Not-so-black-and-white World

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Text: Žikica Milošević

I understand the whole mess and fuss about the controversial decisions of newly appointed American president, but it is simply incomplete to discuss these ideas and acts without a global picture. Walls, denial of entrance, fear of the different, it happened and it happens all around the globe. It was not Trump’s invention.

BETHLEHEM, WEST BANK – MARCH 6: A Palestinian man strides past Israel’s separation barrier where French artists from the “Face2Face” project have pasted giant posters March 6, 2007 in the biblical town of Bethlehem in the West Bank. The Face2Face project produces similar portraits of Palestinians and Israelis who do similar jobs, and then posts them alongside each other on both the Israeli and Palestinian side of the separation barrier. The authors say they hope their project will contribute to a better understanding between Israelis and Palestinians. (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)

I WON’T LET YOU IN

OK, now the decree of denial of entrance for the citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries has been blocked, but let us think a little bit this way. There are 16 countries that won’t allow the citizens of Israel to get in. These are: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malaysia, Oman, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Yemen and UAE. 8 out of these 16 countries won’t let you in if you have any evidence in your passport or elsewhere that you visited Israel (including Palestinian Territory). Like a stamp or a think like that. Israel won’t let the citizens of these countries in either: they consider them enemy states. As for Malaysia, we are now pretty friendly, but until several years ago, the citizens of Serbia and Montenegro could not enter Malaysia at any circumstances. Simply it was forbidden, like for the Israelis. And it all originates from the war in Bosnia in the 90s. You dream of visiting Mecca and Medina? Well, it won’t happen if you are not a Muslim. (As for the Puritanism of Saudi Arabia, let us remind that Under Saudi rule, it has been estimated that since 1985 about 95% of Mecca’s historic buildings, most over a thousand years old, have been demolished.) No wonder they won’t let any non-Muslim to their holiest place. And let us go a bit further: The Dome on the Rock in Jerusalem is also prohibited if you are not a Muslim. You can see it only from afar. If you visited Nagorno-Karabakh, you will be banned from entering the mainland Azerbaijan. The same applies if you visit Abkhazia or South Ossetia from Russia. Then you should forget about Georgia. As for recent war in Ukraine, definitely entering Donetsk or Lugansk self-proclaimed republics won’t help you while you try to enter the rest of Ukraine. Neither will Crimean holidays be a good recommendation for the rest of Ukraine.

ANOTHER BRICK IN THE WALL

When you say “The Wall”, some will immediately think about the Pink Floyd album, some will remember the Berlin Wall, and recently the world paid attention to promised “Mexican Wall” Donald Trump vowed to build. But, the wall-maker Trump is not the first one, nor the only one. There is already some 930 kilometres of wall between Mexico and the United States that Barack Obama could not or would not tear down. Trump’s wall would be just an… extension. The completion. And what about the wall between Israel and the Palestine (West Bank)? Banksy decorated it artistically, but it is huge and impenetrable. Cutting the holy city of Bethlehem in two. Almost. Maybe the Berlin Wall fell down, but there are another walls. We all know about the wall Israel made with Gaza Strip, but there is a wall between Egypt, an Arab nation, and Palestinian Gaza. Nothing to do with Jews. And the wall between Morocco and Western Sahara Polisario held-territories. To make it even stranger, it is built in the middle of Western Sahara which Morocco considers its own territory, thus separating Morocco-held and Polisario-held territories in the middle of Saharan desert. And from both sides there are Arabs and Berbers, speaking the same language, having the same religion. And let us go a bit further north: Ceuta and Mellila, the two Spanish African enclaves, are surrounded by thick fences, to prevent the illegal African immigrants. The Hungarian Walls are notorious here, since Hungary made the border fence between itself and Serbia and Croatia. With Croatia, they were a bit “lucky” since the Drava river makes a natural barrier. In Belfast, Derry, and other settlements in Northern Ireland, barriers called “peace lines” have been built to separate the two main communities. Their purpose is to minimize inter-communal violence between Irish nationalists/republicans (who mainly self-identify as Irish and/or Catholic) and unionists/loyalists (who mainly self-identify as British and/or Protestant). They were first built following the 1969 riots and beginning of the “Troubles“. They have continued to be built and expanded since the Belfast Agreement of 1998. In 2016 Norway constructed a barrier along a short part of its border with Russia, near the only official border crossing. Latvia started to build a fence on its border with Russia in December 2015. Nicosia in Cyprus is still a divided city, just like Berlin decades ago. Ukraine is also building a wall with Russia. Bulgaria has built a fence on its border with Turkey starting in 2013. In August 2015, Estonia announced a plan to build a barrier on its border with Russia. In 2003, Botswana began building a 480 km-long electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe. Turkey has completed hundreds of kilometers of border wall with Syria. The Iran-Pakistan barrier wall is 700 kilometers long, which Iran claims is to stop the flow of illegal border crossings, stem the flow of drugs and prevent terror attacks. Want more? Just facts, no fiction.

LITTLE MAN, WHAT NOW?

My favourite novel title, right. But, it is true that we are living in the world full of entry denials and barriers. Everyone wants to fence from the unwanted neighbour. It doesn’t mean that Trump should do its Mexican wall, it is just a small reminder that he’s not the only one, nor he invented any of it.

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