Laila Soliman on Next Generation Please!

When did you last use a stereotype what was it?

I often catch myself using stereotypes. The last one I think was about the “warm-heartedness and generosity “ of Arabs. Stereotypes often work better in comparison, for example “the kind-hearted, peasant-like, generous but reserved Belgian”, versus “the blunt, arrogant, stingy, but seemingly open Dutch”.

Can stereotypes serve a function?

As mentioned above stereotypes can very well serve the function of simplifying to compare but also of self-definition. Being a temporary resident in Europe I find myself using more stereotypes as part of a self-defence mechanism to justify my discomfort as an outsider and my longing to the “familiar” place I call “home”.

Who is your European icon and why?

I do not think that I have a European icon. No, I am sure I do not have a still living European icon.

Or maybe I just cannot relate to the word icon.

You are a communications/PR advisor and are free to remake the EU’s image. What would you do first?

I would get rid of the homogenous 12 star image of the EU and remake the EU’s image into a more colourful one, metaphorically and literally. I would display more the differences between the states of the EU, culturally as well as economically, as opposed to the current focus on the central and western European states. I would also increase the presence of the minorities’ faces and voices, stressing more on the strength of heterogeneity as opposed to the current “homogenous white” image for export.