Santorum girls

by Ninja Kors

Santorum girlsSince we already covered some musical annotations from the current president of the US, Barack Obama, as well as one of the Republican hopefuls, Mitt Romney, we couldn’t leave out one of the other main runners for the Republican candidacy: Rick Santorum. A video has gone viral some time ago that shows two girls expressing their love for Rick Santorum’s policies – through song.

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Being Emo in Baghdad

by Pieter van Hoogdalem

Earlier this month worldwide media reported that dozens of kids were killed in Iraq. All of them supposedly were supporters of the emo-lifestyle. Emo originated out of the pop culture of the nineteen-eighties, but has gone a long way since and became a popular lifestyle for Western youth, even to this day. Emo as a fashion statement comes in many forms and shapes and is impossible to accurately describe, but generally it is associated with heavy make up, dark clothes, painted hair and androgynous looks. In Iraq this is considered to be synonymous with homosexuality, which apparently is the reason for these organized killings and the publication of an online death list of 33 youngsters who are condemned for their appearance.

These brutal deaths reminded me of a documentary called Heavy Metal in Baghdad (2007).

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Wrong anthem of Kazakhstan at medal ceremony

by Charlie Crooijmans

The Kazakh athlete Maria Dmitrienko won the golden medal at the Arab Shooting Championships on March 23 in Kuwait. She was confronted with a very unpleasant surprise. Instead of the national anthem from Kazakhstan, the parody of the anthem was played. The organizers downloaded the wrong and offensive anthem from the internet. They were very ashamed and apologized. Maria Dmitrienko, as you can see in the video below, felt awkward but she remained firm and even smiled at the end. Continue reading

Azerbaijani musician arrested for insulting

by Charlie Crooijmans

Last Saturday (March 17) a demonstration was held in the suburbs of Baku. The protesters were represented by the youth organizations of the opposition (Azeri Report). The musician Jamal Ali was arrested for having insulted President Ilham Aliyev’s late mother at the demonstration. Insulting the “King clan” can be extremely dangerous according to his friend and singer-songwriter Cirttan. With the coming Eurovision Song Contest coming to Azerbaijan, it seems particularly sour that singer-songwriters are put behind bars.

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The Ottoman Armenian

by Hatim Suleiman

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has ordered his government to draft a new law punishing denial of the Armenian genocide. The French parliament recognized the killing of the Armenian population of the Ottoman Empire during the First World War as genocide in 2001. In December 2011, The French MPs went further, approving a bill that would make denying the Armenian genocide a criminal offence punishable by a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 45,000 euros. France’s top court struck it down last month as unconstitutional. Sarkozy, running for re-election next month, stressed again to the Armenian Diaspora in France (around half a million strong) his commitment to a new law.

Away from election politics and the contradicting French official denial of France’s own dark history in Algeria, I cannot help thinking of the intertwining cultures of Anatolia (or Asia minor) and its painful twists of history, I cannot help thinking of Tatyos Efendi.

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Will Tibetan cultural identity be erased?

by Magda Pucci and Charlie Crooijmans

It can be hard for the Tibetan people to keep the international community interested in their cause. A week ago we have read in the news that Tibetans  set themselves on fire to protest China’s repression of Tibet (New York Times). China occupied Tibet in the 1950’s and considers itself a liberator of Tibet. The documentary Tibet in Song (2009) gives a historical overview and shows how the Chinese regime tries to erase the Tibetan cultural identity.

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“Please, boycott the Eurovision Song Contest” – Interview with Cirttan

Interview by Charlie Crooijmans

Amsterdam – Last year Ell and Nikki from Azerbaijan won the Eurovision Song Contest with their love song Running Scared. Following Eurovision tradition, that the winner gets to host the following festival, this year’s contest will be held in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. According to activist and singer-songwriter Cirttan (Azer Mamedov) who is truly running scared and had to flee to the Netherlands for safety reasons, it will have a strong effect on the Azerbaijani authorities if the European countries would boycott this musical event. He says that for sure Azerbaijan will be a very good host. It will want to show the world all of its modernity and prosperity. What we won’t get to see, according to Cirttan, are the poor conditions of the Azerbaijani people. Corruption is a way of life and the people are afraid to stand up for themselves. On Music Freedom Day (March 3, 2012), globally organised by Freemuse, Cirttan played some of his songs at the Soeterijn Café in Amsterdam. On the eve of this event we had a conversation about his hopes and fears for Azerbaijan and his role as an activist.

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