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September 15 2011

Comoros: Reactions of the Comoran Community to Minister's Accusation

After the French Interior Ministry stated that Comorian Community is to blame for some of the violence in Marseille[fr], the governing body of the Comoros Union is denouncing such stigmatization of their community[fr], it encourages Comoran to stay calm and fight back violence only via legal means.

September 13 2011

Lebanon: Empowering Migrant Workers With Language

A community of enthusiastic young people in Beirut, The Migrant Workers Task Force, are working to support foreign domestic workers in Lebanon whose living and working conditions are often desperately unfair.

The volunteer group has only been active since January 2011, but already they have managed to attract the attention of both local and international media for their innovative approach to changing the perceptions of both workers and employers. Among their main achievements are the free language courses they offer to workers learning Arabic, English, or French every Sunday.

In Lebanon, approximately one domestic worker a week dies under murky circumstances (often described as “suicide”). Eighty percent of domestic migrant workers are not allowed to leave their employer's house at all. Their plight and rights are almost universally ignored.

Migrant Workers Task Force logoInitially the task force consisted of only Alex, Lioba, Farrah, Ali, and Janie, but recently the group has been expanding. According to Janie Shen, 24, one of the co-founders (the only one who is actually still in Lebanon) the idea for the Migrant Workers Task Force was born after newcomers to Lebanon, like herself and Alex, were shocked by the conditions of migrant workers in the country - for instance, the degrading uniforms, general mistreatment, having passports confiscated, food rationed, and only one day a week off or none at all.

In this video Janie explains more about what the Migrant Workers Task force is about:

Migrant Workers Task Force have no office or official organization, but have been meeting regularly at Zico House in Hamra and will soon relocate some of their activities to Migrant House in Nabaa. Everyone involved in the project is a volunteer, and they rely on small fundraising events to cover their costs.

Anti-racism ad by Migrant Workers Task Force

'You see a poor man, but he is a source of wealth' Anti-racism ad by Migrant Workers Task Force

Part of the success of the group is due to their talented use of social media for communication. All news and announcements are published on their blog, and they manage a group and several pages on Facebook. They also share images and videos on Flickr and a Youtube.

Among their memorable campaigns are, their anti-racism posters for International Worker's Day (featuring three language class students), a series of interviews with migrants about their conditions, and some short satirical films in response to an official campaign showing Lebanon as a paradise for tourists.

They have also hosted local migrant celebrations, like a Nepalese New Year celebration, and have helped sell African and Asian food and other migrant products.

Language classes

On Sundays workers from workers from Nepal, Philippines, Ethiopia, Madagascar, Sudan assemble to learn languages with volunteer teachers who wish to help. They began as informal gatherings, but are now developing into more structured language lessons. Here is a video from the languages lessons one Sunday and some testimonies of students and teachers. One teacher says, “I am offering my skills in English to let them speak for their rights.”

The language classes have become an important venue for community building. One student interviewed in the video below is Rahel Zegeye, a migrant worker from Ethiopia, who over two years put all of her earnings towards making a feature film about the experience of domestic workers in Lebanon.

In less than a year, Migrant Workers Task Force has mobilized more volunteers and goodwill than many other more established organizations. Via language and communication, they have helped migrant domestic workers in Lebanon facing a very local problem gain highly deserved international attention.

September 12 2011

Africans in Guangzhou: Opportunities & Discrimination

Fauna from ChinaSMACK translated a local news feature about the life of Africans in Guangzhou. There are about 200,000 Africans living in the Southern China city.

September 07 2011

Jamaica: Love & Language

Does it seem impossible for there to be a connection between “a group of rather ‘unchristian’ Christian pastors [coming] out against an advertisement that was promoting love” in Jamaica, racism and riots in the UK and a baby learning to use language in the US? Under the Saltire Flag finds the link.

Macedonia: No Jail Time for Participants in Violent Inter-Ethnic Incident

Participants in the February violent inter-ethnic incident on Skopje Fortress (Kale), who were identified and subjected to an investigation, got a suspended sentence in a secret trial.

Hundreds of young and not-so-young men took part in a massive brawl, preceded by a night demolition raid led by ethnic Albanian government officials against a church-shaped construction built by the government body under the management of their ethnic Macedonian coalition partners.

On August 22, the authorities announced that a trial would start soon, as the Public Prosecutor's Office submitted to the Court the accusations against 51 persons for participation in rioting and obstruction of the work of the police, after a four-month investigation. This was done through a statement relayed by a number of media outlets, including PlusInfo [mk]. According to Utrinski Vesnik [mk], this information was confirmed the day after by the Basic Court Skopje 1 Spokesman, Judge Vladimir Tufegdzic.

Even though a number of high-ranking government officials of the ruling DUI and VMRO-DPMNE directly and indirectly took part in the incident and the related events, including ministers, deputy ministers, mayors and other executives, the only political figure among the suspects noted by the media was Artan Grubi (more info at the end of this GVO post), who in the meantime participated in the June parliamentary elections as a candidate on the ticket of DUI.

On August 24, the court used the media [mk] to announce that it had already passed a sentence on August 17, the day the Prosecutor submitted the evidence and announced that the trial would start soon. The court decided not to hold a public trial and passed a suspended sentence of 3 months in jail for all adult suspects. A separate trial will be held for the six suspected minors. The practical meaning of the sentence is that no one will have to go to jail, unless they are convicted of another felony in the next two years.

The law allows the possibility of appealing the decision not to hold a public hearing through a complaint filed within a deadline of six days by some of the involved parties. The decision was made public after seven days, alsongside the information that no complaint had been filled by that time.

Even though this kind of a solution is allegedly allowed by the law, the fact is that the lack of a public hearing has robbed the Macedonian public of a proper closure and the official assessment did not cause an outcry. The ‘perfect timing' during the holiday season and the complacency of most commercial media ensured that critiques of this obvious example of consensual political party influence on the judiciary, such as the one [mk] by Utrinski Vesnik journalist Gordana Duvnjak, remained lonely and obscure. She noted that the incident also resulted in bodily harm to four innocent passersby and two policemen, who did not have opportunity to partake in the decision-making process.

Blogger Neutralec (The Neutral Guy) was a rare voice who addressed [mk] this development, reminding of the aspect of hate speech spreading via social networks, which was a big deal in the media spin at the time, instigated by actors who had to prove their ‘patriotism' to their prospective voters in the upcoming elections:

I personally find this decision scandalous, because there was no attempt to find the organizer [of the Facebook event] signed as Goce Solunski or the chief propagandist for the march on Kale, Sasha Petkovski - Karlos. (He was the organizer of the protests against the Greek army nationalist slogans [against Macedonians and Albanians], which took place in Skopje 15 days after that incident, after he “waited” to receive all necessary permits by the police. Citizens of Albania who protested the day after that news became public did not wait for permits of their police or a grand leader like that to organize them. Maybe that's why Albania is ahead of us.)

I still think that the Kale incident was perpetrated by the two ruling parties in order “to measure who has a bigger” rating, since their love at that time was “on glass feet”…

The fortress remains closed [mk] to the public. A recent announcement by the authorities, coinciding with outing of the news about the non-trial, speaks of re-building more new buildings [mk] within its premises alongside the controversial church-like museum [mk]: an Ottoman-style tower and a prehistoric house, which will reflect the multicultural heritage.

September 04 2011

Pakistan: Ahmadi Man Murdered In Faisalabad reports that a man belonging to the Ahmadiyya community has been shot dead. He became yet another victim of the religious hatred being propagated against the minority community in Faisalabad.

August 30 2011

India: Acid Survivor Denied Access To Mumbai College

Shirin Juwaley, an acid attack survivor, writes in her blog that she was recently denied entry to a Mumbai college. Dheera Sujan writes an open letter to the principal who didn’t want her students to see Shirin's face and get scared of marriages.

August 17 2011

Hungary: Hate Crimes and Double Standards

Hungarian Spectrum writes about the Hungarian authorities' dubious ways of dealing with what by all accounts appear to be hate crimes against the Roma.

August 15 2011

The Balkans, Norway: Anders Breivik and Srđa Trifković

Eric Gordy of East Ethnia writes about the Balkan dimension of the July 22 terrorist attacks in Norway: “[…] [Anders Breivik] has the revelation that his path to violent idiocy began with his shock at the Kosovo bombing campaign in 1999. So to the other sets of concerns he understands badly, he added the history of the Balkans, and his main, heavily quoted and cribbed source on that (as well as on some theological topics!) is one Srđa Trifković.”

August 11 2011

United States: Race Still Matters to Young People

Colorlines conducted focus group interviews with 80 young people in Los Angeles, California to find out whether race and racism is still an issue in their lives. Their detailed study is shared here: “Don’t Call Them “Post-Racial”—How Young People Actually Think About Race”.

August 09 2011

United Kingdom: Time for #RiotCleanup in London?

Hackney riot aftermath

Hackney riot aftermath, by StolenGolem (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

After extensive looting and rioting across London and other cities in the United Kingdom since Saturday night, ordinary citizens are now looking for ways to help their cities heal.

On Tuesday morning the hashtags #prayforlondon and #riotcleanup have overtaken #londonriots on Twitter, showing the conciliatory mood of all those eager to move on.

The #prayforlondon hashtag is a nod to the #prayforjapan hashtag that became hugely popular after the March earthquake in Japan. World citizens (including teenage superstar Justin Bieber who has 11.6 million followers on Twitter) are using it to show solidarity with citizens of London.

Inspired by other recent crises, there is now also a London Riots page on Crisis Commons, a wiki website mapping technology use in disasters.

Helping hands

The #riotcleanup hashtag has information about meeting places for Londoners who want to help local businesses with the cleanup effort.

Riot clean-up team in Peckham. Photo © Emma Jane Richards (used with permission)

Riot clean-up team in Peckham. Photo © Emma Jane Richards (used with permission)

Dan Thompson (@artistmakers), an arts magazine editor and promoter of putting empty stores to creative use, initiated the effort, and it has since taken on a life of its own.

@artistsmakers: #riotcleanup is not political; it's just twitter people being nice. It needs to happen tomorrow as a symbol that London won't stand for riot

Referring to the website (currently offline) and Twitter account @riotcleanup, Thompson says:

@artistmakers: Thanks to everyone who helped me get the #riotcleanup sorted out - have no idea who's set up the website and twitter account, that's not me

There is a public Google spreadsheet that has some of the meeting times listed.

@artistmaker: Hearing from Camden, Lewisham, Hackney that clear up is well underway; we have volunteers ready to help any business that needs #riotcleanup

Thompson's feed also shows evidence of ample press interest with notifications of televisions camera crews meeting volunteers at different locations.

On Facebook, people are also actively seeking ways to help on the pages Post riot clean-up: let's help London , Reclaim London, and the smaller, Riot Cleanup.

Labour party MP Richard Burden from Northfield, Birmingham, heard about a local cleanup on Twitter. Using AudioBoo, GetGood recorded his statement to the crowd.

Richard Burden welcomes #riotscleanup (mp3)

Shell-shocked and looking for reasons

Journalist and award-winning blogger Penny Red (@pennyred) wrote a post late on Monday night describing how she felt as she watched London burning on television from her living room. It's being shared and linked widely, and already had over 150 comments on Tuesday morning.

These are the final paragraphs:

Riots are about power, and they are about catharsis. They are not about poor parenting, or youth services being cut, or any of the other snap explanations that media pundits have been trotting out: structural inequalities, as a friend of mine remarked today, are not solved by a few pool tables. People riot because it makes them feel powerful, even if only for a night. People riot because they have spent their whole lives being told that they are good for nothing, and they realise that together they can do anything – literally, anything at all. People to whom respect has never been shown riot because they feel they have little reason to show respect themselves, and it spreads like fire on a warm summer night. And now people have lost their homes, and the country is tearing itself apart.

Noone expected this. The so-called leaders who have taken three solid days to return from their foreign holidays to a country in flames did not anticipate this. The people running Britain had absolutely no clue how desperate things had become. They thought that after thirty years of soaring inequality, in the middle of a recession, they could take away the last little things that gave people hope, the benefits, the jobs, the possibility of higher education, the support structures, and nothing would happen. They were wrong. And now my city is burning, and it will continue to burn until we stop the blanket condemnations and blind conjecture and try to understand just what has brought viral civil unrest to Britain. Let me give you a hint: it ain’t Twitter.

I’m stuck in the house, now, with rioting going on just down the road in Chalk Farm. Ealing and Clapham and Dalston are being trashed. Journalists are being mugged and beaten in the streets, and the riot cops are in retreat where they have appeared at all. Police stations are being set alight all over the country. This morning, as the smoke begins to clear, those of us who can sleep will wake up to a country in chaos. We will wake up to fear, and to racism, and to condemnation on left and right, none of which will stop this happening again, as the prospect of a second stock market clash teeters terrifyingly at the bottom of the news reports. Now is the time when we make our choices. Now is the time when we decide whether to descend into hate, or to put prejudice aside and work together. Now is the time when we decide what sort of country it is that we want to live in. Follow the #riotcleanup hashtag on Twitter. And take care of one another.

Sylwia Presley (@PresleySylwia) contributed to the writing of this post.

Japan: Perspective on London Riots scale in relation to Tokyo

To get perspective on the geographical scale of the London Riots, @c50cub96 mapped a comparison to the greater Tokyo area.

August 02 2011

Brazil: The Heterossexual Pride Day is Announced

Brazilian activist Alessandra Nane (@Lessinha_nane) informs [pt] that the City Council of São Paulo has just approved the Heterosexual Pride Day, a project led by evangelical leaders, to take place on the third Sunday of December. Nane ironically wonders when the “White Awareness Day”, among others, will also be approved.

July 25 2011

Inside the Mind of the Norwegian Terrorist

Thoma Roche of Techyum blog posted an analysis entitled ‘Inside the Mind of the Norwegian Terrorist'. The fact that the terrorist pinpointed Japan and South Korea as clear examples of countries that consistently and directly dismissed multiculturalism has drawn various responses in South Korea.

July 24 2011

Turkey: Ethnic Tension Rises Further as Street Clashes Erupt in Istanbul

In the aftermath of a clash between army and separatist Kurdish PKK militants which claimed the lives of over a dozen from both sides earlier this month, ethnic tension in Turkey continues to grow. Marches in the already tense Zeytinburnu district of Istanbul broke out into larger scale street fighting on the night of 21st July 2011, when ultra-nationalist Turkish groups marched to the pro-PKK BDP party office and attempted to attack it. Police were deployed and after a few hours of clashes, were able take control of the area. Social media played a large role both in the making and in the reporting of the incident as many of the marchers organised themselves through social networks, such as Facebook.

One of the Facebook pages used to gather more people on the way for the march to BDP office in the night of 21st July was 58 bulvar zeytinburnu. A Youtube video showing the ultra-nationalist marchers shouting “Martyrs can be Never Dead! Homeland can Never be Divided!” in the streets of Zeytinburnu was posted earlier on the page:

This particular video garnered over a hundred “like”s and comments; some supporting, some denouncing.

After the incident, another Facebook page “Zeytinburnu Mehmetçikleri” (i.e. “Zeytinburnu Soldiers”) was created and garnered over 6000 “like”s within a day. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk’s saying, “Ne Mutlu Türküm diyene” (“How happy is the one who says ‘I am Turk’”) was used in many of the comments on the page.

Despite some news agencies later reporting that the ultra-nationalist march was spontaneous, videos of the march captured by eyewitnesses show an organised march, with large Turkish flags and music; such as the following by ozanisildar:

Nevertheless, İclal Turan who was present at the clashes stated [tr] that the march didn’t look spontaneous to her:

haberlerde genellikle “bdp'lilere tepki gösteren mahalleli” diyor ama bnm sokaklarda gördüğüm organize olmuş ülkücü bir grup

“in news they have generally stated that [marchers were] ‘town folk reacting to BDP supporters’, but what I saw in the streets was an organised Ülkücü [ultra-nationalist] group.”

She also mentioned [tr] the events in Zeytinburnu having started three days ago and has been on-going since then:

zeytinburnu'ndaki olaylar 3 gün önce bdp'lilerin mahalede çöpleri yakıp evleri taşlaması ile başladı, sonra ülkücüler ayaklandı hala sürüor.

Events in Zeytinburnu started 3 days ago with BDP supporters burning trash [cans] and stoning houses, then Ülkücü’s rose up [and] it is still going on.

Photographs of the events, shot by Ferdi Türk, show that most in the ultra-nationalist crowd had sticks:

Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks

Ultra-nationalist crowd with sticks, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey.

Ultra-nationalist crowd marching, Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Apparently the crowd also attacked private property around the area in which they had gathered:

Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged.

Stores, cars, and many other kinds of private property, around the area of the clashes, were damaged. Istanbul, Turkey. Image by Twitpic user @ferditurk

Alper Budka, a journalist who was at the scene of the incidents reported on Twitter [tr] that police were deployed to prevent clashes and the attacks:

Polis, kalabalığa biber gazıyla karşılık verdi. Bu sırada caddeye doğru bi havai fişek patladı. Vatandaşlar dükkanlara kaçıştı

Police responded to the crowd with pepper spray. At this moment a firework was thrown towards the [main] street. [Ordinary] Citizens ran away to stores.

He also mentioned [tr] that riot police were deployed:

Ardından 70-80 kişilik takviye çevik kuvvet ekibi geldi. Kalabalık dağılmıştı fakat biraz sonra yeniden aynı yerde toplandlar. Hala ordalar

Later on an additional 70-80 riot police arrived. Crowd were dispersed but they gathered again in the same spot shortly after. They are still there.

İclal Turan reported [tr] the use of pepper spray:

her şey bir yana polisin biber gazı kullandığı yer insanların akşam gezdiği, yürüdüğü bi yer. küçücük çocuklar gaza maruz kaldı, ağladılar!

In spite of everything, the place where police used pepper spray was somewhere people walk around, chill out at evenings. Small children were exposed to the gas, they cried!

A resident of Zeytinburnu, gregorumsamsam reported [tr] that police helicopters were patrolling the area once the crowds were dispersed:

Zeytinburnu'nda olaylar nihayet duruldu galiba. sadece devriye gezen helikopterlerin sesi var şu an.

Events in Zeytinburnu are finally over, [I] guess. There is only the sound of patrolling helicopters right now.

hty96, a Youtube user, posted a video of the clashes between some people from the crowd and the police:

As the clashes between pro-PKK Kurdish groups and ultra-nationalist Turkish groups have been going on in Zeytinburnu for days since the incident on the night of 21st July, some have blamed both sides for being manipulated to order to increase the ethnic tension in the country. Sinan Dirlik commented [tr]:

zeytinburnundan günlerdir içsavaş provası uğraşındaki türk ve kürt sersemler. yangın her yeri sardığında mı rahatlayacaksınız?

Turkish and Kurdish fools attempting a rehearsal for civil war in Zeytinburnu for days. Will you be relieved when fire has spread everywhere?

Some have claimed that regarding both sides equally liable is not fair in this situation. kafa_radyo said [tr], for example:

iki tarafa da esit mesafeli olalim demek erki elinde bulunduran ezileni yok etmesine zimnen ortak olmak anlamina geliyor.

saying “let’s be equidistant to both sides”, implicitly means complicity in destruction of the oppressed by the powerful.

Gülçin Avşar, criticising the general use of violence by different parties in Zeytinburnu, commented [tr]:

Zeytinburnu savaş alanına dönmüş.. Hâlâ yakıp yıkarak o çok mukaddes amaçlarına ulaşacaklarını düşünenlerin olması ne hazin…

Zeytinburnu was turned into a battlefield. How sad is that there are still some who believe they can achieve their oh so holy goals by vandalising, destroying…

There is still fear of more violence in Zeytinburnu and a lot of rumours, a resident gregorumsamsam commented [tr]:

bu arada söylentiler doğru ise bugün Zeytinburnu'da olaylar daha da büyüyecekmiş. bu sefer diğer ilçelerden bdp'liler geliyormuş.

If rumours are right, affairs in Zeytinburnu will grow even more. it is said that BDP supporters from other districts will be coming this time.

He also mentioned [tr] how many residents of the district are going away temporarily:

çoğu kişi diğer ilçelerdeki akrabalarına gidiyor. bir mal benim ya ben evde bekliyicem inadına. annemler bile gidiyor be.

Many people are going to their relatives in other districts. Being the only stupid I will stay at home, stubbornly. Even my mother [and family] are going.

Norway: A Firsthand Account of the Massacre in Utøya

The world is still in shock over the mass-murder of at least 85 people attending a political youth camp on the island Utøya in Norway on the evening of Friday, 22 July 2011. The killer, now identified as Anders Behring Breivik, masqueraded as a police officer before opening fire on everyone around him, and chasing those who fled to the water. Breivik is also the prime suspect behind a bombing in Oslo only few hours earlier that killed seven people and caused extensive damage to government buildings.

The Utøya summer camp is an annual event of AUF (Arbejdernes Ungdomsfylking) the youth organization of the Norwegian Labour Party. Young people from across the country gather to discuss politics, listen to music, play sports and hear speeches by current and former politicians. Utøya is less than an hour's drive from central Oslo. Earlier in the day, before the gunman arrived, AUF's Twitter feed [no] and the #Utøya hashtag showed that approximately 700 participants were discussing the environment, women's rights, and Middle East politics. It was raining, but the mood was good. Later, the Twitter account went silent.

Prableen Kaur

Prableen Kaur

A story of survival


On Saturday, Prableen Kaur, a 23-year old local politician and youth leader from Oslo, posted a firsthand account of what happened to on her blog in Norwegian. She fled the killer and managed to survive, using her mobile phone, Twitter, and Facebook to tell family and friends she was still alive. The Telegraph newspaper in the UK has translated the entire blog post to English on Saturday. Several hundred people have left comments on Kaur's blog offering support and best wishes.

Here are excerpts from her traumatic story:

Jeg har våknet. Jeg klarer ikke å sove mer. Jeg sitter i stuen. Føler sorg, sinne, lykke, Gud jeg vet ikke hva. Det er for mange følelser. Det er for mange tanker. Jeg er redd. Jeg reagerer på hver minste lyd. Jeg vil nå skrive om hva som skjedde på Utøya. Hva mine øyne så, hva jeg følte, hva jeg gjorde.

I woke up. I cannot sleep anymore. I am sitting in the living room. Feeling grief, anger, happiness, God, I do not know what. There are too many emotions. Too many thoughts. I am afraid. I react to the slightest sound. I want to write about what happened on Utøya. What my eyes saw, what I felt, what I did.

Vi hadde hatt krisemøte i hovedbygget etter eksplosjonene i Oslo. Etter det var det et eget møte for medlemmene fra Akershus og Oslo. Etter møtene befant mange, mange seg rundt og i hovedbygget. Vi trøstet oss med at vi var trygge på en øy. Ingen hadde visst at helvete ville bryte ut hos oss også.

We had a crisis meeting in the main building after the explosions in Oslo. After that there was a meeting for the members from Akershus and Oslo. After the meetings there were many, many people around and inside the main building. We consoled ourselves that we were safe on an island. Nobody could know that hell would break loose where we were too.

Kaur describes the confusion and horror as people around her heard the gun shots and ran to a back room, seeking cover on the floor. People began to jump out the window as the shooting continued, and she describes fearing she would die as the last person to jump. She recovered from a hard landing and ran further into the woods. She phoned her mother, crying, saying she didn't know if she would survive.

At this moment, she tweeted:

@PrableenKaur: Jeg lever foreløpig.

@PrableenKaur: I'm still alive.

Her story continues:

Folk hoppet ut i vannet, begynte å svømme. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg bestemte meg for at hvis han kom, skulle jeg spille død. Jeg skulle ikke løpe eller svømme. Jeg kan ikke beskrive frykten, alle tankene, det jeg følte.

En man kom. ”Jeg er fra politiet.” Jeg ble liggende. Noen skrek tilbake at han måtte bevise det. Jeg husker ikke helt hva ham sa, men morderen begynte å skyte. Han ladet. Skjøt mer. Han skjøt de rundt meg. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg tenke: ”Nå er det over. Han er her. Han tar meg. Nå dør jeg.” Folk skrek. Jeg hørte at andre ble skutt. Andre hoppet ut i vannet. Jeg lå der. Mobilen i hånden. Jeg lå oppå beina til en jente. To andre lå oppå mine bein. Jeg ble liggende. Det tikket inn tekstmeldinger. Mobilen ringte flere ganger. Jeg ble liggende. Jeg spilte død. Jeg lå der i minst en time. Det var helt stille. Jeg vred forsiktig på hodet for å se om jeg kunne se noen levende. Jeg så lik. Jeg så blod. Frykt. Jeg bestemte meg for å reise meg. Jeg hadde ligget oppå et lik. To lik lå på meg. Jeg hadde englevakt.

People jumped into the water and started swimming. I was lying down. I decided that if he came, I would play dead. I would not run or swim. I cannot describe the fear that took over my mind, what I felt. 

A man came. “I'm from the police.” I was lying there. Some shouted back that he had to prove it. I do not remember exactly what he said, but the killer started shooting. He charged. He shot those around me. I was still lying there. I thought: “Now it's over. He's here. He's going to shoot me. I'm going to die.” People screamed. I heard that others were shot. Others jumped into the water. I was there. Holding the mobile phone in my hand, I lay on top of a girl's legs. Two others lay on my feet. I was still lying there. The mobile phone rang several times. I was still lying. I played dead. I lay there for at least an hour. It was completely quiet. I gently turned her head to see if I could see someone alive. I looked like around. I saw blood. Fear. I decided to get up. I had been lying on top of a dead body. Two dead bodies lay on me. I had a guardian angel.

Kaur did not know if the killer would return, and decided to swim after the others. She was rescued by a boat and met by her father and brother on the shore.

On her way to the summer camp on July 21, Kaur had tweeted:

@PrableenKaur: Er på vei til Utøya - sommerens vakreste eventyr.

@PrableenKaur: On my way to Utøya - summer's most beautiful adventure.

Her final paragraph in the blog post describing the terrifying day says:

Det har gått noen timer siden alt dette skjedde. Jeg er fortsatt i sjokk. Alt har ikke sunket inn. Jeg har sett lik av mine venner. Flere av vennene mine er savnet. Jeg er glad for at jeg kan svømme. Jeg er glad for at jeg lever. For at Gud passet på meg. Det er så mange følelser, så mange tanker. Jeg tenker på alle de pårørende. På alle jeg har mistet. På det helvete som er og var på øya. Sommerens vakreste eventyr er forvandlet til Norges verste mareritt.

Some hours have passed since all this happened. I am still in shock. Everything still hasn't sunk in. I have seen the corpses of my friends. Several of my friends are missing. I am happy I can swim. I am happy I am alive. That God has taken care of me. There are so many feelings, so many thoughts. I think of all the relatives. Of all those I have lost. On the hell that is and was on the island. Summer's most beautiful adventure transformed to Norway's worst nightmare.

Norway: The Online Traces of a Mass Murderer

An Oslo street after the explosion

An Oslo street the day after the explosion, by Francesco Rivetti on July 23, 2011 shared on Flickr (CC-BY-NC-SA)

On Friday 22 July, 2011, at 3:26 PM an explosion in Oslo, Norway killed seven people and caused extensive damage to several government buildings. The terror continued only few hours later when a man masquerading as a police officer opened fire on participants at a Labour Party Youth (AUF) camp [no] on the island Utøya. At least 85 people were murdered on the island before the shooter was apprehended by police and identified as a 32-year old Norwegian man named Anders Behring Breivik.

Breivik's Facebook page was quickly discovered (now offline) as was a single Twitter message he posted on 17 July. Bloggers and journalists in Norway and abroad have continued to look for any trace of the man online that could help explain his unfathomable actions.

Searching for clues to a motive

On Saturday, a blogger named Kevin Slaughter (@kevinslaughter) in the United States found a 1,514 page manifesto and a 12-minute video that appeared to be by Breivik although it was published in English under the pen name “Andrew Berwick”. It's a rambling tirade against “cultural-Marxists” and the “Islamisation of Europe” and it offers advice for would-be terrorists. Norwegian media have confirmed that the document and video were uploaded by Breivik on the same day of the attacks.

While the document can hardly be considered recommended reading, intense curiosity about the identity of the killer, has turned it into a popular topic of discussion.

On Twitter, conversations about the document can now be found on the hashtag #N2083 which is a reference to its title, “2083: A European Declaration of Independence.”

Blake Hounshell (@blakehounshell) the managing editor of Foreign Policy Magazine live-tweeted quotes from the manifesto as he read through it on Saturday.

@blakehounshell: Author gamely concedes, “Being a Justiciar Knight is not for everyone.”

@blakehounshell: “Appear politically correct or at least moderate, dress normally. Try to limit your rhetorical activities. Avoid excessive forum posting.”

@blakehoundshell: Author recommends telling your friends/co-workers/family that you have started to play, say, World of Warcraft and want to focus on that.

Ignoring his own advice, Breivik did in fact make postings to online forums, including to the Norwegian right-wing and anti-Muslim-immigration website His comments here from 2009 and 2010 [no] have been translated to English and reposted on the personal blog of Doug Saunders (@DougSaunders), European bureau chief for the Globe and Mail newspaper from Canada.

As seen elsewhere

On Sunday, the founder of Hans Rustad uncovered that Breivik's manifesto plagiarized entire paragraphs [no] from the manifesto of Ted Kaczynski, also known as the “Unabomber.” Kaczynski sent over a dozen mail bombs to universities and airlines between 1978 and 1995, killing three people. Where Kaczynski wrote “leftist,” Breivik has written “cultural Marxist” instead. Rustad writes that he discovered this from an unnamed source who “studied the manifesto all night, and “coincidentally noticed a likeness”. Responding to intense media curiosity, have distanced themselves [no] from Breivik, pointing to personal criticism of Rustad in the manifesto, and also by highlighting that Breivik also posted to other online forums like Minerva [no] and to the Swedish neo-Nazi site [se].

Previous postings from Breivik have also been spotted in the online gamer's forum Eu.Battle.Net where players of World of Warcraft and other online multi-player games convene to discuss game matters. In one thread entitled “Attacker from Oslo a WoW player??” forum members discuss if they have ever interacted with Breivik, and how his gaming history is likely lead to negative media portrayals of videos games.

On the NY Times news blog, The Lede, Robert Mackey, posted several links to “Web Clues to a Supected Attacker's Motives” and several citizen videos showing the damage on the streets of Oslo.

July 22 2011

India: Being A Muslim In Mumbai After The Terrorist Attacks

Azad Alam shares a personal story of facing consequences as a tenant of a Mumbai housing society after wearing a Islamic cap.

July 19 2011

Turkey : Protest against Kurdish singer prompts strong response in social media

Aynur Doğan, a Kurdish-Turkish singer, was jeered by part of the audience during an open air concert in the Istanbul Jazz Festival because she sang a song in Kurdish. Part of the audience sang the Turkish National Anthem in protest, while others in the audience supported the singer. Eventually, she left the stage as the response from the audience got louder. The incident, according to some, was partly due to yesterday’s clashes between the Turkish army and Kurdish militants which claimed in total the lives of over a dozen men from both sides.

Macedonian minimalist musical concept band Baklava and the famous Turkish singer Aynur, opened the 9th Offest, Worldwide Music Festival. Skopje, Macedonia. Photo by by Mite Kuzevski, copyright Demotix (01/06/10)

Beyhan Demirci, who was in the audience, captured and posted the video of the singer leaving the stage and summarized the issue as [tr]:

‘Türkce soyle' dediler, ‘şehitler ölmez' dediler, ‘yuh' dediler. Ve Aynur Doğan'ı sahneden indirdiler..

They said “Sing in Turkish”, they said “Martyrs are never dead”, they said “boo”. And [finally they] made Aynur Doğan leave the stage…

Meltem Gürler, who was also in the audience, reported the incident [tr]:

Acikhavada yerin dibine girdik, Aynur'u Kurtce sarkilarindan dolayi sahnede protesto ettiler. Aynur sahneyi terk etti.Burasi vahim durumda.

We are gravely embarrassed at the Open Air [Concert], [some] protested Aynur [while she was] at the stage because of her Kurdish songs. The situation was desperate.

Aslı Tunç, who was also attending the concert, reported that some of the protesters in the audience later left the concert after quarreling with others who supported the musician [tr]:

Izleyicilerin bir bolumu acik havayi terketti, tartismalar suruyor!

Some of the audience left the Open Air [Concert], dispute continues!

She also mentioned how some in the audience later on sang the national anthem as a protest [tr]:

Acik Hava'da rezalet suruyor! Bir kisim seyirci istiklal marsi soyleyip konseri sabote ediyor!

Disgrace continues at the Open Air [Concert]! Some [in] the audience are singing İstiklal anthem [Turkish National Anthem] to disrupt the concert!

The news spread quickly within social media networks before the traditional media sources could even get a hold of it. A lengthy discussion of intolerance and racism in Turkey began. Some however were more optimist despite the incident, @glcnavsar wrote [tr]:

Aynur Doğan'ı protesto edenler bu ülkedeki gelişimin öyle gerisinde ki umutsuzluk yaratamazlar artık; ancak utanç vesilesi olurlar.

Those who protest Aynur Doğan are way beyond the development within this country, to the point that they cannot cause despair; [and rather] become only a reason for shame.

Another well known Turkish singer, Yasemin Göksu, stated that she phoned and had a small chat with Aynur Doğan right after she heard about the incident [tr]:

… ben şimdi konuştm Aynur Doğan'la. Olayı anlattı, birkaç kişi provoke etmş ama dinleyici Aynur'u sahiplenmiş. Tabi morali bozulmuş ama iyi

I just talked with Aynur Doğan. She explained the incident, [apparently] a couple of people were provoked but the audience supported Aynur. Of course her morale is down but she is fine.

According to those who stayed until the end of the concert, Aynur Doğan received a standing ovation from the audience, shouting slogans for solidarity with Doğan and against racism, when she came to stage a second time with other musicians.

@degendary, who attended the concert, described the ending as [tr]:

Konser sona eriyor Aynur sahneye geldi herkes ayakta Aynur U alkışladı, yasasın halkların kardeşliği sloganları atıldı

Concert is ending, Aynur came to the stage, everybody is standing, applauding Aynur, shouting the slogan “long live the fellowship of [all] peoples”

Görgün Taner, the head of IKSV, the foundation that organizes the Istanbul Jazz Festival, announced that [tr]:

Çok kulturlu seslerin yer aldığı konserler yapmaya devam edecegiz

We will continue organizing concerts where multi-cultural voices are present.

After the incident, a Facebook page declaring solidarity with Aynur Doğan and denouncing the attack was created.

July 15 2011

Russia: Clashes in Sagra

Kevin Rothrock of A Good Treaty discusses the recent “ethnic” clashes in the little south-Russian town of Sagra and how these are exploited by various political and nationalistic interests.

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