The Power of Culture

Tunesian webmaster convicted

Zouhair Yahyaoui, founder of the Tunesian online-magazine Tunezine has been sentenced to two years and four months in prison. Yahyaoui, who went under the pseudonym of Ettounsi (the Tunesian) was arrested in an Internet café in Tunis. The satirical magazine criticised the Tunesian government. The webmaster is being held responsible for all the dissident opinions on the site’s forum page. Tunesia has a strange form of media censorship. Yahyaoui’s conviction is one of the government’s attempts to control Internet information.

Does Zimbabwan law apply to the Internet?

A correspondent of the British newspaper The Guardian, Andrew Meldrum, is being charged in Zimbabwe with publishing misinformation. A new media law took effect in Zimbabwe in March: The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Journalists that publish incorrect information can be subject to fines or prison terms. Critics believe that any information that does not please the party of president Robert Mugabe will be considered misinformation.
One interesting aspect of Meldrums case is that the article being denounced was only published on The Guardian’s web site. The lawyer for the correspondent claims that Zimbabwe’s laws do not apply to the Internet and that, in fact, it was the Zimbabwe police officers themselves who introduced the piece into the country by downloading it.

First western production in China

A Broadway/West End musical is playing onstage in China for the first time. At the end of June a three-week run of Les Misérables started in the new Shanghai Grand Theatre. The Chinese authorities were captivated by the political theme of the theatre show. The novel by Frenchman Victor Hugo, on which the musical is based, is also very popular in China. The cast of the English language production comes primarily from New York.

American celebrities stand up against president Bush

At least seventy leading Americans have signed a declaration in which they attempt to distance themselves from President Bush. The group consists of filmmakers, singers, actors, writers, university graduates, and representatives of religious groups. In Not in our name they criticise the American government’s reaction to the September 11th attacks. They condemn Bush’s ‘simplistic’ distinction between good and evil, the right he has appropriated to intervene militarily anywhere he wishes in world and the disregard with which specific immigrants have been handled since September in the US. The signatories include Noam Chomsky, Edward Said, Adrienne Rich, Gloria Steinem, Mos Def, Eve Ensler and Alice Walker.

Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem

Residents of Jerusalem are witnessing the first gay pride parade in their city. The parade, in which several thousand male and female homosexuals are participating, was organised by Jerusalem Open House (JOH) - an organisation that wants to unite Jewish, Christian and Islamic homosexuals. The motto of the parade was ‘love without borders.’
The organisers also wanted to see Jerusalem in the news for once as a place of hope and unity. The city constantly appears in the media because of the violence that takes place there. Out of fear of attack, the residents of Jerusalem hardly dare to venture outdoors. The fact that so many people are willing to congregate in public makes this event even more extraordinary.
Different orthodox groups opposed the parade. The city government was also upset. They were afraid that the ‘sick souls’ would sully the holy character of the city.

French performance against hostage-taking

At the Fifth International Performance Festival in the Colombian city of Cali, Pierre Pinoncelli cut off a piece of his little finger. The French artist did this out of solidarity with politician Ingrid Betancourt, who was kidnapped in February of 2002 by the Colombian rebel forces Farc. The finger is now at the Calinese museum of modern art La Tertulia.

Homosexual hero in a British children’s book

A children’s book has appeared on the British market with a homosexual main character. In ‘Strange Boy’ the British literature professor Paul Magrs writes about the 10-year old David who likes boys rather than girls. Given the controversial character of the book it is remarkable that it is being published by the major publishing house of Simon and Schuster.

Dutch cultural heritage monitors will travel with the military

The Dutch Ministry of Defence is going to send cultural experts along with the military on humanitarian missions. Professionals in the area of museums, libraries and monuments are to make recommendations on how cultural treasures can be protected and recovered in areas affected by war or disaster. The ministry will co-operate with the Dutch branch of the International Committee of the Blue Shield - a Unesco organisation for the protection of cultural treasures in countries that are ravaged by armed conflicts or natural disasters.

Argentinean opera for an apple and an egg

The legendary Teatro Colon in Buenos Aires asked for food rather than money as admission to a performance on the first Sunday in June. After demonstrators had disrupted a performance the week before, the management decided to lend a hand to poor fellow countrymen. Visitors to the opera house were requested to bring non-perishable foodstuffs as admission. An aid organisation distributed the food among the poor. Since the economic crisis in Argentina half the population is living in poverty.

Sources: NRC Handelsblad, het Parool, De Telegraaf, Trouw, de Volkskrant, Rotterdams Dagblad, De Standaard, The Guardian, Le Monde, BBCi, Achuka, Bay Windows, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ),, Siegesaeule, Telepolis

Movieculture in Egypt en Italy

Coloured picture

Imagine Identity and culture

The new Dutch institute Imagine IC creates audio-visual productions about identity and cultures. Starting on May 23, Imagine IC will present four multimedia presentations with images of migrants and young people with diverse cultural backgrounds under the title of Coloured image.
Check out Imagine IC’s brand new web site:


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


july 2002