Trump, Saudis and Wahhabism

Wahhabism is the reactionary branch of Islam from Saudi Arabia said to be ‘the main source of global terrorism’.

In July 2013, Wahhabism was identified by the European Parliament as the main source of global terrorism.

Wahhabism has become increasingly influential, partly because of Saudi money and partly because of Saudi Arabia’s central influence as protector of Mecca.

The members of the Saudi ruling class have applauded Wahhabism it for its Salafi piety – i.e. its adherence to the original practices of Islam – and the movement’s vehement opposition to the Shia branch of Islam.

In the 1970s, with the help of funding from petroleum exports and other factors, Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques across the globe and the movement underwent “explosive growth”.

The US State Department has estimated that over the past four decades Riyadh has invested more than $10billion into charitable foundations in an attempt to replace mainstream Sunni Islam with the harsh intolerance of its Wahhabism. EU intelligence experts estimate that 15 to 20 per cent of this has been diverted to al-Qaida and other violent jihadists.

The movement now has worldwide influence inspiring the ideology of extremists worldwide.

trump curtsy

beautiful gardens

I’d like to have a tranquil garden in which to sit, write, read and have barbecues with friends. Here in Paris, a garden is a luxury. Everyone I know lives in an apartment with a teeny-tiny balcony overlooking a noisy, congested street. I crave nature. It’s true that where I live there are parks and the river nearby, so I can’t complain too much. But still, what with the warm weather coming and all …

Here are two beautiful gardens we can only dream about.

goings on: The Rolling Stones, The Cranberries, Lionel Shriver

Remember The Cranberries, the Irish rock band from the 1990s? They’re coming to France to play one single concert in a fabulous venue: the antique Roman theatre in the southern town of Orange.  I loved The Cranberries. The idea of sitting under the stars on a hot summer’s night (the night of Sunday August 13th) listening to Dolores O’Riordan singing sounds tempting indeed.

But I’ll be in The Netherlands in August, visiting the cities of Delft, The Hague and Antwerp.

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Roman theater built in the 1st century, Orange (Vaucluse) France 

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The Rolling Stones – 19 October 2017 at the U Arena in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris.

Lionel Shriver introducing her new book, The Mandibles, at Shakespeare and Company bookshop – Monday May 22, 2017 at 7 pm.

Shriver’s timely new novel about American decline. A frightening, fascinating, scabrously funny glimpse into the decline that may await the United States all too soon, from the pen of perhaps the most consistently perceptive and topical author of our times.

I’ll leave you with Dolores O’Riordan of The Cranberries singing Ode To My Family, a beautiful video filled with lovely Irish folk, young and old.

Paris gossip: Brigitte, hats, etc.

Here’s what all of France was talking about today: Brigitte Macron, brand-new First Lady of France whose husband was sworn in yesterday as Prez, wore an outfit exactly the same color as Melania Trump’s outfit on her husand’s inauguration day. Why? Pourquoi ?

Analysts are busy analyzing the significance of this seeming coincidence.

Macron-and-Trump

At least we were spared those godawful elbow-length gloves. A major fashion faux pas, they wouldn’t have passed public approval here. At all. If elbow-length gloves aren’t made of fine leather, aren’t snug-fitting and aren’t of a dark color, don’t do it.

It’s a shame that women, other than queens and duchesses, no longer wear hats. Brigitte Macron could have really wowed us with a totally different outfit in a totally different color (powder blue is so namby-pamby and indecisive, don’t you think?), topped with a stylish hat. Like these, for example –

hat one

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pink hat

fascinator

this is called a fascinator. I think it’s lovely, especially the color

Hats, big or small, make a marvellous statement. They suggest confidence and individuality. But then again, not all women can wear them. You either have the head and face for it … or you don’t.

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The next thing all of France was talking about this morning was this: who will President Macron choose to be his prime minister??? All morning long, bulletins were dispatched over French TV and the internet, blaring –  l’annonce de la désignation est imminente !! (the announcement of the appointment is imminent!!). The whole nation was whipped into a frenzy. At the office, everyone was checking the internet and their iPhones every five minutes, and I kept running down the hall to Reception to look at the big TV screen. After my fourth run down the hall and back again, I suddenly realized how ridiculous we were being. The French media was playing us and we had fallen into their trap.

“I don’t care who the next prime minister is!” I said to my colleagues and went back to work. This week is the company’s AGM (Annual General Meeting) of Shareholders. I’m the organizer, so I’m busy. And then in the afternoon it was announced. The new prime minister is a man no-one’s heard of. Edouard Philippe. Who? The nomination, we’ve been told, is a shrewd one because he’s a “juppéiste“.

new pm

France’s new 46 year old Prime Minister

What’s a juppéiste, you might ask? No, not someone from Jupiter but rather a politician who’s a follower of Alain Juppé. It turns out that progressive Alain Juppé has reached cult status in France. He himself was prime minister to President Jacques Chirac from 1995 to 1997 and later Mayor of Bordeaux. (In between there was a criminal conviction for abuse of public funds, but this ‘incident’ seems to have been erased from the French collective memory.) Never mind that Juppé was, literally, the most hated man in France during the period from ’95 to ’97 because he wanted to push through major social reforms (there were massive transportation strikes and protests that paralyzed the entire country for two whole winter months.) I remember walking to work every single day and home again (two hours each way), falling into bed every night too exhausted to eat, only to get up at the crack of dawn the next morning to trudge through snow-covered streets to get to work. (If anyone reading this knows Paris, at that time I lived in Courbevoie and worked at Place St. Augustin!)

But I’m digressing. Flash-forward to now and Juppé, at the age of 71, is regarded as a respected elder statesman and sort of mandarin. This fellow who was nominated today to be Prime Minister is, as I said, a protégé of Alain Juppé.  46 years old, he’s the Mayor of Le Havre and member of the centre right-wing Republicans party. Macron desperately needs to strengthen his fledgling party, République en Marche, and by appointing someone from the right he hopes to persuade others from Juppé’s party who will stand as MPs in June’s parliamentary elections. 

Tonight President Macron is dining with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, and on May 25th he’s scheduled to have “a long lunch” in Brussels with Dump, Hump, Frump … I mean Trump!

Pink Floyd exhibition at the V&A

Perfect timing! Weeks before my June jaunt to London, I learn that a major Pink Floyd exhibition is being staged at London’s Victoria and Albert, the world’s largest museum of decorative arts and design. It’s the talk of the town: in London, here in Paris and elsewhere.

Experience a spectacular and unparalleled audio-visual journey through Pink Floyd’s unique and extraordinary worlds, chronicling the music, design and staging of the band, from their debut in the 1960s through to the present day.

Remember their Dark Side of the Moon album? Memories of lying on my bed, Friday night stoned, a 1970s teenager listening to this album on my record player, over and over. I just read that Dark Side stayed on the U.S. billboard chart for a record 15 years!! After Michael Jackson’s Thriller, Saturday Night Fever, and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours, it remains the fourth best-selling album of all time.


dark side of the moon

And their 1977 Animals album with the iconic cover of a pig floating over Battersea Power Station? The haunting sound of those dogs barking on the Dogs track overlaid with that explosive guitar solar was, in 1970s parlance, funkadelic.

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Below is the V&A website where you can buy your tickets online. Below that is, interestingly, an article in today’s Guardian newspaper on what has become of the Battersea Power Station (a 9 billion pound urban renewal project).

the-wall-1979

https://www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/pink-floyd

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2017/may/13/inside-the-new-battersea-power-station#img-1

the Louxor cinema house in Paris

Surfing the net looking for a movie theater in which to watch Raoul Peck’s “Je ne suis pas votre nègre” (I Am Not Your Negro), released tomorrow in France, I stumbled across the refurbished LOUXOR.

luxor two

Built in 1921, it was transformed into a nightclub in 1983 – first a Caribbean nightclub and then the largest gay club in the city – before closing permanently in 1988. For twenty-two years the place was abandoned and left for ruin.  And then the City of Paris purchased it in 2003. It was entirely renovated and re-opened in 2013. Today it has three gorgeous screening rooms.

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Anthony Rauchen photo, theater 1

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Anthony Rauchen photo, theater 3

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Anthony Rauchen photo, theater 2

I can’t wait to go to the LOUXOR to see this new film.

President Macron

66.10 per cent of the French electorate kicked Marine Le Pen and her National Front party in the teeth and voted Macron. Bravo.

Marine, daughter of neo-fascist, xenophobe thug, Jean Le Pen, and racist xenophone yourself … you had your pitiful 15 minutes of fame. Now, dégage et va te faire foutre !!! (beat it and fuck off). Coz we don’t like having you around.

As for Emmanuel Macron who created his political party, En Marche, from his own initials … you’re our Prez now.

Don’t let us down, Monsieur le Président.

macron prez