Meet journalist Iffet Subasi

Iffet Subasi is 27 years old, Turkish and lives in Rotterdam. She joined us since last november, here’s what you should know about her!

Can you tell us something about your background?

I am born in the Netherlands and study journalism. My parents were born in Turkey but my mother came to the Netherlands for the first time, when she was 4. That was in the 70´s. Later she married my father in Turkey and came back here.

How did you join the HPP?

I have got a Facebook message from Tayfun, the Turkish-Kurdish working group coordinator. He asked me if I wanted to speak on the second Turkish Kurdish dialogue at the 12th November 2016. I participated and told my story in Rotterdam. I was also a speaker during the last working group meeting with a session on the Turkish referendum (watch the live stream).

What are you going to speak about?
As a journalist I follow the debates among the Turkish community as well as in the Dutch context. In these debates, I observe sentiments and how people treat each other. Because of polarization, people do not listen to other speakers and opinions very often.

What do you think about the Turkish Kurdish Dialogue in general?

It is a really good initiative because every participant can get a whole picture of the other side. It is not like medias, that often spread a negative, incomplete image of ‘the other’. I think it is very important to facilitate and promote exchange and dialogue because people live more and more in their own bubble.

What is your opinion about emancipation and the role of women in Turkey?

I see myself as liberal because I live individually. The women in Turkey are going to school, they study, work, even in politics or become teachers so I think Turkey is leading on this issue among Islamic countries. The government really enforces emancipation.

Do you have an important message to spread?

As already mentioned: We have to keep investing in dialogue. That is why I am joining the events of The Hague Peace Projects!


Review Turkish-Kurdish dialogue afternoon with film director Asli Özarslan

At 26th of march 2017 the Kurdish-Turkish working group of The Hague Peace Projects organized a dialogue afternoon with film director Asli Özarslan. She was in The Netherlands for the screening of her film ‘Dil Leyla’ at Movies that Matter Festival. The moderator Nora Ledrhem interviewed her first, and asked Asli Özarslan about her ideas to make the film. Asli said that she got interested in the story of Leyla Imret: a Kurdish woman who grew up in Germany and for whom the troubled situation of her people played a big role in her life.

The goal was to make a portrait of a woman, who decided to leave a safe environment and moved to a poorly developed region. Asli and Leyla did not expect at all that the film would end like this. After te war started in 2015, life in Cizre became extremely difficult and made it impossible for Asli to have contact with Leyla .

‘This was for Layla and also for me the hardest thing I experienced in my life’, Asli said.

The protagonist Leyla Imret was born in Turkey and lost her father there. He was a combatant for the Kurdish PKK and was killed by state forces in a village in the nineties. Leyla and her family immigrated to Germany where she grew up. 21 years later she returned to the city of Cizre and became the mayor, being democratically elected for the HDP.

In following Leyla , Asli observed a strong woman, who was trying to process the trauma of her childhood. In the few moments Asli actually could speak Leyla in Turkey, they were both happy to speak German with each
other, the language in which they feel themselves most comfortable to speak.

When Asli was asked to describe the production, she mentioned that filmmaking in Turkey is hard and brought her her first grey hairs. One obstacle was language. She and Leyla could talk German but to get in contact and get the film permission in the region 4 translators were necessary and very often Asli Özarslan needed to concentrate on the feelings of the people, not understanding a single word. With “Dil Leyla” Asli Özarslan presents her diploma movie and after several screenings in Amsterdam, Greece, Germany and Prague most critiques are positive. This film documents the struggle of Kurds, but is unique in the sense that it is not ‘just another’ documentary in which the ‘conflict is explained’. Asli asked the public: ‘how can I explain such a conflict? The focuspoint was a portrait of a woman who tried anything for her people. She didn’t knew all the answers either.’ That is what she wanted to do. To humanize the victims and by doing that presenting some kind of hope in an hopeless situation.

After a short break the dialogue continues with Rosh Abdelfatah talking as a Kurdish-Syrian filmmaker about his projects in the past and how he saw the situation got worse in Turkey since the Syrian revolution broke out. ‘My stay in North-Syria was much safer than the south-east of Turkey when the war broke out there’.

The second speaker was Zeynep Cesin. A Kurdish-Dutch teacher from the The Hague who founded an organization (Günesin Cocuklari) to collect clothes, food and money for people in need in the Kurdish areas. She also went to all these places when the war was going on and is planning to go again.

From the audience a question came: ‘Why did you go and were you not afraid?’ Zeynep takes some time and says: ‘Yes, when the war started in the summer of 2015, here in the The Hague, we were just sitting and talking about it, we watched the horror on facebook and television. But one time I asked, ok, we are talking about it. But what are we doing actually? Nothing! So I took the decision to go in December 2015. People were in need of shoes and clothes.’ What triggered Cesin the most was a Facebook post of a fellow-teacher asking for help.

Her journey was not without trouble and tensions. Many people thought she was from the Turkish secret service. And the fact that a woman ‘all by herself’ came all the way from Holland for Kurds, was something they couldn’t believe. But when they started to trust Zeynep they were very thankful. During her visits, she saw terrible things, men and women who died in front of her, shot dead by snipers, traumatized people and children who are always afraid of attacks.

The audience listened silently. Zeynep sometimes stopped talking. And than: ‘Sometimes I have moments of flashbacks. But I am glad that I went. I felt satisfied. That I did something. What are these people saying? They want peace.”

Another question from the audience: ‘You have seen all these things. But then you return to Holland, and the discussion is you know, the same as ever? What do you feel about that?”

Zeynep: ‘Its difficult that Turks do not support us. It’s just Kurds who support each other. I mean, I’m asking, don’t you feel what we feel?’

Another from the audience commented on that: ‘Because that place is the centre of the PKK’. This led to little friction in the room, but
then someone mentioned something about the words we use: ‘It’s important to develop a common narrative in which more sides can fit in.’

The whole afternoon was recorded with live stream on Facebook, that is still available on the page of The Hague Peace Project.

Miriam Reinhardt, Tayfun Balçik
30th march 2017


Interview with Varduhi Balyan

This interview was made after the panel discussion “Freedom of Expression in Turkey. Challenges for dialogue & peace” during the Freedom Book Fair 2017.

Varduhi Balyan is a writer for Agos bilingual weekly newspaper based in Istanbul. She is also a MA candidate at the Instanbul Bilgi University in the department of Civil Society Studies. She writes about many topics including human rights, freedom of speech, democracy, civil society, Armenian-Turkish reconciliation and conflict regions. (Speaker description of the program booklet of the Freedom Book Fair 2017)

Could you tell us a little more about your background and your family?

I was born in Armenia and grew up there. At the end of 2013 I moved to Turkey. My family is from Muş, that is a part of Turkey today. They had to leave the region before the Armenian Genocide because of the political pressure and went to Shamkhor, which is part of Azerbaijan today. In the end of 1980’s they had to migrate to nowadays Armenia because of the tensions. Therefore, my family has a kind of migration history. This might be the historical background of how I am connected to Turkey and the reason I am involved in the dialogue process between Armenia and Azerbaijan.

Is it the reason to work for the Armenian newspaper “Agos”?

No and to be honest it is not even about the newspaper being an Armenian newspaper. But I like the line it is following and the work it does. It is not a traditional newspaper. I like its views and I share them mostly.

Actually, do you study and write a Master thesis?

Yes, that is right. I am doing my masters, currently working on my thesis on the civil society involvement in Turkey-Armenia reconciliation process.

How did you get involved in the Freedom Book Fair?

I met Tayfun and Bedel in Switzerland on a conference about peace and justice. Then they invited me to be part of this project and share my experiences for which I am very happy. 

What does the event Freedom Book Fair and the panel discussion mean to you?

You do not have a lot of opportunities to speak about peace so every time there is a space with people who work on peace and a space where you can share your thoughts and ideas, you should be happy to be part of it. As, unfortunately, in our days there are not many platforms to speak about peace. That is why it is really important for me to be here.

During the panel discussion, you have mentioned that it is important to create space of dialogue and peace. Which kind of methods would you use to achieve this?

First of all, we should change the language we use. We need to clean up the language of hate speech. The role of media in this is big. It can create peace atmosphere by simply using dialogue language, changing the language of hate. We need to bring people together and they need to have more personal contacts. That is the thing that really works. It is not the fastest way to resolve a conflict but it does work. I believe person to person contact is really important for peace building.

What are your future perspectives?

I never set up clear plans and just go with the flow mostly and then I decide what I want to do. I hope to continue working on these topics either in academia or journalism, or both.

What gives hope to you?

All events like this one by the Hague peace project and the idea that there are others who struggle for the same values, for peace.

What is your message for the world?

Even if we do not agree in the political views, we should leave space for others to speak out and to build a space for dialogue.

Interview: Miriam Reinhardt

Help, ik stem tegen het Turkse referendum. Ben ik nu een terrorist?

Op de eerste dag van de stemmingen voor (of tegen) het Turkse referendum, organiseert The Hague Peace Projects ‘Help, ik stem tegen het Turkse referendum. Ben ik nu een terrorist?’. Het zal u vast niet zijn ontgaan, maar ook in Nederland zijn mensen met een Turkse nationaliteit van plan om (van woensdag 5 april tot zondag 9 april in Amsterdam, Rotterdam of Deventer) een ja of nee stem uit te brengen. Het gaat om een grondwetswijziging die de weg vrijmaakt voor een presidentieel systeem in Turkije. De huidige president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan wil dat heel graag.

So far so good. Mensen zijn vrij om ja of nee te stemmen. Maar wat is het een hectische campagne geweest met aan de ene kant een furieuze Erdoğan die nee-stemmers voor ‘terrorist’ uitmaakt. En aan de andere kant een opmerkelijke rol voor de Nederlandse regering die juist niks van een Turkse ja-campagne wil weten in Nederland. In dit alles voelt het voor de Turkse Nederlanders steeds meer alsof ze tussen twee vuren zitten. Hun ‘gehoorzaamheid’ aan Nederland of Turkije wordt van verschillende kanten steeds vaker getest.

Wij willen bij The Hague Peace Projects een vrije discussie hierover voeren. Zoals we elke eerste woensdag van de maand als werkgroep doen. Hoe ervaren mensen de spanningen tussen enerzijds ‘Wit Nederland’ en ‘Turks Nederland’ en anderzijds tussen ja-stemmers en nee-stemmers binnen de Turkse gemeenschap?

Het evenement is gratis, maar u dient zich wel aan te melden via eventbrite.

Locatie: Paviljoensgracht 20, Den Haag
5 April, 19:00 – 21:00

Report of the discussion “Freedom of Expression in Turkey: Challenges for Dialogue and Peace”

On 25th of February we held a discussion about freedom of expression in Turkey which was part of The Hague Freedom Book Fair 2017. In the light of the recent events in Turkey we found it necessary to have a discussion over journalistic freedom, democratic liberties and the overall situation in Turkey.

The discussion panel was supposed to consist of six prominent speakers, but apparently one of them – Hüda Kaya (a writer, civil rights activist and a member of the parliament for the HDP) – was not able to attend the discussion. She was recently arrested in Turkey for unknown reasons. Even though now she is released, she is still not able to leave the country. This illustrates perfectly the necessity of addressing the problem.

Luckily all other panelists could make their way to The Hague. The panel consisted of Uğur Üngör (a historian who teaches at the Department of History at Utrecht University), Muhammed Cihad Ebrari (a researcher at the political and social research centre SAMER and human rights activist affiliated with the
“anti-capitalist Muslims”, also known as the “Muslim left’”), Marloes de Koning (a journalist for the Dutch paper NRC, who used to work in Turkey for 3 years), Ragip Zarakolu (a Turkish writer and publisher, Nobel Prize nominee in 2012 and iconic advocate for the freedom to publish and write in Turkey and beyond) and Varduhi Balyan (a journalist working for the weekly Turkish-Armenian newspaper AGOS).

Compared to some other very passionate discussions held during The Hague Freedom Book Fair, where the panelists and the audience did not always agree with each other, the discussion about freedom of expression in Turkey was more of the one where at least in the beginning everyone seemed to agree.

First, Uğur Üngör gave a great overview of the main issues on media in the history of Turkey. Then the current situation in Turkey was discussed and every panelist was also sharing their own story. It was interesting, but also rather emotional to hear what each of the panelist has experienced.

Ragip Zarakolu shared how he has been arrested in the past for his activities as a chair of Freedom to Publish Committee and is now living in Sweden. Muhammed Cihad Ebrari told even more detailed how he and his family was detained and how they even experienced torture committed by the police while prisoned.

On the other hand, Varduhi Balyan expressed very hopefully and beautifully that she is trying to use the language of peace to fill the gap and create the dialogue. Marloes de Koning told her personal experiences as a Dutch journalist in Turkey and shared the practical problems of it: how it was hard to find people to work with you as they do not want to be seen with you, they do not want to talk with you and do not want to show their faces. But she also expressed a more optimistic opinion about Turkey: It is a very dynamic country with a very young population. Right now it is an immature democracy, but it can definitely have a brighter future.

Besides the journalistic freedom the situation of academics were also discussed, as both – the journalists and academics – are seen in Turkey as a danger to the society. Academics are fired for carrying political opinion and this has caused a brain drain, because the academics flee abroad, even these who work in natural science and their work is beyond the politics. They are actually the brightest minds who can contribute to the development of Turkey, but they are rather seen as a real threat to the society.

Also, the background of the problem was discussed. If this regime is causing so many problems to the Turkish society, how come it is still elected and supported by the people? Is it because of the fear? In the view of these questions the status of democracy was discussed. It was concluded that nowadays very often democracy is used to destroy the democracy: the society is democratic during the elections but afterwards the real democracy ends. Also, it was discussed whether the peace process was put in fridge or rather in freezer or whether it was just a fake game.

After a while everyone seemed to agree at least in the fact that the situation in Turkey is serious and something needs to be done. Therefore, the audience and the panelists were invited to come up with ideas and solutions to the problem. Many solutions were actually named. Protest is definitely one thing to do, but there should also be a legal and political process. One idea shared was giving up the identity politics. Anyone who is in the political arena in Turkey is currently fighting for one identity: Islamist, Kurdish Islamist, Turkish Islamist etc. The simple answer is to give up defending your position and rather trying to see the power from other perspective. Furthermore, the power needs to redefined and find out how the power influences people. There is a need for transparency in the society. Last but not least, there should be more public debate.

It seemed that basically everyone attending the event was pleased to end the discussion with the thought that at least this one evening we were all contributing to the better future of Turkey, as we were discussing the problem and having open debate about it.

Photo’s: Ugo Boss Photography ©

Turkish-Kurdish dialogue with the film director Asli Özarslan

Upcoming Sunday (26th of March) we hope to see you all at our Turkish-Kurdish dialogue afternoon with the film director Asli Özarslan, who is in the Netherlands for the Movies that Matter festival for the screening of her film Dil Leyla.

This event will be moderated by Nora Ledrhem, who has worked as a reporter for FunX radio and as a editor for the Dutch National Station (NPO).

14.15h Q&A with film director Asli Özarslan
15.00h Short break
15.15h Dialogue session with personal stories of
Zeynep Cesin & Rosh Abdelfatah

For the dialogue session we will talk about the situation in southeast Turkey and the dialogue between Kurdish, Turkish and Armenian communities. We want to give all the participants space to express their feelings and share their story with the group.

– Asli Özarslan was born in Berlin in 1986, and spent her childhood in Germany. From 2007 to 2011 she studied theater and media at the University of Bayreuth and philosophy at the Université Sorbonne IV in Paris. She has participated in film workshops in Israel and Turkey. 2012 she studied documentary directing at the Film Academy in Ludwigsburg. She has received several prestigious scholarships, including a grant from the Academy of Arts and, in 2016, a grant from the Cultural Academy Tarabya of the German Foreign Office. Dil Leyla is her diploma film.

– This event is for free, but you have to register through:

– For more information about the movie Dil Leyla and Movies that Matter Festival please visit:…/progr…/film/2108/dil-leyla/ 

Pas in Nederland besefte ik dat ik moslim ben

Een dag na de verkiezingen ontmoeten kritische moslimdenkers elkaar bij MUSLIMS REPRESENT! We zijn in Theater de Kikker in hartje Utrecht. ‘Zelf-representatie van moslims en het bouwen aan een divers en kritisch moslimgeluid’ staat op het witte scherm van de kleine zaal. Nawal Mustafa van Amnesty International is de moderator. De avond is georganiseerd door de Turks-Koerdische werkgroep van The Hague Peace Projects.

Na dialoogbijeenkomsten in Den Haag en Rotterdam wordt in Utrecht een breder moslimperspectief geïntroduceerd. “We zijn als Turken en Koerden de dialoog gestart, maar we zijn ook Nederlanders, moslims of moslim-atheïsten”, zeg ik ter inleiding. De project-coördinator Bedel Bayrak: “We willen ook een platform zijn voor kritische en diverse geluiden binnen de moslimgemeenschap”.

Moslims gaan zichzelf vertegenwoordigen vanavond en als “moslims onder elkaar” het debat aan. Heel mooi. En toch is de eerste spreker een witte Nederlander. Maar wel een moslim: Margreet van Es. Ze heeft een proefschrift geschreven over stereotypering van moslimvrouwen in de media. Ze beschrijft hoe vrouwen met een islamitische achtergrond zich al meer dan 35 jaar verzetten tegen het stereotype beeld van de moslimvrouw.

“In het publieke debat over moslims gaat het altijd over problemen”, aldus Van Es. En in die discussie komen moslims zelf vrij weinig aan het woord”, aldus Van Es. Ze heeft krantenberichten van de NRC van 1975 tot 2010 over moslimvrouwen onder de loep gelegd. “Van alle vrouwen die aan het woord komen, is minder dan een derde moslimvrouw.” Het is haar ook opgevallen dat moslims in Nederland van alle kanten in de gaten worden gehouden. Moslims worden heel snel weggezet als “radicaal” of juist als “huismoslims”: voorbeeldallochtonen de opzichtig hun loyaliteit aan de dominante meerderheid belijden.


In de paneldiscussie met activist en docent Abulqasim Al Jaberi, directeur van Stichting Maruf Dino Suhonic en PhD-student hermeneutiek Yusuf Çelik en Van Es gaat het snel over zelf-kritiek onder moslims. Al Jaberi is fel: “Dit is niet de tijd om zelfkritisch te zijn. Wanneer de moslimgemeenschap zo onder druk staat door een escalerend islamofobe aanval, kan zelfkritiek alleen in safe zones, dus zonder huismoslims en een witte omgeving.”

Vervolgens legt Al Jaberi de nadruk op kolonialisme. Hij komt zelf uit Irak. “Geweld heeft mij en mijn familie en andere Irakezen hier naartoe doen vluchten. Koloniaal
geweld van Amerika. Ons land is kapotgebombardeerd. En dat gaat nog steeds door. Nederland doet daar aan mee.”

Er zit een boos ritme in het betoog van Al Jaberi. Anti-imperialistisch. “Nederland is een gewelddadig koloniaal land. Toen na de Tweede Wereldoorlog de bevrijding werd gevierd, woedde in Indonesië een koloniale oorlog, waar hele dorpen zijn uitgemoord en Indonesiers zijn verkracht. De Nederlandse geest is doordrenkt met kolonialisme, het is verankerd in de Nederlandse mentaliteit. Daarom kan mijn Nederlanderschap niet beginnen. Eerst was ik statushouder. Daarna een tweede-klasse Nederlander als allochtoon.”

Yusuf Çelik reageert: “Als iemand die in Nederland is geboren heb ik een andere ervaring, een andere geschiedenis en daarom zal mijn conclusie ook anders zijn. Nederland heeft mijn regio in Koerdistan niet gebombardeerd. De reden dat ik hier ben is omdat Turkije het Koerdische deel heeft verwaarloosd. Omdat ik in een mulitculturele omgeving ben opgegroeid, is er vermenging geweest. We hebben dingen van Nederlanders overgenomen en daardoor ben ik ook een Nederlander.”

Vals bewustzijn

Çelik is onderzoeker. De woorden die uit zijn mond komen verraden dat hij in de boeken zit. Ergens zegt hij “reformistische retoriek”: het vertalen van zijn Nederlander-zijn en zijn geloofsbelevenis in iets nieuws. “Ik kan deze dingen niet meer scheiden. Is tolerantie iets Nederlands? Dat is een vals bewustzijn. Er zijn nu bij moslims twee houdingen. Terughoudendheid en modernisme. Modernisten willen uit nieuwe ervaringen de traditie heropbouwen. Maar nu uit oprechtheid.”

Dino Suhonic is de volgende. “Pas in Nederland besefte ik dat ik een moslim ben. In 1992 zijn we als vluchteling uit Bosnië hier naartoe gekomen. Daarna zijn we weer terug gegaan. En sinds 2003 ben ik weer in Nederland.” De moord op Theo van Gogh was bepalend. Daarna realiseerde Suhonic zich dat “you can be perceived as a Muslim“. Een confrontatie die herkenbaar is voor zoveel moslims.

Dan onderbreekt de moderator Mustafa hem voor wat ze zelf een “gekke vraag” noemt: “Maar je lijkt niet op een moslim?”

Suhonic: “Ja, die krijg ik vaak te horen. Vooral van moslims overigens.” Hij is donkerblond, heeft blauwe ogen en een lichte huid. In de woordenregen die Suhonic typeert, zegt hij tussen neus en lippen: “My queerness buys my Dutchness”. Hij krijgt van witte Nederlanders vaak de vraag: “waarom ben je nog steeds moslim als je homo bent?”. Dat is de narratief van de bevrijde moslim. Maar Suhonic is de personificatie van het feit dat het een schijntegenstelling is. De intersectie wordt nooit gezien.

Witte omgeving

Ik ben met gedachten bij Abulqasim Al Jaberi. Ik stel hem de vraag: “waarom zou je niet zelf-kritisch mogen zijn in een witte omgeving?” Al Jaberi: “In een omgeving die zo vijandig is, is mijns inziens de behoefte aan een emancipatoir geluid het grootst. Zelfkastijding en zeggen: ja, je hebt gelijk, dat hebben we nu niet nodig.”

Nu reageert Van Es: “Moeten we de publieke ruimte ook nog steeds als een witte omgeving beschouwen, is dat niet essentialistisch?” Daarna vertelt ze een verhaal over drie zelfkritische moslimvrouwen in Noorwegen die het claimen van de publieke ruimte juist zien als een radicale vorm van anti-racisme. Çelik is het met haar eens en wil waken voor “valse tegenstellingen”. De valkuil is dat je op een gegeven moment simpelweg vergeet zelfkritisch te zijn. Zo heeft DENK geen zelfreflectie, aldus Çelik. Suhonic is voorzichtiger: “Dit is een heel gevoelig onderwerp. Wat mij bijzonder irriteert is het pinktesten van de moslimgemeenschap. Dat is een werkelijkheid. Daarom vind ik het beter om binnen de eigen kring gevoelige zaken bespreekbaar te maken.”

Al Jaberi heeft een tijdje gewacht, maar komt hard terug: “Een witte vrouw zegt tegen mij: ‘maar moslims zelf zeggen het ook’, dat gebeurt altijd, dat was ook de retoriek van Laura Bush geweest toen Amerika Afghanistan binnenviel “we moeten de bruine vrouwen redden van bruine mannen”. Dat is altijd de smoes-discourse geweest.

Çelik is verontwaardigd: “Hoe kan iets een smoes zijn als het gewoon feitelijk zo is? Mijn moeder was de slimste van al haar broeders en zusters. Maar ze mocht niet studeren. Dit probleem wil ik niet uit de weg gaan, alleen omdat het niet past in een anti-imperialistisch frame.”

Kritisch moslimplatform

De toon is gezet. Mustafa gaat naar de zaal. Damon Golriz, die we kennen van het Comité van Ex-Moslims, zit in het publiek en stelt een vraag: “Abuqasim heeft het over racisme de hele tijd. Maar je noemt een ander panellid witte Nederlander. Dat kan toch niet? Verder heeft een partij als DENK drie zetels gehaald. Ze nemen geen afstand van Erdogan. Waarom horen we daar niks over?”

Van Es neutraliseert de spanning enigszins door te zeggen dat ze het niet erg vindt dat ze witte Nederlander wordt genoemd. Al Jaberi: “Witheid en witte superioriteit zijn feiten. Ik zal dat altijd benoemen.”

Suhonic: “Ik heb eergisteren op Facebook Erdogan hard aangepakt nav zijn uitspraken over Srebrenica. Daar heb ik dan een paar likes voor mogen ontvangen. Een queermoslim die afstand neemt van Erdogan. Who cares? Wat moet ik nog meer doen?”

Na de pauze met muziek gaat het over zelforganisatie. Is het nodig om een kritisch moslimplatform op te richten?

Çelik: “Als academicus zie ik dat er veel moslimdenkers zijn op academisch niveau. Maar die zitten vaak in een ivoren toren. Het is belangrijk dat hun onderzoek ook de massa bereikt. Zo wordt de sharia gereduceerd tot lijfstraffen. Ook door moslims zelf. Terwijl er meer is.”

Kiezen voor knuffelen

Uit de zaal horen we diverse geluiden. Er zijn al platforms zoals MVSLIM. “De gemiddelde moskee voldoet niet aan de eisen van actief burgerschap, of inclusieve geloofsbeleving”, zegt Berna Toprak. “Waarom zouden er platforms moeten komen om anderen te pleasen“, vraagt een ander. Al Jaberi is het met “de broeder” eens: “Gaan we kiezen voor knuffelen? Welke sociale strijd heeft het knuffelen ons gebracht? We moeten ons verzetten tegen racisme. Dat is de weg naar bevrijding. Maar platformen kunnen bestaan. Een beweging hoeft niet alles te monopoliseren.”

Er zijn nog meer vragen. Is er niks tussen geknuffel en strijd? Een ander pleit voor een intersectioneel moslimgeluid, waar aandacht is tegen alle vormen van onderdrukking. Is intersectioneel niet een seculier concept? “Nee, de islam is zeer een zeer intersectioneel-vriendelijk geloof”, beweert Suhonic.

Het debat is terug te kijken: deel 1, deel 2 en deel 3.

Tayfun Balçik is historicus, gespecialiseerd in de moderne geschiedenis van Turkije en die van Amsterdam-West. Hij heeft een Facebook-pagina.

Review of Freedom Book Fair 2017

When the doors of Het Nutshuis in The Hague were opened at the 24th of February 2017 at 1 o´clock in the afternoon, the second edition of the Freedom Book Fair had started. The focus was on authors who are censored or forbidden in their home countries and books who deal with freedom of expression and freedom of press in general. Besides all the books and publications we hosted 6 panel discussions on freedom of speech in different countries and its different forms.

Through these events, that were completely sold out, we were able to put freedom of expression on the agenda and to show our deepest solidarity to people who are putting their lives on the line for it.

The Book Fair started with an introductory panel discussion on Friday evening: “Free speech versus Hate Speech: where the world is heading”, followed by the Somali Poetry Night. In the weekend there were discussions on freedom of expression in Turkey and Bangladesh. Moreover, a documentary and a panel discussion on Saturday evening was dedicated to the LGBT-movement in religious societies.

Every panel was distinguished by the presence of charismatic experts, some of which were personally involved with the subject, trying to give an accurate overview of the current situation in conflict regions and to answer the questions of the audience. Because of this the debates were heated and continued well after the official finishing time, with people exchanging perspectives, opinions and contact details. All events were accompanied by a Facebook live stream, which is still available on the Facebook page of The Hague Peace Projects. We want to say thank you again to everyone who contributed in the organisation, in the events and in the audience to create a successful event. Freedom of expression can never be protected and promoted enough.

Muslims represent

Op 16 maart organiseren we ‘Muslims represent!’ in Utrecht. Tijdens dit evenement willen we graag in gesprek met verschillende Nederlandse moslims. Net zoals we met ‘the Hague Peace Projects’ een platform bieden voor het diverse geluid onder diaspora die de verbinding opzoeken, zo willen we ook een platform bieden aan de diverse moslimgemeenschap in Nederland. Entree is gratis maar vergeet je niet aan te melden.

Islamofobie is in de laatste jaren sterk toegenomen, zowel islamofobe incidenten als islamofobe berichtgeving. De grote diversiteit binnen de moslimgemeenschap in Nederland is niet terug te zien in de media en het publieke debat. De moslimstemmen die aan het woord worden gelaten zijn vaak beperkt tot de knuffelmoslim of de boze salafist. Door een podium te bieden aan de diversiteit van diverse moslimstemmen in Nederland hopen we bij te dragen aan een platform voor inclusieve, verbindende maar ook vooral kritische moslimdenkers.

Centraal staat (zelf)representatie van de moslim in het publieke debat en in de media. Het gebrek aan zelf-representatie is van invloed op de toenemende islamofobie en staat de emancipatie van de moslims in de weg. Tot slot willen we ook kijken of er mogelijkheden zijn voor een inclusieve en kritische platform van Nederlandse moslims.

Aanwezige sprekers zijn ondere andere:
– Abulkasim Al-Jaberi, Schrijver en activist met Roots uit Irak. In het verleden gewerkt als journalist in Egypte en momenteel actief in de anti-racisme beweging en de Palestina solidariteitsbeweging.
– Dino Suhonic van Stichting Maruf, een platform voor queer moslims in Nederland en daarbuiten.
– Dr. Margreet van Es, momenteel werkzaam als postdoctoraal onderzoeker bij Universiteit Utrecht. Onlangs is haar boek verschenen “Stereotypes and Self-Representations of Women with a Muslim Background: The Stigma of Being Oppressed”, naar de invloed van stereotype beeldvorming op de zelf-representatie van vrouwen met een islamitische achtergrond.
– Drs. Yusuf Celik, expert hermeneutiek, promovendus aan Edinburgh University.

– Nawal Mustafa, werkzaam bij Amnesty International.

Verder is er live muziek met Emine Bostancı op de klassieke kemençe en Cengiz Arslanpay op de Ney.

Locatie: Theater Kikker, Ganzenmarkt 14, Utrecht
Datum: 16 maart ’17,
19:00 inloop
19:15 paneldiscussie
20:15 pauze
20:30 muziek
20:45 vervolg paneldiscussie
21:30 naborrelen
22:00 afloop
Entree is gratis maar vergeet je niet aan te melden.


Freedom Book Fair – Freedom of Expression in Turkey 25 February


The discussion “Freedom of Expression in Turkey; Challenges for Dialogue and Peace” is part of The Hague Freedom Book Fair 2017.

In the light of the recent events in Turkey there will be discussion over journalistic freedom (for example censorship, arrests and foreclosures, public humiliation and intimidation etc.) and democratic liberties (for example parliamentary impunity, martial law and military etc). The recent arrest of Hüda Kaya, one of our speakers, illustrates the necessity of addressing these topics.

The introduction will be made by Bedel Baryak and Tayfun Balcik who are the project coordinators of the Kurdish – Turkish program ran by The Hague Peace Projects.

The discussion panel consists of:

– Uğur Üngör, a historian who teaches at the Department of History at Utrecht University. He gained his Ph.D in 2009 (cum laude) at the University of Amsterdam (dissertation: Young Turk Social Engineering: Mass Violence and the Nation State in Eastern Turkey, 1913-1950). As a scholar he mainly focuses on mass violence and nationalism. During this event he will discuss the developments in Turkey with regards to freedom of expression from a historical perspective.

– Hüda Kaya, a writer, civil rights activist and a member of the parliament for the pro-minority political party HDP. She grew up in Istanbul, but later moved to Malatya, A predominantly Kurdish province. Once there, her opinion of the Kurds changed drastically, she decided to stay and opened up a shop. In her time in Malatya she becomes more active as Muslim-feminist. Following the ‘post-modern coup’ on 28th of February 1997, which precipitated the resignation of Islamist prime minister Necmettin Erbakan of the Welfare Party, she gets arrested for demonstrating against the ban on the headscarve and her writings.
In 1999 she gets arrested for a second time in the aftermath of protest, violently beaten down by anti-terror forces. Her three daughters (16,17 and 18) who have also partaken in the non-violent protests, are abducted from school by the anti-terror forces. Hüda Kaya stayed in jail for three years. When the central-Islamic AKP came into power she had high hopes that many of the inhuman policies would be changed. But in time she was disillusioned by the increasing repressive rhetoric and actions of the government.

– Muhammed Cihad Ebrari is a researcher at SAMER (Political and Social Research Centre) and human rights activist affiliated with the
‘anti-capitalist Muslims’, also known as the ‘Muslim left’. In a recent protest against arrests of politicians he was beaten by the police and was injured severely.

– Marloes de Koning, a journalist for the Dutch paper NRC. She worked for three years in Turkey as correspondent and returned in 2016 to The Netherlands.

– Ragip Zarakolu – A Turkish writer and publisher, Nobel Prize nominee (2012) and iconic advocate for the freedom to publish and write in Turkey and beyond. In spite of 40 years of censorship, harassment, death threats and imprisonments by the Turkish authorities and far right groups, Zarakolu has never given up his fight for freedom of thought and the necessity of minorities right to be heard.

You are very welcome to join the discussion! Entrance is free, but registration is required.

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