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THE JIHADIS TALE

23.01.2015

WHAT
MAKES
THEM
TICK?
ISSN 2052-1081

04>
9 772052 108010

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STEADMAN: AN ORIGINAL CARTOON FOR PARIS. PAGE 40

23.01.2015

N.4

18 The cartoon

warriors of the
Muslim world
by Simon Speakman
Cordall

20 How Denmark

tamed its
Islamists
by Elisabeth Braw

24 Then a Nazi

victim, now a
neo-fascist
by Kostas Kallergis

28 Russias new

underground
media
by Anna Nemtsova

NEW WORLD
48 Why nearly half

of us hear voices
(and how to fix it)
by William Lee Adams

FEATURES

AL-BRITANI: Aka
Ifthekhar Jaman, was
a YouTube star before
he went to Syria to join
Isis, see p30

30

The jihadis tale

54 The movie

exposing Israels
marriage scandal
by Christopher
Silvester

Our chief feature writer spent three months piecing


together the life story of a young British terrorist. The
result is shocking. And terribly sad.

BIG SHOTS

by Alex Perry

BERLIN

Container city

40

DOWNTIME

Ralph Steadmans
right to offend

USA

Sink or swim

The celebrated cartoonist, who describes himself in our


interview as Distasteful. Unhygienic. Truculent. Moody.
Provocative towards bastards, has responded to the Paris
killings with a new artwork exclusively for Newsweek.

10 YOSEMITE
Room with a view

12 FRANCE

by Robert Chalmers

Je suis Cabu

54 Maggie Gyllenhaal

on the struggles
behind success
by Zach Schonfeld

60 A celebration

of the critic as
twisted assassin
by Robert GoreLangton

66 This week in 1961


Cuba crisis

PAG E O N E

COVER CREDITS

DANIEL BIDDULPH, SHUTTERSTOCK

14 After Paris:

Captain Peroxide
says I told you so

Newsweek (ISSN 2052-1081), is published weekly except for a double issue in December. Newsweek (EMEA) is
published by Newsweek Ltd (part of the IBT Media Group) 25 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5LQ, UK.
Printed by Quad/Graphics Europe Sp z o.o., Wyszkow, Poland

by Winston Ross

For Article Reprints, Permissions and Licensing www.IBTreprints.com/Newsweek


PARS International (212) 221-9595 x210 Newsweek@parsintl.com

FOR MORE HEADLINES,


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NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

IN THIS ISSUE

CHIEF CONTENT OFFICER

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

CHIEF EXECUTIVE

Johnathan Davis

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Etienne Uzac

NEWSWEEK (Europe, Middle East & Africa)


Published by Newsweek Ltd, a division of IBT Media Group Ltd

EDITORIAL
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF

Richard Addis
PRODUCTION EDITOR
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Cordelia Jenkins
Daniel Biddulph
Barney Guiton
Lucy Draper
Jessica Landon
Marian Paterson
Maria Lazareva
Damien Sharkov
Deirdre Fernand
Cathy Galvin
Victor Sebestyen

CONTRIBUTING EDITORS
Simon Akam
Christena Appleyard
Bella Bathurst
Alex Bellos
Rosie Boycott
Robert Chalmers
Harry Eyres
Miranda Green

Sarah Helm
Anthony Holden
Caroline Irby
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Alex Perry
George Pitcher
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Nicholas Shakespeare

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EDITORIAL: EMEA@NEWSWEEK.COM / SUBSCRIPTIONS: EMEA-SUPPORT@NEWSWEEK.COM

NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

Alex Perry
is an awardwinning correspondent and
author who has
covered Africa, the
Middle East and
Asia for 15 years. His latest book, The
Rift: Africas Final Fight for Freedom,
will be published worldwide in 2015.
Anna Nemtsova
is a longtime
correspondent for
Newsweek based in
Moscow. Her work
has also appeared
in The Chronicle of
Higher Education, Foreign Policy
magazine, nbcnews.com, Marie Claire,
and The Guardian. .
Elisabeth Braw
joined Newsweek
following a
visiting fellowship
at the Reuters
Institute at Oxford
university.
Previously she was senior reporter at
Metro International newspaper group.
Robert
Chalmers
is a novelist and
journalist whose
awards include the
British Press
Association
Interviewer of the year and the PPA
magazine writer of the year. He has
worked at The Observer and The
Independent on Sunday and is a
contributing editor of GQ.
William Lee
Adams
is a former
correspondent for
Time magazine,
William has
reported from
drug houses in Romania, prisons in
Norway and riots in London. As well as
writing freelance assignments, he runs
the worlds most-read blog devoted to
the Eurovision Song Contest
wiwibloggs.

AP

NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

BIG
SHOTS

GERMANY

Container
city
An asylum seeker
enters his new home
in eastern Berlin,
where as many as
400 refugees will
be expected to take
up lodgings in these
brightly coloured,
portable container
blocks. These
utilitarian-looking
housing estates have
been devised as an
emergency measure
by the federal
government to house
the unprecedented
influx of refugees
who arrived in
Berlin last month.
Such container
cities will be built
in six deprived
neighbourhoods
around the capital.
Far-right groups have
already protested
about the plan.

MARKUS SCHREIBER

NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

PHOTO BY USAF/MASTER SGT. JEFFREY AL LEN/REX


F E AT U R ES

NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

BIG
SHOTS

USA

Sink or swim
Young members of
the United States
Armys Special
Tactics Training
Squadron hurtle deep
into a pool with their
hands and feet tightly
bound. A new twist
on waterboarding?
No, just drown
proofing which is
a form of special
training designed
to keep aspiring
servicemen calm
during underwater
combat operations.
Successful students
eventually graduate
to the Special
Tactics Operation
Squadron: one of the
US Air Forces elite
infiltration units.
A sizeable 18,000
officers apparently
survived training and
are currently serving
in the ranks.

MASTER SGT. JEFFREY ALLEN

NEWSWEEK

23/01/2015

BIG
SHOTS

]USA
Room with
a view
A climber rests as
he waits for the
skin on his hands
to heal halfway
up the toughest
climb in the world.
Americans Tommy
Caldwell and Kevin
Jorgeson are working
their way up the sheer
3,000 foot monolith
El Capitan in
Californias Yosemite
National Park for
two weeks with no
safety equipment bar
ropes in case they
fall. In this picture
the two are over the
most difficult part of
their route and hang
above the ground at
a distance well above
the height of Europes
tallest building Londons Shard.
COREY RICH

NEWSWEEK

10

23/01/2015

11

23/01/2015

AURORA PHOTOS, USA

NEWSWEEK

BIG
SHOTS

]FRANCE
Je suis Cabu
French caricaturist
Jean Cabut aka
Cabu, looks hard at
work in this portrait
of 1983 filling the
pages of Frances
satirical magazine
Charlie Hebdo. Cabu
and seven of his
colleagues were
shot and killed last
week after their Paris
office was stormed
by two Islamist
gunmen, outraged
at the magazines
depictions of the
prophet Muhammad,
prompting a
worldwide show
of support for
their freedom to
blaspheme with
similar protests
across London, Berlin
and the US mourning
the Charlie Hebdo
team.
ABBAS

NEWSWEEK

12

23/01/2015

13

23/01/2015

MAGNUM PHOTOS

NEWSWEEK

THE POLITICIAN WHO COULDNT


WAIT TO SAY, I TOLD YOU SO

After Paris, the leader of Hollands


most popular party lets rip. Many
hope his grandstanding will backfire

NEWSWEEK

14

power and profile of political figures like Geert


Wilders, whose Freedom Party surged to its
highest level in more than a year in national polls
following the attack, making it now the most
popular party in Holland. As his megaphone
grows louder, so does the target on Wilders
back. To see him sitting like this, without burly
bodyguards, is almost unsettling, given how
many people would love to slit his throat.
Wilders is known as Mozart or Captain Peroxide in Holland for his outlandish hair. Today
he is wearing a shiny black Armani suit. A bright
green tie competes for attention with his trademark platinum blonde pompadour. A portrait of
his idol, Winston Churchill (also an outspoken
critic of Islam), hangs on the wall behind him,
next to a small sculpture of Wilders himself.
When I ask him how hes doing, he answers:
Surviving.

23/01/2015

CAPTAIN PEROXIDE:
Hollands leading
anti-immigrant
campaigner, known
for his outlandish
hairstyle as well as
his anti-Islam, antiimmigrant views,
tweeted after the
murder of Charlie
Hebdo journalists,
This means war.

BY
WINSTON ROSS
@winston_ross

WINSTON ROSS

rounds of evacuating
my pockets completely, walking through metal
detectors and having my backpack checked, I was
a little surprised to find Geert Wilders behind the
keycard-controlled door to his office, alone.
Wilders, 51, is the leader of Hollands most
anti-Islam political party, and he regularly uses
his platform to denounce not just radicalised
Muslims but their entire religion. It is Thursday
8 January. A scant 24 hours had passed since terrorists in Paris gunned down two police officers
and 10 journalists at the headquarters of French
satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. One of the gunmens targets editor-in-chief Stephane Charbonnier is on the same al-Qaida hit list as
Wilders, who has fielded death threats from his
enemies for the past decade.
While 7 January may have been a tragic day for
France, its events have already begun to raise the
AFTER TWO SEPARATE

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15

23/01/2015

P A G E

O N E

Wilders is being a little dramatic, but thats


understandable from a guy who says he has spent
the better part of a decade wearing a bulletproof
vest, being shuttled from Dutch military barracks
to prison cell to safe house because of his outspoken antagonism of Islam. And yet, the attacks on
Charlie Hebdo only amplified his rhetoric: This
is war, he tweeted hours after the shootings in
Paris. By war, he told me in an hour-long interview, he means a war with all of Islam.
For better or worse, this is Wilders moment,
his chance to proclaim, I told you so to European politicians who havent, in his view, taken
the threat of terrorism too seriously. Theyre
crying crocodile tears over the attacks, he says.
They refuse to define the elephant in the room,
which is Islam. The Islamification of our society
is whats causing this, and its all inspired by the
Quran.
Wilders insists that hes not pleased at the
power that the attacks will surely bestow on him;
his Freedom Party was leading in the polls before
the massacre in Paris. If the next parliamentary
election were held today, his party would pick
up 31 seats, more than double its current count.
Wilders could become Hollands prime minister
if he can cobble together enough of a coalition to
make that happen.
Europeans are becoming increasingly intolerant of the wave of Muslim immigrants streaming across their borders from the Middle East.
Theyre burning mosques in Sweden, marching
by the tens of thousands in Germany and ceding
greater and greater control to the politicians who
speak the loudest against Islam. Ten years ago,
Wilders proposal to ban the construction of new
mosques in the Netherlands were viewed as the
ravings of a far-right leader fomenting extremism in order to consolidate his own influence. He
has compared the Quran to Adolf Hitlers manifesto, Mein Kampf, declaring that half of its pages
should be ripped out and that its sale should be
banned in Holland. Now, reporters call Wilders
a populist, and no longer dismiss his xenophobic proposals as rubbish. When he asked a
crowd in March of last year whether they wanted

NEWSWEEK

16

to see fewer Moroccans or more Moroccans


[sic] thousands chanted Fewer Moroccans! He
promised to Fix that!
Wilders faces a trial this year for inciting hate
speech at that event, but he insists he did nothing wrong. The biggest disease we have faced in
the last decades in Europe is cultural relativism
the idea by liberals and leftist politicians that
all culture are equal. They are not, he told me.
Our culture, based on Christianity, humanism
and Judaism, its a better culture. We dont settle
things with violence well, sometimes we do, but
mostly we dont. Cultural relativism has made it
so people dont know who they are any more.
Born in Venlo in 1963, Wilders is the youngest
of four children. Raised Roman Catholic, he has
since left the church and calls himself agnostic.
He studied at the Dutch Open University and
travelled extensively in Israel and throughout
the Arab world during and after his compulsory military service in the Dutch Army. At 17,
Wilders lived in the Jordan Valley, a few miles
above Jericho, and he decided, over time, that
Muslim countries were the most dysfunctional
and violent and he began to see immigration of
Muslims into non-Muslim countries as blight.
Im not against immigration because I believe
all the people who immigrate are bad people, he
says. But they bring along a culture that is not
ours. Islam is not there to integrate; its there to
dominate.
The death threats do not seem to have deterred
Wilders. He left his more mainstream party over
its support for Turkish entry into the European
Union, and, in 2006, formed his Freedom Party,
surprising the country by winning nine of the 150
seats in Parliament that same year. In 2007, a
popular Dutch radio station proclaimed Wilders
politician of the year in part because of his
well-timed one-liners. In 2008, he posted a
17-minute film called Fitna on the web, lifting
texts from the Koran and the statements of radical
Muslims to paint a dark picture of Islam. In 2009,
the British government banned Wilders from visiting the United Kingdom to show his film, and
prosecutors in Holland charged him with inciting
hatred and discrimination, but a Dutch court dismissed the charges two years later, ruling that he
had targeted a religion permitted in Hollands
free speech law not a specific ethnic group. In
2010, Wilders visited Ground Zero in New York
on the anniversary of the 11 September attacks,
and spoke at a rally against the construction of an
Islamic centre near the site.
Wilders party is among a legion of populist
movements spreading on both ends of the political spectrum throughout Europe, says Matthijs

23/01/2015

Rooduijn, a political science professor at the University of Amsterdam who studies radical populism. This new brand of populists is critical of the
political elite and agrees that government is no
longer listening to the people. But Wilders brand
of populism seeks to link that dissatisfaction
with politics to the refugee crisis, and to terrorist
attacks like the one in Paris last week. Hours after
the Paris attacks, Rotterdam mayor (and Muslim)
Ahmed Aboutaleb told his fellow Muslims living
in Holland to pack your bag and leave if they

Its hard to say if any of these proposals are


more likely to gain traction in the wake of the
Charlie Hebdo attacks. The Freedom Party has
performed well in opinion polls at various times
over the past 10 years, and that doesnt always
translate to gains in parliament. In 2010, Wilders
doubled the number of seats for his Freedom
Party in parliament, from nine to 24, thanks to
the votes of 1.5 million people, siphoning votes
from the more moderate Christian Democrats.
A straw poll of Dutch junior and high school students before the election found
him winning the election in that
demographic. But two years later,
Wilderss party actually lost seats
in the government, his numbers
dropping from 24 to 12.
Even if his party does win the
largest number of seats in the
next election, he would have to convince another
party to form a coalition in order to gain any real
sway in affecting policy, thanks to the Dutch system of rule. Most political observers here find
that unlikely. Other parties have said We dont
touch him, even if he is the biggest, Wilders
acknowledges. But I think anything is possible.
As the shadow of Wilderss platinum bouffant
looms large in Europe, its his notoriety that may
have a greater impact on the ongoing debate
about immigration and the ongoing persecution
facing refugees from Muslim countries. Wilderss
views may, in the end, eclipse his ambitions,
which is why he seems to eagerly anticipate the
hate speech trial he faces this year and why his
first move, in the wake of the attacks in Paris, was
to call for a debate with Dutch prime minister
Mark Rutte about immigration.
Next year hes planning a trip to Australia, he
says, to help right-wingers in that country start a
new political party modeled after the Freedom
Party. Geert Wilders is taking his show on the
road. This is not a national fight, he says. The
fight with Islam has no borders. The war has no
borders. The fight for freedom has no borders.
Anthropologist Lizzy van Leeuwen isnt convinced that Wilderss star will keep shining as
brightly as it has in recent years. On the surface,
the attacks in Paris may give him an easy chance
to make a point, but she hopes his grandstanding
will backfire, that people will see it as an attempt
to seize power on the bodies of dead journalists.
Theres a risk in talking the way he does in this
moment. Its too obvious, too easy to declare all
Muslims extremists and terrorists, too cheap,
she says. Too many people will see through that.
He has to be very careful. If he makes a misstep
n
now, it will damage him for a long time.

Immigrants bring along a culture


that is not ours. Islam is not there
to integrate; its there to dominate.
didnt like freedom of speech. In France, Marine
Le Pens anti-immigrant Front National party is
now the countrys strongest. This combination
of populism and nativism is a fruitful one today,
Rooduijn argues, because it provides a bogeyman for growing fears about globalisation: the
job-stealing, terrorist immigrant and the established politician who shelters him.
Of Le Pen and the late Nazi-descendant Jrg
Haider of Austria, Wilders said in 2007 that Le
Pen and those kind of people (are) terrible. But
in 2013, he formed the European Alliance for
Freedom with Le Pen, in an attempt to cobble
together a large enough group to influence the
European Parliament. The same year, al-Qaida
released a Wanted: Dead or Alive list of the
terrorist groups 11 most hated figures. On the
list: Wilders, Hirsi Ali, Danish cartoonist Kurt
Westergaard and Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane
Charbonnier, who was murdered in Paris last
week.
Wilders propoals are simple: to immediately
halt all immigration to The Netherlands from
Islamic countries, allow all those who want to
leave to wage jihad in other countries to go,
but not to come back. Holland should leave the
Schengen and close its open borders. Democracy can only flourish in a nation with nation
state, with border control, he says. He is clear
that he doesnt advocate any kind of violence
against anyone, and insists that nothing he
has ever said should make him responsible for
attacks on peaceful and law-abiding Muslims. If
you set fire to a mosque, youre a criminal and I
hope you go to jail for years, he says. We should
be tolerant to people who are tolerant to us. We
should be intolerant to people who are intolerant
to us.

NEWSWEEK

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23/01/2015

P A G E

O N E

THE SYRIAN SATIRIST MAKING


GRAFFITI BEHIND ENEMY LINES

TAREK ALGHORANI

Tarek Alghorani spent seven years in


jail for mocking Assads regime. Now
living in Tunisia, his new target is Isis

THE KILLINGS at Charlie Hebdo on Wednesday


have hit Syrian Tarek Alghorani hard. His girlfriend tells me hes been distant since the news
first came in; the events in Paris have stirred too
many memories. Tarek knows better than most
the exorbitant price that laughing in the face of
terror can demand.
In 2006, before Syria became synonymous
with the slaughter and sectarian violence of
jihad, Tarek was sentenced to seven years in the
countrys notorious Sednaya Prison for daring to
satirise the regime of President Bashar al-Assad
in his blog, Syrian Domari. After being freed in
2011, he continued his opposition to the regime
that had imprisoned and tortured him, embarking with others on a graffiti campaign that would
result in the deaths of his friends and, ultimately,
his flight from Syria. Still, almost lost within the
smoke of a busy downtown bar in Tunis, Tarek
laughs. He laughs a lot. He tells me how he
laughed as the judge handed down his sentence,
I looked at him and I said, seven years? You
wont even be here in seven years.
For a regime that has outlawed criticism,
humour presents a threat bordering upon the
lethal. Many of those in Sednaya with Tarek

NEWSWEEK

18

had been responsible for acts of terror that had


resulted in the deaths of hundreds. Tareks sentence for mocking the regime was as long as any.
Funny; funny is not easy, but its perfect for giving an idea to another. Funny draws people in.
Funny gets you more followers and (for the government) that makes you more dangerous. With
funny you can do anything. You can give your
opinion in a smart way. Tarek pauses to ask himself a question, Funny? Funny does everything.
Not everything is funny. There is little humour
to be found in the festival of Falaqa that
greeted Tareks arrival at Sednaya. The animation drains from his face, They fold your body
into a car tire, so you cannot move. Then they
put a thick iron bar here, he says, indicating to
the back of his knee. After that, they beat you
on the legs with sticks, until you are black from
the beatings. When the security services torture
you during interrogation, you know that if you
give them something, they will stop, even if just
for a little bit. When the prison guards beat you,
you have nothing. You can say nothing. Its just
beating.
Similarly, there is little that could be considered funny in the murder of his friend, Nizar

23/01/2015

BY
SIMON SPEAKMAN
CORDALL
@IgnitionUK

THE WALL: Inspired


by similar campaigns
in Iran and Egypt,
Alghirani created
stencils by which
Syrian youths could
replicate inlamatory
images en masse

Rastanaoui. They put us in with the jihadists,


with al-Qaida and the beginnings of what is now
Daesh, (the Arabic term for Isis) ... In 2008, the
prisoners revolted, taking control of the prison.
One group of jihadists, we never found out who,
came for Nizar. They took him to another floor
and beat him with water pipes. When we found
him, his head was like this, he says, indicating
with his hands something the size of large water
melon. We couldnt recognise him. We only
knew him by the T-shirt he was wearing.
Tarek grew up in 1980s Damascus, the son of
a small businessman. They tell me I was always
joking. I was always up to something, making
up songs, jokes, this kind of thing. As a child he
became a voracious reader, consuming everything that hadnt been censored and applying
it to life within Syria. Referencing Descartes
Method of Doubt, he explains how his distrust of
the regime grew, eventually drawing him inexorably to a life online. Initially he joined the
internet discussion forum Akhuaia (fraternity)
before, along with others, founding the satirical
and political blog, Syrian Domari in 2003, eight
years before social media was to drive a revolution throughout the Arab world.
Tarek was released from jail in 2011, emerging
into a Syria experiencing the first throes of the
secular, democratic revolution that was to tragically descend into the vicious and the sectarian.

Once more, despite the beatings and the torture


he had experienced, Tarek felt compelled to
take up arms against the regime that had taken
seven years of his life. This time he did it with an
aerosol can.
Graffiti is key, because with graffiti, you have
broken the wall, broken the wall inside peoples

NEWSWEEK

minds, because people are scared of the wall.


They tell you, Shh ... the walls have ears. Dont
say anything. For Tarek and his friends, graffiti
equated to defiance and hope. For more than 40
years, all we have are pictures of Bashar al-Assad
and his father. Every day, that is all people see.
With graffiti, we can break that. We can break
that wall. When there is a demonstration and
people are shot, afterwards, the television will
come and say that nothing happened there and
they will film it empty. With graffiti, we can say
that we were there, these are our martyrs, and
that we are still there.
Inspired by similar campaigns in Iran and
Egypt, Tarek switched from creating graffiti,
to creating the stencils by which Syrian youths
could replicate the images en masse. More stencils appeared, some mocking Assads resemblance to Hitler, others making great play of the
leaked information that the Presidents wife,
Asma al-Assad, (in Arabic, Assad means lion)
referred affectionately to him as her duck. It
was a gift Tarek savoured.
Nine of Tareks friends were killed during that
campaign. Their families remain in Syria, so
their identities must remain secret. However, the
death of one, Nour Hatem Zahra, was publicised,
his funeral drawing disaffected Syrian youths in
their thousands. It is still visible on YouTube.
Tarek left Syria in 2012 after learning that, once
more, he was wanted by the regime, this time
not to be arrested but to be killed. Initially, he
left for Jordan, before later relocating the relative
safety of Tunisia. He now works for the Tunisian
Centre for Press Freedom and has little choice
but to observe the carnage that has come to
characterise his home from a distance. Though
reduced, his involvement in the secular, youthled Syrian resistance remains. His latest effort, a
stencil of Isis leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, was
taken directly from the pages of Charlie Hebdo. I
wanted to show solidarity with Charlie Hebdo. I
dont know if theyll use it in Raqqa, (the de facto
capital of the Islamic State) but they might.
Satire and magazines like Charlie Hebdo cant
stop. We must still fight for freedom of expression. We can never stop. We must do it for all
people, so that they can say what they want to
say. If you write something I dont like, I can write
something saying youre wrong. If you draw a
picture attacking me, I will draw a picture back.
In this way, word by word, caption by caption,
we can move forward. Not with violence. Violence will not stop anything. Violence is for dictators, for terrorists. Its for everyone who wants
to make us frightened. No, we will not give them
n
that. We must continue.

19

23/01/2015

A B BAS M O M A N I / RA M Z I H A I DA R /A F P/G E T T Y

P A G E

O N E

HOW DENMARK LEARNED FROM


ITS OWN CARTOON CRISIS

After 200 people were killed ten years


ago, the State introduced radical
integration policies that have paid off

THE AUTUMN OF 2005 was Denmarks Charlie


Hebdo moment, except it was more deadly. On
30 September, the newspaper Jyllands-Posten
published 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, including one showing him with a bomb in
his turban. Local Muslims reacted with fury, and
soon protests were engulfing Denmark.
By early 2006, 200 people had been killed,
Denmarks embassies in Beirut and Damascus
had been destroyed, and Danish, European and
Christian organisations in Muslim countries had
received threats. Then prime minister Anders
Fogh Rasmussen called it Denmarks worst crisis
since the Second World War.
Its all the more surprising, then, that in the
years following the cartoon crisis, it has mostly
been quiet on Denmarks radical Muslim front.
Thats not to say that there arent problems.
For every million Danish residents, 100 have
joined Isis fighting in Syria or Iraq, a recent survey shows. Only Belgium has a larger share of
foreign fighters. Yet there have been no more
attacks on Danish targets at home or abroad.
Denmarks secret, which French authorities may
want to study more closely, is the elevation of the
humble social worker. Denmark hasnt been

NEWSWEEK

20

afraid to tackle the Islamic radicalism problem,


notes Magnus Ranstorp, a counterterrorism
expert at the Swedish Defence College. Around
2008, it began addressing Islamic radicalism-related crime through prevention work, creating
the so-called SSP model where schools, social
services and the police work together. Whats
equally important is that government agencies
on the state level work hand in hand with local

23/01/2015

BY
ELISABETH BRAW
@elisabethbraw

authorities.
In fact, because the cartoon crisis hit this
peaceful country with such surprise and force,
officials had to innovate as they went along.
The lesson learned was that security had to be
on permanently high alert, which it has been
ever since, Fogh Rasmussen says. We also
learned that integration is not just about jobs and
education, its also about values. Among the radicals you see many well-educated young people.

Freedom of speech doesnt


mean that you have to say
everything always.

CIVIL UNREST: A wave


of protests by the
Muslim community
swept Denmark
in 2006 after
caricatures of the
prophet Muhammad
were published
and denounced as
blasphemous and an
attack on Islam

Thats where social workers now play a crucial


role. The SSP model features a corps of mentors
working with at-risk youth, steering them away
from radical groups or encouraging them to leave
if they have already joined, and maintaining
close connections with their families.
Social workers involved in the programme
are trained by the Ministry of Children, Gender
Equality, Integration and Social Affairs in conjunction with PET, the countrys national security
intelligence agency. Working with PET, Danish
prisons have developed a staff retraining pro-

NEWSWEEK

gramme with the goal of preventing radicalism.


Last year, authorities also added psychologists to
the setup with the specific goal of reintegrating
returning foreign fighters, and a new government plan includes training youth wholl serve as
role models and facilitate dialogue with youngsters at risk of radicalisation.
Another crucial aspect is that Denmark has
understood the importance of working actively
for integration and is much better at not letting
ghettos form, notes Ranstorp. Politically,
theres some hard talk, but in reality they
make sure that neighbourhoods are integrated. The authorities even have a direct
dialogue with mosques such as Grimhj.
Its not clear that it has any influence on the
mosques, but at least its there to signal red
lines or during crisis situations. Grimhj,
which is suspected of radicalising a number of
the foreign fighters, has long caused controversy.
Imam Oussama el Saadi has said that he hopes
Isis will win and declined to denounce the Charlie Hebdo attack, noting that the Protestant and
Catholic churches didnt distance themselves
from the acts of the terrorist Breivik.
The social workers and psychologists, then,
often work under extremely adverse conditions,
trying to prevent jihadist acts one would-be
jihadi at a time. And, with the government in
charge of overall strategy, the real action takes

21

23/01/2015

O N E

place at the city level. Ranstorp notes that it


works better in Aarhus and smaller cities, while
reaching would-be jihadis in Copenhagen poses
a challenge. But as far as Morten Storm is concerned, the painstaking prevention work is a
futile effort. The Danish model is the most misguided approach you can imagine, he argues.
The most important step that needs to be taken
is preventing those who go abroad for terrorist
training from coming back.
Storm knows a thing or two about Islamic radicalism. A Bandidos member-turned-Muslim,
the Dane went on to join al-Qaida, later becoming an informant for PET. Storm helped PET
track down his friend, the Islamic hate preacher
Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen, allowing the CIA to
kill al-Awlaki in 2011. Storm, who now lives in
hiding, documents his colourful career in the
2014 book Agent Storm.
The Danish government is planning a law
along the lines of what the unorthodox former
terrorist suggests. The threat posed by foreign
fighters in Denmark is a highly prioritised area
by the Danish government, Justice Minister
Mette Frederiksen says. In order to address this
threat most effectively, weve launched a new
action plan that focuses on both intervention
and prevention. Recently weve introduced a
bill that enables the police to refuse the issuing
of passports, to revoke passports from suspected
foreign fighters and to issue travel bans. That,
of course, does not include Danish citizens and
residents simply going abroad for terrorist training, the very people Storm worries will commit
atrocities at home.
Denmarks conscientious mentoring, dialoguing and counselling risks can offer little defence
to violent international forces, even though the
government plan gamely offers solutions for
growing concerns such as online radicalisation.
Even when [jihadi terror] incidents only involve
lone wolves, theyre part of an international
threat scenario, because the perpetrators have
been inspired by international events, says Fogh
Rasmussen, who went on to become Natos Secretary-General, leaving office in October 2014.
The Danish security services have prevented

NEWSWEEK

22

GROUP ACTION:
Muslim children
outside the Danish
parliament, which
is planning a law to
prevent jihadists
returning home

23/01/2015

J E R RY B E RG M A N / R E X

P A G E

several attacks, but we need improved international cooperation in order to be more effective.
Returning foreign fighters constitutes a real
threat.
But what if Charlie Hebdo and the cartoon crisis require a different response altogether, one
more profound than mentoring and travel bans?
As Michael Melchior sees it, European countries need a fundamental dialogue to establish
how their ethnic and religious groups are going
to co-exist. He speaks from experience: the seventh-generation Danish rabbi is a former social
affairs minister and deputy foreign minister of
Israel, the Chief Rabbi of Norway and a leading
voice for religious reconciliation. Weve never
had a fundamental debate about the parameters
in which different groups can live together in our
multicultural society, he says. But everybody
is in fear of going into that debate because, suddenly, youll see that society has changed.
That change may involve more adjustment on
all sides than simply accepting new names and
diets. Were living in a multicultural society
where values clash with other values, observes
Melchior, who is also the rabbi of a Jerusalem
synagogue. I strongly believe in freedom of
speech, but we also need to use that freedom with
wisdom. Although the bloodshed and killings [in
Paris] just makes one totally identify with those
who became victims in the battle for that freedom of speech, the ultimate goal of democracy
in a multicultural world cant be to trample the
beliefs of others. In Melchiors book, one step
towards successful multicultural coexistence is
this: Freedom of speech doesnt mean that you
n
have to say everything always.

NOW GET THE BOOK


Read the extended versions of Newsweeks
most gripping stories online and in print

What made a
young Harry
Potter fan from
a British suburb
become a martyr
for Allah in the
Syrian desert?

The
Club
Living the dream at the
bottom of English football

Simon Akam

The
Aftermath
A correspondents
return to Gaza

Sarah Helm

23
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23/01/2015

23

23/01/2015

P A G E

O N E

I FOUGHT THE FASCISTS. MY


FAMILY WILL BRING THEM BACK

Only 70 years ago, many Greeks were


killed in Nazi atrocities. Yet today their
grandchildren vote for Golden Dawn

Sideri-Tsamis family were killed in the Distomo


massacre. Yet the 23-year-old was a candidate in
regional elections last May for Golden Dawn, the
party widely described as neo-Nazi that has risen
to prominence in Greece in recent years.
Sideri-Tsami has blamed communist resistance fighters for the massacre, saying they provoked the Nazis by staging an ambush. They
knew the Germans would come back
to the village to kill the people if they
were attacked, she said soon after
the memorial ceremony.
Sideri-Tsamis embrace of the farright may seem extraordinary. But
even people with ancestors killed by
the Nazis or a family tradition of leftism forged
in the Second World War have joined Golden
Dawn, which has tapped into anger at Greeces
deep economic crisis and disillusionment with
traditional politics. In the run-up to the elections,
Golden Dawn proudly displayed the video of Sideri-Tsamis interview on its website.
But her declaration was met with less enthu-

NAZI ECHOES:
Supporters of the
ultra-nationalist
party Golden Dawn
have allied with the
populist left of the
Syriza party to force
early elections. The
Greeks are going
to the polls on 25
January

Our grandfathers were refugees,


our fathers were immigrants . . .
and we are racists!
stands, Greek and German high-school students
presented the Children of War, a theatrical ode
to peace. Photographs of Nazi troops on the Athens Acropolis were projected onto the backdrop.
The audience watched in solemn silence.
In the towns cafs, the atmosphere was normally more boisterous. Soon, Maria Sideri-Tsamis name is mentioned. Three members of

NEWSWEEK

24

23/01/2015

BY
KOSTAS KALLERGIS
@KallergisK

LOU I SA G OU L I A M A K I , M I LOS B I CA N S K I /A F P/G E T T Y

BELOW THE GREEN slopes of Mount Parnassus


in central Greece, the small town of Distomo
was unusually full of people. The visitors were
marking the 70th anniversary of the Distomo
massacre, one of the worst Nazi atrocities in the
country during the Second World War, in which
more than 200 civilians were executed.
On a hill where a memorial to the victims

siasm locally. Its shameful, says 84-year-old


Maria Sechremeli, a distant relative of Sideri-Tsami. Sechremeli survived the massacre
by hiding under the body of an executed neighbour. The scar of a stray bullet from the massacre still marks her leg. Sitting in her living room,
Sechremeli says she never used to talk about the
massacre with her grandchildren, not wanting to
upset them or perpetuate the hatred from that
era. But she changed her mind after becoming
alarmed at the rise of Golden Dawn. Do they
want the best for Greece? By killing people?
Doing all these ugly things? she says. You can
tell what kind of people they are.
After decades on the political fringe, Golden
Dawn came to much broader attention in 2010
with a nationalist, anti-immigration and frequently violent agenda. Media and academics
have labelled the party neo-Nazi or fascist, but
its members deny any links to national socialism.
The partys rise coincided with an unprecedented
increase in racist attacks against immigrants.
This violence went largely unpunished for years
until a man with close links to Golden Dawn
murdered anti-fascist rapper Pavlos Fyssas in an
Athens suburb in September 2013. The killer was
arrested and the government launched a crackdown on the party.
Today, six high-ranking party members,
including leader Nikos Michaloliakos, are in
jail awaiting trial for setting up and operating
a criminal organisation. The trial, which the
party sees as political persecution, is expected
to begin imminently. Despite the proceedings,
Greeces political scene has been in such flux
that Sechremeli says she is afraid Golden Dawn
could seize power and trigger a new civil war in
a country whose political traditions were established in the Second World War and which have
been upheld for generations since.
Greece was riven by civil war after Germanys defeat in the Second World War. More than
100,000 people were killed in a brutal battle for
power between leftists and rightists an early
Cold War conflict that ended only in 1940 with
the defeat of the left. Many of Golden Dawns
leadership come from families that were prominent in Greeces postwar right. But not all. Giorgos Germenis has very fond memories of his
maternal grandfather, Panayotis Griziotis. He
remembers him as a modern grandpa who was
always close to the younger generations.
During the war, Griziotis was a communist
guerrilla leader in western Greece. When his
daughter was 10 years old, he would send her
to fetch the then illegal newspaper of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE). She too became a

P A G E

O N E

communist. She gave birth to Germenis, whom


she used to carry in her arms while putting up
posters with party comrades for the annual May
Day rally in Athens. Her son is now one of Golden
Dawns most prominent members of parliament
and the first party executive to publicly acknowledge, in 2012, that his grandfather was a communist guerrilla.
His revelation came as a huge shock to leftists,
who could not comprehend how someone with
such family traditions could end up on the farright of the political spectrum. Germenis is currently in prison awaiting trial with the rest of the
party leadership. For this article, he gave written
answers to questions passed on by his wife when
she visited him in the maximum-security Korydallos jail in Athens.
According to Germenis, people who were once
communists or socialists are among the most
zealous Golden Dawn supporters. They feel that
the parties they were following all these years
betrayed them! he writes. Germenis joined the
ranks of Golden Dawn in the early 1990s, when
the ghost of nationalism was haunting the Balkan peninsula. His parents found out about his
ideological departure much later. He says no one
in his family tried to change his mind, nor did
he try to change theirs. Germenis writes that his
mother now believes that Golden Dawn is a truly
revolutionary party. In our rallies she didnt see
the usual party henchmen and the politically
appointed executives but people from next door,
workers, breadwinners, and that impressed her,
he writes.
Such ordinary people and their struggles made
a deep impact on Tasos Papaioannou. He says
he has been shocked by a rise in the number of
suicides linked to the economic crisis in his home
region of Corinth. Papaioannou, in his early forties, does not like to be called a taxi driver, unless
he is driving Greek clients. For most of his day,
he is a chauffeur taking wealthy foreign tourists
to ancient Corinth, about 80km west of Athens.
His parents emigrated to Australia when he was
two years old. Twenty years later he returned for

NEWSWEEK

26

a holiday and stayed.


Papaioannou now votes for Golden Dawn, a
strongly anti-immigrant party, despite the fact
that he experienced discrimination as a Greek
in Australia. His grandfather, Giorgos, was also a
communist guerrilla in the Corinth region during
the civil war. I never met him. I wish I had, even
though my views are entirely different, he says.
When the Greek economic crisis started,
Papaioannou says he began to identify enemies:
immigrants; corrupt politicians who embezzled
the peoples wealth; the International Monetary
Fund; those who held the leftist beliefs of his
grandfather. He claims that some extreme rightists in nearby villages have boxes of Kalashnikov
rifles stored in their houses. Just in case.
Further south, Nikos Kourakos is a senior
official at the Golden Dawn office in Kalamata.
His grandfather fought the Germans as part of
the communist resistance and was executed
by a member of the notorious security battalions formed by Greeces collaborationist government. He does not feel his decision to join
Golden Dawn more than 10 years ago offends the
memory of his grandfather.
For some families, however, a childs decision

23/01/2015

HAUNTING MEMORY:
Skulls and bones
in an ossuary in
the Greek village of
Distomo, top, serve
as a reminder of the
Nazi massacre of 218
civilians, including
the family of Maria
Sideri-Tsami, above,
whose family name,
Sideri, is written on
a memorial plaque,
right

Y I O RG OS K A RA H A L I S/ R EU T E RS/CO R B I S

to break with long-held values and support the


far-right is a source of great anguish. Giorgos
Triantafyllou, a pensioner whose name has been
changed here at his request, lives in a small community of which the Nazis executed almost half
the population, including one of his relatives,
during the Second World War. His family has a
long history of resistance fighters during the German occupation and later, of victims of political
persecution during the rule of the military junta
in the 1960s and 1970s.
Triantafyllou turned to religion and became a
Jehovahs Witness. He and his childhood sweetheart raised two children according to their
values. But after turning 18, their older child
denounced the familys religious beliefs and
eventually joined Golden Dawn, standing as a
candidate for the party in this years regional
elections. Triantafyllou discovered the shocking
news while surfing the internet. He was utterly
devastated and he has not spoken to his firstborn since. His distress is heightened by the fact
the Nazis persecuted and imprisoned Jehovahs
Witnesses.
Likewise, pollsters, political analysts and
sociologists ponder why Golden Dawn has
proved to be so popular in areas formerly dominated by the Communist party. In Perama and
Nikea, two districts of Athens long considered
red strongholds, there has been a sharp rise in
support for Golden Dawn in recent years. Vassiliki Georgiadou, an associate professor of political science at Athens Panteion University, who
has been carrying out extensive research in these
districts, says the impoverishment of the working class and local long-term unemployment
which hovers around 70% have created fertile
territory for Golden Dawn.
The party has blamed the local trade unions
political activity for the decreasing competitiveness of local shipyards and subsequent loss of
jobs. Golden Dawn set up its own trade union
and promised work. Some workers signed up.
Politicised youths have used graffiti to turn the
neighbourhoods walls into a battleground of
ideologies. Our grandfathers were refugees, our
fathers were immigrants and we are racists! one
leftist slogan proclaims. Free all jailed Golden
Dawn members! says another, not far from
Korydallos prison, where the partys leadership
is incarcerated.
In another part of Athens, theres a graffio offering an ironic commentary on the twists of history. An old man smoking a cigarette observes,
I fought the fascists so that my grandchildren
n
could bring them back.

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27

23/01/2015

P A G E

O N E

THE NEW UNDERGROUND PRESS


ENRAGING PUTINS INNER CIRCLE

RUSSIAN JOURNALISTS or at least a great


number of them have become experts in black
humour. They have to be if one of their goals is
to remain sane. One reporter at a state-owned
Russian newspaper joked privately with friends
that they would have to scribble the true story
in milk between the lines of ink, the way underground messages from exiles were conveyed

izdat to describe their scribblings. Now, a new


generation of dissidents is starting projects discreetly online, or going abroad to reach Russia
from the outside.
No wonder. Most journalists in Russia live in
fear of the authorities firing an editor or reporter
for publishing something disparaging. For Russkaya Planeta, a television company covering
regional news, that day came on 27
November when the channels main
investor fired the editor-in-chief, Pavel
Pryanikov, after a report was aired
about abductions of Tatars in Russian-annexed Crimea.
Many journalists have created independent multimedia websites both in Russia
and abroad. Blogs have popped up with anonymous sponsors. If the Kremlin shuts down five
media outlets, 10 will appear online, says Timur
Olevsky, who covers the war in Ukraine for
Dozhd TV, an independent channel struggling
to survive from viewers donations. Last year,
the Committee to Protect Journalists honoured
Dozhds editor-in-chief, Mikhail Zygar, with the
International Press Freedom Award for defiance

It has become difficult to remain


committed to decent journalism
without risking your job
back to Russia in Tsarist times by the future father
of the Bolshevik revolution, Vladimir Lenin.
Press freedom has taken a giant step backwards since the heady days after Communisms
collapse, when Russian editors welcomed independent ideas and valued professional reporting.
It has become difficult to remain committed to
decent journalism without risking your job and
your familys welfare. In the bad old days of the
Soviet Union, dissidents invented the word sam-

NEWSWEEK

28

23/01/2015

BY
ANNA NEMTSOVA
@annanemtsova

M L A D E N A N TO N OV/A F P/ B R E N DA N H O F F M A N /G E T T Y

As the mainstream Russian media


continues to be stifled, journalists are
defying censorship on the internet

of imprisonment, repression and censorship.


It cost reporter Oleg Kashin just $40 to launch
his Kashinguru media project last spring the
monthly fee for the domain and hosting services
required for the website. By October, half a million readers had visited.
Two members of the band Pussy Riot who
were recently released from prison, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, launched
the website Media Zona, a play on the Russian
slang for the gulag (the zone). The site covers
news from Russian prisons, human rights violations and various overtly political court cases.

FREEDOM OF
SPEECH: One of
Putins most vocal
critics, businessman
Mikhail Khodorkovsky,
top, has condemned
the Russian
government for
exerting control over
society through media
censorship

New outlets have been created on social networks within hours. Yelena Vasilyevas Cargo200 posted voices of army families searching for
their loved ones, who had disappeared or been
illegally deployed to fight in Ukraine. The more
pressure the Kremlin puts on journalists, the
more the solidarity between them grows.
The case of Lenta, the online newspaper, is
instructive. Last march, Ivan Kolpakov was one
of 78 reporters who quit their jobs at the high-profile site after a phone call from an investor close
to the Kremlin prompted the firing of its editorin-chief, Galina Timchenko. I simply could not
breathe in that stuffy atmosphere, said Kolpakov at his new office in Riga, Latvia, where he,
Timchenko and a couple of dozen other self-exiled Moscow reporters launched their new outlet,
Meduza, in October.
During the war in Ukraine, there has been an
unprecedented level of state propaganda in the
papers and on the airwaves. It divided journalists
into those who would compromise with the new
hard line, and those who chose to quit their jobs
or protest censorship in other ways. Two state
reporters complained that every other article

NEWSWEEK

they wrote was put on hold or never published.


On December 29, Russian authorities closed
down one of the last independent media outlets,
Siberian television channel TV-2. In a final video
message to viewers, reporters at the station said
they had tried to report the truth despite constant
pressure to change their editorial policy.
Often, direct intervention by the Kremlin is
not needed. Self-censorship is pervasive and corrosive editors know what must be done when
liberal-minded colleagues lose their jobs. The
Kremlin has made the general line clear: during
this time of information warfare against the
West, journalists have a duty to defend Mother
Russia. Lenta realised that the conflict with
Ukraine was a minefield, Timchenko said. But
she nevertheless assigned reporter Ilya Azar to
report from both sides of the front line.
Last summer, the Russian parliament introduced a law obliging bloggers with over 3,000
readers to register, allowing the government to
review the authors personal information. That
has not been very effective, according to State
Duma Deputy Robert Schlegel, who supports
policies to restrain anti-Putin media outlets that
are biased but says there is no point in banning
them online. Medusa only grows new heads,
he says. Nevertheless, the Kremlin continues
to cleanse the destructive and anti-Russian
journalism, as think-tank analyst Yuri Krupnov
puts it. When thousands of doctors and nurses
demonstrated against Putins medical reforms
(which included cuts to hospital budgets), the
only news sources that published details of the
action were online.
Russian modern art expert and blogger Murat
Gelman decided to leave the country last spring.
His Cultural Alliance project, a network that
involved artists from various Russian cities in 11
regions, was deemed insufficiently patriotic. He
came under pressure to give it up. I could not
stop writing my blog, it is a part of me, Gelman
says. The editor-in-chief of Kommersant, Mikhail
Mikhailin, had to resign after the newspaper published an article about one of the most influential
figures in Putins circle, Igor Sechin.
Losing a job in such a public way can lead to better things, however. On the night that Prianikov
was fired from the Russkaya Planeta television
channel, five of his colleagues quit in solidarity.
Most of the staff attended a liquid wake for the
death of news in Russia. Within hours, Open
Russia, a news website launched by formerly
imprisoned tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who
has become a persistent irritant to Putin from his
base in Switzerland, posted on Twitter: Guys,
n
send over your CVs.

29

23/01/2015

DEATH WISH
How a young Harry Potter fan from
a British suburb became a martyr
for Allah in the Syrian desert
BY ALEX PERRY

@PerryAlexJ

NEWSWEEK

30

23/01/2015

S H U T T E RSTO C K

Not so long ago, in a land not far away,


the British man who would become an
icon to a generation of European Islamists fighting and dying in Syria and
Iraq sat down before a webcam in his
parents modest home on Englands
south coast and filmed a 90-minute
tutorial on how to tie a turban. The
image was badly lit but sharp enough
to reveal the figure of a young man with
extravagant black hair. To the back and
sides it fell in long, thick loops, tumbling
onto the upturned collar of a dockers
jacket where it executed a final exuberant ski-jump. The front was more delicate: single, thin strands spilling like
poured water down over his forehead,
past his black eyes, his noble nose and
full mouth, extending to his black beard.
Ifthekar Jaman looked like a musketeer. Like Che Guevara. And that was
no accident. Staring directly ahead,
Ifthekar examined his image, then ran
his fingers through one side of his hair
before turning to the other and smoothing it. Assalamu alaikum, he said.
Okay er I thought Id do a little
tutorial on, er, turbans cos a couple of
brothers I wonder if hes watchin er,

NEWSWEEK

31

23/01/2015

@ReflectionofIslam is a brother that ask


can I do a tutorial so I thought, yeah,
man, might as well Ifthekar checked
how he looked again, smoothed his hair
several more times and regarded his
smartphone expectantly. With no audience, there was no point to the tutorial,
and maybe not to anything, so Ifthekar
waited in silence, examining himself on
screen. Hairs really crazy, man, he
tutted, as though someone was watching which, after several minutes, they
were. Cool, man, preciate it, said Ifthekar, smiling at his phone. Then, picking up a white taqiyah cap, he cleared
his throat and began. Alright, he said.
OK. So. First of all, you need a hat . . .
Ifthekar Jaman was 22. His parents,
Enu Miah and Hena Choudhury, were
first-generation immigrants from Bangladesh. Arriving in 1981, the couple
settled in Hudson Road in Portsmouth,
a few streets from where Charles Dickens was born and a 20-minute stroll
back from the old navy docks where
Nelson set sail for Trafalgar. Like hundreds of Bangladeshi migrs, Enu and
Hena opened a takeaway selling kebabs,
biryani, tandoori and spicy chips with

free delivery on orders of more than 6.


The name they gave their business, St
Marys Kebab & Masalla, captured the
integration the multiculturalism that
was the shared hope of the British state
and the hundreds of thousands of new
citizens it assimilated from its former
colonies in the decades after empire.
Portsmouth gave Enu and Hena the
essential elements of a new, prosperous
life: a decent living, a home, free hospitals, and free schools for their four children. But Portsmouth was a hard place
to love. Hudson Road was one of hundreds of drab, treeless terraces ordering human life into neat, grey rows that
ringed the city and one of tens of thousands like it in regional towns across
Britain. Tamannah was their eldest and
their only girl, after whom came the
boys Tuhim, Ifthekar and baby Mustakim and, of all of them, it was Ifthekar who was the dreamer.
Like all English kids, as a boy he liked
to lose himself in the stories of Harry
Potter and The Lord of the Rings. That
was fine, as far as it went. But these were
English stories about English boys fighting English monsters and Hena, espe-

If these were terrorists,


then they were among
the least capable,
least experienced and
altogether least scary the
world had ever seen
NEWSWEEK

32

23/01/2015

cially, didnt understand them and as


such neither she nor Enu really trusted
them. So when Ifthekar was 11 they sent
him for a years Islamic instruction at a
private school in London.
It seemed to work. Ifthekar stuck with
his Bengali traditions. He helped out in
the restaurant kitchen, preparing kofta
and naan and puri, and rarely missed
prayers at Jami mosque. By the time
he left school and got a job answering
phones in a call centre for Rupert Murdochs Sky TV, he was a polite and sober
young man, popular with colleagues
and calm with customers, even when
one asked if his name was pronounced
Im a fucker. On Saturdays, he volunteered at a dawah stall in Commercial
Road, where he and other respectable
boys from the neighbourhood handed
out Qurans to passers-by.
But Ifthekar hadnt stopped dreaming. On the contrary, for him Islam had
become the foundation for a powerful new adventure fantasy. Online, he
began to sketch out a new narrative for
himself as a Muslim warrior-hero facing
off against the biggest monster of them
all: Satan. Ostensibly this was about religious piety, though often it seemed to
be about nothing more serious than Ifthekars love of cats, of which he posted
endless pictures. But some would also
have spotted signs of radicalism. I
really like Osama bin Laden, Ill be
honest, said Iftekhar, just like that, in
the middle of his turban tutorial. There
were also hints that Ifthekar was gay. His
blogs and tweets were rarely addressed
to girls, and Ifthekar unfollowed any
who posted uncovered pictures of themselves. But when the boys said he looked
great, Ifthekar would reply with rhapsodies about his deep feelings for the
brothers. I swear you know what? I
love you brothers, he would say. I just
want you to know. I love you brothers
so much. Its something Ive never seen
before. I wish us lot, us brothers, we
could, like, we could get some land and
stuff and do Khilafah, all of us. Honestly.
Alhamdulillah.

HOW
O THE STO
T RIES
OF JAMAN AND THE
P RIS AS
PA
A SA
S SSINS
COMPA
P RE
The Kouachis, Coulibaly and Ifthekar Jaman anticipated a glorious death
Ifthekar Jaman was a selfselected enthusiast with
no training who travelled to
Syria at his own instigation
and at his own expense.
There are some similarities
between his early life and
that of Cherif Kouachi, 32,
the French jihadi who, with
his 34-year-old brother
Said, shot dead 12 people
at the offices of the satirical
magazine Charlie Hebdo
in Paris. But in other ways
Kouachi conforms more
closely to the pattern of a
militant recruited and trained
by others.

GETTY

Like Jaman, the Kouachis


parents were immigrants.
Like him, too, the brothers
were members of a dawah
proselytising group and grew
up in a regional city, Rennes
in Brittany, western France.
But unlike Jaman, who
came from a stable family,

BLOOD BROTHERS:
French authorities stopped
their surveillance of the
Kouachi brothers in July,
deeming them low risk,
according to Le Parisienne
newspaper

the Kouachi brothers were


orphans, raised by foster
parents. Cherif was also not a
pious boy. He was an aspiring
rapper and, according to
his lawyer in 2008, more
a pot-smoker from the
projects than an Islamist.
He smokes, drinks, doesnt
sport a beard and has a
girlfriend before marriage,
said Vincent Ollivier. Cherif
himself told the court:
Before, I was a delinquent.
That early history and
Cherifs subsequent embrace
of doctrinaire violence fits a
well-established progression
in which a recruiter targets
troubled youngsters and
present righteous Islamist
militancy as their salvation.
Cherifs transition took
a decade. The 2008 trial
followed his arrest for
attempting to travel to Iraq in
2005, a journey he undertook
with the help of a group of
Paris jihadis that had already
sent several Frenchmen
to Iraq with whom he had
trained in Buttes Chaumont
since 2003. By then, Cherif
was also receiving religious
instruction from Farid

Benyettou, a young selfstyled preacher whose local


mosque had ejected him
for his radicalism. I think
in Mr Benyettou he found
someone who could tell
him what to do, like an older
brother, said Ollivier, the
lawyer.
At the trial, Cherif was found
guilty and sentenced to
three years for conspiracy
to commit acts of terrorism,
of which he served half. In
2010 he was arrested again,
accused of plotting to free
Smain Ait Ali Belkacem, an
ethnic Algerian who injured
30 people when he set off a
bomb in the Paris metro in
1995. Said was also detained
but after three months the
brothers were released
without prosecution for lack
of evidence. One man jailed
in that case was Amedy
Coulibaly, who was released
from prison in November
last year. The day after the
Charlie Hebdo attack, he
killed a policewoman in
Paris, then the next day four
more people from a group of
hostages he was holding at a
supermarket, demanding the

NEWSWEEK

33

23/01/2015

police end their pursuit of


the Kouachis.
When Cherif was first
arrested in 2005, he had
no military training. The
proficiency of the attack
on Charlie Hebdos offices
in which the brothers
executed 10 people in five
minutes after reading out
their names, then gunned
down two policemen in the
street outside, then eluded
a massive manhunt for two
and a half days suggest
that had changed and some
reports have claimed that
one or both of the brothers
travelled to Yemen in 2011
to train with al-Qaida in the
Arabic Peninsula.
But in at least one sense, the
Kouachis, Amedy Coulibaly
and Ifthekar Jaman were the
same. They all anticipated
a glorious death. Farid
told me it is written in the
scriptures that its good to
die as a martyr, Cherif said
in court in 2008. Thanks to
Farids advice, my doubts
evaporated. He provided
justification for my coming
death.

But mostly Ifthekar was just trying


on a new identity for size. That was the
simple and beautiful truth about surrendering to Islam, said Ifthekar. With
all Islams prescriptions on how to be
and what to eat and how to appear, how
you looked was who you were. And it
was like this, steeped in his love for the
brothers, and their love for him, and the
way they looked, which was the way he
looked, which was the same as Osama
bin Ladens look, with bits from The
Mummy andThe Prince of Persia thrown
in, that Ifthekar came to see himself as
a soldier of faith and death. He was a
mujahid, a jihadi even, if Allah called
him to it, a shahid, a martyr.
If he was an example to others, he
insisted it was not because he was anything special but because he was guided
through the darkness by the bright light
of jannah, a perfect, everlasting paradise far away from Hudson Road and
Portsmouth, far above Middle Earth

NEWSWEEK

and all the Muggles. Id love to meet


all you brothers in jannah, man, just
chilling, smoking some shisha, he said.
Hey, imagine the cats you can have in
jannah! Like massive tigers or lions!
just walking with you . . .
Ifthekar Jaman recorded his tutorial
on the night of 16 December 2012. A day
less than a year later, on 15 December
2013, in the snowy ruins of an eastern
Syrian town called Ghazwa al-Khair, Ifthekar was sent by one Islamist militia to
fight another and died right there, in the
first minutes of his first battle, his legs
blown off by a tank, his guts splashed
all around, his lustrous long black hair
curled back over his head.

ROLE MODEL:
Ifthekar Jaman, second from
left, pictured in Syria, became a
celebrity jihadi with a strong
following on social media

34

23/01/2015

THE ROAD TO JIHAD


In early 2011, a democratic wave that
became known as the Arab Spring swept
the Middle East. Though distinctly
anti-democratic, political Islam soon
learned to ride the wave of protest, challenging for power across the Arab world,
even holding it for a year in Egypt.
When the turmoil spread to Syria, the
protests quickly became a rebellion and
the rebels outgunned by a 40-year-old
authoritarian regime led by an Alawite
president, Bashar al-Assad were soon
describing themselves as jihadis.
Ifthekar often talked about migrating
to the Middle East. Privately, he already
considered himself a jihadi. In May 2013,
telling his parents he was going to learn
Arabic and maybe help Syrian refugees,
he booked a one-way ticket to Turkey
and caught a bus to Reyhanli on Turkeys
southern border with Syria. Ifthekar had
no idea how to cross the frontier. But,
as he told Shiraz Maher, a researcher at

the International Centre for the Study


of Radicalisation at Kings College London, on the bus to Reyhanli Ifthekar
spotted a man with a beard, offered him
use of his bottle of alcohol-free perfume
and introduced himself. The man surmised Ifthekar was an aspiring jihadi. A
few hours later the pair crossed the border and were driving in the mans car to
the northern Syrian city of Aleppo.
Writing in the New Statesman, Maher
said Ifthekars aim was to join a Syrian rebel group called Jabhat al-Nusra.
Among Syrias insurgents, Jabhat
al-Nusra distinguished itself as one
of the most effective and, with many
former al-Qaida in Iraq members in
its ranks, the official al-Qaida affiliate.
But Jabhat al-Nusra still used the old
ways vetting, personal introductions,
background checks and Ifthekar was
a self-selected jihadi. Presenting himself at a Jabhat al-Nusra compound in
Aleppo, Ifthekar was rejected. Devastated, he wandered into a coffee shop,
where he met an Algerian fighter who
was in another group, the Islamic State
of Iraq and Syria (Isis). Ifthekar hadnt
heard of Isis. But I checked them out,
he told Maher, and they were great.
Isis vetted Ifthekar for a fortnight, then
gave him basic weapons training and, as
a first job, guard duty.
Isiss relaxed attitude to recruitment
meant it was attracting thousands of foreign jihadis. Most were from the Middle
East or North Africa but Ifthekar also
met Britons, French, Germans, Scandinavians, Belgians and others from the
Americas and Asia. Its commanders
were often veterans of Saddam Husseins
army, with battlefield experience against
Iran and the US. Its structure included
departments overseeing finance, logistics, electricity generation, education
and health. It had a media team, which
produced videos of fighting and massacres it said had been carried out by
Assads forces. They also oversaw a
steady stream of online broadcasts from
foreign fighters encouraging others to
join them and denouncing the West on

The jihadis
motivation was
transparent.
They wanted
to be adored.
But what
reason would
the British
state have for
describing
these little
boys lost as
the devil?
NEWSWEEK

35

Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and ask.fm.


With his online following and his
good looks, Ifthekar quickly became
the teams star. For his part, Ifthekar
revelled in the attention. He assumed a
jihadi name, Abu Abdurrahman al-Britani, and began taking pictures of himself wherever he went, staring seriously
at the camera, long hair flying in the
wind. Several pictures went viral. One
was of Ifthekhar looking stern as he rode
across the desert in the back of a pick-up
in black turban, a gun on his back and
the black flags of Islam flying behind. Ifthekars tweets, meanwhile, were widely
celebrated. There are people who think
that the jihad in Syria is 24/7 fighting but
its much more relaxed than that, he
wrote on 21 September 2013. Theyre
calling it a five-star jihad. Another
famous line was about the hypocrisy of
Westerners who denied the heroism of
jihad. A man leaves his home to fight
for the oppressed people sounds heroic
until you add in Muslim Man, he wrote
on 30 November. Then hes a terrorist/
extremist. Ifthekar soon had more than
3,000 followers on Twitter.
THE BANGLADESH
BAD BOYS BRIGADE
Ifthekars fans wanted to be like him.
Once looking like him had been enough.
Now, in the summer of 2013, many
wanted to join him in Syria. Ifthekar
took a personal interest in two groups of
British men. There was a trio from Manchester with whom Ifthekar became
close online: Mohammad Azzam Javeed, Anil Khalil Raoufi, who would later
re-style himself as Abu Layth al-Korasani (meaning the Afghan, reflecting
his ethnic origin) and another man who
would take the jihadi name Abu Qaqaa.
There were also five friends from Portsmouth, many of them from his dawah
group: Muhammad Hamidur Rahman,
who worked at Primark; Mamunur
Roshid; Asad Uzzaman; Mehdi Hassan,
a privately educated body-building fan
who was just 19; and Mashudur Choudhury, 30, who was married with two chil-

23/01/2015

Far more dangerous than returnees were


prospective jihadis stopped from going abroad

dren. It was Choudhury who discussed


the logistics of traveling to Syria with Ifthekar and gave the group its nickname:
the Bangladeshi Bad Boys Brigade.
Getting to Syria wasnt complicated.
To seem like they were going for a holiday, both groups bought return tickets
from Britain to Turkey. The Manchester
group flew out on 5 October, the Portsmouth group followed three days later
and Ifthekar guided them together in
Reyhanli. Abu Qaqaa later described
his relief at meeting up with the Portsmouth group on Tumblr. These were
brothers who understood the deen,
brothers who understood the reason we
had been placed on this earth and who
knew what was incumbent upon them
from the commands of Allah.
The next day the eight men packed
and took taxis to the border. Abu Qaqaa
was spooked by the sight of a random
white man smoking and a holding
notebook outside their hotel. On seeing
their British passports, the Syrian border
guards demanded $6,000 to let them
pass. We returned back to the hotel
extremely disheartened, wrote Abu
Qaqaa. Tears were ready to flow from
our eyes. I was lying with my head on the
lap of my brother Abu Layth. Your average person would never understand this.
This is why the brotherhood in Islam is
so beautiful, something unique. Suddenly, Mashudur Choudhury received a
call from Ifthekar saying a van was coming shortly and the group must make
ready. The van took them to a Turkish
village and dropped them. A second
pick-up then took them a further five
minutes, at which point they ran into a
Turkish army patrol. The Turks ordered
the men out, searched their luggage,
stole a pair of gloves, then discovered
their British passports. At this, said Abu

CALL OF JIHAD:
While battling its way into Iraqi
cities, Isis and its supporters also
set out on an offensive social media
campaign to recruit young men
with inspirational posters, left

Qaqaa, they smiled, were inspired by our


presence and let us go on our way on foot.
The group walked across the border
and immediately ran into a rebel fighter
from another group who took them into
the nearest town in his van. As soon as
we jumped out, a pick-up swung round
the corner and out jumped Abu Abdurrahman al-Britani [Ifthekar]. He seemed
as eager to meet us as we were to meet
him. Instantaneously love was stored
between our hearts and we hugged each
other tightly with the biggest of smiles on
our faces ... so much the muscles in our
face began to hurt! After another two
hours drive, the men arrived at Ifthekars
Isis base. They were given a place to rest
then taken to see the bodies of six jihadis
killed that day. To my amazement it was
if they werent dead, wrote Abu Qaqaa.
Wallahi, it was as if they were sleeping
but more paler. This reminded me of the
ayat in the Quran: Do not think of those
who are killed in the way of Allah as dead.
Nay, they are alive!
The British jihadis began their training in Syria with religious study and gun
safety. But within days, they suffered their
first disappointment when Mashudur

READ THE BOOK


The full version of this
article is published as part
of the Newsweek Insights
series currently available at
newsweekinsights.com

NEWSWEEK

37

Choudhury announced he was quitting. Though his age gave Choudhury


some authority, among the brothers he
was both the biggest fantasist and, ultimately, the least convinced. As Kingston Crown Court would later hear,
after the collapse of a business in 2012,
Choudhury pretended to have stomach
cancer and persuaded his sister-in-law
to give him 25,000 to spend on treatment in Singapore. Choudhury did fly
to Singapore but spent the money on
hotels and prostitutes and a series of
other holidays. Going to Syria as a jihadi
was his masterplan to escape the past
and impress the world. The training,
he wrote on Twitter, sounded proper
hardcore, like running for 10km without stopping. But confronted by the
reality of war, Choudhury lost his nerve.
He travelled back to Turkey and caught
his return flight to Gatwick, where he
was arrested by counter-terrorism officers who had been following his travels
online. In May he was convicted of terrorism offences and in December sentenced to four years.
At least one of the British jihadis was
now exposed as a spectacular fantasist.
The others appeared undeterred, however, embracing their new identities
with new jihadi names and posting messages online saying war was awesome,
and just like the movies. Abu Layth
al-Korasani claimed a firefight he saw
was like a scene from star wars with all
the zing noises and red lights.
Of all the foreign jihadis, Ifthekar
remained the star. In November 2013, his
fame hit new heights when he appeared
on Newsnight, the BBCs flagship evening show, via camera phone. This time
Ifthekar seemed to be attempting a special forces look: black beanie, beard,
kohl eyes, long hair, black scarf around
his neck. He confirmed he was with Isis
and said he had travelled to the land of
Sham to establish the law of God, the
law of Allah. He added that Isiss insurgency was fully, fully justified, despite
its habit of executing and beheading
unarmed prisoners. Thats why I am so

23/01/2015

pleased to be here, he said. The way


they rule is with justice.
BRINGING TERROR BACK HOME
Ifthekar ended his interview by saying
Britain shouldnt worry about fighters
like him returning home. Back home,
the press, government and security
agencies were discussing plans to refuse
them re-entry. The assumption was that
in Syria they would have acquired dangerous new skills and a terrifying battle
ruthlessness.
In truth, Ifthekar posed little threat
to Britain, or anywhere else. Though
Ifthekar had been in Syria six months,
he had yet to fire a shot in anger. He
had no combat experience, no medical

the British fighters fame was making


other Isis soldiers jealous, maybe their
commanders wanted to test their zealousness, maybe Isiss battle plan simply
required a tactical distraction the British fighters started being deployed as
cannon fodder. First to be killed, on 15
December 2013, was Ifthekar. On 3 February 2014, Abu Layth al-Korasani died.
In July, Muhammad Hamidur Rahman,
the Primark worker from Portsmouth,
was killed and Mehdi Hassan was shot
in the stomach. Over the summer, Isis
captured enough territory that it re-designated itself Islamic State. But its
successes ended with a costly battle
against Kurdish forces aided by US warplanes for a city called Kobane on the

of Isiss foreign fighters. A more accurate picture would have centred on the
fighters own attrition. In August the US
government-funded Western Jihadism
Project said around a third of the 2,000
Westerners who travelled to Syria and
Iraq since 2011 had died. It predicted
that to rise to a half.
OF HEROES AND MONSTERS
The British jihadis cast themselves as
heroes facing a monster. Most of Britain
and the world cast them as the monsters. Neither story was true.
The jihadis motivation was transparent. They wanted to be adored. But what
reason would the British state have for
describing these little boys lost as the

This is going to sound weird.But I was actually really impressed,


mashaallah, by how handsome this guy was. I was jealous. I was
like, Man, this guys got a turban on, hes got really great eyes,
beard, everything about this guy, he looks like the prophet.
knowledge, no understanding of tactics
or soldiering and only the most rudimentary knowledge of how to use a gun.
His lack of scholarship meant he could
assume no religious role and his assiduous use of social media made him a
liability to operational security. For the
British fighters, jihad meant guarding,
cooking and a steady stream of selfies. It
was, in the end, an introspective adventure. Even if they werent doing much,
they were in Syria and they looked good.
They looked the part.
If these were terrorists, then, they
were among the least capable, least
experienced and altogether least scary
the world had ever seen. But even inept
soldiers have one military use. And soon
after the Newsnight broadcast maybe

NEWSWEEK

Turkish border. There, on 21 October


Mamunur Roshid and Asad Uzzaman
were injured when a building collapsed
on them during a US airstrike; Roshid
later died of his wounds. Three days
later Hassan was also killed in Kobane.
In 10 months, five of the nine British
fighters were dead. A sixth, Uzzaman,
was badly injured. A seventh, Choudhury was in jail. Of the last two, Manchester jihadis Mohammad Javeed and
Abu Qaqaa, who was shot in the right
foot and leg in the same attack in which
Ifthekar died, little had been heard for
months. The beheadings of two American journalists and two British aid
workers between August and October
by a masked jihadi with a British accent
focused attention on the barbarism

38

23/01/2015

devil? For it was largely a fiction, even the


part about the threat they posed on coming home. Of the 500 Britons who have
travelled to Syria and Iraq, around 260
have returned but only 40 are being prosecuted for terrorism offences. To repeat:
even the British counter-terrorism services consider a full 220 of them less dangerous than Mashudur Choudhury.
A senior counter-terrorism officer
told me that far more dangerous than
returnees were prospective jihadis
stopped from going abroad. He pointed
out that the two Canadian converts
arrested for attacks in October one
ran over two soldiers in Quebec, killing one; the other shot a guard at the
war memorial in Ottawa before he was
gunned down inside the Canadian par-

A R I S M ESS I N I S/A F P/G E T T Y

liament had both been prevented from


traveling to Syria. So why such concern
over the British jihadis? Cage, a Muslim prisoners group, believes the British
security services have an incentive not
to dampen public fears but raise them
to scare them into approving ever more
draconian security legislation and drum
up extra resources; British politicians
want to appear tough at a time when
hostility to immigration is electorally
popular; and British newspapers faithfully repeat these stories because they
are, after all, good stories, well sourced,
and those sell papers.
The one winner to emerge from this
confusion of story-telling is the man all
sides agree is a true monster: President
Bashar al-Assad. In his quest to stay in

power, Assad has torn his own country


apart, flattening cities, making more
than three million of his people refugees and using chemicals on those who
have remained. Assads justification has
always been that he is fighting al-Qaida.
It was once a fiction. But the foreign
jihadis not only gave him the enemy he
wanted but prompted the most gymnastic redrawing of international alliances.
Today Assads backers Iran, Hezbollah and Russia are in effective alliance

CITY OF ANGELS
Ferocious fighting for control
of Kobane has raged for three
months, above. The town has
become a symbol of resistance
against Isis

NEWSWEEK

39

with Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, the US,


Britain, Canada, Australia, all of Europe
and Israel. Fantasy has become fact.
And, for Europes thousands of aspiring
jihadis, this looking glass world holds an
open invitation for thousands to follow
Ifthekar and make their dream reality.
This is going to sound weird, said
a young Muslim man with a Scottish
accent in an audio tribute posted online
after Ifthekars death. But I was actually really impressed, mashaallah,
by how handsome this guy was. I was
jealous. I was like, Man, this guys got
a turban on, hes got really great eyes,
beard, everything about this guy, he
looks like the prophet. The Scot said
he wanted to copy Ifthekar. He made
n
it look cool, he said.

23/01/2015

By common consent one of the greatest


living satirical cartoonists in the
world, Ralph Steadman, at 78, is still
raging against the dying of the light

ROBERT CHALMERS
@Escartefigue777

WITH AN ORIGINAL
CARTOON FOR

S P L AS H N EWS/CO R B I S

Exclusive
interview by

We were sitting in a bar in Aspen, Colorado, almost 20 years ago, I remind


Ralph Steadman, when he first told me
that hed become a cartoonist because
he wanted to change the world. It wasnt
the first time hed made this declaration and it wouldnt be the last. But its
a mission statement that seems horribly apposite this afternoon, as we sit in
the living room of his house near Maidstone, Kent, watching live news coverage from the print warehouse where
Said and Cherif Kouachi, the killers of
the Charlie Hebdo artists, are making
their last stand.
It is interesting that you should mention that remark today, says Steadman,
because, looking at what has been hap-

Distastef ul, Unhygienic. Truculent.

NEWSWEEK

42

23/01/2015

Moody. Provocative towards bastards.


pening in Paris, I now feel that I have
succeeded. I did manage to change the
world, and it is a worse place than it was
when I started. Far worse an achievement I had always assumed would be
impossible.
With the exception of a brief radio
interview on the day of the shootings,
Steadman had declined to join the throng
of commentators jostling to share their
opinions on the tragedy. Just as I arrived,
he had spurned an invitation from a
radio station in Lincoln, Nebraska. As
soon as this thing happened, he says,
the phone started ringing. I dont know
why.
Probably, I tell him, because people perceive you as precisely the sort of
. . .
. . . bastard who might draw something that would severely displease
somebody because they could not see
the joke? the 78-year-old interrupts.
Its more likely that, given his reputation for images of grotesque irreverence,
typified by his illustrations for his friend
Hunter S Thompsons demented novella
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, people see
him as eminently qualified to assess the
splenetic defiance in the work of revered
cartoonists like Cabu and Wolinski, who
died in the assault. I was with Steadman when he last saw Thompson, a
few months before the writers suicide,
which occurred 10 years ago next month
and, as I tell the artist, I can remember
the intense emotional impact that particular death inflicted on him.
What was your first reaction when
you heard about the attack in Paris?
I thought, Oh, bloody hell, this cannot possibly be true. Disbelief. After
that, I think I was in shock. Steadman
explains that he heard the news from his
wife, Anna, when he came in from his
daily swim in the outdoor pool behind
his house. And then, as I say, the phone
calls started. And I just said to myself, I
am not going to respond to this now. Ive
got to let some time pass. I cant start
handing down judgment on this yet.
George W Bush, 2004

We put the television on, as I guess most


people did. We saw the hideous sight of
that wounded policeman on the floor.
Ahmed Merabet: a Muslim.
Yes. There are so many terrible and
perverted dimensions to this affair. Can
you imagine if the killers were to walk in
here right now? We say, Right. Explain
why you did this thing. And they say,
We felt that we were being ridiculed
in France. When you think about it in
rational terms, the whole thing is surreal.

STEADMAN, AS I REMIND HIM,


IS HARDLY UNFAMILIAR with the
power of gross and offensive imagery
created with subversive intent. But the
caricatures of Allah and Muhammad,
I suggest, take any moral debate into
rather more complex territory than do,
say, his merciless depictions of Richard
Nixon, George W Bush, or Tony Blair.
Obviously theres a long tradition of
work in which satire and vulgarity collide, I suggest. But is it always legitimate to cause offence? The Charlie
Hebdo artist Ive had most contact with
over the years, I explain, is the 86-yearold anarchist Maurice Sinet, known as
Sin, who was fired from the magazine

I did
manage
to change
the world,
and it is
a worse
place
than it
was when
I started.
Far worse.

after contributing, in 2008, a column


and drawings which had him accused
of inciting hatred against Jews; the kind
of editorial sanction the paper has not
always extended to artists satirising
Islam. You hardly need a degree in religious studies to know that depicting the
prophet Muhammad as a dog (as the
Swedish artist Lars Vilks did, in 2007)
will cause most Muslims to take offence
and, most would agree, with good reason. Does Steadman ever find himself
looking at such images and thinking:
whats the point?
There can come a stage where what
you are producing is just irresponsible graffiti. For which yes there is no
point. But working as . . . I dont often
find myself using the phrase a responsible satirist . . . you would seek to produce something that is very funny in
some way.
Which Charlie Hebdo could be.
Yes, Steadman replies. It is quite
reasonable for a reader to be offended.
Its slightly less reasonable to enter an
office armed with two Kalashnikovs and
a grenade. Most people would regard
that as something of an overreaction.

STEADMAN HAS AN APARTMENT


IN PARIS, not too far from that address.
He knew Georges Wolinski, Cabu, and
several others of the victims. It does
bring a peculiar focus to these events,
I suggest, when you realise that there is
a real, if very remote, possibility that you
could have been a guest in the building
that day.
And when you imagine that, Steadman says, in a remark that curiously
anticipates an interview which will later
be broadcast with Michele Catalano,
the owner of the print warehouse who
offered the Kouachi brothers coffee,
you find yourself wondering how you
would have reacted in those circumstances. What could you possibly say?
How can I help you? Can I get you a
drink? Milk and sugar? Or would you
prefer that I served as a target?
One of the stranger aspects of the

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44

23/01/2015

tragedy is the way in which solidarity


with Charlie Hebdo, a publication not
known for its conservatism or subtlety,
has been effusively expressed by the
kind of people with whom its staff would
have struggled to empathise, among
them David Cameron, headline writers
for The Sun, and Marine Le Pen, who was
once represented by the paper as a pile
of faeces.
Ralph Steadman, by contrast, says he
struggles to find the kind of language

you cant keep sitting there saying, Oh,


its terrible you know. I feel terrible. Do
you feel terrible? You must do, I know,
but I can tell that you dont feel anything
like as terrible as I do. As humans we
just cant do that.
Some years ago, when we were travelling in Utah, Steadman told me that he
feels interviews sometimes risk sounding like posthumous tributes. What
adjectives, I asked him, would he like to
see in his own obituary?

for a
le
b
a
n
o
s
a
re
e
it
u
q
is
It
d. Its
reader to be offendeable to
slightly less reasoned with
enter an office arm
two Kalashnikovs
and a grenade.
appropriate to describe the events in
Paris. In the case of the killers, he tells
me, its far easier to find adjectives that
are inappropriate. Like anodyne. And
atheistic. Apathetic. And Anglican.
Im still on the As. We could go through
the whole dictionary.
I should probably say that I have never
met a more compassionate person than
Steadman before mentioning that this
last remark, dark as it is, strikes us both
as extremely funny. Weve been talking
for an hour or so and this is not the first
time weve found ourselves laughing.
I dont know, I tell the artist, what that
says about us as people.
Tragedy provokes different offshoots
of thought, he replies. Even at a wake,
Richard Nixon, 2004

Distasteful, he said. Unhygienic.


Truculent. Moody. Provocative towards
bastards.
How about long-lived?
Oh, yes. Id like my obituary to say:
He was very long-lived. Endlessly. We
thought hed never go away. A pause.
And we were right: he didnt.
Since then, his painting has continued to resonate with a new, younger
audience. He recently completed the
artwork for a limited edition Blu-ray
release of Vince Gilligans Breaking Bad,
which goes on sale next month. His distinctive labels for Jim Carusos Flying
Dog Brewery have helped turned beers
such as Raging Bitch into globally recognised brands. And Steadmans longstanding friendship with Johnny Depp
was the focal point of Charlie and Lucy

NEWSWEEK

45

Pauls acclaimed 2012 film about Steadman, For No Good Reason. In many
ways, Depp told me, I look upon Ralph
as a kind of miracle. It is just a gas to go
down and see him in Kent; an incredible
privilege. He really is just so gentle and
so nice. And yet at the same time he is,
as you know, a psychopath.

RALPH IDRIS STEADMAN WAS


BORN IN WALLASEY and grew up
in Abergele, North Wales, from the age
of five. He dropped out of an engineering apprenticeship at aircraft manufacturer De Havilland after less than a
year, because I couldnt stand factory
life and went to work at Woolworths
supermarket in Colwyn Bay. He began
drawing seriously while completing his
military service.
I enrolled in a correspondence
course, he says, taught by Percy V
Bradshaw, called You Too Can Learn To
Draw And Earn s.
His principal mentor was a highly-gifted art teacher at East Ham Technical College, Leslie Richardson, who died
last month. People often struggle to reconcile the benevolence of Steadmans
character with the extreme viciousness of the work. If theres one crucial
impulse that drives him, I suggest, its
his ferocious detestation of the bully.
My parents were kind people, says
Steadman, with a strong sense of the
need to defend the defenceless. I was
brought up to be honest by my mother
and father. They were very concerned
about that. They believed that honesty
should be the foundation of anyones
life. That ideal was ingrained in me.
I cant imagine you having ever been
involved in a fight.
No. I cant do it, which naturally risks
putting you at the mercy of bullies. At
school I can remember flapping my arms
around, in some attempt at defence.
Of course part of that awkwardness
relates to physique. Had you been built
like I dont know, Johnny Weissmuller
[the best known Tarzan] you would
have had a very different experience of

23/01/2015

the world.
Undoubtedly. The thing is that, temperamentally, Im less like Tarzan, more
like Jane.
His international reputation was
established in 1971 by his illustrations
for Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, in
which Thompson took the Wodehousian
bachelors blithe and incautious attitude to alcohol and extended it to LSD

and munitions. Thompson brought the


hubris of a delinquent rock guitarist to
the normally sedate world of American
letters.
The two mens relationship was a curious one to say the least. The softly-spoken Englishman contributed generosity,
patience and good-humour. Thompson responded with theatrical abuse
that sometimes crossed over into real

w
o
n
k
I

k
n
i
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s
e
o
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e
r
i
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h
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.
s
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g
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.
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they es y visua l
o
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e
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n
do
e
s
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c
e
sat ire. B que
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r
e
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.
e
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a
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c
NEWSWEEK

46

23/01/2015

meanness. I saw him reduce Steadman


to tears on two occasions, and that was
just while Thompson was still alive. And
yet if, like Steadman, you appear to produce your best work when anguished,
Thompsons was a useful number to
have in your contacts list.

STEADMANS ARTISTIC RANGE IS


SUCH THAT IT WOULD BE UNFAIR
to describe him simply as an illustrator
or cartoonist. He is, as his friend Bruce
Robinson, director of Withnail and I and
The Rum Diary told me, A supremely
talented artist. I feel it is a privilege to
know him, because at his best he has
the power of fucking Goya. I mean that.
There is no one else in his league that I
know of.
Steadmans own satirical targets have
tended to be men abusing positions of
power, and consequently very different
people from the Charlie Hebdo assassins,
who came from the class commonly
described as the urban dispossessed,
and who would undoubtedly have experience of scorn and racism.
I am quite sure that people must have
treated them like shit, Steadman says.
But I also think they were bullies, in
not so different a way than certain politicians. Think of the mechanics of the
killing. They call out the names, perhaps
with those terrible pauses you get in
reality shows. And the contestant leaving us today is . . . I hope those deaths
were quick, but in the minds of the killers it was probably the slower the better.
I imagine they would have preferred to
use a single shotgun, which required
careful reloading each time, or a chainsaw. I think they were seeking to produce a very particular kind of shock.
In many ways, Steadman argues, I
think that terrorists and some political
leaders share a similar mindset, in that
they consider themselves to be believers.
They are devoted to a cause and theyll
go to any lengths to uphold their chosen
position. They are not completely stable,
as the word is usually understood.
So you can see a kind of similarity

between terrorist operations and the


rationale that led to the excursions to
Vietnam or Afghanistan?
I can, and a big part of it is that sense
of pride. Once they start the war, or the
mission, they feel they cant stop. That
would mean losing face. In the Rue
Nicolas Appert they tried to give the
whole thing a veneer of organisation
by calling out the names, the death list,
which must have been rehearsed. These
are people who obviously have no sense
of humour.
It would be interesting to know what
they would have laughed at.
The helpless, the broken and the
lame, Steadman replies. Bullies. That
is what they were.
Theres an odd confluence in all this:
what these murderers represented was
everything you have opposed all your
life, and their victims were working,
broadly speaking, in the same trade that
you practice.
And killers express their desires with
blood. Very often my ink has the appearance of splattered blood. Its a recurrent
theme; I dont know why.
Steadmans thoughts turn to the probable backlash against the wider Islamic
community in France, once the prevailing spirit of national unity begins to dissolve, and the extreme right identifies
the resulting tension as a commodity.
Not that these two brothers were
religious, Steadman says. Who could
argue that they were devout? My own
view of all religion is that, if it brings
people comfort, why deprive them of it?
But I do think that, with certain people,
belief can pervert morality.
You were close to Kurt Vonnegut
didnt he once say that the only proof he
required for the existence of God was
music?
He also said that life is no way to
treat an animal. And I think I know what
Kurt Vonnegut would have said about
all this, and not in an uncaring way: So
it goes. Meaning that, very sadly, these
things happen. My father was in the first
Tony Blair, 2001

war and it was a hideous bloody affair.


But of course those in that war, broadly
speaking, never wanted to shoot. They
were ordered. By some poncey bloody
general, or Duke.
Would it be absurd to ask whether any
good might come out of the events of 7
January?
The only thing that you could possibly say that has not been entirely negative in this affair is that it hasnt half
provoked a lot of discussion. Moral turpitude is high on the agenda. People are
questioning their own stance on a whole
range of things in a way that they might
not have done previously.
I didnt come here meaning to quote
my own work, I tell Steadman, but
there is a psychopathic character in one
of my books who is described as dangerous because he believed that the
pen was mightier than the sword, but
didnt always have a pen to hand. People all over the world, on the streets and
on social media, are finding all kinds of
visual ways to rework that old proverb.
These shootings could place cartoonists
at the heart of contemporary conflict
rather in the way that poetry became the

NEWSWEEK

47

most important form of artistic expression in the First World War.


Or in the Spanish Civil War. I think
thats very possible. Its also possible
that, in some peoples minds, becoming
a cartoonist might seem like a heroic
thing to do. Either heroic or suicidal.
Youll know that Peter Cook once
joked about the way that all of those
satirical night clubs in 1930s Berlin did
so much to prevent the rise of Adolf Hitler. Can all of these new cartoons have
any effect?
I think I know that satire does
frighten fascists. Fascists dont like satire. They dont like it at all. And they
especially dont enjoy visual satire.
Because of its unique power to communicate. As Wittgenstein [Ludwig]
asserted, the only thing of value is the
thing you cannot say. Sometimes you
cant communicate the idea or the
emotion, but a drawing can. You draw
something, and people say: Oh, I see
what youre getting at now. And that
thought, Steadman says, brings us back
to what happened in that room at Charlie Hebdo. Some things, he adds, there
n
are no words for.

23/01/2015

NEW WORLD

SPECIAL REPORT
M E N T A L H E A LT H

SHES STUPID, SHES UGLY, I


WISH SHE WOULD KILL HERSELF

Around 40% of people hear voices at


some point in life. But the solution
can be surprising to talk back

NEWSWEEK

48

sinister conclusions. Id wander from aisle to


aisle feeling quite anxious, she says. I worried
they might have poisoned the food. Id come
back with orange juice, milk, bread and cheese,
because its all I could work out was safe.
As with so many others struggling to make
sense of their voices, Waddingham turned to
alcohol to cope, and avoided friends because
she feared the three would secretly film them
as well. Months later she dropped out of university and moved into a bedsit, too afraid to eat or
bathe. A doctor eventually admitted her to a psychiatric hospital, where staff diagnosed her with
schizophrenia and put her on a cocktail of drugs
that expanded to include Olanzapine, Sulpiride,
Risperidone and Venlafaxine, among others. The
voices faded, but the side effects of the medication made life intolerable. Waddingham gained
more than 30kg, developed diabetes and lactated. Her eyes would roll involuntarily, and she
struggled with akathisia, an overwhelming sense

23/01/2015

ALMOST FRIENDS:
Rachel Waddingham,
right, has learned to
stay in dialogue with
the voices in her head
instead of silencing
them with medication

BY WILLIAM
LEE ADAMS
@willyleeadams

STRATOS K A L A FAT I S FO R N EWSW E E K

ONE NIGHT, DURING her first year at the University of Sheffield, Rachel Waddingham struggled
to fall asleep at a friends house. She could hear
three middle-aged men whose voices she didnt
know talking about her in another room. They
were saying, Shes stupid, shes ugly, I wish she
would kill herself, she says. I was angry and
went downstairs to challenge them, but no one
was there. They kept laughing and saying, Shell
never find us.
The voices became a recurring presence, providing an aggressive, unsettling commentary
on her life. Waddingham came to believe they
were disenfranchised workers, forced to film her
around the clock, and she interpreted her world
through that scenario.
When her neck ached, she assumed a tracking
device had been planted under her skin. At the
supermarket, the voices would ask each other
questions for instance, Does she know what
shes buying? leading Waddingham to reach

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49

23/01/2015

W O R L D

SPECIAL REPORT
M E N T A L H E A LT H

of restlessness that caused her to shuffle from


foot to foot. Suicide attempts followed, and she
felt like a walking zombie.
Up until I got into psychiatry, I didnt try to kill
myself, says Waddingham, who is now 36 years
old and runs support groups for voice-hearers. I
was terrified and I was overwhelmed, but I was
still fighting to stay alive. I gave up when I handed
responsibility to the doctors. They were going to
fix me, give me the right meds, but it didnt work
out quite as simple as that.
LIFE WITH THE NOT-YETS
In October, Waddingham and more than 200
other voice-hearers from around the world gathered in Thessaloniki, Greece for the sixth annual
World Hearing Voices Congress, organised by
Intervoice, the international network of people
who hear voices and their supporters. Part of the
Hearing Voices Movement, these voice-hearers
reject the traditional idea that voices are necessarily a symptom of mental illness. They recast
voices as meaningful, albeit unusual, experiences, and believe potential problems lie not in
the voices themselves, but in a persons relationship with them.
By acknowledging their voices and staying in
dialogue with them, members can wrest back
control of their lives and even start to appreciate the messages they carry. They seek to do this
without an over-reliance on medication, which
can leave people numb to their emotions. As
Dutch voice-hearer Jim van der Wal says: You
cant heal if you cant feel.
The road to recovery often begins in small support groups run by the Hearing Voices Network
(HVN). The first group formed in the Netherlands
in 1987, and, since then, groups have cropped up
in 30 countries, including Bosnia, Canada, Japan,
Tanzania and the US. Members share their stories and exchange coping mechanisms, which
can include setting appointments to talk with the

NEWSWEEK

50

explanations of voices that allow them to deal


with them better, that is a first step toward learning to live with them.
A central premise of HVN is that voices frequently emerge following extreme stress or
trauma. Research bares that out: more than 70%
of voice-hearers are thought to have experienced
some form of trauma in their lifetime, which
could take the form of extreme abuse or bullying. The characteristics of voices vary widely
from person to person, but the voices sometimes
mimic the sound and language of past abusers.
In other instances, they may personify characteristics of the victim at the time of their abuse or
bear no similarities to anyone at all. They can be
demonic and frightening, angelic and friendly,
and can take every form in between.
Waddingham, for instance, now hears the
voices of 13 people, some of whom reflect her
past experiences. Among them are Blue, a frightened but cheeky three-year-old; Elfie, an angry

23/01/2015

STRATOS K A L A FAT I S FO R N EWSW E E K

N E W

voices, so the voice-hearer can function without


distraction the rest of the day. Above all, these
groups give voice-hearers a sense of community
and togetherness where they can be seen as people rather than patients.I feel as I do every year
that Ive come home to my people and my tribe,
an Australian woman said at the opening event
in a lecture hall inside the Aristotle University of
Thessaloniki. I feel like I belong somewhere. I
thank you for giving me my place.
Research suggests that up to one in 25 people
hears voices and that up to 40% of the population
will hear voices at some point in their lives. Many
will never experience any form of distress, something that is mediated by ones perception of the
phenomenon. If people believe their voices are
omnipotent and can harm and control them,
then they are less likely to cope and more likely
to end up as a psychiatric patient, says Eugenie
Georgaca, a senior lecturer at the university, and
the organiser of the conference. If they have

teenager; The Scream, a female voice that is


filled with pain and suffering; and The Not-Yets,
an artificial grouping of voices that Waddingham
is not yet ready to engage with fully. They say
very nasty things about me abusive, sexual, violent things, which echo what was said around me
when I was little, she says. I try to think of them
as frightened children that dont yet know that
its not OK to say those things. I think theyre just
caught up as if thats still happening. Im trying
to be quite compassionate towards them. When
the younger voices cant fall asleep she reads
them bedtime stories from her iPad. When voices
suggest shes going to be harmed by a stranger,
she thanks them for their concern but lets them
know she is being vigilant about her safety.
PHANTOM CHOIRS
Traditional psychiatry discourages patients from
engaging with voices, and prefers to silence them
through medication. But HVN members say that

SMALL TALK:
From left to right:
Marina, who has
learned to trick
her voices into
submission; Jim
van der Wal, who
dislikes the numbing
emotional effect
of medication;
Sandra Escher and
Marius Romme, who
encourage sufferers to
embrace their voices;
and Dimitris, who has
made friends with his
voices

listening to voices is vital to calming them down.


Eleanor Longden, a voice-hearer and psychologist at the University of Liverpool, uses the analogy of sitting in a room with a mix of people who
are angry, intimidating and out of control. You
have two options, she says. The first it to sit
down with them and set useful boundaries, and
to try and understand why they are so upset. The
second is to lock them in another room hoping
they will calm down. Most of the time they will
start banging on the door and shouting louder.
Behind the door they are more intimidating
because you dont know what they are thinking.
After leaving a psychiatric hospital with a
diagnosis of schizophrenia at 18, Longden was
assigned to work with a psychiatrist who encouraged her to overcome her fear of her voices. Her
mother helped her test the boundaries of what
these voices could actually do. They said they
could forecast the future and would predict the
colour of the next car to pass the house, she

NEWSWEEK

recalls. Her mother asked for their predictions


and pointed out they were not more accurate
than chance. Another time, a voice threatened
to kill her family if Longden didnt cut off her
toe, and Longden could hear a phantom choir
laughing along with it. She refused to obey. Her
family didnt die but the choir did go silent.
She tried to deliver her messages with respect:
the less belligerent she was to the voices, the
less belligerent they became to her. I started to
see my experiences as a sane reaction to insane
circumstances, she says. Voices that called her
weak and pathetic were actually encouraging
her to be strong and assertive. I told the voice,
I dont want to be victimised again either, but
when you shout at me and call me an embarrassment it has the opposite effect and makes me
more timid and less happy, she says. She later
bought a book on assertiveness. I would say,
You can help me practice, and the voice was like,
Alright. Some voice-hearers speak out loud to
their voices, while others use internal dialogue.
Regardless of the form of communication, voices
can manifest at any time of day, which means
voice-hearers must think of practical solutions
to deal with them without alarming colleagues
and passers-by. Some choose to wear Bluetooth
headsets so they can speak aloud to the voices in
public without causing alarm, while others talk
into their mobile phones.
Marina, a voice-hearer in Athens, works as a
web designer and at some points has heard up to
60 voices. They sometimes make her laugh in her
open-plan office (shell simply say she is reading
something funny online), and other times theyll
tell her that her brother has been in a severe accident. Ill say I am going to the bank and I just go
somewhere quiet to deal with them.
Her voices are not always hurtful. They sometimes encourage her to add new ingredients
to her recipes and ask her questions about new
acquaintances, which she uses to determine
whether they can be trusted. But sometimes
she doesnt want to be bothered. At night, when
she feels the voices coming, she can envision
a hand and they will stop talking before they
start. Sometimes when the voices call on her she
says, Im not Marina. Im a rabbit. Let me eat
my carrot. When they become threatening and
overbearing, Marina can change the topic by distracting them with rhymes. There was a period
when they would not allow me to eat, she says.
They were telling me there were cockroaches
in my food. In Greek, the word cockroaches
rhymes with the word eyelashes, so Marina
would bring up the latter, leading to a conversation about cosmetics.

51

23/01/2015

W O R L D

SPECIAL REPORT
M E N T A L H E A LT H

Dimitris, who runs a self-help group in Thessaloniki, says that his voices emerged not from
any form of trauma, but after he went to a hypnotist to explore his interest in telepathy and other
ways of communicating with the divine. I heard
one voice calling me God, he says. That had to
do with my fantasies that I am actually God. Its
the thing that gets me high. Over many years he
has learned to avoid certain triggers, including a
particular woman he is attracted to. When he saw
her, voices would gossip about his attraction and
put him down. If I drink alcohol or coffee, smoke
or masturbate the voices are more intense, he
says. He now avoids these activities as well. He
has also stopped expanding the scenario of his
fantasies that he is God. Its easy for the dream
to turn into a nightmare, he says.
THE ORIGINS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
Standing by the pool at the Hotel Philippion,
the venue for this years symposium, a photographer asks Marius Romme to lean in closer to
his wife Sandra Escher. Its been a while since
we did this, she jokes. We used to do it all the
time, Romme says, before the two lock lips.
Theyve spent a lifetime listening to the trauma
suffered by voice-hearers. Yet Romme, now 80,
and Escher, 69, remain optimistic in their beliefs,
which gave rise to the hearing-voices movement
three decades ago. Voices have significance in
the lives of voice-hearers and can be used to their
benefit, Romme says. Its not a handicap, its
an extra capacity.
Romme hasnt always thought like that. Starting in 1974 he ran the social psychiatry department at the Medical Faculty of the University of
Maastricht. All my career, I worked with people
who hear voices, and I regularly prescribed medicine, he says. As all psychiatrists, I thought the
voices were meaningless. He took a diagnostic approach, asking patients only if they heard
voices, not what the voices said, and dismissed

NEWSWEEK

52

23/01/2015

ALONE TOGETHER:
Voice-hearers gather
in Thessaloniki,
Greece for the sixth
annual World Hearing
Voices Congress,
where sufferers
reject the traditional
idea that voices
are necessarily a
symptom of mental
illness

STRATOS K A L A FAT I S FO R N EWSW E E K

N E W

them as symptoms of mental illness. His thinking began to change when a patient named Patsy
challenged his approach. Patsy started hearing
voices as an eight-year-old after being severely
burned. By the time she came to see Romme, she
was 30 years old and her voices had forbidden
her from seeing friends, leaving her isolated and
severely depressed. Tranquilisers relieved some
of her anxiety, but did not silence the voices.
They did, however, leave her less alert and
unable to feel her emotions.
She was exceptional because she did not
agree with me, Romme says. She was more
critical of my approach, saying, You dont help
me with my problems. The voices are more powerful than I am. She questioned why he considered her mentally ill and yet saw nothing strange
in religion. You believe in a God we never see
or hear, she told him, so why shouldnt you
believe in the voices I really do hear?
Eventually she gave Romme a copy of The
Origins of Consciousness and the Breakdown of
the Bicameral Mind by the Princeton University
psychologist Julian Jaynes. In it, Jaynes argued
that hearing voices had been common until the
development of written language. He believed
the voices heard by the heroes of Homers Iliad
were not literary metaphors but real experiences.
They were voices whose speech and direction could be as distinctly heard by the Iliadic
heroes as voices are heard by certain epileptic
and schizophrenic patients, he wrote, or just as
Joan of Arc heard her voices.
Attributing meaning to the voices gave Patsy
comfort, and Romme encouraged her to speak
with other voice-hearers. They werent always
easy to find, so Romme enlisted the help of Escher,
then a science journalist whom he had met years
earlier. A Dutch broadcaster ran an interview
with Romme in which he asked voice-hearers to
send him postcards with their respective stories.
Around 700 postcards arrived, including more
than 500 from people who experienced auditory
hallucinations and got on with life just fine. We
thought that all people who heard voices would
become psychiatric patients, Escher says. That
simply wasnt true.
They began to think of voices as a common
human experience, and one that needed to be
brought into the open. They invited all the postcard-senders to attend the first hearing-voices
conference in the Netherlands, to share stories and coping mechanisms. The research of
Romme and Escher, who eventually married,
struck a chord with the public and stoked interest
from the media though not always for the reasons they had hoped. Sometimes the journalists

were terrible, Escher remembers. They would


phone and ask, Do you have seven schizos and
seven dissociatives? I started asking for the
questions in advance. Some saw the interviews
like looking at monkeys on show.

Famous voices through history


Sigmund Freud
The founding father of psychoanalysis wrote of an unmistakable
and beloved voice calling his name
while he worked abroad. He tried
to rationalise these voices, noting
the times and places where the
hallucinations occurred, but upon
returning home he realised that
nothing had actually happened.
Winston Churchill
Churchill admitted that during
bouts of depression he was prone to
hearing voices commanding him to
sit here or sit there.
Mahatma Gandhi
Gandhi spoke of a voice within,
which he believed was the still small
voice [of God] manifesting itself in
his everyday life. He admitted that he
could not prove that such a voice was
not just an echo of [his] own heated

imagination however, he did place


considerable trust in this inner moral
guide.
Charles Dickens
Dickens wrote that he actually heard
the voices of, and had conversations
with, the characters in his novels. Mrs
Gamp, the old nurse from his novel
The Life and Adventures of Martin
Chuzzlewit, would, supposedly,
tell him such raunchy tales during
church, that he was left in fits of
laughter.
John Nash
The mathematician and subject of
the film A Beautiful Mind described
how he, in the early 1960s, began to
hear voices. While some embrace
such voices, Nash saw them as
symptomatic of his mental illness,
and soon afterwards started trying
consciously to reject them.

NEWSWEEK

A COLLECTIVE VOICE
Romme and Escher do not accept that voices
are a symptom of schizophrenia, but rather that
they are a response to troubling life experiences.
That idea and their broader approach to voices
remains far from mainstream, however.
Russell Margolis, director of the Schizophrenia Programme and a professor of neurology at
Johns Hopkins University, accepts that voices
can manifest from trauma. But he is quick to
point out that they can also be part of broader
syndromes such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which demand specific treatments.
One of my great concerns about an organisation focused on a symptom is that people can get
so wrapped up in their symptom that they dont
move forward, he says. Im sure the approach
can be helpful for some, but I can see some
instances where it could be destructive.
Yet for many, the hearing-voices approach
remains an important counterpoint to the dominant psychiatric model. Waddinghams voices
forced her to confront her past and have helped
her push past her pain.
She now takes care of the voices that once tormented her. I can feel a lot of what that voice is
feeling, she says. So I might be pretty chilled
out and if I get this sudden jolt of anxiety it might
be one of my voices reacting to something. If I
can chill them out, and they can feel safe, then
I feel safe. Years ago I would have interpreted
these feelings as evidence of me being watched.
Now I have a way of making sense of them that
gives me some autonomy and control.
Waddingham is now helping others do the
same. She runs the Voice Collective, a London-wide project supporting children, young
voice-hearers, and their parents. And, in 2010,
she began establishing hearing-voices groups
inside English prisons, where according to the
UK Ministry of Justice, 25% of women and 15%
of men demonstrate psychotic symptoms, but
are left to cope on their own. The challenges they
face alone in a prison cell make Waddingham
even more thankful for how far she has come.
I feel so privileged, Waddingham says. Ive
travelled. Im married. Ive got cats. And Ive
started my own business. People always say I
work too much, and I say, I spent a good decade
drugged up with no life. Im recapturing some of
what I lost.

53

23/01/2015

DOWNTIME

ISRAELS DRACONIAN DIVORCE


LAWS IN THE SPOTLIGHT

Gett, nominated for a 2015 Golden


Globe, exposes ancient marital rules
on chained women that still exist

NEWSWEEK

54

and was instead released in November on DVD.


Though it failed to earn an Academy Award nomination, Gett is in the running for Best Foreign
Language Film at this years Golden Globes.
Its star, Ronit Elkabetz, has been described
as the face of Israeli cinema by the UKs Jewish Chronicle. She also co-wrote and co-directed
this film with her younger brother Shlomi, as well
as two earlier features in a trilogy of thematically-related tales, To Take a Wife (2005) and 7
Days (2008). In the first film, Ronit explains,
the issue is Vivianes freedom in the face of her
family, in the second film it is her freedom in the
face of society, and in the third it is her freedom
before the law. In each film, the French-Armenian actor Simon Abkarian plays the role of her
husband, Elisha.

23/01/2015

COURTROOM DRAMA:
Gett, a story about
male domination
in Israeli culture,
explores the struggle
of a Jewish woman
against her husband
and the countrys
rabbinical courts

BY
CHRISTOPHER
SILVESTER

AMIT BERLOWITZ

RARELY DOES a film integrate a social and political message within a forceful drama as masterfully as Gett: The Trial of Viviane Amsalem. The
impossibility, for a woman, of obtaining a divorce
without her husbands consent in todays Israel is
portrayed with chilling power in a story that follows a case that lasts for five years. It will shock
many people to learn that Israel, despite being a
secular state, has no civil procedure for marriage
and divorce, except when the two people differ in
their religious affiliations.
Released in Israel to widespread acclaim and
box-office success in September, the film has
since been released theatrically in France and
Italy. In Britain, despite well-received screenings
at the London Film Festival and the UK Jewish
Film Festival, it missed a distribution window

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55

23/01/2015

D O W N T I M E

Under halacha (Jewish law), a get (also


spelled gett) is the name for the bill of divorcement that a husband may give to his wife. Any
woman who decides to end her marriage and
yet has not received a get from her husband is
deemed to be an agunah a chained woman.
Even in those countries in which she might obtain
a civil divorce, she remains an agunah until she is
granted a get.
The consequences are immense. If she remarries under a civil procedure she remains an agunah, and any subsequent children she might have
are deemed to be mamzerim (illegitimate).
Once a mamzerim, always a mamzerim. If a
person labelled as such, male or female, remains

a divorce in the civil courts wanted to remarry


within the orthodox community, so she needed a
get, she explains. The rabbinical court told her,
we might consider your case if you help the community. They blackmailed her for 100,000.
Ronit Elkabetz gives her character a luminous
presence on-screen, but nonetheless Viviane
seems to carry her troubles in her facial features.
Off-screen, those same features, still without any
make-up, seem unrecognisable in their delicacy.
This was a story of our mother, Elkabetz
explains. In my childhood I always felt my
mothers very strong will for something better in
her life. As a girl this was very important to me.
When I got bigger, without knowing it, I felt there
was a very heavy weight on her shoulders.
It was very simply that my mother wanted a
better life with her husband, she wanted to be his
companion in public. It was a simple demand,
but it was very hard for him, even though the
request was very light.
My father gave my mother freedom to do
whatever she wanted she had more freedom
than most women had and on top of that he was
religious. But my mother didnt want to do things
on her own, she wanted to share them with
him. In spite of being a joyful and independent
woman, she would wake up every
morning with a heavy burden.
But she never gave up on herself.
Thirty years later I woke up and told
the story of this woman who seeks
her liberty and wants to leave her
husband but he wont let her go.
Apart from one shot, the entire film takes place
within the claustral atmosphere of a rabbinical
court building, with its austere, drab decor.
Still, there is not one of the films 115 minutes
in which the screen is not fraught with tension,
sometimes inviting the audiences disbelief at
the absurdity of Vivianes predicament. Nor is
the mood always downbeat: there are moments
of absurdist comedy, and at one point even Viviane is impelled to laugh.
Viviane radiates a dignified stillness, remaining silent for much of the films duration, dressing in a sombre and modest way and appearing
to show respect for the presiding rabbis. In two
scenes, though, she unleashes her emotions:
first in a display of furious scorn and second in a
moment of imploring desperation.
Gett belongs to the well-established cinematic
genre of courtroom drama, and therefore its theatricality seems natural, yet resolution comes in
a moment of tenderness between the adversaries
in a waiting room.
Ronit Elkabetz was born in 1964 in Beersheba,

FEMALE LEAD:
Ronit Elkabetz, who
also co-directed
the film, as Viviane
Amsallem, an Israeli
woman who spends
five years trying to
obtain a divorce.
Below: a panel
of rabbis sits in
judgement in a still
from the film

an Orthodox Jew, they may only marry converts


or other illegitimates. The stain is passed down
from one generation to the next in perpetuity.
It is not only female spouses who may suffer
from this process. If a woman refuses to accept
a get from her husband, for whatever reason, he
has to invoke the Heter Meher Rabbonim, or the
permission of 100 rabbis. No woman, though,
has access even to that remedy if her husband
chooses to withhold a get.
It is the same for all Israeli Jews the Ashkenhazi and Sephardi, the secular and the religious.
In Israel you have to encounter the rabbinical
authorities at three stages: birth, marriage and
death, Ronit says. A lot of people who are secular do not want to marry in front of rabbinical
authorities. Some Israelis go to Cyprus to get
married. But in Israel you have to go in front of
the rabbinical courts to obtain a get.
According to the films Paris-based producer,
Sandrine Brauer, this is not a phenomenon that is
confined to Israel. Last May in France there was
an incident in which a woman who had obtained

NEWSWEEK

56

23/01/2015

AMIT BERLOWITZ

A lot of people who are secular


do not want to marry in front of
rabbinical authorities.

the capital of Israels Negev desert, to working-class Moroccan parents from Essaouira. Her
father was a postal worker and her mother a hairdresser. Later, the family moved to Kiryat Yam, a
suburb of Haifa.
As an adult, she was contemplating a career
as a fashion designer when she began modelling and appearing in commercials. I always
loved being on set, but I didnt think I would
be an actress. I didnt learn acting. It all started
when I was 24. Someone saw me in a commercial. When she auditioned for her first film, The
Appointed (1990), she thought she was just auditioning for another commercial, not for a leading

NEWSWEEK

role in a film. My entire life changed completely


after that, she says. In 1997 she moved to study
with Ariane Mnouchkine of Le Thtre du Soleil,
and made her first French film, Made in France,
soon afterwards.
Yet acting was not enough. She yearned to
write and direct, to tell a story. I like the process
of creating a character, she says. Until the age
of 20 or 21, I would not talk very much, but I was
always making up stories and I was convinced
they would become films.
But how did she make the transition from
being an actress to co-writing and co-directing
with her brother? Shlomi and I were so close
that when I was 18 and he was 10 I already felt
that one day we would be working together. In
2000 he was living in New York and I was living
in Paris. I called him and said, Im ready to do
something with you. The day after that, I took
the plane. Another day later I told him, I have
three stories about a woman our mother and
I want to do them with you.
In Late Marriage (2001), another Israeli film in
which she starred, Ronit played not an agunah
but a divorced woman who is rejected by the Russian immigrant family of the man who loves her.
Israeli society is very ambivalent about things,
she says. A lot of things change but there is a lot
of conservatism. In the same street in Tel Aviv
girls can walk half-naked but if they want to get
a divorce they have to seek this remedy through
the religious courts.
Although Ronit expected Gett to have an
impact in Israel, the scale of it took her by surprise. We thought we would let the film have its
life and then deal with the politics later, but it was
taken up so quickly, she says. All the female
ministers in the government, including Tipi
Livni, the minister of justice, Facebooked about
the film. Some think we have won already, with
everyone speaking about change. If so, it will be
the first time ever that a film has changed something in Israel.
In some liberal Jewish communities in America and Europe, when a marriage contract is
issued there is a clause that says that if a civil
court grants the woman a divorce, her husband
will not refuse her a get. Perhaps a similar solution could be found in Israel and for Orthodox
Jews around the world.
Ronit has been married to an architect for four
years and together they have twin sons. She confesses that she is very happily married, but she
knows that her freedom is circumscribed by a
legal disadvantage: Any Jewish Israeli woman
who says yes to marriage knows that she is
n
becoming a possible agunah.

57

23/01/2015

MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL: THE


HARDEST THING WAS THE KIDS

Last week she won a Golden Globe


for The Honorable Woman. Here she
recalls the stresses behind the triumph

MAGGIE GYLLENHAAL isnt much of a TV person. Not much lately, at least, she confesses. She
names just one series, Olive Kitteridge, that she
watched recently on HBO.
But she made an exception for The Honorable
Woman, a taut, eight-part spy thriller in which
she plays Nessa Stein, an ambitious business
leader caught at the moral and political edges of
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Which is lucky
her performance won her a Golden Globe
last week. Written and directed by the Welsh
actor-turned-director Hugo Blick, the series,
which lands on American Netflix this month,
finds Stein navigating business, bombings, rape
and a very troubling kidnapping against a backdrop of international intrigue. Gyllenhaal takes
on an upper-crust English accent for the part, as
her character vacillates between political poise
and private anguish.
Not a typical role, maybe, for the actress
who first found fame as the older sister (alongside real-life brother Jake Gyllenhaal) in the
polarising weirdo-sci-fi classic Donnie Darko
(2001) and then as the self-mutilating secretary-turned-BDSM-partner in Secretary (2002).
But, at this point, more than a decade removed
from those roles, is there such a thing as a typ-

NEWSWEEK

58

BY
ZACH SCHONFELD
@zzzzaaaacccchhh

23/01/2015

STA RT RA KS P H OTO/ R E X , K EV I N W I N T E R /G E T T Y

D O W N T I M E

ical role for her? Shes appeared in mainstream


blockbusters ranging from World Trade Center to
The Dark Knight, and recently in starring roles in
independent dramas like Frank and Wont Back
Down. And yet ....
Id never done anything like this before,
eight hours of work playing the same character,
Gyllenhaal says of her first serialised television
role. The episodes were filmed all at once and in
order, a stark break from the rhythm of a movie.
You might have four really emotional scenes in
one episode and then have another episode that
feels very protected, and maybe if youre making
a movie youd say, Oh, I just wept, Im not going
to weep in the next scene. But when youre doing
this it feels much more human, where you could
feel emotional where you never expected to. You
could feel nothing where you thought you would
feel emotional. I really liked that.
It was the fastest shes ever worked, too, an
exhilarating and yet frightening speed: there was
little time for extra takes and no space for overthinking. That it all worked she attributes in large
part to director Blick, though their relationship
was at first frosty. I think I was scared, she says.
Im not easily trusting. It takes a little while with
me .... Thats always a kind of leap of faith with
a director you havent worked with before. Now
I would do anything with him. Because I trust
him.
We are seated at a corner table in the restaurant of the Greenwich Hotel, a luxury spot owned
by Robert De Niro in the Tribeca neighbourhood
of Manhattan, where the Goodfellas actor also
owns a restaurant and production company.
Gyllenhaal is dressed casually, in a grey sweater
and jeans, though her hair remains as boyishly
short as it is in Honorable Woman. She orders
the roasted salmon, joking about how doing a
play each night means having to consider what
she eats. Shell be on stage five hours from now,
starring in a Broadway production of Tom Stoppards The Real Thing. Its a busy day, and week,
and year.
Gyllenhaal, who has two daughters with longtime partner Peter Sarsgaard, has spent the
morning taking her eight-year-old, Ramona, to
school and then looking after two-year-old Gloria Ray. The demands of parenthood seem to be
on her mind when I ask about the hardest part
of making the series. Never mind the English
accent, the intense violence sequences, the modest budget: The hardest thing, really, was doing
it and having two little kids, she says. The girls
came along for the three-month filming schedule but werent allowed on the set (Sarsgaard
played babysitter part of the time). Gyllenhaal

HONOURABLE WOMAN:
Gyllenhaal won the
Golden Globe for best
actress in a limited
series last week for
her role in the eightpart spy thriller, The
Honorable Woman. She
says the hardest part
of filming was looking
after her two daughters,
Ramona, below, and
Gloria Ray, at the same
time

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59

23/01/2015

D O W N T I M E

says she wont let them watch most of her work


until theyre older the exception was the 2010
Nanny McPhee sequel. On the flip side, it is tough
to imagine having to watch your mother play the
title role in Secretary at any age.
Which isnt to say the kids havent taken in their
moms stardom. When Crazy Heart came out
and a lot of people had seen it, people would stop
me on the street a lot, Gyllenhaal says. (Gyllen-

that Nessa says, I would have had 200,000


hate emails, she says. Honorable Woman, then,
proved inadvertently timely. Perspectives on
Israel were heard and accepted in the context of
the show in a way that they just would not be in
any other context.
And though Gyllenhaal has not typically shied
away from political stances a decade ago she
sparked public ire by saying the US was responsible in some way for 9/11 on this topic she
picks her words carefully. Its not true about
everything, but about some very complicated,
deep-rooted conflicts, the more information
you have, sometimes the harder it is to have an
immovable, unshiftable, one-sided position,
she says. Its not true for me about, like, abortion rights. I have an immoveable, one-sided
opinion on that. (Shes pro-choice.) I dont feel
that way about the Middle East.
Anyway, centuries-old sectarian warfare aside,
whats next for Maggie Gyllenhaal? She isnt
sure, and while shes begun looking
at scripts, she admits that she mostly
needs a break. You have to sleep a lot
when youre doing a play! she says.
You have to preserve energy.
But this momentary shift away
from film, between the TV series and
the play (her third since 2009), is not
so much a conscious break as it is a reaction to
waning support for independent cinema. She
mentions that several million people watched
the Honorable Woman episodes as they aired.
Frank, the independent movie I made the same
year ... I dont know if that many people watched
it ever! she says, laughing.
The thing is, it is incredibly difficult to find
a distribution life for independent films right
now, Gyllenhaal adds. I dont want to make
movies that nobody sees. I mean, Im not interested in that. She first noticed the shift around
the time of the 2008 economic collapse. When
Crazy Heart came out the following year, all the
independent branches of all the studios were falling apart. So we made it at Paramount Vantage
maybe. And then it fell apart after wed made it.
It was gonna have no life! We were just lucky that
Fox Searchlight decided to buy it. Now basically
there are a few movies each year that get picked
up a few independents that get picked up for a
massive distribution. But its not the way it used
to be.
So much of the interesting work is happening
on television, she agrees. So I dont really care
if its on TV or film. She pauses. Its not that
I dont care. Its just that I want my work to be
seen, if Im going to take the time to make it. n

If I said on a talk show any of


the things Nessa says, I would
have 200,000 hate emails.
haal got an Oscar nomination for the 2009 role.)
And Ramona I didnt realise how much she
was taking that in. At one point she said, Mama,
whats Crazy Heart? And I found a little piece of
it that I could show her and explained it to her.
The violence that makes The Honorable Woman
less than kid-friendly has, of course, a fraught
political history. Nessa Gyllenhaals character lives and breathes Middle Eastern politics,
and the obligatory research dive posed another
challenge for the actress. She eschewed textbook history lessons and took a more unorthodox approach. I went to people very far over on
each side, but very intelligent people people I
trust and respect and asked for sources, says
Gyllenhaal, who is Jewish but says her religion
doesnt influence her politics. That way, I could
come up with my own opinion about what I felt
was happening.
By the time the show aired on BBC and SundanceTV in July, real-world tensions in the Middle East had boiled over into another extended
cycle of violence. It was one of those periods
when cordial dinner parties could explode into
Israeli-Palestinian screaming matches, and
though Gyllenhaal spent the month obsessively
reading the news, she kept quiet about the conflict. If I said on a talk show any of the things

NEWSWEEK

60

23/01/2015

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D O W N T I M E

HOLLYWOOD MOVIES TAKE AIM


AT THE INDOMITABLE CRITIC

Two new films, Birdman and Big


Eyes, feature acid reviewers, igniting
memories of other twisted assassins

the paintings as sickly rubbish. The artist threatens to gouge the critics eyes out with a fork.
Playing a lethal critic is specialist work, and
in both films the producers chose British actors.
Lindsay Duncan in Birdman is the Broadway
butcher with ice in her veins. In Big Eyes, veteran
actor Terence Stamp has a cameo as the dapper scribe dripping with condescension. Their
screen predecessor was another British actor, the
great George Sanders, whose performance as the
super-cynical Addison DeWitt in the 1950 backstage movie classic All About Eve is the
benchmark for all critic baddies. His serpentine creature is a closeted, cologned
operator of the sort that has never really
existed.
You wonder whether at this rate we
will ever get a mainstream feature film
devoted to a critic. The most colourful prospect
would be Kenneth Tynan, patron saint of theatre reviewers and a true legend. Dead at 53, the
stammering, dandyish columnist keen on bedroom spanking was the first person to use the
f-word on television and he kept on his Observer
desk the stirring motto: Rouse tempers, goad
and lacerate, raise whirlwinds.
Tynans reviews were adored simply because

CRITICAL FIGURES:
Above: Christoph
Waltz and Amy Adams
in Tim Burtons Big
Eyes. Right: Kenneth
Tynan, one of the
sharpest tongues in
criticism and, farright, critic John
Canaday

What has to happen in a


persons life that they become
a critic, anyway?
Theres a smaller cameo for another New York
Times reviewer in Tim Burtons new film, Big
Eyes, about the art fraudster Walter Keane. This
time he is based on a real reviewer, John Canaday, who was the papers art critic in the 1960s.
Keane (played by Christoph Waltz) posed as the
painter his wife, secretly, was the real artist of
a huge output of highly sellable pictures featuring
children with big soppy peepers. Canaday sees

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62

23/01/2015

BY
ROBERT
GORE-LANGTON

T H E W E I N ST E I N CO M PA N Y/CO R B I S/JAC K RO B I N SO N /G E T T Y/ E R I N CO M BS

work anonymously and in


the dark. But in two new major movies they are
highly visible and it may not make for a pleasant
watch. In the Oscar-tipped Birdman, an ex-Hollywood hero (played by Michael Keaton) is starring
in a Broadway play. He sees the New York Times
theatre critic in a bar. Their eyes meet and the
sour female theatre critic says with unblinking
iciness: I am going to kill your show. Its a scary
moment because she hasnt yet seen the play in
question.
CRITICS NORMALLY

he wrote such grabbingly good copy. When necessary he was merciless, spectacularly to Vivien
Leigh, who starred opposite her husband Laurence Olivier. Of her Lavinia in Titus Andronicus,
Tynan wrote: Vivien Leigh receives the news
that she is about to be ravished on her husbands
corpse with little more than the mild annoyance
of one who would have preferred Dunlopillo.
During his brief career Tynan ushered in
angry, un-posh writers like John Osborne, author
of Look Back in Anger and a loather of critics. By
the end of his career, Osborne had barred Nicholas de Jongh of The Guardian from his funeral;
referred to Jack Tinker of Daily Mail as Ms
Tinker; and after a bad review sent a threat to
Benedict Nightingale of The Times, warning him:
Safer for your health to stay clear of downtown
Chichester, adding, Fatso Morleys next!
Morley was the late Sheridan Morley, a critic
and biographer who in later years slept through
everything he attended. After his death, his wife
admitted in print to writing the copy herself
under his byline. You couldnt make it up. But she
actually did.
In Birdman, the lead actor cruelly asks of the
New York Times woman: What has to happen in a
persons life that they become a critic, anyway?
The real answer is, not a lot. Most of the greats
are simply born to it.
The undisputed doyenne of American film
critics was Pauline Kael, who riffed with contrarian brilliance on late 60s and 70s cinema
for The New Yorker. She described Star Wars as
exhausting like taking a pack of kids to the circus and demolished a John Cassavetes film for
having the kind of seriousness that a serious artist couldnt take seriously. Kaels nemesis was
George Roy Hill, director of Butch Cassidy and the
Sundance Kid, which she panned. He wrote her a
widely-circulated letter that began: Listen, you
miserable bitch ... It was another female critic,
Renata Adler, who reviewed Kaels collected
works as, line by line, and without interruption,
worthless. It was hailed as the New York literary
mafias bloodiest hit, worse than anything in The
Godfather. Kael today sleeps with the fishes, her
name, sadly, unknown to the Netflix generation.
Many lead theatre critics today are women,
though not at The New York Times one of several details Birdman gets wrong. In former days,
critics were men in hats. The last hat-wearer to
retire from the West End was Milton Shulman
of the London Evening Standard. He never liked
anything, regarded covering plays in far-flung
Wimbledon as the foreign correspondents job,
but ploughed on for four decades. He had it in
for Andrew Lloyd Webber. When there was a

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23/01/2015

A D V E R T O R I A L

Aaron Balick
Psychotherapist

D O W N T I M E

21st-century
professionals
PSYCHOTHERAPY 2.0
he practice of psychotherapy has
remained practically unchanged since
its inception towards the end of the 19th
century: two people talking to each other in a
room. Dr. Aaron Balick, psychotherapist and
member of the UK Council for Psychotherapy,
explained that technological advances in the
21st century are provoking the first fundamental challenge to this dynamic since the comfy
chair replaced the couch.
Where the work of psychotherapy was once
limited to the consultation room, today we
are bombarded by text messages and emails
from distressed patients between sessions,
which are vulnerable to viruses and hacking.
The new culture creates expectations of an
instantaneous reply, placing psychotherapists
in conflict between our sense of duty and our
private life.
Beyond these direct extra-clinical communications is the problem of indirect interaction
through the Internet. Traditionally psychotherapists keep their own lives to themselves
to enable the patient to share more of theirs.
Today, via overlapping social networks or Google searches, patients can find more about their
therapist than either party is comfortable with.
This can affect their therapeutic relationship.
Aaron expressed the challenge succinctly.
The therapeutic relationship is the single most
important aspect of a successful therapy. Many
of the boundaries originally intended to protect
it are no longer sustainable. Psychotherapists
must adapt and respond.
He went on to identify current responses.
Those working traditionally can create digital
policies to help contain their work. By integrating these into their therapy contracts, they
recognize the wider world, while proceeding to
meet it in a therapeutic and responsible way.
Some, like Aaron, are actually embracing the
new technology. He offers video conferencing
and text-based mental health services. Aaron
notes that studies are beginning to show that
this may increase access to psychotherapy
shy demographics like young men who could
be helped.
By Andy Friedman parnglobal.com

bomb scare at the New London Theatre at the


first night of Cats in 1981, Shulman said: This
theatres never had a hit yet.
Occasionally, playwrights themselves make
good critics Bernard Shaw started as a critic
and in Osbornes eyes ruined himself as a result:
Shaw writes like a Pakistani who had learned
English when he was 12 years old in order to
become a chartered accountant.
Noel Cowards pithy remarks (he said of Peter
OToole about Lawrence of Arabia, any prettier
and youd be Florence of Arabia) were more
fun than any of his later plays. Producers can be
superbly droll too. Eric Maschwitz once staged
a production of Goodnight Vienna in Lewisham.
Asked how it was going by a friend, he replied
with bleak candour: About as well as a production of Goodnight Lewisham would be going in
Vienna.
Actors generally dont read or pretend not to
read their reviews. Occasionally they do. You
cant help but salute Judi Dench, who, after being
told in print her grande dame shtick was getting
boring, wrote to the Daily Telegraphs Charles
Spencer: I used to quite admire you but I now
think youre an absolute shit.
In Britain, one or two of our quality newspapers no longer even employ critics. The online
air is thick with bloggers who trade in clumsy,
ill-informed abuse. But critics with real expertise
have never been more needed, however much
Stephen Fry compares them to traffic wardens or
wasps at a picnic.
Playwright Christopher Hampton is one of
many who have recycled the lovely saying that
asking a playwright how he feels about critics is
like asking a lamp post how it feels about dogs.
The truth is that critics are fuelled by an appetite for the new and the exciting and, generally,
regard their job as a combination of privilege and
penance. The twisted assassin stereotype is, of
course, much more fun, and will help make Birdn
man and Big Eyes contenders at the Oscars.
NEWSWEEK

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The writer whose


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The death of
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My family
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n 1961, Fidel Castro ordered the US embassy


in Havana to reduce its staff of spies. The
US suspended diplomatic relations with
Cuba a deadlock that remained in place until
2014. Newsweeks Latin America correspondent,
Harold Lavine, reported from the gun-studded,
propaganda-pounded capital: Outside the US
embassy, a massive slab of gray overlooking
Havana Harbor, the streets are swarming with
militia women. Most of them are little more than

NEWSWEEK

66

kids; almost without exception they are as pretty


as a girl can be when shes dressed in a gray Russian Army blouse, baggy olive fatigue pants, and
black combat boots. They are there ostensibly to
protect the embassy from what the government
calls an enraged Cuban population, he wrote.
Actually there are no demonstrators, only the
correspondents who have flocked to Havana.
Wreathed in smiles, the girls joke with the visitn
ing newsmen and even flirt a little.

23/01/2015

AP

16 January 1961 On the brink of revolution

Elegance is an attitude
Aksel Lund Svindal

OFFICIAL TIMEKEEPER

Kitzbhel, Austria
23-25 January 2015

Conquest