Surrealism is a cultural movement that began in the early 1920s, and is best known for the visual artworks and writings of the group members.

Surrealist works feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions and non sequitur; however, many Surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being an artifact. Leader André Breton was explicit in his assertion that Surrealism was above all a revolutionary movement.

Surrealism developed out of the Dada activities of World War I and the most important center of the movement was Paris. From the 1920s on, the movement spread around the globe, eventually affecting the visual arts, literature, film and music of many countries and languages, as well as political thought and practice, philosophy and social theory.

World War I scattered the writers and artists who had been based in Paris, and in the interim many involved themselves with Dada, believing that excessive rational thought and bourgeois values had brought the terrifying conflict upon the world. The Dadaists protested with anti-art gatherings, performances, writings and art works. After the war, when they returned to Paris, the Dada activities continued.

During the war, André Breton, who had trained in medicine and psychiatry, served in a neurological hospital where he used Sigmund Freud‘s psychoanalytic methods with soldiers suffering from shell-shock. He met the young writer Jacques Vaché and felt that Vaché was the spiritual son of writer and pataphysics founder Alfred Jarry, and came to admire the young writer’s anti-social attitude and disdain for established artistic tradition. Later Breton wrote, “In literature, I was successively taken with Rimbaud, with Jarry, with Apollinaire, with Nouveau, with Lautréamont, but it is Jacques Vaché to whom I owe the most.”

Back in Paris, Breton joined in Dada activities and started the literary journal Littérature along with Louis Aragon and Philippe Soupault. They began experimenting with automatic writing—spontaneously writing without censoring their thoughts—and published the writings, as well as accounts of dreams, in the magazine. Breton and Soupault delved deeper into automatism and wrote The Magnetic Fields in 1919. They continued writing, gathered more artists and writers into the group, and came to believe that automatism was a better tactic for societal change than the Dada attack on prevailing values. In addition to Breton, Aragon, and Soupault, the group expanded to include Paul Éluard, Benjamin Péret, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Jacques Baron, Max Morise, Pierre Naville, Roger Vitrac, Gala Éluard, Max Ernst, Salvador Dalí, Man Ray, Hans Arp, Georges Malkine, Michel Leiris, Georges Limbour, Antonin Artaud, Raymond Queneau, André Masson, Joan Miró, Marcel Duchamp, Jacques Prévert, and Yves Tanguy.

As they developed their philosophy they felt that while Dada rejected categories and labels, Surrealism would advocate the idea that ordinary and depictive expressions are vital and important, but that the sense of their arrangement must be open to the full range of imagination according to the Hegelian Dialectic. They also looked to the Marxist dialectic and the work of such theorists as Walter Benjamin and Herbert Marcuse.

Freud’s work with free association, dream analysis, and the unconscious was of utmost importance to the Surrealists in developing methods to liberate imagination. However, they embraced idiosyncrasy, while rejecting the idea of an underlying madness. Later, Salvador Dalí explained it as: “There is only one difference between a madman and me. I am not mad.”

The group aimed to revolutionize human experience, in its personal, cultural, social, and political aspects, by freeing people from what they saw as false rationality, and restrictive customs and structures. Breton proclaimed, the true aim of Surrealism is “long live the social revolution, and it alone!” To this goal, at various times Surrealists aligned with communism and anarchism.

In 1924 they declared their philosophy and intentions in the first “Surrealist Manifesto.” That same year they established the Bureau of Surrealist Research, and began publishing the journal La Révolution surréaliste.

Breton wrote the manifesto of 1924 that defines the purposes of the group and includes citations of the influences on Surrealism, examples of Surrealist works and discussion of Surrealist automatism. He defined Surrealism as:

Dictionary: Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

Encyclopedia: Surrealism. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.

Shortly after releasing the first Surrealist Manifesto, the Surrealists published the inaugural issue of La Révolution surréaliste and publication continued into 1929. Naville and Péret were the initial directors of the publication and modeled the format of the journal on the conservative scientific review La Nature. The format was deceiving, and to the Surrealists’ delight the journal was consistently scandalous and revolutionary. The focus was on writing, with most pages densely packed with columns of text, but also included reproductions of art, among them works by Giorgio de Chirico, Ernst, Masson, and Man Ray.

The Bureau of Surrealist Research (Centrale Surréaliste) was the Paris office where the Surrealist writers and artists gathered to meet, hold discussions, and conduct interviews with the goal of investigating speech under trance.

There is no clear consensus about the end, or if there was an end, to the Surrealist movement. Some art historians suggest that World War II effectively disbanded the movement. However, art historian Sarane Alexandrian (1970) states, “the death of André Breton in 1966 marked the end of Surrealism as an organized movement.” There have also been attempts to tie the obituary of the movement to the 1989 death of Salvador Dalí.

In the 1960s, the artists and writers grouped around the Situationist International were closely associated with Surrealism. While Guy Debord was critical of and distanced himself from Surrealism, others, such as Asger Jorn, were explicitly using Surrealist techniques and methods. The events of May 1968 in France included a number of Surrealist ideas, and among the slogans the students spray-painted on the walls of the Sorbonne were familiar Surrealist ones. Joan Miró would commemorate this in a painting titled May 1968. There were also groups who associated with both currents and were more attached to Surrealism, such as the Revolutionary Surrealist Group.

In Europe and all over the world since the 1960s, artists have combined Surrealism with what is believed to be a classical 16th century technique called mischtechnik, a kind of mix of egg tempera and oil paint rediscovered by Ernst Fuchs, a contemporary of Dalí, and now practiced and taught by many followers, including Robert Venosa and Chris Mars. The former curator of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Michael Bell, has called this style “veristic Surrealism”, which depicts with meticulous clarity and great detail a world analogous to the dream world. Other tempera artists, such as Robert Vickrey, regularly depict Surreal imagery.

During the 1980s, behind the Iron Curtain, Surrealism again entered into politics with an underground artistic opposition movement known as the Orange Alternative. The Orange Alternative was created in 1981 by Waldemar Fydrych (alias ‘Major’), a graduate of history and art history at the University of Wrocław.

They used Surrealist symbolism and terminology in their large scale happenings organized in the major Polish cities during the Jaruzelski regime, and painted Surrealist graffiti on spots covering up anti-regime slogans. Major himself was the author of a “Manifesto of Socialist Surrealism”. In this manifesto, he stated that the socialist (communist) system had become so Surrealistic that it could be seen as an expression of art itself.

Surrealistic art also remains popular with museum patrons. The Guggenheim Museum in New York City held an exhibit, Two Private Eyes, in 1999, and in 2001 Tate Modern held an exhibition of Surrealist art that attracted over 170,000 visitors. In 2002 the Met in New York City held a show, Desire Unbound, and the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris a show called La Révolution surréaliste.

While Surrealism is typically associated with the arts, it has been said to transcend them; Surrealism has had an impact in many other fields. In this sense, Surrealism does not specifically refer only to self-identified “Surrealists”, or those sanctioned by Breton, rather, it refers to a range of creative acts of revolt and efforts to liberate imagination.

In addition to Surrealist ideas that are grounded in the ideas of Hegel, Marx and Freud, Surrealism is seen by its advocates as being inherently dynamic and as dialectical in its thought. Surrealists have also drawn on sources as seemingly diverse as Clark Ashton Smith, Montague Summers, Horace Walpole, Fantomas, The Residents, Bugs Bunny, comic strips, the obscure poet Samuel Greenberg and the hobo writer and humourist T-Bone Slim.

One might say that Surrealist strands may be found in movements such as Free Jazz (Don Cherry, Sun Ra, Cecil Taylor etc.) and even in the daily lives of people in confrontation with limiting social conditions. Thought of as the effort of humanity to liberate imagination as an act of insurrection against society, Surrealism finds precedents in the alchemists, possibly Dante, Hieronymus Bosch, Marquis de Sade, Charles Fourier, Comte de Lautreamont and Arthur Rimbaud.

Surrealists believe that non-Western cultures also provide a continued source of inspiration for Surrealist activity because some may strike up a better balance between instrumental reason and imagination in flight than Western culture. Surrealism has had an identifiable impact on radical and revolutionary politics, both directly — as in some Surrealists joining or allying themselves with radical political groups, movements and parties — and indirectly — through the way in which Surrealists’ emphasize the intimate link between freeing imagination and the mind, and liberation from repressive and archaic social structures. This was especially visible in the New Left of the 1960s and 1970s and the French revolt of May 1968, whose slogan “All power to the imagination” rose directly from French Surrealist thought and practice.

Many significant literary movements in the later half of the 20th century were directly or indirectly influenced by Surrealism. This period is known as the Postmodern era; though there’s no widely agreed upon central definition of Postmodernism, many themes and techniques commonly identified as Postmodern are nearly identical to Surrealism. Perhaps the writers within the Postmodern era who have the most in common with Surrealism are the playwrights of Theatre of the Absurd.

Though not an organized movement, these playwrights were grouped together based on some similarities of theme and technique; these similarities can perhaps be traced to influence from the Surrealists. Eugène Ionesco in particular was fond of Surrealism, claiming at one point that Breton was one of the most important thinkers in history. Samuel Beckett was also fond of Surrealists, even translating much of the poetry into English; he may have had closer ties had the Surrealists not been critical of Beckett’s mentor and friend James Joyce.

Many writers from and associated with the Beat Generation were influenced greatly by Surrealists. Philip Lamantia and Ted Joans are often categorized as both Beat and Surrealist writers. Many other Beat writers claimed Surrealism as a significant influence. A few examples include Bob Kaufman, Gregory Corso, and Allen Ginsberg. In popular culture much of the stream of consciousness song writing of the young Bob Dylan, c. 1960s and including some of Dylan‘s more recent writing as well, (c. mid – 1980s-2006) clearly have Surrealist connections and undertones.

In popular culture much of the song writing of The Beatles reached a more surreal tone during the mid-1960s as psychedelics had entered the public consciousness. Magic Realism, a popular technique among novelists of the latter half of the 20th century especially among Latin American writers, has some obvious similarities to Surrealism with its juxtaposition of the normal and the dream-like. The prominence of Magic Realism in Latin American literature is often credited in some part to the direct influence of Surrealism on Latin American artists (Frida Kahlo, for example).

Surrealist theater depicts the subconscious experience, moody tone and disjointed structure, sometimes imposing a unifying idea.

Antonin Artaud, one of the original Surrealists, rejected Western theatre as a perversion of the original intent of theatre, which he felt should be a religious and mystical experience. He thought that rational discourse comprised “falsehood and illusion”, which embodied the worst of discourse. Endeavouring to create a new theatrical form that would be immediate and direct, linking the unconscious minds of performers and spectators, a sort of ritual event, Artaud created the Theatre of Cruelty where emotions, feelings, and the metaphysical were expressed not through text or dialogue but physically, creating a mythological, archetypal, allegorical vision, closely related to the world of dreams.

These sentiments also led to the Theatre of the Absurd whose inspiration came, in part, from silent film and comedy, as well as the tradition of verbal nonsense in early sound film (Laurel and Hardy, W. C. Fields, the Marx Brothers).

Virginia Woolf‘s only play Freshwater conjurs surreal images by suggestion using a collective identity.

Freud initiated the psychoanalytic critique of Surrealism with his remark that what interested him most about the Surrealists was not their unconscious but their conscious. His meaning was that the manifestations of and experiments with psychic automatism highlighted by Surrealists as the liberation of the unconscious were highly structured by ego activity, similar to the activities of the dream censorship in dreams, and that therefore it was in principle a mistake to regard Surrealist poems and other art works as direct manifestations of the unconscious, when they were indeed highly shaped and processed by the ego.

In this view, the Surrealists may have been producing great works, but they were products of the conscious, not the unconscious mind, and they deceived themselves with regard to what they were doing with the unconscious. In psychoanalysis proper, the unconscious does not just express itself automatically but can only be uncovered through the analysis of resistance and transference in the psychoanalytic process.

Source:  Wiki



The Franco list for the Holocaust

The Franco regime in 1941 ordered provincial governors to develop a list of Jews living in Spain. The census, which included the names, labor, ideological and personal than 6,000 Jews, was presumably given to Himmler.

EL PAÍS, JORGE M. REVERTE (English Translation)

At the end of World War II, the Franco regime in a relatively successful attempt to mislead the world public opinion with the fable that had contributed to saving thousands of Jews from Nazi exterminator quest. Not only was false propaganda that Franco sought to establish. In Spain, the dictator was tempted to help end the “Jewish problem” in Europe.

The patient work of a Jewish journalist, Jacobo Israel Garzón, has made which shows the only known document on the matter, kept by the work of chance in the National Historical Archive, and from the Civil Government of Zaragoza. He published in the journal Estate. From that work, the country has continued the investigation and has reconstructed the complete history of the failed collaboration with the Holocaust. Who were the protagonists and their accomplices. A story that changed history.

On May 13, 1941, all Spanish civil governors receive a circular sent on day 5 by the Directorate General of Security. They were ordered to send to the central individual reports of “domestic and foreign Israelites settled in that province (…) indicating personal and political affiliation, social, livelihood, business activities, current status, degree of danger, definition police. The order was signed Finat Jose Escriva de Romani, Earl of Mayalde, the last day of his tenure, because it will be relieved by Colonel Galarza. From that position is going to jump in a few days to the ambassador of Franco’s Spain in Berlin.

The character count is a refined and cultured, and a close friend of Ramon Serrano Suner, the strongman of the regime [was Minister of Interior and Foreign Affairs], which is who is giving the different holding positions. He has rendered great services to Serrano and Franco, like organizing the police in connivance with the ambassador and the Gestapo Lequerica using a Urraca surname police incident, managed to bring Companys Zugazagoitia to Spain to undergo a mockery of trial and be executed.

José Finat made friends with Himmler when he visited Spain in October 1940. Himmler was able to attend a show that seemed cruel: a bullfight at Las Ventas. In those days, both caught up an old partnership signed by General Severiano Martínez Anido in 1938. Thanks to this agreement, the German political police has diplomatic status in Spain and can be monitored at home to thirty thousand Germans who live here.

In just over a month, Finat will occupy his position as ambassador in Berlin. There may deliver in person to your lists of Jews Himmler. If Spain entered the war, will be a good gift for the Nazis. Before going to have enough time to beat up a fag and feather by a singer, Miguel de Molina. It will help the Falangist Sancho Davila, a cousin of the founder of the Fascist Party…

Are not the Jews and Masons fundamental enemies of the New State?

When time has elapsed, the file will be hidden Judaic and systematically destroyed all the documents incriminating to the Franco regime in relation to anti-Semitic persecution carried out in the forties. When you cease to be urgent to have complete lists of Israel and has to justify the hoax that the regime that emerged on July 18 helped as much as possible to be saved many Jews from Nazi persecution.

In May 1941, when the circular is sent, it is very significant to the disappearance of the guards at the door Falangists the Ministry of the Interior. Now is not that the repression is carried by the Falange on their own, as if an autonomous power of the state. It is assumed that the new state behaviors that you identify with those of Nazi Germany, but through traditional institutions, or in this case, the Police and Civil Guard. That yes, “aided by elements of absolute security.”

These elements are Falangists enthusiasts of repression, there are many. Because it continues to operate the National Delegation for Information and Research, with offices in many Spanish towns. There are more than three thousand party agents scattered all over the country, which produce records on suspects relentlessly. In the last year have written more than eight hundred thousand reports and specifications have been developed over more than five million citizens. Members of delegations are constant reports on the political situation in each place, on the state of public opinion, and political background of any citizen who seeks a job. And they have the privilege of participating in police interrogations and torture in police stations or barracks.

Sometimes, outside the court premises. Ricin and street beatings are the order of the day.

Another striking circumstances of the circular is that it breaks with the traditional anti-Judaism of Catholic Spain. For the Church, and hence the scheme covered by the national Catholic cardinals and Gomà Pla i Deniel, ceases to be a Jew if you convert to Catholicism. The Nazis believe that this is a race, and the Earl of Mayalde is clear in its conception close to that of the followers of Hitler: the Sephardim, that “their adaptation to the environment and its similarity to our temperament have greater assurance to hide their origin. ” There is a Spanish temperament and a Jew.

The date of issuing the circular is not casual. In Spain, under discussion for months the possibility of the country into war on the side of Germany. And the more rabid supporters of this option are the Falangists revolutionaries, national syndicalism who admire Hitler and understand its policy of settlement of Judaism.

There is documentation that at Wannsee is spoken in Spain. It is noted simply that there are six thousand Jews. But its fate is clear, for when you can comply with the relationship with that country. The six thousand are registered by a government agency, which has passed a note to the German representatives at the Embassy in Madrid. The census began on May 5, 1941 Jose Finat, Earl of Mayalde, now ambassador to Berlin. They are all located.

A complex set of reasons prevent that Spain enter the war alongside Germany. That will prevent the file names included in the Judaic become part of the listings of Auschwitz.

In late 1945, the archives of the ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs will be sanitized so that nothing remains to show that most Franco mercy attitude toward Jews was to pass some, or sometimes support individual action the few diplomats who played it to save lives.

The Archives Judaic would have been a beautiful gift for Hitler. Its maintenance a nasty taste of what Falangists Ramon Serrano Suner intended to do with the Spanish Jews.

The cynicism came to end when Franco had to negotiate with the victorious allies in the war debt settlement with Germany. The Spanish delegation ventured to the scandal of the Allied representatives, to demand compensation for financial loss caused by the Nazis from the Sephardic Jews of Thessaloniki. The British representative McCombe had to remind the meeting that Spain had never protested the Nazi persecution of his countrymen.



A pop critic takes on the ‘Ring’: A little pit of punk with ‘Siegfried’ at Los Angeles Opera

LA Times – By Ann Powers

“I want to be anarchy!” So sang Johnny Rotten in “Anarchy in the U.K.,” the debut single by the Sex Pistols and, for many, punk rock’s definitive 3.5-minute attack. The shocking blond hellion whom John Lydon became fronting that band is a very different character from the golden hero of “Siegfried,” the third of the four “Ring” cycle operas now in rotation at Los Angeles Opera.

Yet the mad twinkle in heldentenor John Treleaven’s eyes — not to mention his neon-yellow wig — brought Johnny Rotten to mind, as Achim Freyer’s reinterpretation of this classic hero’s journey did something really unexpected, establishing a link between Richard Wagner and punk.

In some ways, that’s what punk did: pushed pop culture forward with a relentless energy, trashing sentimentality and old ideals as it moved. Freyer’s Siegfried does something very similar. The character’s costume truly establishes the character. In a garish muscle-suit and bearskin, with a painted face and that electric-socket hair, this protagonist is a cartoon character of a particular sort. Hammed up to the hilt by the very game Treleaven, he seemed less like Superman than George of the Jungle or Mighty Mouse — half god, half joke.

This interplay of intense emotion and cleansing (or contemptuous) laughter is so punk. The Sex Pistols spat out jokes with the seriousness of assassins. Nearly two decades later, Nirvana did the same thing, making huge music that undercut itself to ribbons. For much of this “Siegfried,” a similar mood prevailed.

In the last act, the duet between Siegfried and his awakening love, Brünnhilde, changed things. One reason why the reference points of comic books and punk worked well for the opera’s first two acts is because virtually no female voices enter into them. While women certainly have played a role in punk, it’s not a place where the conventional feminine thrives. The Brünnhilde who would have done well in this world is the one in the breastplate, kicking out the jams on the battlefield.

Abandoning her outsize strength to unite with Siegfried, Linda Watson’s Brünnhilde brought vocal beauty to the stage, but in many ways her presence calmed the energy the opera had until her emergence. The production gained a poetic beauty through her performance, and Treleaven, though increasingly rough of voice, was finally able to stop mugging and show some tenderness. Still, this part of Freyer’s “Siegfried” was less intriguing, because it felt more familiar. Johnny Rotten had left the building. Good thing he did some damage before departing.



Beethoven, Even Bigger Than Usual

NY Times – By DANIEL J. WAKIN

Beethoven’s “Missa Solemnis” leaves you gasping at its monumental nature. Yet grasping the “Missa,” which Beethoven considered his greatest work, is not always so easy. It isn’t performed nearly as often as, say, the Ninth Symphony, a more secular companion piece written during the same period. The New York Philharmonic will present the “Missa” this week for only the third time since 1978.

Why don’t we hear this work more often?

Its immense size — chorus, four soloists, organ, large orchestra — may be a bit to blame. The music abounds in sudden, almost violent, changes in character, harmony and rhythm. The choral writing is shockingly difficult. Joseph Flummerfelt, whose New York Choral Artists are joining forces with the Philharmonic, said he takes extra care with articulation because of the highly charged rhythms of the vocal lines.

A British reviewer in 1845 expressed “absolute bewilderment among its mazes.” Its powerfully spiritual subject matter may have something to do with its relative unfamiliarity to modern concertgoers, who may be inclined to worship Beethoven as much as the Almighty.

Beethoven conceived of the “Missa” for a specific liturgical purpose: to celebrate the installation of his friend, pupil and patron Archduke Rudolph as archbishop of Olmütz in Moravia in 1820. He missed the deadline by two years, and the piece exploded beyond the boundaries of church music.

It was his most important statement of spirituality, a “symbolic representation of humanity’s search for peace that can only be discovered through religious feeling, collectively and personally,” the Beethoven scholar Lewis Lockwood wrote.

At that late point in his life, Mr. Gilbert said, everything Beethoven wrote was on a “highly exalted spiritual plane.” The “Missa” represents in music his struggle to come to terms with belief..



Women ‘give men phone number after listening to romantic music’

Woman are more likely to give a man their phone number after listening to romantic music, a French study has found.

Scientists from the universities of southern Brittany and southern Paris recruited 87 single women aged 18 to 20.

The research appears in the journal, Psychology of Music.

The volunteers each spent five minutes in a waiting room where one of two carefully selected tunes played in the background.

In another room was a young man, who had also been carefully selected, by another panel of women, to be “average” in looks.

After exposure to the background music, the woman was instructed to discuss the difference between two food products – an organic cookie and a non-organic cookie – with the young man.

At the end of their conversation, the man used a standard chat-up line, asking the girl for her phone number and saying he wanted to ask her out for a drink.

What swayed his chances of success was the music that had been played in the waiting room, the researchers found.

When a “neutral” song – “L’heure du the” (“Time for tea”) by Vincent Delerm – was played, only 28 per cent of women responded positively.

But when the romantic ballad “Je l’aime a mourir” (“I love her to death”) by Francis Cabrel was played, his success rate nearly doubled, to 52 per cent.

“The results are interesting for scientists who work on the effect of background music on individuals’ behaviour.”

“Our results confirm that the effect of exposure to media content is not limited to violence and could have the potential to influence a high spectrum of behaviour,” said Nicolas Gueguen, one of the three researchers.


Obama hits golf course with Biden on another hot, humid weekend

The Hill

President Barack Obama hit the golf course Saturday with Vice President Joe Biden.

The White House pool report noted that Obama left at about 1 p.m. for the course at Andrews Air Force base, and his golfing parters included White House Trip Director Marvin Nicholson and David Katz, the energy efficiency campaign manager at the Department of Energy.

Obama left the course shortly before 6 p.m.

Nicholson and Katz, along with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, joined Obama for four hours of golf last weekend. The Republican National Committee released an ad soon afterward taking aim at Obama’s golfing during the ongoing BP oil spill crisis in the Gulf of Mexico.

The temperatures in the Washington, D.C., area Saturday were similar to last weekend, in the low 90s and humid.

Obama attended the Washington Nationals game Friday night wearing a cap for his hometown Chicago White Sox. Sources told the pool reporter that Obama sang “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” and left in the ninth inning, before the White Sox edged out the Nationals 2-1 in the 11th.

Gulf residents outraged by BP CEO’s yacht outing


Lilburn mosque foes allege harassment

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution –  By Shane Blatt

Lilburn’s Hood Road carries new Gwinnett into old Gwinnett. The mile of asphalt begins with a mosque at U.S. 29 and turns into a byway of houses, trees and gardens.

But now, when the sun goes down, tension grows in this tidy, middle-class neighborhood.

Some residents opposed to a mosque expansion on Hood Road say for the past seven months, they’ve been the frequent targets of harassment, mostly by those they describe as “Middle Eastern men”. But a founder of the mosque says the claims are unfounded and the city’s mayor, who lives on Hood Road, hasn’t witnessed anything unusual.

Nonetheless, residents have reported vehicles traveling the road at night with occupants yelling, making obscene gestures, snapping photos, even confronting two women in their driveway.

Since November, when city leaders ruled against a local Muslim congregation’s plans to expand, the Lilburn Police Department has received 21 calls of suspicious activity along Hood Road.

Lilburn police officials say they have investigated every claim and patrolled Hood Road around the clock for two months starting in April, when reports started to escalate.

“We have been unable to substantiate any crime by any person there,” Lilburn police Capt. Bruce Hedley told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “[Residents] feel certain people have been driving up and down the road harassing them. Suspicious cars simply driving down the road is not something we can arrest someone for.”

And Wasi Zaidi, a founding member of the Muslim congregation of Dar-E-Abbas, said residents’ claims are “all lies and B.S.,” trumped up by a handful of people who have a political ax to grind against the mayor and the Police Department.

Still, residents say, the harassment is real. Some have installed security camera systems. Others are carrying guns.

“A lot of people are locked and loaded because they don’t know what’s going to happen,” resident Angel Alonso, 46, said. “We have a feeling somebody is going to get hurt.”…]

Related Links:

Boston Globe: Misadventures of youth

NOLA: Faultless fund-raiser, a shameful apology: Jazz and Razz


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