Memories of Syria in the heart of Holland

by Hatim Suleiman

Utrecht is the center of the Netherlands, the headquarters and crossroads of the national railways. Here you see the Dutch from all provinces and all walks of life changing trains at the central train station on the eve of every weekend. Utrecht is a celebration of the diversity of the local people. At the heart of it lays Rasa, a magical venue in a small alley. Once you walk into Rasa, you never know where you’re taken to. Music and dance of all genres from literally all over the world are featured there. A place where people from very different backgrounds and beliefs get a chance to practice their shared humanity. A good exercise for these times, I would say.

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Rokia Traoré’s thoughts on refugees and colonisation

Rokia Traore in hotel

by Charlie Crooijmans

In the beginning of March singer-songwriter Rokia Traoré from Mali came to Amsterdam to do an exclusive concert at the North Sea Jazz Club. She was touring round Europe to present her wonderful new album ‘Né So’. At my work at VPRO Vrije Geluiden (Dutch cross media music channel), I am coordinating a group of young people who are thinking about alternative ways to present music and musicians. One of them, the animator Wisse Beets, wanted to do an interview with Rokia without asking her any questions. Instead, he showed her some drawings she could reflect on, with which he made an animation (see below). Her thoughts on a drawing of a half sinking boat full of people were so profound, I decided to transcribe them for News and Noise! Continue reading

Pussy Riot: more professional

by Charlie Crooijmans

Pussy-Riot-ChaikaThis blog has been quiet for a long time due to lack of time, but we are going to make it up to you. Today I saw a new video of the female Russian punk band Pussy Riot. Wow, what a difference with the anarchist-low-budget clips of the beginning. No more colored balaclavas, no more shouting, no more crappy guitars and bad camerawork. Their newest video ‘Chaika’ is well produced, directed by Andrey Fenochka and Pussy Riot’s Nadya Tolokonnikova. The music is Continue reading

Unilever, clean up your mess!

Kodaikanal_Won_tby Charlie Crooijmans

To complain about gum and skin allergies is not very sexy. How clever of campaigning organization Jhatkaa to ask rapper Sofia Ashraf to help out. A video directly addressed to consumer goods giant Unilever for exposing residents of Kodaikanal, India, to toxic mercury contamination, went viral. Not only because of the music, it is based on the pop-hit Anaconda, but also because of the lyrics. Continue reading

Bulletproof Stockings: female empowerment

Photo: Sefira Ross

Perl Wolfe (left) and Dalia Shusterman, Photo: Sefira Ross

by Charlie Crooijmans

The other day I was reading about the alternative rock band Bulletproof Stocking. The band based in New York, consists of Hasidic women. This caught me by surprise, because I reckoned that there is a taboo on female chant in this ultra-orthodox Jewish community. In an article (NRC. Next, August 27, 2014) founder, singer and keyboard player Perl Wolfe explains that men aren’t allowed to listen to female chant, because it may seduce them. However, that commandment is true merely for men. The solution is that Bulletproof Stockings plays for an only-female audience. Of course this evokes some juicy headlines. Continue reading

Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region

by Hatim Suleiman

Amsterdam – On Sunday, June 15, a group of Arab writers, artists and journalists, gathered in the famous pop venue the Melkweg, to tell their stories in word, song, film, and theater. This event called Reporting Change – Stories from The Arab Region, was organized by World Press Photo and Human Rights Watch. The program featured music and keynote addresses by Reem Maged and Yassin Al-Haj Saleh.

The Egyptian TV journalist Reem Maged is one of the major voices of the revolution on Egyptian TV between 2011 and 2013. Yassin Al-Haj Saleh is a Syrian writer and political activist. Photojournalists from Algeria, Tunis and Egypt talked about their work, and you had to choose between watching the keynotes or the movies, ‘Return to Homs and ‘E-Team’, which we (Charlie Crooijmans and me) had to skip.

There was also a play especially made for the occasion, telling the story of the revolution through the eyes of two women. All of these stories tell so much more than what the mainstream media present us, far more human and therefore easier to identify with.

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A call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed

L7a9edby Charlie Crooijmans

For the third time in three years artist and human rights activist Mouad Belghouat, alias El Haqed (The Indignant) or L7a9ed, got arrested on Sunday 18 May 2014. “El Haqed has been targeted for his political views and his participation in Morocco’s February 20th movement: On 20 February 2011, what began as a group of Moroccans expressing their frustration with the status quo grew to a nationwide movement that demanded change in Morocco.” (Free L7a9ed – Music is not a crime). Filmmaker, photographer and activist Nadir Bouhmouch put a video on his You Tube channel to call for artistic solidarity with L7a9ed. Continue reading