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Radio debate ponders Arab identity in Scotland

The BBC has been exploring issues related to dual or multiple identities in Scotland as the Scottish independence referendum nears. On 11 March 2014 the BBC hosted a live radio debate from Glasgow, hosted jointly by BBC Radio Scotland and BBC World Service radio to discuss the question of identity within the Scottish Arab community.

The debate raised important questions such as, ‘Can you be Scottish and something else?’ and ‘Is Scottish-Arab a contradiction?’ the BBC said. The programme was presented by Sam Farah from BBC Arabic, BBC Radio Scotland presenter John Beattie and Chloe Tilley from the programme World Have Your Say.

In addition, there was a special episode of the BBC Arabic flagship television programme Talking Point with Arabs in Scotland to discuss their identity, and how they feel about being both Arab and Scottish. An Iraqi-Scottish attendee of the debate said: “I see myself as a Scottish Iraqi, I vote in elections of both countries.”

A selection of other quotes from the debate include:

Iraqi-Scottish guest says: “I see myself as a Scottish-Iraqi, I vote in elections of both countries.”

Yemeni guest says: “British society is based on multiculturalism.”

Syrian guest says: “Even if you become a citizen of another country; you will remain a Muslim Arab deep inside you.”

Guest says: “I neither feel I’m Scottish like other Scots nor I feel I’m Egyptian like other Egyptians.”

There was a positive response from the Arabs in Scotland who took part in the programme, the BBC said.  Many appreciated the BBC going to Glasgow to discuss the issues. Leaders of the community also suggested that they would like to see BBC Arabic doing more programming from their community.

Faten Aldelimi, Head of the Iraqi society in Scotland, said: “Arabs can perfectly integrate in the Scottish society and being both Arab and Scottish. However, integration is a process that has two sides: on one hand Arabs have to explain their cultures to others, and on the other hand the society has to accept multi-cultures within it.”

The programme was tweeted live during the debate. Here is what people said:

@mohamed_elganga: We belong to our home countries. Even if we get Scottish citizenship, we have no place but our countries

@NezarMansoor: There are attempts to erase Arab identity. This is because of the current Arab regimes

@egyptpleasure: Multiculturalism, which was adopted by some European countries, only failed with Arabs And Muslims

The programme is the second in a series of four BBC World Service debates which, for the first time, bring together BBC World Service language teams and BBC radio stations from the nations and regions in the UK to look at the issues that matter to local and diaspora communities. The roadshows also features BBC Manchester and BBC Urdu, BBC Merseyside and BBC Chinese, and BBC Wales and BBC Africa.

Each programme is broadcast live around the world on BBC World Service and on the BBC’s regional or national stations – uniting different communities in a unique link-up. Each broadcast features an audience who will debate topics put together by the audiences of BBC radio stations and BBC World Service’s language services.

This event will showcase the BBC World Service’s relevance to different parts of the UK and demonstrate just how global the connections in people’s lives are wherever they live.

The programme can be heard online via BBC iPlayer: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xgrn5

Author: Editor

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