A South, Central, and West Asian Workshop for Europe and North Africa

A South, Central, and West Asian Workshop for Europe and North Africa took place in June of this year. Forty-two people attended, including people from Europe, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, and Israel. There were two Palestinian women from Israel and twelve new RCers from Morocco and Algeria.

More than half of us were raised poor or working class. The youngest was sixteen, and the oldest was in his late fifties. We were Bahai, Christians, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims.

There was Arabic interpretation in the front of the workshop and whisper Hebrew interpretation for the Israelis.

All of us or our ancestors are or were from colonized nations, and the colonization still has its claws on our minds. We struggle to know that we are just right, not inferior to the colonizers, and to remember that we are powerful, smart, beautiful, and creative. We often feel alone, numb, furious, grief-stricken, or terrified. We struggle to imagine that we could win against the internalized oppression and the oppressive forces in the world.

Over and over again, we’ve been set up against one another—Hindus against Muslims, Indians against Pakistanis, Moroccans against Algerians, Israelis against Palestinians, Syrians against Iranians, Arabs against Amazigh (the Indigenous people of Algeria and Morocco). The oppressive forces use a divide-and-conquer strategy to keep us fighting each other instead of focusing on eliminating all oppressions and working toward unification.

Many of our nations are still occupied by imperialist forces. War and sanctions, which starve our people, have been a reality. We’ve felt devastated and wondered why humanity stands by and watches the mass killings and utter destruction in our lands.

For the workshop, we stayed at a hotel and traveled in minibuses to the free government office space where we met. (In Morocco, group assemblies are allowed only if they’re connected to an NGO [non-governmental organization] that is approved by the government.)

The practicing Muslims, who needed to pray five times a day, had a section in the back of the meeting room where they could pray and not have to leave the meeting. On Friday night a Palestinian woman spoke about the significance to Muslims of the Friday prayer, and we took a break for the practicing Muslims to pray and the rest of us to discharge on being allies to Muslims.

On Saturday night we held Havdalah, the end of Shabbat, on the rooftop of the hotel. By then we had done enough work that the Christians, Muslims, and Hindus were ready to pay attention to the elimination of anti-Semitism.

Each morning we broke into two groups: Nazish Riaz, a Pakistani woman, led a class for the new RCers, and I led an ongoing class. The morning and afternoon topic groups were on Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, or Christian liberation. We also met by sex and class backgrounds.

Doing RC in a Muslim nation was a highlight for me. The people were gems, the sunrises and sunsets on the rooftop were gorgeous, and I enjoyed the calls to prayer.

I also enjoyed exposing capitalism and global wealth inequality.

On Saturday afternoon I had one percent of the workshop play the role of the owning class and the other ninety-nine percent play the working class. I gave fifty percent of the chairs to the owning class and then asked, “How is this unfair economic system maintained? Why do we agree to the unequal ownership of capital?” People brought up [mentioned] the role of the military, war, the prison system, police, the media, and schools, finally getting to the strategy of divide and conquer and how internalized oppression holds the system in place.

Occasionally I would move a few more chairs from the working class to the owning class to demonstrate how capital is increasingly concentrating in the hands of the owning class. And I shared how by 2030 the richest one percent will own two-thirds of global wealth.

At one point I divided the working class into Jews, Hindus, and Muslims and then into groups based on national origin, skin color, and sex. We talked about the role RC can play in uniting the working class and all humans.

On Sunday morning I did a relationship session with an Israeli and a Palestinian, demonstrating how we can use RC theory and the discharge process to move in each other’s direction. It left us hopeful about the possibilities.

Azi Khalili

International Liberation Reference Person for South, Central, and West Asian-Heritage People

Brooklyn, New York, USA

Reprinted from the RC e-mail discussion list for leaders of South, Central, and West Asian-heritage people

(Present Time 193, October 2018)

Last modified: 2022-12-25 10:17:04+00