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Students chat with Mashrou’ Leila as part of KIP conference
3/30/2017
Dana Abed  |  Office of Advancement  |  media@aub.edu.lb  | 

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Two days before the conference on sexual harassment and discrimination organized by the Knowledge is Power (KIP) project at the American University of Beirut (AUB) and co-sponsored by the Equity & Title IX program in the Office of the President, renowned local band Mashrou’ Leila sat down for a fireside chat with students on Wednesday, March 29, in Maamari Auditorium at the Olayan School of Business (OSB). 

 
The chat was moderated by Assistant Professor of Media Studies Sarah Mourad and attended by more than 100 enthusiastic students. Themes discussed were context, language, identity, and social media.
 
Opening the ceremony was OSB Associate Dean Charlotte Karam, director of the KIP project, who expressed her delight at hosting the band at AUB to discuss sensitive yet important topics with students, disregarding all boundaries. 

 
The band, which started at AUB, is composed of five talented young men: Hamed Sinno, Haig Papazian, Carl Gerges, Firas Abou Fakher, and Ibrahim Badr. All were present at the KIP event except Badr. The band started in 2008 and has released four albums, ‘Ibn El Leil’ being their latest. 

 
The band members discussed many issues, including being labeled as the “voice of the generation” by international media during the uprisings in the Arab world. The band explained that they hand no intention of turning their music into political activism, and that it is due to the audience that their songs became associated with the Arab uprisings, seeing them as a sign of “hope.”

 
“Music is an art form that is dependent on the audience’s interactions, and it is hard to separate the audience from the artists,” explained Firas. 
When it comes to language, the band explained that singing in Arabic is part of their identity, and their idea of nationalism.

 
“When we first started, we were looking at ideologies and politics and how we can take part of this community. We learnt a lot about ourselves through our language and we cannot imagine things differently,” explained Sinno. 

 
Addressing the issue of identity, the band spoke about how having an openly gay band member helped them raise questions about the meaning of masculinity and femininity. And although they are sometimes faced with discrimination and hate speech, the band is now a symbol of tolerance and acceptance for many.
 
Social media played a huge role in the journey of the band, having crowdfunded their third album through it. The band explained that although social media is a free platform where people can express their minds, users should be critical of their critics. Not everyone who has an opinion has a valid one, according to the band.
 
The audience had the chance to ask their questions through an anonymous link, and those were displayed on a screen onstage. The floor was then opened for direct interaction with the audience, where students asked the band about their journey, their beliefs, and for advice. 

 
This fireside chat was part of the opening of the KIP conference that will be held on Friday, March 31 and Saturday, April 1. Over 100 participants will be taking part in cross-sectoral dialogue during the conference, including researchers, academics, educators, officials and policy-makers, artists and performers, activists and civil society members, and students. 

 
As part of the conference, Dr. Nawal el Saadawi, renowned author and firm feminist, will be giving a keynote speech and conversing with the audience. The conversation will revolve around the main conference theme of sexual harassment and gender or sex-based discrimination.

 
The conference, a truly multidisciplinary platform, will include panels, workshops, exhibitions, and performances. 
Story Highlights
  • Two days before the conference on sexual harassment and discrimination organized by the Knowledge is Power (KIP) project at the American University of Beirut (AUB), renowned local band Mashrou’ Leila sat down for a fireside chat with students on Wednesday, March 29, in Maamari Auditorium at the Olayan School of Business (OSB). 
  • The chat was moderated by Assistant Professor of Media Studies Sarah Mourad and attended by more than 100 enthusiastic students. Themes discussed were context, language, identity, and social media.
 
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