I hope will be the first of numerous posts about the Nakba, the “Catastrophe” in Arabic, which is generally used to describe the forced removal of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948. The anniversary, if that is the proper word is generally recognized on May 15, the day after the foundation of the state of Israel, according the Gregorian calendar, being of course, May 14, 1948. But as this very well written history points out, it didn’t begin in 1948, but some 200 years earlier. This is a very sad tale of long term oppression, of brutal imperialist  governments without a care about the people in their rule, but outside their borders. I would ask EVERYONE to read this, to ask questions, to find out what REALLY happened in 1948,, why those who were forced out of their homes and country are STILL not allowed to return. I promise it will anger you, I truly hope it will open your eyes.

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/specialseries/2013/05/20135612348774619.html

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AZIZ

It wasn’t the noose, it was the bullet.

I looked around the flat for meaning. It was sparsely furnished, with only a couple of side chairs, a table and a sofa, three seat, blue in colour, with a warm yellow woollen blanket and a pillow on it, it served as his bed. Together it barely filled an otherwise empty space. A chair lie overturned in the middle of the floor next to the broken coffee table, oak, matching the parquet floor. The length of rope dangled ominously across the chair and table. On the floor I found two pictures in wooden frames. I had seen them before, Pictures of his beloved family. Aziz showed them to anyone who came to visit, but few ever came.

The day tried to peek its way in through the windows, casting what seemed a cruel light upon what lay on the floor. As I set the telephone back into the charger, I thought back to our conversations. They often revolved around his family. How his father had taught him to be a handyman, but also pushed him to become a doctor, and he did, a very good doctor in fact. His father told him that if a man is good with his hands, if he can find the patience to work well with wood, then he has the mindfulness to do anything. He had intended to pass that along to a son but was denied the chance.

Aziz never finished telling me what happened on August 27th, 2012, around noon. They knew about the fighting that had started but it hadn’t reached Damascus yet… The unrest in the poorer areas had grown and gross violence was becoming the norm. He told me the shelling started on the other side of the city at around 8:00 a.m. They started to grab what they could quickly. Aziz went downstairs to secure the transport when the mortar hit. His eyes filled with tears when he told me about his wife and two daughters, who did not survive, and all he could do was to wave me away, unable to say more.

In the ensuing days, he tried to use his considerable skills as a doctor to help the injured but realized he had to leave Damascus when a colleague of his was kidnapped by the fighters for a 100,000£ ransom. This is not an uncommon occurrence, he tells me. He left his office, his practice, everything behind for the Zaatari refugee camp in Jordan. The camp had been established about a month earlier and was already overpopulated. Protests were held daily about the lack of food and accommodation. Not long after his arrival he met a man who claimed that for a substantial fee he could offer him passage to Europe.

Unable to put the loss of his family behind him, Aziz was hoping for a new life here. Raised in an upper class environment in Damascus, he had never been subjected to racial harassment before. His Muslim beliefs simply did not allow for such thought, he believed. The fact that he was still waiting for his immigration paperwork to finalize when he first heard the taunts didn’t help, he knew he couldn’t react in any way or risk being sent immediately back to Damascus, which would mean certain death. This once proud man became only a shadow of his jovial, funny, intelligent self. I often wondered what his life had been like earlier in Damascus, but now he rarely left his apartment.

One Tuesday, about a month ago, he ran across a flier on the bus seat advertising a rally in support of refugees from Syria, although he didn’t speak Swedish, he was able to understand the meaning. In a rare moment, he decided to attend. It was an October afternoon, a Sunday, when the rally was held at Medborgarplatsen here in Stockholm. About 350 showed up and speeches were made, in Swedish. Although Aziz couldn’t understand, it moved him to see this. Perhaps he was misjudging Sweden, perhaps it was the open minded country he had heard about after all. Then everything changed. A group of about 25 skinheads decided to show up. What started as shouting and fist waving soon turned very violent. Aziz tried to get away, but was stuck in the crowd. Bottles and rocks were being thrown and Aziz went into a panic. Visions of his homeland overcame his logic as he started to fight back. Grabbing a stick, he swung at two of the Nazis, hitting one, Ole, across the back. Ole turned and they stood almost face to face. Fortunately, the police arrived, Ole turned away to avoid another arrest, and Aziz ran to safety. Ole made a permanent memory of Aziz, however, vowing to revenge.

Aziz was devastated. I had no idea, until I read his notes, just how deeply his sorrow rooted itself. He told of the nights of darkness, nightly visions of the explosion and the loss of his family. The aloneness and isolation he felt here in Sweden made so much worse by the fracas with Ole. He had no way out. He couldn’t practice medicine. It would take seven years to become certified, and he felt completely trapped. He had decided to end it all.

The police arrived and the ambulance, no one could understand the noose around his neck or the bullet hole in the window. What was the connection?

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Loosely translated, the above caption means I am NOT Charlie, but NO ONE will stop me from expressing myself. 

 

  This is a tough one, to be honest. There are boundaries to free speech, in some countries one cannot without valid reason legally shout the word “FIRE” in a crowded theater, for example. In other countries blasphemy is punishable by death. It is illegal to threaten the life of the US President, as another example.(that one has caused me to bite my tongue on occasion, just kidding)  One CAN do these things, but there may be ramifications. Where does it stop?  Where is the line crossed from satire to blasphemy and who decides where the line is drawn? The reader? The public? The police or legal system?  If someone were to tell me they idolized Adolf Hitler or Benjamin Netanyahu it would probably irritate the hell out of me, but certainly that isn’t sufficient reason to kill them, is it? If someone were to show me a pornographic rendition of Jesus Christ, it would certainly make me question their judgement and taste level, but is it right for me to shoot them?

If I may speak in generalizations for a moment, allow me to say that while I am not a Francophil in the classic sense, I love the France, Paris and the French. I love their passion, their contradictions, their art and poetry, their love of life. I would have easily joined in the resistance to fight the nazis as I would have to fight Franco in Spain. Anyone who knows me well knows this.  OK,, I even have to say I love Depardieu, or at least I did up to a point. One of of the things they do best is satire. They are masters at it and have been for centuries. As far back as Moliere and Voltaire at least. They have a wonderful irreverence that makes it natural for them. To hear that a French magazine such as Charlie Hebdo is writing pieces or publishing drawings satirizing religion, be it Christian, Jewish, or Islam, comes as no surprise to me, for exactly the reasons i mentioned above. A satirical humour is practically inbred, part and parcel of being French, if I may say so. However, saying that, I have to wonder if there are limits to what is satire and what is a slap in the face.

I suppose it has to do with how one perceives the INTENTION of the satirist. Is it their intent to give us a slightly evil laugh at our own foibles, fuckups and inconsistencies, a wink, a nudge or a push towards the reflection we give off in the mirror as we go about our lives? I am no expert on satire. I wish I had the gift. I love it when it’s good. I love it when I can laugh at it, and at myself and at my own foolishness.

I’m NOT implying that I agree with the murderers. Of course not. NOTHING ABSOLVES ONE FROM MURDER. I have heard reports that a “more calm group” of Muslims has taken Charlie Hebdo to court several times, to seek a legal means of settling the issue. As everyone reading has probably heard by now. apparently the Koran does not allow one to do ANY visual representation of the prophet Mohammed, be it in a drawing based upon their Muslim belief or certainly not in a satirical or provocative sense. It is, according to common interpretation, a crime punishable by death. In the Old Testament of the Bible, there were many crimes punishable by death. Adultery, theft, murder, and blasphemy were among the things that could lead to you to being stoned to death. That is the religious heritage of the West.It IS dreadful and still continues in those countries with the death penalty. Those facts are indisputable. In the Islamic faith, they still hold fast to an even harsher interpretation, at least in those areas that are more, what shall i say, closer to tradition, or in the more common word, “Extremist. We may find them abhorrent. I know that I do.  It’s easy to judge from the outside. We have every right to our own opinions on this. As I stated above the common belief is that murder is a crime against humanity, but then, in my opinion so is capitalism. Shall we shoot the bankers? (There’s a thought!)

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As I would hope all of  know, the police in the USA don’t have the best of reputations, deservedly so. Oddly enough, the police in the greater ST. Louis/ Ferguson area seem to be going out of their way to prove that the dreadful reputation to be very well-earned. Perhaps they took racism lessons from the LAPD? Either way, the video in this post is real. The man is shot dead right in front of our eyes. I DO NOT POST THIS OUT OF SENSATIONALISM. I post it because you all need the truth. This is the link, please do look, but be warned, it’s very graphic, very violent and very real.

http://www.newsweek.com/new-video-police-shooting-2nd-man-st-louis-emerges-266041?piano_t=1

 

The victim in this case was Kajieme Powell, a 25-year-old black man The police were called to the scene after a shop owner reported him for shoplifting 2 energy drinks. Police claim he brought a knife out of his pocket, that is a bit unclear from the video, which is quite raw. What is clear is that Mr. Powell at no time brandished the knife at the police, nor did he make an attempt to approach or threaten them,  It is also clear  that they only  took a total of 20 seconds (!!!)  from the moment they drove up to the scene for them  to shoot him 12 times. There are reports that Mr. Powell was mentally ill or perhaps mentally retarded. After seeing this, I tend to believe that, which makes the polices’ action that much more horrific. The man who recorded the video says a couple of times during and after the shooting “Oh no, here we go again” and as others commented as well “They could have tazed that man, they didn’t have to kill him” . Sadly, he is quite correct. Does it make any sense to shoot someone for stealing 2 energy drinks? Once again, white police officers have gunned down a man of color who was obviously not an immediate threat. Once again, white police officers have needlessly  taken the life of a black man. Once again, the black community must bear their sadness by themselves. Once again, the system let a man of colour down.

My prayers are with the Powell family and the family of Michael Brown, the 18-year-old young innocent man shot for jaywalking in Ferguson, Missouri. You’ve suffered a terrible loss. My prayers are with the people of St. Louis and Ferguson. I understand your anger and frustration that once again two more have been stolen from you without reason. The only good that could come from this, as i see it is that we somehow through it all get closer to each other and travel just a little further down the road to peace together for at least a little while. Travyon Martin, Michael Brown and now Kaijeme Powell, the list is far far too long. I can’t accept that at some point it won’t end.

 

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This is the beginning of a piece that I had hoped to post on the correct day. Sadly my work schedule and other events haven’t allowed me the time to finish what I had planned to post, but I simply cannot allow this anniversary (if that’s the correct word, seems so callous in this regard) to pass without posting on the day.

I was 9 years old when John Fitzgerald Kennedy, the 35th, and still youngest, President of the United States was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas. To say that he both in general and his assassination in particular had an enormous effect on me would be a gross understatement, especially for me, being one who is often given to overstatement.

By now I’m sure most, if not all, of you have seen the existing footage many times, Jackie leaning over him in the car, the secret service agent jumping on top of them, offering his body as a shield and target in the hopes of protecting the President and First Lady, sadly too late.

They are images permanently burned into my memory. My sadness then and now is immeasurable. As time went on and my understanding of the world grew, I realized that what I felt about John and later Bobby was true. They were and still are heroes.  I was and still am, a “Kennedy Democrat”. In Sweden, I would be, and am, a mix lying somewhere in between Social Democrat and Vänsterpartiet (Left Party), with a strong support for the Miljöpartiet (Environmental Party).

Kennedy stated one of his objectives was to break up the CIA and spread it’s parts to the wind. Sadly that seems now to be an impossible task. After 9/11 and with the impenetrable strength of Homeland Security, (read KGB) the US security forces now get away with anything and to be against them is to draw an heretofore unthinkable amount of scrutiny into every aspect of your life.

I have no intention of going into conspiracy theory. I’ve always hated it Conspiracy theories are best left for the odd ones in the Mojave Desert with 10 years rations stockpiled. I will only say that I suspect the CIA and always have and always will until proven wrong.

”But you and I, we’ve been through that, and this is not our fate,
So let us not talk falsely now, the hour is getting late”.

For now, I’m going to let you ponder this, what is our fate? How would it be different if John and Bobby Kennedy had lived? If Malcolm and Martin and Mahatma hadn’t been killed? And Abraham Lincoln?

I will continue to write on my much longer, much more personal piece over the night and tomorrow, hopefully it will publish soon.

I leave you with the hope that the day gives you pause to consider our fate, our freedom, the choices governments make that we never know about, and the lies they tell us. We can do better. Jack Kennedy knew that, so did Bobby. And they paid the ultimate price. God bless us all.

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