The first political conversation that I ever had was at the age of four. I remember myself sitting in in the porch of our village house in Hanine, south Lebanon, together with my mother. It was a sunny day, and we were resting in the shade of our fig tree. The peaceful flow of natural sounds and sun rays was only disturbed by the thrumming noise of helicopters coming from behind the surrounding hills. My mom wanted us to go back inside, to which I objected. She then said, “ Dyab, the Israeli helicopters are coming nearby, it is safer to be inside”. I remember asking her why? Why is it safer? And my mom answered “because these are wicked men, and they might shoot at us”. Few months later, the wicked men did shoot at us.
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
A truck ran over Israeli occupation soldiers in occupied Jerusalem yesterday. Four soldiers died and some others were wounded. The driver was a Palestinian father of three. If you would read western newspapers and news outlets, the general tone is that this was a “terrorist” attack that targeted Israelis. Fake news are obviously not something that is limited to social media, it is also often being vented through the bias of the dominant news. That version of the story is not just occulting the reality of the occupation, it is defending it by establishing a link between the resistance of the Palestinians and terrorism. I reacted to this by stating that the Palestinian people has the right to liberate its occupied land by any means that it deems necessary. This was immediately taken by forces who are supportive to Israel in the Flemish nationalist right wing and presented as an endorsement of terrorism. Even Theo Francken, a secretary of state in the federal government, was tweeting about it hysterically. According to him I was glorifying ISIS terrorism and I should be fired from my position as columnist in the newspaper I write for. People who liked my Facebook post were also being threatened and intimidated. Therefor I want to clarify the following 10 points and I hope that this will be helpful to all the people that are confronted with these questions.
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
Whoever saw the man move in a ring, could have written a long text on the definition of swag, elegance and grace. "Float like a butterfly, and sting like a bee" is, in his own words, the best known description of what Muhammad Ali made out of boxing. He was not about brute force, but about style. However, the true style of Ali was often at display outside of the ring, in his powerful speech and inspiring quotes, but above all, in his struggle against racism, imperial wars, and for his people. Ali was "the greatest" in the ring, and he was always keen on reminding everyone of it. Therefore, many say Muhammad Ali was arrogant, and consider this as one of his downsides.
By Dyab Abou Jahjah
« The terrorists want to destroy our way of life », or « they hate us because of who we are » are the most common held opinions by western politicians and opinion makers when it comes to explaining why attacks are taking place in Europe. However, if one analyses the vision and ideology of ISIS, based on primary sources and on its own literature, this line does not hold.
Ik dacht eerst om niet te reageren op de laatste repliek van Etienne Vermeersch aan mij gericht in DM van 22 januari. Eerst en vooral omdat ik geen enkel inhoudelijk nieuw argument erin zag. Hij snapt het nog steeds niet, en blijft maar afkomen met halve waarheden gebaseerd op google, en één boek in zijn boekenkast. Vermeersch blijft niet begrijpen dat mijn stelling over het begrip Jihad IN de KORAN, als zijnde voor meerdere interpretaties vatbaar, niet kan weerlegd worden met schrijfsels, van buiten de koran. Maar omdat zijn stelling niet alleen vals maar ook gevaarlijk is, daar dat veel jonge moslims en niet moslims de discussie volgen en conclusies kunnen gaan trekken dat Jihad als agressie om het geloof te spreiden wél een main-stream lijn in de islamitische leer is, terwijl dat niet het geval is, heb ik besloten om toch nog een keer een aantal zaken duidelijk te maken.
In zijn repliek tegen mij (DM 19/1) haalt Etienne Vermeersch een boek van de 14de eeuw aan om te bewijzen dat het concept van de Jihad in de 21ste eeuw niet interpreteerbaar is maar eerder vast ligt en dat het niet louter defensief maar ook offensief kan zijn. Daarin maakte hij één fundamentele denkfout, en twee kleinere denkfouten. Eerst de kleine fouten:
"More than 20,000 Muslim girls and women have been raped in Bosnia since fighting began in April 1992, according to a European Community fact-finding team. " (UNICEF)... I guess that the European Christian Serbs were encouraged to rape by the culture of their Muslim victims? The same goes for the massive use of rape in colonial wars by western countries like in the case of France in Algeria in the fifties and sixties or the more recent example of American troops in Iraq where the Abu Ghraib horror was nothing but the tip of the Iceberg. So if it is about culture, how about analysing the culture that created this systematic and institutionalised sexual violence? You want to culturalise still?
If you are a refugee in Denmark or in Switzerland nowadays, you must give all your belongings to the state. It doesn't matter if its family jewels or life time savings. Anything above the total sum of 1000 Euros must be given. In other words, not only that you would have lost your house and country and job and life, and that you have probably paid exagerated fees to human trafickers in order to reach safety with your family, while risking your life, now you must be also stripped from any belongings that can help you make a new start. On top of that, if you are to find a job in Switzerland , you must pay an extra refugee tax of 10%. A discriminatory measure that Denmark is keen to copy. Apart of the injustice in these measures and the historical link that can be made with how Jews were ripped of their possessions by the Nazis (and how Swiss banks protected this Nazi blood treasure untill the 1990's when the children of the Jewish victims succeeded in winning a law suit on this), this is also a clear statement that the only acceptable refugee is one who is economically needy. Wasn't it always a claim that refugees shouldn't be economic refugees? That being a refugee must not be linked to being poor? How did poverty become a necessary condition for being a refugee? How is that compatible with the content of the Geneva convention? This is not only injust, and absurd, and an extra punishment for people who have Lost everything, this is outright theft! It shows the moral bankruptcy of the countries executing such measures and the people defending them.
Civilisation is not about institutions and technology and wealth. Civilisation is about compassion, solidarity and human warmth. If Denmark and Switzerland are acting upon their values and norms in this, then these values and norms are clearly corrupt and petty and inferior.
Dyab Abou Jahjah
(Published also in French in the Newspaper Le Soir)
As I sat behind my desk to type these words, my wife and two daughters were preparing to go for a walk in the city, and suddenly, all I could feel was one emotion: Fear.
I was afraid that while in the metro, or while enjoying the new pedestrian parts of the city, or while sitting on the terrace of a café, some Daesh terrorist, blinded by hatred and fascist ideology, will open fire and kill my family. I was also afraid that some far-right extremists will see my Arab looking family and decide to take revenge for the Paris attacks.
BLACK the latest movie of Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah will open today for the big public. For those among you going to see it and expecting an activist film, or a somewhat committed film like their latest movie IMAGE, you should know that BLACK is not that kind of movie. IMAGE was a media thriller with a very high dose of social critique. BLACK is a hard action movie with a lot of violence and a lot of stereotypes. It describes a certain underworld that most of us never experience and never will experience. Its social relevency is therefore almost absent in comparaison with IMAGE.
However, BLACK as a piece of cinema art is much better than IMAGE. And if you ask me, it is even much better than what we are used to see in the Belgian movie theatres in general. BLACK is on another level, and no wonder that some big boys in Hollywood are chasing Adil and Bilal now. So it is important to watch BLACK with this perspective in mind. BLACK is commercial cinema, from the highest rank. It is not Walt Disney like Bilal said, It is not for the conservative puritan mind or the political correctness fundamentalist. This movie has edge, and breaks taboos. It is not for the faint hearted. But above all the movie is elegant, full of panache and street credibility.
I remember Adil telling me that he was wondering how i would see IMAGE and if I would like it. That was a year ago before IMAGE came out. I felt he was a bit worried. I then told him: " make good films, succesful commercial films, don't limit yourself, just go big and when you are big, from time to time you can make a more committed kind of movie". BLACK is an important step on that road in my eyes. I am looking forward for watching the next movie of the most talented directors duo from Brussels.