Berlin’s oldest squatters takea stand for their social club

Updated 04 August 2012

Berlin’s oldest squatters takea stand for their social club

SOME of Berlin’s most senior squatters are nearly a century old, but age is not stopping the scrappy bunch from fighting impending eviction from their cherished social club.
The cash-strapped authorities in the former communist eastern district of Pankow have said they need to cut around five million euros ($6 million) from their budget and plan to close public facilities to do so.
Among the sites hit is a villa on Stille Strasse, the home of despised Stasi secret police chief Erich Mielke in the 1950s and now a beloved gathering place for some 300 pensioners to play chess, learn English, dance and socialize.
The stately old place is surrounded by mature trees and, most recently, draped with banners reading “Hands off!” and “This house is occupied”.
“We always told them we were prepared to occupy the building for the cause. The politicians didn’t believe us,” club president Doris Syrbe, 72, told AFP.
The Pankow administrators say it would cost 2.5 million euros to renovate the site, which has been used as a clubhouse for nearly 15 years. Maintenance costs reach 60,000 euros annually.
The district now aims to sell it out from under the grey-haired patrons on Berlin’s buoyant real estate market. But the senior citizens say they will not take the city’s announcement lying down and since early July have hung out the banners and taken turns occupying the gracious old mansion all day and night to ensure no one locks them out.
“The house was to be closed for the summer and we were afraid of not being able to return after the holidays,” Syrbe said. Although Pankow has offered alternative meeting places, the pensioners are having none of it, saying the other options fail to offer the facilities needed for them to continue their fitness classes, for example, or to accommodate all the current members. “We were ready to move but somewhere in the neighborhood, and everybody together,” Syrbe said.
“We refuse to be split apart,” added the retired telecommunications engineer. They have also taken their campaign online to the social mobilization site and collected more than 4,900 signatures.
The seniors aim to hand a petition with 10,000 names to officials in the district administration at a council meeting later this month.
A 29-year-old representative from US-based said she wants to get the elderly activists to deploy Twitter as well and was checking to see if their mobile phones were equipped to use the microblogging site.
Officials have meanwhile cut off service to the landline telephone at the centre.
“You can’t make a claim to a telephone paid for by the district in an illegally squatted house,” town councilor Lioba Zuern-Kasztantowicz told local media, citing the acute need for budget cuts to justify clearing the space.
House-squatting has a long tradition in Berlin. During the Cold War, young activists in the West of the city demonstrated their disgust about property speculation by taking over buildings.
When the Berlin Wall fell, the practice spread into the eastern districts.
The average age of the rebels on Stille Strasse is about 70, however, with some well into their 90s. They say they are entitled to a peaceful, publicly financed place to paint, play cards and sing in a choir.
“We’re not ready for hospice care,” said a defiant Syrbe.
The group has taken inspiration from the international Occupy movements, and maintains a well-oiled media operation, neat camping beds in the rooms of the house and impeccable cleanliness.
The neighbours have been largely supportive, coming by with an encouraging word or a freshly baked cake to keep up morale. Many of the seniors say they have been touched by such signs of solidarity, particularly from young people.
Sven Schwabe, 26, who studies social movements at the University of Duesseldorf in western Germany, raced across the country when he heard about the Pankow project.


Chrissy Teigen sports a look by Madiyah Al-Sharqi

Chrissy Teigen at an event. (AFP)
Updated 23 October 2018

Chrissy Teigen sports a look by Madiyah Al-Sharqi

DUBAI: Model and social media superstar Chrissy Teigen was spotted wearing an item by UAE-based brand Madiyah Al-Sharqi last week — and it’s giving us major style envy.

The model — who is known for her witty, off-the-cuff commentary and political activism on Twitter and Instagram — hit the streets of New York with her husband John Legend in tow while wearing a pair of high-waisted velvet trousers.


The mustard-colored pants hail from the Fujairah-based brand’s Autumn/Winter 2018 collection and are available on

The label is also available online on e-tailers Ounass and By Symphony.

Since founding the fashion house in 2012, Al-Sharqi ‘s collections have received international acclaim and have been featured in the likes of Vogue Italia, Vogue Arabia, Harper’s Bazaar Arabia and Grazia.
Based in the Emirate of Fujairah, which is relatively unknown on the fashion scene compared to its internationally acclaimed sister state of Dubai, the label is making headway on the Hollywood circuit and was even worn by Paris Jackson in June and by US singer and actress Vanessa Hudgens on the set of the TV show “So You Think You Can Dance” in August.

For her part, Hudgens looked stunning in a lamé corset with lace-up detailing on the back and a sweetheart neckline. Matching, wide-legged trousers completed the 70s-style look that came in a pretty mix of pastel shades, including lilac, peach, sunny yellow and silver.

“Last night’s look on @danceonfox,” Hudgens, who shot to fame after starring in the hugely popular series of High School Musical films during the noughties, posted on her Instagram account at the time. Hudgens worked with celebrity stylist Natalie Saidi to achieve the shimmery look.

Teigen, who recently took to social media to educate fans on how to properly say her name, paired her Madiyah Al-Sharqi trousers with a white, fitted top, knee-length navy blazer and a demure Chanel bag.

In September, she teasingly chastised the media and fans for mispronouncing her last name saying it had been garbled for years, but she hasn’t corrected anyone.

The mother and model took to social media to say it’s not Teigen (TEE’-gihn), but Teigen (TY’-gihn). Off camera, her mother confirmed it with a “Yep!” according to The Associated Press.

The 32-year-old joked that she’s “tired of living this lie.”

She previously wrote on Twitter that her name has been mispronounced and she “doesn’t correct people, ever.”