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Culture

Syrian playwright Rania Mleihi: 'The Berlin attack affects us all'

How should art react to violence? DW asked Syrian playwright Rania Mleihi, who is in charge of the Open Border Ensemble of the Munich Kammerspiele.

DW: Will the terror attack on a Christmas market in Berlin affect our western lifestyle?

Rania Mleihi: Yes, definitely. It affects each single human being on this planet. It affects us all. It's horrible and very sad.

Will this terrorist act further erode Germany's "Willkommenskultur" - the culture of welcoming refugees?

That's hard to say. I'm still terrified by what happened - by the way, not only in Berlin, but also in Turkey, Syria, everywhere! It's terrible not only for artists who have fled, but for all people. The world seems to be upside down. We're all looking for a secure place. Berlin has shown that there is no security anywhere anymore.

What will the consequences of the Berlin attack be on your cultural work with refugees? You are in charge of the Open Border Ensemble of the Munich Kammerspiele, which is a platform for refugee artist.

It means there should be more work for us. It was our objective to be more open-minded and positive. We wanted to open up a new perspective on people, not restricted to what the media report. But for now, our work has come to an end. During the festival that officially ended our work, the atmosphere was very positive. It was attended by people from Germany and many other countries, and by refugees. No matter what happens, we will continue to believe in the goodness in people. What happened in Berlin simply may not happen. I am sad and shocked. I have no words.

What is the message of the Open Border Ensemble of the Munich Kammerspiele against racism, xenophobia and fear?

Our idea is quite simply to invite people so that they can get to know each other. People are afraid of foreigners. We are afraid, and you are afraid. Everybody is afraid. Fear is everywhere. That's how it is. Art is our only means to overcome this phenomenon. Art tends to be the only thing that will always be there.

Rania Mleihi, born in 1983, worked as a playwright, director and producer at the Syrian National Theater in Damascus. Most recently, she was in charge of the Open Border Ensemble of the Munich Kammerspiele, a platform for refugee artist.

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