If you’re having trouble finding a suitable platform where you could express yourself freely and share your thoughts and work of art, then no need to worry.
That’s exactly what Sabah Khodir and her old friend, Mohamed Kassem, were struggling to find two years ago before they started End Quote.
The struggle was real, adding to that, they were forced to watch loved ones flee the region hoping to find more open and accepting societies. That’s when the two Egyptian writers decided to make a change and start an online art collaborative of their own. Through End Quote, they offered Middle Eastern artists of all sorts an opportunity to share their work and support others. “All you had to do was get Internet connection and join us,” Khodir said as we sat down.
Unlike Khodir who studied English at the University of Phoenix, Kassem studied something completely irrelevant to his passion for writing, MEDICINE! However, Khodir saw that from a completely different angle; she thought that being a med-student served him and contributed to his writing. He finds links between what he learned in med-school about the human mind and body, and mental health and how it affects our psychology. Having qualities such as continuous thirst for knowledge and never-ending hunger for human experience, as well as him being a contentious thinker, also helped shape his writing.
In the very beginning, it was quite challenging for Khodir to express herself openly to the public for three main reasons. One, she takes personal privacy seriously. Two, she’s Alexandrian; so just imagine how it’s like to live in a small city where everyone knows everything about everyone. “Everyone’s nose is pressed up against one another, which means that my experience is everyone else’s experience,” Khodir explained. Three, of course, is that she’s a girl living in a Middle Eastern society. She grew up feeling that she was obligated to inherit some sort of cultural barrier with the concept of self-expression just because she was a girl. Publicly discussing taboos about female subjectivity or topics about sexuality, made her feel as if she’s offending her society and culture. However, she has always been up to the challenge as she believes that culture is changing and that change comes from within. No matter what the obstacles or challenges were, Khodir was brave enough to stand up for her opinions, and nothing could shy her away from that.
Khodir, who is a very reactive person, gets inspired by anything and everything and is quite attached to her Arabian roots. She always gets this sense of nationalism and pride whenever she writes about it. She loves writing about how expressive the language is, even though she can only do that in English. Our identity never fails to inspire her. giving her feels she’s never experienced in any other place in the world. Another source of inspiration, or could we say a means of pushing her forward, is her favorite poet, Warsan Shire. She is a very devoted fan of her work, and sometimes resorts to reading her poetry so she could delve in and write about anything personal.
The writers have a mission to accomplish through their artistic platform, it’s to promote freedom of expression as well as support Middle Eastern talents by providing them with exposure. “We want to to eradicate the fear of change and to erase the stigma of being opinionated. The Arabic culture was never about silence and we gave birth to art and literature,” Khodir told us. In attempt to fight silence using the power of art, End Quote will expand offering more space for artists on their website that will be launched very soon.