Celebrating Arab resilience with Huss Al-Chokhdar

Meet Huss, from our Refugee Festival Scotland team. He’s drawing on his own lived experience to curate festival events celebrating Arab resilience that you won’t want to miss. We caught up with him to find out more.

Hi Huss. Thanks for speaking to us. How does it feel to be part of the team coordinating this year’s festival?  

It means a lot to me. I’ve found it very empowering personally, especially with everything happening in Palestine just now and all the stigma around Arabs. It’s more important than ever to celebrate our cultures and identities and provide safe spaces for people.

Seeing so many people contribute to the festival in their own unique way is so inspiring. There is so much solidarity.  It’s beautiful seeing how unique each contribution is. It all comes from such a personal place for everyone.

Why do you think celebrations like Refugee Festival Scotland are important?  

The festival is about facilitating safe spaces for people who come from refugee and asylum-seeking backgrounds. Being around people who want to celebrate you and your culture is so important, especially at a time when it has become quite frightening for people like us. It’s very healing and it helps people feel more at home. I miss home, so that’s important to me.

Tell us a bit about the events you’re organising  

I’m organising three events celebrating Arab resilience as part of this year’s festival programme. The first is a film screening at the GFT on Sat 15 June. RESILIENCE will showcase six short films from across the Arab region – Palestine, Syria, Egypt and a film of my own. It’s a diverse range of topics but all six films platform refugee voices and share our culture.

I’m also holding two events at Civic House on Sun 16 June. During the day will be a workshop exploring resistance through Palestinian poetry and in the evening, I’m throwing a party with Arab DJs, drag queens and performers.

At a time when Arabs are being scrutinised globally and violence and destruction in our countries is being normalised, it’s important for me to celebrate our culture, voices and identities.

What three words would you use to describe Refugee Festival Scotland?

Empowering. Homely. Inspiring.

What are you most looking forward to about this year’s festival?  

There’s so much to be excited about. I want to go to everything!

I’m probably most excited about my film screening at GFT. We’ll be closing with I Came From the Unknown to Sing, directed by Roxana Vilk.

It’s about the life of Palestinian poet, Ghazi Hussein, who was imprisoned for 20 years and is now living in Edinburgh. I’m so excited to bring him out afterwards for a Q&A. He will be reciting some of his poetry. I’m really honoured to have him be part of something that is so special to me.

The full festival programme is coming soon.