MFest, which took place last weekend at The British Library in London, was ‘a new arts festival of Muslim cultures and ideas’. And, let’s be honest, with Islamophobic hate crime in our capital rising by 40 percent last year, it couldn’t have come at a better time. We showed the world what Islam is really all about: peace, love, unity, respect and artistic endeavour.
It was kind of like Glastonbury. If Glastonbury was free of drugs, alcohol, mud, overpriced ponchos, awful bucket hats and anything that’s non-halal. Or if instead of booking the likes of Foo Fighters or Kasabian the festival had an unending symphony of comedy acts, poetry, spoken word, artistic exhibitions, photographers and musicians all celebrating global Muslim culture. We’re not going to lie, reader: We were so excited there was a distinct chance that we could have wee’d ourselves a little bit. Just a little.
This all went on across three days last weekend; we straight away knew what to do: We caught up with dancer Akram Khan and chatted about pop culture with Alex Reads, Rai, and Derek Owusu – the presenters of the sick podcast ‘Mostly Lit’.
But most of all we enjoyed delving deep into the eclectic artistic identities of different Muslim communities across the UK. Organised by charities Aziz Foundation and DeepMind, the weekend ‘brought together Muslims and non-Muslims to celebrate the richness and plurality of Muslim cultures, and explore contemporary Muslim thought through the breadth of Muslim heritage, politics and communities’.
Organisers of the event promised that it would serve as a platform for up-and-coming artists, musicians and writers – along with established names such as celebrated authors Kamila Shamsie and Elif Shafak. Remona Aly, a freelance Muslim journalist who works for the Guardian and BBC was there too, discussing Islam and ‘evolving feminism’.
For your entrance fee, you got to take part in a range of riveting and in-depth discussions; including one about human rights (called All Eyes on You: Pre-Crime and the Surveillance State) and another (titled Sheikh Google: How Knowledge is Shaped by Algorithms and Artificial Intelligence) about the evolving role that technology plays in society.
Now we are just waiting for the date of next year’s event, so we can immediately book tickets.
Featured image credit: MFest via Facebook