Posted by: Frangipani | October 12, 2014

Kurdish Demonstration in London

Along with Kurdish friends, I marched from Trafalgar to Parliament Square. Banners of peace, ‘down with ISIS’, ‘united for human rights’.

After talking with many families and students in Parliament Square, I took my usual cycle route home at the back of Horse Guard Parade. I was quite surprised to see three large vans of riot police at the ready, and I stopped to check why they were there. ‘There is a Kurdish demonstration in Parliament Square and we are on standby in case there is trouble.’

Could one of them not walk around the corner, see families in a peaceful demonstration? All the Kurdish political parties, together with several Kurdish womens’ groups, were there. Would the obvious country to have opposed such a peaceful demonstration have shown their face? They were there filming every participant, but hardly likely to have thrown teargas to demonstrators as they do back home.

I look forward to the day when British police understand enough of the Kurdish situation not to send out three vans of riot police during a peaceful demonstration on a Sunday afternoon.

London Kurdish Rally 5

Peaceful protest by Kurds in Parliament Square: ‘Wake up UK’

Posted by: Frangipani | August 17, 2013

A stumbling block to understanding?

This is a small post about about a critical difference in beliefs between two of the world’s most practised religions.

To put it simply: Christians believe that Jesus died on the cross almost 2000 years ago and Muslims believe that he was spared that humiliation, and did not physically die.

I have thought about this for some time and understand the difficulty in believing how a prophet of God could suffer the public shame of being put to death on a cross. This concern is actually addressed in the Bible (Philippians Chapter 2 verse 5-11).  ‘Therefore, God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth, to the glory of God the Father.’

This language shows that, in spite of his death the cross, Jesus receives the full honour due to him. This concern, and the way the Bible addresses it, is lost on many from a Western background. But those from Eastern traditions can understand the humility of Jesus, and the raising of the name of Jesus.

A stumbling block?

Posted by: Frangipani | August 17, 2013

Honour and shame: a zero sum game?

Do you agree with this statement? ‘If you gain, I lose. And if I gain, you lose.’

If someone is doing well at business, do you feel like ‘putting them down’.

What is zero sum? According to Jerone Neyrey, it is the belief that ‘everything in the social, economic, natural universe, everything desired in life: useful land, wealth, respect and status, power and influence; these exist in finite quantity and short supply.’

There is no need to be ashamed of believing this; some economists also do. An alternative is that these items are expandable. That we can help each other and make more useful land, more business (wealth), more respect, including self respect, more power and influence over our own lives.

What do you think?

Posted by: Frangipani | August 15, 2013

A Man Acquainted with Sorrows


Well, that is how he appeared to me; a man of wisdom who understood many sorrows. I only met Paolo DALL’OGLIO when staying a few days in April 2011, like thousands of others before, and few after, at the Deir Mar Musa Monastery to the  north of Damascus. Paulo served at the monastery for 30years; welcoming travellers to the community, sharing prayer and wonderful stories. I lost count how many languages he spoke. He was instrumental in saving the stunningly colourful eleventh century frescos on the monastery walls.

It is not yet confirmed, but it was reported in The Times that he was killed this week trying to reconcile the currently irreconcilable. As Kurds in Northern Eastern Syria struggle to give birth to some form of autonomy, Islamist fighters from outside Syria have joined Al Nusra and are have begun to kill Kurdish families.

There have been massive protests in many cities with Kurdish populations, both within the region and in European capitals. But is anyone going to step in to stop Al Nusra killing? Paolo stepped in, offering a peaceful path; he tried to broker reconciliation. Until, that is, he was killed by the Al Nusra fighters.

Blessed are the peacemakers. As all who met him will no doubt attest, it is hard to believe this larger than life character is dead. But, if so, he died doing what Paolo does well; the tough stuff. Is it too much to ask that a tender shoot of peace may grow from the ultimate sacrifice made by Paolo?

Posted by: Frangipani | August 10, 2013

Why all the litter?

The beauty of the land is sung about and deeply appreciated in Kurdish song and storytelling. So why all the litter?

We saw tens of thousands of families having a picnic in the beautiful countryside outside Sulaymaniah to celebrate Newroz. Sadly, later in the day, it looked as though most families had forgotten to take home their litter.

I returned a year after a lovely family picnic on Mount Ararat facing Armenia. I was remembered as the guest who got everyone to collect all the rubbish before returning home.  When Kurdish people love and appreciate their land, why is taking rubbish home exceptional?

As we walked home after Bayram visiting in eastern Turkey, we were almost hit as someone slung their rubbish bag from the fourth floor. The stream we passed had the same (and more) garbage as a year ago. As well as looking terrible, this is really not healthy. Can all of us who love and respect the beauty of Kurdish towns and countryside help to keep them beautiful?


Posted by: Frangipani | August 10, 2013

Why all the air pollution?

As I look down on a beautiful Kurdish town in Eastern Turkey in the late afternoon, I am aware of the intense haze from exhaust emissions. Back in the town, one sees and hears fire engines that look 50 years old, belching black soot. The dust and water trucks emit similar deafening noises and dirt. Kids take the baffles from their motorbikes to impress; other vehicles have not been serviced for a decade.

Turkey does have emissions legislation for vehicles. Will someone please help to enforce this? Then there will be a whole lot less kids and old people in the hospitals here with lung problems.

As a driver, no-one wants to give their parents, or their little brother or sister lung cancer. Sadly, that is not the impression from the top of the hill.


Posted by: Frangipani | August 10, 2013

Why are Kurdish people being killed and no one listens- again?

The Syrian civil war is complex enough without the added complication of civil war(s) within the civil war.

Whether we can cope with the complexity or not, it is happening. A deadly new element is the Islamist Al Nusra killing Kurdish families in their villages of the north east of Syria. Tragically, there are many reports and photos of children and adult massacres. Some are calling it genocide. There are demonstrations by huge numbers of Kurdish people in Turkey, Germany, France and other counties. But is anyone listening? Is anything being done to stop the killings?


Posted by: Frangipani | November 14, 2012


Could Ankara make the leap of faith and support the much talked about oil and/or gas pipeline from Iraq KRG to Turkey? Few would dispute that this would provide huge economic benefits to both Iraq KRG and Turkey. It would of course also provide a leap of power for Irbil and, at the same time, more leverage from Ankara over Irbil. Could the balance provided by this see-saw provide some peace in this most fraught of playgrounds?

Posted by: Frangipani | September 20, 2012

Too much analysis?

Kurdish Export Deal still prey to Politics? When I read analyst comments on the latest Kurdish export deal, I wonder: does so much analysis actually lead to more politicisation than might otherwise be the case? When the sectarian and Kurdish political angle of every decision that might be taken by members of the new Iraq Council for Representatives (CoR) is analysed, are they are being set up for failure? I am tempted to say, ‘Keep it simple, keep on topic’.

Posted by: Frangipani | May 19, 2012

Why do Turkish Children have to pay for school?

I heard an interesting theory recently as to why, although paid for, Turkish children have to pay for education. The AKP have set it up so that the school fees are paid to the mother. Sounds fine. “Ah, but the mother is often not well educated and she is lead to believe that the AKP is paying for the education, and that she should vote for AKP to ensure her children’s subsidised education continues.” Clever.

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