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Black Lives Matter In The Arab World: Fighting A Multidimensional Racism

In Arab countries, the death of George Floyd has reignited the debate about racism against Blacks, a discrimination that worsens as it descends the social ladder.

BLM protests in Tunisia
BLM protests in Tunisia
Amélie Mouton and Mourad Kamel

Maryam Abu Khaled certainly did not expect to become one of the faces of the Black Lives Matter movement in the Middle East. And yet, in less than a week, this young Palestinian actress has become the voice of citizens in Arab countries who face supposedly "good-natured" racism because they have black skin. "I'm told that racism in the United States has nothing to do with racism in the Arab world. That at least here, we don't kill people," she says in a viral video with over two million views on Instagram.

"Do you realize that what you say with love can ruin a person's mental health and destroy their confidence?" Khaled asks. She remembers the moment she heard a mother tell her child not to stay in the sun "so that they don't burn and look like Maryam" and the time a father explained to his son, "if some people are Black, it's because their families have left them in the oven." She urges people who say such things to stop. "It's not too late. We can teach the new generation what is right and wrong."

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In The News

War In Ukraine, Day 126: Russia Watching NATO, As Path Cleared For Finland And Sweden To Join

As NATO leaders meet in Madrid, Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. It's yet another momentous change underway since Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

International leaders after having their photograph taken before the start of the NATO 2022

Anna Akage, Shaun Lavelle, and Emma Albright

A high-stakes NATO summit has kicked off in Madrid, as leaders of the world’s largest defense alliance discuss the war in Ukraine and key decisions that will shape the organization’s future direction. NATO Secretary-GeneralJens Stoltenberg said the Russian invasion of its neighbor had prompted a fundamental shift in its approach to defense.

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Finland and Sweden look much closer to joining the alliance after Turkey dropped its objections to their membership. The three countries released a joint memorandum that “extend[ed] their full support against threats to each other's security," FinnishPresident Sauli Niinistö said.

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Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

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