Maisie Williams: Stop going to dolphin shows

Maisie Williams
Updated 03 December 2016
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Maisie Williams: Stop going to dolphin shows

TOKYO: “Game of Thrones” star Maisie Williams wants everyone to stop buying tickets to marine shows. She says it is the best way to stop the capture and killings of dolphins in Japan.
“These animals travel the ocean. That’s what they explore daily. No tank will be big enough. No tank will ever be deep enough, ever be exciting enough,” she said Friday in a Skype call from the small Japanese town of Taiji, whose dolphin hunt was documented in the 2009 Oscar-winning film “The Cove.”
Williams, 19, is the latest celebrity joining the cause to save dolphins. Others include Brian May of Queen, Sting and Daryl Hannah. She hopes her influence, especially on social media, with 4 million followers on Instagram and 1.5 million on Twitter, will help the cause.
Ric O’Barry, the dolphin trainer for the “Flipper” TV series, started the protests against the Taiji dolphin kill. He starred in “The Cove,” which depicts a pod of dolphins getting herded into an inlet and bludgeoned to death.
The ones that are killed and sold for meat are left over from the main purpose of the hunt — selling the best-looking ones to aquariums and shows. The hunters in Taiji and their supporters have repeatedly defended the custom as tradition, although eating dolphins is extremely rare in Japan. The Japanese government also defends whaling as research.
Williams, who is the global ambassador for O’Barry’s Dolphin Project campaign, said that only a handful of Taiji fishermen are benefiting from the practice and many Japanese do not even know about Taiji.
“It’s not an attack on Japan at all, or on Taiji, or the people of Taiji,” she said. “I want to say, honestly, hand on heart, that this is not an attack on anyone in specific.”
During her trip, her second time in Japan, she plans to go whale-watching in Mikura Islands, south of Tokyo, where whales are protected and dolphins are often seen swimming in the wild.


After years of silence, music fills streets of Iraq’s Mosul

Renowned Iraqi maestro and cello player Karim Wasfi performs in Mosul’s war-ravaged Old City on November 10, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 30 min 58 sec ago
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After years of silence, music fills streets of Iraq’s Mosul

  • The city even has its own special genre of Arabic ballads, recognized across Iraq and beyond
  • Tahsin Haddad, who heads the local artists’ syndicate, said he is keen to support public arts across the province

MOSUL: For centuries, it was a magnet for artists across the region and churned out Iraq’s best musicians — but recent years saw Mosul suffer a devastating musical purge.
For three years until last summer, the sprawling northern city was under the brutal rule of the Daesh group.
In imposing a city-wide ban on playing or even listening to music, the jihadists smashed and torched instruments.
“It was impossible to bring my instrument with me whenever I left the house,” said city resident Fadel Al-Badri, who hid his precious violin from the rampaging fighters.
Foreshadowing IS’ repression, the 2000s saw Al-Qaeda and other groups impose an ultra-conservative interpretation of Islam in several districts of the city.
But with Mosul freed from the grip of IS in July 2017, Iraq’s second city is embarking on a musical comeback.
“After the liberation, songs are back where they truly belong in Mosul,” said Badri, welcoming the return of evening celebrations and festivals.
The 45-year old violinist now has the pleasure of playing in public once more to an audience that claps hands and sings along to traditional local tunes.

Mosul has a rich musical history.
It is the home city of Ziryab, a musician who introduced the oud — the oriental lute popular across the Arab world — to Europe in the 9th century.
One of its more recent musical prodigies is Kazem Al-Saher, the Iraqi crooner-turned-talent judge known around the region.
The city even has its own special genre of Arabic ballads, recognized across Iraq and beyond.
From folkloric shows and philharmonic concerts to weddings and other national holidays, song and dance have traditionally filled the streets and surrounding air.
But that meant nothing to IS, which ravaged Mosul’s heritage — musical and otherwise — when it took the city as part of a lightning offensive across Iraq in 2014.
The jihadists began by destroying the statue of celebrated ballad virtuoso Mulla Uthman Al-Mosuli, and then turned their attention to destroying instruments across the city.
IS also forced musicians in Mosul to sign a pledge that they would never play or sing again, which was then posted in public places like mosques.
Singer Ahmed Al-Saher, 33, said it was humiliating.
“I couldn’t leave Mosul after they made me sign because of my sick mother. I had to stay here under all that pressure and fear of the unknown,” he recalled.
Ordinary residents, as well as musicians, are keen to celebrate the return of artistic freedom.
“Terrorism failed in killing Mosulites’ love for art in all forms. It’s been born again, despite the destruction,” said Amneh Al-Hayyali.
The 38-year-old brought her husband, son, and daughter to watch a late-night concert in a cultural center in east Mosul.
“Today, after the dark era of beheadings, lashings, beards and veils being imposed on us... we sing,” she said.

But bringing Mosul’s artistic scene back to its former heyday will not be easy.
Tahsin Haddad, who heads the local artists’ syndicate, said he is keen to support public arts across the province.
“But we are in huge need of support from the central government in Baghdad, especially because Mosul currently has no stages, movie theaters, or art spaces,” he told AFP.
Without these venues, artists play in local cafes and public squares.
Celebrated Iraqi musician Karim Wasfi recently performed in a Mosul park where IS once infamously trained its child soldiers.
Earlier this month, Iraqi artists from around the country swarmed to the city for a cultural festival at Mosul University.
Performers stomped the dabkeh — a traditional Arabic line dance — and painters brought their works to display on the campus.
Glamorous Iraqi artist Adiba traveled from Baghdad with an entourage of peers.
“I am so happy to be in Mosul, singing here after it was freed from the grip” of IS, she said, moments before stepping on stage.
“Artists — Iraqi, Arab, foreign — should all come play festivals here.”