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What do we need to know about the MENA region today?

Behrang Samadzadegan
1 June 2011

I believe that recent events and revolutions in the Middle East prove that getting acquainted with the region is more complicated than has been conveyed on the global scene until now. Behind a curtain of traditions, Middle Eastern people are dealing with the passion of globalization.

My comments may only be relevant for my own society where it is impossible to segregate modernity and tradition.

Where religion has always been a pretext for fundamentalism, to win the power in order to build up a curtain by combining traditions, custom and politics.

A curtain which is seductive enough to motivate Orientalists, while being suspicious enough for politicians to be involved with it for decades.

What is always left in our cares is the reality behind this curtain: people that just want to live normal lives and don't want to be what others want them to be.

To live with their own dreams, goals and legends instead of accommodating their dreams to institutions and unwritten laws.

Here you'll be encouraged not to be yourself.

Since you are abandoned by yourself, there are governors who tell you how to talk, where to walk, what to eat, who to meet!

Since you decide to be a citizen of the global village, you'll have to pretend to be interesting to the world! You'll have to cover yourself within the same curtain of locality and ethnicity!

In the end, it is hard to have your heroes kept from the past and only a horizon before you.

Behrang Samadzadegan

is an artist and university lecturer based in Tehran.

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A platform is a space for speaking in public. It is an opportunity to express ideas and thoughts. It also suggests the formal declaration of a stance or position on any given subject.

Unique to Ibraaz is a 'platform', a question put to writers, thinkers and artists about an issue relevant to the MENA region. This platform is sent to respondents both within and beyond the MENA region and contributions will be archived every 12 months.