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Manislam – The Magic Mirror of Nefise

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The documentary Manislam organizes the second 11th of September attack of the western world. But this time, the cure of love is used instead of the destructive power of violence. Nefise attacks the minds of extremists with the uniting weapons of natural narration, spontaneity, empathy and pure humanity. After Manislam, it’s not easy to be an extremist anymore.

If every movie di­rec­tor was as metic­u­lous as Ne­fise Özkal Lörentzen, com­men­ta­tor ed­i­tors all around the world would be un­em­ployed. Ne­fise shocks the com­men­ta­tors with the final episode of her Islam and gen­der tril­ogy. The doc­u­men­tary Man­is­lam or­ga­nizes the sec­ond 11th of Sep­tem­ber at­tack of the west­ern world. But this time, the cure of love is used in­stead of the de­struc­tive power of vi­o­lence. Ne­fise at­tacks the minds of ex­trem­ists with the unit­ing weapons of nat­ural nar­ra­tion, spon­tane­ity, em­pa­thy and pure hu­man­ity. After Man­is­lam, it’s not easy to be an ex­trem­ist any­more. Both for rad­i­cal Mus­lims and right wing Chris­tians… Just like it was harder to be an av­er­age Mus­lim or Chris­t­ian after 11th of Sep­tem­ber in 2001. Thanks to Man­is­lam, maybe an era is closed, at least in Nor­way.

Six years old jour­ney of Ne­fise Özkal Lörentzen ar­rived to its des­ti­na­tion on 20th of May with the première of Man­is­lam. At the end of her speech, she in­vited the au­di­ence to stand up for the com­mem­o­ra­tion of mine work­ers in SOMA, Turkey. Thanks to her, 600 hearts of the Saga The­atre felt the do­lor­ous heat of SOMA, like a burn­ing coal. Quick re­minder for the fu­ture time read­ers: More than 300 mine work­ers were killed in SOMA last week and some rel­a­tives of the vic­tims were ac­tively beaten by the Turk­ish Prime Min­is­ter Er­do­gan and his ad­vi­sor Yusuf Yerkel.

Man­is­lam is the third movie of the doc­u­men­tary film maker Ne­fise Özkal Lörentzen. Her pre­vi­ous gen­der stud­ies Gen­der me (2008) and A bal­loon for Allah (2011) helped her di­vide the Mus­lim so­ci­ety into 3 dif­fer­ent lay­ers sim­i­lar to the age cir­cles of a tree. In her first movie ‘Gen­der me’, she car­ried the weak­est and most vul­ner­a­ble layer of Is­lamic so­ci­ety, the ho­mo­sex­u­als. Whereas ‘A bal­loon for Allah’ demon­strated the sec­ond most abused layer of Mus­lim so­ci­ety all over the world, the women. And fi­nally, the jour­ney leads to the core of the prob­lem, the men. How­ever, Ne­fise is not using an ac­cusative way of telling the sto­ries; in­stead she aims to show how the men are also abused by the wrong in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Islam.

For those who did not see the movie yet, it may seem un­fair to give some spoil­ers. How­ever, Ne­fise has been pro­vid­ing the spoil­ers of life, like a poet. Her jour­ney in­tro­duces us 4 Mar­tin Luther of our time. These in­flu­en­tial men are from Bangladesh, In­done­sia, Kuwait and Turkey.

Gezi Park sup­porter Anti-Cap­i­tal­ist Mus­lim Ihsan Eliacik says fol­low­ing words in Man­is­lam. “There are two kinds of re­li­gion. One, dead re­li­gion. Two, liv­ing re­li­gion. The dead re­li­gions are the ones which com­pleted its era in this world. They are no longer valid. Pray­ing 5 times a day in a lan­guage that you don’t know, di­vid­ing peo­ple who fol­low Ra­madan or not, dis­crim­i­nat­ing the women who cover her hair or not… These are the rit­u­als of dead re­li­gions. But the liv­ing re­li­gion is work­ing for hu­man­ity just like the prophets of the an­cient times did. Prac­tic­ing dead re­li­gion saves no one, but fol­low­ing the liv­ing re­li­gion may save us all.” In ad­di­tion to his words, the au­di­ence reaches to the fol­low­ing con­clu­sion: “The first ac­tivists of the world are the prophets.”

The sound­tracks of Man­is­lam are com­posed by Mer­can Dede who will visit Oslo this sum­mer for Mela Fes­ti­val. Mer­can Dede is maybe Turkey’s top spir­i­tual music com­poser. And the movie is shot as a NRK TV pro­duc­tion. For those who did not join the pre­miere, I would like the state the Kuwaiti char­ac­ter of the doc­u­men­tary, Dr. Naif Al Mu­tawa who did a pre­sen­ta­tion at the pre­miere. “Re­li­gion is a beau­ti­ful woman, but the pol­i­tics is a filthy man. The re­li­gion and pol­i­tics should never marry. Be­cause when the re­li­gion gets preg­nant, some­thing uglier than the pol­i­tics is born. And these ugly chil­dren marry more dan­ger­ous and dirt­ier things, and it gets worse and worse. Until some­body comes up and stops this cycle.” His wise words con­firm the founder of mod­ern Turkey. Ataturk do­nated the sec­u­lar­ity prin­ci­ple to Turks 100 years ago as a gift.

In con­clu­sion, stat­ing a poem is more than nec­es­sary to re­lease the emo­tions. Thanks to Ne­fise, Man­is­lam is brought to our worlds as a mir­ror which re­flects only beauty, hu­man­ity and peace. Man­is­lam is the magic mir­ror of Ne­fise.

You have no idea how hard I've looked

for a gift to bring You.

Noth­ing seemed right.

What's the point of bring­ing gold to

the gold mine, or water to the ocean?

Every­thing I came up with was like

tak­ing spices to the Ori­ent.

It's no good giv­ing my heart and my

soul be­cause you al­ready have these.

So I've brought you a mir­ror.

Look at your­self and re­mem­ber me.


Ser­can Leylek

(Watch Man­is­lam for free for Nor­we­gian res­i­dents: http://​tv.​nrk.​no/​program/​kmte30001512/​mannislam)