So much for the No-go zone for Non-Muslims...

So much for the No-go zone for Non-Muslims...

Birmingham is a hotbed of Islamist extremism where xenophobic propaganda falls on fertile ground. Profil took a look at how immigration plays out in Great Britain’s second largest city before the British elections on May 7th.

Text: Tessa Szyszkowitz
Photos: Alex Schlacher

The Saddam Hussein mosque is a place of great joy. At least it was this last Thursday, when Sonia Akhtar and Ibrahim Mohammed got married in the presence of their respective clans. They are both Sunni Muslim, but the groom is from an Indian family while the bride has a Pakistani background. „Mixed marriages are completely normal here“, smiles Anwar Sheikh, manager of the mosque. Sonia and Ibrahim are 24 years old and have British citizenship.


Even after the elections Yitzhak "Buji" Herzog needs nerves made from steel. The 54 year old leader of the Israeli Labour party teamed up with Tzipi Livini from "HaTnuah", a small centrist pro-peace party, to form the "Zionist Union" for the Israeli parliamentary elections on March 17. Together they won 24 seats. Herzog was one of the winners of these elections. But the narrow-shouldered bespectacled politician speaks with a squeaky voice - which he even made fun of himself by dubbing his own campaign ad with a deep voice over. Did he seem too intellectual for a country obsessed with security or did Israel simply like the right wing statements of the blustering Benjamin Netanyahu more? The Likud boss won over his contender by securing 30 seats and will probably form a coalition even more right wing than his previous one.


Germany, Russia, and the rise of Geo-Economics by Stephen F. Szabo comes at the precise moment when the issue of Germany and Russia has become one of the hottest political topics in every living room between Berlin and Moscow – and perhaps in London and D.C. too. Tessa Szyszkowitz finds this timely study an important read for those who want to understand the background of the crisis in the Ukraine, which has thrown Russia and the West back into a new Cold War.

Book Review: Germany, Russia, and the rise of Geo-Economics. Stephen F. Szabo. London/New York, 2015. Bloomsbury.

Issa Freij on the roof of his house in the old city of Jerusalem

Issa Freij on the roof of his house in the old city of Jerusalem

Jerusalem, the “eternally united capital” of Israel, is more divided than ever: between the Israelis and the Palestinians, the Christians, Jews and Muslims, the religious and the secular. Profil visited Jerusalemites who are hurt by the situation and want to change it.

Text and photos: Tessa Szyszkowitz/Jerusalem


Since the breakdown of the Oslo peace process, Israelis and Palestinians have started thinking about a bi-national solution in one state for both peoples.

Bashir Bashir, 38, teaches political theory at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. The Palestinian professor with an Israeli passport is the co-initiator of “Rethinking the politics of Israel/Palestine. Partition and its Alternatives”, a project organized by the Bruno Kreisky Forum for International Dialogue in Vienna. The project and book have been presented in Brussels and Vienna in February 2015. This is a longer English version of an interview published in the Austrian news magazine profil.

Martina Litvinenko and Tessa

Marina Litvinenko, widow of the former FSB officer Alexander who was poisoned in 2006, talks to profil about the inquiry into his death and who she thinks is responsible for it.

Marina Litvinenko walks covertly into Brasserie Balthazar in Covent Garden, a grey kashmir hat as camouflage. The slim 52 year old woman slips behind a stone table in a quiet corner of the back room, adjusts her hair and the Norwegian cardigan, and says with relief: „Good, nobody recognized me.“

American sniper in position

American sniper in position

Clint Eastwood made a new movie, a patriotic Western in the Wild East. America loves both – director and film.

According to the New York Times, a “sand movie” is the term for an Iraq or Afghanistan war movie. Clint Eastwood, Hollywood’s by now oldest and most trusted hand for a Western, could not stop himself from making a Western in the Wild East. I saw it last Sunday afternoon together with half of America and now I know what the term means.

One of Putin's favourite things: Taming wild beasts

One of Putin's favourite things: Taming wild beasts

Ivan Krastev, one of Europe’s most important Russia experts, had the chance to dine with Vladimir Putin and to learn how the Russian president looks at the world. A conversation about power, self confidence and mistrust.

What makes Vladimir Putin tick? Since the crisis in the Ukraine erupted many have asked this question. It is not easy to answer as most who try have never sat down and actually met Putin in person.


Martin Wolf, chief economist of the “Financial Times”, proposes radical reform for the financial system, speaks out against German austerity politics and the biggest mistake of all: the Euro.

The high towers of London’s City look small from the 33rd floor of the newest skyscraper, the Shard. Everything is relative – even the size of the financial district in the British capital. Martin Wolf, columnist of the “Financial Times”, meets profil for a Lunch with the FT in the Chinese Restaurant Hutong high up over the river Themse. The pope of English speaking economic journalism just published his new book “The shifts and the shocks”. He calls for radical reforms of the financial system, which so far has not been adjusted to the consequences of the financial crisis and to the 21st century.

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© 2018 Tessa Szyszkowitz