Sunday, April 19, 2015

Painting exhibition opens Sunday April 19



You are invited to an exhibition opening today (Saturday) at 6.30 pm as part of the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture
Artists Rudolf de Lippe and Ingeborg Zu Schleswig-Holstein are showing a selection of their gestural paintings, inspired by spiritual lineages including Muslim traditions, at the Spirit of Fes Foundation.

The German Ambassador, Volkmar Wenzel, will attend, along with Pascual Jordan, the curator of Berlin's Werkstatt Gallery and Dr Faouzi Skali, president of the Fes Festival of Sufi Culture.

RUDOLF DE LIPPE & INGEBORG ZU SCHLESWIG-HOLSTEIN
Exhibition of Gestural Painting
From April 19 - 25 from 9 am to 6.30 pm 

Exhibition opening today, April 19, at 6.30 pm 
At the Fes-Sais Exhibition Pavilion, Dar Tazi, Spirit of Fez Foundation, Batha

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Seventh Edition of the international Forum «Mediterranean Women»

The Seventh Edition of the international Forum «Mediterranean Women» will take place on May 29, 30 and 31, 2015 in Fez at the Palais des Congrès. The theme of this edition is «The Escalation of Gender-Based Violence Against Women and Girls in the Middle East and North Africa - Mena Region»

While the post-Arab Spring turmoil is affecting men, women, and children, specific types of violence systematically target women and girls. The post-Arab Spring initial backlash on women’s rights is not only gathering momentum everyday, but is developing into unprecedented new types of violence against women with the dangerously mounting tide of extremist Jihadism.

The new forms of violence range from the imposition of the niqab (total veiling), the ban of women from public unless they are accompanied by a male member of the family, a return of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) for women between the ages of 11 and 46, stoning to death of (supposedly) adulterous women, assassination of female activists, Jihad al-Nikah (brainwashed women offering sex in support of the Jihadists), honour crimes, and enslavement (buying/selling of women and girls).

These new forms of violence are indirectly “sanctioning” the already familiar types such as moralization incriminating women for any social crisis, domestic battering, increased sexual harassment, forced marriage, and (gang) rape that accompanied the post-uprising phases in the Mena region. The ambiguous barriers between moderate and extremist Islamists is intensifying the daily misery of women in most parts of the region and threatening the hard-won women’s rights, and systematic brainwashing is involving more and more women in the recruitment of female Jihadists. In parallel, extreme violence against women is heavily used in the Jihadists’ propaganda narratives and glorified by mainstream media.

The dire absence of statistics, let alone serious academic research, on this issue is adding fuel to an already hot problem whose short- and long- term social, economic, and political repercussions are far-reaching and call for a combination of reliable research and urgent policies.

The Forum aims at documenting the new forms of violence against women and suggesting preventive solutions.

Eminent researchers, experts and activists from over 20 countries will participate in the Forum which will address 7 main topics:

1.What does the escalation of violence against women mean?

2. Escalation of violence against women in the Middle East

3. Escalation of violence against women in North Africa

4.Patriarchy ans the escalation of gender-based violence

5.Masculinities

6.Strategies to combat gender-based violence -Education Reform-Textbook Reform

7.Transnational Networking in the face of the escalation of transnational vioelnce against women

The languages of the Forum are: Arabic, French and English. The View from Fez will bring you updated information as it comes to hand

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

Fes Festival of Sufi Culture ~ Day One

The Fes Festival of Sufi Culture opened on a beautiful afternoon at the Batha Museum. With minimal fuss or security, things went like clockwork.  
The Batha Museum venue - Photo Priam Thomas

Festival Director Faouzi Skali was in a surprisingly relaxed mood for the first day of the event and greeted guests and dignitaries with a warm smile. After setting the scene, he introduced four musicians who gave a beautiful reading of Rumi - a hymn to love in every sense.

The relaxed Faouzi Skali arrives at the venue

Faouzi was followed by Bariza Khiari, a French politician, Socialist senator and previously Vice President of the Senate. She has published insightful papers on Sufism and Islam that aim to encourage policy-makers and observers of social and political life to broaden their vision and sharpen their thinking.

Bariza Khiari - Photo Priam Thomas

Bariza Khiari pointed out that Islam has become a highly politicised in recent years and its religious and spiritual dimension has been reduced to almost nothing, in favour of controversy. In what she describes as a "cacophony", we find the "media obscurantists" one side and Islamophobia, on the other - their language designed to politicise their arguments.

Roderick Grierson is a world expert on the Mevlevi liturgy known as sema. and about its role in preserving the mystical teachings of Jalal al-Din Rumi. He talked about the fascination and admiration with which travellers from the West have regarded the music and dance of the ‘Whirling Dervishes’ since the early eighteenth century. He pointed out that there are many "versions" of Rumi and that the Festival would give everyone who attended a chance to explore the Turkish Mevlevi traditions in music, literature and poetry.

Roderick Grierson praised the Festival programme

Roderick is the director of the Rumi Institute at the Near East University in Cyprus. He serves on the editorial committee of the Mawlana Rumi Review and is preparing an exhibition of engravings and lithographs of Mevlevi dervishes that will travel to the United Kingdom and United States in 2015. His translation of the Book of Counsels by the Turkish sufi poet Yunus Emre was published in 2013.

All the speakers  praised the tireless work of Faouzi Skali and congratulated him on focusing on love. As Grierson said, in an echo of John Lennon, "We need more love in today's world".

Fatima Azzahra Kortobi

The surprise of the afternoon was a wonderful musical interlude from Fatima Azzahra Kortobi and Salah Eddin Mohassine - a taste of what we could expect in the evening.

Note should be made of the work behind the scenes done by Thibaut Chandelier who facilitated the smooth distribution of information and passes to the international press contingent.

Thibaut Chandelier - ensuring smooth running
Renowned Australian poet, Catherine Wright was in the audience
Priam Thomas 

A new face at the Batha Museum was that of writer and photographer Priam Thomas who has joined The View from Fez team for the duration of the festival.

Evening Concert

Photo: Priam Thomas

The first full concert of the Sufi Festival was a creative work that brought together some very talented musicians to pay homage to Rabia Adawiyya. Rābiʻa al-ʻAdawiyya al-Qaysiyya (Arabic: رابعة العدوية القيسية‎) or simply Rābiʿah al-Baṣrī (Arabic: رابعة البصري‎) was a female Muslim saint and Sufi mystic.

She was born between 713 and 717 CE (100 and 108 Hijri) in Basra, Iraq. Much of her early life is narrated by Farid ud-Din Attar, a later Sufi Saint and poet, who used earlier sources. Rabia herself did not leave any written works about her life. She died in around 801 CE.

The orchestra leader providing some lyrical beauty - Photo: Priam Thomas

Backed by an Andalusian style orchestra of some twenty talented musicians, were Samira Kadiri, Fatima Azzahra Kortobi, Salah Eddine Mohssine and Marouane Hajji. It was an interesting mix - the voices varied, ranging from the dynamic Marouane Hajji, with a boyish smile and playfulness that had the capacity crowd loving every nuance, to Sallah Eddine Mohssine, who was more workmanlike in comparison with Hajji, but he performed with the grace and ease of a master musician..

Fatima Azzahra Kortobi
Marouane Hajji
Salah Eddine Mohssine
Samira Kadiri

Fatima Azzahra Kortobi displayed a wide vocal range from crystal clear soprano down to a depth and earthiness that was reminiscent of some of the great Fado singers. Samira Kadiri's soprano voice is one of classical purity that could stand well alongside  most Western sopranos.

The music was broken up with narration that was, if anything, a bit too pretty. The words are beautiful in themselves and didn't need a dusting of sugar. That aside it was a splendid creation and a suitable opening night.


Coming up tomorrow: Sunday, April 19

10am Round table and poetry readings."Tribute to Abdelwahhab Meddeb"

4pm Round Table: "Will there be a revival of Sufism in the Muslim World?"

8:30 p.m. Samaa of the Tariqa Qadiriyya Boutchichiyya
Samaa of Tariqa-s Siqilliyya / Wazzaniyya

The weather should be sunny with a top of 24 degrees Celsius and an overnight low of 11 degrees.

Photos: Priam Thomas & Sandy McCutcheon
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