MarinaintheWorld’s Blog

“Partyswedes, go home!”

Posted in Travels by marinaintheworld on April 15, 2010

This rather dull little graffiti, has outshined all other street art in Oslo. Apparently, someone was very tired of the herds of Swedes crossing the border, looking to earn some fast money waiting tables or working in bars and partying.

Well, as with everything, there is even a facebook group – “Partysvensker; go home“, counting 285 members. It is safe to say that Norwegians are annoyed. Tens of thousands of Swedes work in the Norwegian service sector. Lower tax and between 20-30 percent higher salaries just around the corner, in a country with similar language and culture, is just too good to resist. Especially in the time of a economic crisis which has put many young Swedes even further away from the job market in the home country.

Well, combine young people, good salaries and new environment, partying is a natural outcome. But the good news, at least for the annoyed citizens of Oslo, is that most of them return home after one to five years.

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Euromed – not only about terrorism and clash of civilisations

Posted in Euromed by marinaintheworld on January 12, 2010

Photo: Yannick Brusselmans

Terrorism, xenophobia, clash of civilisations… Those are some of the topics one might associate with intercultural dialogue between the West and the East. But the participants of the second edition of the Euro-Mediterranean Academy for Young Journalists (EMAJ) have shown that it can also be about simple things like group hugs, salsa dances, bike rides outside of the bike lane and a shared devotion to good journalism.

“Want some halal candy?”, Kim Nordberg, a journalist from Sweden, asked, entering the big hall of the Goethe Institute of Amsterdam.
Open laptops, half-full tea and coffee cups spread out on the tables, on chairs and even on the grand piano. The office of the project coordinator is cramped with people trying to reach NGOs, detention centres for refugees, representatives from political parties, you name it. The young journalists from 18 different countries in the EU, Middle East and Northern Africa, have taken over the old, monumental building of the Goethe Institute in Amsterdam and turned it into a full-fledged news room.

“We come from different regions but we work together perfectly, both as journalists and people, each adding its own special flavour to the project”, a surprised Hossam el Din Hussein from Egypt, said after finishing a project together with Spanish colleague Cristina Rojo.

They all met only a week before, set out to take part in the Euro-Mediterranean Academy for Young journalists or EMAJ, a 10-day training course on journalism, intercultural dialogue and migration.

Combating prejudices

And so it began. The first awkward handshakes. The first session on immigration. The first adventure: dressed in bright yellow rain coats on yellow rental bikes, the EMAJ participants explored Amsterdam together, risking to lose each other on each corner and getting frowned upon by the locals for not staying in the bike lane. The first meals, prepared in the common apartments. The first party, the first heated debate, the first group hug.

Of all the firsts, perhaps the most important one was the first crack in the wall of preconceived ideas about the other region. For Sophia Pfisterer from Germany, getting to know colleagues from the other side of the Mediterranean was an important tool in combating prejudices: “In having personal connections, you could more easily understand a point of view that differs from your own. This experience has really broadened my horizon and made me realize how focused and limited national media sometimes can be.”

Just by his appearance, dark haired Kim Nordberg proved that not all Swedes are blond. Hossam El Din Hussein showed that Egyptians are not only about pyramids and sphinx, but can also dance some mean salsa. Alwin Helmink from the Netherlands impressed everyone by showing the collection of Arabic music he had on his phone and by singing along to the songs without actually speaking Arabic.

As words like “halal candy”, “habibi” and “yalla” became part of the everyday chatter, the stereotypes about the other region did not disappear, but perhaps the picture got slightly more complex.

Or as Sophia Pfisterer puts it: “My perception has changed because of the people I met. They were all different from how I thought they would be and we became friends in a very short time. Therefore, my belief has grown that we might have more in common than we usually assume.”

He blogged from the heart of the conflict

Posted in Israel/Palestine, Journalism inspiration by marinaintheworld on January 29, 2009

Daily updated body count, pictures of mass graves and stories about people looking for their loved ones in the rubble of destroyed buildings. Blogger Sameh A Habeeb was the voice inside of Gaza during the attack.

Sameh A Habeeb

The day of the ceasefire PHOTO: Sameh A Habeeb

– I don’t get sad when I see dead bodies any longer, it is almost part of the normal life. I get frustrated because their stories are buried with them.

“And so and so, a severed leg here, a chopped off hand there, slivers in the head”, writes Sameh A Habeeb in a detached reporter tone on his blog about the life in Gaza. The 23-year-old, who has studied literature and worked as a journalist for a couple of years, has turned into a true war correspondent during the last few weeks. In despite of constant power cuts, rocket rain and threats to his life, he managed to update his blog Gaza str, the untold story every day, starting with the first day of the attack until ceasefire.

– Since the international media was not allowed to enter Gaza, I saw it as my mission to try to spread the information about what is happening here the only way I could, he says.

Blogging from a region in conflict has proven to be very difficult. Sameh A Habeeb lives in the Toffah area, in eastern Gaza, which was exposed to daily rocket attacks. In order to find material for his posts, he got out of the house armed with his camera, talked to people and documented the destruction.

During a two-week blackout he walked for four kilometres every day to charge his computer at a friend’s house.

– It was not very safe but it gave me two golden hours to write down and post all the information on the blog and mail my contacts. I had to work fast, he says.

With his persistent blogging, Sameh A Habeeb has made a name for himself in the blogosphere. Gaza strip, the untold story has over 300 followers from all over the world and Sameh gets ten or so phone calls from journalists and sympathizers every day. Proclaimed a hero, he has been interviewed several times in international media reporting on the situation.

The question is: how many knew about Sameh A Habeeb before the attack on Gaza? He actually started blogging almost one year ago, with the mission to convey a picture of the conditions in Gaza few months after the border was closed and the supply of electricity and raw materials was cut back. His posts from that time showed the life in the “outside prison”, as he calls the Gaza strip, where the siege was impossible to ignore.

When outside he heard the children pretending to be Fatah and Hamas. When he took a cab he got upset with the driver who raised the price because of the acute shortage of gas. When he sat down in front of a computer to apply for a master program, there was a power blackout and he risked missing yet another deadline.

– We live like animals in a cage, he says.

Even if he supports a peaceful solution to the conflict and renounces any type of violence, he can understand those who support Hamas.

– We are living under a siege. Considering the situation we are in, it is only natural that there is some sort of resistance. People are desperate, he says.

In one of his older posts he writes: ”Frustration among Palestinians stems from a feeling of invisibility, that our welfare has been ignored by the Israel and its western allies”.

During the 22 days of attack, Gaza has become more visible than ever before. But it took over 1200 dead men, women and children before that happened. Hopefully this time, the world is not quick to forget.

Story published in Swedish in  Göteborgs Fria Tidning

Continue reading Sameh A Habeebs blog

To be a journalist: Sri Lankan editor knew he was going to be killed

Posted in Israel/Palestine, Journalism inspiration, Opinion by marinaintheworld on January 18, 2009

Would you die for your work?

Lasantha Wikramatunga would. As the editor of the secular, liberal and democratic Sunday Leader in Sri Lanka, a country in the midst of a civil war, he knew that his devotion to reporting the truth would lead to him eventually paying the ultimate price. In despite of that, he continued because, as his self written obituary says, “...there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.”

Last week his obituary was published.

 

Lasantha Wikramatunga had a wife and three children. He had many opportunities to leave journalism for a safer profession. Still, with complete disregard for his own safety, he continued to publish stories that revealed the truth about the government of Sri Lanka and went beyond presenting the simple explanations for the complex reality in his country:

we have consistently espoused the view that while separatist terrorism must be eradicated, it is more important to address the root causes of terrorism, and urged government to view Sri Lanka‘s ethnic strife in the context of history and not through the telescope of terrorism. We have also agitated against state terrorism in the so-called war against terror, and made no secret of our horror that Sri Lanka is the only country in the world routinely to bomb its own citizens.

For this, Wikramatunga had to pay with his life.

Reading about his view on the situation in Sri Lanka, in the shadow of the events in Gaza these past weeks, certain parallels emerge between the two seemingly very different conflicts. In Gaza as in Sri Lanka, the war-on-terror-rhetoric was used to validate the actions of the government. The concept, it seems, is leaders’ secret formula that makes uncomfortable ethical considerations, as the possible deaths of civilians, disappear. As the number of dead in Gaza passed 1200 and the public opinion in the world turned more negative towards the actions of the Israeli government, it is overwhelmingly evident that the formula did not work this time. The attack itself did nothing to combat Hamas in the long run either. It targeted the symptoms while feeding the disease.

Some of us, including myself, are lucky enough to live in countries where criticizing the actions of our own or of any other government (both in media as in private life) does not mean putting our lives on the line. How are we using this privilege? Most of us conform anyway. We read other (Western) media, reformulate their version of the truth and if possible, avoid using our own common sense to draw conclusions. We play it safe, afraid of being viewed as terrorist sympathisers, anti-Semites, leftist, idealists or just being proved wrong. We don’t put anything on the line.

The work of Lasantha Wikramatunga proves what fearless journalism is about. Even if most of us would not sacrifice our lives for our job, it would not hurt to take some pointers from him when it comes to thinking one step further and voicing even controversial opinions. In stead of recycling and thus reproducing concepts like “war on terror” or “clash of civilizations” with all of its implied meanings, or any other preconceived notion or label for that matter, we could follow his example and try to understand the causes behind terrorism, nationalism, religious conflicts… Hopefully before the situation escalates into a fullblown war. After all, most of us only risk to occasionally have to defend our views.

As for the Sunday Leader, its former editor writes:

If you remember nothing else, remember this: The Leader is there for you, be you Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim, low-caste, homosexual, dissident or disabled. Its staff will fight on, unbowed and unafraid, with the courage to which you have become accustomed. Do not take that commitment for granted. Let there be no doubt that whatever sacrifices we journalists make, they are not made for our own glory or enrichment: they are made for you. Whether you deserve their sacrifice is another matter. As for me, God knows I tried.

Read the whole obituary: And then they came for me

Thanks to my friend and colleague from the US for forwarding the link.

How did the media report about Gaza in your country before and during the attack? What did you lack?

How did the story of the Sri Lankan editor affect you?

Demonstration for Gaza in Gothenburg

Posted in Israel/Palestine by marinaintheworld on January 12, 2009

Around 4000 people gathered in the city centre of Gothenburg this weekend to demonstrate against the Israeli attack on Gaza.

“Today we are all Palestinian, we will never forget Gaza”, said Hans Linde, Swedish parlamentarian and a member of the Left Party, according to Göteborgs-Posten.

Just a week after the first demonstration which gathered around 2 000 people, double as many defied the cold and assembled at Götaplatsen to show their support for the people in Gaza.

While slogans like “Stop killing our children” and “Israel – murderers” echoed across the Avenue, the crowd moved towards the Gustaf Adolf square. During the procession and in connection with speeches held at the square, home made Israeli flags were burned, some of them with a swastika in stead of the Star of David.

Hans Linde, MP

Among the speakers was Fadia Aydad, a Swedish citizen who had arrived from Gaza just a few hours earlier, according to the local daily Göteborgs-Posten.

“The fear that our family experienced is indescribable and we are fortunate to have escaped that hell on earth”, she said according to the paper.

The Left Party’s Hans Linde spared no words condemning the actions of Israel when he took the stand:

“You have to call the Israeli massacre by its right name. The Israeli leaders are criminals and murderers. Today we are Palestinian, we will never forget Gaza”, he was quoted on saying.

Question

(I will take a tip from a friend and a fellow journalist in order to start some discussions and pose questions to those who may find themselves on these pages.)

Is carrying a Israeli flag with a Swastika on demonstrations taking it too far?


Tip about an important blog:

Read the blog Gaza today for daily updates on the situation by Sameh Akram Habeeb, a blogger in Gaza. There, you will also find his contact information if you are interested in an interview.

Ido Liven from Tel Aviv: The attack is a result of two failing leaderships

Posted in Israel/Palestine by marinaintheworld on January 9, 2009
Ido Liven, independent journalist

Ido Liven, independent journalist

Day 14 of the attack on Gaza.

Ido Liven, 28 years old, is an independent writer, living north of Tel Aviv, 80 kilometres from Gaza.


How has the recent development in Gaza affected you?

The war in Gaza came as no surprise. The gradually eroded tolerance of Israelis, mainly in the area around Gaza, toward the ongoing rockets hitting their towns, provided the grounds for the Israeli offensive. Although the vast majority of the country is out of the rockets range, the war certainly dominates the current daily routine – with mobilizing thousands of reservists, to begin with. In the recent days I’ve been mostly occupied by following the news from different media, in Israel and abroad, and talking to people from different places around the world on this issue, as well as expressing my frustration and deep concern in regard of the extremely negative outcomes of this military operation.

How is the situation where you live?

The town in which I live is far enough from the battlefield and therefore it would seem for the outsider that everything’s practically functioning as usual. However, I believe, tension can be felt. All across Israel, people are worried, voicing their feelings and opinions on the politics, the army and the Palestinians. Although there’s still a well-established consensus supporting the offensive, there are also quite some groups, Jewish and Arab, holding demonstrations and rallies calling to stop the fighting.

What do you think about the attack?

Practically speaking, I think nothing good can come out of this. The only benefit gained is the so-called legitimization regained by both of the failing leaderships putting the blame one another. But above this, it’s about basic morale and values – it’s about human beings. I believe there’s no justification for any innocent civilians being hurt and deprived leading normal life.

What do you think about Hamas rocket attacks?

Although summer 2005 saw the Israeli disengagement from the Gaza Strip, namely evacuation of military forces and Jewish settlements, it has been under siege for a long time now prior to this war. However, firing rockets at Israeli towns, provoking the Israel, is surely not the solution. It’s apparently the opposite. Moreover, at the moment, I can’t find any logic explanation for this aggression (perhaps, besides despair) – and it’s only natural that no country in the world would allow attacking its citizens, unlike Israel has been doing in the past eight years.

How do you explain the situation?

I believe the current clash is a result of two failing leaderships who has no vision what-so-ever, and desperately coming to realize they’re unable to provide their peoples with any long-term sustainable solution, they chose to act irrationally, only according to the populist – and desperate – demands and to their own political short-sighted interests.

Do you believe in a peaceful coexistence of Israelis and Palestinians after this?

I believe that in the long run, there’s no other way. Israelis and Palestinians are bound to live together side by side, if they want it or not. But frankly, I’m rather pessimistic about the foreseen future. As long as mutual hatred and hostility are promoted on both sides, people would chose to be indifferent about the other side in the best case, and aggressive in the more likely case.


Read more on what Ido Liven has to say on this and other issues on his Bottom Blog

If you are a journalist you might find his Foreign journalist’s guide to Israeli media very useful

News today:

CNN: Israel brushes off U.N. cease-fire resolution

CNN: Hamas official says fighters ‘still strong’

CNN: Lebanese PM condemns rocket attack on Israel

The Jerusalem Post: Olmert: Gaza op to continue, UNSC resolution not practical

Haaretz: Hamas: UN Gaza truce resolution ‘does not meet our demands’

Al-Jazeera: Gaza under fire despite truce call

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West Bank Palestinian: Inhuman treatment of people in Gaza

Posted in Israel/Palestine by marinaintheworld on January 8, 2009

Day 13 of the attack on Gaza.

Near al Briage refugee camp in Gaza. Photo by Ahmad Abu Saleh

Haneen Aweis, 24 years old, journalist and writer at Osrati Magazine in
Kuwait
, researcher at the forum for development of culture and dialogue and coordinator for a Christian program at The International center of Bethlehem. Living in the West Bank.


How are you following the news about Gaza?

Through TV news, Palestinian websites and contact with journalist friends in Gaza.


What do your friends in the attacked area tell you?

For example, my friend Saleh who is 28 years old told me that his house has been destroyed by the Israeli military. He has moved to a relative’s apartment where it is supposed to be safer. There are currently 45 people living in the apartment. Four of his friends have been killed in front of him. While I was talking to him on the phone I heard a blast in the background and he said: that was a martyr killed near the house. They live without electricity or heating and eat from “the help packages” and the food they have stored.

Another friend, Ahmed Odeh is a journalist working at Maan News. He is married and a father of two. A few days ago, he was driven out of his house and lives with his family in a neighbor’s house. When he saw the number of people who have died, he said: “Thank God that I lost my house and not my family”.


What do you think about the situation in Gaza?

The situation is a disaster… On the 12th day of the attack the number of martyrs was 697, 215 of them children and 85 women. 2950 are injured.

This situation makes me speechless. They are living under such miserable circumstances; there is no water, electricity, food, medicine and there are dead bodies everywhere.

I feel sad because I can’t help in any way. As I live in the West Bank I am very far from Gaza. I’m trying to spread the truth all over the world, I think this is a better way to help my people.


How is the situation in the West Bank?

Sadness and demonstrations all over the West Bank to support the families in Gaza and to show the world that we Palestinians are one. We are living in protest with the families in Gaza. The Christian and Muslims leaders share many ceremonies and pray together for Gaza and God’s Mercy.


What would you encourage people in the West to do?

Media and especially young journalists should spread the information in their countries and tell people that there is something called Palestine and that there are around 4 million people living there, occupied by Israel and facing inhuman treatment.

Marina Ferhatovic

See also:

CNN: Toll of conflict strikes home as cameraman finds brother dead

CNN: ‘Unknown group’ in Lebanon launches rockets at Israel

CNN: Red Cross demands Gaza access, cites ‘shocking’ discoveries

(Arabic) Al Jazeera: Israeli bombardment pounds Gaza

(Israeli) The Jerusalem Post: IDF officer killed by anti-tank missile in central Gaza Strip

(Israeli) Haaretz: ANALYSIS / Rocket fire on North is realization of Iranian threat

Dunedin Napier News: New Rockets from Lebanon

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Hello world!

Posted in Uncategorized by marinaintheworld on January 7, 2009

Welcome to my blog.

My name is Marina Ferhatovic and I am a journalist from Sweden. On MarinaintheWorld I will present journalistic pieces on current issues and developements in the world. My hope is to provoce new ideas and show that there always are at least two sides to every story. Read, think, feel and act!

/Marina