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24 01 2007 - Hrant Dink had already been convicted of this 'crime'
Jasper Gerard - Sunday January 21, 2007
The Observer

My wife is only alive because her great-grandmother hid in a laundry basket, peeking through slats as troops bayoneted the rest of her family to death. She is crying upstairs as I write because history stubbornly refuses to move on. A fellow Armenian, a newspaper editor, has been shot dead in Istanbul. His mistake? Reminding Turkey it still hasn't apologised for - or even admitted - the genocide of 1.2m Armenians under the cover of the First World War.
Hrant Dink had already been convicted of this 'crime', for which Orhan Pamuk, Turkey's greatest novelist, was also prosecuted. Just imagine if a British editor was gunned down and men in size 12s bundled off Martin Amis for, say, daring to mention Bloody Sunday. There would be riots in London Fields. But because it's in Turkey, a moderate Muslim state needed in the War on Terror, Brits who normally speak for the marginalised are watching Big Brother. They shrug: 'Let's fight the new war, not the old.' The problem is, it is the same war, and as Dink's bloodied body suggests, there has never really been a ceasefire.
To qualify, this is not all about religion, about Muslims (Turks) versus Christians (Armenians): nationalism as much as religion prevents Turkey uttering the fearful 'sorry'. But if Armenians weren't Christian, would Turkey have refused for so long? And would the West have been quite so squeamish about pressuring Ankara?

In extreme cases, Islamicists trade on Western self-abasement. So in Britain last week it was claimed a terrorist suspect took refuge in a mosque. Police refused to enter for 'cultural reasons'. Would they have been so polite if an IRA suspect had holed up in a Catholic church? Another man allegedly involved in a plot to bomb targets in London was said to have fled in a burka, knowing no policeman would dare frisk him.

Turkey still doesn't acknowledge Armenia. Its Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, condemns the murder, but it was he who outlawed so-called attacks on the state. He has also stepped up nationalistic and Islamic tub-thumping, so while his condolences seem sincere, they are about as valuable as a discourse on multiculturalism from Jade Goody. And this is the guy with whom Tony Blair wants to chew over European integration.

Istanbul dazzles. On frequent trips, I see the clash of civilisations fought, not in mosques but in Moschino: the devil might wear Prada, but so now do many of Allah's followers. Materialism, not spiritualism, will win this war. Mama might be shrouded in black, but her daughter might be a short-skirted babe hopping into her boyfriend's open-top Mini.

Most Turks want progress, and we should help them. America, with a Democrat Congress, should shortly join France in recognising the genocide.

Winston Churchill once called it a holocaust. What a paradox that just as Europe starts to consider outlawing Holocaust denial, Turkey outlaws holocaust admittance. Hitler famously reckoned he would get away with his Final Solution after studying Turkey's first solution. 'Who,' he asked 'remembers the Armenians?' The torchlit procession of all nationalities weaving tearfully through Istanbul suggests that, finally, the entire world remembers.

Obama-mania in the US only underlines Gordon Brown's status as yesterday's man

As Barack Obama blows into the Presidential race, how wintry old Britain seems. He inspires hysteria we reserve for Kylie Minogue concerts. Sure, the odds are against him beating Hillary Clinton to the Democratic nomination, let alone the likely Republican, John McCain, to the White House. And his policy portfolio is slim even besides David Cameron's. But how much more exciting progressive politics looks there than here.

Here, we crave a change of Tone, but will Gordon provide a change of tone? Listing his priorities, Brown mentioned America before Europe, three times.

If the accent had not been Kirkcaldy rather than Fettes, it could have been Blair.

There are hints Brown gets the new politics. He has leapt on Blair's mistake and accepted leaders (ie Blair) should not do a Prince Charles and preach denial from the first-class lounge. And having duffed up Alan Milburn, Gordon now steals his agenda, talking about enabling rather than bossing folk. But even if New Gordon weren't so surreal, he would be too late.

Obama renders Gordon a goner. Brown replacing Blair is like peeling back wallpaper to find an even drabber, mouldier offering behind.

Gordon might be the towering figure of his generation; alas, it is of the last generation.

EM Forster on Big Brother

A cultivated, charismatic Indian brought low by smears from a gaggle of dumb, racist, insecure British women; I talk, naturally, of A Passage to India. How familiar Big Brother would look to the author of that great novel.

EM Forster shows how being trapped in a 'horrid, stuffy' confined space can send you bonkers. His Marabar cave is 'entirely devoid of distinction', though from the cultural desert of the Big Brother house, it probably sounds like Claridge's. In the book, English Miss Quested wrongly accuses Indian Dr Aziz of sexually assaulting her in the cave; in the show, Danielle Lloyd wrongly accuses Shilpa Shetty of eating with her hands. And if Miss Quested lacks 'physical charm', what could Shetty say of Jade Goody?

Certainly there are differences. Aziz fancies himself as a Mughal emperor, not a Bollywood sex-kitten. And Aziz mutters: 'Damn the English, even at their best,' whereas Shetty is only seeing them at their worst. In the fictional tale, the British 'all get rude after a year'; on reality television, it takes a week. Forster has a policeman say: 'I have never known anything but disaster when English and Indians attempt to be intimate.'

Incidentally, the colonial copper goes on to say while there couldn't be intimacy there could be 'intercourse'; a relief for Liz Hurley who is marrying an Indian, or at least a half-German Indian.

Are the gloomsters - including Forster - right about the relationship between our two peoples? Today both sides must encourage Indians here to integrate more, but now we meet as equals, the Anglo-Indian union is fruitfully intimate - as shown by the betrothal of one of our own cinematic sex kittens. The colony has colonised us, to mutual advantage.

Thanks to that success, only racism can still outrage British sensibilities. This is why we are the world's least racist major country. Passage from India has a very happy ending.

Segolene needs a Denis Thatcher

We hear men are bored of 'trophy wives' as they prefer intellectual stimulation. And I'm sure that's right. But is it time ambitious women bagged trophy husbands? Take Segolene Royal. She was looking good to be next President of France. Then her partner, a rival socialist politico, announced his amour would raise taxes. So brilliantly did this obliterate her poll lead, she could now be spending more time with her family than she might wish. 'Men!' she must scream.

A trophy husband would confine himself to saving the orang-utan. Reporters would coo over his designer suits: 'So cute, he must do Botox.' This is what Cherie thought she had, but turned round to find the little man was PM and being sized up for war crimes.

Though no beauty, Denis Thatcher was a model trophy husband. Once, Maggie's lecturing of a president was interrupted by strange noises. They peered behind a sofa and found Denis snoring. He had a dictionary for drink (snifter, sharpener, snorter, snortorino) but never uttered a word, possibly because he was too pissed. Segolene needs a Denis.


Il sito è curato dall'Arch. Vahé Vartanian e dal Dott. Enzo Mainardi;
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