Awareness Week Aims To Show Arab Culture

In an attempt to increase awareness of Arab culture, the Society of Arab Students (SAS) is running a series of cultural, political and religious events for Arab Awareness Week this week.

“The week of events is meant to give students a more rounded view of Arab culture,” said Rita Hamad, the SAS public relations officer.

Hamad said the group hopes that the events will help people differentiate between Arab culture and the Islamic religion in the wake of Sept. 11.

“Arab is a culture, Islam is a religion and though there is some overlap, they are two different things” Hamad said.

The events are also intended to correct the conception that Arabs are politically radical and focused on the issue of a Palestinian state and other Middle-Eastern concerns.

“Arabs are considered politicized in America, we hope that the events can show the human elements of Arab culture,” Hamad said.

She added the events are also meant to help people differentiate between Arabs and other brown-skinned people.

“After September 11th, there were a lot of people confusing Mexicans and other races for Arabs” Hamad said.

This year’s series is focused on Arab culture in general. In previous years, the events have explored the culture of a specific group, such as Palestinians and Iraqis.

The events began Monday with a talk called “The Third Arab Renaissance,” by Lebanese novelist andjournalist Elias Khoury, and a reception for undergraduates interested in learning more about Arab culture.

Tuesday featured Arabic dance lessons, and last night there was a screening of Destiny, an Egyptian film about a 12th century philosopher that was nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes film festival in 1997.

A dialogue on the Arab-Israeli conflict will take place today at 8 p.m. in the Adams House Conservatory.

The events will culminate tomorrow with a dinner at 8 p.m. in the Loker Commons’ Coffeehouse, featuring Arabic food, music and student presentations about Arab culture, religion and politics.

They will explore what it means to be Arabic in America.

The events have met with a positive reception, according to Hamad.

The group has received e-mails expressing interests and curiosity about Arab culture, she said.

Although it is a busy week for events on campus—Take Back the Night and Gaypril are also occurring—SAS is not worried.

“There is not really any competition. There are always things happening on campus.” Hamad said.