A publication of the METO University Network
by Harshul Singh*
Of MENA and the Bright Side – The externalities of war are far-reaching but the two cases of Mosul and Gaza have a reverberating and inspiring story to offer, one of emerging from war stronger and bolder than ever.
The University Library in Mosul was bombarded and ransacked by Islamic State back in 2014. After years of funding and reconstruction with the help of foreign countries and UNDP, the university library has opened its doors again, describing itself as a “lighthouse of knowledge” which is “once again burning bright”.
The university library bore an inscription that the “The Word ‘Impossible’ Does Not Exist In Our Dictionary”, and that the library is “a symbol of the triumph of humanitarianism, civilisation and peace over terrorism.”
This comes as an extraordinary event, as the library’s reopening is not just important to the students—but to all of those who have lived through that terrible dark time. It’s the beginning of a new saga.
A similar outlook can also be seen in Gaza where Samir Mansour’s bookshop was destroyed in an Israeli plane attack. The incident was devastating for him as he saw his lifetime collection of over 100,000 books burning along with 21 years of curation. With the news spreading around the globe, many human rights lawyers and civil society activists collaborated to rebuild his shop, calling for funds and donations—on the whole, they wanted to recreate the epitome of what culture and education is all about, which is reaching across borders. In the face of incredible adversity, thousands of people around the world came together in solidarity with the people of Gaza and in almost nine months’ time they were able to rebuild the bookshop.
These instances speak volumes, that violence and armed attacks cannot supersede the vibrancy of pluralistic cultures and the identities of people—and it is through culture, books, folklore, literature, customs, and traditions, we can sustain and celebrate the significance of their existence.
The people of MENA are on the path of recalibration, rising above the tragedies and binaries—representing a bolder version of themselves which cannot be coerced and suppressed through violence. The culture of MENA is here to stay as it empowers each and every one of us, to stand against violence, arbitrariness and weapons of mass destruction—and it is through the culture of our lives and intersectionalities that we can influence others and propel them to look towards the bright side that the region has to offer; one of inclusivity, tolerance, hope and freedom.
With this thought we share with you our fifth issue of The Bright Side, bringing in positive news and developments from the MENA region.
* Harshul is a final-year Political Science student at the University of Delhi. Within METO he focuses on cultural developments in the MENA region. He also serves as Research Associate and Analyst to various youth-led projects and organisations aimed at public policy and political discourse engagements.
This bulletin is bought to you by the following members of the METO University Network:
Giada del Russo (Coordinator)
Soukaina El Anaoui (Women & Children)
Lara Rendl (Disarmament and Conflict Resolution)
Aayushi Sharma (Migrations)
Britt Gronemeyer (Healthcare)
Yutong Zhang (Environment)
Arwa Syed (Food & Water Security)
Tamyra Selvarajan (Energy)
Molly Pimm (Education)
Harshul Singh (Culture)
Hilda Ariastuti (Archaeology)
If you are a student or recent graduate who is interested in supporting The Bright Side, or other METO projects, please consider volunteering with the METO University Network.
We unite young people from around the world who make a real difference by supporting METO in many of our key operational areas. To find out more, click here.
The articles selected for publication in this bulletin have been specially chosen in order to highlight the good work done every day across the region in order to improve the quality of life for citizens. It also highlights the advances in culture and the new archaelogical discoveries in the region, underlining that this region really has been a cradle of civilization for millenia.
The views expressed in the linked articles do not necessarily reflect the views of the Middle East Treaty Organization and their inclusion in our bulletin should not be interpreted in any way other than we think they’re interesting stories that should be more widely known. We will never intentionally include articles that promote or condone violence and discrimination in any form.
For any comments or questions, please don’t hesitate to contact TheBrightSide@wmd-free.me.
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