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tv   Focus on Europe  PBS  January 5, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm PST

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♪ >> hello and welcome to a very special christmas edition of "focus on europe." for many, christmas means getting presence, eating too much, and trying not to argue with your family, but for others, it is also an important religious festival, which is why we decided to focus today on religion, often a force for peace, but sometimes used for purposes a lot less positive. in albania, the catholic nuns helping victims of blood feuds, whereas in poland, one catholic priest is a powerful local. in switzerland, the stolen children of buddhist tibet.
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but first, to albania where the biblical quotation and i for an eye, a to afford to, has terrible relevance today. the country is plagued by blood feuds, and ancient honor ritual. but brave catholic nuns are devoting their lives to help young boys who are suffering from the sins of the father. >> her mission is saving lives, but death is her constant companion. sister christina is at the cemetery in northern albania. the nun from a swiss order has often had to watch how people from her congregation have been murdered. victims of blood feuds like 22-year-old jin marku. >> he and his brother went out of the house and across the way to raise a few sheep.
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then the avenger came in shot him. i'm an morning, and once again, i been too late to stop death. >> most of the people whose lives she and her fellow nuns are defending come from this mountainous region. here, a mid-evil legal tradition regulates all of life. if a deadly dispute arises between families, blood vengeance is demanded. >> for me, blood feuds are a huge wounded in the country. when you get close to the people and their daily lives, you see that under the surface, it's an extremely deep, infected, serious wound. >> the nuns will their small convent on their own to help the needy.
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in chronically poverty-stricken albania, the numbers of needy are increasing. a visit to a dock is unaffordable, especially for families with children. on some days, sister christina, who trained as a nurse, treats the sick nonstop herself, but she does not have much time for her patients today. this mother is asking for her help. her son was in ball been a shooting in which a young man from another family was killed. his family wants revenge. >> do you know the avenger? >> we don't know anything, only that they will come sometime. >> waiting for vengeance. sister michaela shows us what that means for those affected. once a week, she drives young boys threatened with vengeance to the convent so they can play. they spend the rest of their time in isolation, kept hidden
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by their families. only the blood of the sun and heirs -- the son and heirs suffices. but the trip is also dangerous for the nun. >> i can only depend on the lord god's projection. i would be defenseless if anyone were ever waiting for us and really wanted to kill us or one of the children. then i probably could not prevent it. >> a short time later, she has reached her destination. for boys get in. among them, these brothers. years ago, their uncle shot and killed two men. he went into hiding, and since then, the avengers have targeted the two voice -- boys. >> i spend all my time at home. i cannot go out. all i can do is kill time. that's no way to live. >> sin the nuns have collected
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10 boys from the area and brought them to the convent. here they will have two hours to talk, laugh, and play, a short reprieve. which of these children will still be alive tomorrow, next week, or a year from now? today, the boys have asked if they can do role-playing. they are reenacting a blood feud. >> as long as i live, i will carry a weapon and never forgive. >> a wild shootout follows. it's a game, but it reflects their own stories. at moments like these, sister christina feels the need to quietly commune with her god. >> i'm not angry with god. at most, i'm angry about the situation where there are no names, no culprits, about structural violence.
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then i can get mad, and i tell him that, too, that i'm immensely angry, and i throw that at him on the cross. >> that evening, sister michaela makes her dangerous trip for a second time taking the boys back home. at the end of their role play in the convent, they say they've patched up their differences, but in reality, teams would be different. >> if anything ever happens to my brother, i'll take revenge, of course. >> it's part of everyday life for two catholic nuns in a land ruled by an ancient law that knows no mercy. >> europe is not only christian, it's also muslim. muslims have lived here since the middle ages, and today, they make up around 5% of europe's population, but because of shopping -- shocking islamic extremist terror attacks, in the minds of many europeans, islam
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is sometimes today associated with violence, particularly with the so-called islamic state on the march in the middle east, but in norway, when young devout muslim woman has a very different message -- that true islam is in fact a religion of peace and tolerance. >> the 19-year-old is slightly nervous accepting her prize from the human rights foundation in oslo. when in his exuberance the man accepting the award breaks muslim etiquette by hugging her, it does not exactly steady her nerves, but when she talks about her mission, she feels fine again. >> muslims, shiites, sunnis, christians, six, atheists, homosexuals -- it's important that we get to know the unknown, so that we are not taken in by extremists. >> in norway, she has become a national symbol as a campaigner against islamist extremism.
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she became known for a speech she gave this summer in which she furiously condemned the atrocities of the so-called islamic state in iraq, the country her family had to flee many years ago. >> beheading people and raping women -- that's not islam. that's the devil. >> the large demonstration against extremism was broadcast on television. thousands of people cheered. since then, her life has changed radically. she is often interviewed by the media and asked to speak about islam as a tolerant religion and about the problems of muslims living in norway. she hardly has any more time for her friends. on a shopping chick together, they explain she is virtually booked out with almost as many
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appointments as a professional politician. she also has less time for her faith, though she derives strength from praying in the mosque. she says it is where she experiences islam most deeply, and islam that is tolerant and respects other faiths. >> this religion means a lot to me. i grew up in a religious family. i've gone to the mosque almost all my life. >> her faith also gives her the courage to cope with the criticism she has had to face him some corners. her family has received phone threats. she herself has been attacked on the internet. many feel angered by the young woman who preaches tolerance so effectively. >> we keep telling her she has to be careful. they're so much hatred it can be dangerous for her. >> but she will not let herself
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be intimidated. she plans to visit norwegian schools next year to campaign for more tolerance and fight the radicals who abuse her religion -- islam. >> a young woman who is being seen as the scandinavian malala. now to poland, one of the most religiously devout countries in europe. the majority are roman catholic, and under communism, that they helped galvanize the independence movement. the church was a modernizing force, helping the country look towards the west and break free from communist rule, but today, critics say some of the most traditional priests have become too influential and are holding the country back with a powerful media empire. >> this gala attracted 23,000 catholics from all over poland. the sports hall seemed to be transformed into a church for the occasion.
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the ultraconservative catholic broadcasting was founded 23 years ago. it reaches 4 million listeners every day. this community is not exactly open. film crews were barred from the celebration, and we shot this footage in secret. the founder of the catholic media empire still runs it. the 69-year-old priest is a skilled businessman and political power broker. his fans venerate him as a kind of savior. this is where radio maria broadcast from. after the collapse of communism, many polish catholics demanded their own voice in the newly emerging media, and he obliged. he works quietly and outside of public scrutiny. his enterprises have never been known for transparency. where the money for radio maria
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came from is still not public knowledge. in 1980, there was a strike of the dock workers union and solidarity. 10 years later, he worked to save the gdansk shipyard from bankruptcy. he raised millions of euros in donations. >> i told him countless times that the donations should be distributed to dockworkers in need. his answer was, "we must not eat up this money. the millions need to be well invested." >> apparently he was thinking of his own radio station in the catholic church. the church backed the radio station from the start. it broadcast to the world what the church preaches to its congregation, and it has broadcast some very reactionary
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positions. for example, that homosexuality is a disease and abortion is murder. ultranationalists are also increasingly being heard in the station's broadcasts. nonetheless, most of poland's bishops support radio maria and defend it. >> in an interactive radio show, such situations can arise. there are some callers with radical views. for the listeners, it's a kind of safety valve. the other media react as if they do not hear these voices, but that does not mean such voices do not exist in public. >> his media empire also includes a television station. "my father's a pole my mother's a pole," goes the song.
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>> we are proud to be poles and we don't want to crawl on our knees to brussels. we walk with our heads held high . >> he has excellent relations with the church. his program shows that the order of the most holy redeemer in gdansk. the daily broadcasts from the pilgrimage site are especially popular with the nuns, but the sexual abuse in the church is not a topic on the program. he's a powerful man with the aid of his media, he can make or break a national politician. >> it's true that he runs the
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station alone with an iron fist, but if this arrangement has proven itself, why change it? it's not always an advantage to administer something democratically or collectively. sometimes it's better when a single person is in charge. >> his pious and loyal adherents see it that way as well. their private donations ensure that his media empire will continue its patriotic course in the coming years. >> the catholic church still appears very powerful in poland, but pope francis has brought a very different tone to the church, focusing more on the core -- the poor and those without power. get in touch and let me know what you think about that or any of our stories. this year in germany, we've been elevating the 25th anniversary of the all of the berlin wall, which signaled the collapse of
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communism in eastern europe. communist rulers did not approve on the whole of religion, seeing it as a threat. in some countries, they try to repress religious sentiment altogether, including in bulgaria, where ethnic turkish muslims had been living for centuries. >> it was an early morning in the summer of 1989 here at the turkish bulgarian border crossing. one of tens of thousands standing on the bulgarian side of the border hoping to be let into turkey. it was an exodus of bulgaria's ethnic turkish minority. the communist regime banned the use of the turkish language in public and forced muslims in the country to adopt christian bulgarian names. when the government lifted travel restrictions, the span of his wife and children fled to the border. >> we had all our belongings in
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handcarts. they let us cross. on the other side, we got into a car and off to istanbul. >> now, he returns to his former country every three months. it's just a few hours' drive from istanbul. he says he bears no resentment. today, he has both a turkish and a bulgarian passport. bulgaria has restored the civil rights of the refugees and apologized for the expulsions. this town in southern bulgaria is where he was raised and went to school. today, more than half the residents are ethnic turkish muslims. many of his friends stayed behind because they either had no papers or money to start a new life in turkey. his sister still lives in bulgaria. two of his brothers are in turkey.
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despite the separation, the family bonds are still strong. whatever the siblings meet, the conversation always comes around to the assimilation campaign that began 30 years ago. >> we were terribly sad when they left. for months, we did not hear from them. i ended up informing my brother about our mother's death in a letter. >> the christmas season is a bitter reminder of how uncomplicated relations between the communities once were. the family even celebrated christmas with orthodox bulgarians. >> we would visit them on their holidays, and they would come to us on the muslim holidays. there were no problems. there was no "turks here, bulgarians there." >> today, the divide between the religious groups has grown writer -- wider. bulgarian christians celebrate in their churches and among themselves, but they claim there's no bias amongst the turkish minority that makes up 10% of the population.
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>> there's no discrimination, no. well, maybe in a few cases. >> after the end of communism, around 100,000 bulgarian turks returned to the country. today, islamic religious instruction for children is permitted. many of the older members of the community only became devout muslims after their immigration and returned. in the communist era, it was forbidden to attend the mosque. this apartment block is where he and his family lived until they fled the country. the construction worker had saved for years for the apartment. at first, his one-time bulgarian neighbor does not recognize him, but then the recollections for in -- pour in. "how old we become," they say.
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>> it was actually a pretty good time until the communists started suppressing our religion. imagine -- we could not even lay out the dead for prayers. >> before he heads back to turkey, he visits his mother's grave. she died soon after the repressions and the immigration of her children. the events of 1989 not only separate him from the people he loved but also from his homeland. >> one of the world's most respected religious figures is the tibetan buddhist leader, the dalai lama. in the 1960's when china invaded tibet and he called for orphans to be taken to europe for safety, switzerland agreed to take in almost 200 tibetan children. the problem was not all of them turned out to be orphans, causing decades of pain for some families, scarred -- scars which buddhism has helped heal.
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>> he was quickly even win just out for a stroll. he says that's a remnant from his child hood. he and his parents fled tibet on foot after chinese forces occupied the country. he grew up in switzerland, one of more than 150 tibetan children brought here in 1963. >> i thought we were coming to this beautiful country with its big apples and nice clothes. i did not realize that in switzerland, we would all be separated. >> the plan was to send tibetan children to switzerland for a few years. after receiving an education, they were supposed to return to tibet to serve their country. that was the dalai lama's idea when he organized the children's stay, and that is what the swiss government told his foster parents. >> back then, we all thought the
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war was going to end, that the chinese would leave, and the dalai lama would return to tibet . then the children could return home and maybe do something to help the tibetan people. >> what his foster parents did not knows that his biological parents never gave permission for their son to go to switzerland. they had left him in the care of a children's home in india and planned to take him back again once things improved, but when they returned, he was gone. >> i went to the dalai lama's sister and cried and begged. she said, "don't worry. you'll see him again in 3, 4 years." >> he regularly visits his mother in india. like most of the children sent to switzerland, he has decided to stay in europe, but he is
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saddened by the fact that many of the tibetan children sent to switzerland have turned into unhappy adults. >> unfortunately, many have become addicts. tragically, a lot of them committed suicide, especially during that difficult phase. >> a swiss filmmaker research the stories of the tibetan children. most of them had a hard time being cut off from tibet, from their language, run their root -- from their roots. >> it's a little bit shameful that people deliberately misled the dalai lama. >> he says his faith has helped him stay grounded through everything. he is also grateful for the loving support his foster parents gave him. >> i am so grateful that my mom let me be who i was.
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when there were tibetan festivals or something tibetan, she led prayer books on my table so that i could look at them. and as much as possible, they took it upon themselves to help me learn about tibetan culture as i was growing up. >> spending time at a buddhist my stare gives him strength -- buddhist monastery gives him strength. >> i feel the longing eye associated with tibet. you have the mountains, you are out in nature and feel so small, and everything else matters little. >> when his longing for his homeland became too much for him, the llama comforted him. he knew about the dangers of living in occupied tibet and the hard life children faced their.
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>> back then, the dalai lama acted out of necessity to make sure the children were well cared for and got an education. >> now he is passing on tibetan culture to his own children. he considers his life a humble journey between worlds, and he is thankful his journey has showed him the best of two debt and switzerland. -- the best of tibet and switzerland. >> that's all for today. thanks for watching. weather this time of year means contemplation or raucous celebration, here's wishing you a merry christmas and a happy and peaceful holiday. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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steves: since the romantic era in the 19th century, luzern has been a regular stop on the grand tour route of europe. [ whistle blows ] its inviting lakefront now includes a modern concert hall, which incorporates the lake into its design. the old town, with a pair of picture-perfect wooden bridges, straddles the reuss river, where it tumbles out of lake luzern.
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the bridge was built at an angle in the 14th century to connect the town's medieval fortifications. today, it serves strollers, rather than soldiers, as a peaceful way to connect two sides of town. many are oblivious to the fascinating art just overhead. under the rafters hang about 100 colorful 17th-century paintings showing scenes from luzern and its history. this legendary giant dates to the middle ages, when locals discovered mammoth bones, which they mistakenly thought were the bones of a human giant. here's luzern in about 1400, the bridge already part of the city fortifications. and luzern looked like this in 1630. luzern is responsible for controlling the lake level. by regulating the flow of water out of its lake, the city prevents the flooding of lakeside villages when the snow melts. in the mid-19th century, the city devised and built
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this extendable dam. by adding and taking away these wooden slats, they could control the level of the lake. swans are a fixture on the river today. locals say they arrived in the 17th century as a gift from the french king, louis xiv, in appreciation for the protection his swiss guards gave him. switzerland has a long history of providing strong and loyal warriors to foreign powers. the city's famous lion monument recalls the heroism of more swiss mercenaries. the mighty lion rests his paws on a french shield. tears stream down his cheeks. the broken-off end of a spear is slowly killing the noble beast. the sad lion is a memorial to over 700 swiss mercenaries who were killed, defending marie antoinette and louis xvi during the french revolution. the people of luzern take full advantage of their delightful river with a variety of cafes and restaurants along its banks.
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this evening, we're enjoying the setting as much as the food. i'm having the local pork. my producer, simon, is having eel, fresh from the river. with a picturesque setting like this, the dining experience makes for a wonderful memory.
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welcome to "newsline" this tuesday, january 6th. i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. people in myanmar will be voting in a general election for the first time in six years, but opposition groups may boycott the vote over concerns military leaders still hold too much power. the union solidarity and development party won the first selection in 2010. many of its lawmakers are affiliated with the military dictatorship that rules myanmar for decades. thpa


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