How to Talk about the Middle East
Randa Abdel-Fattah + Peter Greste + Scott Stephens
Maiwar Green Marquee, State Library
#About the event
Duration: 60 minutes
It’s tempting to think the Middle East as too complex and “over there”. But, given how many Australians have deep connections to the region, and how much we’ve invested in its conflicts, we cannot divorce ourselves from the conversation. What are Australia’s responsibilities? And how do we talk about them?
Panel: Peter Greste, Randa Abdel-Fattah
Chair: Scott Stephens
Randa Abdel-Fattah is a Palestinian Egyptian Muslim writer, academic, anti-racism and Palestine advocate, former lawyer and the multi-award-winning author of 13 books published in over 20 countries. She is the series editor of the forthcoming new children’s book series Our Stories (2022, Pan Macmillan). Her first picture story book, 11 Words for Love, illustrated by Maxine Beneba Clarke, is due for release in 2022 (Hachette). Randa is also a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Sociology at Macquarie University where she researches Islamophobia, race, social justice movements and youth identities. Randa lives in Sydney with her husband and four children.
Professor Peter Greste is an Australian-born journalist, author, media freedom activist and academic. He is a founding member of the advocacy group, the Alliance for Journalists Freedom and a regular contributor to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Australian, The Sydney Morning Herald, The Conversation, and The Guardian.
Before joining academia in January 2018, he spent 25 years as a foreign correspondent, starting with the civil war in Yugoslavia and elections in South Africa as a freelance reporter in the early 90’s, before joining the BBC as its Afghanistan correspondent in 1995. He went on to cover Latin America, the Middle East and Africa for the BBC.
In 2011 he won a Peabody Award for a BBC documentary on Somalia before joining Al Jazeera as its East Africa correspondent later that year. In December 2013 he was covering Egypt on a short three-week assignment when he was arrested on terrorism charges. After a trial widely dismissed as a sham, he was convicted and sentenced to seven years in prison.
In February the following year, after 400 days behind bars, and intense international campaign, he was deported under a presidential decree. As a result of the letters he wrote from prison in the defense of freedom of the press, he won a Walkley Award in Australia in 2014, and Royal Television Society and Tribeca Disruptive Innovator’s Awards in 2015.
He has also been awarded the International Association of Press Clubs’ Freedom of Speech Award; Liberty Victoria’s “Voltaire Award”, the Australian Human Rights Commission Medal (all in 2015), the RSL’s 2016 ANZAC Peace Prize, and the Australian Press Council’s 2018 Press Freedom award.
Peter has co-authored his family’s account of their struggle to get him out of Egypt, Freeing Peter, and written his own book on journalism and the War on Terror, The First Casualty published in 2017. He remains an avid advocate of media freedom and journalist safety.
Scott Stephens is the ABC's Religion and Ethics online editor, and the co-host (with Waleed Aly) of The Minefield on ABC Radio National. He and Waleed Aly wrote Quarterly Essay 87, Uncivil Wars: How Contempt is Corroding Democracy (2022). He is widely published on moral philosophy and has edited volumes of the writings of Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek and Australian philosopher Raimond Gaita.