Disabled Palestinian refugee from ISIS now in Dutch ex-prison

Rafiq in the Haarlem prison building, photo: NOS

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Man on crutches in ISIS area, nearly drowns, but makes it to the Netherlands

Today, 18:24

In late August of this year we got to know him, Rafiq, a 65-year-old Palestinian from Syria, sweaty and exhausted, breathing heavily and inching, using crutches, crossing the border between Serbia and Hungary. He wanted only one thing: to go to the Netherlands. Correspondent Marcel van der Steen saw him disappear into the night.

Van der Steen decided to keep in touch with Rafiq and recently received notice that he had managed to reach the Netherlands. Rafiq is now staying in the Panopticon Prison in Haarlem, which is now an emergency shelter. Reporter Nicole le Fever met him there.

Rafiq’s journey is hard to summarize. To flee Syria he had to cross ISIS territory. A Chechen stopped him and asked why he had no beard. “That does not grow with me,” he replied. But the young man thought that was not a good excuse and Rafiq received twenty lashes.

When asked if he smoked, he lied, because he had heard that he should never admit it. Fortunately, the cigarette pack that he had was not found on him. Finally, the legs of his trousers above his ankles were cut off because Muslim men, according to tradition, must not wear clothing over their ankles.

Once in Turkey, it turned out that as a Palestinian he was not allowed to stay because he had no papers. “Stateless”, therefore, says the new card which he received from the Dutch authorities.

Nearly drowned

So the only way was to try to reach a Greek island by boat. The first attempt failed. The boat made water and Rafiq would have drowned if he would not have been saved by an Iraqi friend. The second attempt succeeded though.

Late August Marcel van der Steen saw him stumble in the dark towards the Hungarian border. He managed to enter the country and for 1000 euros he took a taxi to Germany. The last stage, to Amsterdam Central Station, was by train. There he got a ticket for the train and bus to Ter Apel refugee camp to report there.

Rafiq is grateful that he has arrived safely in the Netherlands. Syria and his problems with the government he won’t talk about much because he is worried about his wife, who stayed behind in Syria. However, he talks about his old life, including in Dubai and Eastern Europe, where he used to own electronics stores and a furniture store.

Will he still see his wife?

His greatest wish is that his wife may come to the Netherlands, but he is concerned about the length of the procedure. First he was told he would hear something within 5 to 12 months, but that is now a year. And then it takes another year before family members can come. Rafiq is afraid that he will not live that long.

All is not well with his health. He has many problems with his legs and kidneys. He also has to follow a special diet. Fortunately, he gets help from two Syrians in the cell next to him. They help him out of bed and with cleaning. For one of his neighbours bad news came today. One of his sons was killed in Syria and his 16-year-old daughter has remained all alone. The man is desperate.

“So, we all have our stories and problems.” says Rafiq.

Benedict Cumberbatch condemns UK government’s inhumane refugee policy: here.

While thousands of refugees risk their lives to cross the Mediterranean each day to commence an arduous journey through the Balkans, the governing coalition in Berlin is fighting over the most effective way to send them back: here.

Caterpillar on apple, video

This video shows a caterpillar of a privet hawk moth on an apple in the garden of Xandra van den Oever in Haarlem in the Netherlands.

Ring-necked parakeets conquer Haarlem city

This video is about ring-necked parakeets in Greece.

Dutch SOVON ornithologists estimate there are now about 10,000 ring-necked parakeets in the Netherlands. Mainly in the big cities The Hague, Rotterdam and Amsterdam.

However, they are spreading to other cities like Haarlem.

The birds showed up for the first time in Haarlem in 2005. Last winter, 500 parakeets were counted at Haarlem sleeping roosts. In June 2014, 937 individuals were counted.

Dutch lies on ‘North African crime’

This Dutch video is about an anti-racist demonstration in 2010 in Amsterdam.

Translated from NOS TV in the Netherlands:

Declaration about abuse proves to be false

Monday 14 Oct 2013, 14:43 (Update: 14-10-13, 14:46)

The 20-year-old woman from IJmuiden who claimed she was assaulted by six men appears to have invented that story. The woman has confessed that she made a false declaration.

The woman said she was in a bus [#75] in Haarlem and had a discussion with six men. When she got off the bus, they supposedly chased her and beat her up.


The police investigated camera footage and questioned witnesses, but these did not confirm the statement by the woman. When police confronted her with that, she confessed that she had lied.

The PVV [Geert Wilders‘ xenophobic party] asked parliamentary questions on this issue. According to the woman she was supposedly attacked by men looking like North Africans.

See also here.

Audubon’s Birds of America, other old books, online

This video from the USA is called JOHN JAMES AUDUBON: THE BIRDS OF AMERICA.

Translated from Historiek in the Netherlands:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Teyler’s Museum in Haarlem this Tuesday put online fifty highlights from its own library collection. People can now browse the Internet for the most famous bird book in the world and for the well=known eighteenth-century Atlas Major of Reinier Ottens.

One of the works which the museum has put online is the rare book The Birds of America (1826-1838) by John James Audubon. Teyler’s Museum is the only institution in the Benelux countries which owns a complete copy of this, the world’s most famous bird book. US American writer and naturalist John James Audubon (1785-1851) wrote the book in the nineteenth century. Audubon painted birds, often life-size, during his journey to America. Back in London he decided to make a book. In that book one can admire 435 pictures and 1065 birds.

Haarlem poetry festival

This is a video about the Haarlem poetry festival in the Netherlands in 2011.

This year, 17 May 2012, there was a festival as well.

It was at six places near the inner city central market square, where the medieval main church is.

Haarlem, 17 May 2012, near the medieval main church

The official opening of the festival was by the two poets Rick de Leeuw and Erik Jan Harmens; reading from their new poetry book which they had published together.

Rick de Leeuw and Erik Jan Hermens reading their poetry, Haarlem, 17 May 2012

There were a hundred poets participating. Including yours truly. I read some poems of mine twice.

The first time was on the street before the Koops pub.

The first poet there was Maarten Willems. Also a singer-songwriter, he sang a few songs as well.

Then Jos Zuijderwijk. His poems included one on birds’ songs (including wheatears and shrikes).

Jack Terrible, Haarlem, 17 May 2012

Third was Jack Terrible. All his poems this time were about psychology and psychiatry, and his bad experiences with them.

Then, me, with poems on the Dutch government, insects, and other subjects.

Audience in Haarlem, 17 May 2012, while I read my poems

Then, Harry Aukes from IJmuiden.

Then, Dick van Hoeve from Bergen.

Finally, Jando (stage name of Jan de Dood). His poems included one about anabolic steroids.

Then, to the Waag building to hear other poets.

Mirjam Al had a poem against the Greek “Golden Dawn” nazis.

Mirjam Bros had one on great crested grebes.

Then, to the archaeological museum. There was my second time to read my poems.

Til Schaap reading a poem, archaeological museum, Haarlem, 17 May 2012

One poem by Til Schaap was about bankers’ bonuses.

Ex-nurse Liesbeth de Kat had poems about Auschwitz. Ex-homeless bicycle repairman Michel Fakkeldij had poems on homelessness.