Seminar: Middle Eastern Cultures and Societies

Presented by Dr. Hassan Diab
Five sessions, each session is two hours long

Date: Each of the following Thursdays: March 15, 22 and 29; and April 5 and 12, 2012
Time: 3:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Place: Ottawa Friends Meeting House (Quaker House), 91A Fourth Avenue, Ottawa

No need to register – just come to the seminar!

Cost: To help cover the cost of this seminar, we are asking for a donation of $100 from each participant. Any amount not used for expenses will be contributed to Dr. Diab’s legal defence fund. No one turned away for lack of funds.


The situation in the Middle East is Big News every day. But how much do we really know about (and understand) the people living there – in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, etc.?

This seminar by Dr. Hassan Diab offers you an in-depth perspective about Middle Eastern cultures and societies in an engaging, conversational, and informal atmosphere. The seminar is composed of five sessions or meetings; each session is 2 hours long.

This is a unique opportunity to find answers to questions you have about the Middle East as well as participate in interesting discussions.

Session 1 (History and Economy): A Historical Perspective of Middle Eastern Societies. This session covers some of the major historical events that led to the formation of current societies and states in the Middle East. We will focus on the relationship between colonialism and the rise of “dependent” contemporary societies and states in the region.

Session 2 (Culture): Cultural Perspectives and Practices in the Middle East: The Non-Orientalist Approaches. In this session, we will focus on the similarities and differences in cultural formations and practices in the region. We will also discuss the problems that arise from adopting the Orientalist approach to understanding societies in the region. Edward Said’s views will be critically discussed, and examples from cultural practices in the Middle East will be objectively presented.

Session 3 (Politics): Political Development and the Formation of Current Political Systems in the Middle East. This session seeks to shed some light on the historical formation of current political systems in the region. We will examine the aspirations of various political movements, and the obstacles faced in developing mostly tribal societies into modern democratic political entities. Unfulfilled promises of modernization theories will be probed.

Session 4 (Religion): Religion and Its Role in Societies and Cultures in the Middle East: Myths and Realities. This session provides a general view of the three main religions in the Middle East, focusing on Islam and its main branches. We will examine the role of religion in Middle Eastern societies. We will also analyze Western media coverage of events in the Middle East.

Session 5 (Arab Spring): The Future of the Middle East: A Vibrant or Stagnant Region? This session discusses the current events which led to the “Arab Spring” and its potential to achieve the hopes and aspirations of people in the region.

We hope that you will not miss this GREAT opportunity to attend this engaging seminar!


Dr. Hassan Diab is a Lebanese Canadian sociology professor who is an expert on the Middle East. He holds a Ph.D. degree (1995) in Sociology from Syracuse University, New York. He is the author of the book “Beirut: Reviving Lebanon’s Past” which examines Beirut’s financial role in the Middle East, and the repercussions of that role on Lebanese society and politics. Dr. Diab has over 20 years of teaching experience in various universities in North America and the Middle East.

Teaching is Dr. Diab’s livelihood and passion, but he has not been able to find employment since he lost his teaching position at Carleton University due to external pressure.

Since November 2008, Dr. Diab has been fighting extradition to France for his alleged involvement in a bombing in Paris in 1980 – a crime he did not commit. Dr. Diab’s fingerprints do not match those of the suspect. His palm prints do not match. The physical description does not match. Yet, at the end of a lengthy extradition hearing in June 2011, the Canadian judge decided to commit Hassan to extradition based on flawed handwriting analysis that the judge himself described as “very problematic”, “very confusing”, and with “conclusions that are suspect”. The judge said he must commit because he is bound by Canada’s extradition treaty with France.

Hassan is appealing the judge’s decision and needs your support. Hassan’s case is a wake up call for all of us. We must prevent the erosion of human rights here in Canada, and demand that Canadian standards of evidence apply in extradition cases.

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