SALAAM: Preventing the Rise of Radicalism and Islamophobia through Art

Erasmus+ KA1 Training Course 11-18 June 2017 – Palermo, Italy

By Albesa Aliu & Revekka Kefalea

In June 2017, we had the opportunity to participate in the Erasmus+ KA1 Training Course entitled “SALAAM: Preventing the rise of radicalism and islamophobia through art”, which took place in Palermo, Italy.During the first days of the training course, we participated in various group building activities in order to get to know the other participants from Bulgaria, Portugal, Poland, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Albania, Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina; we expressed our fears and expectations and we presented our skills and competences in relation to the topic of the training that could be useful in the context of peer-to-peer learning activities.

We investigated, presented and compared the current situation on radicalisation, islamophobia and migration in our countries, as well as the relevant policies that are being implemented – and we engaged ourselves in various creative activities in order to define the concepts of radicalisation and islamophobia, to reflect on their common features and causes and to work for common solutions and prevention strategies.

Furthermore, we visited Centro Astalli (a local association in Palermo working against the exclusion and isolation of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers), where we had the opportunity to discuss with staff members about the services provided by the association, as well as to discover the stories of migrants and refugees through the method of the Living Library. During the following days until the end of the training, we discussed about art as a means of communication through the Reciprocal Maieutic Approach – and we were introduced to Visual Arts and the Theatre of the Oppressed as means to prevent oppression and social exclusion.

Based on our skills and competences, we preferred to participate in the “Visual Arts” workshop, in the context of which we collaborated with other participants in order to organise and curate a photographic exhibition-campaign as a means to communicate a message against radicalisation and islamophobia. This photographic exhibition-campaign was presented in Piazza di Terrasini, along with the other outcomes of the artistic workshops of the SALAAM project – a comic strip (another outcome of the “Visual Arts” workshop) and the final performance of the “Theatre of the Oppressed” workshop. It is impossible to know if these artistic outcomes have already created a lasting and positive impact on the lives of the locals who attended our final performance/exhibition in Piazza di Terrasini. But we do know that our participation in this training course has been a fruitful and thought-provoking experience for us.