Public screening of a new NFB documentary Things Arab Men Say was hosted by Intercultural Dialogue Institute GTA on November 30, 2016. The event featured a post-screening conversation with Raja Khouri, President of the Canadian Arab Institute. It was a full-house with over 50 people in attendance.
Worldwide, Arab men are depicted by the mainstream media as terrorists, suicide bombers, or at best, extremists. In Things Arab Men Say, Egyptian-born filmmaker Nisreen Baker paints a very different picture.
Sometimes funny, sometimes sad, this engaging documentary introduces us to Jay, Ghassan, Faisal, Adnan, Falah, Bashar and Ramey as they spend an afternoon at Jamal’s Eden Barber Shop discussing work, family, politics, and religion while getting a haircut and a shave. Through their conversation, we begin to understand the challenges these men face and the delicate balance between integrating into Canadian life and preserving one’s identity and culture.
Although located in St. Albert, an Edmonton suburb, Jamal’s Barber Shop could be anywhere, with this small group serving as a microcosm of the Arab community. As they each await their turn in the chair, the men continue to debate the issues, revealing differing personalities and often-surprising views. And once you hear what they have to say, you’ll never succumb to the mainstream message again.
Raja Khouri is president of the Canadian Arab Institute, a policy think tank he co-founded in 2011. Raja is co-founder of the Canadian Arab/Jewish Leadership Dialogue Group, and an international consultant in organizational development and capacity building.
Raja formerly served on several government and civil society bodies, such as Ontario’s Hate Crimes Community Working Group (for the Attorney General and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services), the Minister of Education’s Equity and Inclusive Education Strategy Roundtable, the Pride Toronto Community Advisory Panel, the Couchiching Institute on Public Affairs, and as advocacy co-chair of Human Rights Watch Canada. He served as president of the Canadian Arab Federation in the period following the events of 9/11.
Raja’s earlier career included a senior management position at CIBC and management consulting tenures in Europe and the Middle East. He has designed and chaired conferences, given and moderated lectures, numerous media interviews, and published commentaries in journals and major Canadian dailies. He’s the author of Arabs in Canada: Post 9/11.