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Is there anything more beautiful than this?

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LodqNnGK_A]

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The Kurds in Syria

Kurds are the largest ethnic minority in Syria and make up nine percent of the population of 25 million people of Syria or 2.2 million in Syria. The Kurdish population in Syria is relatively small in comparison to the Kurdish populations in nearby countries, such as Iraq (4.7-6.2 million), Iran (7.9 million) and Turkey (14.4 million).
The majority of Syrian Kurds speak Kurmanji, a Kurdish dialect spoken in Turkey and northeastern Iraq and Iran, and are Sunni Muslims with the exception of some Yazidi Kurds.
Syrian Kurds have faced routine discrimination and harassment by the government. Even though Kurds have a long history in Syria, the government has used the fact that many Kurds fled to Syria during the 1920s to claim that Kurds are not indigenous to the country and to justify the government’s discriminatory policies against them.
International and Kurdish human rights organizations have accused the Syrian government of discriminating against the Kurdish minority. Amnesty International also reported that Kurdish human rights activists are mistreated and persecuted.
Kurdish settlement in Syria goes back to before the Crusades of the 11th century. A number of Kurdish military and feudal settlements from before this period have been found in Syria. Such settlements have been found in the Alawite and north Lebanese mountains and around Hama and its surroundings. The Crusade fortress of Krak des Chevaliers, which is known in Arabic as Hisn al-Akrad (Castle of the Kurds), was originally a Kurdish military settlement before it was enlarged by the French Crusaders.
It is estimated that at the beginning of the 20th century around 12,000 Kurds lived in Damascus; an unknown number of Kurds lived in the Kurd-Dagh region; 16,000 Kurds lived in the Jarabulus region; and an unknown number lived in the Jazira province where they were likely the majority.
In the 1920s after the failed Kurdish rebellions in Kemalist Turkey, there was a large influx of Kurds to Syria’s Jazira province. It is estimated that 25,000 Kurds fled at this time to Syria. These Kurdish newcomers, constituted no more than 10% of the Kurdish population of Jazira at the time and all were granted citizenship by the French mandate authorities who recognized their agricultural skills.
Kurds mostly live in a geocultural region in northeastern Syria. This region covers the greater part of the governorate of Al Hasakah (formerly the Jazira province), a region also inhabited by many Assyrians. The main cities in this region are Qamishli and Hasakah. Another region with a significant Kurdish population is Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab) in the northern part of Syria near the town of Jarabulus.
The Kurdish inhabited northern and northeastern parts of Syria are called “Kurdistana Binxetê” in Kurdish. An area of Kurdish concentration is Kurd Dagh (Kurdish Mountain) in the northwest, around the town of Afrin in Aleppo Governorate, a region that extends to the Turkish districts of Islahiye and Kırıkhan. Also, many Kurds live in the large cities and metropolitan areas of the country, for example, in the neighborhood of Rukn al-Din in Damascus which was formerly known as Hayy al Akrad (Kurdish Quarter).
The northeastern Kurdish inhabited region covers the greater part of Hasakah Governorate. The main cities in this region are Qamishli and Hasakah. Another region with significant Kurdish population is Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab) in the northern part of Syria near the town of Jarabulus and also the city of Afrin and its surroundings along the Turkish border.
“Syrian Kurdistan” (Kurdish: Kurdistana Sûriyê) is an unofficial name used by some to describe the Kurdish inhabited regions of northern and northeastern Syria. Many Kurds seek political autonomy for the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria, similar to Iraqi Kurdistan in Iraq, or outright independence as part of Kurdistan.
The name “Western Kurdistan” (Kurdish: Rojavayê Kurdistanê) is also used by Kurds to name the Syrian Kurdish inhabited areas in relation to Kurdistan. Since the Syrian civil war, Syrian government forces have abandoned many Kurdish-populated areas, leaving the Kurds to fill the power vacuum and govern these areas autonomously.
The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria was formed to represent Syrian Kurds based on two major conferences, one at the US Senate in March 2006 and the other at the EU parliament in Brussels in 2006.
The Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNAS) seek democracy for Syria and granting rights to Kurds and other Syrian minorities. They seek to transform Syria into a federal state, with a democratic system and structure for the federal government and provincial governments. This will begin a new era in which the Syrian people and neighboring countries will enjoy freedom, peace, security and stability.
Following the Tunisian Revolution and the Egyptian Revolution, 4 February 2011 was declared a Day of Rage in Syria by activists through the social website Facebook. Few turned out to protest, but among the few were Kurdish demonstrators in the northeast of the country. On 7 October 2011, Kurdish leader Mashaal Tammo was gunned down in his apartment by masked men widely believed to be government agents.
During Tammo’s funeral procession the next day in the town of Qamishli, Syrian security forces fired into a crowd of more than 50,000 mourners, killing five people. According to Tammo’s son, Fares Tammo, “My father’s assassination is the screw in the regime’s coffin. They made a big mistake by killing my father.” Since then, Kurdish demonstrations became a routine part of the Syrian uprising. In June 2012, the Syrian National Council (SNC), the main opposition group, announced Abdulbaset Sieda, an ethnic Kurd, as their new leader.
Protests in the Kurdish inhabited areas of Syria evolved into armed clashes after the opposition Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD) and Kurdish National Council (KNC) signed a cooperation agreement on 12 July 2012 that created the Kurdish Supreme Committee as the governing body of all Kurdish controlled areas.
Under the administration of the Kurdish Supreme Committee, the Popular Protection Units (YPG) were created to control the Kurdish inhabited areas in Syria. On 19 July, the YPG captured the city of Kobanê (Ayn al-Arab), and the next day captured Amûdê and Efrîn.
The KNC and PYD afterwards formed a joint leadership council to run the captured cities. By 24 July, the Syrian Kurdish cities of Dêrika Hemko (Al-Malikiyah), Serê Kaniyê (Ra’s al-‘Ayn), Dirbêsî (Al-Darbasiyah) and Girkê Legê (Al-Ma’bada) had also come under the control of the Popular Protection Units. The only major Kurdish inhabited cities that remained under government control were Hasaka and Qamishli.
On Monday 11 18the of Nevember 2013, PYD announced from the unofficial Syrian Kurdish capital of Qamishli that it would form an interim transitional administration, despite objections from Turkey.
The plan is based on a PYD project announced in July 2013, that would include the formation of a interim government, elections and a constitution.
The Kurdish parties from Syria were holding meetings with Kurds, Arabs, Christians, and Chechens, to discuss the project.
The announcement comes after the People’s Defense Units (YPG) made several military gains in the province of Hasakah and captured the Iraqi border crossing in Yaroubiya on Oct. 24.
Alan Semo, a representative of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) based in London, told Al-Monitor by email that the YPG capture has the aim “to establish the self-rule of the region’s people and serve the region’s multi- ethnic communities.”
The announcement of the PYD came on the same day as the Syrian opposition group, the Syrian National Coalition, announced their provisional government for rebel-held areas, which doesn’t include members of the Kurdish nationalist parties.
A member of the Syrian National Coalition, Bassam Yousef, in a statement to Al Arabiya, denounced the PYD announcement, suggesting it could risk the partitioning of Syria, and was inappropriate before the fall of the regime.
Nevertheless, Fuad Aliko, a member of the Kurdish Unity party, told Al-Monitor from Qamishli that Ahmed Jarba, the head of the Syrian National Coalition, is willing to negotiate about the project, and send a message to the Kurdish parties from Syria.
The main Kurdish blocs, the Kurdish National Council, formed with the support of Masoud Barzani, the president of the Kurdistan region of Iraq in October 2011, and the People’s Council of West Kurdistan, close to the PYD and the PKK, reached an agreement in September 2013 to form the interim administration.
However, despite the formation of a committee in Qamishli consisting of five members of the KNC, and five members from PYD-affiliated organizations, many disagreements remained. Many members of the KNC point out that the Syrian government is still present in the cities of Hasakah and Qamishli, and pays the salaries of many employees in institutions, and that therefore forming an administration is difficult.
“The success of this project depends on the withdrawal of the regime,” said Sabri Mirza, a member of the Kurdish Unity party in Qamishli.
Especially, the Kurdish Democratic Party of Syria (KDP-S), directly affiliated to the Kurdistan Democratic Party of Massoud Barzani, is very critical of the project, and thinks the project by the PYD would legitimate the armed PYD control over the Kurdish regions.
Now, PYD, on Monday 18the of Nevember 2013, displayed its flag in the Syrian town of Ras al-Ain next to the flag of the Syrian Supreme Kurdish Council, and the PYD flag can once again clearly be seen from the Turkish side.
Syrian Kurdistan – Wikipedia
Kurds in Syria – Wikipedia
Kurdish National Council – Wikipedia
Syrian Kurdistan campaign (2012–present) – Wikipedia
Turkey Stands With al-Qaeda Against the Kurds
Syrian Kurdish Party declares transitional government
PYD displays its flag in Ras al-Ain after many months

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The Yazidis and the Conflict in Syria

The Yazidis

The Yazidi are a Kurdish-speaking people, and their cultural practices are observably Kurdish. Almost all speak Kurmanjî (Northern Kurdish), with the exception of the villages of Bashiqa and Bahazane, where Arabic is spoken. Kurmanjî is the language of almost all the orally transmitted religious traditions of the Yazidis.
Their religion represent an ancient religion linked to Zoroastrianism and Sufism. Points of resemblance are found with ancient Zoroastrian and Assyrian religion. It is a branch of Iranian religions that blends elements of Mithraism, pre-Islamic Mesopotamian religious traditions, Christianity and Islam.
It is Islamic Sa highly syncretic complex of local Kurdish beliefs that contains Zoroastrian elements and ufi doctrine introduced to the area by Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir in the 12th century. The Yazidi believe in God as creator of the world, which he placed under the care of seven holy beings or angels, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel.
Historically, the Yazidi lived primarily in communities in the Nineveh Province of northern Iraq, but with significant numbers in present day, Syria and Turkey, in addition to in Armenia and Georgia. However, events since the 20th century have resulted in considerable demographic shift in these areas as well as mass emigration. As a result population estimates are unclear in many regions, and estimates of the size of the total population vary.
The Yazidis are the largest ethnic and religious minority in Armenia. Yazidis are well integrated into the Armenian society. They have freedom of religion and non-interference in their cultural traditions (although this does not account for, as is the case with all countries, prejudices among the people of Armenia).
Many Yazidis came to Armenia and Georgia during the 19th and early 20th centuries to escape religious persecution, as they were oppressed by the Ottoman Turks and the Sunni Kurds who tried to convert them to Islam. The Yazidis were massacred alongside the Armenians during the Armenian Genocide, causing many to flee to Russian held parts of Armenia. The first ever Yazidi school opened in Armenia in 1920.
Due to the ethnic tension created by the war with Azerbaijan, the Yazidi community has renounced its ties with the mostly Muslim Kurds that fled the country and tried to establish itself as a distinct ethnic group. The Yezidis showed Armenian patriotism during the Nagorno-Karabakh war when many died in service.
The bulk of the Yazidi population lives in Iraq. They are particularly concentrated in northern Iraq in the Nineveh Province. The two biggest communities are in Shekhan, northeast of Mosul, and in Sinjar, at the Syrian border 80 kilometers west of Mosul. In Shekhan is the shrine of Sheikh Adi ibn Musafir at Lalish. During the 20th century the Shekhan community struggled for dominance with the more conservative Sinjar community. The demographic profile is likely to have changed considerably since the start of the Iraq War in 2003 and the fall of Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Yazidi in Syria live primarily in two communities, one in the Al-Jazira area and the other in the Kurd-Dagh. Population numbers for the Syrian Yazidi community are unclear. In 1963 the community was estimated at about 10,000, according to the national census, but numbers for 1987 were unavailable. There may be between about 12,000 and 15,000 Yazidi in Syria today, though more than half of the community may have emigrated from Syria since the 1980s. Estimates are further complicated by the arrival of as many as 50,000 Yazidi refugees from Iraq during the Iraq War.
The Turkish Yazidi community declined precipitously during the 20th century. By 1982 it had decreased to about 30,000, and in 2009 there were fewer than 500. Most Turkish Yazidi have emigrated to Europe, particularly Germany; those who remain reside primarily in their former heartland of Tur Abdin.
Population estimates for the communities in Georgia and Armenia vary, but they too have declined severely. In Georgia the community fell from around 30,000 people to fewer than 5,000 during the 1990s. The numbers in Armenia may have been somewhat more stable; there may be around 40,000 Yazidi still in Armenia. Most Georgian and Armenian Yazidi have relocated to Russia, which recorded a population of 31,273 Yazidis in the 2002 census.
This mass emigration has resulted in the establishment of large diaspora communities abroad. The most significant of these is in Germany, which now has a Yazidi community of over 40,000. Most are from Turkey and more recently Iraq, and live in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony.
Since 2008 Sweden has seen sizable growth in its Yazidi emigrant community, which had grown to around 4,000 by 2010, and a smaller community exists in the Netherlands. Other diaspora groups live in Belgium, Denmark, France, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, and Australia; these have a total population of probably less than 5,000.

The Conflict in Syria

The Battle of Ras al-Ayn was a battle for control of the town of Ras al-Ayn mainly between Kurdish separatists and armed groups of the Syrian opposition, with the occasional involvement of the Syrian Armed Forces.
On 19 February, an agreement was announced between Arab rebels and YPG fighters in Ras al-Ayn following a weeklong truce, but three days after the agreement was signed, FSA commander-in-chief Salim Idris rejected it, citing the Democratic Union Party’s (PYD) connections to the PKK and Iraqi and Iranian Kurdish groups in his decision. Analysts believed that the repudiation was designed to placate Turkey, who had been actively supporting Arab rebels fighting the Kurds in Ras al-Ayn.
Rebel leader Nawaf Ragheb al-Bashir, a prominent Arab tribal figure from Hasakah Province who has engaged in disputes with Kurds in the past, stated that his forces “will not allow the separatists to control [Hasakah] province because it is the richest part of Syria in terms of oil and agriculture”.
On 17 July 2013, Kurdish fighters expelled the jihadists from the town of Ras al-Ain after a night of fighting and soon after took control of the border crossing with Turkey. 11 people were killed during the fighting, including nine jihadist and two Kurdish fighters.
According to PYD’s leader Salih Muslim Muhammad, Arab rebel control of Ras al-Ayn would have two effects. First, it would isolate Kurdish separatist pockets in Aleppo Province from the main area in Hasakah Province, giving the FSA and its affiliates more leverage over the PYD/YPG. Second, it would secure a vital supply line from Turkey that could potentially enable Arab rebels to seize control over greater parts of Syria’s east, including the city of Hasakah itself.
The PYD routinely accuses Turkey of supporting Arab rebels fighting against their YPG units in Ras al-Ayn. Arab rebel leaders have publicly confirmed this support.
The PYD flag, which replaced the flag of the opposition Free Syrian Army (FSA) on July 19 after the Syrian Kurdish group seized control of the Syrian town on the Turkish border, was removed from the top of an abandoned factory a few days later, July 26, following concerns from Ankara.
But as the Kurdish armed fighters of the Popular Protection Units (YPG), the military wing of the PYD, have achieved a considerable advance on the ground, the extremist armed groups have reportedly changed their military tactics, depending more on the methods of hit-and-run, and the use of land-mines and ambushes on the roads of the YPG especially in the rural south and south-east where they make use of the forests on both sides of the (Aljrajab, Alzerkan) rivers that in turn facilitate the process of disappearance and camouflage.
As clashes continue in Ras al-Ayn city and its suburbs, violence remains prevalent in the Kurdish areas, north Syria. In the city of Ras al-Ain, with a heterogeneous mix of Syriacs, Arabs, Kurds, Armenians, and Chechens, the brigades of the al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham (ISIS, or Daash) are constantly storming the city, using tanks and mortars to carry out operations against the Kurdish populated area.
The shelling is focused on the neighborhood of al-Mahatta (the station), which contains the border gate with Turkey, in an attempt to take over the strategic crossing area. The city saw fierce attacks by the Islamic militants in an attempt to storm the city.
The Kurdish attempts to face the Islamist groups and defend the city led those groups to attack Tel Hallaf and Almushrafa, in order to drain the capabilities of the Kurdish forces and exhaust the front of Ras al-Ain.
The Yazidies remain one of the most endangered religious minorities in Syria, especially with the growing power of the al-Qaeda linked Islamist groups in the northern region in Syria. Several Yazidi villages have been attacked by fighters from Jabhat al-Nusra and the ISIS, including Jafa, Dardara, and al-Asadia. The attacks has resulted in dozens of casualties among the Yazidi residents, which at the same time has been looted in addition to being forced to evacuate the area.
The leaders of the extremist Islamic groups has called on their fighters to take over the Yazidi villages and property describing them as “infidels” and “disbelievers”; the fact that has led many Kurdish Yazidi families to leave their homes and resort to other neighboring areas, fearing of any approaching attack by Islamists.
Civilians are the most affected victim of the ongoing conflict in Ras al-Ayn. According to local estimates, more than 90% of the city’s population are displaced, including families that resorted to Turkey, Iraqi Kurdistan and other neighboring areas.
According to Kurdish activists, the current violent campaign by different Islamist groups against the Syrian Kurds is meant to contribute to the implementation of an already prepared agenda to change the demography of the Kurdish areas in Syria.
Yazidi – Wikipedia
Battle of Ras al-Ayn – Wikipedia
Assault on Ras Al-Ayn – A Closer Look On Syria
Yazidis Benefit From Kurdish Gains In Northeast Syria
Kurdish Yazidi minority in Syria targeted by Islamist armed group
Yazidis Benefit From Kurdish Gains in Northeast Syria

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Save Yasuní, the Last Wonder of the Amazon!

Drill here, really?
A Secoya elder stands in front of a banner reading Justice during a demonstration at the start of the trial against ChevronTexaco in Lago Agrio. Photo Credit: Lou Dematteis from Crude Reflections



In June 2007, the Ecuadorian government launched the Yasuní-ITT initiative, a revolutionary proposal that aimed to leave 920 million barrels of oil in the ground. The initiative sought to preserve the Yasuní National Park – the most biodiverse area on the planet – from contamination from oil exploration, protect the rights of peoples in voluntary isolation, and help abate climate change. Ecuador appealed to the international community to help guarantee the success of this progressive campaign.
Unfortunately, Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa has now approved oil drilling of the Ishpingo, Tambococha, Tiputini (ITT) fields that lie beneath Yasuni National Park. In recent weeks thousands have taken to the streets to protest his decision, and are rallying to force a national referendum that would reverse the president’s decision. President Correa must safeguard the rights of the indigenous peoples and protect Yasuní, one of the last natural wonders of the world.
Please SIGN THE PETITION and use the buttons above to SHARE it today!
Take Action for the Earth and Indigenous Peoples!
Ecuador’s Yasuni-ITT Initiative Failed, What’s Next?
AMAZON WATCH » The Yasuní-ITT Initiative
Crude Politics: Is Chevron Involved in a Billion Dollar Bait-and-Switch in Ecuador?
Yasuní-ITT Initiative – Wikipedia
SOS Yasuni – Home

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What Colombia's Kogi people can teach us about the environment

The Kogi people are warning society of destruction we face if we fail to embrace nature

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IB1DQ_C6Gig]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iXiBSfca6KY]

What Colombia’s Kogi people can teach us about the environment

The Kogi of Colombia – Lost Tribe of Pre-Colombian America

Kogi Religion and Cosmology – Tairona Heritage Trust

Aluna: Colombia’s Kogi people fight against ecocide – film review

Aluna – The Movie

Kogi people – Wikipedia

The Kogi know secrets about nature that would make our scientists rethink their ideas on the environment and the universe. They have a presence about them that commands respect. The power of their mind is beyond comprehension. But few people outside of Colombia know who they are and what they represent.
Why do they call themselves the Elder Brothers and how can we learn to live in the spiritual world that this lost tribe lives in? Eight years ago I saw an amazing video called “From the Heart of the World, The Elder Brothers Warning.” It was about a unique indigenous community that lived in Northern Colombia who say they are keeping the world in balance.
I was so impressed with these people because they are still living with the same spiritual values and traditions of their ancestors. But the ecological warning the Kogi shared touched a nerve and made me realize they may be right.
Deep in Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta mountains, surrounded by jungle (and guerrillas, tomb raiders and drug traffickers), live 20,000 indigenous Kogi people. A culturally intact pre-Colombian society, they’ve lived in seclusion since the Spanish conquest 500 years ago. Highly attuned to nature, the Kogi believe they exist to care for the world – a world they fear we are destroying.
In 1990, in a celebrated BBC documentary, the Kogi made contact with the outside world to warn industrialised societies of the potentially catastrophic future facing the planet if we don’t change our ways.
They watched, waited and listened to nature. They witnessed landslides, floods, deforestation, the drying up of lakes and rivers, the stripping bare of mountain tops, the dying of trees. The Sierra Nevada, because of its unique ecological structure, mirrors the rest of the planet – bad news for us.
The Kogi don’t understand why their words went unheeded, why people did not understand that the earth is a living body and if we damage part of it, we damage the whole body.
Twenty-three years later they summoned filmmaker Alan Ereira back to their home to renew the message: this time the leaders, the Kogi Mama (the name means enlightened ones), set out to show in a visceral way the delicate and critical interconnections that exist between the natural world.
The resulting film, Aluna, takes us into the world of the Kogi. At the heart of the tribe’s belief system is “Aluna” – a kind of cosmic consciousness that is the source of all life and intelligence and the mind inside nature too. “Aluna is something that is thinking and has self-knowledge. It’s self-aware and alive.” says Ereira. “All indigenous people believe this, historically. It’s absolutely universal.”

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Ostracism – informal exclusion / social rejection

Ostracism

Ostracism (Greek: ὀστρακισμός, ostrakismos) was a procedure under the Athenian democracy in which any citizen could be expelled from the city-state of Athens for ten years. While some instances clearly expressed popular anger at the citizen, ostracism was often used preemptively. It was used as a way of neutralizing someone thought to be a threat to the state or potential tyrant.
Crucially, ostracism had no relation to the processes of justice. There was no charge or defense, and the exile was not in fact a penalty; it was simply a command from the Athenian people that one of their number be gone for ten years.
A modern use developed from the term is to describe informal exclusion from a group through social rejection. Although the psychology of ostracism takes this further, where it has been defined as “…any behaviour in which a group or individual excludes and ignores another group or individual”. This could therefore be an intentional act or an unintentional one.

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Stand up for Hagia Sophia!

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Hagia Sophia

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[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usp6GLrzdws]

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ng–WLT0Xjc]

Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç has expressed his hope to see Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Museum be used as a mosque, while already calling it the “Hagia Sophia Mosque” while speaking to reporters.

“We currently stand next to the Hagia Sophia Mosque … we are looking at a sad Hagia Sophia, but hopefully we will see it smiling again soon,” Arınç said in a speech during the opening ceremony of a new Carpet Museum, located adjacent to the ancient Hagia Sophia complex.

He cited two other complexes with the same name in Turkey that have recently been converted into mosques.

“We have recently reopened two mosques with the same name to worship, one in İznik and the other in Trabzon. These were already mosques, but they were being used for different purposes,” Arınç said.

“There were no legal objections about İznik’s Hagia Sophia, but there was one about Trabzon’s. Fortunately, we now have [real] judges in Turkey, which is a state of law, and Trabzon’s Hagia Sophia has been legally registered as a mosque,” the deputy prime minister said.

On July 5th the mufti of Trabzon gathered with other citizens for the first Friday prayers of the holy fasting month of Ramadan, not at a mosque but at an ancient Byzantine church.

The gathering was a symbolic re-enactment of the conquest in 1462 of this ancient Greek Black Sea port by Mehmet II, the Ottoman sultan who had wrested Constantinople from the Byzantines in 1453. He marked his victory by converting the Haghia Sophia cathedral of today’s Istanbul into a mosque.

Haghia Sophia’s sister of the same name in Trabzon is less grand. Yet with its dazzling frescoes and magnificent setting overlooking the sea, the 13th-century building is regarded as one of the finest examples of Byzantine architecture.

As with other Christian monuments, the Haghia Sophia in Trabzon has become a symbol in the battle between secularists and Islamists. It was converted into a mosque around the 16th century and, after other incarnations, became a museum in 1964.

But the Islamists won the last round in 2012 when a local court accepted the claim by the General Directorate of the Pious Foundations, the government body responsible for Turkey’s historic mosques, that the Haghia Sophia belonged to the foundation of Mehmet II and was being “illegally occupied” by the culture ministry.

The decision provoked surprising anger in a city notorious for its ultra-nationalist views. “It’s about erasing the Christian past, reviving Ottomanism,” says a local historian. “There are enough mosques in Trabzon, half of them empty, what was the need?” chimes in Zeki Bakar, a neighbourhood councillor. A lawsuit has been brought to undo the conversion.
Even so, the mildly Islamist Justice and Development (AK) government carried out the conversion in time for Ramadan. A red carpet now obscures exquisite floor mosaics. Shutters and tents beneath the central dome shield Muslim worshippers from “sinful” paintings of the Holy Trinity. Shiny steel taps with plastic stools for ablutions clutter a once-verdant garden filled with ancient sculptures.
Mazhar Yildirimhan of the Pious Foundations Directorate’s office in Trabzon shrugs off complaints as propaganda. But for experts the conversion is tragic, and will inevitably lead to damaging the building. “It seems to follow closely that of Haghia Sophia in Iznik,” warns Antony Eastmond of the Courtauld Institute of Art, referring to another conversion.
All this is prompting anxiety that the Haghia Sophia in Istanbul “will be next”. These fears are overdone. Restoration work on the famous basilica has continued under a decade of AK rule and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, has dismissed worries about its fate. Yet Mr Yildirimhan makes no secret of his desire for a conversion, which he says is shared by fellow Muslims. “It was ordained by the sultan,” he says. “We have all the records.”

“I won’t say that I wish same for Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia because you will misunderstand me. But these are what I feel when I talk about it,” he added. Arınç also referred to an article of real estate law, which states that “Worship places cannot be used for purposes other than their aims.”

“Trabzon’s Hagia Sophia Mosque remained a mosque for centuries, but it turned into a museum after someone made a decision,” he added, particularly criticizing the “selling of tickets” to enter these buildings.
The status of Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia has come under increasing scrutiny in recent years, with a number of campaigns to open it for Muslim prayers being initiated, despite suggestions that this would be disrespectful to the building’s past as a church.

Turkish Deputy PM expresses ‘hope’ to see Hagia Sophia as mosque

Stand up for Hagia Sophia

Erasing the Christian past

Hagia Sophia – Wikipedia

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Noah – Official Trailer

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FRTlT3DEydU]

Noah – Official Trailer

Russell Crowe, Emma Watson

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Peace Painting

 
photo

Peace Painting

We believe that peace begins in the individual’s heart. A place is found there which desires peace – we want to help this to grow. Every time we look at each other with real respect, the chance of a more peaceful world increases. When we help each other to thrive, the peaceful place in the heart is nourished.

We want, through our activities with children, to participate in work towards the same goal as so many others: a world where our children can grow up and blossom in peaceful coexistence, a world where the collective and individuals are equal.

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Civilization Epic Rap by Dan Bull

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