Changing perspectives through media representation: refugee.tv

Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme

What kind of Verein is it? Are you planning on being involved with media as well?

The official name is Arabischer Kulturverein in Salzburg. Our logo says marhaba. It means servus.*2 *(2) It is open, and not only for one nationality. My idea is to make a project similar to refugee.tv, but not just with media. I want to create one united Arabic voice to explain the different Arab nationalities, ideas and personalities, and also to show the culture. This is about culture, not religion or anything political. We want to have events like music events and also events for children. We want to offer some consulting to Arabic families, to help them with applications and translations, help them in the process of finding flats, here and there. Within the foundation, I used minor connections to the city and state of Salzburg. They know us from refugee.tv, since I was a bit active in interviewing organizations. So I met people and they supported us. The state gave as a budget and the city also participated with some amount. Now the initial stage is finished and we are preparing the budget for the next year. Then we will see how it goes. We have big ideas: we want to make some events with Austrian and Arabic people together. Many Austrians are very motivated, and we also have some Austrian members now – not just Arabic members. It is all open. Also, the Verein is not only for the city of Salzburg, but for entire state of Salzburg. Now, we are at the beginning and are establishing our basis. We try to be more public. We plan many actions and activities. Also, we are thinking of having special offers for women. The vice deputy is a woman and she does several things for women when it comes to learning the language, finding a job or concerning health issues.

Anyone who has an idea about a project or an activity can come to us. We will discuss it and find ways to do it. For now, we don’t have a stable or permanent place. Each Friday, we can use the space at Hilfswerk and each Wednesday we have a Fahrradreparatur.*3 *(3) I hope when we do the budget for next year and we get a better amount, we can rent a place and make it like an Arabic café for meetings, which is open for everybody. This is the big aim. If we had such a place, we could do many things.

We focus on culture because culture is like a museum. People can go to this museum and see things they like and do not like. Often, things they don’t like are just unfamiliar things to them. Then, you can try to understand these unfamiliar things. Hence, our aim through this Verein is to expand this museum. The beautiful thing about Arabic culture is that we are mutually situated in it. We have many things in common, but these things appear differently in each country. We are all connected by history, language, sometimes also by religion, but this is not our theme. Among Arabic people, there are many religions– including Christians, especially in Iraq, Syria or Egypt. They are also affected by the culture. Culture affects your life, your thinking and your behavior. So I want this Arabic culture and museum with all its beautiful branches to get bigger by connecting with the Austrian culture, or museum. Or others. We are open for all. We already have Austrian members and we hope that more will come. And they will. Because, for example, at the opening party, there were about the same number of Austrians as Arabic people. It was a big opening in a church in Lehen, Salzburg.

 

Verein means ‘association’ or ‘club’ in German. These types of organizations are essential for public life and civil society in Austria. Usually they are formed by people who commit themselves to a specific common activity or cause and are run by a specified member structure and statutes.

Servus means ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in German and is commonly used in parts of southern Germany and in Austria.

‘Bike kitchen’

Ausländer means ‘foreigner’ or ‘alien’ in German. The word is deliberately kept in German, since it is a significant keyword used in discourses of belonging in German-speaking countries (for example, see https://igkultur.at/artikel/der-auslaender-und-seine-erziehung). In the meantime, migrants from the second or third generation have also critically appropriated the term Ausländer for themselves in various contexts.

‘Warehouse’

‘Cellar’ or ‘basement’

Dilara Akarçeşme, Ayad Salim (2020): Changing perspectives through media representation: refugee.tv. Ayad Salim, interviewed by Dilara Akarçeşme. In: p/art/icipate – Kultur aktiv gestalten #11 , https://www.p-art-icipate.net/changing-perspectives-through-media-representation-refugee-tv/