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SALAAM: Preventing the Rise of Radicalism and Islamophobia through Art

Debate

2018-01-17

Erasmus+ KA1 Training Course
11-18 June 2017 - Palermo, Italy


By Albesa Aliu & Revekka Kefalea

In June 2017, we had the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus+ KA1 Training Course entitled “SALAAM: Preventing the rise of radicalism and islamophobia through art”, which took place in Palermo, Italy.

During the first days of the training course, we participated in various group building activities in order to get to know the other participants from Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina; we expressed our fears and expectations and we presented our skills and competences in relation to the topic of the training that could be useful in the context of peer-to-peer learning activities.


We investigated, presented and compared the current situation on radicalisation, islamophobia and migration in our countries, as well as the relevant policies that are being implemented - and we engaged ourselves in various creative activities in order to define the concepts of radicalisation and islamophobia, to reflect on their common features and causes and to work for common solutions and prevention strategies.

 
Furthermore, we visited Centro Astalli (a local association in Palermo working against the exclusion and isolation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers), where we had the opportunity to discuss with staff members about the services provided by the association, as well as to discover the stories of migrants and refugees through the method of the Living Library.

During the following days until the end of the training, we discussed about art as a means of communication through the Reciprocal Maieutic Approach - and we were introduced to Visual Arts and the Theatre of the Oppressed as means to prevent oppression and social exclusion.

 

Based on our skills and competences, we preferred to participate in the “Visual Arts” workshop, in the context of which we collaborated with other participants in order to organise and curate a photographic exhibition-campaign as a means to communicate a message against radicalisation and islamophobia. This photographic exhibition-campaign was presented in Piazza di Terrasini, along with the other outcomes of the artistic workshops of the SALAAM project - a comic strip (another outcome of the “Visual Arts” workshop) and the final performance of the “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop.

It is impossible to know if these artistic outcomes have already created a lasting and positive impact on the lives of the locals who attended our final performance/exhibition in Piazza di Terrasini. But we do know that our participation in this training course has been a fruitful and thought-provoking experience for us.


From one hand, by researching, presenting and comparing the national situations on radicalisation and islamophobia, we realised that the definitions of these two concepts are historically constructed and affect both our perceptions of the phenomena and the policies that are being taken and implemented both by the EU and the national governments. We are willing and planning to promote this research further. On the other hand, by organising and curating a photographic exhibition-campaign with basic means and materials (a photographic camera, plain papers and markers, ourselves as models), we realised that we can create something meaningful and influential almost out of nothing. And we are also willing and planning to promote this campaign further. 

Another important aspect was creating meaningful friendships with some of the participants, and also, planning ahead to follow up with each other’s activities. The SALAAM project gave us this opportunity to know different aspects of participants coming from different professional backgrounds. Thus, this contributed to the tools we can use to tackle radicalism and islamophobia and at the same time enhance our cultural competence.

Special thanks to Gerasimos Makris (Professor of Social Anthropology, Panteion University of Social & Political Sciences, Athens, Greece) for his help in the preparation of the presentation on radicalism and islamophobia in Greece.

For more information on SALAAM, contact Revekka Kefalea at revekka.kefalea@gmail.com

© Inter Alia 2013