In an interview with WCC Communication, Halabi explaining the role of art in affirming justice and human dignity.
Q. Please introduce yourself.
Halabi: I am a member of the Maronite Church in Lebanon, the Ecumenical Disability Advocates Network Middle East Coordinator, a psychotherapist, couple counselor and wheelchair dancer. I also host TV, radio talk shows and appear as a frequent guest speaker and moderator in renowned universities and in the civic environment in the field of human relations.
Q. What inspired you to become a wheelchair dancer?
Halabi: I always had a dream of creating a dance group where people with disabilities and those without disabilities would be able to dance together to promote inclusion. That dream came true in 2009 when together with my dance partner at that time, we performed the first wheelchair dance during the first international salsa festival that took place in Lebanon. In 2010 we performed “wheels on fire” dance in Cyprus and this marked the birth of “ambassadors of joy and hope: from Lebanon to the world”. In 2015, we represented Lebanon at the world Latin dance cup held in Miami.
Q. What are some of the barriers that persons with disabilities experience in their quest for inclusion in church and society?
Halabi: There are many barriers with the main ones being misleading theologies and cultural beliefs. This has left many persons with disabilities stigmatized and marginalized. They have not been able to fully contribute their gifts to the church and society like other persons. This is the reason behind the development of the two WCC theological statements on disability “A Church of All and for All” and a “A Gift of Being: Called to be a Church of All and for All” to promote dialogue within churches on issues of disability.
Q. How can the church use art to affirm justice and human dignity for all?
Halabi: I believe that art can be a strong way to deliver a message more than any spoken speech. Art is a witness to the richness of human nature and gifts. It gives a voice to address stigma, marginalization and disempowerment that has characterized our world. Let the church use art to boldly proclaim the truth about the injustices in its midst and bring joy and active hope to all humanity.