Sunday, May 21, 2006

Congratulations to Lordi

Last night I for the first time ever saw the Eurovision song festival, and I must admit I had a blast. This festival has little to do with "song". A nearly endless stream of euro-valium-pop, more based on performance then actual skill past the review. It's over the top smoothness, dress up Barbie dolls and Ken's made for a most amusing spectacle. But what made my evening was the Finnish group Lordi. A mediocre heavy metal act that much like Gwar like to dress up as monsters. A non-serious cross between Kiss and Gwar at best. The fact a metal act however mediocre (as there are so much better around) made it into this festival of dress up dolls was hilarious on its own. But even greater... they won!!

In an age where neighbouring countries pretty much just vote for one and other (Cyprus always votes for Greece for example) this band showed the hypocrisy and the overdone focus on imagery. While I am a huge metal fan and as such can tell you the band and song are an awful representation of what metal music stands for, it still in a way warmed my heart to see them win. And win by a landslide! Another act, one clearly also taking the piss out of the contest ended up 6th place I think.

What I also think this shows is that the formula of this festival needs to be redone. The Barbie's and Ken's need to make place for something more solid. The focus on huge acts and not on musical performance has finally stuck a fatal blow in the face of the organisers. The public also clearly showed they wanted something fresh, something challenging. And while Lordi to my ears is mediocre metal, it to a lot of people is something new. People are more and more tired of the slick, mass produced crap that they are being force-fed. Perhaps voting for Lordi can be best summed up by a lyric from an actually great metal band, Skyclad: "I'm sick of eating shit, can I try another flavour?".

Saturday, May 20, 2006

From major terrorist to progressive Muslim?

Saturday morning TV isn't really well known for being inspiring, or even remotely interesting. Zapping past a multitude of children's cartoons and Infomercials I stumbled upon airtime for the "Nederlandse Islamitische Omroep" (Dutch Islamic Broadcast-association). Saturday mornings are usually the time small Broadcast organisations get a chance to some airtime on 1 of the 3 state-tv stations (also Hindu, Frysian, etc.). In general I do find it interesting to watch and see what lives in the minds of these other communities living in The Netherlands, so I watched for a while.

One piece they showed actually seemed to be very promising for the Muslim community. A former Muslim Fundamentalist Leader that has now become a fighter for women's rights and a much more liberal interpretation of the Koran; Hassan al-Turabi. In an interview by phone he explained that the Koran does not state women need to wear anything to cover their hair, face or entire bodies. That in fact in the time of Mohammed women did not dress like that either. The only references he directly found where for women to cover up their breasts. He also mentioned that the Koran wants women to be free, and responsible individuals. Not owned by men. Overall I found his views to be very hopeful in bringing some enlightenment to the more radical Muslim faith. So I googled him...

And this caused some confusion with me. "former Muslim Fundamentalist" does not do the man credit. It's far and far worse apparently! This is the man who founded various extremist Muslim groups, the personal tutor to al Qaeda's second in command Al-Zawahiri and personal friend to Bin Laden! There are also claims he is linked to some of the terror-groups doing ethnic cleansing in Darfur. In short, all information found on this man on the world wide web does not paint a very warm, inspiring picture of this man.

I also don't know enough about the subject if this man has truly seen the error of his ways and is now inspiring his people to become more sensible, or if it's just a mask, a play he puts on. What is however certain is that it's interesting to look at these developments and the history of Islam, terrorism beyond just the usual suspects. If he is genuine, can more extremists see the error of their ways?

Al-Turabi's website | Article on women in Islam (PDF)
Turabi as Islamic Extremist

Friday, May 19, 2006

How far the Dutch have fallen

The past few days I think about all Dutch media has covered the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and I can only imagine how many weblogs and blogs have been written about the matter. As I understand it, non Dutch media also jumped on the story. So why should I still comment on it?

Well, a few things during the entire debate, or be it debacle, stood out for me. First of all I must make it perfectly clear that I am in no way a supporter of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My view of her is of a scorned woman out of indiscriminate vengeance towards all Muslims. Somebody who lets her raw and pure hatred for the wrongs done to her lead her words and actions, and as such causes damage to the cause she herself stands for.

Now having said that you might think I would be happy with the way things turned out in the Netherlands for her. But actually I am not. While I did not and do not agree with her in any possible way, there is nothing but shame and disgrace in the way she was dealt with. And I honestly believe the way she was handled was a combination of pure stupidity combined with blind ambition of Rita Verdonk (the immigration Minster).

Two things in the debate struck me, and one thing in publications from the foreign media. Lets first address the issue of the foreign media. They all condemned the Dutch political parties for letting Ayaan Hirsi Ali fall. But if you watched the debates, I think only two people in the entire government supported what was done to her. Everybody else, from her supporters to her opponents felt she had been done a great wrong, one that needed to be righted. Yes, the eventual motion to try and return the decision to strip Ayaan of her Dutch citizenship was weak, but most foreign newspapers commented on the matter long before the motion. The motion also was clearly meant to be "strict", but not so strict to make the cabinete fall. Political safety before bravery. Which sadly is the way of the Dutch...

The two issues that struck me in the debate. The first is, what where we actually talking about? She wasn't stripped of her citizenship for lying as most people implied. If you really followed the debate you understood what actually happened. Because she gave a false name and date of birth for her naturalisation according to law she technically wasn't naturalist to Dutch citizenship. Basically if your name is "Alli Babba" and you say your name is "Mohamed Agban" then "Mohaman Agban" become Dutch and not you who is actually called "Alli Babba". It really is as simple as that. It's a legal technicality. Nothing more, nothing less. No stripping of your nationality happens, you technically just never got it. As your name is used to identify you.

Basically this is the application of rules above common sense. Your name becomes your primary and unique identifier and your nationality is connected to that unique identifier. Which is exactly where the mistakes start. For one a name is hardly a unique identifier. There are many "Alli Babbas" in the world so to say. Also it treats people to much as machines, as well a database. And it rules out our humanity.

Now the second thing that struck me. After much debate it turned out this can be easily fixed by a simple administrative task. You correct your name in a government database and redo the procedure. A bit clumsy, but there you go. However!! The government doesn't inform you of this and in fact deports people after the fact before they can do a simple administrative task! In the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali she had a permanent refuge status she can fall back on to stay in the country basically. But many people whom this befalls where on a temporary status. So say Alli Babba had a temp. status till 2004. In 2003 he became of the Dutch Nationality. In 2005 they discover he is really named differently, Dutch nationality as such was not officially granted. Now he falls back on his previous status, which ended in 2004. And as such.. he is deported!! And that is an outrage! The government deports people over a written, legal technicality.

This furthermore comes to light in something else also mentioned in the debate. If you lie during your initial intake as a refugee you can also later be deported without any further reason and this happens. Well, rules are rules not? This also includes women who when they first arrive here are scared and don't in the initial briefing mention they have been raped or even gang rapped. This counts as lying as well and is a reason for being deported! Or Muslim homosexuals who don't immediately mention they are homosexual. Two cases you can very easily understand people would not be open about it, one out of shame and the other out of fear.

And then you have people who claim this to be fair? Isn't the immigration policy meant to keep out economic refugees (not that I agree with that, but I can understand it) and protect political refugees and those who need our protection? This has nothing to do with this anymore! This means actual political refugees are send back based on... based on nothing! On a legal formality! This has nothing to do with humanity anymore, with fairness, with civilisation. This is a farce, a black-mark... something so shameful and spiteful... is this what the Dutch nation stands for? Have we honestly lost our humanity so badly? Have we fallen so far? I guess we have.

I am sorry for Ayaan Hirsi Ali and what happened to her. I wish her situation will be righted and she will remain a Dutch citizen. I may not agree with her, but this is not right. And I wish this situation will shine light on the horrible crimes done in our, the Dutch peoples, name and be righted not just for Ayaan, but for all those who suffer under it. Ironically I don't think Ayaan did anything for anybody in a constructive way (to much hate to actually be constructive), but this might be her gift to those in a less famous position then her. I am glad however the protection of Ayaan stays in place and they didn't remove that when she resigned from the Dutch government, as she lives in permanent danger due to what she says. And I fear the fact she found a job advising Bush in the US. Do we honestly wish a spiteful hatemonger like Ayaan whispering in the ear of one of the worst war-criminals and warmongers the world has ever seen? But at least her future is ensured. Let is also be ensured for all others in her position.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

The Polish savage

One of the hot-issues in the Netherlands at the moment is the influx of cheap-Polish labour. One of the lesser issues about this debate stuck me this morning however. One of the owners of a firm that employs Polish people to work in the Netherlands was on TV in a small news/documentary about the issue. His, legal, workforce is housed in vacation homes in the Netherlands. There they have to follow strict rules 24/7. One of these companies even employ private security firms to check on the workforce.

What are these checks and rules about? That they clean up their bed, are not allowed to drink, when they get up, etc. These things are all OFF work time. No Dutch person would allow their company to send round guards to inspect if they cleaned their house and what they did in their free time. So why is this necessary exactly? Well our good company director explains...

In a very degrading tone he talks about "those people". How in Poland "those people" are used to washing themselves outside with a bucked of water. How "those people" are not used to tiding up their bed. If you in Poland stink people are used to that. But here you need to live to Dutch values (but not be paid Dutch wages). How "those people" think it's normal in their country to work with a bottle of Vodka next to them during work. In short, these backward savages have to be taught how to clean themselves and to keep of the booze. Next to providing them work, this director speaks with pride how he is bringing values and morals to these poor savages. These beasts of labour.... Except the wee bit about paying them normal wages of course.

I can't believe anybody can use such blatant lies to excuse himself with. And the worst part is, I think he actually believes it. How can you think and speak so degrading about others? And be so unnatural and think yourself so superior. I can start to understand why some people I know of what used to be eastern Europe, whom are just as advanced as anybody else (bah that I felt the need to say that!), are so protective and defensive about this. Bahbahbah...

Friday, May 05, 2006

Back in Black

Your Theme Song is Back in Black by AC/DC

"Back in black, I hit the sack,
I've been too long, I'm glad to be back"

Things sometimes get really crazy for you, and sometimes you have to get away from all the chaos.
But each time you stage your comeback, it's even better than the last!
What's Your Theme Song?


You Should Be An Aquarius

What's good about you: philosophical and idealistic, you are a great thinker

What's bad about you: you require a lot of space - it's hard to get close to you

In love: you're quirky and playful, but you hate to be smothered

In friendship, you're: likely to have many acquaintances and very few good friends

Your ideal job: pilot, snow boarder, or science fiction writer

Your sense of fashion: unconventional, unique outfits that turn heads

You like to pig out on: anything with garlic or unique spices
What Sign Should You Be?

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

igod

Feel the burning need to talk to god online? Now you can!

igod (link)