July 24, 2006

Shaykhspeara in Bosnia

Dear bloggers, I'm off to Bosnia for the first time in my life. A bit of discovering to do there. I still cannot understand how concentration camps could exist in Europe only roughly a decade ago. How my colleague's grandmother was set on fire by Serbs, how my other colleagues father, brother and nearly half of her family were massacerd while the world stood by remembering the Holocaust that took place nearly 50 years earlier, yet letting it happen again not far from the last place of autrocities.

I think about my neighbour who told me how she used to live next door to Serbs and they used to have garden parties together, celebrate each others religious festivals and one day, overnight, that very neighbor tried to kill her husband.

The man in the front weighing 48 kg is Fikret Alic, at the concentration camp in Trnopolje in 1992. If you read on the net about this famous picture that circled around the media world taken by a British newsteam, you will find a few articles where other people have accused the picture of being fake and that it was not a concentration camp. Fikret Alic now resides in Sweden, and happened to be my neighbours father in law, and I heard the story firsthand from him.

Why? How can it happen? How come human beings can be driven to such sudden extremes?

I am aiming to meet up with my colleague in Sarajevo, hopefully. She wasn't sure she could make it because they had recently found the bodies of yet more of her relatives, and there would be yet another mass funeral in her hometown. They had found the body of her uncle a few years ago and when her mother went to identify it they realised the head belonged to someone else...

Old Town of Sarajevo

I'll be visiting my dearest friend, who together with her parents and sister have worked hard to try and rebuild the life that was suddenly taken away from them, yet with the harsh reality staring them in the face, that there are still landmines to be found, in the heart of Europe, around their summer house.

One thing I have learnt from the Bosnian people I have met throughout my life here in Sweden is that mankind is a master at recovery and life truly goes on. I hope to visit the historic Ottoman bridge in Mostar (built in 1566) that was rebuilt after it was bombed by Croat artillery in 1993, and I hope to visit the recently discovered so far 9 pyramids not far from Sarajevo. And above all, I hope to make sense of what happened to a whole nation, overnight, for I cannot forget the look in the eyes of my colleague when she talks about what happened to her. That blank, empty, "tears have run dry" stare left its mark on me and compelled me to make a visit to this forgotten land.

Mostar Bridge

July 23, 2006

Stockholm Peace Demonstration

Several peace demonstrations were held throughout Sweden on Saturday July 22nd, condemning the Israeli Government's violent and ruthless killings and injuring of hundreds of civilians in Lebanon and Gaza as a result of Hezbollah kidnapping 2 Israeli soldiers and killing 8 and continuing to fire rockets at the Israeli northern city of Haifa killing and injuring Israeli civilians.

Picture courtesy of www.metro.se and Scanpix.

July 22, 2006

New Poll: Israeli Retaliation/Poll Result: Jeans

The world's first pair of jeans were made of hemp. 61% of voters knew that. And I am sure no googling or wikiing was done...ahem ahem.

Do vote in my next poll: "Is Israel's military response to Hezbollah's killing of 8 and kidnapping of 2 Israeli soldiers disproportionate?"

July 21, 2006

The Doha Debate Video on Extremism

Here is the Video (Google video) to an earlier Doha Debate on BBC with Tim Sebastian that I blogged about in March.

I recommend especially in the current times we are living in with what is going on in Lebanon, Religious Extremism among Muslims, State Terrorism and Israel etc, to watch this very enlightening debate between Shaykh Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Former Palestinian Authority Spokeswoman Diana Butt and Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding John L Esposito, with inputs from Alliance of Civilizations member Rabbi Schneier and author Karen Armstrong.

An excerpt from the debate:

TIM SEBASTIAN: Can you have mutual acceptance though of people who commit atrocities or other extremist acts?

RABBI SCHNEIER: Do not stereotype and do not generalize, and above all, it's very interesting, by the way in Judaism, in the Bible not once, 36 times it's repeated, 'Love your stranger,' not once, because it's the tendency of the human being to be suspicious of the other. What are we talking about, xenophobia and anti-Semitism or Islamophobia, what is it? That's what we're talking about, so the way to go is really respect for the other, respect for human life, respect for the stranger. You talk a lot about democracy. You want to have a definition of democracy? How the majority treats the minority, whether it's politically or religiously speaking, that is a barometer, how the majority treats the minority.

July 20, 2006

Time to change ideas

There is nothing in the world more powerful than an idea. No weapon can destroy it; no power can conquer it except the power of another idea.
-James Roy Smith

Remember these children Memorial 2000-2006 (and unfortunately, still counting)
No images, only text of the names, age and place of death of Palestinian and Israeli children killed since 2000, in chronological order.

Welcome to Desi-stan

Can you guess where the following pictures are taken?
Urdu/Hindi lesson of the day: Mirch means chilli

A couple of Sikh gentlemen pulled out a table and chairs on the pavement and are having a little get together.

A Sikh school

Ambala sweet shop. The yummiest Methai place (Indian Sub-continent Sweets). Oh and they take online orders now. I recommend trying Gulab Jamun if you haven't already (eat them warm with coconut ice cream).

Now that's what a bus should look like! Equipped with the Pakistani flag and obligatory bling bling.

Interesting design of the rear, notice the number plate and rear lights.

This, my dear bloggers, was taken on my latest trip (one of the reasons I haven't posted in nearly a week). Oh and by the way, this is Southall, England! I have uploaded some desi songs for y'all on my stickam. Enjoy!

July 13, 2006

All in a day's work

July 12th: The Lebanese group Hezbollah kill 8 Israeli soldiers and kidnap 2, during a border raid. Israel responds with a ground and air-attack on southern Lebanon. They also bombed the runways of Beirut's airport stranding 2000 Swedish citizens in Lebanon, unable to leave the country by plane. The raids have so far killed 50 civilians in Lebanon. 50 Israeli attacks have taken place so far. Israel continues with an attack on Gaza, where its target was a group of Hamas leaders. The leaders survived and instead a Palestinian civilian family of 7 were killed.

An Israeli woman was killed today (the first Israeli civilian in this recent conflict) in Naharia, Israel, as a result of Hezbollah firing missiles at the city.

I am tired of violence, and of all the "H's" of the mid-east. Violence is not the solution. I am tired of reading about violence next to the word Islam. About Hizb'Allah, killings in the name of Allah. Sickening. I am tired of biasness, I am tired of injustice from both sides. I am tired of how when we hear about such events we take sides based on faith and not on knowledge, truth and human dignity.

"Laqad karramna Bani Adam"

"And we have honored the sons of Adam"
- The Koran, Chapter 17 Verse 70

Where is the honor? Sons of Adam is an Arabic term (Bani Adam) synonym to the term "the human race". It does not say Sons of Adam who are Muslim. Or Palestinian. Or Jewish.

Today the European Union condemned the excessive use of violence from the Israeli Government's side. Once again, defend yourself by all means, with that which is justified, with that which is just, with that which spares human lives. You are a government. Don't act like the very groups you criticize and call terrorist, when in fact they first targeted military posts where as you target civilians.

Where is the logic in all of this that is taking place in front of the world, yet in its shadow?

How is it alright to kill civilians, because of the death of soldiers? Soldiers fight soldiers. Soldiers fight aggressors. Soldiers don't fight unarmed civilians.

Defend yourself by all means, but from whom? The family of 7? The 50 civilians of Lebanon (and still counting)?

If one is being attacked one has the right to defend oneself, no doubt. But within reason? Not ruthlessly spraying bombs of defense hither and thither.

All is fair where there is no love, only war.

July 09, 2006

Shaykhspeara in Gotland

On a little Focker plane flying by the coast of the Swedish island Gotland

Fårö, an island part of Gotland lying in the north.

The main attraction at Fårö, apart from the beautiful beaches, are Raukar, stone monuments. This one in particular looks like a man pulling out his lower lip.

Rute Kyrka, a church (one of 90 all over Gotland) I found on the side of the road to Fårö. According to a local woman I met at the cemetary, most of the churches in Gotland were built between the 11- and 1300's. In this particular one, her grandfather (she herself was hitting 60) had made a boat that was hanging from the ceiling in the church, symbolising the belief that when one dies one sails away.

You all know me by now, a visit to a cemetary is a must and had I not entered it, I would not have met that charming local Gotlander.

Lummelunda, a small town hosting the largest cave in Gotland, discovered in the 1940's by three boys.

A flow stone inside Lummelunda cave. It was so cold in there, nearly 8 C.

On an island one must have fish soup with creamy aioli! Ironically enough most of the fish surrounding Gotland is dangerous to eat because of all industrial pollution coming from Europe.

A typical street in the island's capital, Visby.

The ocean in the horizon, and a cathedral nearly a thousand years old in Visby Town Square. Damaged in the 1500's after an attack.

July 04, 2006

Fourth of you lie

Torture awareness month has now passed, and the hype probably settled. I hope everyone has linked their blogs. Might not seem like it matters, but one never knows what forests can come out of a small seed ey?

In Stockholm today, the organization for artists and musicians Euro Colors is organizing a protest and manifestation against the United States Government's abuse of International Law concerning Torture and the imprisonment of people at Guantanamo and secret prisons throughout the world, without having any charges pressed against them, nor trial to prove or free of guilt.

My recommendation to Mr. Bush this fine day; Perhaps a trip to sunny, tropical Guantanamo? Wearing a lovely t-shirt from The White House Officious Gift Shop? Watching a highly entertaining movie* about his achievements in Guantanamo and his fight for Free Doom?

Happy 4th of July!

*Check out award winning film The Road to Guantanamo

July 01, 2006


Je suis très perdu,
where to go, what to do?
Ne me quittes pas, please,
je ne suis pas une actrice.

On a essayé, oui,
this I know, this I see.
Ne pas être dur, please,
ni noir, seulement gris.

Quelle chanson tu me chants?
does it say what you want?
Ne me laisses pas, please,
comme le vent comme le brise.