As a Western journalist, Pieter is aware of his limitations in digging into all the layers of the complex reality of North Africa and the Middle East. That’s why he often cooperates with Belgians of Arabic or Kurdish origin.
Montasser AlDe’emeh is a Belgian-Palestinian Arabist, islamologist and political scientist. At the Catholic University of Leuven he did research on islamic radicalization. For his doctoral research on western fighters in Syria and Iraq, he spent two weeks doing field research in Syria. AlDe’emeh began this research at the University of Antwerp and is now continuing his research at the University of Nijmegen. He is an internationally acclaimed jihad expert. He is the founder of the knowledge, research and counselling centre “The Way To” for the reception of returned fighters and support-seeking Muslim youths and affected parents.
Majd Khalifeh is a Belgian-Palestinian journalist. Since 2014 he has been working at the national Flemish television channel VRT. Majd was born in the United Arab Emirates and lived in Tunisia, Libya, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait and Belgium. He makes TV reports for different news programs. In 2013 he was awarded the title of Ambassador for Peace by Pax Christi. With director Senne Dehandschutter of Earth View he made two documentary series for Canvas: Arabische Liefde en Reis Naar Marokko.
With Majd, Pieter started the journalistic project Tussen Vrijheid en Geluk and made the documentary Stateless (directed by Senne Dehandschutter), an account of Majd’s first visit to Palestine, the land of his roots.
Roni Hossein is a Belgian-Syrian Kurdish actor. Roni founded the first expressive dance collective of Aleppo in 2007. He had to flee Syria in 2008 because of a critical theatre play. In Belgium, Roni works as a hairdresser.
With Roni, Pieter travelled to Syria to investigate Kurdish state-building efforts in northern Syria and the education of Syrian refugee children in Turkey.
Baram Maaruf is a Belgian photographer with roots in the Kurdistan region in north Iraq. His father is a former Peshmerga fighter who was part of the resistance against Saddam Hussein. Baram returns frequently to Kurdistan to document the Kurds’ fight against IS through his camera lens.
With Baram, Pieter travelled to Iraqi Kurdistan and to the multicultural city of Kirkuk, the city of 75 suicide attacks since the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 and today one of the major front lines in the war against IS.
Pieter also wants to work with “correspondents” in several countries who send in articles on their personal lives and their interrelation with political developments. We can give people a direct voice instead of merely talking about them. We can see the world from their perspective, instead of interpreting the Arab world through our Western thinking patterns. To penetrate into the real aspirations behind preconceived opinions. An intimate understanding of the Arab world is crucial for Europe. What happens in the Arab world, happens in our European streets.
Pieter is also looking for volunteers to translate articles into Arabic and English.
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