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D66 Day of the Middle East: Stories of the Unusual Suspects

Zaterdag 15 september 2018 in Utrecht

Join us on 15 September 2018, at Paushuize in Utrecht!

Click here for the latest information on the programme, experts and plenary speakers or buy your tickets here!

The 6th edition of the D66 Day of the Middle East will shine light on the forgotten struggles of the Middle East. On the stories of minorities struggling for emancipation, on forgotten conflicts and on the human perspective that is often left out in coverage of grand strategy and geopolitics. These stories will be told by our experts: academics, journalists, entrepreneurs and politicians, all with strong ties to the region. Their contributions will leave attendees with a broader perspective on development in the region, learning once again that the Middle East is more than just the daily headlines. Key-contributors to the event will be the acclaimed German-Iranian scholar Ali Fathollah-Nejad and successful Lebanese journalist Diana Moukalled.

Senator, author and independent advisor Petra Stienen will be the host of the event.

Location: Paushuize (Kromme Nieuwegracht 49), Utrecht
Date: 15 September 2018
Time: 10.00-17.30

Tickets are available here.

09:30 – 10:00 Doors open, morning coffee
10:00 – 10:10 Welcoming remarks by Marietje Schaake
10:10 – 11:00 Opening speech by Ali Fathollah
11:00 – 13:00 Parallel sessions: round I
• The Rif People’s Protest Movement
• The Kurdish Question: Political Struggles and the Quest for Independence
13:00 – 14:00 Lunch break
14:00 – 15:00 Speech and Q&A with Diana Moukalled
15:00 – 17:00 Parallel sessions: round II
• Dual session: ‘Women and sexuality in Iranian society’ & ‘The Voice of Iranian Women’
• The Last Wall of Europe: Cyprus
17:00 – 17:30 Closing remarks by Salima Belhaj
17:30 – 18:00 Drinks

About the plenary sessions:

Session 1: The Rif people’s protest movement

In the last two years, we’ve seen major protests in the Rif region, in the northern part of Morocco. Riffians mainly protest against the socio-economic situation in their region — poverty, bad education, corruption, lack of health services. The Rif, mainly inhabited by Amazigh (Berbers), has been a marginalised region for decades, and has a long history of conflicts with the central Moroccan government. The large majority of Dutch-Moroccan citizens has its roots in the Rif region.

In this session, we will explore the situation in the Rif. What are the protesters striving for? In which (historical) context do we need to see the demonstrations, and the government’s response? What role does the Amazigh identity play in the protest movement? And what do the current developments mean for Dutch and European relationships with Morocco and the Rif region?

Session 2: The Kurdish Question: Political Struggles and the Quest for Independence

Whenever you hear news about ‘the Kurds’, it is usually in a context of political struggle and – often violent – conflict. Some are aware they form the largest ethnic minority in Turkey, Iraq and Syria, and realize that there are different militia’s fighting for a ‘Kurdish cause’. However, why is today’s situation as it is? What is the unique identity of the Kurdish people in the MENA-region, and how did it came to be? What is the relation of the Kurdish communities in with their host-states in the MENA region, and why is there not a ‘Kurdish nation.’

This session will give you a bird-eye view of the the ‘Kurdish question’, and give you the information you need to place current political developments in the historical context it deserves.

Dual session 3: ‘Women and sexuality in Iranian society’ & ‘The Voice of Iranian Women’

We invite you to discover Iran from a new perspective. News on Iran is often limited to geopolitical developments and leaves out many developments within Iranian society. Minority groups in Iran, such as the LGBT community, faces many challenges in their stuggle for emancipation on a daily basis. What is the origin of these challenges and what are the future perspectives?

However, we want to change your perspective a bit more. The second part of this session, named ‘the voice of Iranian Women’, will provide the opportunity to experience the way four powerful women influenced Iranian society through their arts and their way of expressing themselves in public domain. Discover what you really know about Iranian women and see how they express themselves at this moment and in the past.

Session 4: The Last Wall of Europe

Cyprus the large island in the Mediterranean has experienced many conflicts and division in the past. It has been fought over, conquered ceded and reconquered on many occasions over thousands of years. It is, after all, at a geographical crossroads – a hop, skip and a jump from the Middle East. Cyprus is home to the longest-serving peacekeeping mission in United Nations history. It has been called a diplomatic graveyard, having frustrated generations of negotiators.

Cyprus has been divided since 1974, its Greek and Turkish Communities and its capital Nicosia is separated by a buffer zone known as the “Green Line”. But unlike most conflict zones, Cyprus is more or less at peace and a popular tourist destination. Hundreds of thousands of people have crossed the line since travel restrictions were eased in 2003, in 2004 Cyprus joined the European Union. In 2004 UN Secretary-General Koffi Annan came close to a solution to this conflict. His solution was accepted by the Turks but heavily rejected by Greek Cypriots in referendum. In this session we shall discuss the history of the Cyprus conflict and the major obstacles on Cyprus path to peace. Cyprus is internationally seen as a model and case for other conflict resolutions in the world. In this session we will also reflect on the process and content of successful peace negotiations in conflicts. In the last part we will focus on the future and talk with a new generations of Cypriots of our sister party about how to move forward and how the reunification of Cyprus should look like.

15 september


Paushuize, Nieuwegracht 49, Utrecht