Rag and Bone
~ A Journey Among the World’s Holy Dead
by Peter Manseau

This book is one of my top 2009 reads; moreover before I sent it away I had to reread it 🙂

It is also probably most surprising reading experience I’ve had for a very long time. It’s a great travelog, it’s incredibly funny, equally educational, shocking (how surprising!), ticklingly blasphemous, and absolutely bizarre!

You really would not even imagine (if you’re unfamiliar with the world of relics like myself) what people are able to do with something (human origin) that consider sacred but even worse is to see what Church (!!!) is doing. I was really shocked so many times while reading this book.

First paragraph (I love it!):
”This is a book about dismembered toes, splinters of shinbone, stolen bits of hair, burned remnants of an anonymous rib cage, and other odds and ends of human remains, but it is not book about death. Around every one of the macabre artifacts that, for a variety of reasons, have come to be venerated as religious relics, circles an endless orbit of believers and skeptics, bureaucrats and clergy, con artists, and just plain curious souls. This is a book about life.”

Manseau has done fantastic research about the issue covering all major religions. There are very informative story about each relic while being part of precise human being and that’s very interesting. But the story of the body after soul continued its journey, is stunning! I found that my own religion as the most bizarre (probably because it’s mine). I was more than once reacted like “Oh gosh no! They didn’t! How could they?” and even “Oh hurry up and lets move to Buddhism!” (I‘m joking!) And then the most pathetic: “OK I’m Christian but at least I’m not Catholic”. There are many (I guess ) blasphemous moments; but then how not be blasphemous when you’re reading about Holy Prepuce (Jesus foreskin)!?!? I didn’t even know such thing even exists and is worshiped (by the way do you know the origin of the Saturn’s rings? Go figure! You wouldn’t believe; there is no way you would even guess!)! Or few churches that each enshrines a head of John the Baptist in the same time?!? I’ve seen in Spain part of The Cross (later I’ve found out there are so many pieces of that same cross that Romans must have deforest entire Middle East to made it) also I’ve seen the hand of some saint and then I thought it’s quite morbid (now I see that was actually light image).

What I liked is that Manseau is never offensive; I don’t think he’s hurting religious being in his readers. At least he didn’t hurt mine. He’s looking from a rational point of view on something which is in enormously large scale not rational whatsoever.
As I said he’s very witty and don’t expect from this book to be profoundly serious. Quite opposite; it looks like a coffee chat … OK I admit, the topic would be quite insane but still a coffee chat. And what I liked the most in this book is how people are 100% ready to believe in something so unlikely accurate and even to actually feel the sacred power of it; whether that is a shinbone or a pebble founded in the ash after cremation. It’s really amazing.

From the blurb:
”Manseau’s “Rag and Bone” reads like a novel, entertains like a TV docudrama, and educates like the best college professor you ever had. It is at once informative, quirky, and funny. Do people really think that the leathery tongue of 12th century saint can bless them with good fortune? They do. Why do people believe in such weird things as the holy relics of religion? Read this book to find out. WARNING: you may well discover that you also hold beliefs in holy relics and not even know it!”

Here I’d like to mention one vignette I found very interesting. It’s part of the relics in Buddhism, religion I know little about. The only Buddhist I know personally is my dear friend Shanna (whose BLOG is one of  virtual places I regularly visit; check why) who told me while visiting me in Belgrade something very interesting: That Buddhism is actually not religion but philosophy.  Reading this book helped me to fully realize her words.

There is a story in the book about the Temple of the Tooth in the city of Kandy, Sri Lanka. Of course it’s worshiped and moreover in Myanmar they made a replica equally worshiped as “the original”. As I said I knew little about Buddhism but I knew that much to see a mountain-sized contradiction. And here is an explanation:

There are two branches in Buddhism: one that is following Siddhartha’s words how we should disconnect ourselves from impermanent things in our life (which is basically everything) and the one that is doing completely opposite thing: that is worshiping something so undoubtedly impermanent such is human body (i.e. Siddhartha’s tooth) and even ready to die for. But what was incredibly surprising is that Siddhartha was fully aware that people would hear his sermons and understand what he had meant or they would hear them and understand the exact opposite. He never denied that he told people what they needed to hear to affect necessary change in their lives. He knew that his followers would take from his message parts they needed the most. For some that meant philosophy, for others that meant teeth.

So what about relics? And should they necessary be connected with religion? Are they mandatory sacred? What one relic could be?

“Relics seem to me to admit that, yes, while we do have spiritual dimension to our lives, we are also flesh under the looking glass of all those around us. Our lives and or deaths are witnessed by others, and what our lives might mean to them is mostly beyond our control. We are simultaneously people who need symbols to survive, and we are symbols ourselves. Our bodies – our toes and shins, our foreskins and ribs, our hands and whiskers, our teeth and hair – have the capacity to tell stories we can not imagine. And the facts of our lives can be as mysterious and in need of explanation as anything that lies beyond.”

This is without doubt one of the best nonfiction book I’ve read in years. I so didn’t expect this. I didn’t know what to expect at all. I was attracted with the bizarre topic it deals with and was hooked from the page 1.


You would think that the sport is on the very last place in minds of Palestinians with all hell they live in. Oh but that’s very incorrect! They will drop everything they are doing to watch they national football (soccer) team and instantly forget all problems. Palestinian sport commentator has described their bid to qualify to World Cup 2006 as “one of our most beautiful dreams.”

Goal DreamsGoal Dreams, lovely film directed by Maya Sanbar and Jeffery Saunders is telling us the emotional path of the Palestine national team while its players are gathering from all over the world to play under the same flag and represent their nation on the international stage. It is quite unique story and is showing in very untraditional and very original way Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its effect on the lives of Palestinians.

The team is on the preparation in Ismailiya in Egypt for the crucial match against the national team of Uzbekistan which supposes to be held in 30 days in Qatar (because of obvious reason it can’t be in Palestine). The team’s coach, Austrian Alfred Riedl is having numerous problems.“We are unique in the world; we don’t even have a country! We have to practice here [Ismailiya]… we don’t know what we are, who we are?” said Mr. Riedl but that’s hardly his only problem. Namely 30 days before the match the team is short several players (mostly the ones from Gaza). Players who are there aren’t speak the same language; there is one New Yorker who speaks English only of course; few from Santiago de Chile among them one speaks English; one from Madrid, Sweden, a few from Egypt who speak Arabic; later is coming one from Lebanon who speaks Arabic as well. And there are missing players from Gaza (Arabic). Coach is speaking English (and is cursing in Serbian which was such a huge surprise and the whole audience has burst of laughing. We asked Mr. Saunders who was guest of the festival does he have an explanation but he didn’t) so it was kind of Babylonian Tower in small. Just imagine the final version of coach’s words after passing the process of three translations!

The basic idea with gathering players for the team was their origin. They had to be Palestinians in any (even stretched sense) so many of them were for the first time in the region (not in the land) where their ancestors were born many, many years ago. Naturally all of them were bringing different way of thinking, different mentality, different cultural heritage but also very different style of playing soccer.

So the story follows the days in Ismailiya but also we are moving in New York or Chile or Lebanon to see lives of expatriated Palestinians and how they are preserving that core of who they really are. The player from Lebanon introduces the audience to the reality of life in Palestinian refugee camps, with the scarcity of work and opportunities as well as the daily struggle for survival.

Naturally the worst situation is with the part of the team which supposes to come from Gaza. Israeli part of the border is closed and no one has idea when it’ll be reopened. They are trying several times to cross the border and each time they (along with hundreds of other people) had to go back. Once there were gun shooting at the frontier and guys didn’t even raise their eyes to see what’s going on; they were sitting and joking like nothing is happening around them. One of them said “Oh this is nothing unusual; this is part of our everyday life. We could have a training drill here while waiting”. I must say that I recognized Serbian mentality in these words.
And the time is passing. So 10 days before the match the team still doesn’t have enough players and the ones who are there are in linguistic mud.
So the coach’s mood is in one moment filled with determination to make a strong team capable to win qualifying match and in the next moment is like broken under incredible obstacles his team is facing with.

“Goal Dreams” is a testament to the power of the Palestinian dream and to the Palestinian people’s ability to hold onto the hope in spite the horrifying reality in which are living.
One of the last scenes in the film is showing player from Lebanon and behind him huge Adidas billboard with David Beckham and the message Impossible is Nothing.

Yesterday was the opening day of my favourite film festival Free Zone. It is festival of involved film (probably my favourite genre, because it’s (the only one?) without boundaries, because life is its boundary. The industrial production of moving pictures inevitably led to an overabundance of film heroes, to the banality of their missions and to the commercialization of their idealism and to the indifference of the audience. Casual meaningless heroism dominates most of today’s films.

Free Zone offers a different kind of film hero in feature films and documentaries. These heroes are different in their constitution, origin, geography, their burden and, perhaps most importantly, in their existential quality. They are ordinary people who have made, daringly and fearlessly, the hardest choice – to take life in their own hands. Weather by refusing to accept the fate chosen for them by the society, challenging injustice, questioning establishment and traditional relationships and taboos in societies they live in, or truly believing on the possibility of change and the creation of better world, the directors and heroes of these films realize that the belief in choice is what differentiates civilization from barbarism, that civilization means involvement and choice means responsibility.

In next few days you can expect my reviews about movies I’m going to see on the festival.


PersepolisFirst film was beautiful Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud; adaptation on the acclaimed graphic novel based on director M. Satrapi’s own life.

This breathtaking animated film is a poignant story of an outspoken young girl coming age in Iran during Islamic Revolution. Hope that revolution has had and disappointing changes it has brought. It is very personal and very emotional story with magnificent portraits of her family members. One might be surprised with modern language and modern look on life. It’s strange to see girl with black headscarf jumping and screaming with “Iron Maiden”. Political struggle, repression of the regime, foreign involvement in producing that misery is so clear and sharp.

This is statement of Marjane Satrapi about her film:

“This isn’t a politically orientated film with the message to sell. It is first and foremost a film about my love for my family. However, if Western audiences end up considering Iranians as human beings just like the rest of us, and not as abstract notions like “Islamic fundamentalists”, “terrorists”, or the “Axis of Evil” then I feel like I’ve done something”

Well, I’m not the one who will change my view about Iranians after this film. After years of learning Farsi and knowing many Iranians I never thought they’re “terrorists” or whatever. On the other hand I’m not sure could I be considered as a member of “Western audience” either.

This is French submission for the next Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film and don’t be surprised at all if it wins the Oscar.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

InfidelIf I ever decide to make a list of the most important books I’ve read “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali would surely find its place on it.

First time I’ve heard about Miss Hirsi Ali it was after murder of Theo Van Gogh because of his film “Submission-part one” which he made in collaboration with Hirsi Ali. Theo has been shoot and slaughtered in the middle of the day and the letter for Hirsi Ali (in which assassin is promising the same to her) was staked with knife in Theo’s chest. It was really a huge shock with big impact across the Europe.
Later “Submission-part one” was in the program of the Free Zone Film Festival here in Belgrade and among the guests was Belgrade’s Imam and the conversation after projection was very interesting (I wrote about that evening HERE). Sadly I would have much more and much better question now after reading this book.

Anyhow Infidel was one of the most wanted books on my wish list and you can’t imagine my thrill-ness when I saw in Belgrade’s bookstores that it has been translated in Serbian. I’ve read book in one swallow and then reread it slowly but it raised the same emotional reaction.

It starts with the life of her grandmother and later mother in Somalia with such a vivid description of very strict life in Muslim community. Her grandmother was an incredibly strong woman capable to accept the destiny and justify it as an Allah’s wish. You might think that her actions might be quite brutal with her granddaughters (and also comparing with the treatment with her grandson) but she was following tradition and was believe that she’s doing right.

There in first part we are introduced how important is to know who your ancestors are. It is actually fundamental to be familiar with entire family tree hundreds of years ago because in Somalia first question when you meet someone will be “Who are you?” and then they are starting to recite all ancestors until they find a mutual one. That can save your life (it saved Ayaan’s) because the whole population of Somalia is divided in several clans and everything there is based precisely on that. Any kind of help: health care, shelter, financial helps … etc. It’s horribly tight bond between them (and horribly huge risk if you disgrace your clan).

Later we see first “rebellion” in the actions of Ayaan’s mother but still she was women who followed the rule and also was able to accept her destiny because that was Allah’s will. Ayaan’s family was a kind of nomadic ones because due to her father’s political activism they had to hide and run away from one place to another. Therefore she lived during her childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya.

While reading those pages it was as if I’m reading some fictional story from another dimension. Of course accent was on the women in Islam. Obligation to be covered, obligation to not leave the house without a man, obligation to accept (everything), obligation to not argue, obligation to bear, obligation to be sexually available to her husband whenever he wants to “plough his field”, obligation to be obedient, obligation to submit. Because word “Islam” means “submission”. Moreover she was unfortunate enough to belong to the Muslim community where girls must be circumcised (I wrote about Female Genital Mutilation HERE). So indeed that part was like something from another world.

We can see how she was growing up physically and religiously. How she wanted so badly to be a good Muslim woman who follows all the rules but in the same time she has had many questions in spite the fact that questions are forbidden. It is one breathtaking image of immense mental struggle between her believes, what she has been taught it’s the only truth and the life facts which were quite opposite. It was literally painful to read, emotion was quite similar to claustrophobia.

Eventually she started to talk with criticism about her own religion, she was loud in her statement against position of women (that especially refers in Muslim communities in European countries i.e. Holland) and naturally pile up the anger of Muslim world on herself.
It is a breathtaking story of a woman who (in her own words) was lucky. Once she was a child from the desert with extremely limited possibilities but who became elected member of a Dutch Parliament.

But what has the biggest impact on me is that I “found” myself in the book. Namely I realized that I belong to the huge majority of European (say) Christians (I guess) who are trying to avoid speaking with criticism about other religions because that might be connected very easily with racism (nationalism, fascism, etc). Since I lived in the country that has fallen apart in undoubtedly religious war (it was civilian war of course but in first place it was religious one) I’m trying to be very tolerant and to understand the point of views of the “opposite” side.
I realized that I do have very (say again) “Christian” look on Islam and religions in general. I honestly believed that all religions (therefore Islam as well) are good, are love, peace, tolerance etc. Right? Wrong!

Ayaan Hirsi Ali in this book is telling us that Islam is love and tolerance (in very limited sense) but ONLY inside the Muslim world. For all others who aren’t belonging to that world it is a threat because it gives a strict order to all believers to convert or kill the rest of us who are considered as nonbelievers. Another amazing thing is that many inside the Muslim population are not aware of that because the Holly Koran is written in Arabic, language they don’t understand. What a paradox!

What is written in Koran is not only religious message but an absolute constant that is defying every singe aspect in believer’s life. It is quite unbelievable that it is expected from nowadays believers to strictly follow the rule (and apply sanctions) of desert tribes of Saudi Arabia in the 7th century! But still if they’re not following those rules (or even if they think of theirs reasons) they’re not good believers and deserve to be punished. And those things about unbelievers are written in Koran.

Now I really don’t know what to think? That’s why I’d love if I could have another opportunity to speak again with Belgrade’s Imam who is a very dear man, but I’m wondering if he’s not aggressive toward Christians and doesn’t call his believers to be aggressive; if he doesn’t think that he lives in the country of nonbelievers; if he preaches love, peace and tolerance he must be considered as a bad Muslim from the point of view of the followers of traditional Islam about whom Hirsi Ali is writing because that is not what Koran demands.

This book, her entire life is a monument of freedom of speech. Her criticism has arguments. Europe is also criticized with every right. Remember Danish cartoon scandal? A cancellation of theater plays which has the theme Prophet or even include Prophet together with representatives from other religions etc? That culture of self-censorship will completely ruin European values. That is not our heritage; that is not heritage of modern world! Allowing speech of hatred which is targeting people who are not Muslims (that can be heard in the mosques across the Europe) we here are accepting and justifying it with freedom of speech; When Muslim communities in the Europe are practicing traditional Islam that violates numerous human rights, we here are justifying that with religious freedom! Is female genital mutilation performed on young girls on the kitchen table in the middle of Europe religious freedom?

As I said I’m quite confused (this book is so enormously thought provoking); I’m not paranoid person, on the contrary. Moreover my contact with Islam is not nearly like this. I studied Farsi for several years and have many Iranian friends and I adore their cultural heritage; I know members of Muslim communities here and they aren’t nearly fanatics, they are my friends and I can unquestionably rely on them. I guess we [Serbia] are not rich enough to be interesting for refugees from much more rigid and traditional environments.

Hirsi Ali speaks with arguments and with statistic data of (mainly) women victims of Islamic fanatics inside their own families here in Europe. Many are victims of self combustion with gasoline (because they had sex before marriage) in a front of their fathers and brothers. If she refuse to kill herself they [father or brother] would kill her. That’s not, that can’t be religious freedom!

It’s high time for us to realize that tolerance of intolerance is cowardice.

Half of a Yellow Sun
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Half of a Yellow SunShe did it again. And she did it (again) masterfully! (click to read my review for her debut: Purple Hibiscus) While reading this novel I was often thinking of García Márquez’s words: The worst enemy of politicians is a writer” and I would amplify that with not only of politicians. Now, I’m not sure if Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has had intention to accuse (probably not) but you cannot avoid truth and, as always truth is hurting so badly.

Heartbreaking Half of a Yellow Sun (related with Biafran flag) is a story about birth and short life of Biafra, life that ended in one of the worst possible way while “the world was silent when they died”. Before reading this book I didn’t know much about Biafra, I didn’t even know it was an independent country (*blush* I should know that!). For me Biafra was a synonym for starvation, for hunger, misery, I was always picturing children with huge bellies and limbs like toothpicks. Now I know the word for that: ”kwashiorkor”, difficult word isn’t it?

Everything started 1960 when Nigeria independence from British colonialism; few years later there was a coup d’état led by Igbo tribe. Since Nigeria was the country with many clans ethnic tension started to sparkle between Muslim Hausa and Christian Igbo clans and eventually resulted with ethnic cleansing of Igbos that were living in the north of the country with Muslim majority. Because of that atrocity Igbo clan has proclaimed independence of theirs own country named after Biafran Bay in the southeast of Nigeria (the problem was, as one of the characters said was the fact that Biafra haskwashiorkor huge oil reserves). Few countries have recognized new country, however the most powerful ones (i.e. United Kingdom and Soviet Union) supported Nigeria with military supplies and after three years (1967-1970) the war of Biafra secession ended in a humanitarian catastrophe as Nigerian blockades stopped all supplies, military and civilian alike, from entering the region. Hundreds of thousands (perhaps millions) people died in the resulting famine.

The story has been told through the lives of three very different characters:
Ugwu,13 year old boy from some remote village who is starting to work as a houseboy in the house of university professor with revolutionary aspirations. Ugwu is a magnificent source of Nigerian (African?) folklore and mythology. His superstitious-ness is beautiful, pure and incredibly authentic. Being uneducated his provincialism and thinking of everything authentically African as inferior comparing with everything British is very strong! (I sound as if I’m justifying his attitude with that “being uneducated”, well it’s really hard dislike Ugwu)
Olanna, young women with university diploma from London, member of Nigerian aristocracy who rejected privileged life and follow her heart. Strong, modern, enthusiastic woman with strong vision of her future life liberated from the chains of her family’s expectations.
Third one is Richard, man I identified myself with. He’s an Englishman who came in Nigeria because he fell in love with the ancient piece of local art (I think I could do the same). Man who being white has had to put much more effort to prove himself as true Biafran and was doing this in the best possible way.
What I especially like is that all three main characters are real humans; they are not flawless. On the contrary, they are making horrible mistakes which might be even unforgivable under different circumstances.

But this is not only story about the war. War with its horror is scenery for the story of love, loyalty, friendship, betrayal, forgiveness about fight and survival. It is very universal story placed in one precise historical context.

Truth, some of the scenes are so graphically described that I had to close the book and take a deep breath before continue. But of course why should she use euphemism for truth? In spite that this is really page turner. I was little afraid after warning from the back cover “I wasted last fifty pages, reading them far too greedily and fast, because I couldn’t bear to let go…” but I’ve done the same (and of course then reread them). This is one testimony of the things that mustn’t be forgotten! And oh, don’t be surprised if you find your eyes filled with tears. In spite the fact that last sentence wasn’t surprise for me, that I expected that, I couldn’t help myself…

Flag of Biafra

638 Ways to kill CastroDo you think this title sounds ludicrous? Oh, probably it does but it only sounds…

Yesterday (26th July) was one of the most important national holidays in Cuba (maybe even the most important). However if you follow US press you’d ask yourself “Why on Earth they celebrate that day??? They should erase it from their nation’s memory!” and that would be quite reasonable question when you see this title: July 26th Marks Anniversary Of Castro’s Failure, Cuban Revolution
Isn’t that tremendously malicious when you know how that “failure” has raised national spirit to struggle against the regime, when you know that was the dawn of Revolution? (truth maybe I founded isolated article but still)

For those of you who don’t know 26th July 1953 is the day of the attack on the Moncada Barracks which failed indeed but there were many casualties on both sides. Castro was arrested and since he was/is a lawyer has decided to defend himself. In his speech he said historical sentence ”History Will Absolve Me”, sentence which became the foundation of the 26th July Movement. For more about attack, trial and whatnot you should check great film by Yanara Guayasamin “Cuba, the Value of Utopia” (my review is HERE). (I just wanna stress here that I’m not expressing my opinion is Castro good president or dictator?)

But let’s go back on the topic. I don’t know does the date has anything with it but yesterday I watched this amazing film 638 Ways to Kill Castro directed by Dollan Cannel (check the link) as a part of Free Zone festival.
At first, indeed I thought the title is kind of sarcastic exaggeration but NO IT’S NOT! It’s a story about 638 recorded attempts of Castro’s assassination!

And gosh, you should see that. It’s as if you are watching one of the James Bond movies. It’s a collection of the most impossible and most bizarre ideas you could(n’t) imagine!

Exploding cigar that was intended to blow up in Castro’s face is one of those. Since Castro was fascinated with scuba-diving CIA made search of Caribbean mollusks looking for a shell to contain lethal quantity of explosives, which would be painted vividly to attract Castro’s attention; Then making toxic diving-suit; poison pills; bacterial poison (Clostridium botulinum) to be placed in Castro’s handkerchief or in his tea and coffee; poisoned cigars; CIA has even made agreement with mafia to assassinate Castro … etc

Here is little statistics: During Kennedy there were 42 attempts; Nixon 184; Carter 44; Regan 197; Bush senior 16, Clinton 21

We could see testimonials of people who participated in those attempts, former FBI and CIA agents. One of them have ”as being Catholic” (who ”don’t believe he’ll go in paradise”) had moral dilemma but then he said to himself: “Government is asking that from me so who the hell am I to worry about me?” WOW someone would say that is patriotic!

But to be honest what shocked me the most (I guess I’m too naïve) is the treatment that those evident terrorists have in US (one of them is calling Bush administration “allies”). Namely we can see people who are openly talking about their attempts to kill one foreign leader how freely live in Florida with their families and having business and are financing other groups who are still attempting to kill Castro!?!? On the journalists question “Do you think you are terrorist” one of them (Antonio Veciana I think) replies “yes, I was terrorist then”. Just like that! I didn’t know that acts of terrorism have dead line after which everything is OK.

Or with Orlando Bosch, man who is prototype of terrorist. He organized airplane crash 1976 of the Cubana air company by putting bomb in the plane. It has 73 victims, all civilians; the only Cuban “officials” were members of Cuban fencing representation (all teenagers).

He was arrested but Republican Congresspersons Ileana Ross and Connie Mack organized intensive lobbying for him and eventually President George H. Bush has released him from jail. On the journalists question is he responsible for that plane crash Orlando Bosch replies “Not only for that one. They are accusing me for plane crash above Jamaica and for crash of cargo-plane above Cuba. And I say In war everything is allowed and I’m in war against Fidel Castro”. Those are words of a man who received personal pardon from then president George Bush in spite of the arguments and protests.

In fact many of those men who would be undoubtedly qualified as terrorists in any other country or even in the States if they their target is not Castro are friends of president Busch’s family. We can see them on many photographs with both Georges and Jeb Busch, current governor of Florida. Man who ordered execution of Che Guevara, Felix Rodriguez has a gift with this note: “With highest esteem and admiration – George Busch”

Many of these assassinators-in-attempts are living in Florida as I said but they even have a game in which they are killing Castro every month. It is absolutely ridiculous game which reminds on paintball where everyone wears uniforms, weapons and they are sneaking around the house where “Castro” (with the beard of course) have a meeting with his gang. Then suddenly they are jumping in the house, taking “Castro” outside where he begs for his life. Then they ask “Castro” why he killed so many people and he replies (falling on the knees) “Oh forgive me! Forgive me!” Naturally every month they are showing no mercy.

You can’t imagine how idiotic that looks. And those people (there is entire anti-Castro organization) are personal friends of Jeb Busch.

Former US diplomat in Cuba Mr. Wayne Smith (executive secretary of President Kennedy’s Latin American Task Force and chief of mission at the U.S. Interests Section in Havana) quoted Mr George W. Busch (there is part of that speech in the film as well) when he said that “everyone who is hiding, protecting, supporting, financing terrorists is a terrorist himself” and he absolutely agreed with him and added “but that is precisely what US government is doing with these terrorists. So isn’t Busch terrorist as well?”

Well maybe he’s not. Maybe he just read book written by some other, much, much clever George (who must be right. Right?). And there it says very clearly:

All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others”


Iraq In Fragments
by James Longley

I watched at Free Zone Film Festval another amazing film:
Iraq In Fragments by James Longley

This is breathtaking portrait of lives of ordinary people in Iraq after aggression and one of the most noticeable consequence that can be seen is that indeed Iraq is fragmented.

In first part (fragment) we see painfully lonely 11 year old fatherless boy who works in garage whose owner ‘owns’ the boy as well. This man at first shows some kind of “love” in his own rough way and a boy is giving him a tribute how he is actually kind to him in one very moving way while we are looking how the owner is shouting at the boy and use him and hitting him with … something. We are listen conversations between adults how they think whole this war is because of the oil; how Americans ended Saddam’s regime and now they live under “100 Saddam”

In the second fragment, south with Shias majority we are seeing their pre election campaign and how they (Shias) are vigorously prosecute new Islamic revolution with horrifying arrests because of selling alcohol. One of the arrested said (screamingly in despair with bounded hands and with covered eyes) “My eyes were covered and hands bounded during Saddam and now, now again!!! Why!?!? Why?!?” It’s a rising of new “Saddamism” or more likely something much worse.

In third fragment, we see pious Kurdish man whose hope is that Kurds will finally get their country and independence. He knows he’s close to death (and decided to dedicate those days in praying in the mosque) but he is hoping that his children will breathe air in their country, Kurdistan. He knows that Kurds, Sunnis and Shias will never live in peace in the same land.

After the projection guests were Veljko Đurović (cameraman for Sky News, Reuters etc) and lady (I can’t remember her name at the moment, sorry) who came back in Belgrade recently after two years in Iraq working with some international organizations. Interesting thing is that both of them are saying how Iraqis are one of the most hospitable people in the world; Reporter said that he has worked on so many battle fields in last decade in every corner of the world but he never met people so kind in spite the fact the bombs are falling constantly. Lady (guest) has told us how women from her class have risked their lives to go and buy cake in other part of the town for her Christmass.

Also in the film you can barely see woman. It should be stressed that Iraq was one of the most liberated countries in Middle East. Few years ago women were free to go in University in mini skirt and actually life style was not so different comparing with Europe or USA. Now the situation is completely different. You cannot see that image anymore.
Of course people are in despair and they have enemy (Saddam is dead). And that despair have united them and (and this is probably worst consequence) has changed them.

People with millenniums old tradition, with customs with dignity, have been invaded by forces that have shown no interest in their customs, in their tradition, which have shown no respect in whom they are and where they came. They have been invaded by endless ignorance. And lack of respect is often worse than so many other things. To honorable people word is stronger weapon than a bullet.
Invaders often ask themselves “Why they hate us?” and the answer is “Because you don’t respect them”.

So of course they have changed under these circumstances, they become less hospitable and become sadder, more disappointed, angrier, more radical. Yes disappointment, sadness, anger is making fertile soil to fanaticism. And that is real threat. Country has been fractured irreparably. Boy from the beginning of the film said:
“Once it was so beautiful… now it’s not beautiful anymore …
I was dreaming when I grow up I will work; I’ll learn how to work and be independent. Then I started to work and keep dreaming how I’ll work when I grow up for my family and have one good life. I’m working, but I’m not dreaming anymore”

Those are words of 11 year old kid! How can you kill ability of dreaming to a kid? How can you do that and not be responsible? And be so ignorant?

That old Kurdish man said one story:
“Two men are wrestling and one spectator asks another:
– What do you think, who’ll win? On whose side is God?
And the other one replies:
– God is always on the winner’s side”

That is not God I believe in.
(today is 8th anniversary of NATO aggression on my country)

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