It’s easy to lose sight of the rich cultural history of the Middle East with political tumult dominating the region, but Cal Poly’s Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East have created a week dedicated to Middle Eastern food, music and the region’s past and present.
Middle Eastern Week 2012 takes place May 15 through 22. The week started Tuesday with “Arabia-3D,” an event co-hosted by the Muslim Student Association to discuss the history and faith of the Arab people.
Music fans will be able to enjoy the musical stylings of the Arab Music Ensemble on Saturday, May 19, when the ensemble previews its spring performance with a dance and food accompaniment. It will be led by Kenneth Habib, an associate music professor in music history and theory as well as ethnomusicology.
“It’s going to be a wonderful excerpt of the Arabic culture. Petra will be catering, and there will be dancing,” social chair of Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East and information technologies senior Philip Chehade said.
Another major feature of the week will be an installation on Dexter Lawn May 21 and 22, illustrating the separation between Israelis and Palestinians. The day will end with two documentary screenings about the wall, one narrated by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame.
Chehade explained that the installation’s centralized location means that it ends up being the most visible and well-attended event of Middle East Awareness Week.
“We’re basically discussing the wall that is currently in place separating Israeli lands from Palestinian ones, as well as Israeli settlements in Palestine. We want to be a club that shows both sides of the story, and presents the facts of the matter,” Chehade said.
Haroun Idris is the mentor for Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East. The club’s website states they are “focused on creating awareness, promoting peace and advocating justice in the Middle East.”
“We’ve done an awareness week every year in spring quarter, but this year we’re mixing it up by including cultural events,” Idris said. “Most people don’t know much about the Middle East, and hopefully, they walk away with a good understanding.”
Idris said the installation was a popular event when it was last presented two years ago on Dexter Lawn, and seconded Chehade’s assessment that it is generally the most visible event of the week.
“There are always various things going on in the Middle East that many people don’t really know about. I think Students for Justice and Peace in the Middle East are doing great things with their social activism. If anything, just becoming more aware with what’s going on is the most important step when wanting change,” communication studies senior Fatema Etemadi said.
Middle East Awareness Week events will be taking place throughout the week. The Arabian Nights musical event will take place May 19 at 7 p.m. in the University Union, room 220.