14 Jun 2015
« Older Entries Subscribe to Latest Posts
6 Jun 2015
Unbelievable but true: An American exchange student in Saudi Arabia, explicitly in Riyadh, discovered much to his surprise that “urban life is unexpectedly normal by U.S. standards” over there.
In a blog entry that happens to be a namesake of my blogMiddle East Messenger, the American student Cody Knipfer writes about his experience in Saudi Arabia, a desert state widely unknown to the Western audience./p>
As in Western media as well as in Western fantasies associate Saudi Arabia with backwardness, suppression of women, oil richness, camel driver and similar stereotypes it comes as a suprise and as a sign of hope that Knipfer states: “Change is coming. Saudi Arabia is in conflict with itself, torn between the global culture and Islamic tradition. The younger generation has grown up with the Internet while the older generation hasn’t experienced outside influence.”
Two thumbs up for Cody!
6 Jun 2015
What has human trafficking to do with you? You might be thinking “absolutely nothing”. Question: Did you ever buy cheap meat in a supermarket? Did you ever buy cheap clothes at Primark? Did you ever visit a brothel? Did you ever hire a nurse or a cleaning person from East Europe? In case you answer one or more of those questions with “yes” then you are in the thick of what is called modern slavery.
Last wednesday (03.06.2015) a poster exhibition at theHaus der Kulturen addressing “human trafficking – here and today” opened. Here are a couple of facts stemming from the portrayels of the key not speakers as well as from the corresponding poster exhibition: next to the trafficking of weapons and drugs, human trafficking ist one of the most lucrative businesses worldwide and is one of the most profitable sources in income. The victims of human trafficking that get stranded in Germany often come from East Europe, especially from Bulgaria and Rumania. If you look at this that way, the incorporation of those countries into the EU must have been a blessing for the slave trader and might have even given their business a further push. But be careful, if you think you have already discovered the one’s to blame and are about to lean back: please do not forget that the market is being determined by demand and supply. I.e., if nobody expresses a demand for cheap food, if nobody expresses a demand for cheap clothes and if nobody is looking for cheap sex then the former lucrative business of human trafficking will become dull instantly. Because a good that nobody wants will not be sold.Compris?
Thoren Biethan of Brunswicks police department reports that a “guaranteed sluicing” for women from Nigeria costs between 50.000 – 80.000 Euro per person. A great amount of money even for Europeans, but definitely a unimaginable high amount for somebody from Africa. What do you think does that money come from? Take a look at the girls of you local red-light district and start calculating how many punters one woman has to satisfy in order to pay 50.000 Euro back, considering that a 20 minute puter-prostitute-contact costs about 30 Euro and some puters even dare to beat that already cheap price down to 10 Euros. I have no clue what kind of person would exploit the distress of somebody else to that extent.
Article 1 of the German constitutional law states that human dignity is unviolable. Is that really so or does that only apply as long as the person in question is white, rich or has the “correct” relgious believe?
The statements of two forced prostitutes were thought-provoking to me and made me sad at the same time: “When men came to me”, a Nigerian forced prostitute explained “and saw my skin colour I felt them thinking that they can do everything with me.” Another woman from Bulgaria sharing the same fate, 34 years old, said: “We have to learn to act self-defendant. Until now I never had the chance to decide self-contained.”
I ride my bike home lost in thought and sad about the things I heard. Suddenly I realise how beautiful the street is that I ride down. I look at the green trees, listen to the birdsongs and have the sun shining in my face. I remember the lyrics stemming from a Herbert Grönemeyer song saying that: „Earth is friendly, but we are not!“
31 May 2015
Refugees, flows of refugees and their destinies, all that I knew so far only from TV, i.e. with much distance from real events, admittetly. What it means to be directly faced with the “refugee situation” itself I could experience recently on my way back from South Tyrol to Munich and at last yesterday watching the play “Fliehen & Forschen” on stage.
It is just my second ride on the Eurocity from Verona to Munich. My first ride took just place a week earlier, in reverse order. Also on my journey there there were some Africans on the train. But, I guess they did not go there for hiking. On my way back from Bozen to Germany I was kind of taken aback when I came to Bozen main station and saw all those Africans waiting on the plattform for the Eurocity. Will they all be going into my direction? I wondered. I realised people wearing T-Shirts labeled with “Aid Worker” on it. I took it that those African weren’t tourists but refugees coming from the South of Italy.
Actually the train is packed. Almost as the only European female I sit in my waggon amongst Africans talking animated to each other. I squeeze myself into my seat, I read a book and find myself watching my benchmates. I wonder from which place in the world the Africans might come from, why they are sitting in this train, what has happened to them. I also wonder what they will be doing in Germany and whether they are going to stay in Munich?
The Africans do not seem to be unhappy, traumatized and do not look like they have just got away with their lives. But of course, that is just an assumption of mine. Actualy, I slip deeper into my seat when my benchmate takes a nap and his head and his hand fall on “my” side. Allowedly, I do not like that situation too much. I cannot image doing something like this in “his” country. Ooops, am I acting typically German or even xenophobic? I do not know, but I know, that I simply do not want his hand on my knee.
As we arrive in Munich I realize how many federal policemen are waiting on the plattform. Are the awaiting the refugees? I look into their faces. The do not look very friendly – they rather look like they are ready to pick and choose the black sheeps among the Africans. But that is just another assumption of mine.
Sitting in my connecting train I think about my behaviour, my thoughts and feelings being confronted with “real” refugees. I realise that watching refugees in the boats on TV is something totally different from being faced with them in a train. It is different, yet strange? But why, because I am full of cliches? Because I am influenced by media and stereotypes? I do not know anything about those people coming to us and maybe those Africans just think the same. I think I should give more thoughts to my attitude and where it stems from. Maybe we all shoud consider that, because, is it not possible that we might find ourselves in their shoes some day? I would not be anybody be happy to be welcomed with a smile and without being confronted with stereotyps?
29 Nov 2014
That’s torn it: for years the European and American media has been lying to us and wilfully duped us. Pakistan and Iran countries of men wearing long beards, who are reluctant to all sexual appetite and virtuous behaviour is predominant everywhere? As if! In its pre-prime-time serial “Summits of Iran” arte.tv produced evidence to the contrary yesterday and showed as one of the first western TV stations the truth. What am I talking about? Im talking about the “penis-cemetery”! Exactly, you read me right, I am talking about a penis-cemetery belowground! You do not believe me? Look and see! Simply fast-forward to 29:38 and then, it’s just there!
So you say, that does not mean a thing? A blooper, a mistake you say? Well, than I’ll do it better with the next story. In Pakistan to become a eunuch is a job that requires vocational training. A canard, simply fake? No, it is the truth, as this article “First-ever vocational training centre for eunuchs opened” proves. Eunuchs learn tailoring, fashion design and how to become a professional beautician. Wait, it gets much better: The pakistanian government would also provide transport facility to the eunuchs. On the completion of course, the government would also provide a loan worth Rs50,000 to each eunuch through Punjab Small Industries Corporation loan on interest free basis. I call that progressive and forward-looking. I cannot recall any similar initiative with Europe or America so far. Can you?
24 Nov 2014
16 Nov 2014
In the so called „Ruhrpott“ everything is a little bit differently and above all more relaxed. Suddenly Switzerland is situated close to the town of Hattingen and Schalke (the German football club) does not play in the Veltins-Arena but in a kiosk close to the Emscher Radweg. What does that mean in sequence?
We are taking advantage of the nice autumn weather and are going to the Elfringer Schweiz in order to enjoy a stroll around the forest. Arriving at the parking lot “The red house” we instantly realize that a lot of people just had the same idea. A true sea of cars awaits us on the overcrowded parking lot. My friend must have seen my petrified facial expression as she quickly tries to calm me down with the words: “Do not worry, these people only want to visit the pony ride. Nobody here wants to hike for 10 km.” She’s right. We hardly met anybody on the loop road thus we are able to enjoy the beautiful landscape and the warming rays of the autumn sun. We also have still time for coffee and a shop tour at the nearby yard sale.
Next day we are changing our hiking shoes for the boneshaker. We are once more discovering a piece of industry culture as it can be found alongside the former rails trails that has been turned into bicycle trails. At first we are cycling to the Nordsternpark close to Gelsenkirchen. Among others we are visiting the Herkules statue on top of the Nordsternbuilding and are relaxing in the beer garden close by.
We are heading on alongside the „Tour Nord“ by „Essen erfahren“ until we reach the park of sculptures, a former mine dump. Disproportionately to the rest of the terrain you really have to climb up to that park with your bike – but it’s worth it. For a magnificent panoramic view you have to climb a little bit further up the “stairway to heaven”. At the end of our tour, we are crossing two cultic kiosks: firstly, the “Schalker” kiosk and then the mobile kiosk directly at the crossing to “Zeche Zollverein” (insider will understand what I am talking about). Nach so viel Anstrengung haben wir uns schließlich einen Jumbo-Cocktail in der Bochumer Innenstadt verdient. After all that cycling we deserve a Jumbo-Cocktail downtown Bochum.
16 Nov 2014
The VW-Foundation has recently started a series of lectures called „eye witness, translators, contemporary witness: German foreign correspondent from the 1970ies until today“ in cooperation with the Leibniz-Institut für Europäische Geschichte (IEG).
Incoming the two hosts of the evening, Bernhard Gißibl und Johannes Paulmann of IEG, are getting to the point by stating that “instead of researching on the objective it should be researching with the objective” at German Universities and institutes in the future. Together with Ulrike Freitag, director of the center for modern orient, and Thomas Aders, foreign correspondent in Cairo, the team tries to find a reasonable definition of this statement. It soon becomes obvious through the guest’s input – Ulrich Kienzle had to cancel the event because of illness – that the will to well-balanced reporting or cooperative research has its limits.
Reports stemming from German media on hot spots in the Middle East, such as from Irak, Syria or Egypt, is often controlled by monotonic choice of topic and focusses too much on politics instead of society development. Background reports are (due to shortage of time) scarce goods: “There is more being produced than shown”, says Aders. “Many times TV stations only show what happened between yesterday and today.”
Being asked about the research conditions within the Arabic countries, Freitag reports on her experience with members of the Syrian secret service: “Fortunately”, she describes, “they were quite stupid”. Unfortunately there was no chance to pose questions to the lectures’ participants. However, it became clear that there is no such thing as a well-balanced reporting even in the German media. There are definitely many interesting topics on the mind of German foreign correspondents and German researchers that could provide the TV consumer with a more realistic and more detailed picture on what is going on. However, obstacles to the career path often stand in one’s way.
Being asked what he would do if he’d granted a wish Aders answered: „What I would do is to learn Arabic acceptably“.