#Occupy London Stock Exchange

This post has already appeared here.

Picture credit: Sophia Loukaides/Frontline Club

Can the Occupy LSX movements in London and around the world be linked to the uprisings during the Arab Spring?

This was just one of the issues that divided both the panel and the audience at last night’s “#Occupy – What do they want?” discussion, which was chaired by Kevin Marsh, director of OffspinMedia and former editor of BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

“It is utterly offensive to equate Occupy LSX’ big-state rich kids and crusties with freedom fighters of the Arab Spring,” argued journalist and author Daniel Ben-Ami, who went on to criticise the protesters in the US who “have been occupying Wall Street since September and it’s still not clear what they want.”

WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange argued that what the protesters want is “clear and simple”: “They want equality, justice and equality in front of the law. How do they get? That’s the hard part.”

Accountant and economist Richard Murphy responded that while it’s true the movement’s claims are still unclear and “messy” he argued that it was because it reflected “reality”.

“We’ve had materialism running wild to left and liberalism doing the same in the opposite direction. They both created a geography of dissent; we are now looking for real alternatives,” he said, “you ask me if I agree with what’s happening at St. Paul’s? Yes I do. Those people have put forward the choice we are being denied.”

Assange supported Murphy’s views and criticised the media for failing to create the conditions for debate and expression of ideas that social media had facilitated:

“We are all affected, not only the 99 per cent. And this is also thanks to the incredible improvement of technology in media,” he said. “Why didn’t this happen five years ago? Because only now there is a mechanism to react, to create an ‘external communication’ able to match against the ‘internal’ one of Goldman Sachs and financial markets.” Continue reading

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Under the veil

not necessarily a story of repression

Professor Leila Ahmed during one of her talks

this post first appeared on the Frontline Club Forum

Few garments have been as discussed as extensively or emotively as the veil, which for many in the West has become a symbol of the repression of Muslim women.

But Harvard Divinity professor Leila Ahmed, who was at the Frontline Club to discuss her recent book A Quiet Revolution: The resurgence of the veil from the Middle East to America put forward a different view of the veil, which she discovered many women in the West who had freedom to choose were opting to wear for their own reasons.

Interviewed by journalist and author Azadeh Moaveni, the women’s studies professor gives in her book an accurate and compelling account of cultural and historical evolution of the unveiling movement at the turn of the 20th century and its recent resurgence.

As a feminist, I was initially very resistant towards the hijab. It took to me 10 years of studies and this book to admit that it is not necessarily a sign of constriction and repression.

In Cairo in the 40s when Ahmed was growing up, it was considered normal for women to go unveiled and it bore little relation to their religious attitude.

In the first part of the book Ahmed explores the origins of the western conception of the Arab dress as a tool of repression. Arching back to late 19th and early 20th century, she explains how colonial officials regarded traditional forms of veiling as a sign of seclusion and “backwardness” of a culture and evidence of the inferiority of Islam to Christianity. Continue reading

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Ras Ajdir: tearing frontiers down

The account of a passionate Italian activist who scorns indifference

Among those who were caught up in the Libyan civil war there are those people who went there before the revolution to look for a better future.

They came from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and they effectively were the imported working class of the once-rich and wealthy Libya. From the beginning of the bombings, they started to migrate to the west, towards Tunisia. After a first moment of media attention, the focus has moved somewhere else and the world seems to have forgotten about them.

Bruno Pepe Russo, a 21-year-old Italian activist went to see personally what’s going on in the place where all these people transit every day and sometimes stay for a few weeks before figuring out where to go to start a new life: the refugee camp of Ras Jadir, north of Tunisia at the border with Libya.

“It is unbelievable how many people pass from that place every day!” says the young Italian, “When I went there an average of 25.000 people were hosted in the camp and about 2.000 were passing by.”

Bruno, who is a passionate student in Literature strongly committed to social and political issues, went to Tunisia on a humanitarian caravan organised by Unicommon and Yabasta, two Italian organisations involved in social activism and humanitarian aid.

He tells an engaged, enlightening story of cooperation, mutual communication, consciousness raising but most of all, it is about where the Arab Spring’s revolutions stemmed from.

“We usually think of people from the Middle East and North Africa as pre-modern, backward people. Talking to the Tunisian students who backed the revolution I almost had the impression that we have something to learn from them!”

Before going to Ras Jadir camp to bring food, medicines and clothes, the caravan stopped in Tunis, where representatives of local trade unions and students warmly welcomed the Italians with a meeting to discuss and explain the situation. Continue reading

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Chris Haydon and the Islamic community

Chris Haydon, in a picture taken from his Facebook profile







Multiculturalism: yes or not?

It is hard not to question the “failure of multiculturalism” while walking along the streets of Southwark. In less than 100 meters you come across a Colombian café at the exit of the Tube, an Indian restaurant on the opposite side of the road and a Mosque at the end of it.

“When white persons hold racist views we rightly condemn them. But when equally unacceptable views come from someone who isn’t white we are sometimes even fearful to stand up to them,” said PM Cameron in his recent speech in Munich where he declared, followed right after by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, the failure of multiculturalism.

“We work hard every day in Southwark, where 169 different nationalities live, and I really don’t think multiculturalism has failed,” says Chris Haydon the manager of local TV network called Community TV Trust  based in Elephant & Castle. The TV director has recently released a DVD about the Islamic society of the neighborhood entitled “MOSQUE: the story of Islam in Southwark.”

Mr. Haydon believes Muslims are victim of misrepresentation by the media. “From 9/11 on, media attention has focused mainly on Islam, which is understandable, but it failed representing it appropriately.” Continue reading

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East is East – pics

girls, you have to cover your heads before getting in!

can you read the scripture?


a bit of history

The East London Mosque of Whitechapel has opened his doors this weekend to non-muslims. It will happen again next July and December. If you missed the chance this time, don’t lose it twice.


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John Stezaker: playing with reality

Whitechapel Gallery, named by the Financial Times “the centre of the most vibrant artistic community in Europe,” is famous to host the most innovative, daring and cutting-edge exhibitions in town. That of British artist John Stezaker’s works is not an exception to those qualities and indeed confirms the attitude of the East End’s Art Gallery towards arts.

Fascinated by the lure of images and brave enough to tear them apart, cut them in pieces and rebuild them in a totally new outlook, John Stezaker creates works from existing material – advertisement posters, famous cinema’s pictures, vintage postcards, – according to the pop culture tradition of making art from mass media.

The Whitechapel Gallery’s exhibition hosts 90 of his best works from the seventies to today. Displayed on the ground floor of the building on a series of panels lit by a low, warm light, the pictures lead visitors through the eerie and at times bewildering atmospheres created by the artist.

At the base of Stekazer’s works, always meant to overturn reality by introducing external and unrelated elements in it, a series of fixed techniques can be traced according to which he intervenes on his material.

Continue reading

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It was the 5th of November when I first stepped into the Musem of London. On Guy Fawkes’ failure celebration, I was walking through the pictures that tell the story of the City from the Middle Ages to current time. A bell rung and I thought: “what a better occasion of living in London to go and explore it; to go and see who lives here; how many people coming from all over the planet come across each other, bump into each other every day without feeling the great potential of it?

So here I am, opening “allovertechnique”, a new blog to describe, explore and discuss the City, with an eye aimed at its multicultural settings. If you asked yourself about it, yes the name hints at Jackson Pollock’s art technique of spreading the colour all-over the canvas. Likewise, allovertechnique will travel over London trying to complete the puzzle putting the pieces together.

In the “what-I-do-in-the-meanwhile” section, I’ll keep you updated about my journalistic works in town.

Stay tuned, you’ll have fun!



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