Join us on February 7, 2017 at “Transformation: Bahraini Cinema Night” at Al Jazeera Cultural Centre in Muharraq at 8pm to explore the effects of the spatial transformations of Bahrain’s seas, villages and cities on Bahraini society.
Zainab – Mohammed Ebrahim
Steps – Salman Yousif
Nostalgia – Ahmed Al Fardan
Tasa’ol is pleased to announce the “In Memory of the National Union Committee” documentation project about the NUC, the first officially recognized political organization in Bahrain and the Gulf, in commemoration of the 61st anniversary of the Committee’s formation on October 13, 1954.
A new website will be launched to document the history of the National Union Committee movement and the national memory of Bahrain, collecting a variety of photographs, documents, articles, and recorded interviews with families of National Union Committee members and Bahraini youth.
Introduce new audiences to Bahraini national history by reviving the history of the National Union Committee through new and creative tools.
Encourage constructive and critical discussions about the definition of “national unity”.
Build a cross-generational dialogue that serves as way to gain new insights from the history.
We invite you to participate in the project through an audio / written interview with us about your thoughts about the NUC or about a relative who participated in the movement or lived through the time period; and we also invite you to contribute to the project with a written submission, or by contributing documents, photos and relevant resources. *All interviews will be anonymous and participants’ names will not be shared in any way.*
Contact us directly via email at: email@example.com or via WhatsApp on +973 33730106.
Let us question, discuss and delve deeper into Bahraini national history.
Tasa’ol تساؤل is pleased to invite you to participate in its upcoming digital project: “Longing: Homeland and Sect”, which focuses on the Bahraini film, Longing حنين, directed by Hussain Al Hulaibi and written by Khalid Al Rowaie.
The project is made up of a series of articles, videos, and podcasts which will be published on www.tasaol.org, timed with a film screening of “Longing حنين” in September.
“Longing: Homeland and Sect” will analyse issues of sectarianism, religious extremism, and patriarchal sectarianism through a variety of written, audio-visual and digital mediums, with the aim of reaching better understandings of ourselves, our society and our identities.
We invite all writers, bloggers, film critics, activists and cinema enthusiasts to participate in the project through one of the following options:
Film review article
Analytical article discussing a different topic within the film
Opinion editorial discussing the film from a personal point of view
Short video collecting audience reactions to the film screening
Audio podcast; a discussion between the filmmakers, film critics, and activists
Final deadline for submission: Saturday, August 22.
“Longing” centers around the story of two co-existing Sunni and Shi’ite families whereby these two families are a living representation of the Bahraini family in the nineteen eighties. The families grow, and the children grow along with them until a sectarian flame begins to build in the new generations.
The film’s event take place between the years 1983 and 2000, portraying numerous political and social developments in the historical memory of Bahrain. The film recollects volatile global events and their impacts on Bahrain such as the Iraq-Iran War and the Soviet War in Afghanistan.
Conflict is an everlasting and persistent feature of human history and debates around issues of conflict will continue for as long as conflict remains a part of our reality.
Today, the world is plagued by the rise of groups like the Islamic State (Daesh); the breakdown of diplomatic relations and security; high levels of state repression and dictatorship; the deepening of social and communal conflicts between people of different races, religious sects and political affiliations.
All these conflicts, political and social, present a challenge for us as individuals, societies and cultures, to overcome in a meaningful and positive way. As such, the aim of the project is not to resolve conflicts, but to gain a better understanding of ourselves; our societies; our cultures and “the other”.
We invite all writers, bloggers, artists, photographers, poets and filmmakers to take part in creating a project that will raise meaningful questions about society and about the world we live in. Each of us has a particular issue that they feel connected to and we invite everyone to find that issue that draws their interest and make it the subject of their contribution to the project.
The project itself will feature:
E-book collecting works of original writing about sectarianism, divisions, dehumanization and different types of gender, political and social conflict. This e-book will be published for free online.
Audio version collection of the e-book submissions.
Discussion workshop focusing on sectarianism, divisions and dehumanization.
Art installation featuring works of original art and design about themes related to conflict.
Video series inviting participants to discuss their views on issues of conflict, sectarianism, dehumanization and divisions.
The main guideline for submissions is that they must be related to the themes of conflict, sectarianism, divisions and dehumanization and to present the topics in an interesting and thoughtful way.
Deadline for e-book submissions is February 25, 2015. Information about other components of the project will be announced soon.
Inspired by the 100th anniversary of the start of World War One, Questioning War sought to raise meaningful questions about contemporary wars and conflicts that continue to fuel terrorism, violence, revolutions and a deterioration in security.
Questioning War was held as a discussion workshop at Anamil Gallery in Janabiya on September 20, 2014 which coincided with the United Nations International Day of Peace. The event hosted three speakers, Muhannad Alabbasi, Bader Noaimi and Ayaa Mohammed, each of whom dealt with a central question related to terrorism, security and revolution.
The Questioning War project also saw the release of Tasa’ol تساؤل’s first e-book publication which collected works of poetry, essay and art about war and peace by various creatives from Bahrain and abroad.
At the event, Tasa’ol تساؤل cooperated with local Bahraini art group, Ulafaa, who hosted a small art corner and presentation about their work in the field of peace building through the arts.
The most important goal of the project and of the Tasa’ol تساؤل initiative is to encourage introspection, self-criticism and to promote a better understanding of ourselves, our societies, our cultures before understanding “the other”.
Opening the event, Muhannad Alabbasi raised a central question; “What is terrorism?” He explained how contemporary wars often take on a tribalistic ‘us vs. them’ rhetoric and so in order to have a more constructive discussion about terrorism it is important to shift the question of “who is a terrorist?” to “what is terrorism?” and build a definition for it.
Through an interactive presentation, Muhannad utilized contemporary conflicts and armed militant groups as case studies to discuss the topic, directing critical questions to members of the audience who interacted positively with the subject.
Following up on the topic of terrorism, Bader Noaimi raised the question of “What is security/securitization?” in their presentation about the way security is defined by state actors. Bader used contemporary cases to explain how securitization is used by state actors to convince an audience of the security threat of any given subject, which also means that the subject becomes illegitimate for political and academic debate.
Bader continued by adding that although the security threat may be real, the process of securitization nonetheless involves convincing an audience of the legitimacy of using extraordinary security and military actions, which should be questioned and critiqued meaningfully by individuals and society.
Concluding with a presentation on “What is revolution?”, Ayaa Mohammed discussed the different language used to describe political movements and upheavals (uprising, revolution, rebellion, insurrection). She said that they are all synonyms of each other in both the English and Arabic languages but despite that, these words have different meanings when used by people.
Ayaa also added that the definition of revolution in the mainstream focuses exclusively on macro-political changes that neglect social and cultural change that promote the development of civil society. She discussed with the audience the topic of sectarianism and divisions and how they may not necessarily resolved solely through political revolution.
Members of the audience and the speakers interacted with each other energetically at the event, particularly when it came to discussions on the definitions of terrorism and revolution. The debate also centered around recent and contemporary cases of conflict in Palestine, Israel, Bahrain and Egypt, with many audience members presenting their own interpretations of the various ongoing conflicts that are still taking place throughout the region.
Serving as the first phase of the Tasa’ol تساؤل initiative, Questioning The Veil, was inspired by the book of the same name by Turkish writer and academic Marnia Lazreg, which raises questions about the Muslim hijab and it’s role in contemporary Muslim societies.
The book is written in the form of open letters, each dealing with a different experience of veiling, de-veiling and re-veiling. In these letters, central questions are raised: Are the justifications for wearing the veil sexist? Does it protect those who wear it from sexual harassment? Is the veil a symbol for religious identity and if so, should it be?
The Questioning The Veil discussion event was held at Words BookstoreCafe in Budaiya on May 17th, 2014. The event took the basic premise of Marnia Lazreg’s book and discussed veiling, de-veiling and re-veiling experiences using a personal and narrative-based approach. The speaker panel was made up of; Dr. Malika Mehdid, Fatima Qassim, Noor Bahman, Deena Al Saweer, Fatima Bastaki and Tamadher Al Fahal.
Dr. Malika Mehdid, Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Bahrain and researcher in Middle Eastern studies, opened the event by discussing the hijab from a historical and political perspective. Focusing on Algeria, Dr. Malika discussed the ways in which gender roles developed and expectations of women changed through the mid-20th century to today.
The next speaker, Fatima Qassim discussed her personal experience with the hijab and how she ultimately made her decision to wear it. Growing up, she was the only one out of her sisters to wear the veil and to Fatima this was an empowering decision that was intimately connected to her faith in religion.
Noor Bahman took an academic approach by analyzing the way the hijab interacts with constructions of gender in society. She argued that the hijab is a product of social construction of gender because it rests on the belief that there is a gender difference that dictates a person’s entire life and identity.
Deena Al Saweer highlighted different veiling and de-veiling experiences in a broad presentation where she explained how people’s behavior and attitudes differ based on whether or not a person wears a hijab. Deena also highlighted how de-veiling can be a difficult experience because of the values society places on purity and piety and how de-veiling comes with a strong social stigma that is associated with “dirty” morality.
Tamadher Al Fahal, in her presentation, discussed her personal experience with the hijab, how it impacts and doesn’t impact her life and most importantly what the hijab means to her as an individual. Tamadher said that although the hijab dictates some of the dynamics of her relationships with others, she concluded that even these changes are minimal and don’t have an impact on her personality as a whole.
Fatima Bastaki raised questions about veiling, de-veiling and re-veiling through a narrative-based approach by telling the stories of three different women, including her own. In the first story, Fatima told us about Abrar and how growing up in a practicing Shi’a Muslim family meant that she was expected to wear the veil by the age of nine. Abrar’s family celebrated the veiling as a rite of passage into womanhood and although Abrar had some fleeting doubts about the hijab throughout her life, she still sees it as the right decision even if the decision was not entirely hers at the age of nine.
The next story was about Marwa, also a Shi’ite Muslim which meant that she was also expected to wear the hijab by the age of nine, who grew up in a conservative society and environment. She believed very strongly in the hijab at first but started to question it later on once she saw that it was impeding her life. Marwa later moved to the United States away from her family and de-veiled, viewing it as an empowering decision that has allowed her to develop a deeper and more complex understanding of what the hijab means.
Fatima Bastaki concluded her presentation with a story about herself and her own veiling, de-veiling and re-veiling experiences. She describes herself as a “situational hijabi” because her stance on the veil changes widely from time to time. To her, Fatima believes that the hijab is a constantly shifting journey of introspection and self-reflection.
In between presentations, heated interactions and debates took place between audience members and the speakers. The discussion centered around questions about the importance of the hijab in being religious, whether the hijab is a religious symbol and whether it creates gender difference. The history of the hijab also took center stage in the discussion as some audience members and speakers argued that it was a modern development rather than being rooted in Islamic traditions. Others argued that there is more than just one way to view the hijab and although it can be considered a religious symbol, it may not be to others.
Tasa’ol تساؤل is a Bahraini community initiative that aims to raise critical questions about issues of identity, gender, media and conflict through organizing various community-driven projects, in an effort to gain a better understanding of ourselves, our societies, our cultures and then a better understanding of the other.
The point behind raising questions and using questioning as the main method of building debate around these issues is reflected in one of the initiative’s main aims which is to develop introspection and internal self-reflection.
The first Tasa’ol تساؤل event “Questioning The Veil” was held in May 2014 which invited a host of speakers to share their experiences with the Muslim hijab and discuss the hijab from cultural, social, historical and religious perspectives.
In September 2014, Tasa’ol organized it’s second event, Questioning War, which aimed to raise questions about terrorism, violence, revolution, securitization through a critical and constructive discussion.
In the coming months, Tasa’ol will be organizing a variety of events, activities and projects that will energize community and debate. We invite everyone to take part in the conversation – because if we don’t, other people will talk for us.