Monthly Archives: July 2012

“In France I found my Tunisian identity”- an interview with Emel Mathlouthi

Interview by Charlie Crooijmans

Antwerp – It looks like Tunisia, where the Arab Spring started, had a successful transition to democracy. Ben Ali has fled the country and the moderate Islamist party Ennahda won the elections in October 2011. They allegedly take Turkey as an example; a secular democracy governed by a party with an Islamic identity. Lately, however, there have been tensions between Islamicists and secular liberals and the economy is still very fragile. In April the government puts a ban on demonstrations which generated new protests (New York Times). This weekend at the Sfinks Festival in Boechout, Belgium, I spoke to the Tunesian singer-songwriter Emel Mathlouthi, currently living in France, about Tunisia and her music.

Emel Mathlouthi at Sfinks Festival

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Solidarity with Pussy Riot


by Charlie Crooijmans

Three members of the Russian female punk group Pussy Riot – see also an earlier post on News and Noise – are on trial on hooliganism charges. For transparency, the court will broadcast the hearing on the 30th of July live on the internet (Times Live).  At a closed hearing a motion is approved by state prosecutors to keep the girls in pretrial detention until Jan. 12, 2013. This is more than nine months after they were arrested (The Moscow Times). Experts, artists and musicians are openly showing their support for the band members. Continue reading

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Going back to Graceland

by Charlie Crooijmans

Today, July 18, South Africa is celebrating Nelson Mandela’s 94th birthday. President Zuma praised him with the following words, from the moment Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela strode out of prison on the 11th of February 1990, we knew that South Africa would be a different place” (BBC News). This event coincides with the tour Paul Simon and his South African colleagues are making in Europe. Continue reading

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Boycott on cultural events in Israel

by Charlie Crooijmans

For everyone who knows how much effort goes into organizing a festival, the pledge of PACBI to boycott the 26th Red Sea Jazz Festival in Eilat must be surreal. The Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel believes that this festival is designed to whitewash the crimes of Israeli apartheid.  How do fans and artists respond to this request?

Last week the news came out  that the Indian master of tabla Zakir Hussain did make the decision not to perform in Israel. He cancelled the planned performances after reading a letter from INCACBI (The Indian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel) signed by 90 Indian artists (INCACBI). Here you can read what is in the letter and how other artists look at the matter.

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M.I.S.: No more parties, time for politics

by Charlie Crooijmans

There is a lot of drug-related violence in Mexico. In the five years of presidency of Felipe Calderon many thousands of people have been killed (BBC). According to former Mexican Foreign Minister Jorge G. Castañeda the war on drugs has not brought any solutions. Therefore, he pleads for the legalization of drugs (NPR). Last Sunday candidate Enrique Peña Nieto (PRI), who won the presidential elections after a recount, claimed – during the campaign – to be open to debate on legalisation even though he opposes it. But his strategy on drugs will not differ greatly from Calderon’s (Huffington Post).

The political debates, as you can see, are heated. This is why just before the elections Camilo Lara, aka Mexican Institute of Sound (M.I.S.) decides to sing about politics instead of fun and parties.

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