When the Arabs of the Levant emigrated at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century to the Americas, the immigrants did not realize that they would produce a new literature known as the literature of the diaspora, which became a milestone in Arabic literature, and immortalized the names of writers etched in the Arab collective memory.
And after 100 years of emigration, there was another forced emigration from a part of the Levant “Syria”, but this time it headed to Europe, with Germany in the heart, to bring back the current writers what their ancestors did.
The forced asylum situation forced the refugees to search for a way to solve their problems first, especially the problem of language and translation, and then work to preserve the original culture and language. This is how Bilal Al-Khader, founder and director of the Association for the Joint Society for Integration and Cultural Exchange in Mulheim, began his speech to Al Jazeera Net.
Al-Khidr added, “A number of Syrians came here to establish this association, which was born in 2018, and its goal was to provide services to the Arab community, preserve the Arab identity, and emphasize building bridges of communication between the new generation and their roots, culture and mother tongue.”
And he added, “The association’s ambition is to expand the space for purposeful work and mutual cooperation with other associations in Germany and Europe to form a solid base for working to support Arab cultural and social activities, and for the interaction of these communities with the social environment of which they have become a part.”
Regarding the association’s activity, Slav Idris, who is responsible for Arab family affairs, replied by saying that after the association obtained an official license, and began its work until it carried out several activities at the internal level here in Mülheim (in the north of the state of “North Rhine-Westphalia” in the west of the country) or at the external level. With the support of refugee camps in the countries of asylum, it has taken care to remind Muslims of the holidays by setting up a so-called Eid garden on Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha for Arab families to meet, get acquainted and speak the mother Arabic, and to provide Eid games and entertainment for Arab children with a full Arab concert that lasted for many hours, on the internal level. .
On the external level, Idris continues, “The association was concerned about our brothers in the refugee camps, and the association launched a campaign (Your Cent is a blessing) and winter clothing, through which it was able to send about 2 tons of clothes donated by the Arab brothers to the Syrian refugee camps.”
Islam Al-Khidr, the social advisor in the association – to Al-Jazeera Net – says that there is a bad stereotype that has been drawn about refugees caused by the media, and a certain perception of Arabs and Muslims has been established, and therefore the association has taken into account to present another image of refugees, “through which we address the Germans”, as it The association with the campaign to clean the city by refugees under the title “Cleanliness is one of the titles of urbanization”.
In support of sports and health, group walking tours, and many other miscellaneous activities are also organized here.
In response to Al Jazeera Net’s question about cultural activity, the writer Safi Muhammad Mazhar, responsible for the cultural department, said: There is a link between global cultures as one of the human superstructures, and for this reason any researcher tends to know the nature of a people to study its cultural product, and here we worked – and we still – To present the civilization to which we belong by highlighting the Arab cultural aspect, and at the heart of it is the Syrian, as well as the relentless attempt to cross-fertilize civilization at the cultural level from which Germans and Arabs here benefit alike.
Regarding the association’s activities, Mazhar added that the Arab Library Department was established to provide Arabic books with diverse content for the Arab reader, and reading environments for those interested, in addition to intellectual and cultural dialogues, and support writing enthusiasts and taking their hand to develop their talents by teaching them the principles of creative writing.
The Association also held a distinguished exhibition of Arab books containing more than a thousand diverse Arabic titles, which was very popular with the Arab community.
The visitor to the Association notes a special interest in Arab children, and the amount of activity allocated to them. About him, Al-Khidr says that many seminars and lectures have been organized in various fields, the most important of which are educational seminars regarding children and adolescents, positive and normal integration, and not losing the Arab identity by assimilation into the expatriate community.
The Arab Child Theater was also established under the direction of Syrian director Imad Dalati, and the association presented several works, the most important of which were “Alice in Wonderland, Fahim Al-Fahman” as well as the formation of a choir of more than 50 children, in addition to teaching oriental music and playing.
Ambitions and Obstacles
Regarding the problems, Mazhar said that the obstacles in the renaissance of the association are not different from any Syrian or Arab association that was established as a result of asylum, and perhaps the most prominent of these obstacles is financial scarcity, lack of support and lack of interaction from the immigrant community.
Al-Adiba added, “The association’s activities are completely free and with the contribution of volunteers, and all these activities were carried out on their shoulders in the absence of moral and material support from those who love culture, Arabic and literature, and who are concerned with countries, organizations and individuals, which led to the limited space for cultural activities.”
And she added, “We seek to establish (the gathering of Arab writers in the diaspora) and organize periodic literary and cultural works, to spread our culture and transfer our literature and poetry to Western circles under the slogan of cultural exchange, and to establish the presence of Arabic and its literature throughout Germany, and our ambition to extend to Europe in general, but the absence of support prevented achieving This is the lofty goal right now.”