Status Symbols and Death Threats 4

This week, for the first time in the history of this website, the author of one of the articles received a death threat from an anonymous comentator. The unsuspecting author brought this upon himself by calling some of President Musharraf's opponents 'radical islamists': http://www.politika.lv/index.php?id=14955 . The commentator declared he would kill the author if he met him in the street. As simple as that. With several years' delay (compared to the US or the UK), the spirit of threat grounded in radical beliefs has reached the virtual space of Latvia.

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Well, it more or less had to be expected. As the heady economic growth of the last years begins to fade, many people here, as well as in some other East and Central European countries, feel the strain of disillusionment and increasing alienation from consumer society where they are not in a position to consume. So far very few choose radical Islam as a response. The anonymous commentator who posted the death threat must feel lonely in Purvciems, or Jugla, or whichever residential suburb of Riga happens to be his home. Others leave for happier places (with vastly different salaries), or drink, or succumb to a variety of locally brewed radicalism closer to their heart. The turnover of marginal newspapers promoting racist ideas may grow this year, as the economists' forecasts for 2008 in Latvia are far from encouraging.

But what do the rest of us do meanwhile? A psychologist friend from another country living in Riga has recently told me he is shocked by the extent to which local people are obsessed with status symbols and indifferent to politics. Cars and houses mean much more than rights and responsibilities, and desire to change the world is extremely low. How about the signs of change this autumn? I asked him. The mass protests in the Old Town? Ah yes, he smiled. Five thousand people, or maybe ten. One third of them foreigners. I was there too.

I wish I could disagree with him.

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Komentāri (4) secība: augoša / dilstoša

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Eldar 10.01.2008 17:23
Andrejs, your example with Turkish and Azeri expressions is most unfortunate. I am not unfamiliar with either of these cultures, and in effect, there are some very strong expressions in both languages. But the context we are talking about is quite different. The threats professed against the author were not a sudden product of uncontainable rage. Rather they reveal a very specific mindset, influenced by radical salafist ideas - it is apparent from the style and choice of language. Salafism rejects all political, social and cultural innovations in the name of "Islamic purity", which allegedly existed during the times of Prophet. In its most extreme form it encourages violence against the "infidels" or "hypocrites" (in fact, the threat maker was not sure in which of the categories to include the author of the article). In this context, even one death threat is a quite serious matter.

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Komentētājs

Hbuf 10.01.2008 17:18
How about the signs of change this autumn?
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These activities were quite smaller than in 2003-2004 despite support from most popular media which has shown them as something exceptional, "revolution".

So - change, yes. Towards passivity.

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Jandžs 10.01.2008 17:16
Insensitivity toward others is a common and sometimes openly stated position here. One writer to a blog recently suggested placing illegal (ipso facto) Somali immigrants into 'filtration' camps. Of course, people think differently between those who "we" sympathize with and those who "we" don't sympathize with. I was just looking at a blog from a BBC writer in Poland who described the horrible fate of a Chechen woman and her children. So, even those who "we" have some sympathy for run into "our" moral self-righteousness and pay for it by dying. That is what we in eastern Europe call "real politik".

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Andrejs 10.01.2008 16:34
The turnover of marginal newspapers promoting racist ideas may grow this year, as the economists' forecasts for 2008 in Latvia are far from encouraging.
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What has racist ideas to do with these unfortunate comments? In any case, economic outlook has little to do with racist or any other such ideas. Deadly attacks by radicals have happened in London, Amsterdam and Madrid - not in Moldova or Albania.

On the other hand, many peoples (including Azeris, Turks, etc.) have swearing expressions, which can be literaly translated as - "I will kill you", "your father is a dog", etc. If we take any such swearing as a threat, we will miss serious threats such as depopulation and global climat change.

Citi autora darbi