In June Chicago hosts Arabesque, an Arab and Arab-American festival. Performers take the outdoor stage on Daley plaza, vendors sell food and knick-knacks, and sponsored booths showcase bits of Arab culture and trivia.
The website for the event, which is presented by the Chicago Commission on Human Relations Advisory Council on Arab Affairs has a great FAQ section that you’ll find helpful if you’re the least bit confused about the “Arab” designation.
Here are some highlights:
Who are the Arabs?
An Arab is anyone whose mother tongue is Arabic and who identifies himself or herself as Arab.
Does “Arab” denote a race?
The term Arab does not refer to a race, a lineage, or a religion, but rather to a language and a culture. Arabs may be Muslim, Christian, or Jewish, dark skinned or light skinned, city dwellers or farmers. Despite this diversity, Arabs share a common cultural identity.
Is the Arab World the same as the Muslim World?
The Arab World is not the same as the Muslim World. 80% of all Muslims are NOT Arabs. The terms “Arab” and “Muslim” are never interchangeable. Arab is a cultural/linguistic term, while Muslim is a religious term. The following countries for example are NON-Arab Muslim countries: Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Indonesia. Indonesia has more Muslims than any other country.
Do Arabs have a shared religion?
No. Arabs belong to many religions, including Islam, Christianity, Druze, Judaism and others. Within each of these religions there are additional distinctions.