Day: May 30, 2006

Porvoo Fire: Suspects Caught

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Helsingin Sanomat reports that several young adults have been caught in connection with the arson attack on Finland's Porvoo Cathedral, which took place early on Monday. From the English-language edition of HS:

According to Chief Inspector Bengt Renlund, the apprehended individuals are suspected of aggravated sabotage. For now, the police are refraining from revealing the exact number of the suspects.

"More than one person has been apprehended. They have all been heard briefly, and the questioning will continue this morning. They are suspected of setting the Porvoo Cathedral fire", Renlund told the news agency STT.

Renlund does not reveal how the suspects were caught. He says the police will release more information on the subject later today.

After yesterday's blaze, all that remains upright of the upper part of the hilltop structure , which for centuries has dominated the Porvoo cityscape, are its blackened gable walls.

The interior of the church, on the other hand, survived the flames largely unharmed, thanks to the structure's thick vaulting and the fact that the fire department used foam instead of water to minimise water damage.

The heavy chandeliers fell down, but the condition of the centuries-old frescoes on the ceiling and the walls will only become evident on Tuesday, or a few days after that.

In any case, the overall cost of the damage is in the millions of euros, reports properties manager Boris Björkendahl from the Parish Union of Porvoo. Restoration work will begin on the building almost immediately, as soon as permission is received from the police.

See also, concerning an earlier fire at the beginning of this month: Helsinki Arson Attack

Radical Islam: the Soviet Legacy

Writing in the Caucasus Times, historian and Arabist Mikhail Roschin expresses the view that in certain regions of the Caucasus radical Islam is using the legacy of Soviet thinking:

In my opinion, such tendencies can prevail in those regions where Sufism did not have deep roots and any stable intellectual traditions, for instance, in Kabardino-Balkaria where even weak traditions have been erased during Soviet time. Therefore, process of religious revival and propagandists of vakhkhabism did not meet here any serious resistance unlike Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia.

(via Alin Sebastian – see Balkan-Jews mailing list).

The Great Flood

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A reader asked me about the significance of the "great flood" in Tove Jansson's first Moomin book. I think it's fairly clear from Tove Jansson's short introduction to the story what was in her mind when she wrote it (my translation):

It was the winter of war, in 1939. One's work stood still; it felt completely pointless to try to create pictures.

Perhaps it was understandable that I suddenly felt an urge to write down something that was to begin with "Once upon a time".

What followed had to be a fairytale, that was inevitable, but I excused myself with avoiding princes, princesses and small children and chose instead my angry signature character from the cartoons and called him the Moomintroll.

The half-written story was forgotten until 1945. Then a friend pointed out that it could become a children's book, just finish it and illustrate it, maybe they will want it.

I had thought that the title should connect to the Moomintroll and his search for his father – in the style of the search for Captain Grant – but the publisher wanted to make it easier for the readers by calling it Småtrollen och den stora oversvämningen ("The Little Trolls and the Great Flood").

The story is quite influenced by the childhood books I had read and loved, a bit of Jules Verne, some Collodi (the girl with the blue hair) and so on. But why not?

Anyhow, here was my very first happy ending!