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Refugee Week


Thanks to everyone who turned out last night, for our wonderful event in honour of Refugee Week (held at Pulp Fiction Books, The Edinburgh Writers’ Centre, on Bread St).

Iyad Hayatleh spoke movingly of his family’s quest to return to their Palestinian homeland, since his birth in a refugee camp in 1960, and his tribute to his late wife Lamees Tayyem (also a tireless campaigner for the rights of refugees) moved us to tears. Iyad’s passionate poetry of loss and longing, and his elucidation of the rhythms, structures, and “internal music” of Arabic poetry, were riveting.

Sue Reid Sexton told us warmly of her dear friend Kusay Hussein, currently returned to Iraq and struggling to cope with everyday life there, and read from his important stories which put a human face to the tragic sequence of repeated upheavals (1973, 1980, 1990, 2003) that have characterised recent Iraqi history.

We in the West owe much in terms of mathematics, astronomy, and philosophy to the great civilisations of the Arab and Persian world. Sue’s reading from her own novel (Mavis’s Shoe), about the Clydebank bombings, reminded us to guard against complacency and see ourselves instead as side by side with all those who suffer war and displacement throughout the world and throughout human history.

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