Middle East Collective (MEC) is an initiative which promotes the understanding of the Middle East and North Africa region and tolerance of Islam, while embracing Muslim communities in the West.
MEC works to bolster the bridge between Muslims and Non-Muslims, by collecting submissions in the form of photo essays, videos, graphic design, art, poetry, spoken word, documentaries, scholarly articles, personal narratives, and more.
MEC envisions a future where the Western world is no longer afraid of Islam and the Muslim communities in the West and around the globe.
We envision Western communities, comprised of Muslims and non-Muslims, which are passionate about learning more regarding the cultures, traditions, art, history, cuisine, people, and religions of the Middle East and North Africa.
Whitney Buchanan is the founder of the Middle East Collective. She founded the MEC in early February, 2016 as a result of the increased levels of Islamophobia in America, partially due to U.S. presidential candidates’ political debates and the terrorist attacks in Paris and Brussels.
Whitney is currently based between Berlin, Germany and Cairo, Egypt. She strongly believes in religious freedom, diversity, gender equality, LGBTQI inclusion, universal human rights, and freedom of speech.
She obtained her Master of Global Affairs in Global Affairs and International Cooperation from the American University in Cairo. Whitney has lived in Uganda, Egypt, and Germany since 2009, which has shaped her worldview and love for the MENA region. Born in Tennessee, Whitney spent her adolescent years below the Mason-Dixon line, where she began advocating for women’s empowerment and religious tolerance.
Hera Brown, Executive Assistant: Hera is an undergraduate student at the University of Tennessee. Pursuing a Bachelor’s in Socio-Cultural Anthropology and Migration Studies, Hera’s undergraduate career has spanned three continents and five countries, centering on commitments to advocacy, service, and research with vulnerable populations. She plans to pursue a MSc at Oxford with the Refugees Studies Centre or a joint JD/PhD in the United States.
Maria Rahman, Community Outreach Assistant: Maria is a Pakistani Muslim American who was born in Karachi, Pakistan. She moved to the United States with her family when she was one year old and has lived there since then. Maria attended the University of Tennessee for college and she is currently a fourth year medical student. She is passionate about social equality and promoting the understanding of the MENA region.
Heba Essam, Social Media Assistant: Heba is from Alexandria, Egypt and has studied English Literature in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Alexandria, as well as gender and women’s studies in the MENA. Heba works as a women’s rights activist and humanitarian, while focusing on preserving heritage and promoting cosmopolitan culture in Egypt. She also works with disadvantaged children and refugees. At her leisure, Heba enjoys writing, ballet, and photography.
Elizabeth Wright, MEC Ambassador: Elizabeth is a soon-to-be graduate of Southwestern University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and a minor in Religious Studies. She is a 2017 Young Leader of both the Interfaith Youth Core’s Interfaith Leadership Institute and the Muslim Public Affairs Council. She plans to pursue a career in law and national security to fight for religious tolerance, public safety, and intersectional applications of the law.