Thursday, June 30, 2005


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Wednesday, June 29, 2005


A great friend of mine became a Greek citizen recently. After years of headache and heartache, he went to swear his pledge of allegiance. He is Muslim but, surprise surprise, he was sworn in using the Bible. Now correct me if I am wrong, but I thought it was now unnecessary in Europe to swear on the Bible if you were of another faith? But then, what did I expect, this is the only European capital that has no state-recognised mosque for it's approximately 100,000 Muslim citizens living in the Athens area. The first and probably only one is being built will be situated some 20km OUTSIDE OF ATHENS! Daily prayers? I think not. Here is a very interesting article discussing sensitivity around the taking of oaths in court from Baha’is to Zoroastrians

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


This song has been with me almost 20 years and inspires me as much now as it did when I first heard it. Washing the floors to send you to college Staying at home so you can feel safe What do you think is the soul of her knowledge What do you think that makes her feel safe Biting her lips and lowering her eyes To make sure there's food on the table What do you think would be her surprise If the world was as willing as she's able Hugging herself in an old kitchen chair She listens to your hurt and you rage What do you think she knows of despair What is the aching of age The fathers, the children, the brothers Turn to her and everybody white turns to her What about her turning around Alone in the everyday light There ought to be a woman can break Down, sit down, break down, sit down Like everybody else call it quits on mondays Blues on Tuesdays, sleep until Sunday Down, sit down, break down, sit down A way outa no way is flesh outa flesh Courage that cries out at night A way outa no way is flesh outa flesh Bravery kept outa sight A way outa no way is too much to ask Too much of a task for any one woman Lyrics: June Jordan Music: Bernice Johnson Reagon

Monday, June 27, 2005


I wrote a whole piece today and accidently quit Safari and lost the whole thing. Anyway, I will try and re-create some of it. I have no intention of using this weblog simply to have a go at Greece for it's rather appalling record in addressing Racism and Xenophobia. I am also not denying the problems are rampant all over the world. My aim is to try and make people aware that there is a problem here in the first place. No ordinary, decent person likes to be accused of racism. I am acutely aware of how difficult it is for some to even recognise feelings of xenophobia, let alone to admit one's own guilt. In my numerous discussions and arguments with people on the subject, I admit, I am often angry, heavy-handed, hot headed and stubborn. My feelings often spill over and people get switch off. I have been accused of going on about it too much. I make no apologies for who I am and what I believe in. I simply want, at the very least, to start a dialogue There are sometimes too many issues and the lines of argument often get blurred, but to me that's better than silence. When people's feelings come into the argument it can be difficult and painful. For both sides. But I believe it is necessary. All I ask is that people will take the time to find out more, to educate themselves on the issues and to remain open minded.

Sunday, June 26, 2005


This was the rant that became a song that became a blog that became an ongoing project that I want to stage sometime in the future THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY Knock back dumb frightened felt kicking straws blind panic full thought never time to ease my mind fearful flow, Gunshot. Bubbles my new fish stalled image finish fingers fast fast fasten. Telly in the background I forgot to turn it off again it's company at least this day. Of all the time wasted waste Sharp strokes burn burn children my son saw them burn. Stir fry smells nice once I start the madness will not stop the tears will not go away. Spelling words at school torture her tight brown hair tight wound voice write right call her tomorrow Don't be do self indulgent wasting time with my fuck off computer should be doing something else and not waste my time on things that lead nowhere and money money that's the thing Dull blocks lead nuance confused jumble save and restart wonky time always takes it's time when you least expect it there I go. Fury surprises ramble mind bank payments another cigarette before I start again He's not home yet the dinner is cold again I eat alone and him too many surprises I like the shape on the page my words make could do it again make no sense of it relax explode black smoke emails censor honest old men with wigs and eyes look sad your father after how many years why now why now. War if you can't come we can't go I'm afraid planes flying tickets practical but fear Speak out way out way off down smells that comes to me bandages from the hospital that make me sick now Music in my ears to my ears my ears that sometimes don't hear block it out listen to that beauty Quiet afraid can I start again too late grass i want grass in my garden like when i was young lemon trees spoil the grass this is not my country and you don't understand me you wont see me I am invisible this is not my country my country is cold and green and unfriendly and funny and dark and deep .

Friday, June 24, 2005


Although this is a story from 6 years ago, it illustrates the points I was making in my post THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY 28/4/1998 TOPIC: "RACIST MURDER OF A NIGERIAN IMMIGRANT" The cooperating organizations Greek Helsinki Monitor and Minority Rights Group - Greece condemn the brutal murder of the Nigerian salesman Outse Okbonezi in a "Panathinaikos" supporters club in Peristeri. This crime must reveal even to the most innocent of people that there is a very serious racist problem which is undermining the foundations of our society. The ease with which the murderer of the unfortunate immigrant decided to stab his victim cannot be explained in any other way. This is made clearer when you consider that Mr. Okbonezi was rightfully protesting because one of the party had stolen one of the watches he was trying to sell. It is even more shocking that this murder allegedly occurred in full view of those present and without any intervention. Our organizations are convinced that the criminal would be less likely to commit this horrible crime if the salesman were a white legal citizen of this country. The killers better social, legal and economic position perhaps contributed to his feeling of impunity, which played an important role in the execution of the crime. The fact that those present attributed this act to the "usual suspects" i.e. the Albanians, further underlines the racist character of this terrible event. In this way the real criminals can take advantage of the incorrect perception concerning the criminality of immigrants that reigns in society. Finally, our organizations consider that the state should take urgent action for the education of society, since the prevailing climate of racism can lead directly to the removal of the most precious inalienable right that is life itself.


For further reading and reports specifically on Greece, go to THE HELLENIC REPUBLIC NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR HUMAN RIGHTS


For full Amnesty International reports on human rights abuses in Greece (including abuses against the Roma communities, Albanians and other minorities, the torture of assylum seekers, the persecution of conscientious objectors and more) PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK


People blog for all kinds of reasons.Why do I want a weblog. Here's the thing. THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY It started as a rant about living in a foreign place and then become a BAD MATHEMATICS song that has become quite popular. I want to expand the idea to become a full scale project that will bring together all my passions. Music, Theatre and Video. I don't want this to be a winging expat kind of piece but something that will be an exploration of what it really means to be a foreigner. I invite people to write to me with their experiences. The title is THIS IS NOT MY COUNTRY. I don't care what style you write in. It can be funny, dark, whatever you like. If you are interested email me here


COUNCIL OF EUROPE FINDS RACISM IN GREECE Minorities in Greece are subjected to racism, discrimination and intolerance by society, despite recent positive developments taken by the State to combat racism. This was the main finding of a 12-page report released by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance (ECRI), the Council of Europe's expert body on combating racism. The report on Greece was among a total of five reports released by the commission examining racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and intolerance in countries such as France, Norway, Poland and Slovakia. Although the ECRI recognizes that in all five countries positive developments have occurred since its last visit, the report also details the commission's continuing grounds for concern. In the case of Greece, ECRI notes that "problems of racism, intolerance, discrimination and exclusion affect particularly the Roma/Gypsy population, Albanians and other immigrants, as well as members of the Muslim minority." The commission underlines that "these problems are connected to the generally low level of recognition within Greek society of its multicultural reality, an acknowledgement which is all the more urgent given the new patterns of migration to Greece in recent years." Article by Miron Varouhakis, published in "Kathimerini" English Edition

Thursday, June 23, 2005


On October 31, 2004, the Archbishop of Athens Christodoulos declared, in a sermon at the Agios Panteleimonas Ilissou church on Sunday, said people today cannot tolerate one speaking of death, the truth and sin. Giving an example of the decadence of society, Archbishop Christodoulos referred to the case of Franco Butiglione, whom he termed a "good Christian." "Because he was a good Christian. When they asked him to tell his opinion about marriages between homosexuals, he replied just like any good Christian would. That is to say that being a homosexual is a sin before God, it is not a penal offence," he said. "Imagine the point we have reached and the sorrowful state humanity has reached. It wants us to cover up and not speak about what is a declared, blatant and flagrant sin, because those who have the 'defect' are annoyed and because they want all the rest to admit that this is a natural situation," Archbishop Christodoulos added. You surpassed yourself on this one, Chris. Put a note in your diary for the upcoming Athens Pride on Saturday 25th June 2005. You've got an outfit already. 10am, Klafthmonos square: Goodmorning Athens, We're here ! 11am opening 12-5:30pm participating groups plan cool discussions and small happenings (henna tatoo, hand-drawing, creative writting, music .. ) 5:30pm, line-up for the march 6:30pm Pride March !!! 8pm party time ! (DJs Irene & Maggy's brother) 12:00 midnight: closing. Goodnight Athens, we''ll paint you rainbow colours again next year..


For those of you who think that Greece is non-racist the read this article from the BBC highlighting the Albanian issue. Public Order Minister Giorgos Voulgarakis needs a large dose of reality. Wake Up George. By no means think these are a few isolated incidents. The flag bearing argument comes up with alarming regularity. An ethnic Albanian student had to give the place of honour to a Greek student with lesser grades. Odysseus Cenaj had the highest marks in his class and by law had the right to carry the flag at the school parade but students, backed and prodded and aided loudly by the parents' school association, staged a sit-in in protest. Odysseus, a quiet and shy boy, said he didn't want to make any trouble and stepped down to second place. And as if this wasn't bad enough, they did it the same exact thing three years later as well because he once again had the audacity to get the best grades in his class. Another couple of examples On weekdays, between five and seven a.m., bus rides are free for all workers in Greece. But bus drivers spot the Albanian workers and demand the fare from them. They say the free ride is "for Greeks only." Greece won a critical World Cup qualifier against Albania in a stadium packed entirely with Greek fans. Despite an 800,000-strong Albanian community living in Greece, there was no sign on the stands of support for the visiting side. Nor were any tickets issued for supporters from Albania to watch the game. Greek authorities said they controlled ticket sales to the stadium as a security measure. "We did not sell any tickets to Albanians, only to Greeks," a spokeswoman for the Ministry of Public Order told the BBC News website. Discrimination and racism is rampant here. You only have to open your eyes and ears. There are people who have worked for years for families here who are referred to not by name but as "the Albanian". When any crime takes place around our neighborhood people assume it was committed by an Albanian before knowing any of the facts. Our local shop was robbed at gunpoint a couple of weeks ago and people were shocked that the perpetrators turned out to be Greek. Why were they shocked? That their own could commit a crime on one of their own? It happens all the time people. It's RACISM that makes you assume that all criminals are Albanian.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005


I have spent about two hours now pontificating about how to start this weblog. In the end I've decided to just plunge in and start. I have been reading a lot of blogs these days especially some coming out of Iran. In fact, I was inspired to start this after reading the one by HOSSEIN DERAKHSHAN. The other day we were performing in a square here in central Athens, Greece. BAD MATHEMATICS that is. I had been asked to announce the publication of a book called ‘O dromos yia tin Omonia’ (‘The Road to Omonia’). It is a compilation of 20 writers commenting on a racist attack that happened here in October 1999. Pantelis Kazakos took to the streets around Omonia and shot 9  people he saw as foreigners. He killed 5 of them and  injured four others. The two most seriously injured were Tommy Kofi and Timothy Abdul. Tommy Kofi, from Ghana, still carries a bullet in his head. He lives in a hostel and still need medication for the epilepsy he suffers as a result of the shooting. Timothy Abdul came from Nigeria and had been living here for two years when Kazakos shot him three times from behind. One bullet destroyed one of his lungs, another just missed his spine and the other hit him in the stomach.  He now lives in a tiny basement flat. Neither men can work. All the proceeds from the book will go to these two survivors of this horrific attack. One of the troubling things for us "foreigners" in Greece is the lack of debate on the issue of racism and xenophobia here. The issue disappeared from the news very quickly, with little comment. The Greek people think of themselves as completely non racist. This is a dangerous fantasy. It's is ignoring, and therefore, accepting what is really going on. I hear it everyday. The mistrust and dislike of Albanians, the downright disgusting treatment of the Roma community, the anti-Jewish sentiments and the general unease about "foreigners". Wake up and smell the roses. Greece is not the place you still imagine it is. Racism is on the rise. Unemployment is up, crime is up and the financial situation here is dire. A huge number of Greeks blame foreigners for their problems (as people do everywhere) But Greece is in denial and that means there is no debate. Sadly, I think there will be a rise in racist crimes and the police are totally ill-equipped to do anything about it. They are as racist as the police anywhere. There are hundreds of incidents of police brutality and harassment against foreigners here. I urge everyone to buy this book. If you don't read Greek, buy it for as many of your Greek friends as you can afford. For those outside Greece go to KASTANIOTIS or email for information  HERE . I am not sure if you can order the book outside Greece but you can try. WE MUST START THE DIALOGUE and a good place to begin is to educate yourself and people you know on the reality of racism in this country. Challenge every xenophobic, anti-Semitic, racist comment that you hear. And you'll hear a lot. P.S Do not buy flowers from the shop opposite our house. The man is a racist.

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