The MENA region might appear to be a desperate one on the surface, and truly, it has been burdened with the toughest of laws. However, breakthroughs are happening, the landscape is changing and there are more advocates for positive change across the Arab world. Nevertheless, we still have a long way to go.
This article aims to explain the direction we’re moving in, and the strategies that are enabling us to fight for our shared goal to abolish crucial laws and social practices against the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual and Intersexed community (LGBTI) across the Arab region.
Among those most vivid memories of my early childhood, I remember that I had what adults called a ‘healthy appetite’. With pleasure and without second thoughts, I devoured everything served. Then one day, while enjoying a kebda mchermla (lamb liver in sauce), I remember thinking: ‘where did this tasty meat come from?’ I would soon get to know its origin, and this would change the way I looked upon a part of my culinary culture.
In order to overcome conflicts and build bridges in society, Lea Baroudi, a founding member and director of Lebanon’s MARCH organization, shows how theatre overcomes social and political divisions in Lebanon.
Moroccan cultural production struggles with on the one hand being perceived as a ‘bourgeois’ luxury while on the other being subject to arbitrary funding by the Moroccan government. Salma Belkebir, a Rabat-based architect and lover of art & culture has a closer look at the funding policies and arts production.
The Gaming scene in Lebanon has developed considerably over the past decades. Tanite Chahwan, a MA graduate in English Literature from the American University of Beirut (AUB), has visited some of these places for us.
The queer and drag scene in Lebanon is on the rise. Inga Hofmann shows how this – playful in appearance – at the same time is a deeply political act, claiming the rights of the communities to be recognized.
Politics are brimming with metaphoric references to games – be it the famous “Great Game” as the diplomatic confrontation of great powers in Asia at the beginning of the 20th century was referred to, the understanding of strategic moves in a region as a “chess board,” war “theatres” or references to the “players,” the strong of them framed as “actors,” the weak as “pawns”, or the crazy ones behaving like “wild cards.”
Put ‘Minorities in the Middle East’ into any search engine and a huge volume of articles are displayed insinuating that ethnic, tribal, family and sectarian affiliations are the only relevant factors needed to aid an understanding of the politics and societies of the Maghreb and Mashreq. Be it the often praised ‘mosaic’ of multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies, or the explanation and anticipation of actual and potential conflicts in the Middle East, that are shaped by ethnic, tribal or confessional affiliations, the reading has a flavour of exoticism and orientalism. So for this issue of Perspectives, we decided to ask authors in a broader sense about minority-majority relationships that can, but do not necessarily have to, tackle ethnic or confessional subjects.