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Nationalism and Xenophobia: Backlash to Azerbaijani Film Festival in Yerevan

I wrote about this topic on my blog (http://leretourin3parts.blogspot.com) so I won't go into much detail here except to say what has been happening online (in Facebook, specifically) has somehow had an effect on my offline life. Not surprising, I suppose, but the amount and extent of the hateful comments that have been posted on Facebook in response to a screening of Azerbaijani films to be held in Yerevan has been astounding — at least to me.

All the comments are on the Facebook event page; however, they are almost exclusively in Armenian. My attempt to respond to a few of the nationalist, racist, xenophobic comments resulted in my being called an Azeri (used as a derogatory term) and a traitor. One person even said he was surprised to read such comments coming from a Diasporan Armenian (I am originally from Canada, though I currently live in Armenia), assuming that Diasporan Armenians are more nationalist than Armenians living in Armenia (in my experience living in the Diaspora, I can understand what he means; however, I would venture to not make assumptions).

The film festival is set to launch on Nov. 2 and run through till Nov. 4. Luckily, there have been supportive comments other than mine and a few articles published on a local news site (Epress.am) have been positive. However, those leaving hateful comments have rallied together to create a "counter-event." On Facebook anyway, they say that they'll be there at the launch of the festival staging a protest. I don't want war; I am for peace, after all, but on Nov. 2 I am preparing to go to the festival and stand by the organizers and hopefully other festival supporters who will show up on that day. Who knows? Maybe it's just all talk and no one will protest on that day. We'll just have to wait and see...

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