Saturday, May 18, 2013

Middle East and North Africa third day of Pen-gathering in Krakow

All authors in this session had to flee from their country because they faced censorship, self-censorship. Nasrin Madaanizad (Iran) said she was just a girl who loved word and literature. When she was 11 years the teacher would not believe she had written they essay she handed in. She however felt she would be a great writer one day. Female poets were considered to be prostitutes when they would use a word like 'lip', 'mouth' or 'kiss'. As a child she burned her poems. Her first book was published when she was 17. Censorship for female writers is even harder than for male writers in Iran. So she had to flee.

Mazen Maarouf is a Palestinian writer living in Lebanon where Palestinians in exile have no civil rights, are not allowed to work. His way of analyzing everything - he has a Bachelor degree in Chemistry helps him in looking and writing. He is a poet and critical about the devisions and factions in the Middle East. Coffee breaks are very useful to for private conversations to better understand.

Noufel Bouzeboudja from Algeria doesn't believe in the Arab Spring since it was followed by an Islamist winter. Thus the region is in an ongoing revolution. The Islamic parties won the elections, thus he questions whether there is freedom of expression and whether there is a true democracy. In the school the 'new' ideology is taught.

Ali Amar from Morocco, questioned whether Morocco's status a model for the region: Journalist have problems, also in Jordan and Syria, yet they did their work and research and questioned where the power was. The kings in the region were all dictators. The king in Morocco is also the Commander of the Faithful and when 9/11 happened the reaction of the West wasn't really helpful. So all free voices were silenced. And in all this the Western Sahara Company made it possible that the opposition came together. In Morocco the 20th February movement was secular, even atheist. it is an alternative movement for civil liberties and individual liberties and was founded by two women.

Their conclusion from the debate; Revolution has to be also a revolution in the minds. Islamists castrates our freedom. It is about values and not about procedures like elections and thus the secular forces started organizing themselves as a political force. The risk is that the good things in the revolution are recuperated. The regimes use religion to maintain power. This leads to alienation since  one is not free to practice other forms of religion. The speakers seemed to expect that at the next elections the voters will  drop the Muslim Brotherhood. "It is hard to find a balance between stability and dictatorship"

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