Farkhunda was her name.

Farkhunda was her name. We don’t know much about her life but we know about her gruesome death.
On the 19th of March and the days afterwards my Facebook news feed was filled with pictures of a woman. Not just regular pictures, this woman’s face was covered with blood and she looked beaten up. I didn’t know the story yet when I first was confronted with the horrible images and continued to look further. After further reading I found out that her name was Farkhunda. A young Afghan woman, at the age of 27. Her killing was recorded by bystanders and slowly pictures and videos appeared online. The pictures which I first saw were apparently taken when she was still alive, unfortunately she was killed by her fellow countrymen. She was attacked by a mob with extreme violence for allegedly burning the Koran. This alleged action later was denied by the The Ministry of Hajj and Religious Affairs of Afghanistan, which made clear that no burning of the Koran had taken place. This innocent woman fought for her live while a great number of men were beating her, kicking her, drove their car over her unconscious body, dragged her and set her body on fire. They threw their scarfs on her body, not to help but to keep the fire going. Every detail of the action is sickening and shocking.

The Police

When these actions occur one immediately asks where the police was. The official statements say that when the police arrived Farkhunda already was dead. However as you can see on the image I added the police was right there the whole time. There are three policemen in the picture, who knows how many were actually around the area. How can one expect of bystanders to take action when the people assigned with the job to serve and protect the people are also not making the slightest effort to halt the actions. All that was needed was one shot in the air and the mob would run. One action to stop these people but they didn’t. How can the police protect the country when they can’t protect one woman.

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Civil Society

Immediately after the killing of Farkhunda the Afghan civil society condemned the horrible actions. Young Afghans used social media to express their anger and disappointment with the committed actions. It is good that there are so many ways the people can now voice their opinions globally. More and more people can let their voice be heard and specially when actions like this one occur this is needed. It is needed to let the world know how Afghans within the country think but also it is needed to show fellow Afghans in the country that these kind of actions won’t be supported. Farkhunda’s name echoes in every conversation I hear the last couple of days. It has stricken a cord with all of us and everyone wants to do something so that justice will be served.

Justice

Currently there have been nine arrests made with regard to the murder of Farkhunda. However, there are no reports made about what will happen to the policemen who clearly were present at the scene but did nothing. Therefore in  my opinion much more arrests need to be done and several people need to resign for their incapability. If these people stay in their positions their shortcomings are being accepted which in a case like this one is unimaginable. If resignation is too extreme (which in my opinion it isn’t but ok) suspension of these people and a public statement is needed. Firstly the current Chief of Kabul’s police should resign or be suspended due to the fact that his men weren’t adequate in their job. Furthermore from news reports it appears that the deputy minister of information and culture tried to justify the killing of Farkhunda and also the spokesman of Kabul Police did the same. If that is true, these two should also resign or be suspended from their function. It is unacceptable from government related people to react this way to a horrible act.

My View

When I got confronted with the images of Fakhunda’s beating and killing it made me lose faith in humanity and wonder why no one did anything to stop it. It made me ashamed of being Afghan and ashamed of these men. It made me wonder where this evil has come and how all these men can stand there and look at how a young woman is being beaten to death. This time it wasn’t an action committed by an outsider, this time it was an evil from within the country. An evil within the once great and beautiful capital. I was extremely disappointed and disgusted. I read a lot of emotional posts written about the event. I read people’s anger. I read people’s despair. I read their need for justice. I regained some faith in humanity due to being exposed to what my fellow Afghans said on social media. Widely this action was condemned with strong words and a strong message is being spread. The killing of Farkhunda has sparked outrage and sadness throughout Afghanistan. For now it is too soon to exactly take conclusions but I strongly hope that the government of Afghanistan shows some action. I haven’t added names of others, also not of those officials who allegedly justified Farkhunda’s killing. I have mentioned only her name because I want you all to remember it and keep her spirit in your thoughts.

For more information about Farkhunda’s killing and views by others I recommend you to read:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2015/03/20/there-was-nothing-honorable-about-kabul-killing.html

http://www.khaama.com/when-kabul-lost-its-honour-9944

http://www.tolonews.com/en/afghanistan/18695-no-evidence-found-to-prove-burnt-woman-set-quran-on-fire-mohra
*the picture was taken from Facebook.

From walking on an island near Toronto to suddenly seeing @Nas perform…

                        Story time!

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Today my parents and I went to Centre Island, an island close to Toronto.
If you google it the information you will get about this place is “a reprieve from the hustle and bustle of the city”, a pretty calm area. We went there and walked around when I clearly heard loud music coming from one point of the island. Heard some songs that I like so I decided to go follow the sound, left my parents to do their thing and Negisa was on a mission.
I walked and walked and walked. The sound started to feel as it was coming from very nearby, when I thought I was almost there I reached the end of the island and there was nothing! Just water… I couldn’t go further but I did hear the music so clearly, it didn’t make any sense!
A bit frustrated I decided to walk back and search for an alternative route but I wasn’t very successful. I was pretty OK with enjoying the ‘mystery island event’ this way, from a distance.
Found a good place to sit, admitted my defeat when all of a sudden I heard a familiar beat and this time the song was performed live instead of a record being played. I listened carefully and holy macaroni… It was NAS! Nas was performing somewhere near me! Unbelievable. What are the odds.
I quickly jumped off of the bench, Speedy Gonzalez was slow compared to how quick I started walking. I had to get to where Nas’ voice was coming from. I walked in a different direction, but again a dead end was waiting for me while I heard Nas performing from somewhere.
I choose another direction and started walking. Bumped into my parents who were ready to leave the island while I clearly wasn’t. Me leaving a place where Nas is clearly performing? Hells no!
They accepted to wait until I had completed this mission of mine. I felt as if I was in a marathon, the Nas marathon. At the finish Mr. Illmatic would be waiting for me. I saw a guy and he gave me instructions but also said that the event is for students from a certain university and I won’t get permission to enter. For a moment I stopped walking and thought maybe I should just return because I have no idea where to walk and not getting in would be such a disappointment. This thought lasted exactly one second cause my mind and heart were back in marathon mode and I started walking. After three other dead ends I finally was on a road that seemed to be leading to the right direction when all of a sudden I heard Nas say: ‘Thank you Toronto! I will be back soon!’
Say what now?! Nooooo. He better not stop now that I am almost there. I walked faster and faster. In my head I was wishing this wasn’t the last song and also thinking of ways to talk myself into the event if they refused to let me in. Luckily he continued performing, I was getting closer and got a view of the crowd. Finally not another dead end! I focussed on the area but didn’t see a fence or people controlling if someone is from the university there. Perfect. I finally saw Nas’ face from a distance. I heard his dj mix something and I knew exactly which song was about to start which automatically made me speed up my walking. No way I was going to miss this song! As I finally entered the area and got closer to the stage he started performing ‘Made you look’, one of my favorites. Mission accomplished. I most definitely didn’t let Nas down!

Asking for directions in Sofia (Bulgaria)

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When abroad I love traveling around with public transport. Sometimes it is difficult if you can’t understand what is written, like in Bulgaria for example where I am currently. Asking for directions at a metro station was a bit diffucult, the woman working there didn’t speak any English and the only thing written in English on the map were the metro stops not the surrounding streets. When I noticed the lady and I couldn’t get far I decided to assemble some basic Bulgarian  and tried to explain myself in that language. The woman working there responded by hand gesturing that I had to wait and grabbed a phone.
All of a sudden two big security guys show up…. Well damn, what did I say?! Did I just assemble the most threatening sentences in Bulgarian and said them to the woman? Why drag security into this!
Oh… never mind the guys came to give me directions. Such a relief. What a bunch of nice officers they are.
As they walked with me towards the map to show me where the street I wanted to go was, one of the policemen said in Bulgarian: ‘How come you don’t speak Bulgarian? Whenever I go abroad I always speak abroadian.’ Ha ha funny guy. He asked me where I am from and I said Holland. Both he and his colleague went crazy: ‘Oh my god Holland kicked Spain’s behind the other night. It was amazing!’ They asked me if I knew van Persie.
I said: ‘Yes, he is my cousin!’
They got extremely happy: ‘He’s your cousin…really?!?’
Me: ‘Nope.’
Luckily they could cope with my dry sense of humor. The three of us did some cavemen hooligan bonding over Holland’s great game. After that they explained the route I had to take…in Bulgarian… just perfect. I wrote down a few stops I could recognize. After I arrived at the next station I asked a security guy if he speaks English. He confidently said yes and then gave me new directions completely in Bulgarian.
At the end I managed to get to where I had to be and if things continue to go like this I will be speaking Bulgarian in no time. :)

Been there, saw that: Sam Smith live @ People’s Place Amsterdam

 

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Yesterday I finally got the chance to see the young and talented Mr. Sam Smith perform live at the People’s Place in Amsterdam. This of course was a great way to spend my Wednesday evening! The second Sam Smith started singing I thought: “Pshht that’s exactly what I sound like when I sing in the shower every morning”. Ok… that wasn’t really my thought and I so desperately wish I had even 1% of Sam Smith’s singing ability! I mean seriously, what did he drink when growing up and where can I get it?!
The first song he started with was the beautiful ‘Nirvana’, which I had on repeat for a long time. When I closed my eyes it felt just like I was listening to the record at home. He was able to nail all the difficult notes perfectly during each song. Without even blinking, as if it was the easiest thing in the world. This 22-year-old singer has definitely been blessed with a wonderful voice and I am glad he has the chance to share it with the world. He performed some songs we already were familiar with but also some new ones like ‘Leave your lover’, which will be featured on his debut album ‘In The Lonely Hour’. This European Spring tour of his has been very successful thus far and every performance has been sold out. Take a look at samsmithworld.com to see if he will be performing near you in the future and make sure you get your tickets quickly. He’s worth it, trust me. Here are some videos to give you an impression of last night’s performance (footage is a bit shaky because it was too crowded and there was always somebody pushing me by accident):
1. Nirvana

2. Leave Your Lover

3. Money On My Mind

4. Lay Me Down

5. Stay With Me

*The picture used at the beginning of this post was taken from Sam Smith’s Facebook page.

Video: Would You Help A Freezing Child?

This video will restore your faith in humanity and warm your heart in this cold winter day. It will also make you aware of what children in less wealthy counties and countries in a conflict like Syria go through daily without our help. “Would you help a freezing child?” is an interesting Norwegian social experiment and a campaign to donate jackets for Syrian children. Watch it here:

Audio: Ed Sheeran – I See Fire (Kygo remix)


A highly addictive remix of Ed Sheeran’s single ‘I See Fire’ has just been released. The one responsible for this lovely remix is Kygo. I can’t listen to anything else except this song at the moment. The only thing that would make this a better experience is if I was listening to this while relaxing on a tropical island. But we can’t have it all… now can we? Take a listen and enjoy:

Been there, saw that: Mayer Hawthorne @ Melkweg, Amsterdam

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Mayer Hawthorne’s music has been bringing a smile on my face for several years now but somehow I never got the chance to see him perform. This finally changed on the 16th of October when I went to his show at the Melkweg in Amsterdam.
I asked a friend of mine to join me to his performance and she actually didn’t know who he was. She accepted to go even if she had never heard any of his songs and at the end of the night she was completely in love with his music. This is a perfect example of how good his performance was, someone who had no knowledge of the songs actually enjoyed the whole performance.
The venue was packed and I was surprised by how divers the audience was. Mayer’s music is for all ages and as I looked around I only saw people smiling. There was such a positive atmosphere throughout the evening. Together with his band he was able to give an amazing performance, I loved the way they interacted with each other and with the crowd. It seemed as if they were having a good time on stage which also reflected on the audience. They were of course musically talented but also funny and entertaining.  I doubt if anybody went home not feeling happy. It seems impossible to me after a performance like that.
Unfortunately I couldn’t film but I did take some pictures, you can view them at the end of the post.
Mayer Hawthorne will be in Europe until the 26th of November, go to http://www.mayerhawthorne.com/tour/ to see if he will be performing in your area this month.