America Abroad – The Power of Art in a Changing Middle East
As political momentum from the Arab Spring has given way to renewed repression in some states, terrible conflict or chaos in others, what is left is art. This episode explores what musicians, filmmakers, playwrights, and others to speak out. This updated version includes a look at how Middle Eastern comedians are taking on ISIS through parodies.
Film, music and art are often the best ways to capture the will and the mood of the people in times of turmoil. Art sometimes has the power to move millions where politics fails. So in this program we attempt to identify some prominent artistic voices in the Middle East, North Africa and in South Asia and evaluate their take on liberal ideals, on sectarian violence, on terrorism and how they're being received by audiences in both the Arab and Muslim communities and in the West.
It's been 5 years (June 4, 2009) since President Obama's landmark Cairo speech in which he spoke of common values between the West and "muslims around the world: they were values of "justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings." A year later, the world witnessed the popular uprisings and protests that gripped countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Jordan and Syria...popular political expression that was once thought to have the power to liberalize. As that political momentum has given way to renewed repression in some states, terrible conflict or chaos in others, what is left is art. Among the selections in this program are "Horses of God," the new film out by French-born Moroccan filmmaker Nabil Ayouch about the roots of extremism in the heart of Casablanca...the film echoes the real events of an actual mass suicide bombing that killed 47 people back in 2010. Lebanese singer Tania Saleh who sings for peace between Sunni and Shiites. Pakistani playwright Shahid Nadeem who's been jailed for his use of satire to expose taboo political topics and Lebanese rap crew, Ashekman. They rap and paint graffiti about terrorism, war and corruption.