Monday, March 25, 2013

Tahar Ben Jelloun and Isabelle Durant-Passaporta/ Pen

The ice cold, snowy day started early, setting up a stand, the yearbooks of PEN-Flanders and the badges for the authors laid out. The first activity I listened to an interesting discussion about post-colonialism by Tahar Ben Jelloun, an author you absolutely must read. He also is a smart and thoughtful man. He started out by reading from his book L'Etincelle stating that the Arab spring engendered the ultimate defeat of the Islamists. The West however sees it differently, feeling that the countries after chasing off their dictators are overrun by the extreme factions of Islam. These last days however, once again revolts and demonstrations took people to the streets in Egypt, pitting  the popular revolt against the Islamists. 25  offices of these groups have been attacked since the people feel there is no real democracy with them and when they are in power they don't do a decent job of governing. The populations of countries who have lived  for 40 years under the same oppressive ruling family, don't know what democracy means and don't know how to vote. There was also no free press, no political parties nor trade unions. Basically countries like Libya were ruled by a tribal system. As a consequence, new dictators gain power and since they stopped the migration streams from their country a lot of western leader lived in a strange complicity with them. And what does Europe do? Isabelle Durant is clear: there is no European foreign policy. In an ideal world there would be a code for arms deals. She spoke with passion about the Salafists taking over the different revolutions with the squashing of all freedom and blatant racism and antisemitism, leading to more fear in Israel. We also see the growing Russian influence in the region, for instance in Cyprus and Syria, and how President Obama, in his visit to Israel, chose power over morals: Palestine is an occupied country and in parts even colonized. We should remember religion does not equal politics. An interesting debate with a lot food for thought.

1 comment:

  1. schitterend, annmarie, ik was triestig dat ik er niet bij was.... (zie mijn blogbericht)