Pakistan: Festival defying Islamic hardliners



Festival defying Islamic hardliners

Lahore festival aims to transform Pakistani life. And the government has taken note. This year, Pakistan’s president, general Pervez Musharraf, attended the festival

In Pakistan, the 10-day Lahore festival is a huge, at times startling cultural event. The festival is defying Islamic hardliners but delighting the country’s president with a vision of a very different Pakistan, writes The Guardian’s Robin Denselow on December 2, 2005.

The article reports that there may be plans to encourage Sufi music and philosophy in a fight against the mullahs, and that there is talk of a possible new Council for the Promotion of Sufism, with the president as patron. Festival president Faizaan Peerzada and his family are clearly determined that Pakistan needs even wider change, and that the arts should play a major role.

By promoting Sufi music Faizaan Peerzada hopes to “counter the extremism of the mullahs who use the mosques to spread ill-will against the West. In the mosques they talk about hell, and scare people, but Sufism is about divine love. Sufism can be used against the mullah culture. The fundamentalists created a hardline Islam, but we want to promote the softer side.”

So was there ever any censorship at the festival?, asked Robin Denselow.
Faizaan Peerzada admitted that he had just made cuts to an explicitly sexual routine by a German dancer, “but I need to break traditions and we’ve got to challenge peoples’ minds”, he said.


The Guardian – 2 December 2005:
‘Sufi’s choice’

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