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Focus on the Middle East at UTSC

The past year witnessed momentous political and cultural transformations in the Middle East and North Africa.

Putting those transformations and other issues relating to the Middle East and North Africa into perspective will be the focus of a student-centered event hosted by UTSC.

“We want to put into context for students the changes happening in the Middle East and have a scholarly debate about some of the issues,” says UTSC Assistant Professor Atiqa Hachimi. “We also want to raise general awareness about the changes that are happening.”

The three-day event, which was organized by UTSC faculty Atiqa Hachimi, Maria Assif, Paul Kingston, Renan Levine and Alejandro Paz, will cover a specific topic each day:

 “The Arab Spring” – February 28, noon to 3 p.m.  (Student Centre)

Panelists: Professor Mohammad Fadel (UofT Law School); Professor Bessma Momani (University of Waterloo and Centre for Governance Innovation); Eric Walberg (Canadian Journalist and Media Expert on the Middle East); Ms. Eman Ayash (York University undergraduate and a member of the Syrian Canadian Council).

At 2 p.m. following the panel discussion there will be a screening of an Al-Jazeera documentary on Bahrain, followed by Q and A session.

 “Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East” – February 29, noon to 3 p.m. (Student Centre)

Panelists: Professor Shahrzad Mojab (OISE, UofT);  Professor Victoria Tahmasebi (UTSC); Ghadeer Malek (Palestinian Activist); Cantor Tamar Havilio, author of "Sisters of Esther; Women Wailing at the Wall”

At 2 p.m. following the panel discussion there will be a screening of “Crimes of Honour” by Shelley Saywell.

“Divestment” – March 1, noon to 2 p.m. (IC Atrium)  

U of T graduate and undergraduate students will debate divestment from corporations that directly support and profit from the occupation of the Palestinian Territories. The moderator for this discussion will be UTSC Professor Alejandro Paz.

In addition to the panel discussions there will be student presentations from 1:30 to 2 p.m. on Feb. 28 and 29. Meanwhile, information booths of UTSC and community organizations working on Middle-Eastern issues will be set up from noon to 3 p.m. on Feb. 28 and 29, and from noon to 2 p.m. on March 1.

Focus on the Middle East Week will culminate with a keynote address by Dr. Joseph A. Massad titled “Love, Fear and the Arab Spring,” on March 1 from 5 to 6:30 p.m. in IC130. Dr. Massad is Professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University and author of three best-selling books. Following the keynote address there will be reception and an Arabic musical performance by Nesma from 6:30-8pm in the IC Atrium.

All events are free and open to the public and school community. For more information email

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