Miss World pageant postponed until after Ramadan
The organizers of the Miss World pageant in Nigeria have postponed
the event for a week so that it will now take place after Ramadan,
the Islamic month of fasting. In doing this, the organization hopes
to accommodate the Nigerian Muslim organizations that are protesting
the pageant. The Muslim leaders consider looking at scantily clad
women objectionable - especially during the month of fasting. Since
1999 twelve Nigerian states have adopted Islamic law.
The beauty pageant is the object of considerable controversy. Many
beauty queens are not attending the pageant. The winners from the
Ivory Coast, New Zealand, Costa Rica, Spain, France, Denmark, Belgium
and Spain are boycotting the festivities to protest the death sentence
imposed on Amina Lawal Kurami. A Sharia court in North Nigeria sentenced
the single mother to death by stoning because she had an extramarital
relationship. Other Misses, including Miss Netherlands and Wales,
believe that they can only draw attention to Amina’s case
French writers acquitted
Two French authors who have had to appear in the witness box during
the past months can now breathe easier. Nicolas Jones-Gorlin can
keep his novel Rose bonbon on the bookstore shelves. French
Minister of the Interior Nicolas Sarkozy made this ruling after
he submitted the book to a special commission. Organizations for
children’s rights wanted to ban the novel because it contains
detailed sex scenes with young children. However, the Minister ruled
that it was sufficient that the publisher Gallimard publish a warning
on the book jacket.
Michel Houellebecq, author of Les Particules élémentaires
(translated as Atomised), was acquitted of inciting
hate against Muslims. Four Islamic organizations had sued the French
author for statements he made during an interview in a literary
magazine. In the interview he called Islam ‘the most idiotic
of all the monotheistic religions’. According to the judge
such criticism is protected under the right to free speech.
A trial is still in progress regarding the book Rage and Pride
by the Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci. She is also accused
of inciting hate against Muslims. In particular her statement that
‘Muslims multiply like rats’ stirred up ill feelings.
The French movement against racism and for friendship between peoples
(Mrap) wants the book banned.
Dutch rap song about ruling politician
Rapper Raymzter, son of a Dutch mother and Moroccan father, has
scored a hit with this song ‘Kut Marokkanen!’ (Fucking
Moroccans). The Amsterdam Social-Democratic councilman Rob Oudkerk
accidentally used this expression earlier this year in front of
television cameras. He said that he was referring to a small group
of hooligans, not all Moroccans. Raymzter (22) incorporated the
statement in a rap song with the objective of exposing prejudice
against Moroccan young people. The song was MTV’s superclip
Israeli artists under pressure
Israel’s actions against the Palestinians have induced all
sorts of groups to call for a boycott of Israeli cultural expressions.
The Network of Palestinian Art Centers is encouraging cultural
devotees to boycott artistic events in Israel. The intention of
the boycott is to force Israeli leaders to stop the violence against
Palestine. They compare Israel’s policy to that of the South-African
Apartheid Regime. An international cultural boycott also contributed
to reforms in South Africa.
Others believe that Israeli artists must be excluded outside their
own territory. This is why the British novelist Nicholas Blincoe
disrupted a performance of the Israeli singer Noa in London during
a festival of Mediterranean music.
Palestinian Artists Resisting Apartheid Culture (Para-culture)
is calling on Israeli artists to politicize their work. In the foundation’s
opinion, they must demonstrate more solidarity with their Palestinian
colleagues whose ‘artistic talent is wasted’ due to
the daily violence. Israeli art works must criticize the Palestinian
issue more explicitly.
However, Israeli artists who express criticism of their political
leaders’ policy are not welcome everywhere, either. Musician
Yair Dalal, who has always called attention to the fate of the Palestinians,
was not allowed to perform in Italy and Zanzibar because he is from
Rumanian law to protect Rumania’s native tongue
In Rumania a law is being considered whose objective is to forbid
all non-Rumanian expressions. Words that are borrowed from another
language must be replaced by Rumanian terms. The law was introduced
by Senator George Pruteanu, who wants to quell the increasing influence
of English. According to the Senator older, uneducated people are
being estranged from a society in which so many foreign expressions
are used. In his opinion, monitoring one’s own language is
an act of patriotism. Opponents of the law say that you cannot curtail
the development of a language. Implementing such a law will be extremely
difficult. Many English terms have been in the Rumanian dictionaries
Artists from Muslim countries not welcome in the US
The Iranian filmmaker Bahman Qobadi could not accept his prize
at the Chicago
Film Festival in person. The North American authorities would
not give him a visa. Since the terrorist attacks in 2001 the United
States has severely tightened its visa policy for many Islamic countries.
A number of foreign artists have had to cancel performances as a
result. The renowned Iranian director Abbas Kiarostami was also
refused entry into the US. He was to attend the showing of his film
at the New York film festival. Protests by prominent cultural leaders
like director Martin Scorsese could not revere the government’s
decision. The Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki decided to boycott
the film festival in protest.
Body of vagrant as art
In Plymouth, Great Britain, the judge will probably have to rule
whether the embalmed body of a vagrant is art that should be kept.
Vagrant Edwin MacKenzie was a friend of the recently deceased artist
Lenkiewicz. The painter, who repeatedly portrayed people from
the fringes of society, embalmed MacKenzie’s body after his
death in 1984. The vagrant had requested him to do this because
he wanted to live on as a work of art. This caused fierce protests
from the authorities, who demanded that the body be buried.
Now that the body has been found in the studio of the deceased artist
the discussion regarding its artistic value has been rekindled.
MacKenzie has no family members and did not leave a will. The foundation
that represents Lenkiewicz’ interest must prove that the body
should be preserved as a work of art within a few weeks. Otherwise
the body will have to be buried. 11/10/02
No Western productions on Namibian television
The Namibian national broadcaster NBC is only being allowed to
telecast domestic TV programs. Foreign productions such as the series
Dune and The Bold and The Beautiful set the wrong
example for Namibian youth, according to a ruling by President Sam
Nujoma. Critics say the measure is primarily intended to suppress
critical foreign reporting criticizing Nujoma’s policy.
Dagblad, NRC Handelsblad,
belang van Limburg,
The Guardian, The
BBC News, Spitsnet.nl,
Times of Nigeria, Salon,
Evening Herald, Evenimentul