The following steps must be taken with deep efforts, seriously and effectively:
1) No more the twisted mirror image. To view Islam through Western inclusive pluralistic lenses means not only never understanding Islam but also it may produce disastrous results. What if the struggle is between two polar opposite cultural conceptions, between a society that aspires to modernity and progress, as against totalitarianism of thought, traditional tribal values and religious extremism?
What if Islamic approaches do not play by the Western rules of the game, by the Judeo-Christian morality? What if Islamic behavior is deeply rooted in the hearts of the Muslims as a norm of social behavior, as a cultural reflection of their society? What if Muslims are devoted to implementing their values out of profound hatred and hostility?
Psychologist Norman Dixon has defined the issue aptly: We are busy performing two things: first, denying reality, and second, when the catastrophe happens, rationalizing our mistaken behavior. This is the reason why the Free World is flattering, appeasing, and serving as useful idiots to Islam and Muslims. If we do not know why the Muslims hate us so deeply and they shamelessly continue pushing for concessions, is there any hope for us to prevail? One Jew of the Holocaust survivors, who was asked what he had learned from the Second World War, replied: “When somebody says he wants to kill you, you should believe him.” Everything is so clear and obvious, yet, we do not want to learn.
Let us take, for example, the issue of language, which represents Orwell’s 1984. There is a heated debate concerning the difference between Islam and Islamism. As if Islamism is a political ideology of a small minority which holds that the essence of Islam is Jihad and conquests, while Islam is a peaceful religion. However, this is the Western debate, the Western language and a twisted formula to evade reality. There is absolutely nothing on that matter in the Islamic vocabulary.
Moreover, what if the terms ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ are totally opposite in Western and Arab-Islamic political culture? What if we all use the same terms — peace, political arrangements, negotiations, coexistence, etc. — while we translate them operationally and understand them conceptually totally differently? What if for Islam “good” is only whatever advances the cause of Islam to control the world, and “evil” is whatever resists the cause of Islam and enables the existence of the Kuffār? What if Islam teaches war in the name of peace, and hate in the name of love? What if, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi are the moderate true believers, since they strictly follow the orders and commandments of the Sharī’ah, and those whom we relate to as moderates are in fact the extremists, even infidels, in the Islamic perspective?
There is another perspective, which is Theodor Adorno’s idea of the authoritarian personality. Scholars had determined that social conservatives suffer from ‘mental rigidity,’ ‘dogmatism,’ and ‘uncertainty avoidance,’ together with associated indicators for mental illness. This is a Machiavellian psychological command and control device. Its purpose is the imposition of uniformity in thought, speech, and behavior.
This is exactly the Arab-Islamic personality that leads to cultural terrorism. Obedience is the result of force. Force is the antithesis of humanizing actions. It is synonymous in human mind with savageness, lawlessness, brutality, and barbarism displayed in an inhuman attitude toward the other. Consequently, it rejects, for example, the first principles of the US Declaration of Independence of “unalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” It is rejected by Islam as its uppermost characteristics is submission to Allah.
According to Ali Sina’s paraphrasing, there are three categories of Muslims residing in the Free World: the good, the bad, and the ugly. However, this division is not according to Western definitions. The good are in fact the bad; the bad are in fact the good and the ugly are in fact the good face of the Islamic propagators introduced to the Free World’s public opinion, in order to deceive and mislead. So, in fact, nothing in Islam is what it is because everything is what it is not. Each and every group has its role in the world game of Islam to occupy the world and subdue humanity to Islamic rule.
What if the terrorists are actually good Muslims, practicing the commandments of the Sharī’ah? Muhammad raided and butchered people merely because they were not his followers. The good Muslims do the same. Bombing and terrorism perpetrated by Muslims are replicas of Muhammad’s raids, Ghazawāt, for booty (Ghanā’im) sanctioned in the Qur’an. Muhammad ordered the assassination of his critics, killing the apostates, slaughtering the infidels and decapitating their heads, and imposing terror on them. It is all written in the Qur’an.
What if the bad Muslims are those who do not practice their religion and do not follow its ordinances? What if the ugly Muslims actually appear beautiful? They are eloquent, articulate, intelligent, attractive, and highly manipulative. They know what to say to gain the Muslim majority’s approval and applause. They are charming. Their words are reassuring and their faces are reliable and authentic. They act efficiently in diplomacy of deceit; they use propaganda in order to make you believe that Islam is not only peaceful and poses no threat to you, but in fact is cooperative and dialogue-oriented. These are wolves in sheep clothing proving that deception is as deadly as terror.
Muslims that practice and support the ideology and doctrine of Islam are all part of the problem. That is, they wish to occupy the world and to subdue humanity. Some use terrorism and violence; some use Da’wah and good words of propagation; and some, perhaps the majority, push forward, by charity money of Zakāt, by demography and birth-rate, and by being the silent majority, that is refraining from denouncing and alienating the terrorists. The result: Islam acts firmly and steadily to take over the world. This goal is rooted deep in every Muslim, the good, the bad and the ugly, each with its own strategy and tactics, but all with the same objective.
There are also good people, in Western terms, among the Muslims. But they are, unfortunately, a very small minority. They really wish to reform and democratize Islam, and to take away all Islamic signs of hatred and incitement to the other. However, the belief that Islam can be reformed from within is something impossible. The Qur’an is the heavenly book given by Allah. One cannot change the words of Allah, as it means blasphemy and it leads to punishment by death. There are verses in the Qur’an and Ahadīth that clearly state, he who changes even one word of the Qur’an must be killed. It is even forbidden to wonder or ask questions about it, let alone to criticize it. Islam is not adaptable with the times and cannot adapt itself to modernization. The gates of innovations (Ijtihād) have been closed since the 12th century. The mountain of Islam has not changed as what is written in the Qur’an cannot be changed.
In a revealing, perhaps surprising, analysis, the Jerusalem Post editorial, took a bold step by criticizing the media in the US:
The irony, of course, is that our postmodern media analysts, while preaching the gospel of cultural relativism, are themselves entirely blind to the moral values, cultural underpinnings and ethical standards of those who adhere to different sets of guiding principles. Rather, their search for answers are steeped in their own narrow mindsets, nurtured at the universities they attended and reinforced in the scholarly journals they read and in the social circles they embrace. The attempt by the media elites to paint a portrait of these men as alienated, disaffected youths is symptomatic of such a mindset. Their faux sophistication is belied by the narrow Western lens with which they view the motivations of these Islamists living in the West.
In essence, they are guilty of the analytic omission which they accuse others of: an honest attempt to understand events beyond the context of their own cultural biases and narrow frames of reference. If they did, they might find the anger and alienation of these young jihadists have nothing whatsoever to do with the familiar narrative of youthful rebelliousness depicted in iconic American cinematic and literary touchstones such as Rebel without a Cause or The Catcher in the Rye. Hence, the multiculturalist thinkers, plagued by Western guilt, seek conflict resolution through understanding and compromise. For the jihadist (lone wolf or otherwise) those are alien notions. They have already determined that there is no place in the worldwide caliphate to come for those who do not submit to the laws of Allah – Western commentators included.
2) No more ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘moral relativism.’ These are in fact names without any common sense, odd and alien notions without a logical definition, inventions that aim at destroying our existence as a free society. These also intend to confuse and to mislead, in fact leading to chaos and disruption.
‘Multiculturalism’ as opposed to ‘multi-ethnicity,’ dictates that groups of people with different cultures will live in one society and retain their culture, rather than trying to assimilate into the culture of the host nation. The all but inevitable consequence of this approach is that the law of the land will need to be altered so as to accommodate the culture of the new migrants. This could bring about a whole new set of laws that lead to the demise of the original culture. Multiculturalism was the myth, the keystone to the whole tyrannical mythology of political correctness.
Multiculturalists immediately attack anyone who seems to challenge their new religion called ‘multiculturalism,’ and brand him a racist and fascist. Studies and analyses which show any negative side to multiculturalism are silenced and consequently any dissent and criticism are paralyzed. We live no longer as a free society in our own political systems. The intimidating situation was that academia embraced this notion of multiculturalism in its entirety, while the media followed it with enthusiasm and the governments go along with it in intimidation. So, instead of an idea being debated whether it had any merit, the peoples were forced to accept this dubious lethal idea without being allowed to question it, even to understand its meaning and consequences.
Western universities are founded on the principle that each and every idea is up for critical thinking, according to the tradition of academic freedom. However, now the forces of evil coerce their societies to embrace destructive ideas without questioning, and if one resists, he is labeled by academia, with the assistance of the media, with a whole set of accusations based on racial prejudice. Yet, the truth is clear: This notion has never been part of the Western values of freedom of speech, expression and conscience and it contradicts the basic civil rights ideas. In fact it is clear that fundamental Western deep-rooted values are in a fast process of disappearing exactly as a result of this horrific notion called ‘multiculturalism.’
So currently, across the Western World, ideas are introduced which nobody is allowed to question; ideas that become the basis of new laws which nobody is allowed to criticize; laws that lead to disastrous consequences, and still nobody is allowed to question and to criticize. We live in an era in which our precious freedoms are in danger and no wonder that Western societies are degenerating.
Sweden, once known as one of the most peaceful and law abiding countries in the world, is now the rape capital of Europe, a state of havoc and disarray. It has become a symbol and framework to be a first third world country in Europe in the course of the next decade.
Formerly peaceful and homogenous France now has over seven hundred no-go zones for non-Muslims where the government has no control and no ability to enforce French law. Terror acts by Muslims are common and become a routine.
The UK has embraced legal provisions for Muslims who now have Sharī’ah courts all over the country, while many neighborhoods in London, Birmingham and several other English cities, have areas which are being declared no-go zones.
The situation in Germany is no less bad. Germany is now home to the largest number of immigrants in the EU, and also has the second-largest Muslim population. It continues to be the recipient of the largest number of asylum applications in the EU: more than 200,000 asylum-seekers in 2014, and more than a million at the end of 2015.
A report, produced by the police headquarters of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state with the largest Muslim population, warns that the government is losing control over problem neighborhoods and that the ability of police to maintain public order cannot be guaranteed. There are districts where immigrant gangs are taking over the entire social setting, where native residents and business people are being intimidated and silenced. According to a Duisburg City Councilman, “When I say that steps must be taken to ensure immigrants comply with rules and regulations, I am immediately branded as a far right extremist… But spiraling levels of violent crime perpetrated by immigrants cause areas of lawlessness, areas that are becoming de facto ‘no-go’ zones for police.”
Leaders of the major powers have expressed misgivings over multiculturalism. It has “failed, utterly failed,” according to German Chancellor Angela Merkel. This attitude has been the opinion of a former French president and of prime ministers of Spain and Australia. The most forceful denunciation of multiculturalism came from British Prime Minister, David Cameron, who also calls it a “failure.” However, nothing is done about it. It has not been a “failure,” but a lethal disaster to the Western way of life.
Unfortunately, even before Muslims have changed Europe, the Europeans themselves did so, as leading European states have trashed their national identities and labelled their national awareness as worthless. Since European nations are reluctant to stand for what nations traditionally stand for, religious and/or ethnic identity, it is no wonder that they are undergoing a deep identity crisis and are subdued by the Muslims’ desert reality.
Western liberal democratic civilization is falling apart and dismantles, not because of conquest from outside it, but because its leaders and cultural elites in the media and the academia have turned everything upside down, on their own free will. Right is wrong; good is bad; the ideology of evil is forgiven and understandable; and the forces of primitivism and savagery deserve a higher place in Western societies’ considerations. Cultural and moral relativism, political correctness and moral equivalency are the on the top, and it is even forbidden to call a spade, a spade, and all must stick to the New Emperor’s cloths.
These are the most dangerous time in the walks of our civilization. We have fought and won over tyrants, and dictators, and evil regimes. We have managed to do so as we could strictly and correctly define the situation, to separate between right and wrong, and to fight evil. Today everything has been turned over to the opposite. The horrendous forces of evil of Islam win, not because they are strong, or because they are correct, or because they have a new massage, a new development and innovations to humanity, but because Western civilization has a death wish. Western civilization has determined to commit suicide. The great prophet of our mired situation, George Orwell, is rolling in his grave. Indeed, he was strictly right: in our twisted atrocious new situation, peace is war; love is hatred; and truth is lie.
According to Pascal Bruckner, the West has no shortage of reasons for guilt. The West has no monopoly on evil, and though it has created monsters it also destroyed them: the abolition of slavery; the renouncing of colonialism; the building of peaceful and prosperous technological societies; and the establishing of law and order, of roles and institutions that are models for mankind. However, Western guilt has gone too far. It has become a pathology, an obsessive that has obscured Western understanding and distorted its behavior, even its balanced logic.
Today, there remain a few last bastions that keep Western civilization alive, because Europe has been attacking its own values and has raised generations of self-hating elites, and unfortunately the US academia and the media have aped their European models. It is time to find our own Judeo-Christian roots again, and to assert our values with pride and affection and without being afraid to speak out. The fact is that multiculturalism has become a clear code of submission to Islam, because it clearly leads to a new Dark Age, imposed by a medieval fascism of self-haters enabled by the collaboration of the leftists and the fanatical doctrine of Islam.
There is a disturbing situation. An alliance between Islam and Western left seems odd and grotesque. On the surface, Muslims with their single-minded dedication to the destruction of Western civilization, imposing worldwide Islamic rule according to the prescriptions of the Shari’ah, they are vehemently opposed to the left’s touted beliefs in the socialist utopia. However, a closer look makes understandable driving these strange bedfellows into each other’s arms. For the left there is just one overpowering consideration. After the collapse of communism, radical Islam appears to be the only power capable of defeating capitalism and the hated United States as the last obstacle on the road to Bolshevik ideas. One analogy stands clear: the Nazi ideology hatred to the Jews and its admiration of Islam.
For the Islamists, on the other hand, the rationale is fully congruent with their worldwide objectives. The leftists, though infidels who deserve death, are valuable as useful idiots to be exploited on the road of destruction of the Free World. The 1991 project of the US Muslim brotherhood indicates a “temporary cooperation” with movements opposed to colonialism and the Jewish state and working with “various influential institutions and using them in the service of Islam.” As both share “anti-American and anti-imperialist ideology,” this alliance ceases to be strange.
The result: the putative romance of the Left with Islam have become an affectionate embrace. An example to the “anti-imperialist coalition” is ANSWER. (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism). Founded, not coincidentally, three days after 9/11 It was designed to serve the Islamic objective of preventing U.S. retaliation against Muslims. ANSWER called for a “partnership with the Arab-American and Muslim community,” and to oppose any American policy or legislation that could ban the activities of Islamic organizations. The case of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which has become an unabashed defender and apologist for Islamic groups, mainly CAIR in instructive, and in fact its legal arm. Since then, the left-Islamic nexus has moved into the US establishment, the White House and all American branches.
It is again Daniel Greenfield to so aptly remarks: Islam is tribal. Tribes are nomadic and they raid each other. They mount coup on each other. They steal and humiliate each other’s women. They lash out and kill each other over insults. Islam incorporates the religious feelings and the tribal behavior. Terrorism also incorporates both the tribal and the religious. Islam sanctified the tribal raid as a religious act and turned the dead into martyrs. Islamic missionary activity in the West also targets dissatisfied minorities, potential fifth columns.
To the leftists, Islam is an inefficient sort of Socialism dependent on medieval superstition and lacking modern idea. To the Muslims, the left is an inefficient sort of Islam that’s missing the Shari’ah. It is all just a problem of explanations and textbooks.
In their confused world order, leftists believe that the terrorists are attacking “our values” and we in turn must attack “their values” with our superior “values.” While the left attempts to integrate the Muslims with “our values”, the Muslim immigrants show that Europeans have no honor on a tribal level.
However, no meaningful dialogue is possible between the Islamic “Allahu Akbar” and “Our values” Western religion. Both insist on absolute submission. The left’s demand for submission is based on the absolute moral superiority of “Our values,” while Islam’s demand literally means submission to its religion. To the Muslim mind, we are a series of fragile tribal associations. The “Our values” leftists think of the threat in terms of “radicalization”, but the real threat is “integration.” Indeed, if multicultural Westerners continue to ignore, deny, embrace, appease and nurture the truths of Islam’s objectives, they do so at their own existential peril.
The left’s multicultural vision made this mess possible. It’s also making it worse. The left despises tribal thinking and yet its entire political infrastructure is built on rewarding it. Our enemies are not states and they will not fight us as states but as tribes. To the extent that they are religious, they will attack us that way. But the real problem is that we are no longer states and we do not think and act like states. We are in the grip of a mystical deluded cult of multiculturalists that opened the gates to a cruel, backward enemy. And in doing so, they have brought a tribal war into our own homelands.
Multiculturalism is so disastrous that it is shown in the mass-rape plague in Europe. Dennis Prager draws our attention to the horrific fact: between protecting over the European girls from repeated gang rape and protecting Muslims from being identified as the rapists, British authorities chose to protect multiculturalism and “diversity.” That is, in the competition between multiculturalism and one of the most elementary obligations of civilization, the protection of women from sexual violence, civilization lost. The U.K. is not alone in taking precedence of the fear of being branded racist or Islamophobic over protecting women. This is also the situation in Germany and Scandinavian states.
Altogether, this is cultural Marxism disguised as multiculturalism. Western political leaders have sold out to the Marxist idea of multiculturalism and the result has been an emboldening the entire world to submit to the Shari’ah. In Europe, this sickening display now culminating in destruction of much of its cultural identity. Multiculturalism would be good if all sides were equally respected and mutually enriched. But, multiculturalism is one-sided, just a fake word that provides cover for its true meaning: the occupation of Islam. Multiculturalism has become code-name for submission to Islam.
The House of Mary
1820, Westphalia: Clemens Brentano sits next to her bed. Two years ago he moved to the city of Dülmen in Westphalia to be with her every day. With a notebook in his hands, he keeps notes of her visions, dreams and becomes her personal assistant. The German Romantic poet took the decision to stand next to Anna Katerina Emmerick, a young woman in the countryside who had been stuck for decades in her bed. She herself saw for years visions which concerned the life of the Virgin Mary and Christ and described everything in every detail. Clemens holds detailed notes and in 1835, 11 years after Anna Katerina’s death, he will publish his first book with her visions, “The Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ.” In 1842, after his death, another work with her visions entitled “The Life of Virgin Mary” will be published.
1891: Smyrna French Hospital, Ottoman Empire: Marie de Mandat Grancey, a member of the Daughters of Charity s run by the French Hospital of Smyrna, is dining at the Hospital’s dining room. There she will hear an excerpt from the books with Anna Katerina’s visions and ask two Lazarist missionaries, Fathers Poulin and Jung, to visit the point mentioned in the book as the last house of the Virgin Mary.
They began their mission on July 29, 1891, holding in their hands the excerpt of the book, ready to find every detail. Going to the Sirince area in Ephesus and going up Mount Bülbüldağı (Koressos) will stop asking a woman for water. She will tell them that they can find water a few miles further in the springs of the Monastery. After a few hours they will find themselves in front of the ruins of a monastery and a house where it will fit Anna Katerina’s descriptions. There She lived in the last years of her life, Our Lady, the Mother of Christ after His Crucifixion when she followed St. John. There she lived until the day of the Dormition (according to the Orthodox doctrine) and the Assumption (according to the Catholic doctrine) to Heaven.
The missionaries are returning to announce the news and their discovery. In August 1891, two more “missions” will begin for the place where Mother Mary’s House, Meryem Ana Evi, was discovered. They wanted to be sure they had found the right place.
In 1882, Archbishop Smyrna, Timoni, will visit the site where he will recognize the similarities with Anna Katerina’s narratives and begin the procedures for officially recognizing the part of the Catholic Church. Until then, the place was known as Panagia Kapoulou.
2018: A mini bus begind from Kusadasi and has as destination the location of Meryem Ana Evi, 7 km from Selçuk. An announcement has been made a long time ago so that the Temple Management Association (Dernek) can reserve the bus” for specific times of arrival and departure. Inside the bus, you’ll see a mosaic of tourists keeping their camera tightly, believers holding their rosaries and crosses in hands, women with foulards and the Quran in their bag. Most of them hold tightly the papers that have written their wishes. The desire is usually one: to bring to life the baby. And where else will they ask for it except for Mother Mary?
In 2015, filmmaker Manoël Pénicaud, along with his team, visited Meryem Ana Evi. In his camera he will speak, Paolo Pugliese, Capuchin Friar serving in the Temple. The Order of the Capuchins took over the care and management of the place in 1966, after the invitation of the Archbishop Smyrna, Alfred Cuthbert OFMCap Gumbinger. Sitting in a simple coffee table and wearing the Capuccino brown tunic, Paolo Pugliese will talk about his experience in Turkey.
“Virgin Mary is a woman. The main feature of a woman in every respect is a welcome and motherhood. She is here as a mother and as a woman who welcomes her children, both Christians and Muslims.”
While it’s heavy winter, the camera shows people in jacket and coat coming to pray. Outside the temple, there is the spot where candles light. Christians and Muslims lit their candles side by side with reverence and tranquility. Inside the shrine, Christins and Muslims attend the mass in Italia. Muslim women pay in their knees. At the entrance there is a large sign with extracts from the Qur’an that mention Virgin Mary and emphasize Her significance.
“I touched the paper on the wall and at that moment I realized that until that day I had not understood how much the world suffered. How many misery and needs there have been out there. How many personal tragedies!“The wall is full of papers. “The wall is the connection of the prayers of all these people.”
A few years ago, the New York Times will dedicate a few pages to Meryem Ana Evi. Scott Spencer traveled to Turkey to be able to describe the uniqueness of the place and talk to those who visited it. Friar Matthias will explain to him, “Muslims believe that Mary or Mary was a sacred figure but not the mother of God. She was just a woman with great virtues.”
Friar Matthias will continue explaining to the reporter that Maria is mentioned more than 30 times in the Koran and refers to Surah 3, verse 37. The journalist leaving the church will meet a woman who would open her heart “I live and work in Paris but I was born in Algeria. Since I was a little girl, I believed in miracles. I come here often. I come here because I believe in Maria. I’m a muslim.”
If you ever want to visit Meryem Ana Evi, you can find more information (in five different languages) on their website: http://www.meryemana.info/ and on their Facebook page where they make announcements about the functions and times and ways of visit and masses.
The “mysterious” Jew of Tunisia
33 days after the Jewish Easter. The Jews are preparing to celebrate Lag BaOmer. The Ghriba Synagogue with its Blue Tiles on Djerba Island in Tunisia wears its festivals to welcome its faithful who come from all corners of the world to celebrate Lag BaOmer with the 1100 Jews of the island.
Jews, Christians and Muslims come to the synagogue to pray and light candles. Women sit on the floor to put their eggs there with their wishes written on them. According to the local tradition, the stone of the floor used to be in the Temple of Jerusalem. Outside of the synagogue, the musicians have not stopped playing, the dried figs of wine flow abundantly and all of them eat from a table full of fish and couscous.
The story of the Jewish community
According to the history, a large number of Jews fled to Tunisia after the first temple was destroyed by the Romans, around 500 BC. During this period the first synagogue was built. The Jews brought with them a door from the Temple as well as a stone from the altar of the Temple. Today, according to the residents of the area, both the door and the stone are placed into the “Ghriba” Synagogue.
However, the Sephardic Jews of Spain found shelter on the island of Tunisia after the persecutions suffered by King Ferdinand and Isabella. Until 1956, when Tunisia gained its independence from France, the Jews would count 100,000 of which most would live on Djerba Island in harmony with their Muslim brothers.
In Arabic, Ghriba means “mysterious”, “strange” and many wonder why this name was given to the synagogue. According to the myth that dominates the narratives, the place where the congregation was discovered at the beginning of the 19th century inhabited a young “mysterious” girl who never spoke to anyone on the island. The girl died in her cabin when it grabbed fire. Surprisingly, the Jewish residents found her body intact and, in honor of the “mysterious” girl, founded the “Ghriba” Synagogue in the Jewish village of Harah Seghira.
The Lag BaOmer feast and coexistence
The pilgrimage to Lag BaOmer attracts hundreds of Jews from all over the world. They visit the synagogue, pray and participate in the rites that take place in both days of the feast. The marches are in the form of a wedding ceremony and symbolize the secret union between the People of Israel and the Divine. Women leave eggs with the name of a single girl in the place where the girl’s body is supposed to be found. The festival includes both Jews and Muslims. Muslim neighbors help the Jews prepare the place to welcome all this crowd. They also pray in the Synagogue while Muslim women leave the same eggs with written wishes in Arabic so they can get married in the future.
Muhammad has been making mats for the congregation for 50 years. “The most important thing for us is to show that in Djerba Jews and Muslims can live together harmoniously.”
As many people leave for a nearby beach or casino, the local Jews stay in the Synagogue so they can continue their own local customs: the first haircut of a three-year-old boy or the preparation of a big and specific dinner where the whole community will sit together.
The revenue that comes from the Lag BaOmer feast is enough. All the money is for the Jewish nursing home of the village of Harah Seghira and for the maintenance of the twenty synagogues on the island.
Amal who works in Houmt’s market and goes every year to the Synagogue to worship, says “Everything is to be human. We sit here next to each other and we see no difference. “
Walking through the streets of Djerba you can not recognize the Jew by the Muslim. Only a few older Jews put a piece of black cloth at the bottom of their trousers. Mourning for the destruction of the Temple.
Over the last three decades most visitors come from places outside Tunisia. By 2015, however, Israel issued a directive to Israeli citizens not to travel to Tunisia for the annual pilgrimage for safety reasons.
Earlier in the year, the country had suffered three terrorist attacks by extremist religious organizations. Almost all the attacks were in places an hour away from the island. That year, the security measures for the pilgrimage were draconian with checkpoints all over the island, special forces scattered all over, and military trucks full of guns.
On the first day of the feast, Abdelfattah Mourou, spokesman for the moderate Muslim party Islamic Enhanda, embraced rabbi Bittan outside the synagogue and told the crowd “Tunisia is protecting its Jews. What leads to the extremes is the existence of only one culture and one culture. The existence of many cultures leads us to accept one another normally. “
The Jews of today
Today, 1100 Jews live in Djerba. According to chief rabbi Haim Bittan each year only 30 new births are made to Jewish families. In recent years, Jews have begun to leave the place not because of persecution of a religious or racial nature but because of a financial crisis.
Yisha Mamou, 24, who is a teacher at the Hebrew Kindergarten, says “I graduated economically at public high school but, like most in Tunisia, I did not have the opportunity to continue at the University. I want to leave because I have nothing to do. All I do is go back to work and work on the house. “
Until 2004, the Jewish community of Tunisia supported three elementary schools, two lyceums and a religious study school (yeshiva) as well as archbishop. A few years ago, the only Kosher restaurant was closed, and as the whole Jewish community shows, it will begin to shrink if both their own state and the community itself find ways to keep young people there.
The Muslim Saint of a Greek Orthodox city
The Albanian Bektashi Monastery of Farsala
May 1st 2017: Some hundred meters outside Farsala, in the village of Asprogia, cars start gathering early in the morning. Whole families flock to pilgrimage, take out the spit with lambs, beers freeze on portable refrigerators, and someone puts on the cd player folk dances.
“They say it was Church, they say a lot. I know just one thing. That it was and still is a holy place, “says the pilgrim to the filmmaker Manoël Pénicaud. The Durbali Tekke or otherwise, Ireni Tekke was founded according to sources in 1492. The founder, the Durbali dervish came from the Iconio area of Minor Asia. As soon as he arrived in the village Ireni (the name of the village of Asprogia during the Ottoman domination), was granted the land and the building to create a new worship site, the tekke (monastery of Islamic mysticism and souffism). Also, according to sources, today’s temple was built on the ruins of a Byzantine church dedicated to St. George.
In Manoël Pénicaud’s short film, his “tour guide” will show us a hagiography of Saint George on a wall of the teke. “Saint George is being worshipped everywhere” he will explain. Especially in the Muslim world, the warrior and fighter Saint George has a prominent place. Over the centuries, the teke will be expanded by purchasing land from various villages in the surrounding areas. Many travelers and writers, including Andreas Karkavitsas, a Greek well known novelist(1892), will describe in his experiences the functioning of the teke and its role in the harmonious religious coexistence of Christians and Muslims. Archaeologist Frederick Hasluck will record in 1914 that only twenty years ago, in 1888, there were 55 dervishes living on the teke and that the coexistence of Christians and Muslims was perfectly normal.
The blooming and preservation of the teke will bring about the disruption of the Ottoman Empire and the creation of the Republic of Turkey. Mustafa Kemal Ataturk will declare the Sufi and the Dervishes fraternities illegal and chase them mercilessly. The order of the Ottomans in the administration and in the life of Tekke will be taken over by the Albanians Bektashi. Bektashism was dominant in the Balkans, and especially in Albania, where to date there is a large number of believers. The successors of the teke will keep their reins up until 1973 when the last Albanian abbot of the Monastery dies and the memory will be almost erased
The Tekes today
Few people know the presence of Teke and even fewer locals remember its story. What remains is the mosque of the monastery and the tombs of the abbots. Both the mosque and graves are preserved in a very good condition since Albanians Bektashi i try to rescue them with the help of archaeologists and conservators. The problem of preservation of the teke is due to its legal and ownership status. While belonging to a religious institution in Albania, the Land Office of Larissa is in charge of its management. The various disagreements between the parties and the legal dangers have not so far enabled the use of the amount intended for teke’s maintenance.
In recent years the Farsala Municipality has prioritized teke and its proper maintenance. With the help of experts, the Municipality investigates the violations that occur in the area and proceeds to the complaints so that the image of teke is not distorted and be rescued before it is too late. Nevertheless, the Municipality’s objective is far superior to the mere maintenance of a historical and religious monument. The Municipality sees tekke as the opportunity to create an international center of study of the peoples and religions of the Balkans for the past 5 centuries.
God does not ask what you are
Before they enter the site of funerary monuments, they take off their shoes. Young, older, young children kiss the grave with the green covers. On the outside, the tomb of Durbali Sultan and the bust of Hatzi Bektas Veli, founder of Bektashism, in the 13th century. “Bektas Veli chose the best flowers of the religions and created the Bektashism,” says the old man with redheaded cheeks.
The cinematographer Manoël Pénicaud and his team visited the teke to record these moments of love and sharing on May 2017. I was fortunate to watch his short film at the “Shared Sacred Sites” Exhibition at the Thessaloniki Museum of Photography, in the last January. In a green landscape, the believer who has taken over the duties of a guide confesses to the camera “Whoever is inside this temple does not ask the one who comes, what are you? Christian or Muslim? “ At the entrance, a green sign is hanging on a tree in Greek and in Albanian “We never forget you Durballi Sultan Baba.” An old woman enters to worship Saint Durbali “Durbali is Holy to us, He is saint to all and is a miracle maker.” “Every year Christians come from nearby villages. They worship, we celebrate the Kurban (feast) all together, we clean the place. This year, Easter was on the same dates, and so, many did not manage to come. “At the entrance of the Teke, there are the holy icons of Ali, the Archangels Michael and Gabriel, St. Demetrius and the Virgin Mary.
The pilgrimage ends and the feast begins. Dozens of lambs for families and for those who come to worship and celebrate together are served on plastic tables. When he turns the spit, another pilgrim will share his life story with the camera .“God is for all. It’s not just mine or yours. We are from Albania. My daughter is 17 years baptized and goes to the Church and believes and receives the Eucharist. Me too. But she wants to come here too. Nobody and nothing compels us to come here. I drove 300 kilometers to come, another one came from Albania, and another one from Chalkida. “ “I do not ask anyone if he is a Christian or a Muslim. Why shall I care? If we eat and drink together, what do I care? So I have done so far in my life and so I will continue to do. “
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