8th Travel Project 'Against All Odds' to begin soon

"Ljubljana". The more often I utter the name of Slovenia's capital, the sweeter it sounds to me, although not too long ago Slovenia was part of a country that would suffer a fate so bitter. Despite having been to many different parts of Ex-Yugoslavia, I never got to visit this one country that was the first Yugoslav Republic to secede from Yugoslavia. The Yugoslav Wars began here in Slovenia, which is hard to believe when you walk on Ljubljana's very clean and good conditioned streets that you usually would not expect in any of the Ex-Yugoslav countries. As a matter of fact, the city formerly known as Laibach turns out to be one of the cleanest places where I have ever been.

 

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"She puts a red gift package on the table. The two bunnies on the cover suggest that this is a birthday present for a child. Using some camouflage techniques is maybe not a bad idea. You never know who else might be watching. I have a quick look inside, while the staff member is nervously scanning the environment, wondering if some of the guests in the restaurant are observing us."


Full Article: 'Caracas - A Thin Line Between Danger and Beauty'

Mi

16

Dez

2015

Getting Ready for 'Episode VII'

 

A traveler's "Episode VII": Click here and press start.

Apart from the new project, many more articles on the previous six travel projects will follow soon. Small parts of the collection are available in the links below.

 

2010 - Around the World

2011 - Operation Stairway to Heaven

2012 - Travelution

2013 - Era of Epicness

2014 - Emergency Exits

2015 - Venture Capital Plan

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Mi

04

Nov

2015

Sarajevo: The Healing Wounds

Read the full article here


Highlights: 
- A local describes how she perceived the war in Bosnia as a child 
- Visiting a traditional Bosnian house that was built in Ottoman times 
- Watching the sunset in Sarajevo from the fort Bijela Tabija

... plus some rather curious facts revolving around a toilet of historical signifcance and secret strategies of jealous Bosnian women

0 Kommentare

Fr

23

Okt

2015

A Refugee for one day

Late August, 2015 - The overland trip began in Germany and reached its peak in Athens. A considerable amount of refugees has started to reach Germany via the Western Balkan route. The direction to which I was heading was nearly the same route that the refugees took after crossing the ocean, except that it was the opposite direction. My first encounter with the refugees was in Belgrade. This time, however, I would meet them in a much more tenseful atmosphere. Apart from a few Afghans at the bus station in Thessaloniki, on my way from Macedonia to Athens I did not see any refugees, because I reached Thessaloniki via Bitola, whereas the refugee crisis in this region is taking place in and around the border town Gevgelija. After my stay in Athens, the initial plan was to take a flight to Belgrade, or maybe to Cyprus. However, only one day before I left Macedonia, I received the confirmation that I can volunteer in a hostel in Skopje, making me conclude that I should take the more affordable buses back to Macedonia. Of course I am aware of what is going on in Gevgelija, but I am probably not the only regular traveller who takes a bus from Greece to Macedonia these days. What can happen?

The Road to Macedonia

The bus trip from Athens back to Thessaloniki was uncomplicated. I do not waste any time and ask a kiosk owner where I can buy a bus ticket to Skopje. He gives me the direction and five minutes later I arrive at the ticket office. To my surprise the ticket is very cheap. Since I am still in Greece, I was expecting that it is at least twice as expensive. After a longer delay we can finally enter the bus. As the bus departs, I take a look around and notice that there are many refugees in here. Only later I would realize that actually everybody in the bus is a refugee, except for the bus driver and me. 

 

At sunset we arrive near the border. As I look out of the window, I see many refugees standing in line on an abandoned railway track. Some police officers are giving them orders. Once we get off the bus, everything happens fast. "Stand in line!", one of the border officials shouts at us. There must be some regular travellers like me somewhere, but curiously I cannot spot anyone. "I said stand in line!", the border official shouts again, while other officials make sure that nobody distances themselves from their groups. "Why don't you listen?", another official strictly asks one of the refugees when he moved a little bit further away. Probably he did not even understand the official. It would be a good idea to tell the border police that I am just a regular traveller. "Sit down, sit!", the official shouts at our group in an intimidating way. His warning signal is clear: If we do not listen, they will use force. Okay, maybe it is not a good idea to walk over to the officials just now, so I sit down like all the rest.

Stuck at the Border

Now here I am, amongst the refugees, getting just a little glimpse of what it is like to be them. Not even the refugees notice that I am a legal traveller, and how should they? There you have this darker skinned guy with messed up hair and dirty clothes who looks like he has been on a journey for a while, a guy who from his looks not significantly differs from the Afghans, and who has now arrived at the Greek-Macedonian border in times where most people in this region, including the refugees, have recently only seen those Afghans that have just fled from their country, and they come in large amounts. Since experiencing those wild nights in Athens, I have been less receptive, but now I finally begin to understand. The man whom I asked for directions to buy the ticket in Thessaloniki thought that I was a refugee, which is why I ended up at the office, where apparently most of the refugees buy their tickets, and where the refugees are being separated from the regular bus passengers. The woman at the ticket office also thought that I am a refugee and sent me to the "refugee bus" after printing a ticket for a "refugee price". 

 

Come to think about it, even before arriving in Thessaloniki, there were some strange situations. For a moment I remember how I sat down in a restaurant on my way to Thessaloniki, vaping my electronic cigarette and checking some emails on my laptop while buying ridiculously expensive food because I was too tired to check the prices. Some passengers - refugees and locals alike - looked at me suspiciously. "That's a strange refugee", they must have thought.

 

While I am waiting for the right moment to explain my situation to the border police, I take the opportunity to observe the situation. The emotions are mixed. Some of the refugees seem happy to have left behind their troubled homelands and to have survived the boat trip. Then there are those, whose trauma can be read from their faces. Maybe they have had a near death experience or lost their dear ones, maybe back in Syria or maybe while crossing the ocean. Emotionally, they stand in stark contrast with the group of relieved male refugees, who are laughing and joking. Some of them are even taking some selfies. Another group of young men is flirting with a beautiful black haired and green-eyed Greek woman, who is selling sim cards. She tries not to be distracted from her work by the refugees too much, but apparently enjoys the attention and agrees on taking some pictures with some of them. Meanwhile, a Syrian man is entertaining three children on the other side of the railway track. These moments make me temporarily forget about the potential for escalation.

Fear of Escalation

As the situation begins to calm down, I finally walk up to the official, but he barely pays attention to what I am saying, focusing on us not as individuals, but as a whole group. I seem to be 'just another refugee' to him. Not much later I try to speak to another official and show him my passport. He asks me to wait till later and moves away.  None of the officials seems to be able to tell me what to do. Or maybe they do not want to. Perhaps I just have to wait until the bus with the legal passengers arrives. Meanwhile I try to understand what the refugees are talking about. If I am lucky, I may find a refugee who can speak English. Listening more closely to the Afghan refugees may turn out to be useful as well, because some of them speak Urdu, the official language of my original country. .

 

Another tenseful phase begins. On several occasions the refugees do not listen to what the officials are saying, either because they do not understand them or because they are too tired, and sometimes they just do not like the way they are being treated. One officer asks us to sit down like we are a bunch of dogs. Yes, making the refugee groups sit down is of course necessary, not only to ensure that they do not get too tired while waiting, but also to prevent any refugee from unexpectedly moving away. But the way this border official repeatedly orders us to stand up only to sit down again minutes later, not surprisingly makes a part of the refugees feel provoked and humiliated. In different time intervals the situation calms down and nearly begins to escalate again. There is fear in the air, not only among the refugees. Some of the police officers themselves seem at least nervous, but determined, probably remembering the clashes that erupted here last week, after which the deployment of the Macedonian army troops followed, that are now standing only a couple of meters away from us. Other officials just do not seem to be the most sympathetique people. 

Ibrahim

At some point of time I almost begin to believe that we can finally cross the border. Shortly thereafter we are being told to wait again. That's it. I sit down on the railway tracks, this time expecting to sit for a long long time and considering myself lucky if I make it to Skopje today at all. When least expected, a Syrian man in his early twenties walks over to me. "Where is your group?", he asks me in English, to my surprise. "I have no group", I reply to his surprise. "I am a single traveller from Germany". His eyes express disbelief. The Syrian, who introduces himself as Ibrahim, immediately asks me to join him and his friends, who are amazed at meeting a traveller who was born and lives in the country that they seek to reach. "What are you doing here?", they want to know, and I explain to them what happened.

 

Ibrahim asks me if I need some water, while his friends offer me something to eat.  "I'm fine, don't worry. I think your journey was 'a little bit' tougher", I reply, and the Syrian smiles. The refugees care for me like I am the refugee. What a sad irony it is for me right now when I think about those individuals in Europe who have forgotten how priviliged they are, criticizing the outcome now after ignoring the causes for years, talking about the injustice that happened to them as if they were the refugees who fled from a war zone, people who would apparently take it into account to let so many men, women and children die as long as it does not affect their standard of living. Of course we cannot wave everybody through and there need to be health and security checks, but whoever condemns the refugees who fled from their country, has never understood the real problem, because the refugees fled from bombs and tanks that were financed with the help of our taxes years ago. Who can be surprised now?

 

The rumor is apparently spreading that a 'guy from Germany' is among the refugees, and accordingly I get to meet more refugees. They are only fully convinced that I am German after I show them my passport. My obviously oriental origin, which first made it difficult for them to see that I am not a refugee, now makes them only more curious, assuming that I have a similar religious background like they do. "Are you muslim?" - "Not a really good one", I reply, indicating my strongly secularized lifestyle, after which they stress that God is the most merciful. I guess it has a reason that almost every Sura of the Quran begins with the words "Bismillah, Ar-Rahman, Ar-Raheem" (In the name of God, the Almighty, the most Merciful). "But we should not take God's mercy as an excuse", I point out. They agree and ask me if I can recite some Suras of the Quran, which I do to their delight.

Surviving the Death Boat

Usually I find it insensitive and inappropriate to ask the refugees too many personal questions, but among some individuals I feel free to get some insights on what they have experienced. Ibrahim is one of them, so I ask him about what the refugees have been through. He begins to talk about the death boats: "When you cannot swim, imagine how you have a child and it falls off the boat. You will not let it drown. Even if you know you will die, you will die with your child.", he says, referring to the most tragic examples of victims who tried to cross the ocean. Ibrahim considers himself lucky not to have been in such a situation, but he goes on to tell me how he and his group were close to drown in the ocean as well. 

 

The small boats that the refugees use are supposed to carry a maximum of 30 passengers, but usually more than 60 passengers are on board. Ibrahim explains to me the difficulty of keeping the balance in the boat. It reminds me of my boat trip at the Churun river in Venezuela. Everybody can fall off the boat, if only one passenger makes a wrong move. But this was not the only problem that Ibrahim and the rest of the people had to deal with. He describes the moment when they were in the midst of the ocean and the captain let Ibrahim know that there is a hole in the boat, asking him to inform all the other passengers. Ibrahim made a wise choice and did not tell anyone except for his close friends, warning them to keep it for themselves in order to avoid that panic will break out and all of them drown.  While the boat kept on being filled with water, Ibrahim and his friends were pondering over a solution. In what can be described as an act of despair, they took off their clothes, pressed them against the hole and squeezed out the water back into the ocean. They repeated this procedure over and over again, until they reached the coast.

 

"It sounds like your toughest time is over", I say to cheer them up. "Not really", Ibrahim replies and then mentions a friend of his who had just recently arrived at the Hungarian border. The border police would not let him enter Hungary. Only after witnessing that man for two days without eating or drinking anything, the border police showed mercy on him and let him pass, realizing that he was serious about rather starving to death than going back. But how many exceptions will they make? There will be much more refugees who are ready to die, if they are forced to go back. In the border town Gevgelija I would later meet 5 Italian women who decided to have a closer look on the refugee crisis in Gevgelija. Sara, one of the Italians, would give me one more example of what kind of ideas the refugees come up with: Some refugees destroyed their own boats shortly before reaching the coast, swimming the rest of the way in order not to get caught by the police, and risking to drown so close to their goal.

Refugee Stampede

Our goal to cross the border today now seems in reach, as we approach the barbed wired fences, behind which the Macedonian soldiers are standing, ready for action in case of escalation. This time I almost have hope again that we will enter Macedonia at last, until we hear noises from a distance. Ibrahim and I turn around. A new group of refugees has arrived. A much larger group. And a much more impatient one. We can see by the reactions of the officials that the potential for escalation is very big now. The new group approaches us in a threateningly fast pace. "It looks like we have to move", I say to Ibrahim calmly but urgently, while taking a look around and trying to come up with an escape plan. If the newly arrived refugees continue to approach us in this pace, it will not be possible for our entire group to move aside, all the more because of the lack of space. Luckily, and to my surprise, the officials temporarily manage to stop the newly arrived group. 

 

The police officers ask us to step aside for the newly arrived refugees and wait. It is unfair, we have been waiting for hours in this heat, but one of the officials does have a point: "They will pit you", he said, with which he meant that they will trample us. Ibrahim and some other Arabs conclude that it is reasonable to listen to the police official. So they shout to their group that everybody should move aside, while I am wondering if everybody will listen. Or will a part of our group refuse to allow the new group to take our spot, fearing not to be able to cross the border today? Luckily, our entire group does move aside, because not much later the border police can no longer hold the new group back. They storm in our direction and take our spot away. Understandably the Syrians and Iraqis complain about how they will need to wait much longer now, yet they hope that the officials will consider their patience and cooperation. 

 

As Ibrahim and I sit on a rock, an object falls from the hands of a refugee right in front of us. For a moment Ibrahim looks at this object with great suspicion. His eyes seem to tell a story that he fears to relive, as if he believes that a very harmful object just hit the ground and is about to explode, like he was back in Aleppo. Then he realizes that it is just a teapot, and we continue our conversation: "You should go and talk to the police and tell them that you are from Germany", he says. "I have done that several times now, and they do not seem to care", I reply. Ibrahim is still sceptical that I can just cross the border, and so am I. So I decide to walk over to a police officer one more time. At least this time the officer checks my passport properly. Once I explain my situation to him, he simply tells me that I should wait. "It doesn't matter if you get a stamp or not", he says and walks away. Is he serious? Of course a Macedonian entry stamp will matter when I try to leave Macedonia at some point. 

 

Some UNHCR workers begin to collect the trash to our right. Ibrahim and his friends begin to help them, but the UN volunteers ask them to sit down and relax, because the refugees do not wear gloves like the UNHCR volunteers. The Syrian group puts much effort in leaving the best possible impression and break some of those typically Arab clichées. A couple of Syrians complain about the 'impatient Afghans' and argue that they make the situation of all refugees worse by not listening to the officials. The Afghan refugees indeed seem to be a bigger challenge to the volunteers and the border officials than the Syrians, which is arguably connected to the even bigger lack of understanding for the Western culture of conduct among many Afghans. Such an understanding can be conveyed to foreigners via media very efficiently, but the Afghans have never had as much access to Western media as the Syrians. Moreover, unlike many Syrians, a large part of the Afghan refugees never had the chance to enjoy the educational privileges that the Syrians had before the war broke out.

The Official Border

We are now almost at the barbed wired fences, but it feels like we have to wait for another eternity. Right in front of us, things are getting louder again. It was only a matter of time until a conflict among the refugees would break out, and some refugees begin to confront the police officials in a much more aggressive tone as well. A journalist is taking pictures, trying to document what is happening here, but it is hard to keep up with this chaos. Children start crying, while police officers and refugees scream at each other. I wonder how much the children can physically take after having had such a tough journey? For how many hours can they endure the blazing sun on their heads in a place so crowded and so hot that sometimes it can be hard to breathe? 

 

Another hour passes. And I am still not sure if I should cross the border without receiving any stamp. There are still no regular bus passengers in sight. Maybe the locals and travellers really do not cross the Gevgelija border these days. Maybe all of them have been redirected to the part of the border near Bitola, from where I entered Greece a week ago. While I try to figure out what I have to do, a photographer is taking some pictures not too far away from me. The only legal foreigners here are the UN volunteers and a few journalists like him. It is quite obvious that the photographer is a native English speaker. Assuming that he must also be well informed about this place, I walk over to him and we have a chat. As I explain my situation to him, he looks at me in disbelief and says: "You are not supposed to be here". He goes on and explains to me in one sentence what no border official was able to tell me: "This is the illegal border. You have to get to the official border."

 

The fact that no police officer gave me this piece of information made me believe that this is the only place, from where I can reach Gevgelija. Probably one of the officers would have asked me for a bribe before taking me to the official border. After I finish talking to the photographer, I start to look for Ibrahim. He has disappeared. A little bit later I see one of his friends and ask him to convey a message to him. Who knows, maybe we will meet again in Germany, if he makes it. The UN photographer kindly drives me to the official border, where I receive a stamp and enter Macedonia without any complications.

Looking Back and Looking Forward

Days later, I sit in a hostel in Skopje, looking at some pictures of my most recent trips, remembering the more adventurous moments abroad, including the experience at the Greek-Macedonian border. I have travelled quite a bit now, but never have I had a journey like the refugees had. While we travellers sometimes flee from our everyday routine that can feel so horrendous to us, the routine of the refugees has been war and terror. While we can have a comfortable bus or train ride that takes us to our next sightseeing destination, the refugees try to cross the ocean in overfilled death boats, often appreciating the most basic needs. The more days pass, the less these needs are being fulfilled at some of the European border areas in particular. 

 

Before I get ready for the next night shift at the Lounge Hostel in Skopje, I read in the news how the Hungarian government has taken new measures to prevent the refugees from entering their country. Have Ibrahim and his friends managed to cross the border? Once I contact him, he lets me know that he is stuck in Hungary, where his friend was recently starving for two days. In the following days I keep myself up to date on what is going on in Hungary. Before a humanitarian catastrophe breaks out, Prime Minister Orban has decided to temporarily allow the refugees to cross the border. Another two weeks later Ibrahim lets me know that he has made it to Germany. On the same day Hungary would completely close its borders with Serbia.

 

Ibrahim's escape plan worked, but what about the refugees that are still on their way? Is the worst yet to come? There are many people in Europe who cannot really imagine what it means to be a refugee. But who would dare to say that the refugee crisis is a greater crisis for us than it is a crisis for the refugees? Have all the tragic news revolving around the refugees not served as a clear and constant reminder of how privileged we are and of how many of us have failed to realize how serious the situation was even years ago?

 

A large amount of people in Europe has become so used to complain about everything. But while many of us drown in our own self-pity caused by the smallest problems, many of the refugees drown in an ocean for real. Many of us are fast at realizing that a train arrives two minutes late while waiting in the metro station, but how late are many of us ourselves in understanding that we are not doing too bad, late in understanding the real issues in the world, and very late in understanding how urgent it is that we must act one way or another, if not out of moral duty, then at least for the selfish reason to avoid any repercussions that will logically come about when our governments and its partners support those from whom the refugees fled in the first place. Oh how we like to look at the past, criticizing the ignorance of people in times when the most tragic chapters were written and they did not realize it. But we all need to look in the mirror and seriously ask ourselves if we have learnt from history or not. And to those who believe that the refugees are the problem. Who knows, maybe they will only understand, if one day they themselves become the refugees. And it would suffice if they became refugees for just one day.

1 Kommentare

Mi

21

Okt

2015

The Delorean

Who has not had the wish to travel through time, to see what the future is like, to change certain moments of the past or just to relive the most beautiful moments of the past? We may not be able to travel through time like in the movies, but today an increasing number of people has the privilege to travel extensively in a way that makes us feel like we have left the present. And although we cannot manipulate the past and we cannot travel to the future,  even listening to songs, watching movies or looking at pictures can feel like travelling through time, a way to relive the 'good old days', with which we associate the respective objects that feed our nostalgia, or a way to remember what constituted the 'good' in those days. For a moment we go back to the past, we can just enjoy it, or even learn from it.

 

How time flies! But admittedly, the reason why I speak about time, why I speak about travelling, and why I speak about time travelling, has not too much to do with starting a big philophical or scientific debate, but with what's trending on social media these days and how it reminds me of one specific moment that lies five years back, when I visited the Universal Studios in Hollywood and saw this vehicle that has become famous for being depicted as a time machine in what has become one of the greatest trilogies in film history. The original DeLorean that was used in Steven Spielberg's "Back to the Future" was one of the biggest highlights of the Studio Tour in Hollywood. As the online magazine Slash Gear reported, this model was used most of the times and in all three parts. After years of restoration, the DeLorean has been relocated to the Universal Experience museum. 

A look at the original DeLorean ("A Car") at the Universal Studio in Hollywood - April, 2010
A look at the original DeLorean ("A Car") at the Universal Studio in Hollywood - April, 2010

It's been 30 years, ever since 'Back to the future' was released, fascinating viewers all over the world. It's impact on popular culture was so huge that today - the date that the protagonist chose as his time travel destination in the movie - is being celebrated by many people as the "Back to the future day". Although so many years have passed, only a few trilogies can be compared with Spielberg's masterpiece in terms of quality. Because it does not matter if you live in the past, in the present or in the future, 'Back to the future' remains timeless, and if you haven't watched it, well, that's the great thing about movies: You do not need a time machine for doing so.

0 Kommentare

So

09

Aug

2015

Sarajevo: The Recovery

It felt like traveling back to the past, when I met my former best friend in front of the Sebilj Fountain in Sarajevo after not having seen him for sixteen years. Still overwhelmed from this emotional reunion, I begin to prepare for my final day here in Bosnia's Capital, and on this day, it would feel like traveling back in time once more. There is just one more person that I must meet, and one more obligatory thing to do. Today another circle will close. It starts raining again.


It has become our tradition that Indira and I meet in front of Vijecnica, a building of huge historic significance for the Bosnians. The city hall, which also served as the National Library of Bosnia and Herzegovina, was one of Sarajevo's shining landmarks until it was burnt down in 1992 during the Siege of Sarajevo. It took more than two decades to complete the structural repair of this edifice. Today, meeting in front of Vijecnica feels very different, because it is the first time that we stand in front of this building after it has finally been made accessible to visitors. 

 

The moment we enter Vijecnica, many thoughts run through my head. First I feel like I have a deja vu, although I know that it's not a deja vu. The next moment it feels like I had a dream of how I entered this building, although I know that it was not a dream. I was in here before. It just looked completely different.


"It is forbidden to enter Vijecnica. But there is a way to get inside.", Arijan said to me during my first visit in 2010 when the destroyed library was still being reconstructed. From my hostel I looked out of the window with a perfect view on Vijecnica, pondering over the possibility to enter the destroyed building. Just shortly before I left Sarajevo in 2010, it just so happened that on my way to Carsija I spotted this gap at the barricade that was set up around the construction site, prompting me to quickly enter the edifice without anyone noticing it. 


Once I was inside, it was quite an unspectacular moment, which in the following years ended up being just a dusty memory that I would eventually completely forget about. But today, as I stand in the middle of the restored building, all the dust on the past memory is being blown away, and I begin to remember the pictures that I shot five years ago in what had been left of the library. I begin to remember this cold, empty and ruined place, its connotative expression of sadness and hopelessness, and how I looked up to the central part of the empty roof scaffold, whose gap is today filled with colored glass.


Carefully I climbed up the rotten stairs of this once desolated place, until the construction workers caught me and kicked me out of the building, I recall as Indira and I walk up the stairs and euphorically look at the beams of sunlight projecting the colors of the newly installed window onto the wall. Ever since, I kept on witnessing the final phase of reconstruction, whenever I came back to Sarajevo. In 2011, the structural repair of Vijecnica continued. While progress had been made in the interior, from the outside the building almost looked the same as in the previous year. Two years later, when I visited Sarajevo again, the facade was already fully refurbished. Finally, in 2014, the building reopened, bringing back sweet memories to the people of Sarajevo. Indira, who like me has also entered this building for the first time since it was reopened, must surely feel like a part of her childhood has been restored.


But unfortunately and paradoxically, it is this building itself that reminds the visitor of how easily memories can be erased. The Sarajevans, who are very sensitive about preserving memories and history in general, will always remember how over two 

million books and documents were burnt amid the destruction of Vijecnica. However, as much as they like to enjoy the sweet memories to the fullest, as much they want to learn from the bitter memories to the fullest. The tragical chapter of the siege has unquestionably coined the Sarajevans' collective identity. To confront the bitter realities of the recent past not only reminds them of the ugliness of war and in turn of how to appreciate even the most simple things in life, but it is their way to remember and honor those who have fallen.  

 

The proneness to preserve anything that is related to their history and memories, good or bad, is today perfectly reflected in this very building, where certain parts have been repaired only partially on purpose, thus preserving even 'bitter' components, 

one example being the preservation of some damaged pilaster strips, standing in contrast with the renewed ones, a contrast between the ugly times of war and the beautiful times of peace. 

As essential as the preservation of memories is, as much it is important to look forward and to move on. Apart from the reconstructions of familiar landmarks, new structures have emerged as well, the most notable one perhaps being the Sarajevo City Center building. In 2011, when I stood in front of what used to be a huge construction site, I would have probably not paid too much attention to it, had I not spotted the banner ad, which announced that the building will function as a shopping mall and additionally as a five star hotel. It was not hard to guess that this project was launched by investors from Saudi-Arabia.

 

Criticism arose that such a project undermines the authenticity of Bosnia's Capital. While authenticity should not be measured by how broken the streets or how damaged the buildings are as a result of warfare, this structure is indeed uncharacteristic for Sarajevan cityscape. This, however, has not affected the cultural and architectural heritage of the city, and as the predominance of Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman influence demonstrates, what has constituted Bosnian architecture in the same way like it has constituted Bosnia's history and culture, has always been the contrast between traditionalism and modernism, as well as the mingling of Bosnian culture with other cultures, both of which simultaneously mirror the cultural, ethnical and religious diversity that is to be found among the people of Sarajevo.


22 Kommentare

Sa

25

Jul

2015

Stair 1 - Crossing Bosnia's Cultural Bridge

July, 2011 - From the railway station in Frankfurt am Main I take the first bus. The longest roadtrip of my life has officially begun, with the final destination being my country of origin, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. After passing German cities such as Mannheim and Karlsruhe, we take a short break in Austria, where one year later I would try to work from abroad for the first time. Next, we reach the region where I spent the final days of last year's travel project, the region formerly known as Yugoslavia. On the way to my first destination of this year's trip I also get to enjoy the landscapes of Slovenia, the first entity of ex-Yugoslavia that had seceded before the war broke out. We take another break in Croatia, which became independent from Yugoslavia shortly after Slovenia's secession, too. Since Croatia was the final destination out of ten countries in the challenging Around the World trip last spring, the short stay in its capital felt kind of incomplete. Maybe there will be the opportunity to visit Croatia again one day. 

 

The last break that we take is in a city that is scheduled to be the second destination of this year's journey. A small taste of Visoko. From its railway station you can already see one of the hills that is shaped like a pyramid. According to some archaeologists and international volunteers who have been doing excavations in Visoko, their discovery of a tunnel complex, as well as what they believe are man-made archaeological objects in and around those pyramid-shaped hills, cannot be a coincidence. For a number of reasons they are convinced that these hills are real pyramids indeed. Most archaeologists reject the theory of the 'Bosnian pyramids', inter alia arguing that all or most of the discoveries are not man-made. A local points at the hill and lets me know that this is the "Sunca Pyramida" (Pyramid of the Sun). "Da, znam, citao u internetu", "Yes, I know, I read it on the internet", I reply, looking at the hill one more time, before we get in the bus again. Soon I would return to learn more about it.

 

We have left more than 1000 kilometres behind us. Last year I drank from the fountain of Sebilj, symbolically signalizing a potential return to Sarajevo. Now only 27 kilometres separate me from the "first stair", the kick-off of this project called "Operation Stairway to Heaven". And then we get caught in a massive traffic jam like it was rush hour in New York City. That's not really what I was expecting on my way to Sarajevo. One hour later we arrive at the railway station of Bosnia's capital, close to the famous yellow Holiday Inn Hotel and the Avaz Twist Tower, one of the tallest buildings in Southeast Europe. This year, I would not hike up the hills for hours, but enjoy the view from the modern tower instead. But after a 26 hours trip, it is maybe a good idea to check into the hostel first. Two Bosnian youngsters convince me to share a taxi with them to save money. Not much later we arrive in Bascarsija, or Carsija, as the locals like to call it. The nearby national library Vijecnica is still 'recovering' from the damage that was done during the Siege of Sarajevo.

As usual, there is not one single hostel room that I booked in advance (I was never fan of credit cards, which you usually need for doing so). To be on the safe side, I noted down the adresses of two alternative hostels instead. The first choice is the hostel, in which I stayed the previous year. Arijan receives me with a warm welcome. However, I also receive a surprising information. There is no bed available tonight. The owners of the hostel try to find a nearby hostel for me, but all of them are fully booked as well. It seems likely that even my alternative options have no free beds left. Why are there so many tourists in Sarajevo all of a sudden? As if this is not inconvenient enough, the heavy rain that has been haunting me since Germany, just won't stop, even though it's the end of July. Luckily, the owners find an 'emergency room' for me. But despite the long trip, I am too energetic to take a rest now, especially because I know that my schedule in Bosnia is tight.

 

During last year's stay in Sarajevo I learnt more about the Siege of Sarajevo and some of Sarajevo's most famous sights and monuments, especially with the help of Indira, who will most likely not be available during my short stay. This time, I much rather observe and focus on the multicultural and multiconfessional peculiarities of the Bosnian people.

In Bosnia, Muslims constitute the largest confessional group, whereas a slight majority is Non-Muslim. To Eastern and Western travellers alike, Sarajevo will likely appear to be exotic enough while at the same time being familiar enough:  While you continuously perceive the sound of the Bosnian language with all its Slavic characteristics, through the loudspeakers you concomitantly hear the Arabic Azhan calls of the Muezzin all over Sarajevo during Muslim prayer times. Ottoman architecture is to be found in all parts of the city. At the same time you are surrounded by this occidental landscape and witness the ubiquity of modern Western fashion and a secular lifestyle. Not much less perceivable are all the locals who by their appearance alone express their traditional values and piety. Some tourists look like their whole world view is changing within seconds, as they look in disbelief at the predominantly Caucasian Muslims who enter the mosques (although, as a matter of fact, Caucasian Muslims are quite common in various parts of the world such as the Eastern Ex-Soviet countries, Russian Tatarstan, the Middle East and North Africa). The interwoven diversity perfectly serves as a cultural bridge between Eastern and Western culture, making Bosnia an ideal place to not only learn more about the other side, but also from the other side. 

Compared to the previous year, there seems to be a different atmosphere this time. It feels more lively, and more than that. While last year I was shown the 'Scars of Sarajevo', today it feels like Sarajevo has put make-up on its face and is getting dressed-up for the guests that are being awaited. There is excitement in the air. The sun goes down, and I slowly begin to understand why everything feels so different to me, as  the streets in and around the city center are getting more and more crowded. The Siege of Sarajevo was full of tragedies, but if there was anything about the times of war, with which many people in Sarajevo can associate joy, it is a special annual event that was founded back then.

My second trip to Sarajevo coincides with this event that is known as the Sarajevo Film Festival, where many famous celebrities such as Angelina Jolie, Gerard Depardieu and Michael Moore have made appearances. Finally, the traffic jam and the fully booked hostels make sense. Maybe I should have payed more attention to the respective advertisements that are to be found all over Sarajevo these days, promoting what is the largest Film Festival in Southeast Europe.

 

As expected, it is very easy to socialize with the people here tonight. Among others, a group of tipsy locals join me and joyfully sing local songs, enjoying the festivities, and welcoming me and other foreigners with open arms. Though I have slightly enhanced my vocabulary since last year, I of course still do not understand everything, and sometimes unexpected misunderstandings can occur. For a moment I remember how I once asked a Serbian woman, who had a depressed look on her face, why she was so sad. Unfortunately, I confused the Serbian (and Bosnian) word "tužan" with "ružan", accidentally asking her, why she is so ugly. But tonight there is hardly any failure of communication, since many locals here speak English or German.

 

Numerous people sit or lay down in the parks along the Tito Street, some of whom commit the typical 'secular sins'. This is probably not what Alija Izetbegovic had envisioned, when years before becoming the first president of Bosnia and Herzegovina, he wrote the Islamic declaration, calling for a return of the largely secularized Bosnian Muslims to traditional Islamic values, which his opponents regarded as an affront against Yugoslavia's principle of "Brotherhood and Unity", a slogan that was coined by the first President of Yugoslavia Josip Tito. But after an agonizing and brutal war that shattered this "Brotherhood and Unity" once and for all, nostalgic thoughts have intensified and especially tonight a past unity is being relived by a young crowd of Bosniaks, Serbs and Croats, many of whom efficiently serve as 'cultural construction workers', opposing the destructive forces of radicalism and ethnic or religious hatred that have of course not completely vanished within such a short time period.

 

Physical bridges can be destroyed easily and fast, even after having existed for hundreds of years, as the Bosnians painfully learnt during the bombardment of the Stari Most in Mostar. But the cultural bridge that the Bosnian people have built over an even longer period of time, only suffered a crack. And as the locals celebrate the Sarajevo Film Festival tonight, the efforts of fixing this crack continue, with a diverse crowd that apart from having just fun has found a common ground to cohesively use a variety of very simple and yet very efficient tools, tools such as benevolence, empathy, recognition and respect, all of which have strongly contributed to the creation of an architectural masterpiece of culture.

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Fr

30

Jan

2015

Destination 2 - Colombia - First impressions of Bogota and Zipaquira

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Mi

28

Jan

2015

Venture Capital Plan - On the way to Destination 2

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Do

08

Jan

2015

5 Gründe, warum PEGIDA an Bedeutung gewann

Bildquelle: http://www.mdr.de/exakt/pegida102_v-webl_zc-26113564.jpg?version=2968
Bildquelle: http://www.mdr.de/exakt/pegida102_v-webl_zc-26113564.jpg?version=2968

 

PEGIDA - Ein Verein, der viel Spott, Kritik und Verurteilung einerseits, aber auch bedeutenden Zuspruch und Unterstützung andererseits erfahren hat. Es gibt sich eine Schlacht um die Gunst der öffentlichen Meinung zwischen den Mainstream-Medien und dieser neuen Anti-Mainstream-Gruppe zu erkennen, wobei sich auch diverse alternative Medien und Bewegungen von PEGIDA distanzieren und meist auch für die Mainstream-Medien weiterhin nur wenig lobende Worte übrig haben. Warum wird PEGIDA massiv verurteilt, während sich auch zeitgleich immer mehr Menschen der Bewegung angeschlossen haben? Gewiss finden sich xenophobische Menschen unter den Demonstranten, doch in der jüngeren Vergangenheit wurde zu oft der Fehler begangen, kritische Bürger zu verschiedenen Anliegen über einen Kamm zu scheren, obwohl die meisten der betroffenen Menschen sehr wichtige und entscheidende Punkte ansprachen. Viele Anliegen der PEGIDA sind durchaus für viele Menschen sehr bedeutsam. Die folgenden fünf Punkte zeigen, warum PEGIDA binnen weniger Monate zunehmend an Einfluss gewonnen hat. Der letzte Punkt wird zusätzlich mögliche Folgen des fortwährenden Einflusses von PEGIDA erläutern und dies mit den aktuellsten Geschehnissen in Verbindung bringen.

 

1.  Die Sorge vor Kultur- und Identitätsverlust

 

Was einen Teil der Demonstranten dazu besonders veranlasst hat, auf die Straßen zu gehen, ist zum einen mit der bestehenden Sorge vor einem Kulturverlust verbunden, der selbst wiederum mit dem durch Masseneinwanderung und Flüchtlingszustrom noch stärker bestehenden Potenzial eines sozio-demographischen Wandels einhergeht. Ein solcher Kulturverlust gibt sich in den Augen der Demonstranten auf verschiedenen Ebenen zu erkennen, wie etwa der vermeintliche Vorschlag der Umbenennung des Weihnachtsmarkts in den "Wintermarkt". Diese Menschen fühlen sich im eigenen Land entfremdet, und sie kämpfen für die Wahrung einer kollektiven Identität.

 

2. Die regional bedingte Distanz zu Muslimen bzw. Ausländer

 

Oftmals finden sich Fehlwahrnehmungen gegenüber verschiedenen Kulturkreisen gerade dort, wo solche Kulturkreise weniger präsent sind. Es ist auch aus diesem Grund, dass die Kundgebungen der PEGIDA deutlich mehr Zuspruch im Osten als im Westen Deutschlands fanden. Zwar wurden die PEGIDA-Demonstranten durchaus zu pauschal in die Nazi-Ecke geschoben, doch gleichzeitig ist es wohl keine arbiträre Beobachtung, dass sich gerade in den Orten Deutschlands eine größere Anhängerschaft der PEGIDA zu erkennen gibt, in denen die rechte Szene besonders stark präsent ist. Es ist in diesem Kontext auch nicht irrelevant, dass sich die Integrationspolitik in Deutschland nicht bloß auf Ausländer beschränkt, sondern dass wegen der langen Trennung zwischen Ost- und Westdeutschland auch eine Form der Reintegration der Ostdeutschen als Herausforderung gilt. Somit finden sich im Osten durchaus Menschen, die es nicht gewohnt sind, mit Ausländern zu leben, und sich gegen eine zunehmende Einwanderung aussprechen, ohne gleich rassistisch zu sein. Aber durch die "Integrationsprobleme auf zwei Fronten"  ist das Gefühl im Osten Deutschlands natürlicherweise stärker ausgeprägt, wonach Ausländer den (Ost)-Deutschen gegenüber in vielerlei Hinsicht bevorzugt werden, während sich ein Teil unter den Ausländern immer und immer wieder diskriminiert fühlt. Keine leichte Aufgabe für die Bundesregierung. 

 

3. Nicht-Islamische Komponenten, mit denen sich deutsche Bürger identifizieren

 

Sicherlich finden sich anti-islamische bzw. ausländerfeindliche Menschen in den Versammlungen. Ein ganz anderer Punkt wurde jedoch zu stark vernachlässigt, und zwar die Zunahme der Anhänger unter Berücksichtigung der ergänzten und abgeänderten Forderungen der PEGIDA, die verdeutlichen, dass die Intention vieler Anhänger eine ganz andere ist, als es viele - auch durch die Mainstream-Darstellung - vermuten. Es lässt sich schnell aufweisen, dass "PEGIDA" mehr Zuspruch gewann, je mehr sie ihre Forderungen auf verschiedene Interessensphären ausweiteten, wodurch auch die eigentliche Bedeutung des Akronyms "PEGIDA"  (Patriotische Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes) zunehmend in den Hintergrund gerückt wurde.  

 

Am 20. Oktober kam es zur ersten Kundgebung, bei der wenige hunderte Menschen anwesend waren. Fast drei Wochen später stellte PEGIDA einige Forderungen. Es findet sich jedoch fast kein Punkt, der sich auf den Kontext der Islamisierung beschränkt. Vielmehr geht es um Anliegen, mit denen sich deutlich mehr Menschen auch ganz unabhängig vom Kontext einer potentiellen Islamisierung identifizieren können, wie etwa die Regelungen im Hinblick auf die Zuwanderungs- und Flüchtlingspolitik. Den größten Beifall soll es bei dieser Kundgebung jedoch für die Forderung gegeben haben, dass das Ausdrücken der Liebe zum Vaterland eine Selbstverständlichkeit sein sollte, was durchaus ein nationalistisches, jedoch keineswegs ein 'nationalsozialistisches' Anliegen ist. Es handelt sich bei diesem Punkt viel mehr um ein pro-deutsches statt um ein anti-islamisches bzw. ausländerfeindliches Anliegen. Seitdem diese Forderungen festgelegt wurden, fanden sich nicht mehr hunderte, sondern Tausende PEGIDA-Anhänger auf den Straßen, die jedoch weiterhin nicht auf viel Gegenliebe stießen.

 

Ab dem 8. Dezember präsentiert Lutz Bachmann eine überarbeitete Version der Forderungen, die sich mittlerweile mehr als verdoppelt haben. Durch die Diversifizierung der Themen war auch das Potenzial gegeben, eine viel größere Zielgruppe zu erreichen. Es bleibt weiterhin beachtlich, dass sich die meisten Forderungen gar nicht auf den Kontext der "Islamisierung" beschränken. Als ersten Punkt spricht sich PEGIDA für die Aufnahme von Kriegsflüchtlingen und politisch bzw. religiös Verfolgten aus. Weitere Punkte drehen sich um humanitäre Maßnahmen, wie die Unterbringung von Flüchtlingen in besseren Heimen oder eine bessere Betreuung von Flüchtlingen durch Sozialarbeiter. Auch wird unter Anderem die gerechte Verteilung von Flüchtlingen in Europa gefordert. PEGIDA spricht sich ab dem 8. Dezember außerdem offiziell für sexuelle Selbstbestimmung und gegen Waffenlieferungen aus. So verwundert es nicht, wenn sich für PEGIDA seitdem Massen im fünfstelligen Bereich versammeln, insbesondere nachdem die Bewegung plötzlich begann, gegen die Kriegshetze gegen Russland zu protestieren, womit sich nach der einseitigen Berichterstattung über die Ukraine im Jahr 2014 sehr viele deutsche Bürger identifizieren können.

 

Die PEGIDA hat durch ihre Ergänzungen und Abänderungen einerseits mehr Menschen für sich gewinnen können, aber andererseits ihre Glaubwürdigkeit riskiert, weil sich die "Patriotischen Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes" zunehmend in die viel schöner klingenden "Patriotischen Europäer Für die Erhaltung der abendländischen Kultur" entwickelten und das Themenspektrum so stark ausgeweitet wurde, dass es viel mehr Zielgruppen erreicht hat, während die Bewegung anfangs allein durch ihren Namen den Anschein erweckte, dass ihr Anliegen hauptsächlich gegen eine Islamisierung gerichtet sei. Warum nicht gleich so? Wenn aber fast dreiviertel der Forderungen keine Beschränkung auf das eigentliche Thema Islamisierung kennt, wieso heißen sie dann überhaupt die "Patriotischen Europäer Gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes"?

Warum all die Umschreibungen und all die euphemistischen Merkmale in den überarbeiteten Forderungen, die lediglich zur Vermutung verführen, dass PEGIDA ihrer Linie nicht treu bleibe bzw. die Gründer ihre Intention zurecht "schminken"? PEGIDA, so scheint es, distanzierte sich zunehmend selbst von ihrem ursprünglichen Anliegen, das in ihrem Namen verankert ist: Dass die neue Bewegung nicht von Anfang an Proteste im Kontext der Berichterstattung zu Russland veranstaltete, lässt für einige nur noch mehr den Anschein erwecken, dass solche pro-russischen Proteste für die Gründer ein "opportunistisches Mittel zum Zweck" gewesen sind, um die vielen Gegner der deutschen Berichterstattung zum Thema Russland zu umwerben.

 

Und wenn die Gründer der PEGIDA sich einmal viel expliziter auf die Islamisierung beziehen, dann geben sich tatsächlich gewisse Vorurteile zu erkennen. In einer der wenigen Forderungen, in denen PEGIDA auch weiterhin kontextuell ausschließlich Bezug auf ihre Vorstellung einer potentiellen Islamisierung nimmt, heißt es im Wortlaut: "Für Widerstand gegen eine frauenfeindliche, gewaltbetonte, politische Ideologie, aber nicht gegen hier lebende, sich integrierende Muslime". Gewiss ist Integration notwendig, allerdings suggeriert dieser Satz, dass jeder nicht integrierte Muslim oder nicht hier lebende Muslim eine frauenfeindliche, gewaltbetonte, politische Ideologie verfolgt.  Wenn die Anhänger der PEGIDA sich ungerecht behandelt fühlen, weil sie so schnell über einen Kamm geschert werden, was sollen dann nur die Muslime sagen? 

 

4. Das medial bedingte Verständnis vom Islam

 

Die mediale Darstellung hat die deutsche Wahrnehmung des Islams seit Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts sehr stark geprägt. Islamophobie wurde hierzulande erst ein nennenswertes Phänomen, als der mediale Fokus im Kontext des Islams vorwiegend auf radikale Gruppierungen wie die Taliban oder Al-Qaida reduziert wurde. Es verwundert umso mehr, dass ausgerechnet die Mainstream-kritischen Anhänger der PEGIDA das mediale Konstrukt des Islams so leicht angenommen haben.

 

Im Spiegel-Online-Artikel "Die Deutschen und die Muslime: Warum uns der Islam Angst macht" wird versucht, eine Erklärung dafür zu finden, warum "viele Deutsche" Angst vor dem Islam verspüren. Das Portal hat dabei in den letzten Jahren - wie auch andere Portale - genau diese Angst geschürt, wie sich durch zahlreiche Schlagzeilen zu erkennen gibt. PEGIDA kann somit zum Teil als ein Produkt einer Angst gelten, die durch eben jene Medienportale geschürt wurde, die nun PEGIDA kritisieren. 

 

Viele Muslime in Deutschland beobachten die aktuellen Entwicklungen mit Besorgnis. Einige deutsche Bürger sehen gar den Islam als Ursache aller Probleme, weil einige Radikale im Namen des Islams Übel anrichten. Dabei bedienen sich die Betroffenen Fälle derselben Logik wie die eines radikalen "Islamisten", der die Demokratie als "das Böse" erachtet, weil selbsternannte Demokraten im Namen der Demokratie Kriege führen, die Millionen Menschen das Leben gekostet haben. In Anbetracht der 

Tragödien im Irak, in Syrien und in weiteren islamischen Ländern, und unter Berücksichtigung der Verhältnisse, müsste die Demokratisierung für die dort lebenden Menschen dabei viel Angst einflößender erscheinen, als es die Islamisierung im Westen jemals war. Man könnte meinen, dass in einigen islamischen Ländern "Patriotische Araber gegen die Demokratisierung des Morgenlandes" viel notwendiger sind, als PEGIDA in Deutschland, eben weil die Demokratie in jenen Ländern hautnah in einem brutalen Kontext mit viel größerem Ausmaß wiedergegeben wird als der Islam im Westen. Die meisten dieser Menschen sind jedoch eben nicht gegen die Demokratie und man kam nie auf die Idee, ihre Feinde als "Demokratisten" zu bezeichnen.

 

5. Die wahre Bedrohung "im Namen des Islam"


Insbesondere die aktuellen Entwicklungen im Nahen und Mittleren Osten verstärken bei vielen Menschen in Deutschland die Angst vor dem Bestreben einer Zwangs-Islamisierung. Gottesfürchtige Muslime haben aber selbstverständlich keine Angst vor einer Islamisierung an sich und würden sie zu jeder Zeit sogar begrüßen, weil unter einer Islamisierung eben nicht das Aufzwingen einer radikalen Ideologie verstanden wird bzw. weil unter den Muslimen das Leben nach dem Islam das Erstrebenswerteste im Diesseits ist. Doch sind die meisten unter ihnen nicht weniger besorgt vor Ereignissen wie es im Nahen und Mittleren Osten durch den selbsternannten "Islamischen Staat" der Fall ist, der unzählige Menschen aus ihrer Heimat vertrieben, Teile von zwei Ländern erobert und mit weiteren Eroberungen sogar in Europa gedroht hat.

 

Die vielen militärischen Operationen in der islamischen Welt seit Anbeginn des 21. Jahrhunderts haben die Radikalisierung in der Region insbesondere durch die hohen Opferzahlen gefördert. Einst unschuldige Menschen solidarisierten sich mit radikalen Kräften, je stärker ausländische Kräfte intervenierten, je häufiger Bomben fielen, je mehr Freunde und Familienangehörige von unschuldigen Menschen ums Leben kamen. Nun herrscht die Sorge, dass radikale Kräfte auch in Deutschland aktiv werden könnten. Mittlerweile haben sich mehr als 550 Menschen aus Deutschland der kuriosen IS-Organisation angeschlossen. 180 von ihnen sollen bereits wieder in Deutschland sein. Die meisten unter ihnen waren von der Gesellschaft ausgestoßen und ohne Perspektiven. Dies sollte die deutschen Bürger, egal welcher Konfession oder Kultur sie sich zugehörig fühlen, nur noch stärker zusammenbringen, anstatt sich weiter gegenseitig auszugrenzen.

 

Aussichten

 

Unmittelbar besteht insbesondere die Sorge, dass sich die Terroranschläge in Europa häufen werden. Nach dem "Charlie Hebdo"-Attentat in Paris, wo weder Nicht-Muslim, noch Muslim verschont blieb, ist nicht auszuschließen, dass PEGIDA erst Recht mehr Zuspruch gewinnen wird. Doch so erstrebenswert auch einige ihrer Forderungen für die Anhänger erscheinen: Es ist gerade diese Bewegung, die zu einer Spaltung zwischen Muslime und Nicht-Muslime beitragen könnte, bei der sich mehr und mehr Muslime zunehmend in der Rolle des Juden im dritten Reich sehen würden. Doch bestenfalls würden Muslime und Nicht-Muslime sich zusammen tun um zu protestieren. Das wird nicht funktionieren, wenn man "gegen die Islamisierung des Abendlandes" protestiert oder keine konstruktivere Idee findet, seine Anteilnahme an der jüngsten Tragödie in Paris auszudrücken, als die Verbreitung von anti-islamischen Karikaturen, womit man Muslime beleidigt, die mit dem Attentat rein gar nichts zu tun hatten.


In Deutschland gibt es bereits gemeinsame Proteste von Muslimen und Nicht-Muslimen, allerdings sind diese gegen PEGIDA gerichtet, was zweifelsfrei ein edles Signal der Toleranz an Muslime bzw. Ausländer generell ist, aber sogar größere Früchte tragen könnte, wenn man stattdessen gegen jene Mechanismen protestiert, die all diese gesellschaftlichen und politischen Probleme verursachen, und wenn man zeitgleich den Dialog mit den wahrhaftig kritischen PEGIDA-Demonstranten sucht. Diese sollten sich abgesehen von den bisher genannten Punkten fragen, warum man überhaupt gegen den Flüchtlingszustrom oder eine Islamisierung protestieren sollte und nicht lieber gegen die verlustreichen Kriege, die einen solchen Flüchtlingszustrom in großen Teilen verursachen und die dort lebenden Menschen bereits seit Zeiten des Kalten Krieges radikalisieren. Die deutsche Bevölkerung sollte gerade jetzt vereint gegen Terror sein, Generalisierungen meiden und untereinander harmonieren bzw. untereinander den Dialog aufnehmen. Doch das kann nicht passieren, wenn Millionen Muslime und viele weitere Menschen mit Migrationshintergrund ausgegrenzt werden.

 

Seit einigen Jahren gibt sich eine Gefahr zu erkennen, durch die in unserer Geschichte schon jegliche Weltanschauung als Bedrohung wahrgenommen wurde. Lange hat sich der Kommunismus, der Atheismus, das Judentum oder das Christentum in dieser Rolle gesehen. Seit dem Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts sieht sich zunehmend der Islam in dieser Rolle. Es ist auch dieses mal dieser Fehlschluss, der droht, sich verstärkt in die öffentliche Meinung einzuschleichen. Gefährlicher wird es für unsere Gesellschaft, je weniger die öffentliche Meinung dazu fähig ist, zwischen Instrumentalisierung und Instrument zu differenzieren.

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Mo

05

Jan

2015

Köln setzt ein Signal gegen PEGIDA

Der Kölner Dom bei Nacht - Am 5.1.2015 wird die Beleuchtung als Zeichen gegen PEGIDA abgeschaltet
Der Kölner Dom bei Nacht - Am 5.1.2015 wird die Beleuchtung als Zeichen gegen PEGIDA abgeschaltet

Es ist eines der bekanntesten Wahrzeichen Deutschlands, Teil des UNESCO-Weltkulturerbes, und das drittgrößte Kirchengebäude der Welt. Es ist aber viel weniger die Größe, als die architektonische Beschaffenheit, durch die der Kölner Dom imponiert. Die wahre Größe der Kirche sehen aber viele Menschen in Deutschland derzeit im Zeichen, das sie heute gegen Xenophobie setzen wird.

 

Als Reaktion auf Lutz Bachmanns Ankündigung, wonach PEGIDA vorhabe, auch in Köln gegen die "Islamisierung des Abendlandes" zu demonstrieren, wird der Kölner Dom seine Außenbeleuchtung, die den gotischen Stil der Kirche nur noch eindrucksvoller erscheinen lässt, abschalten. "Der Dom reiht sich damit ein in die Gegenbewegung von engagierten Kölnerinnen und Kölnern, die ein deutliches Signal gegen Fremdenfeindlichkeit und Rassismus setzen wollen. ", heißt es auf der Homepage der Kirche. Den Gründern der PEGIDA werden enge Kontakte zur rechten Szene nachgesagt. PEGIDA streitet dies vehement ab.

 

Eine Woche zuvor findet sich in Köln keine Spur von Menschen, die mit PEGIDA sympathisieren. Die kulturelle Diversität und das harmonievolle Miteinander geben sich schnell zu erkennen. "Terror hat keine Religion", betont ein Einheimischer Deutscher. In Köln, wo sich die verschiedenen Kulturkreise besser kennen und verstehen, werden die Proteste nicht so groß werden wie es in Dresden der Fall war. Stattdessen ist vor Beginn der PEGIDA-Proteste in Köln eine Gegendemo geplant, bei der sogar mit einer größeren Menschenmenge gerechnet wird.

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So

28

Dez

2014

Nothing ventured, Nothing gained

After escaping a paralyzing routine through the "Emergency Exits", only more challenges started emerging, now approaching like a merciless flood. While new restrictions narrow the space of possibilities, some rather unorthodox measures may open new doors. Under certain circumstances, taking risks appears to be inevitable, as sometimes the refusal of taking risks can turn out to be riskier than the respective risk itself. Thus it is time to invest energy, thoughts, money and time itself in an effort to capitalize in long terms to ensure the perpetuation of what in the past five years may has reflected an uncertain goal in life, but a very certain way of living that shall lead to a goal of cognition. This time, a slippery path is ahead, with unprecedented challenges in the first part of 2015, and a still blurry second half of 2015, where a return to closer and more familiar places is most likely. 

 

While there are detailled plans regarding this project, the current plans also exhibit an irritating volatility in several aspects. There is much to gain, but also much to lose. And only one thing is for sure: In 2015, the stakes will be raised even higher in what shall be called the "Venture Capital Plan".

 

Not even 24 hours had passed after the completion of "Emergency Exits" until the next flight was booked and the grounds for project six were prepared. No big story here: There was this offer, and it just happened, like a reflex that forces you to move your fingers while typing letters and numbers on your keyboard in such a combination that you accidentally book a flight ... Okay, admittedly it was much rather a thoughtless moment of euphoria that can overcome a person, only to realize ones thoughtlessness right thereafter. In this case it became clear that the mission for 2015 is not going to be accomplished easily, to say the least, but at least the new project started taking shapes.

 

The most challenging phase of the upcoming project, and - I would dare to predict - of all travel projects so far, will arguably be the phase that is to be initiated in early 2015. However, before the great challenge in early 2015 begins, the project will kick off with a rather 'straightforward' destination. Months ago, a second flight was booked. The 'Start Up' of this project will make itself noticeable through a flag and a firework. It is with pleasure to include the next destination into the list of countries that have been visited so far.

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Mi

16

Dez

2015

Getting Ready for 'Episode VII'

 

A traveler's "Episode VII": Click here and press start.

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Mi

04

Nov

2015

Sarajevo: The Healing Wounds

Read the full article here


Highlights: 
- A local describes how she perceived the war in Bosnia as a child 
- Visiting a traditional Bosnian house that was built in Ottoman times 
- Watching the sunset in Sarajevo from the fort Bijela Tabija

... plus some rather curious facts revolving around a toilet of historical signifcance and secret strategies of jealous Bosnian women

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Fr

23

Okt

2015

A Refugee for one day

Late August, 2015 - The overland trip began in Germany and reached its peak in Athens. A considerable amount of refugees has started to reach Germany via the Western Balkan route. The direction to which I was heading was nearly the same route that the refugees took after crossing the ocean, except that it was the opposite direction. My first encounter with the refugees was in Belgrade. This time, however, I would meet them in a much more tenseful atmosphere. Apart from a few Afghans at the bus station in Thessaloniki, on my way from Macedonia to Athens I did not see any refugees, because I reached Thessaloniki via Bitola, whereas the refugee crisis in this region is taking place in and around the border town Gevgelija. After my stay in Athens, the initial plan was to take a flight to Belgrade, or maybe to Cyprus. However, only one day before I left Macedonia, I received the confirmation that I can volunteer in a hostel in Skopje, making me conclude that I should take the more affordable buses back to Macedonia. Of course I am aware of what is going on in Gevgelija, but I am probably not the only regular traveller who takes a bus from Greece to Macedonia these days. What can happen?

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Mi

21

Okt

2015

The Delorean

Who has not had the wish to travel through time, to see what the future is like, to change certain moments of the past or just to relive the most beautiful moments of the past? We may not be able to travel through time like in the movies, but today an increasing number of people has the privilege to travel extensively in a way that makes us feel like we have left the present. And although we cannot manipulate the past and we cannot travel to the future,  even listening to songs, watching movies or looking at pictures can feel like travelling through time, a way to relive the 'good old days', with which we associate the respective objects that feed our nostalgia, or a way to remember what constituted the 'good' in those days. For a moment we go back to the past, we can just enjoy it, or even learn from it.

 

How time flies! But admittedly, the reason why I speak about time, why I speak about travelling, and why I speak about time travelling, has not too much to do with starting a big philophical or scientific debate, but with what's trending on social media these days and how it reminds me of one specific moment that lies five years back, when I visited the Universal Studios in Hollywood and saw this vehicle that has become famous for being depicted as a time machine in what has become one of the greatest trilogies in film history. The original DeLorean that was used in Steven Spielberg's "Back to the Future" was one of the biggest highlights of the Studio Tour in Hollywood. As the online magazine Slash Gear reported, this model was used most of the times and in all three parts. After years of restoration, the DeLorean has been relocated to the Universal Experience museum. 

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So

09

Aug

2015

Sarajevo: The Recovery

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Sa

25

Jul

2015

Stair 1 - Crossing Bosnia's Cultural Bridge

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Fr

30

Jan

2015

Destination 2 - Colombia - First impressions of Bogota and Zipaquira

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Mi

28

Jan

2015

Venture Capital Plan - On the way to Destination 2

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Do

08

Jan

2015

5 Gründe, warum PEGIDA an Bedeutung gewann

Bildquelle: http://www.mdr.de/exakt/pegida102_v-webl_zc-26113564.jpg?version=2968
Bildquelle: http://www.mdr.de/exakt/pegida102_v-webl_zc-26113564.jpg?version=2968
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Mo

05

Jan

2015

Köln setzt ein Signal gegen PEGIDA

Der Kölner Dom bei Nacht - Am 5.1.2015 wird die Beleuchtung als Zeichen gegen PEGIDA abgeschaltet
Der Kölner Dom bei Nacht - Am 5.1.2015 wird die Beleuchtung als Zeichen gegen PEGIDA abgeschaltet

Es ist eines der bekanntesten Wahrzeichen Deutschlands, Teil des UNESCO-Weltkulturerbes, und das drittgrößte Kirchengebäude der Welt. Es ist aber viel weniger die Größe, als die architektonische Beschaffenheit, durch die der Kölner Dom imponiert. Die wahre Größe der Kirche sehen aber viele Menschen in Deutschland derzeit im Zeichen, das sie heute gegen Xenophobie setzen wird.

 

Als Reaktion auf Lutz Bachmanns Ankündigung, wonach PEGIDA vorhabe, auch in Köln gegen die "Islamisierung des Abendlandes" zu demonstrieren, wird der Kölner Dom seine Außenbeleuchtung, die den gotischen Stil der Kirche nur noch eindrucksvoller erscheinen lässt, abschalten. "Der Dom reiht sich damit ein in die Gegenbewegung von engagierten Kölnerinnen und Kölnern, die ein deutliches Signal gegen Fremdenfeindlichkeit und Rassismus setzen wollen. ", heißt es auf der Homepage der Kirche. Den Gründern der PEGIDA werden enge Kontakte zur rechten Szene nachgesagt. PEGIDA streitet dies vehement ab.

 

Eine Woche zuvor findet sich in Köln keine Spur von Menschen, die mit PEGIDA sympathisieren. Die kulturelle Diversität und das harmonievolle Miteinander geben sich schnell zu erkennen. "Terror hat keine Religion", betont ein Einheimischer Deutscher. In Köln, wo sich die verschiedenen Kulturkreise besser kennen und verstehen, werden die Proteste nicht so groß werden wie es in Dresden der Fall war. Stattdessen ist vor Beginn der PEGIDA-Proteste in Köln eine Gegendemo geplant, bei der sogar mit einer größeren Menschenmenge gerechnet wird.

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So

28

Dez

2014

Nothing ventured, Nothing gained

After escaping a paralyzing routine through the "Emergency Exits", only more challenges started emerging, now approaching like a merciless flood. While new restrictions narrow the space of possibilities, some rather unorthodox measures may open new doors. Under certain circumstances, taking risks appears to be inevitable, as sometimes the refusal of taking risks can turn out to be riskier than the respective risk itself. Thus it is time to invest energy, thoughts, money and time itself in an effort to capitalize in long terms to ensure the perpetuation of what in the past five years may has reflected an uncertain goal in life, but a very certain way of living that shall lead to a goal of cognition. This time, a slippery path is ahead, with unprecedented challenges in the first part of 2015, and a still blurry second half of 2015, where a return to closer and more familiar places is most likely. 

 

While there are detailled plans regarding this project, the current plans also exhibit an irritating volatility in several aspects. There is much to gain, but also much to lose. And only one thing is for sure: In 2015, the stakes will be raised even higher in what shall be called the "Venture Capital Plan".

 

Not even 24 hours had passed after the completion of "Emergency Exits" until the next flight was booked and the grounds for project six were prepared. No big story here: There was this offer, and it just happened, like a reflex that forces you to move your fingers while typing letters and numbers on your keyboard in such a combination that you accidentally book a flight ... Okay, admittedly it was much rather a thoughtless moment of euphoria that can overcome a person, only to realize ones thoughtlessness right thereafter. In this case it became clear that the mission for 2015 is not going to be accomplished easily, to say the least, but at least the new project started taking shapes.

 

The most challenging phase of the upcoming project, and - I would dare to predict - of all travel projects so far, will arguably be the phase that is to be initiated in early 2015. However, before the great challenge in early 2015 begins, the project will kick off with a rather 'straightforward' destination. Months ago, a second flight was booked. The 'Start Up' of this project will make itself noticeable through a flag and a firework. It is with pleasure to include the next destination into the list of countries that have been visited so far.

mehr lesen 0 Kommentare

Atomstreit mit Iran: Eine unendliche Geschichte?

Zu Gast bei Quadriga: Chefredakteur von IranAnders Shayan Arkian, Zentralasienexperte Günther Knabe und langjähriger Journalist Friedrich Thelen

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