Event: BMSD conference later this month


by Sunny
1st February, 2010 at 4:37 pm    

This from a press release sent to me

British Muslims for Secular Democracy (bmsd) and the British Council invite you to: ‘Free Muslims: Autonomy and Creativity
SOAS Brunei Gallery, Thornhaugh Street, London
Tuesday 16th February 2010
10am to 2pm

We know that in certain Muslim homes, children are strongly discouraged from partaking in drama, art and music. This message is reverberating in schools across Europe. Fourteen hundred years of Islamic contributions to art, culture, literature, and history have been pushed aside in favour of a hardline interpretation of religion that denies the legitimacy of any form of artistic expression whatsoever.

So far, the debate on extremist ideologies has focused on politics and theology, but the cultural side has been ignored. BMSD are organising a half-day open conversation to explore this in further detail, with support from the British Council. It is hugely stifling to deny so many people – especially children – access to the arts and humanities, and this has serious implications for their personal and social development.

Various artists and cultural commentators will be invited from Britain and other parts of the world. BMSD Chair Yasmin Alibhai-Brown will chair the event, working alongside Catherine Fieschi, Director of Counterpoint at the British Council.

Confirmed speakers include:
Razia Iqbal, special correspondent, BBC News, and former BBC senior arts correspondent
Tahmena Bokhari, professor, social worker and activist who won the Mrs Pakistan World title in 2010
Saira Khan, businesswoman and former Apprentice star
Ayesha Tammy Haq, corporate lawyer and organiser of Pakistan’s Fashion Week
Joan Smith, novelist and human rights activist
Anwar Akhtar, Director of new online culture and politics magazine “The Samosa” and former Director of the Richmix Cultural Centre in East London
Salman Siddiqui, Co-Chair of the Muslim-Jewish theatre company MUJU


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: Event: BMSD conference later this month http://bit.ly/bRRfif




  1. Badmash — on 2nd February, 2010 at 7:57 pm  

    “So far, the debate on extremist ideologies has focused on politics and theology, but the cultural side has been ignored.”

    Its only been ignored by those jumping on the anti-extremism bandwagon.

    There has been a thriving British Muslim arts scene in the UK, especially amongst those whom BMSD would consider ‘observant’ or even conservative. It will be interesting to see if any of this will be acknowledged by the conference.

    Ehsan Masood, who wrote a guide for the British Council (http://www.fairuk.org/docs/British_Muslims_Media_Guide.pdf), says thus
    “Art, music, film and other forms of culture are as much a part of the daily lives of Muslims as are politics, religion and science.”

    He also says:
    “This awakening in British Muslim culture has not gone
    unnoticed and is now being nurtured by the British
    arts establishment. It has led to a number of innovative collaborations, which, if anything, are set to grow in the coming years.”

    The Muslim News Awards have been recognising this for ten years now: http://www.muslimnews.co.uk/awards/index.php?page=winners

    Khayaal Theatre Company, Britain’s first Muslim theatre company, was formed in the 1990s. Both did not have to use the discourse of extremism or ‘hardline interpretations’ to initiate artistic expression.

    Even Islam Channel, which has been accused of ‘extremism’ in certain blogs have showcased a thriving British Muslim arts scene: rap, arts, theatre and culture all derived from faith roots.

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