I used this print for a collaboration with a local apparel brand. I was excited when a friend reached out to me asking if he could print the design onto hoodies to sell, especially because it had a message behind it that was important to me. He later got back to me, saying his boss was hesitant about the print, that the Arabic was controversial and would exclude many customers, which I honestly found laughable and ironic. The text reads ‘assalam ‘alaykum’ which literally means ‘peace be with you’ and is used as a formal greeting. Still, someone found the fact of the Arabic language inherently uncomfortable and controversial. I’m really grateful that I’m able to elevate my voice through art but can’t help being disappointed and even shocked that this kind of mentality persists.
This design was initially a screenprint, created at the height of the ongoing Syrian Refugee Crisis of 2016. As a Palestinian living in the diaspora, and with close family ties to Syria, I felt compelled to create work that speaks to this humanitarian issue.
The text reads, in Arabic, ‘peace be with you,’ a phrase often used when entering a room, before beginning a speech, or as a formal greeting. In other words, welcome.
Coupled with the symbol of intertwined arms centered on a full circle, this artwork symbolizes peace and acceptance of others despite perceived differences.