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Egyptian revolution that overthrew the regime of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, brought together Egyptian people from all backgrounds and faith, but it saw the cancellation of a popular arts festival due to take place in Cairo.

Protests in Tahrir Square

Protests in Tahrir Square

But now, the interfaith art gathering of premier Middle Eastern and Western Artists, using the Arts as a bridge for intercultural and inter-religious dialogue, has been re-scheduled and is to be hosted at the historic St. John’s Church in Maadi/Cairo May 12-18, 2011

“Due to the recent Egyptian uprising, the 2011 CARAVAN Festival of the Arts, scheduled for the first week of February (the UN’s World Interfaith Harmony Week), had to be postponed,” explained a spokesperson for the festival.

“However, the unfortunate postponement of the CARAVAN arts initiative was replaced with the same intended outcome but on a far larger scale. As a result of what is now termed the ‘January 25 Revolution,’ a parallel revolution has taken place in the minds of Egyptians about their value to each other…regardless of creed.

“During the weeks of and following the demonstrations, an unprecedented coming together of Egyptian Muslims and Christians has been witnessed at the grassroots level as an inter-religious movement of the two faiths worked together side by side to re-shape their amazing country.

“This new spirit is symbolized by the widespread portrayals of the cross and crescent shown next to each other (often embracing each other in design) on signs, walls, bumper stickers and T-shirts.

“In celebration of the Egyptian Muslims and Christians who are peacefully together walking the road toward a new Egypt, the CARAVAN Festival of the Arts has been re-scheduled for May 12-18.

“Hosted at the historic St. John’s Church in Maadi/Cairo, with the desire to honor the building of bridges between Muslims and Christians that has taken place, the CARAVAN arts initiative comes out of a vision that the Arts can be one of the most effective mediums to enhance understanding and encourage friendship between Christians and Muslims.”

In the words of Kahlil Gibran, the early 20th century Arab writer and artist, the CARAVAN exhibition says that it seeks to highlight what Egyptians experienced in and through their revolution; “Your neighbor is your other self dwelling behind a wall. In understanding, all walls shall fall down.”

To be officially opened on May 12 at 7 PM by the United Nations Resident Coordinator to Egypt, James Rawley, and other Muslim and Christian dignitaries, all 45 premier Middle Eastern and Western visual artists will come together for the exhibition held inside St. John’s Church, each submitting work reflecting the theme, “My Neighbor”.

A diverse range of artists will participate, from one of Egypt’s leading contemporary artists, Mohammed Abla, to rising star, Reda Abdel Rahman, to expatriate artists Britt Boutros Ghali and Roland Prime.

Special guest artists to the CARAVAN Festival include Mohammed Antar, world renowned Ney (Middle Eastern Flute) player for a closing concert (May 18th at 7:00 PM). Other special guests include Khaled El Khamissi, best-selling Egyptian author of the internationally acclaimed novel Taxi.

In addition to the “My Neighbor” theme exhibition, in response to the enormous outpouring of expression from the Egyptian people, a parallel exhibition will be held at the church entitled: “The Peoples’ Egypt since January 25th.”

The spokesperson added, “A number of the CARAVAN participating artists courageously joined the protests in Tahrir Square, some for all 18 days. For this parallel exhibition, the participating artists have been invited to contribute artworks that have been created in response to the events of the Egyptian revolution.”

The initiative has generated attention from the global media and art world. Attendance is free and 20% of all art sales of the “My Neighbor” exhibition go to Middle Eastern charities.

Program for CARAVAN Festival of the Arts:

*Opening Night of the Art Exhibition—May 12 at 7 PM (19h00)–Opening presentation by United Nations Resident Coordinator to Egypt, James Rawley, together with Muslim and Christian religious dignitaries, with all 45 Arab and Western artists present (the exhibition will then be open through May 18).

*Literature Night—May 14 at 7 PM (19h00) — talk and book-signing by Khaled El Khamissi, best-selling Egyptian author of the internationally acclaimed novel Taxi.

*Closing Musical Concert—May 18 at 7:00 PM (19h00) —a performance by Mohammed Antar, world renowned Ney (Middle Eastern Flute) player.

The website is: www.oncaravan.org

For more information or to request an interview, please contact Paul-Gordon Chandler at e-mail: info@oncaravan.org or Roland Prime at e-mail: primewestwood@yahoo.co.uk

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