The Film: Eritrea after the war and the illusions of peaceful coexistence

Farajat:   Editorial

Many questions hemmed our thoughts, while watching the documentary film titled: (Eritrea after the war), which was broadcast on Al Jazeera satellite channel TV, two weeks ago.  The title is great and captivating which invites people to be eager and longing to watch it, with great anticipation.

However, we were disappointed as the outcome was a fiasco, at least from our point of view and many others especially the Eritreans who had a chance to watch the film.  The content of the film was in contrast to its title because it narrated the past history instead of the present and the future, and avoided going into details of the political reality, economic, and painful social reality causing us insomnia, headaches and national hysteria. The film contained overt advertising nature that can easily be read between the repetitions of the scenes and the talking personalities that have been carefully selected, suggesting that there are padded political messages to be delivered to the viewer, that will leave an impression different from what is known about the Eritrean national identity, and may also have been a desperate attempt to inflate and embellish the tarnished and distorted image of the dictatorial regime and cover its crimes. It also intends to improve its public image as it is living under exceptional circumstances of world isolation and enforcement of sanctions by the UN. The film is expected to give a boost and the badly needed positive public image by focusing in the past glory at a time when falling under the siege from all sides and with insurmountable economic crisis.
The film was probably produced before four years by a private news information agency, which later was able to sell it to Al Jazeera Documentary channel. It was filmed in the period in which Mr. Osman Saleh was in the Ministry of Education, according to description that appeared in the film, which was not coherent in its scenes, or in the sequence of events that it dealt with … it was moving from scenes of the tour on the history of old buildings in the city of Asmara, to the scenes of vaccinating school children in a village of the Sahel region. From  a narration of EPLF ability to set up  underground factories  during the revolution era, to the miracles it  achieved  as a state, by  rebuilding  a train linking the city of Asmara to  Massawa, after its  stoppage  for more than half a century, which was a witness to racism of the  Italian colonizers and the  oppression of  Eritreans.
The danger of this movie lies in its complete and deliberate disregard and omission of the Islamic element in Eritrea, which forms half of the population as indicated in the report of the film, while nothing was observed that confirms the declared proportion neither from the views and scenes or from the characters who spoke in the context of the film which focused more than they should on the churches and the details of what is happening inside them.  Priests conducting  prayers, and children chanting, and then moves the camera to the views of a religious festival  on one of the churches, show a group of children with lacy vivid colored clothes leading the priests, carrying huge golden  colored crosses  beside the Eritrean flag. At the back, are observed women in white clothes throwing popcorn through the heads of the clergy with enthusiasm.

While the film did not express or present the Muslims in Eritrea except in a glimpse of the Kulafaa Al Rashidin mosque in Asmara, which dates back  to more than a hundred years, and around  it  men sleeping  on the ground, their faces roaming, pale, capped with sadness and despair of the miserable life they are leading. Another scene appeared depicting of a group of veiled Rashaida women collecting firewood in the desert… You may then be wondering what kind of impression the viewer will emerge with about the identity of the Eritrean people!

It was  expected the film  to expose the issue of peaceful coexistence, to explore opinions of  both the Christian and Muslim sides, as required by  the ethics and principles of journalism, but they were contented  by talking with a priest,  who spoke in an angry and hesitant way, covert expressions of hypocrisy and courtesy. The film was not only an attempt to erase and belittle the other (Muslims in Eritrea), but to reduce the national identity in one ethnic and religious sect.
There are clear indications that the film was produced in partnership with  the regime either by funding and  preparation  or by imposing preconditions which were closely observed  by the  producing agency to come out  with a movie  with  propagandist  ridiculous image. Also it is useful to refer here to the keenness of the Eritrean Information Ministry, undertaking the task of promotion and publicity for this movie via its website (Shabait) and to remind the date of broadcast on Al-Jazeera, with an unnecessary small comment describing the film as a reflection of peaceful coexistence in Eritrea.

It is a delusion difficult to absorb, and it seems obscure mystery used reasonably or unreasonably by the ruling group, as they seem to be convinced that the Lord has granted this land (Eritrea) to them alone. Therefore they must crush and subjugate all who opposed its way (our way or the highway), and we have to openly note and recognize the steady widening gap/rift between Muslims and Christians, caused by the ruling regime by its unfair practices, and the policy of the explicit empowerment, being pursued for the benefit of a particular group. The unscrupulous  monopolizing of  power,  caused  negative  feelings among  the members of the society, and in turn affected the values of love and tolerance that prevailed among the Eritrean people in the past.
The realization of peaceful coexistence in a society lacking justice and equality in rights and duties is not probable if not impossible. It is the foundation, which guarantees peace and stability in a society and then co-existence. In contrast, when there is domination, oppression and supremacy by a certain group then   justice is denied an imbalance is created. Then to talk about peaceful coexistence has no meaning except for cheap public relations propaganda. The claim by the illegitimate regime to accept the new distorted and unjust reality as a peaceful co-existence is just a childish mockery. The acceptance of the status quo and co-exist with it peacefully is the end in the childish and sick mentality of those in power.  They want us to live with:  our rights stripped, unjust distribution of wealth and power, accept dwarfism, humiliation, marginalization and oppression, to thank them for their theft and distortion of our history, and then to reconcile and tolerate them when our right pocket is robbed to present them with our left one (pocket). This is clear sign of decadency and political immaturity, because injustice cannot be tolerated forever, as they say “pressure creates explosion”.

That  film (Eritrea after the war) contains a  clear political message overlooked by the Al-Jazeera channel, which claims to defend  public freedoms and human rights, and ignored the plight of Muslims in Eritrea, who are  groaning trampled down by the sectarian regime swallowing and exterminating  everything Islamic or Arabic  in nature with well planned actions and motives. But it seems that in the depths always there are  mysteries and secrets, maybe it is  an attempt on the part of the Al-Jazeera to  soften  the Eritrean government volition and protect its blemishes  revealed  at the Al Jazeera English channel,  in the courageous interview conducted by the presenter Cristina and the tyrant DIA. When faced with reality the dictator lost his temper and prestige and his real nature as a mentally retarded person was revealed. This however  does not negate the success of the Eritrean regime to exploit the Al-Jazeera channel, this time in self-promotion by presenting fabricated facts of a imaginary Eritrea of hade hizbi hade libbi (one Tigrigna Christian nation) as is the final death wish of the moribund regime.
It is a world fascinated by force, motivated by secretive relations, disrespectful of the weak and hesitant, not sympathizing with the slayed ones.

The Editor

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Posted by on May 10 2010 Filed under Editorial. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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