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The Third Identity: An Interview with Tareq Abu Kwaik

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GP:  In your song Fitna, you talk about how there’s a war on ideas. Is there any topic that you’re concerned to discuss, that you’re worried you can’t get to?

TAK: When I say there’s a harb ‘ala al-ifkaar, which means like, “war on ideas,” I don’t necessarily mean like a censorship kind of thing…When I wrote it, I was just kind of surprised that people do discuss the Sunni-Shi’a type conflict, that I don’t recall even thinking about that ever growing up. Not because I was young and not exposed, because literally it wasn’t apparent in the nineties, at least being in Amman. So it wasn’t bumped up the way it became in the media after the war in Iraq. So I mean, it’s there…It’s like a little fire, and you pour some highly flammable thing on it…And I wrote it when I was in the States, in fact, and there was a big thing going on between Fatah and Hamas then. That was recent too. There’s always been, of course, these two different parties, but I never knew that Fatah and Hamas would take it to that point. So that was happening. And, in front of me, there was a lot of students from Saudi Arabia who, I would notice that they do talk about the whole Sunni-Shi’a thing, and they’re both from both sides, so I just felt this is new…so I wrote it.

So it’s more saying that the hate and sectarianism that you feed on, they don’t necessarily come only from your background and what you’re told at home. Your parents might be racist, but that doesn’t make you all the way this, unless you actually feed off of different things inside, if you don’t notice and you can’t help that and live by it, things like media and your parents and whatever.

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