2019-03-11

AMSTERDAM - In her latest book, Dutch journalist Bette Dam tells a fascinating story of the fugitive Taliban leader Mullah Omar. She reveals among other things that Mullar Omar lived a short walk from a US base in Afghanistan. This book was made possible by our Pascal Decroos Fund grant programme.

Bette Dam

During a visit to Dutch troops in Afghanistan in 2006, journalist Bette Dam discovered how little the military knew about their enemy. She left the military camp to investigate the feared Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

In search of the enemy is the report of a breathtaking journey, which led her to the most dangerous parts of Afghanistan to learn all about Omar's first Koran lessons, the jihad against the Soviet Union, his revolt against violent warlords, his hope for help from the international community and his bitterness on what the Americans have been doing since 2001 in his country.

Dam is the first Western journalist to reconstruct Omar's life and makes pioneering discoveries about a regime, on which many assumptions exist, but that has not been studied in a concrete way. Based on risky fieldwork and thorough research, Dam places the Taliban in a new perspective. She shows how the Taliban, within the framework of the war on terror, were made by Western governments and media from a potential ally into an enemy that should be annihilated. Dam describes how a country and its population were disrupted with brute force and ended up in a war that was unnecessary.

Publications

At the moment, the book is only in Dutch but it is getting noticed by the international media. This article by The Guardian gives a good summary of what the story is about.

Other publications are mainly in Dutch. 

'De oorlog die niet nodig was', De Standaard 21/02/2019. 
'Most wanted terrorist' Mullah Omar verschool zich 12 jaar lang onder neus van de Amerikanen', De Volkskrant, 21/02/2019.
Bette Dam ontrafelde het leven van Talibanleider Mullah Omar: 'Hij had een gesprekspartner kunnen zijn', Interview met Bette Dam, De Volkskrant, 22/2/2019.
Mysterie rond talibanleider eindelijk ontsluierd, HLN.be, 21/02/2019. 
De mens achter de mythe van Talibanleider moellah Omar, MO.be, 21/02/2019.

TV

Interview met Bette Dam bij VPRO Boeken, 24/2/2019.

 

Alan Rusbridger to speak at Difference Day 2019

2019-04-29

In honour of World Press Freedom Day on 3 May, the fifth edition of Difference Day will take place in BOZAR, Brussels. Difference Day honours people and organisations that make a difference in protecting and promoting freedom of the press and freedom of expression.