New film, 'When Arabs Danced' explores artistic expression and harmful stereotypes.

The rabble podcast network offers an alternative take on politics, entertainment, society, stories, community and life in general. All opinions belong to the podcaster; however, podcasters are expected to adhere to our guidelines. We welcome new podcasters -- contact us for details.

Please chip in to support more articles like this. Support for as little as $5 per month!

Jawad Rhalib - When Arabs Danced

Religiosity, fundamentalism, conservative politics, extremism and evocative performance art and the poetry of dance are not things one would, on first thought, connect in a sentence or in this thing we call life. And yet this is precisely what writer, director, and journalist Jawad Rhalib presents us with in his timely exploration of Muslim identity in relation to artistic expression and harmful stereotypes.

As invested in mood as it is in message, When Arabs Danced forgoes conventional artist-profile tropes in favour of a weave of rehearsals, conversations, performances, and a trove of archival materials that remind us of the long and often sensual history of dance and music found throughout the Arab world.

In the wake of the terror shockwave provoked by Daesh’s islamo-fascism, Rhalib questions the many facets of Arab culture that have sadly been forgotten by western and middle-eastern media alike; its love for dancing and music, but also for literature, philosophy, and science.

Jawad Rhalib and Face2Face host David Peck talk about his new film When Arabs Danced, stereotypes, the gender gap and the oppression of women, art, fundamentalism and culture and the power of knowledge.

Through some humorous clips of president Nasser’s public speeches addressing the Muslim Brotherhood about imposing on all Egyptian women the obligation of the hijab, the complexities behind a stage adaptation of Michel Houellebecq’s controversial book Submission and the many issues of gender identity in Arab societies, the film explores how Islamic fascism has suffocated the freedom, creativity and all progressive values of the Arab society.

About the Director: Jawad Rhalib has worked as an author and journalist. His films include the documentaries El EjidoThe Damned of the Sea and Le chant des tortues, and the features 7, rue de la Folie, InsoumiseWhen Arabs Danced is his latest film.

As an author and a director, Jawad Rhalib has oriented his work on social realism. He wrote and directed short, medium and full-length films and feature length documentaries. His movies El Ejido, The Law of Profit, The Damned of The Sea, The Turtle’s Song, and The Swallows of Love,  have been selected for competitions in prestigious festivals, winning prizes in many of them.


The film being discussed on today's podcast, When Arabs Danced, won the Audience Award and Best Film at Vision du Réel- Nyon 2018.

Image Copyright: Jawad Rahlib and R & R productions. Used with permission.

For more information about David Peck’s podcasting, writing and public speaking please visit his site here.

With thanks to Thom Powers form TIFF and producer Josh Snethlage and Mixed Media Sound.


Help make rabble sustainable. Please consider supporting our work with a monthly donation. Support today for as little as $1 per month!

Thank you for reading this story…

More people are reading than ever and unlike many news organizations, we have never put up a paywall – at rabble we’ve always believed in making our reporting and analysis free to all, while striving to make it sustainable as well. Media isn’t free to produce. rabble’s total budget is likely less than what big corporate media spend on photocopying (we kid you not!) and we do not have any major foundation, sponsor or angel investor. Our main supporters are people and organizations -- like you. This is why we need your help. You are what keep us sustainable. has staked its existence on you. We live or die on community support -- your support! We get hundreds of thousands of visitors and we believe in them. We believe in you. We believe people will put in what they can for the greater good. We call that sustainable.

So what is the easy answer for us? Depend on a community of visitors who care passionately about media that amplifies the voices of people struggling for change and justice. It really is that simple. When the people who visit rabble care enough to contribute a bit then it works for everyone.

And so we’re asking you if you could make a donation, right now, to help us carry forward on our mission. Make a donation today.


We welcome your comments! embraces a pro-human rights, pro-feminist, anti-racist, queer-positive, anti-imperialist and pro-labour stance, and encourages discussions which develop progressive thought. Our full comment policy can be found here. Learn more about Disqus on and your privacy here. Please keep in mind:


  • Tell the truth and avoid rumours.
  • Add context and background.
  • Report typos and logical fallacies.
  • Be respectful.
  • Respect copyright - link to articles.
  • Stay focused. Bring in-depth commentary to our discussion forum, babble.


  • Use oppressive/offensive language.
  • Libel or defame.
  • Bully or troll.
  • Post spam.
  • Engage trolls. Flag suspect activity instead.