Ancient Egyptian sculpture acquired by Dutch museum


Newly aquired sculpture from the age of Pharaoh Amenhotep III

Translated from the National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden, the Netherlands:

The Egyptian collection of the Museum of Antiquities has recently been supplemented by a series of objects from the former collection of HC Jelgersma (1897-1982), a psychiatrist who studied Egyptology in his spare time. The most striking object of this is a small statue from the time of Amenhotep III (1391-1353 BC), the father of the famous Pharaoh Akhenaten. It is a thirteen centimeters tall head of a statue that has stood in an Egyptian temple.

Figurine with features of Amenhotep III

The sculpture has the characteristic features of Pharaoh Amenhotep III, but the wig with vertical strands indicates that the head does not represent the pharaoh himself, but a god with the facial features of the monarch. Amenhotep III had hundreds of these idols made for many temples in the country.

Rise and fall of the sun cult

The statue is made of red quartzite, a type of stone that was popular in this period of Egyptian history. Probably the colour was associated with the rising sun. That suited the cult of the sun as almighty god, which was booming at this time and culminated during the reign of Akhenaten. On the forehead was originally the head of a cobra, a symbol of power, worn both by gods and kings.

September 2, 2015

Texas Christians march for justice for Sandra Bland


Christian demonstrators for justice for Sandra Bland

From the United Church of Christ in the USA:

Texas ministers join justice rally for Sandra Bland

September 01, 2015

Written by Anthony Moujaes

A trio of United Church of Christ ministers in Texas carried banners for justice, joining residents of Waller County in a public demonstration calling for justness in the death of Sandra Bland, a black woman who died while in police custody in July in that county’s jail near Houston.

What they discovered was the StillSpeaking God in an unexpected place, as march participants chanted “Sandy still speaks”. The Rev. Lynette Ross and the Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel say they were “struck by that phrase to the similarity of our own mantra in the United Church of Christ that ‘God is Still Speaking.'”

“Indeed God was still speaking as we marched to the town hall,” Brown Daniel said.

Rev. Lynette Ross and Rev. Ginny Brown Daniel for justice for Sandra Bland

On Aug. 20, the Rev. Dan De Leon, pastor of Friends Congregational Church UCC, in College Station, went to the jail where Bland died and to the site of her arrest. Five days later, Aug. 25, Ross, pastor of Cathedral of Hope-Houston, and Brown Daniel, a UCC minister and president of Divine Sparks, Consulting, marched in the Solidarity with Sandy Walk to protest Bland’s death. The walk began at Bland’s alma mater, Prairie View A&M University, and ended at the Prairie View Town Hall, where the City Council voted to change the name of the road where Bland was arrested from University Drive to the Sandra Bland Parkway.

The circumstances of Bland’s death have been disputed. She was pulled over on July 10 for a minor traffic violation, and was arrested after the interaction between her and a state trooper became heated. Three days later, police found her dead in her jail cell. Believing she had hanged herself, the county coroner ruled her death a suicide. Bland’s family doesn’t believe that version of events, and is awaiting the results of an independent autopsy.

Prayer vigils have been held at the Waller County jail since Bland’s death, and a district attorney said that her death is being investigated as a murder.

“Sandra’s prophetic voice was disarming, and it needs to be, De Leon said. “There was a print that read, ‘Always be loving,’ placed right next to a poster with the words, ‘May you have no peace until justice is served.’ For me, this resembles the paradox of the cross of Christ—a visible intersection of love and justice. Sandra’s memorial reminds us that we need to keep going to those places where love and justice meet if we truly desire to see God’s transformative power topple racism and the racist systems that still plague not just Waller County, but our very hearts and minds.

Ross and Brown Daniel said that local residents told them that before Bland’s death many African-American men and women in Waller County had been unfairly pulled over by the police and subsequently arrested. “The only difference this time is that it was recorded and has made the national news because of her death, they said.

“It was as if the spirits of those who have endured oppressive and violent racism in Waller County, Texas, surrounded us as stories were shared about political injustice and voter rights denial, Brown Daniel said.

The Waller County sheriff, who has called protesters members of the “church of Satan,” ordered the tree where protesters gathered for shade to be cut down, according to Bland supporters, preventing protesters any reprieve from the summer heat.

Ross said, “Christ’s mandate to all of us is that we are called to walk shoulder-to-shoulder together as brothers and sisters, speaking truth to power, liberating the oppressed, caring for the poor, comforting the afflicted, and afflicting the comfortable. We are the United Church of Christ!”

Although the ministers weren’t aware of the county’s history, they vowed to preach, march, and advocate with the residents of Prairie View. One of those people they met, a woman named Karisha, told them that Bland’s life is stirring up her own faith again and fueling her passion for justice and opening her heart to humanity.

“This is the people that God has called us to be as the South Central Conference of the United Church of Christ—a Church that will unapologetically go to those places where love and justice meet, no matter how uncomfortable those places might be, until oppression gives way to equality, Brown Daniel said. “God is still speaking.”

Dutch pro-choice government minister Els Borst, murdered by fanatical Christian


Els Borst

This photo shows Ms Els Borst-Eilers. She was a doctor. And a politician of the ‘liberal’ D66 party. She was D66 party leader; and deputy prime minister. And Minister of Health. As a minister, she liberalized the rules on abortion and euthanasia. The political Christian right did not like her for that. According to the ultra-religious political party SGP, apart from her policies, Els Borst should not have been a minister in the first place; as their platform said women should not have the vote. That platform also says that the death penalty, abolished in the Netherlands in the nineteenth century, should be brought back.

On 8 February 2014, Ms Borst was murdered. It took police almost a year to arrest the suspect of this murder.

Murder suspect Bart van U. and the area where Ms Borst was murdered

The suspect of the murder of Ms Borst is Bart van U.

That man had been arrested earlier for murdering his sister Loïs. According to Dutch daily Metro, 22 July 2015, page 5, Bart confessed murdering his sister. He said he would do it again.

Also Van U. – from a fundamentalist Christian family – and Loïs thought differently about euthanasia and abortion, he said.

According to fanatical fundamentalist Christians, ‘abortion is murder’.

Someone who knew Bart van U. said, quoted in Dutch daily Metro, 26 January 2015:

He saw Muslim extremists everywhere, and also said that abortion is murder.

Some fanatical religious people extrapolate that to giving oneself the right to murder people with pro-choice views. Like violent ultra-religious Christians in the USA murdering doctors. And, apparently, Bart van U. in the Netherlands murdering someone with different views on women’s reproductive rights. Even if that person with different views is one’s own sister.

One may ask: if a person like Bart van U. hated his own sister so much for her different views on women’s reproductive rights, then how much stronger must his hatred have been for Ms Borst? Not his sister. Not just someone with views; but someone who put her views into practice by liberalizing the laws of the land about abortion and euthanasia.

Dutch NOS TV reporter Robert Bas says that may have been Bart van U.’s motive for murdering Ms Borst.

That ultra-fundamentalist Christian ‘abortion is murder’ ideology may have been Van U.’s murder motive was only mentioned very shortly, or not at all, by Dutch and international media reports on this.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands today:

Former D66 minister Els Borst was killed by stab wounds. The public prosecutor has announced this, now that the summons has been sent to the suspect, Bart [van] U.

Van U. will be next Tuesday for the first time in the court room in this case. However, he had to justify himself earlier for the murder of his sister. In court he admitted that he had stabbed his sister. About the murder of Ms Borst, as far as is known, nothing was said.

Borst was murdered in February last year in the garage at her home in Bilthoven. Almost a year later, in January, Van U. murdered his sister. Only during the investigation into that murder, police started to suspect him of the violent death of the former minister.

Now, to another side of self-confessed murderer Bart van U. Apparently, this Islamophobesaw Muslim extremists everywhere‘. Unfortunately, Bart van U. is not the only person with that kind of fanaticism, neither in the Netherlands nor in other countries.

Now, let us imagine for the sake of argument that Bart van U. would not have been the Christian extremist Bart van U.; but an imaginary Muslim extremist called Mohamed U. Mohamed U. who murdered his sister, called Fatima, not Loïs, for religious infidelity on abortion. Mohamed U. who murdered Minister Borst for liberalizing rules on abortion and euthanasia, at variance with Mohamed U.’s views about what Muslim sharia law about that should be.

Then, not just one sentence in media, as now about Bart van U.’s possible motive. Chocolate letter headlines on newspapers’ front pages about “International Islamic terrorism at it again“. Supporters of Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic PVV party setting mosques which have nothing to do with Mohamed U. on fire. Dutch politicians afraid of losing voters to the PVV attacking civil liberties, of Muslims and of other people as well.

Fortunately, as far as I know no one in the Netherlands so far has blamed Christians who have nothing to do with Bart van U. and his crimes. I hope it will stay that way. And that people will learn lessons from that about the stupidity of Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, homophobia, anti-Roma racism, anti-African racism, anti-east European bigotry, etc. etc.

Baptists arrested in Missouri, USA


Members of the Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America delegation that traveled to Ferguson, Mo. Four were arrested in a civil disobedience demonstration. (Photo: Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America Facebook page)

After a sheriff in Texas, USA referred to a Methodist preacher as ‘Satanic’ for caring about the death of Sandra Bland, now Baptists arrested for caring about the death of Michael Brown. Maybe ‘Satanists’ to law enforcement as well? [sarcasm off]

From the Baptist Standard in the USA:

August 17, 2015

By Staff / Baptist Standard

Four of the 57 people arrested Aug. 10 in a peaceful protest outside a federal courthouse in St. Louis were part of an eight-member Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America delegation in Ferguson, Mo., there to observe the one-year anniversary of the Aug. 9, 2014, police shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

U.S. Attorney Richard Callahan issued a statement saying the arrests were for “obstructing the normal use” of entrances to the Thomas Eagleton Federal Courthouse. They occurred during an “otherwise peaceful and nonviolent” march by about 200 protestors through downtown St. Louis in a day of civil disobedience dubbed “Moral Monday.” BPFNA Executive Director LeDayne McLeese Polaski identified the four arrested delegation members as Martha Kearse, associate minister at St. John’s Baptist Church in Charlotte, N.C.; Tremaine Sails-Dunbar, a senior at American Baptist College in Nashville, Tenn.; Barbara Smalley-McMahan, a pastoral counselor and American Baptist minister active in previous Moral Monday protests in North Carolina; and Alexis Tardy, a recent graduate of Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis and former intern in the office of Congressman André Carson, D-Ind.

Pro-Sandra Bland clergywoman called ‘Satanic’ by Texas sheriff


Waller County Sheriff R. Glenn Smith (screen grab)

By David Edwards in the USA:

Sheriff taunts clergy keeping vigil at jail where Sandra Bland died: ‘Go back to the church of Satan

10 Aug 2015 at 16:12 ET

A United Methodist Church pastor in Texas said on Monday that the Waller County sheriff told her to “go back to the church of Satan” while she was keeping vigil outside the jail where Sandra Bland died.

Hannah Adair Bonner explained on her Twitter feed that she went to the Waller County Jail on Monday just like she had for 27 days since Bland’s death. While she was sitting outside the jail, Sheriff R. Glenn Smith decided to confront her.

Cell phone video uploaded by Bonner shows Smith walking by and asking if she needs his business card, presumably so he can be correctly identified.

“Why don’t you go back to the church of Satan that you run?” Smith asks as he walks into the jail.

Bonner later called on activists to contact Smith’s office for an apology.

“Sheriff then went to my car, took pics of license plate and my face and threatened he is going to do something with them,” she noted.

See also here. And here.

Smith’s behaviour, associating a Christian pastor with Satanism, reminds me of how southern racists in the USA used to call, and still call, another Christian minister: Dr Martin Luther King Junior they call ‘Marxist Lucifer Coon Jewnior’, mixing religious fear mongering about Satan with red-baiting, racist stereotypes and anti-Semitism.

From The Atlantic in the USA about Texas:

In 2007, the chief of police in Hempstead, Glenn Smith, was accused of racism and police brutality during an arrest. Council members opted to suspend Smith for two weeks, a sanction that disappointed civil-rights leaders in town. The following year, amid more allegations of police misconduct, Smith was fired. He promptly ran for county sheriff and won, and is now charged with investigating Bland’s death in the jail he oversees.

16-year-old Israeli girl murdered by ultra-religious homophobe


Shira Banki, 16-year-old Israeli girl before she was murdered by an ultra-religious homophobe

From daily Haaretz in Israel:

16 Year Old Stabbed in Jerusalem Pride Parade Succumbs to Wounds

Shira Banki was critically wounded in an attack by an ultra-Orthodox man on Thursday; Netanyahu: She died for bravely supporting everyone’s right to live in dignity.

Also from Haaretz: Why the Israeli government’s condemnation of Jerusalem Gay Pride attack is hollow

See also here.

Yaniv Kubovich Aug 02, 2015 6:16 PM

Three days after being critically wounded by an ultra-Orthodox man that went on a stabbing rampage at Jerusalem’s Gay Pride Parade, Shira Banki, a 16-year-old Israeli teen succumbed to her wounds Sunday afternoon. Five other people were wounded in the attack.

Police confirmed that the suspected stabber is Yishai Schlissel, a Haredi man from Modiin Ilit who stabbed three participants in the 2005 Gay Pride march. He was recently released from prison after serving a 10-year sentence.

Banki was a high-school student from Jerusalem, studying at the Hebrew University High School. She took part in Thursday’s parade to show solidarity with her LGBT friends. She is survived by her parents and three siblings; her family decided to donate her organs.

In a statement issued Sunday, her family said: “Our magical Shira was murdered because she was a happy 16-year-old – full of life and love – who came to express her support for her friends’ rights to live as they choose. For no good reason and because of evil, stupidity and negligence, the life of our beautiful flower was cut short. Bad things happen to good people, and a very bad thing happened to our amazing girl. The family expresses hope for a less hatred and more tolerance.” The family requests the public respect their privacy as they grieve.

As of Sunday afternoon two of those wounded in the attack alongside Banki were still in serious condition and remained hospitalized, though medical officials said their condition was improving. Three of the other people wounded in the attack were released home after suffering lighter injuries.

Opposition Chairman Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) also issued a statement, saying Banki was a victim of “Jewish terror”. “I cry for Shira… she is the age of my children. We will not tolerate violence, racism or LGBT-phobia of any kind,” he said, reiterating his demand that the prime minister outlaw extreme right-wing groups which he said “incite hatred” in Israel.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Habayit Hayehudi) said in a statement: “It’s a dark day for Israel… in which a high school girl is murdered for her opinions and positions.” “There is no principle in the world worth the life of a young girl,” said Bennett, who was supposed to address an LGBT rally Saturday evening, but canceled after refusing to sign a commitment to act on behalf of the gay community. This is “a day in which we became darkness unto the nations instead of a being light unto the nations,” he added.

On Saturday, thousands of Israelis took to the streets to protest the stabbing as well as a deadly arson attack in the West Bank that saw a Palestinian infant killed.  “Flames have engulfed our country,” President Reuven Rivlin said at the rally in Jerusalem’s Zion Square. “Flames of violence, flames of hatred, flames of false, distorted and twisted beliefs.”

An estimated 10,000 people turned up for a rally in Tel Aviv’s Gan Meir, which was already planned to mark six years since two people were killed in a shooting at Barnoar, a Tel Aviv gay youth center. …

The attacker, Schlissel, was sentenced for 12 years in prison for the 2005 attack after his conviction on charges of attempted murder and aggravated assault. However, in 2007, following an appeal, the Supreme Court mitigated his sentence to 10 years. He was deemed sane and fit to face trial on Friday.

After his release, Schlissel returned to his hometown, where residents said that he distributed hand-written pamphlets in which he called on “all Jews faithful to God” to risk “beatings and imprisonment” for the sake of preventing the parade.

Right-wing MK: Jerusalem pride parade is an ‘abomination’. Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker Betzalel Smotrich calls anti-violence protest held in wake of stabbing a ‘witch hunt’ against those opposing LGBT rights: here.

Israel Police to probe failure to monitor Jerusalem gay pride parade assailant. Yishai Schlissel, who served 10 years for 2005 parade stabbing attack, urged self-sacrifice against ‘abomination parade’ following his recent release: here.