photo: Eddy van Wessel


Friday, September 2, 2016

Banning burqinis means a ban on emancipation

The mayor of Cannes has banned so called burqinis from his beaches because he connects them to terrorism, in the same week the female Egyptian beach volleyball team in Rio was criticized for wearing body suits instead of bikinis.

With the fight against ISIS and its radical strain of Islam leading to attacks everywhere in the world, not only the burqa that completely covers women is under fire, but also clothes Muslim women put on to dress modestly during sports and leisure-time.

Long before ISIS started to impose first the face covering niqaab and then the completely covering burqa on women, tradition just as much as Islam made women dress modestly.

Often it was the combination of habits, the pressure of social control and a conservative society that made women cover up, although not as completely as ISIS made obligatory.

Recently, I was in an open air swimming pool at a hotel in the Kurdish capital Erbil, watching two women getting into the water dressed in pants and top, although their hair was uncovered.
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European Friendship Group steps in to help Yezidis in and outside Iraq

Several European parliamentarians have formed a special Yezidi Friendship Group to help attract more attention for the community’s plight, says Yezidi activist Mirza Dinnayi, an adviser to the group.

From the Kurdistan Region, Dinnayi works with five parliamentarians from different European countries and parties to improve the situation of Yezidis inside Iraq as well as those who are stuck in Greece on their flight to Europe.

One of the most urgent issues they try to address is the situation of thousands of Yezidi refugees in Greece, Dinnayi says. “They live in a bad situation, are discriminated against, even within the camps, and some of the Arabs who are with Daesh threatened them.” Deash is the local name for the Islamic State (ISIS).

About 470 Yezidi refugees have found refuge in Idomeni camp in Greece. Dinnayi visited the camp with some members of the Friendship Group last month. One of them, Portuguese Anna Gomez, lobbied to have these refugees accepted in her country for resettlement.

But the plan got stuck in Greek bureaucracy, Dinnayi says. “Greece wants to register all the refugees first. That will take until next year. Only when we asked to make an exception, they eventually promised to do it within the next weeks.”
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Sunday, August 28, 2016

What’s the future of Iraq with so many traumatized but untreated victims?

The barbarism of the Islamic group ISIS has made many victims. Directly and indirectly it has damaged entire communities and even a whole nation.

August is the time to remember that two years ago ISIS took Yezidi and Christian areas in Iraq, killing, kidnapping, looting and forcing people from their homes.

Since then, many thousands of members of these communities have been living in tents and caravans all over the Kurdistan Region. Only the lucky ones were able to find more proper housing.

Many of them did not only lose their homes and land, but their family members too, as the group killed probably thousands during its rampage in the Shingal region. Some of them witnessed the killing of their family members.

We focus on the victims when we report on these tragedies. The women and girls who returned from their ordeal, the kids being able to escape a future as ISIS fighters, the men killed. Or, the other scenario: the women still with ISIS and suffering every day, and their kids being indoctrinated to kill their own.

But we hardly talk about the family members; those still waiting for relatives that are most probably dead, or who might never be able to escape from ISIS territories.
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New market outside Erbil connects locals, refugees and IDPs

They stand proudly next to each other behind their stalls in the brand new Daratu Market place, one selling vegetables, the other cleaning materials. Soon the purple ribbon will be cut to officially open this covered market with its sixty places, and these two men have been working since early morning to fill their stalls for their first day of work.

Simmo Hussein Bero, 60, fled from the Yezidi region of Shingal (Sinjar) when the Islamic State (ISIS) invaded it two years ago. He was a vegetables seller there, too, and he thinks his clients will be mainly people from his own community who now live in the nearby Qushtapa camp.

Atta Mohammed, 36, is from Daratu itself, a small town on the outskirts of the Kurdistan capital Erbil, and he used to drive around town selling goods and household items in his van.

Hussein hopes to earn enough to finally move his wife and child from the camp to a rented home. He is already saving gas money not having to drive his van around town anymore.
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Dutch PM in Erbil: Our battle against ISIS further improves Kurdistan’s stability

“Together we fight ISIS”, was the motto of a short visit by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte to the Kurdish capital of Erbil on Tuesday. Rutte met his Kurdish counterpart Nechirvan Barzani for three quarters of an hour at the Erbil International Airport.

The Dutch Airforce flew Rutte mainly to Iraq to show his support to the Dutch military that is training Iraqi Special Forces in Baghdad and Peshmerga troops in the Kurdistan Region.

Following his meeting with his Kurdish hosts at the airport, Rutte told dozens of members of the Dutch force that he was there “to stress how crucial your task is. We have an enemy that we need to defeat, and this is a fight of the whole world against ISIS, not only of Iraq and Syria.”

He said he was impressed by the difference he saw between Baghdad and Erbil – even though he did not leave the airport during his two hour’s visit.

“Kurdistan is much more stable than a couple of years ago, and our battle against ISIS helps to improve the stability even further.”

His talks with Prime Minister Barzani are seen as “a strong message of support from the Netherlands,” said the Kurdish minister of foreign affairs Falah Mustafa to Rudaw.
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Too difficult and expensive: Rescuing Yezidi women from ISIS almost impossible

Two years after militants of the Islamic State (ISIS) kidnapped over 6,000 Yezidis from their towns and villages in the Shingal region, the chance to get them back is diminishing fast, says Yezidi activist and medical doctor Mirza Dinnayi. In the past two years around 3,000 people were rescued from the extremist group, but recently the number has declined. Some of the captives are so damaged and indoctrinated that they no longer think escape is possible, while rescuing missions in general have become too difficult and too expensive for many families to afford. Dinnayi who has helped many Yezidi victims reach Germany for treatment, says that as it becomes almost impossible to rescue more captives, his focus is on getting former ISIS victims, especially women and young girls out of refugee camps to Europe where they could recover and start a normal life again.

Rudaw: How many people are still captive in ISIS (Daesh) territories? Both 3,200 and 3,700 figures have been mentioned?

The correct figure is about 3,700 and the difference between the figures is the men, the rest are women and children.

What should be done to get them out?

I am afraid it is too late. I think most of the men could be dead. When in April 2015 we had the option to rescue 3,500 of them from Talafar, neither the Iraqis, Kurdish nor the allied forces did anything even though they knew their situation there. There was a possibility to make a quick attack because the distance with the Peshmerga troops was no more than ten kilometers. You could release them within days. I do not know why they did not do anything. ISIS, after this, divided all the people. We do not know what happened to the 500 men since then. There were some reports that they were killed. And ISIS separated the women from the children and distributed the women all over their territories. Now it is very difficult to get them back.
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Thursday, August 4, 2016

Keeping terrorist faces out of the papers does not prevent new attacks

The French paper Le Monde has decided to stop publishing pictures of terrorists so as to deprive them of a hero status. The idea being, terrorists gloat on getting exposure and to be known as martyrs after their departure to paradise.

Other French papers are considering whether to follow the example, and elsewhere in the West the discussion has started on the subject too.

At the same time, people have for some time been warning each other not to share videos of the Islamic group ISIS on Twitter and Facebook, especially those of executions and of foreigners in the group's captivity.

This is to make sure the exposure is limited, and propaganda will not reach those who might be vulnerable to the message of radical Islamic groups like ISIS.

The question is whether it works that way. Can you really limit the exposure, when a group like ISIS and others too have an active PR policy?
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