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Clash, the movie

Rev. Bill Crews’ Big Picture Film Festival is holding a special screening of the acclaimed movie, Clash. Event Cinemas | 525 George Street | Sydney, NSW 2000 | Australia Wednesday, 14 November from 6:30 pm to 9:30 pm (AEDT) $24.00 pp (includes a small popcorn) Click here to get your tickets. Set entirely within the confines of a police van, Clash dramatises the ongoing political unrest in Egypt two years after the Arab Spring. It’s 2013 and mass protests have led to the ouster of the ruling Muslim Brotherhood by the army. A series of arrests finds rival demonstrators trapped in a paddy wagon together under the threat of impossibly stifling heat. From this simple setup, a white-knuckled tale of resistance and shared humanity is woven that artfully evokes the political fault lines in the Arab world’s most populous nation. Get your tickets...

My speech in support of the Kurdish people – 10th Feb, 2018

I regard myself as an ordinary Australian. Nothing more and nothing less. I do not regard myself as left-wing or right-wing, nor am I a member of any political party. I am an Australian and proud of it. Being Australian and probably because of our beginnings being rooted in prisons, chains and the lash I firmly believe in freedom of the individual. That is freedom to be who we are, believe what we believe as long as it brings no harm to anyone else. However, my life has taught me that there is always some bugger trying to take your freedom away. There is always some tin pot despot wanting to make you conform to what they regard as the way to be. They want you to toe their line and if you don’t they will try to punish or destroy you.  This may be religiously, politically socially but often it’s not the way most of us want to be.  In other words, they want to impose on us ways of life we don’t necessarily want to take up.  We are quite happy to live by the code of “Don’t do anything to anyone else you wouldn’t want done to you”. To achieve these aims, despots use fear in all forms of threats, armies, walls and structures they regard as strong, brutal, impregnable and forceful. But the smell of freedom is like love, it’s like the wind. The wind blows where it blows. It blows through the windows of buildings; through the cracks in and over the walls and in the hearts many of those who hold the weapons....

A follow up to my blog “In Paris remembering Charlie Hebdo………

All my efforts to contact the Mayor of Paris Anne Hidalgo failed. Not to be outdone, though I decided I’d add some of the compost to the Memorial tree either before or after the Memorial Service. I ventured onto the site on Saturday evening but, couldn’t get near the tree for the security.   So I decided to scatter the compost around the tree roots after the Memorial Service the next day. So, on the morning of Jan 10, 2016 I stood with thousands of Parisians in the Place de la Republique for the memorial for the victims of Charlie Hebdo, The Bataclan and all such acts of terrorism in France. The ceremony was beautifully simple, short and flawless.  The sound was superb.  There was some singing and some reciting.  Johnny Hallyday sang.  The French President Francois Hollande and The Mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo laid a wreath. The Choir sang La Marseillaise and it was all over. Like all these things I have gone to whether in France or Australia, most people were there because they could not not be there.  There was the same silence and the same walking whilst being deep in yourself.  The same reflective mood. In fact people were so reflective, when the Marseilles was being sung, they were too within themselves to sing along, which for French people really says something! Later that evening, after it was all over, I went over to the memorial tree and scattered the compost over the roots.  I said a prayer for peace and in honour of all the victims and for all those decent Australian and French...

Visiting “The Jungle”, Calais for the second time – This needs to be read in in conjunction with my earlier blog of 12th October, 2015 called “My trip to the Jungle – Walking with the Refugees on Wednesday, 7th October, 2015”.

    I was apprehensive. How will I find it? Had it changed much? Had the attitude of the refugees there hardened? After all, three months had gone by since I was there last and the fear always was that if these refugees found themselves stuck in one place for too long with no hope over the horizon, trouble would ensue. I was therefore glad this winter there hadn’t been as cold as we feared. All these thoughts were flowing through my head as I got off the train and headed there. As I was waiting for the taxi to take me as close as it was prepared to go I began feeling quite vulnerable and stupid.  After all, several months had passed since I was there in October and during that time, many more refugees had arrived.  I’d also read the newspaper reports of trouble there, I’d also seen the reports that many goodly Calais citizens wanted those refugees gone. This wasn’t helped by my being passed by two armed gendarmes “escorting” what seemed to me to be two perfectly dressed neat, tidy and respectful young men into a Police Van. “This is the beginning of the road to The Jungle” the taxi driver told me. She really needn’t have, because just like last time, I could see all the people walking along the side road, just walking.  All with back packs, some pulling travel bags with wheels.  Some walking toward the camp and others walking away.  But what I did notice was how proudly most were walking, straight and erect.  Like I’d seen in so many African...

In Paris – Remembering Charlie Hebdo

Today, January 7, is the anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter.  I arrived in Paris yesterday with an urn of composted Martin Place flowers left at the time of the Lindt Cafe Martin Place siege. I intended to scatter some with the myriad of French flowers I fully expected to be left at the site and at The Place de la Republique today. As I wrote in my earlier blog I wanted to do this in honour of the victims, but also as a gesture of the solidarity I witnessed in the endless floral tributes, the deep reverential silence, the love and the prayers for a better world I saw expressed in spades, by the ordinary people of both cities, Sydney and Paris.  To me, that is what will link these two great cities, the love expressed, not the terror. Getting the composted flowers here was not easy. They were only released to me late on Christmas Eve and, to be honest, the contents given to me in a clear plastic bag would, to a Customs Officer look very much like Hashish. I had no doubt they would not believe they were what I told them they were! The other problem was that I was leaving for the USA pretty much straight after Christmas day and go from there to Europe, so time was of the essence. I took advice and ultimately arrived here in Paris with the material.  Exhausting!! I arrived In Paris with no idea of what I was going to do!   I found really no one could help me and remember yesterday sitting on St Pancras...

The reason I am in Paris in memory of Charlie Hebdo

I’m here in Paris now because I buried Tori Johnson of the Lindt Cafe in Martin Place after the dreadful siege there. I was also in Europe at the time of the Charlie Hebdo slaughter and went with Charles Miranda of News Ltd to pay my respects to the victims there. It was at the Memorial Service for the Lindt Cafe a couple of weeks ago that I realised I was one of the few people to have been involved in both ‘situations’. What I found so moving at both places, Martin Place and Charlie Hebdo was the mountains of flowers that literally appeared out of nowhere and the absolute silence, the so respectful silence of the onlookers/flower bringers who like the flowers appeared out of nowhere. In Sydney, this was typified for me by a young couple who I noticed.   She held a small bunch of flowers. He held her hand. As she laid the flowers, she shed a tear and he held her tenderly and comforted her. They like all the others turned up because they simply could not stay away. They came in solidarity with the victims. I noticed the same thing in Paris. What really got to me was the flowers and the absolutely reverential silence.   I’ve been part of a silence thing before but this was complete silence even with thousands there.  I have never experienced anything like it and to witness and be part of that in both Sydney and Paris was a really humbling awesome experience. The flowers left at Martin Place were composted to go into a memorial to be placed in...