The Black Tulip

Kabul: Afghans proved a tough audience for the world premiere of “The Black Tulip” at the Ariana Cinema on Thursday afternoon (an evening showing was deemed too dangerous). It was meant to be a serious film about Afghanistan, by an Afghan-born director, set in present-day Kabul and even filmed on location here, but many of the Afghans who saw it said they did not recognize the society they knew.

The movie tells the story of an Afghan woman who starts a family-run Bohemian cafe in Kabul, where they serve wine in teapots and have poetry readings, which angers the Taliban. They soon begin kidnapping and assassinating the woman’s family members.
Ms. Cole has drawn some criticism in artistic and political circles here for her assertion that she took over the lead in the movie only at the last minute, when the Taliban cut the feet off her pick for that role, whom she named as Zarifa Jahon.
Just before production began on “The Black Tulip” in August 2009, the actress disappeared, Ms. Cole said. “Finally, she called me and she said, ‘You’ll never guess what happened. The Taliban chopped my feet off.’ ” Ms. Cole said the Taliban were angry about a Pakistani film the actress had appeared in. ndtv.com

Capital punishment in Iran

The founder of the Islamic Republic, Islamic cleric Ruhollah Khomeini, who was a grand Ayatollah, ruled "that the penalty for conversion from Islam, or apostasy, is death."

The sentence of death for the crime of apostasy has been applied in Iran to alleged offenders who have not claimed to have converted to another religion, and whose crime may appear to outsiders to be political rather than religious. Hashem Aghajari, for example was condemned to death for apostasy for a speech urging Iranians to "not blindly follow" Islamic clerics. wikipedia (28/09/10)

Terror plot targeting Europe uncovered

LONDON (AFP) – Western intelligence agencies have uncovered an Al-Qaeda plot to launch attacks in Britain, France and Germany by extremists based in Pakistan, security sources and media reports said Wednesday.

"The threat is very real," a European-based security official told AFP, after British and US media reported that militants were planning simultaneous strikes in London and major cities in France and Germany.


Pierre Boulez celebrated at musikfest berlin 10

The annual international “summit” of top-flight orchestras which launches Berlin 's concert season is coming to a close. musikfest berlin 10, organized by the Berliner Festspielen in collaboration with the Stiftung Berliner Philharmoniker, took place this year from September 2nd to 21st. In addition to the Rundfunkchor Berlin, the RIAS Kammerchor, and Berlin 's five principal orchestras, altogether 20 guest orchestras, ensembles, and choirs – joined by 37 soloists – contributed to the ambitious festival program. The center of attention at this year's festival was shared by the compositional achievements of Pierre Boulez and Luciano Berio, complemented in provocative and illuminating ways by works by Igor Stravinsky and many other 20th and 21st century composers. This wide-ranging homage to two central figures of postwar music history was greeted with pronounced enthusiasm and followed with intense interest by members of the public and specialists alike. More than 35,000 people attended the 24 concerts which took place in the framework of musikfest berlin 10 in the Main Auditorium and Chamber Music Hall of Berlin Philharmonie, in the Parochialkirche, the Gethsemanekirche, and the Konzerthaus.

This ambitious tribute to Pierre Boulez, encompassing 11 concerts in all, began on opening weekend with striking performances of his large-scale vocal compositions Le Soleil des eaux and Le Visage nuptial by the SWR Sinfonieorchester Baden-Baden under the direction of Susanna Mälkki. At the concerts given by the Berliner Philharmoniker, Pierre Boulez received standing ovations as composer and conductor. Other contributors to our Boulez portrait were the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin , the Konzerthausorchester Berlin, the Bamberger Symphoniker, and the Ensemble intercontemporain. This tribute to Boulez was concluded by a lecture-concert presented by Daniel Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin – a thrilling finale for musikfest berlin 10 at which the composer, also in attendance, was greeted by repeated shouts of “bravo.”

Other highpoints of musikfest berlin 10 included appearances by the London Symphony Orchestra with Daniel Harding, the Koninklijk Concertgebouworkest Amsterdam with Mariss Jansons, and the Bayerisches Staatsorchester with Kent Nagano, each of which presented key orchestral works by Luciano Berio in conjunction with compositions by Hector Berlioz, Béla Bartók, Richard Strauss, and Igor Stravinsky – each receiving tumultuous storms of applause. Other highlights of the Berio tribute presented in the framework of musikfest berlin 10 included a concert by musikFabrik with Peter Eötvös devoted to Berio, and a performance of Berio’s immense composition Coro by the Berliner Philharmoniker conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

musikfest berlin 2011 will take place between September 1st and 19th. Detailed information on the program and on advanced ticket sales will be announced in spring of 2011.

Press Office,

September 21, 2010


Deutschland schafft sich ab

Rarely has a man influenced the German public discourse as much as Sarrazin has done with his book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" ("Germany Does Itself In"). In just two weeks, Germany has been hit by three waves of debate stemming from the tome.

Criticism bordering on revulsion dominated the first wave of the reaction. Politicians and opinion leaders condemned Sarrazin almost unanimously.

But then it slowly became apparent that many citizens agreed with Sarrazin. The publisher announced that, due to high demand, it was going to increase the book's initial printing to 250,000 copies. Furthermore, Internet forums and political events made it clear that Sarrazin -- a member of the center-left Social Democrats, which has initiated proceedings to throw him out of the party -- had broad public support. Many are saying he is right; or, even if he does make a mistake here and there, he isn't being treated fairly.

The following e-mail, for example, was received at Social Democratic Party (SPD) headquarters: "Sometimes I'm frustrated and even furious about the fact that, in today's Germany, it's no longer possible to speak your mind and call a spade a spade! This is the sort of thing I'm used to seeing in totalitarian countries." Spiegel


Barbarous crimes against humanity

Six Portuguese men have been jailed after they were found guilty of sexual abuse at a state-run children's home.

Carlos Silvino was given an 18-year sentence after confessing to 639 charges relating to the abuse of children or procuring them for others.

His co-defendants, including the former TV presenter Carlos Cruz, were jailed for between five and seven years.

The boys, now aged between 16 and 22, were all residents at the Casa Pia children's home in the capital, Lisbon.

The panel of three judges in the case spent most of the day reading the full verdict in each of the hundreds of sexual abuse accusations.

After ruling that the vast majority of the charges had been proven, they handed down guilty verdicts to six of the seven people on trial.
One of the victims, Bernardo Teixeira, hailed the sentences.

"It was very good to hear our names as a proven fact, and to know that really somebody believes us, principally the panel of judges," he told RTP Internacional TV.

"People said we were lying, that it was all made up, and so it is very healthy and positive for us finally to have proof that we were not lying."

Another victim, Bernardo Tavares, said: "It is difficult, but... when we hear our name linked to proven facts this gives us more strength."

"There is anxiety, tensions are running high in there, our seats are probably the hottest because we have waited many years for this day. It is one of the days we have most looked forward to, the day when finally justice will be done and when finally those who have committed crimes will be sentenced for them."

Pedro Namora, a lawyer and former pupil who helped expose the scandal in 2002, earlier said: "I hope this day will allow us to show the country that the boys have told the truth from the start."

"These men have to be condemned, they committed barbarous crimes against humanity." BBC News

Six jailed in Portuguese sex abuse case

Six years after a trial began over claims of sex abuse at Lisbon’s Casa Pia children’s home, heavy jail terms have been handed out.

Well-known figures have been found guilty of hundreds of charges related to abuse that goes back to the 1990s.
A former Casa Pia student and victims’ lawyer, Pedro Namora, said: “For so many years we have been persecuted, threatened. They used everything, and now it comes out that we spoke the truth." Euronews

Note: only six jailed (or maybe not...)

Sex abuse trial in Portugal set to end *

In Portugal a six year trial – one of the largest in the country’s legal history and known as the Casa Pia trial - is set to reach a conclusion.

Carlos Silvinho has admitted to participating in a network that systematically abused children and implicated six other defendants including Carlos Cruz a popular television presenter who is alleged to have been part of the sex ring at the Casa Pia orphanage. He is joined in the dock by former Unesco ambassador Jorge Ritto.

It is claimed a woman provided her house for meetings with the children and the alleged pedophiles

The court is set to rule on 800 alleged crimes at Casa Pia a 230 year old institution. Not only has the protracted trial produced chilling testimonies it has also resulted in changes in Portugals legal system.

One victim voiced concern that the accused were getting more support than the victims.

“Tomorrow on Friday, I hope justice is delivered, because I think the court has played enough with us, the victims. The accused are getting more support and protection than the we are,” said Pedro Custódio, a former student at Casa Pia. Euronews

All knew of the abuse

The former secretary of state for families told parliament last December that Antonio Ramalho Eanes, the former president, Jaime Gama, the former foreign secretary, and the police all knew of the abuse. Teresa Costa Macedo said state television had filmed six boys who told Mr Eanes about the abuse, but had not broadcast the footage. The Independent

Note: it happened with Lisbon's people... and the European Union did nothing (what's about Human Rights?)!