The Power of Culture

UN Ambassador Lara Croft

American actress Angelina Jolie has been appointed Ambassador of the UN refugee organisation UNHCR. Jolie can currently be seen as the computer heroine Lara Croft in the film Tomb Raider. As a UN Ambassador, she will follow in the footsteps of Audrey Hepburn, Danny Kaye and Sophia Loren.
More information: UNHCR, 27-08-01

Penguin putting 200 books on the internet

British publishers Penguin are putting 200 books on the internet. The books include classic titles such as Emma by Jane Austen and Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, but also lots of new fiction. The books can be downloaded from the Penguin website from 17 September onward.

Animation film about Mohammed

The Al-Azhar University in Cairo has granted permission for an animation film on the life of the Prophet Mohammed to be distributed. Islam forbids images of the Prophet, so he is portrayed in the film not as a person but as a blinding light. The animation film was made by Richard Rich, an ex-employee of Walt Disney, under the supervision of Khaled Abou alFadl, Professor of Islamic Law at the University of California.

China cracks down on Buddhist institute

The Chinese government has expelled hundreds of Tibetan nuns and monks from the Buddhist institute in the village of Serthar, one of the most important centres of Tibetan Buddhism. The Larung Gar institute was established in 1980 to breathe new life into Buddhism.
More information: Tibet Information Network, 19-08-01

Greek theatre inspires Turkish women

No water, no sex! In the Turkish village of Sirt, women banned their husbands from the bedroom for a month. They were fed up of having to walk kilometres every day to fetch water because of a broken water pipe in the village. The boycott was inspired by a TV broadcast of Aristofanes' Lysistrata, an Ancient Greek play in which the women try to end the war between Sparta and Athens by denying their men their 'conjugal rights'. The ultimatum of the Turkish women has had the desired effect: the government is providing the village with pipes that the villagers can install themselves.
15-08-01, 17-08-01

Six million guilders for eight cultural projects

Subsidies for excavating a VOC (United East Indies Company) ship in the port of Galle, Sri Lanka, for restoring a mission post in the Genaden Valley in South Africa, and for a Joris Ivens Tour through the U.S. These are just three of the eight projects that will receive over six million guilders in subsidies as part of the Dutch government's international cultural policy. The money is coming from the HGIS cultural budget (Homogeneous Group for International Cooperation), and is aimed at drawing international attention to Dutch culture.
More information: Ministery of Education and science, 08-08-01

Riot in Finland about Shostakovich

The Finnish town of Kaustinen thought it had its own exclusive premiere. An unknown piece of music by Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich was to be performed at the town's Chamber Music Festival in September. The piece dates from 1939, the year the then Soviet Union invaded Finland. Late last month, however, it was discovered that Stalin commissioned Shostakovich to write the piece to celebrate the victory over Finland. A lot of Finns now find it inappropriate to let the premiere go on.

No divorce by SMS for Muslims

According to the Sharia Laws of Islam, a Muslim man can divorce his wife by announcing to her three times: 'I cast you out'. An impatient man in Dubai cast out his wife with an SMS message: 'You're late again, I divorce you'. Sharia bodies in Singapore and Malaysia spent a lot of time discussing whether such a divorce is valid. Their conclusion: An SMS message is invalid, because the identity of the sender cannot be confirmed.

Latin alphabet in Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan has been using the Cyrillic script for the last 70 years. On 1 August, however, the country converted to the Latin alphabet, which is now compulsory in all official documents and advertisements. This is the third time in the last 100 years that Azerbaijan has changed its alphabet. Until Moscow imposed the Cyrillic script in around 1920, the country had used Arabic script for centuries. Supporters say that the Latin alphabet will facilitate contact with Western countries. However, the many Russian-speaking inhabitants are afraid that they will have difficulty understanding the new Azerbaijani.

Institute for Berber in Morocco

King Mohamed the Sixth has promised that the Berber language and culture will be given its rightful place in the Moroccan educational system. Berbers in Morocco have spent many years striving to achieve recognition for their language alongside Arabic, while the government has been trying to suppress their efforts. King Mohamed has now announced the 01-08-01

Sources: NRC Handelsblad, Trouw, de Volkskrant, Ministerie van OC en W, Tibet Information Network, UNHCR

Arabic art in Amsterdam

Thouria Jabrane (l) and Idir, two artists who will perform during the El Hizjra festival

El Hizjra festival

Film, plays, music, literature, lectures and discussion during the fourteenth International Festival of Arabic Art from the 24th through the 30th of September. With a debate about Islam and the freedom to express your opinion in the Arabic world (on 26 September) and in the Netherlands (on 27 September). The festival will be held in the KIT Tropentheater in Amsterdam. Also take a look at the El Hizjra site.

You can find more exhibitions, cultural events and gatherings in 'World in action', the schedule on the International Collaboration web site.


september 2001