Pieter on Sat, 20 Apr 2002 01:12:01 +0200 (CEST)

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[Nettime-bold] re: Or even speaking from Amsterdam (longish)

Date: Fri, 19 Apr 2002 14:00:42 +0200
From: Carl Guderian <carlg@vermilion-sands.com>
Subject: Or even speaking from Amsterdam (long)

>I briefly attended a pro-Palestinian protest last Saturday, but left
>before it became unruly. According to the papers, some demonstrators,
>apparently kids of Moroccan extraction, threw rocks at the Hotel
>Krasnapolsky on the Dam and even attacked a gay nightclub called iT,
>far from the parade route. What was *that* all about? There were a
>few banners equating the Israelis with Nazis, but most just expressed
>outrage at the Israeli invasions in particular and policy in general.

Hi Carl, dear all,

For what it's worth and since I was there too (sorry I missed you), a
personal take:

The papers have been more than happy to blame whatever multicultural
problems we've been having on Moroccan kids over the past few years of
course. Yes, there was an unruly bunch of kids that I feel no solidarity
for whatsoever. Whether the iT was attacked or not I couldn't tell you;
not when I walked by, but then with several tens of thousands of people
walking past it was sort of hard to keep track, I'm sure the demo's
"order patrol" suffered the same problem. What I do know is that, for
all I know, I witnessed the start of the ensuing riot when the demo made
it back to Dam square. All that happened was that -- for the umpteenth
time during the whole demonstration -- some kids were burning what
appeared to be a flag, no doubt an Israeli (or American -- or
British --) one. The riot police seemed to find this a good moment to
attack the crowd on horseback, regardless of the fact that there were
plenty of pensioners, parents with kids and all the usual suspects
standing around, as usual. A sure-fire recipe for a riot if you ask me.
It just seemed like a senseless and ill-conceived move to me -- if
indeed it was that innocent a move at all. It was after all clear that
there were lots and lots of genuinely angry and militant people around.
Whom the police would love to criminalize no doubt.

I then withdrew, but was forced to hang around in the area some more,
since I needed to get to the other side of Dam Square. I don't know
about Hotel Krasnapolsky, but do know that the riot police were blocking
off the entrance to Damstraat, which as you know forms a direct line
with said hotel. Presumably there was a police line in front of the
hotel as well, so if they get bricks thrown at them, I am little
surprised that the windows right behind their backs got smashed. Also,
what I do know is that the press in general made a big stink about
nothing much at all as they usually do, and hadn't there been any riots,
the whole demo of, again, several tens of thousands of people would
presumably have disappeared on page 7, column 9.

All that said -- and I'd do better by writing the following in some
Dutch zine or site, which I may or may not do yet, tho' it might come as
"mustard after dinner" by now as we Dutchies say -- yes, I found the
demo quite confronting in several aspects & seriously considered leaving
at several instances. Apart from the usual crowd of Arab
Marxist-Leninist groups and their offspring when I arrived, who are to
be expected, but with whom I  have very little in common none the less,
no matter where I went in the demo, I was constantly surrounded by small
groups of alleged youngsters chanting things like "Hamas! Jihad!
Hizbollah!" Not exactly my crowd. More ubiquitous were chants of "Allah
Akbar!" (God is great/the greatest) and "Lah Illah Illah Allah!" and
whatever the line is that immediately follows it (i.e., There is no God
but God and Muhammad is His Prophet). The latter are perfectly normal
testimonies to the Muslim faith in themselves and may be taken as an
innocent confirmation of one's cultural/religious identitiy, but I can
think of more sinister implications, especially within the context of a
demo like this. Either way, I feel ill at ease at the notion of ending
violence in the Middle East on the grounds that whoever's god is bigger
than the other's, and I don't feel this brings us any closer to any
political solution.

There were two separate incidents where I witnessed youngsters smashing
in the windows of a totally random unrelated shop (on a street full of
major banks) and throwing stuff at a police line from out of group of
defenseless people; in both cases, it was unclear to me to what extent
the demo's "order groops" were prepared or able to deal with this, but
like I said, it must have been hard to keep an eye on a crowd this big.

All in all, I'm left with some serious questions. With y'r regular white
punky squatter running amok, I'd have been more than happy to tell them
where to stick their sticks and bricks. The fact alone that I did not
feel tempted to do so with these kids makes one wonder how much we share
in common really. Furthermore, I'd be interested to know what agenda,
other than peace in Palestine, the organizers of the demo have. How do
they feel about the strong presence of Marxist-Leninist groups in their
demo? How do they feel about younsters who seem to have seen too much to
TV & want to play Hizbollah and suicide bombers? Are they in touch with
these kids? Do they feel they have any means of influencing them,
perhaps of giving a slightly more focused direction to their heartfelt
anger? Even an anarchic one? Or shall we say humanitarian? Likewise, how
does the traditional autonomous/squatter/punk/eighties faction look at
these events (or its modern equivalent, the anti-globals)? Can we join
in demos and actions like these? If so, do we have any contact with
people, big enough that we can also influence developments? Is there any
interaction between migrant organizations and us? If not, will we just
march along and close our eyes to all that is not to our liking? Is that
not a merely a mirror of "multiculturalism" as currently practiced in
society as a whole -- where instead of any interaction, people in fact
just pass each other by unknowingly, unseeingly and unseen, each on
their own little islands? Is that radicalism?

Well, I don't know how relevant all of this is to the international
Nettime community, but I seem to have started my forthcoming Dutch
article already tonight....

Forever in doubt,



"I fear that you will not reach Mecca, O Nomad! -- For the road which
you are following leads to Turkestan." -- Sheikh Saadi, *Rose Garden*,
"On the Manners of Dervishes". Quoted in Idries Shah, *The Sufis*.

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