laupäev, veebruar 13, 2010

west end girls

There's something utterly depressing about hearing the Pet Shop Boys in a supermarket in Estonia. Maybe it's the cold synthesizers or the singer's sad tales of broken romance, but I'd rather hear anything else, I even welcomed Madonna's "La Isla Bonita" after suffering through one of their tunes.

I guess it reminds me of being on the Brighton waterfront at 2 am, with some guy screaming at me that his boyfriend OD'd. I told him, "What do you want me to do? Get him in one of those taxis and take him to a hospital." But he didn't. All he did was cry and scream. What a nightmare. And of course I didn't help, being not only a foreigner with a dead cellphone but a callous bastard, too. But that was then.

I think little of Estonian politics these days. The Ansip years stretch on, buoyed by the prime minister's steadfast belief that he is always right (Crisis? What crisis?). Ansip has supposedly modeled his career on Denmark's Andres Fogh Rasmussen's but he actually reminds me a bit of his overly confident counterpart to the north, Matti Vanhanen. In the same way that Ansip can argue that his country's concerns about the planned Nord Stream pipeline are solely environmental, Vanhanen can tell the Finnish press that an underwater pipeline is good for the environment and European energy security. Matti and Andrus, two sides of the same Balto-Finnic coin (which will hopefully be a euro on both sides of the gulf by this time next year).

I think Estonians are bored with Estonian politics too. Party support has ossified. Reform and Centre trade leads every few weeks, depending on whose leader most recently said or did something dumb. IRL and SDE limp by with their reliable slices of the remaining electorate. The same tired politicians continue to hurl the same insults at each other and few care. The central spread in this weekend's Postimees isn't about Estonia at all; it's about Ukraine. I have to say, I am more eager to read about Ukraine than Estonia.

The underwhelming victory of Viktor Yanukovich over Yulia Tymoshenko last week has caused all sorts of soul searching in Estonia and, in general, the West. Estonians look at the electoral map of Ukraine with its Russophone, industrial east and see Ida Virumaa, perhaps glad that they've only got one county like that, rather than half a country. Americans look at the electoral map of Ukraine and see the irreconcilable "red states" and "blue states." Geopolitical nerds fantasize about a velvet divorce between West Ukraine and East Ukraine. As usual, we blame ourselves. If only we had done more, Ukraine wouldn't have fallen back into the hands of the Kremlin's stooges, some analysts argue. We've missed a prime opportunity and it's all our fault.

Indeed, there are lessons to be learned. I think everyone in the West sympathized most with Yulia over Viktor, even if, as any Ukrainian-born cab driver will tell you, she's just as mercurial and crooked as the rest. It started with her role in the Orange Revolution. I did enjoy watching her spar with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a series of articles, because anybody who gives it to Lavrov is ok with me.

Tymoshenko, let's not forget, also has the hair. Never underestimate the power of the hair. With Tymoshenko, for the first time, perhaps ever, people in the West had a distinct image of Ukrainians, and a positive image at that. She became Ukraine's romantic nationalist face, with a mug more magnetic than Viktor Yuschenko's or Viktor Yanukovich's. Show the photos of Yulia and the Viktors to anyone on a street in Tartu or Stockholm or London or Vancouver, and most people would probably choose Yulia. She seemed so different from what we've come to expect from Soviet and post-Soviet leadership: not only was she dynamic and charismatic, but she was also female.

Think about it. Who was the last female leader of Ukraine? Actually, I did a little research, and Serafima Hopner was secretary of the Communist Party of Ukraine for a few months in 1918. That's better than Estonia, though, where there has never been since 1918 a female state elder, president, or prime minister. In the West, especially after 12 years of Margaret Thatcher, gender seems less of an issue. Ireland's had two successive female presidents. Even in Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania, women have held the highest office. But still in Estonia, it seems that we are faced with an ensemble cast of middle-aged men who are always right.

Despite the progressive, northern light in which Estonians would like to view themselves, I think the population would actually be uncomfortable with a Yulia-like candidate serving as prime minister or president. At one level, some female candidates have done well as mayors and parliamentarians. But at the top? Estonians swear they are not religious, but they prefer their leaders to be like their Evangelical Lutheran pastors: dour, conservative, plain, righteous, and, most of all, male.

There have been a few exceptions. Marju Lauristin comes to mind as an Estonian leader who was one of the faces of the Popular Front in the '80s and continues to play a role in the domestic debate. She was also the head of SDE for five years, from 1990 to 1995. But Estonia hasn't had a woman running for PM since then and there will probably be no female face at the debates in 2011, either. How is that possible? How is it possible that in a country where 54 percent of the population is female, the heads of all the major political parties are male, and only one minister out of 13 ministers in the government is a lady?

I am sure there is a logical, Estonian explanation for that, and I'd be glad to hear it. In the meantime, while some analysts say that the Ukrainian presidential elections are an example to Russia, which does not have free elections, one could also see them as an example for Estonia, too.

73 kommentaari:

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Here's one Estonian's explanation: when a woman is the best candidate for the job, she will be elected. :)

I'd be very happy with Marju Lauristin as President. She's definitely got the elusive IT. But does she want the job?

Other than that... well, who? Ene Ergma has a knack for unpleasantness, Laine Jänes is more flash than substance and the less said about Kadri Simson the better. :) Or is that my sexism talking?

The top women currently in Estonian politics simply aren't good candidates for top political jobs, I think. Why aren't there more women in this game, however, is a question I can't answer..

McMad ütles ...

You think Estonian politics is bad? When compared to what is going on in most Western-European countries, Estonian politics is extremely transparent. Politics in Belgium or Netherlands hardly qualify as Democracy these days.

Giustino ütles ...

Ene Ergma has a knack for unpleasantness, Laine Jänes is more flash than substance and the less said about Kadri Simson the better.

Kadri seems ruthless. That can be a plus in politics.

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Kadri seems ruthless. That can be a plus in politics.

Yeah.. And she's also intelligent and already quite competent in affairs of state, I think. However, (text removed by author for fear of being sued for libel). ;)

At least that how she seems to me. Maybe others don't see her as so fundamentally disagreeable?

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Well obviously she has a good deal of popular support. I still think though that if she ever became PM, her own cabinet would murder her within a month. :)

Tymen Ferron ütles ...

Politics in Belgium or Netherlands hardly qualify as Democracy these days.

What do you mean with this? Can you give an example(s)? I am Belgian (Flemish part) but I am also following Estonian politics quite close. I am not very satisfied with the Belgian situation but to say that there's a lack of democracy... With all the arguing between the parties and ethnic groups. Its not ideal, but it is a proof that democracy is working quite well.

luuletaja ütles ...

I think Ojuland will try one day her shot for the presidency, but only because it really doesn't matter anymore. All the main decisions are made somewhere else. As for the premier, there is no one with enough respect and connections that I could see at the moment.

Anonüümne ütles ...

At least the Ukraine had an election. It was a step. Maybe the outcome wasn't the best.

ants ütles ...

Baltic Iron Lady Vaira Vika Freiberga. And Dalia Grybauskaite seems to be also stronger, as Valdas Adamkus. Next will come from Estonia??

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

There's possibly another Edgar-youth to watch out for in the future -- Siret Kotka. Rumoured to be a good manager of people, was thought of as something of a prodigy once. Alleged to be the real author of Edgar's blog.

Of course, as noone I know has ever actually seen (anything more than a photo of) her -- maybe Ms. Kotka is in fact a mythical creature, invented by Reformists to scare children. "Eat your porridge or Siret Kotka will get you."

viimneliivlane ütles ...

A cursory overview of what Centrist party women say when they get a one-minute shot on the evening news vs. how Reform party women speak tells the whole story. Without needing to mention names and thus flirting with libel, I get the impression that they all feel so confident of the Lasnamäe vote that they can say any fool thing that comes to mind, which of course doesn´t help the image of women in politics. Is it possible the Centrist party keeps the smart ones behind the scenes writing blogs while the big spenders on taxi cabs and vindictive undereducated wannabes get the limelight?

Why do you suppose there has there never been a ‘Draft Lauristin’ movement in Estonia? Wouldn’t that be a gas – democracy speaking in its loudest and clearest voice, so to speak.

McMad ütles ...

Tymen Ferron'
How about political trials against politicians? Cordon Sanitaire? When "democratic" means (slander in main stream media) are not enough to push aside a popular politician or a party, lets drag them to court and have a Soviet style "trial". Happemded to Vlaams Blok in Vlaanderen, and the same is going on in NL today: Geert Wilders PVV part is the most popular party in the polls continuously since february last year, while the ruling parties are extremely unpopular (leftist PVDA is enjoying the lowest rating in history) and fearing the next elections, what do they do? They drag mr.Wilders to the courts to some bogus trial.
And i'm not even starting about the parasitic royals.

McMad ütles ...

Tymen Ferron'
PS: In case you have forgotten how great life in Belgium is, here is a nice article to remind you:

Giustino ütles ...

I'd love to see Lauristin meet Putin. It would be like that scene in City Slickers where Jack Palance's tough old cowboy character says, "I crap bigger than you."

Doris ütles ...

seems to me that all the good Estonian female politicians are in the European Parliament: Katrin Saks, Kristina Ojuland... even Vilja Savisaar, even though I really don't know very much about her political views other than that she used to be the other mouth of Edgar. Maybe she'll change some of her views now though...

Serial_ ütles ...

Hmm, Keit Pentus isn't mentioned yet.

This blog reminded me, when former minister of education - Mailis Reps fell off from the top of the tree, after sawing a branch, she was sitting on.

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Ah, Keit Pentus. Foxy!

The thing is though -- remember the last mayoral debate, before the last elections? Savisaar and Laar just outclassed Pentus. And they would do that to any of the women mentioned here, except Lauristin.

Of course, Savisaar and Laar totally outclassed Strandberg and Pihl too... Actually, for a female party leader, I think sotsid are the best bet. Can't be long now before they realise choosing Pihl was a huge mistake, can it?

As for Pentus -- I think she'd make an excellent Speaker of Parliament. Much better than Ergma. I'd give your right arm to be able to replace Ergma with Pentus. :P But I doubt she'll be in any sort of real executive power any time soon.. Foxy, though!

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Blimey, now I AM being sexist. Oh well.

Giustino ütles ...

I actually don't think you are be sexist. I am sure the "foxy" factor works to the advantage of male candidates, too. Perhaps some liberal Massachusetts women didn't want to vote for Scott Brown, they just ... couldn't resist pulling his lever.

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Come to think of it, you're right! I guess it applies to Mr Obama as well, to an extent.

Serial_ ütles ...

It's not entirely so.
Even when Miss world and the princesses would join central party and run election campain, I would still know that all votes which are given to these girls, would actually go to Savisaar.

Unknown ütles ...

Just by coincidence I happened upon the list of Estonia's international rankings at Wikipedia the same day as reading this.

According to the "Save the Children" ranking (% seats in the national government held by women) we were 1st in the world with 47%, in 2004.

Lingüista ütles ...


as far as the Netherlands goes, I think it is very good that they're dragging Mr Wilders to court -- he does give evidence of anti-Islam prejudice (Mr Wilders wants to be Fortuyn II, but he is no Fortuyn). The impression that the Netherlands give me is of a very well-organized political system in which most of the population are sufficiently aware of politics and sufficiently full of good sense not to do anything radical (the 'poldermodel'). So yes, I think the Netherlands is a good example of a democracy.

If Mr Wilders' popularity goes on (which is I think entirely motivated by the way he is playing the whole court business) then his PVV will get more power. Nothing will be done to prevent that -- since voters will eventually get what they want in a democracy.

Giustino: 'pull his lever' made me laugh out so loud my wife came to ask what the fun was. :-)

McMad ütles ...

Well, its clear that you don't know Netherlands and its people first hand. Most people in NL are extremely dissatisfied with the .gov.
And saying "anti-islam prejudice" is the same as saying "anti-nazi prejudice".
Here is a rather typical example (if you can understand Dutch):

Tymen Ferron ütles ...


Most people in the Netherlands do not support (vote for) Wilders. Many of them condemn that he is facing a sentence (I also do that) but it doesn't mean you support his views, its about freedom of speech. In the most recent opinion polls his party is the second most popular, CDA is the first one. Surely, Islam is a challenge for a lot of Western countries these days, but what solution will the confrontational tactics of Wilders provide. Unless you support ethnic cleansing, in the end we will have to find some way to live with Islam.

Doris ütles ...

Besides, in the Netherlands islam isn't nearly as "bad" as it might be. I had a quite interesting discussion on the least invasive (= least quantity of extra hormones) anti-baby pills in the apothecary the other day with an islamic girl who was selling me the pills.

with the local elections coming up, I've been trying to find a party that would fix the idiotic ov-chipcard system but no-one seems to care. pvda did mumble something but... eh... Most of the discussion seems to revolve around whether to make public transport free or not, and again, I couldn't care less as long as they fix the damn ov-chipcard system. The thing drives me mad. every day. twice! This kind of indifference to the transportation issues leaves only Red Amsterdam whose main goal is to stop the North-South line from swallowing even more money. Which isn't really something I object to but it isn't something I'd endorse either...

Timbu ütles ...

I wish Astrid Kannel went into politics. I might even vote for her. Certainly not a boring chick! I have no idea what party she'd be in, though.

McMad ütles ...

Tymen Ferron'
The islam will not find a way to live with you. If it goes on like this, the future of Western-Europe will be Balkanisation.
On the brighter note, Het Kabinet is very likely to fall :)

Tymen Ferron ütles ...

If people like Wilders continue to do what they are doing and more people will follow his logic, then maybe we will have Balkanisation. But in that case it will be more like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Doris ütles ...

for those who don't know, Wilders = Savisaar, only Savisaar doesn't have one big voodoo-doll like Wilders does.

Tymen Ferron ütles ...

There's a important difference. Wilders attacks ethnic minorities, while Savisaar depends on them for a big part of his votes.
I wonder, which way would be the most destructive in the end?

McMad ütles ...

Yea right, Doris.
Savisaar is not for small government with low taxes. Wouter Bos fits the Savisaar bill a lot better.
If islamists continue to do what they have done for centuries then we will not only have Balkanisation, we will have ethnic cleansing. All European Jewry will be dead. Gay people will be dead.

Another typical "bontkraagje":

There was a rather amusing incident on Netwerk TV programme. The guest, lawyer Theo Hiddema, instead of vague politically-correct blahblah, actually said: "If I am to understand how the deserved fate of the Jews is described in the Koran, then A. Hitler can in some points take an example from it." The presenter clearly had it quite uncomfortable, that was clearly not according to the plan :D
View here:

Doris ütles ...

oh c'mon, wilders and Savisaar are basically both demagogues that'll use any excuse to stick it to someone else. Only Wilders has Islam as the main "stick it to", whereas Savisaar really isn't that picky.

and if we were to really LIVE by the Old testament, to name one crazy example, I'd be stoned to death immediately becasue I'm wearing clothes made of different kinds of fibres as I type this.

The fact that something is written in a holy text does not immediately mean that all people who consider that text holy will do exactly as is said in the text. That's why extremists are called extremists. Because they're extreme in following the (religious) examples.

viimneliivlane ütles ...

I don't know about the Russian language, but scatological references are not lost on the Estonian language and I am sorry to say that going forward I will not be able to look at Putin without thinking "What a Junn" - it is just too apt!

McMad ütles ...

Well, I disagree that Wilders "sticks it to". Neither is he a demagogue.
He addresses an issue, a VERY serious issue that threatens the very fabric of Western Civilization. He is a brave man. Pim Fortuyn paid with his life for this.
If you choose to believe the leftist propaganda of "nothing to see here, move along, only tiny-tiny amount of extremists", well, that's rather sad, really.
Pat Condell, come on in!

LPR ütles ...

I had a funnies dream last night. I was in St. Petersburg and got into a taxi and guess who was behind the wheel? Vladimir Putin. I said "vokzal" and he just nodded and for the rest of the trip we drove in silence. I was looking at the snow covered streets and parks slip by and kept thinking should I talk to him about something or is it better just to stay quiet. I ended up saying nothing. As I paid and took one more look at him, I was certain it was Putin himself. Moonlighting as a taxi driver at nights. Only in Russia, I thought. Only in Russia. I felt kinda happy of having had a chance to meet one of the world's most prominent people and wished my friends would have seen it. So it kinda saddened me that I would not be able to prove it to anyone. It was like a scene out of Bulgakov's "Master and Margarita." Woland himself appearing to me as Putin. Wicked funny and scary too.

LPR ütles ...

I never edit my writings ... I meant "person" not "people" of course.

Oh, well.

Doris ütles ...

ah, so changing the fabric of Western Civilization is an Evil Thing in and of itself? I don't agree to that on a purely philosophical level. Emotionally, of course, I would rather have my freedom and my life and all the other amenities of Western Civilization.

How is hating Islamists any different from hating Jews? solely on the basis of the belief system? Just because one is supposedly "evil"??? It's NEVER the belief that is evil, it's the people that use that belief to justify their actions - if those actions happen to be harmful to others. There might be dozens, hundreds, millions of people who have that same core belief but who won't do the Evil Thing.

Serial_ ütles ...

Doris, please define the word "freedom".
From philosophical view, there isn't right or wrong definiton to that, it can only be someone's opinion or an agreement between different groups.

Doris ütles ...

freedom = not being in jail/repressed for an ideological issue.

this assuming that my ideological views have not caused material or physical harm to another. And like I said, if I have caused physical or material harm to someone and I claim it's because of my beliefs then I'm full of BS plain and simple, and I should never be kept out of jail/punishment because of my beliefs.

Serial_ ütles ...

"not being in jail".
Let's just say that sitting in an office 8 hours a day, isn't much different from that. Only difference is, that you can go home for a night and have weekends off.

Doris ütles ...

but you work out of your own free will. If you didn't want to go to work (in order to receive payment, in order to buy stuff and pay bills, I assume) then you wouldn't go.

McMad ütles ...

I don't hate people. I know people who have to go through life as muslims, simply because they cant renounce that fate without serious (possibly even fatal) consequences.
But islamic religion/ideology and its leaders who brainwash young men into murderers, that is a different matter.
Qur'an:9:5 "Fight and kill the disbelievers wherever you find them, take them captive, harass them, lie in wait and ambush them using every stratagem of war."
Ishaq:250 "The bestial transformation occurred when Allah turned Jews into apes, despised."
Qur'an 4:55 "Sufficient for the Jew is the Flaming Fire!"
Tabari IX:69 "Killing disbelievers is a small matter to us."
Bukhari:V1B1N6 "Just issue orders to kill every Jew in the country."
Tabari IX:113 "Allah permits you to shut them (women) in separate rooms and to beat them, but not severely. If they abstain, they have the right to food and clothing. Treat women well for they are like domestic animals and they possess nothing themselves. Allah has made the enjoyment of their bodies lawful in his Qur'an."

Lingüista ütles ...

McMad, I really have to agree with Doris on that. (And I do have first-hand knowledge of the .nl world: I've been living here for ten years now, first in Nijmegen, then in Den Haag, now in Leiden. I even speak the lingo well enough that a couple of Dutchies think I'm from the Achterhoekje...)

You quote the Qu'ran; you can find similar stuff on the Bible. You can find injunctions to kill homosexuals, to keep women down subordinated to their husbands, to kill other peoples if need be... just about anything. If you don't know that, have a look at the website.

Mr Wilders is a demagogue; his party having support is like Jörg Haider's in Austria, or Jean-Marie le Pen's in France, also having had support: the old view that xenophobia always wins votes. Oh, of course he claims he doesn't hate anybody (he sait so in that interview for the Nieuwe Revu... what an outlet). But Fitna shows he does. His false-blond hair, his unmeasured words, his attempt to be Fortuyn II with neither the charm nor the intellectual capacity are really plainly obvious.

Wouter Bos as Savisaar? :-) Next thing you're going to compare Rita Verdonk to Juliya Tymoshenko...

Doris is right when she says we will have to find a way to live with Islam. The same is true for them: they will have to find a way to live with us, because we're not going anywhere. Balkanization of Europe? Looks to me more like this is what's happened in the Arab lands, now with all those invading armies.

Doris is also right when she says only extremists view the Qu'ran as something to be followed literally -- just like only extremists (fundamentalists) want to do the same with that other equally bad ideological book, the bible. Most Christians aren't like that; and most Muslims aren't either. Mostly they know very well when to ignore what the Qu'ran says, no matter how "non-created" their faith says they should believe it to be.

The problem, as always, is how many extremists there are out there. It seems that there are far more (percentage-wise) extremist Muslims than there are extremist Christians these days--and that is a real problem.

But to think you can quote the dirt in the Qu'ran and claim that this is what all Muslims think... is just as stupid as quoting the dirt in the Bible and claiming this is what all Christians think.


Unknown ütles ...

Linguista. Could you please give a citation from the bible where it instructs to kill someone?

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

"Love thy neighbour as thyself. Unless he's Turkish -- in which case, kill the bastard!" :P

Tymen Ferron ütles ...


Deuteronomy 22, 20-25:

"20: But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21: Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
22: If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.
23: If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24: Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
25: But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die"

And there's a lot more to be found.

McMad ütles ...

Try 21 years in NL en Rotterdammertje.
Fitna shows only real images, like executions filmed by muslims themselves.
Bible the same level of violence? Actually a lot less. And irrelevant, since we dont live in a Christian society (luckily) but in a society where church and state are separated. Whereas muslim world is still a medieval world.
"Only small groups of extremists" is a lie, spead by the european knee-jerk politicians in an attempt to calm the public, appease the muslims in europe and islamic countries in general (Those countries are important markets for Unilever and Kraft after all).
Those "extremist" views are propagated by islamic governments and "scholars", not only by some shady characters living in a cellar.
Take a look at
They provide clips from muslim TV programmes from various islamic countries. Take a note that these are state owned TV stations. Perhaps you want to learn how its perfectly alright for your boyfriend/husband to beat you on a regular basis? A muslim scholar is there to tell you all about that.

Pull your head out of the sand.

McMad ütles ...

Oh, and take a look at this:

salahuddin ütles ...

Wow, i must say this is an insightful post. I have little knowledge of global politics and even little of that of Estonia but your article helps put a lot of things into perspective. I live in India and we have a different version of gender politics and corruption played out here. The President of our country, is female and so is the woman who controls the Prime Minister. The Chief minister of the most populous state in India is female. The one thing they all have in common is enormous power, which they subtly used to get more power (except the President whose family is doing that for her) which I think is the definition of realpolitik. In my opinion, if in Estonia there is a woman who can wield such power, well, your blog post will be answered to say the least.

salahuddin ütles ...

And wow, I just read the comments. I'm Muslim, so if Mr McMad is right then you guys are in big trouble. I wouldn't kill you but i'd spam you remorselessly. Bad jokes aside, religious extremism, deplorable as it may be, is pervasive throughout all major religions of the world. I do not deny that there are an extremely large number of Muslim terrorist organizations nor will I try to explain their acts. Its just that outright condemnation of every Muslim as a terrorist and labeling an entire religion with that tag isn't going to win you too many fans among the majority of Muslims who aren't terrorists. I don't wish to tell you about indignities Muslims suffer, but I'd really like it if you took some time out to find Muslims who are NOT terrorists. Its quite easy considering how large in number we are. Besides, you guys all seem to be pretty intelligent, why be hypocritical? If you think anti-Semitism is a racist crime is it hard to understand that these anti-Muslim views are just as bad?

Very very very few Muslims are ideological idiots who run around with AK 47s. I agree there have been problems. When i read in the newspaper of Theo Van Gogh's murder I felt a groan go inside me thinking of the idiot who had done this. When i saw the cartoons of the Prophet, I groaned because those newspaper fellows were behaving just as irrationally. As I'm sure you don't know, there are Muslim organizations working to undo these belief systems in areas where the youth have been thus indoctrinated while there are other organizations preaching hatred of Muslims. International media does little to help, spreading words like "islamist terror' and "islamists' which make 'Islamist' youth like myself question our identities. Can you just call them terrorists/murderers/retards please? And call me Muslim, Islamist sounds weird.

All i'd like to tell you guys is try to build bridges, don't burn them. You all seem informed and responsible, and this combination often leads to dynamism. I'd request you all to put your prejudices aside and think and act rationally about this problem.

Johnny S. Camerus ütles ...

Salahuddin, I think the problem is really with religion -- not specifically Christianity or Islam. Or maybe with just the Abrahamic religions.

My country is nominally Christian -- I am too. But I really think we would all be better off without the fictional instructions of our imaginary friend.

That's my rational opinion. ;)

And I don't think you can really compare murder with insult..

Lingüista ütles ...

Sure, inita. Here are some quotations from the bible who tell the faith-loving Christians to kill other people (obvious contradiction with 'thou shalt not kill', but hey, it's the bible, not the constitution...)

According to the bible, people must be put to death if they:

(a) give his seed to Molech (i.e., I presume, sleep with someone who professes the religion of the Molekites): Leviticus 20:2 Whosoever he be of the children of Isreal, or of the strangers that sojourn in israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.

(b) those who curse their parents: Leviticus 20:9 For every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood shall be upon him.

(c) those who have affairs out of wedlock: Leviticus 20:10 And the man that committeth adultery with another man's wife, even he that committeth adultery with his neighbour's wife, the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death.

(d) homosexuals: Leviticus 20:13: If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.

(e) those guilty of other taboo forms of sex (god is really obsessed with 'correct' sex, it seems): incest to various degrees (Leviticus 20:11: with father's wife; Leviticus 20:12: with one's daughter-in-law; with wife's and wife's mother: Leviticus 20:14); bestiality (Leviticus 20:15-16);

(f) those with 'familiar spirits' (i.e. those who follow animist/spiritualist religions, like today's Wiccans): Leviticus 20:27 A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death; they shall stone them with stones; their blood shall be upon them.

(g) a priest's daughter who has sex: Leviticus 21:9 And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt to death with fire.

(h) those guilty of blasphemy (i.e., depending on interpretation, people who disagree with the dogmas, like me, and most Christians today): Leviticus 24:16: And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall surely stone him; as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death.

(i) those guilty of murder: Leviticus 24:17: And he that killeth any man shall surely be put to death.

(j) false prophets (i.e. again people of another faith, with a different religion): Deuteronomy 13:1-5 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, 13:2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [...] 13:4 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death.

Etc. etc. etc...

There is more in the bible about how god wants us to be cruel to e.g. animals (for sacrifice; god loves spilled blood), women and children (if they disobey or otherwise dishonor you), etc. etc. etc. The whole book of Leviticus, plus Deuteronomy, is full of horrible laws and customs, all recommended by god.

Lingüista ütles ...


Sure, Rotterdam is worse; that's where Fortuyn came from with his Leefbaar Rotterdam. They also have a lot of Surinamese there, also high points in crime even when they're not Muslims. So what?

Yes, the Bible has exactly the same level of violence and incitation to violence (see my quotes above), and extremists could interpret it in the same way that Muslim extremists interpret the Qu'ran: kill whoever doesn't agree with us ('those who give their seed to Melech', 'those who give you false signs and false dreams', take your pick). We don't do that, because we're not an extremist society, but the bible clearly tells us to.

But your point is that we live in a world with separation between church and state. YES! That's true. And Muslims who live here have to submit to that, too, or go elsewhere. This, to me, is sufficient. The Muslims who chose to stay have implicitly chosen to abide by a separation between church and state, and if some of them don't and this leads them to commit crimes, well let the law fall on them just as it falls on everyone else who breaks it.

There are Muslim extremist groups, and more of them than there are Christian ones -- that is certainly true. But what is the size of these groups? The Muslim girl who is my daughter's best friend is certainly not part of them. Neither is her father, a secular Muslim who has an engineering degree; nor her mother, who doesn't wear any veil and works as a social worker for the Gemeente Leiden. They're from Kabul, they both laugh about extreme interpretations of the Qu'ran, and still they call themselves Muslims. Think about this: extreme Muslims would kill people like these just as surely as they would kill Christians and other faithless; and yet these people also call themselves Muslim. The Shi'ite and the Sunnite Muslims have no qualms about killing each other; Iraqi Muslims will kill Kurdish Muslims without a moment's thought to the idea that they share the same Muslim religion, that both of them call themselves Muslims;...

And so on and so on.

Muslims killing Muslims. Extremist Muslims killing Muslims. How is this to be reconciled with the idea that 'all Muslims are part of some conspiracy' to balkanize the Western World?

Lingüista ütles ...

McMad, You want to take a look at Muslim programs; have you had one at the Netherland's own Nederlandse Moslim Omroep? How about programs by Global Muslim Brotherhood? Have you read anything that the Netherland's very own Nasr Abu Zaid has written on the subject of extremism in Islam -- despite being a Muslim himself? (He has extensive work on 'Humanistic Hermeneutic of Islam'). Jee-bus, have you had a more extensive look at 'Moslim' TV stations in Turkey or Tunisia, for instance? Or even in Egypt? Even the 'infamous' Al-Jazeera, for instance, in which there recently was a program about why people become terrorists and suicide bombers, and how this can be averted?

McMad, I don't even dispute the idea that there are more extremist Muslims than there are Christian ones, and that extreme islamo-fascist groups are dangerous and should be monitored. But if you think that every, or even most, Muslims are like that... then you simply haven't talked to many of them. You know, the Turks who have a bakery down at your local mall (like the Kopermolen here in the Merenwijk, in Leiden)? Or the ones whose children study in your school -- as are several in my daughter's own Eerste Leidse Schoolvereniging? They're not exactly Jihadists from the 'Hoofdstad Groep', they're not being wiretapped by the AIVB, they're not exploding any bombs, they're not imposing shari'ah on anyone, they're not preparing an Islamic revolution version .nl. No, they're simply living and letting live, ignoring as much in the Qu'ran as your average Chiristian ignores in the bible.

Of course there are evil people among them, too. But it's not all there is. It never is. Oversimplification is never a good idea.

McMad ütles ...

The "liberal" muslims paraded on Dutch TV channels hold no power whatsoever in muslim world. Same goes for the girl working at the pharmacy.
Living together with the "people", sure. Everyone who practices whatever fairytale religion they choose to believe in in PRIVATE, without demanding "respect" from others with the threats (and deeds) of violence, is not a problem.
Still, the "very few extremists" propaganda is not true. There are loads of Heads of State, high ranking officials and influential scholars and religious leaders who push the extreme views. And there are no indications whatsoever that some kind of enlightenment (like in the christian world during the last 3-4 centuries) is gaining ground in the islamic world. The opposite is true.

Should i add that a person living close to where i used to live was beaten to death by Moroccan "youths". After the murderers run away, their buddies (about 30) did not allow the medics who arrived by the ambulance to approach him. He died surrounded by these "youths" who chanted "die infidel". The first 2 policemen who arrived at the scene did not engage the moroccans, instead they waited for back-up. Vital 20+ minutes were lost.
He (a self-employed furniture maker) left behind a wife and 3 month old son.

Lingüista ütles ...

Ah, McMad, but if you're not against the girl in the pharmacy, or the Turkish bakers at the Kopermolen, then you're not against Islam per se, you're against certain forms of Islam, certain leaders, certain organizations -- which I have no problem with. I am, too.

Do you think I like Ahmadinejad? Or Khamenei? Or even Khadaffi? Or bin Laden? No.

But the girl in the pharmacy, the boy who sells bread, the cab driver who helped me when I couldn't find an addres -- they're Muslims too, as much a part of 'Islam' as the weirdos with the AK-47s who throw acid at girls' faces when they go to school.

I am sure that there are lots of Muslims who would agree with your idea that religion is something PRIVATE -- hell, look at American Muslims, who are curiously much better integrated than European Muslims.

The point is that the moderate Muslims are not the ones holding most power. (And still -- Turkey has separation of church and state, so does Tunisia... It's not all bad there.) And I agree with you there. But I am simply not going to throw the girl in the pharmacy together with Ahmadinejad -- they're not the same thing, obviously, despite the fact that both of them call themselves Muslims.

Indeed there are lots of heads of state pushing exteme views, and lots of religious leaders too. So fight against them! Why include the girl in the farmacy? Why include Erdogan? Albania, Kosovo and the Bosniak part of Bosnia and Hercegovina are Muslim countries in Europe -- 90% Muslim in fact -- and where the separation of state and church is also valid. Why? Because their leaders are not stupid extremists. You don't hear about Sali Berisha, or Hashim Thaçi, you hear about Ahmadinejad, about Hamas, about Al-Qaida.

So be against the bad guys, not against the good ones. That's all. Note I'm not even saying that the extremists are "very few"; I'm only saying they aren't "very many". Just like not all Serbs are blood-thirsty murderers or demagogues like Milosevic; most Serbs are OK people.

Lingüista ütles ...

You mentioned the stupid goons who chanted "the infidel" while not letting the paramedics do their job. But you don't mention the one paramedic that was a Muslim (there probably was one, if there were many of them) and who was just as angry as you were at those stupid young men.

You mention the Muslim extremists who killed Theo van Gogh. But you don't mention the ones who, as policemen, actually saved people's lives -- in Rotterdam even, maybe?

There's always two sides to every coin. You won't do anybody any service by denying that.

Unknown ütles ...

Are these death sentences in the Bible from the New or Old Testament? Is there a difference?

Doris ütles ...

I don't know about the Muslim religion but there was a whole legion of religious philisophers starting with Augustine and going on up until Reformation that focused on interpreting the Bible. Among other topics, war and when to go to war was "interpreted"

The New Testament says that you should always "turn the other cheek" and "love thy neighbour". That obviously means no war, peace! But everything can be "interpreted". The crusades - very clearly approved by the Church were justified by 1) converting the infidels 2) they hit first by taking Jerusalem, the Holy City, away from the Christians 3) helping the locals - they were obviously oppressed by the muslims, and it was a christian duty to help.

the #2 and #3 are still used in official Western rhetoric when going to war. "We're only doing it because we're helping our friends over there" - so what if they never asked for any fricking help. Or if they did ask but meant a less bloody, more diplomatic approach. "but they hit us first" - yeah, are you 6 years old? The self-defence rule is obviously a sound one in the sense that if you're invaded, you have the right to defend yourself. I don't think it expands to: if these people took a city 200 years ago that you never actually had control over, you can now invade them. or: a bunch of lunatics blew up a building, we're now going to invade 2 countries.

Another rhetoric that was popularly used and that you still sometimes hear echoing through nowadays is that those who weren't Christians, weren't really human so it was ok to kill them. This was used against pagans more than against Muslims though. And it was used more as a personal salvation meme than a communal one. To ease the conscience of a (foot) solider rather than to get a crowd in a frenzy... still disturbing though.

Lingüista ütles ...


they're from the Old Testament. Is there a difference? Sure -- if you want, there is one. If you interpret the Old Testament differently from the New Testament, if you don't give it a literal reading... then you can prefer the New Testament over the Old. But there is nothing in Christian religion that tells you to do that. It's a question of interpretation.

Fundamentalists won't do that. To them, the bible is all holy, all of it, and should be interpreted literally.

If you can see a difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament, if you can already interpret then in different ways...then you're already not a fundamentalist.

Giustino ütles ...

I think, as in the Estonian case, it is not realistic to anticipate a majority culture will withstand fast, large-scale immigration from a different culture without there being a backlash against it.

I saw with my own eyes in Denmark that even the most tolerant Danes were getting frustrated with immigration. And so the popularity of the people's party has surged and the government has remained right-leaning (for Danish politics) since 2001.

In Estonia, you had something like 50 years of Russification policies. Even before the migration boom in the late '40s and '50s, the laws were changed to support the establishment of a separate Soviet Russian society on the territory of Estonia.

One has to look at the past 20 years of Estonian politics, of citizenship laws, language laws, language inspectorates, within that context. Critics say it's retroactive and vindictive. But you can't honestly pretend it's unexpected.

Doris ütles ...

yep, that's exactly what is going on in the Netherlands too. it's basically a backlash reaction to al the social and liberal policies of the past 30 or 40 years. Balkenende's government wants to illegalise drugs again, put an emphasis on family values (although I don't think there's any party here that would dare to say out loud that they're anti-gay) and re-emphasise christiantiy as a core value of the Dutch people...

ehm... There's lots of people who are very happy to see that, and there's a lot who are not happy. at all.

Tymen Ferron ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.
Tymen Ferron ütles ...

The comparison with antisemitism is something that muslims or their defenders use to easily when criticised. Anti-semitism refers to being against the semitic, Jewish race, and has no direct links with the religion the individual belongs to. The Nazi's murdered people who even didn't knew their great grandparents were once Jews before they converted to Christianity.
People who criticise Islam are attacking a religion and would be happy to see someone change his/her religion, which is proof that their criticism was accepted by that person.
Antisemitic people hate a certain kind of people with a certain kind of ancestry, regardless of their individual conviction, it's racism.

In this way, the comparison with Antisemitism is used to often by defenders of Islam to put their critics together in one category with Nazi's, which most of them do not deserve. So they make an interesting debate impossible.

McMad ütles ...

About the "girl in the pharmacy".
If you would have had the chance to visit Germany in early 1930's, i'm absolutely certain that Helga in the pharmacy and Fritz the postman would have been lovely and polite individuals.

"You mention the Muslim extremists who killed Theo van Gogh. But you don't mention the ones who, as policemen, actually saved people's lives -- in Rotterdam even, maybe?"

I can mention a muslim police officer who shot and killed a guy in Utrecht who interfered with some Moroccan "youths" who attacked a girl.

Tymen Ferron ütles ...

Maybe a bit about my country's (Belgium/Flanders) experiences with immigration and immigration of Muslims specifically:
In the fifties and sixties when western european economies were rapidly expanding, we had a shortage of labor for specific jobs, mostly in heavy industry (especially coalmining). In the first instance a big wave of immigrants from Spain and Italy was attracted. These days this group is perfectly integrated, while still maintaining some kind of attachement to their original culture. They speak dutch fluently, have no higher rates of unemployment than the 'original' Belgian people. Probably this is because their culture is much more close to Belgian culture than the culture of Turkish or Maroccan people. The second wave are mainly people from Turkey and Marocco. Migration was organised through bilateral agreements between Belgium and Turkey/Marocco. Belgium government used the following advertisements to convince people to migrate to Belgium: free healthcare, unemployment benefits, high wages,... . The government expected that these people would go back to their countries of origin after 5 or 10 years, so they took no measures to integrate these people. No language course were organised, no introductions in western values, they were all housed in the same areas,...
Once the years of high growth were over, in the seventies, these people were sacked en masse. Heaving very low education and not mastering dutch sufficiently, finding other jobs was difficult. Combined with extensive social benefits, many were not encouraged to change anything about their situation.
So we ended up with big groups of empoverished people with a culture alien to our own, all living together in the same areas of big cities and smaller mining towns. Starting in the eighties, when the government realised these people would not go back, measures have been taken to integrate them better in Belgian society, largely through education. Mostly this doesn't help much. Many Turkish and Maroccan students, even the ones of the third generation, drop out from school without sufficient education and the amount of them in higher education is very low.
Unemployment, not being integrated and low education has the unfortunate consequence that people with these ethnic backgrounds are overrepresented in crime rates, this is especially true for Maroccan youth.
Also a lot of other more informal immigration is added to this combined with higher birth rates for immigrants, with as a consequence that in the big cities about fifty percent of inhabitans are immigrants. When I go to my own capital, Brussels, I feel more foreign there then in the capital of a post-communist country.
How much of the problems with migration can be attributed to Islam I don't know, but there are some Islam-specific problems I. Girls who go for a walk in areas inhabited by muslims, with a short skirt for example, will be harassed by muslim youth, they will be insulted (whore, slut,...), or even physically or sexually harrassed. Because they are non-muslim they are seen as sexual objects. These are things that happen daily. Also muslimgirls who don't wear headscarves are more and more pushed to do so and are subject to social control. This is shocking for our society in which females have so long been fighting for equal rights. Most muslim girls are not allowed to go out, to be on the streets for fun, while Muslim boys can do whatever they like. There are a lot of bars in these areas, but women should not expect to be served there. Go for a walk in Brussels at midnight in certain areas and you will find 11-12 year old boys playing on the streets and sometimes harassing you! The way a lot of Muslim people in Belgium raise their young boys is often seen as a reason why crime rates amongst them are so high. What can you expect of children who can go where ever they want without any kind of control?

LPR ütles ...

Add the complete collapse of global financial structures and we'll have ourselves a nice little war pretty, pretty soon. There will be lots of "Adolphs" when the time comes.

There will be mass graves in the middle of contemporary Europe ... again.

The powder keg is fixing to be ignited. The question is, where the Ferdinand will be shot. How much time is left to get out of Dodge? Will Hawaii be a safe place to escape? Some other fantasy island in the Pasific?

Jim Hass ütles ...

I invite you all to Indiana, provided you bring a job with you.

LPR ütles ...

And you thought Greece had problems?

Latvia's road to serfdom ....

Tymen Ferron ütles ...

Interesting article with one big flaw: their assertion that neoliberalism was forced upon the post-communist countries by the West.
It is true that neoliberal reforms were strongly encouraged by institutions like the IMF or the World Bank, but it's also a choice that was made by democratically elected politicians in these countries. The two most important parties in Estonia in the last twenty years, Pro Patria and Reform party have dogmatic neoliberal party platforms.
I think the same applies for Latvian politics.
So it is a bit simplistic to make these countries appear like the innocent victims from some evil foreign neoliberals.

Lingüista ütles ...

McMad, I know you can mention the bad guys -- you've paid attention. It's the good ones you can't mention, and that was my point. You don't see them.

Of course Fritz and Helga would be nice people. And Jan and Anneke are also good people now in the Netherlands -- except they're beginning to, like Fritz and Helga, think strange things about their neighbors.

Anonüümne ütles ...
Autor on selle kommentaari eemaldanud.