M I S S I O N
My first Arabiqa school assembly was two weeks after 9/11. I went to advocate for a harassed Arab child at their elementary school. And now 18 years and 300+ schools later I advocate for 22 countries and a religion. My focus remains the same: percussion NOT politics, dance NOT dogma. I bring my instruments, costumes, a white board to spell them in Arabic and to draw a map from memory. With humor, clapping and questions, the students and teachers see me, an Arab Muslim Immigrant American, as a human, and not a political topic. My favorite quote after an Arabiqa show "I want to be Arab when i grow up" said the 4th grader from Virginia!
The War on Terror, The War in the Middle East, suicide bombers, extremism, dictatorships, sectarian fighting, revolts, revolutions, refugee crises and Muslim Travel Bans all dominate the headlines and newsfeeds. These sensational controversies are now flamed further by rhetoric from the highest office. They polarize adults and scare children. But political controversy must not be allowed to define a culture. Everyone deserves to represent themselves and offer the balanced narrative of their people. Arabiqa gives young audiences a view of the human, real, and creative side of Arabs. Children who see the performance will learn that this is a culture with music, dance, and depth. They will have a unique explorer's experience, while also feeling the deep familiarity that only music can echo.
Advocating for my own culture is only the beginning of the process. Giving a benevolent and creative representation of Arabs and Muslims serves as an example; the true and ultimate goal is to promote diversity. By inspiring curiosity and admiration for a villainized culture such as mine, I am disassembling xenophobia. And the eradication of fear-based phobia gives room to love-based acceptance of all things diverse.
-Karim Nagi, 2018