Khuda Ka Liye at the Tongues on Fire Film Festival

I have the pleasure of introducing and discussing Shoaib Mansoor’s directorial debut at the Brady Centre on 13 March at the Brady Centre. Screening starts at 11am and is free and open to all.

Khuda Ke Liye is a ground breaking Pakistani feature on the aftermath of 9/11.

Ras H. Siddiqui writing for Pakistan Link puts it succinctly when he stated that “I had the privilege to view Shoaib Mansoor’s widely acclaimed Pakistani movie “Khuda Kay Liye” or “In The Name Of God” on a full screen at NAZ8 Cinemas in Fremont , California. I call the viewing a privilege because Pakistani movies being shown to the wider public on a full screen in Northern California are something quite rare, even when the theatres screening them like NAZ8 are known for showing Indian (Bollywood) blockbusters. Since this was a 1PM show on a Saturday, we hurried to the venue to get a good seat. There were five of us and when we stepped into the theatre we were surprised that there was plenty of room. Either word about this movie has not circulated or the impact of pirated DVD’s had already been felt. But after seeing it I can write that this movie should not be missed by Pakistanis, Americans or other South Asians. We saw it with English subtitles but a great deal of this movie is already in the English language. South Asian films have overcome many barriers in the United States over the past few years. Most of them have been made by the Indian-Pakistani Diaspora resident in Britain, Canada and the US. Mira Nair, Hanif Kureishi and now Tariq Ali have entered into filmmaking for Western audiences. Mira’s “The Namesake” is being released on DVD and is being considered Oscar material. And indigenous Indian movies such as Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Saawariya are getting international funding. But where does this movie fit in? Khuda Kay Liye is a remarkable film that can compete with any movie coming out of either Hollywood or Bollywood these days. Unfortunately, it will not penetrate the mainstream US movie market because it is going to be very controversial on both sides of “the divide”.  Click here to read the full article.

You can contact Tongues on Fire for further details of screening and discussion on            020 8961 8908.

Kenya – a tragedy in the 21st century

The events unfolding during and after the elections of Kenya, have left many around the world full of remorse and shock whilst looking on helplessly as the tribal and political killings escalated.

Perhaps the current problems in Kenya can partially be placed at the feet of the fundamentalist Islamic movement on the coastline and the Northeast.   There is no doubt that Islamic fundamentalism has been creeping in at a steady pace through the eastern territories over the two decades. 

The international online defence magazine reports that “Kenya’s sudden spiral into chaos after years being regarded as a regional stability in the turbulent Black African continent, will no doubt strike a heavy blow on the economies of a wide swathe of neighbouring nations. But while the present scale of internecine violence came as quite a surprise, it was not the first time that this African nation became engulfed in chaos.

From October 1952 to December 1957 Kenya was under a state of emergency arising from the so-called “Mau Mau” rebellion against British colonial rule, over the deprivation of the Kikuyu majority. The official number of Kenyans killed was estimated at 11,503. Much fighting among the various tribes followed, until independence from Great Britain in December 1963, when Jomo Kenyatta, also a Kikuyu became first prime minister of the autonomous Kenyan government. Over the last decade or so, Kenya was regarded an African success story. Beginning to enjoy the fruits of its stability and openness, its economy has grown by more than 6 per cent annually in recent years. But now, in just a few bloody days, since a disputed election on December 27, Kenya has quickly slipped from democratic hopeful, escalating into uncontrollable chaos and brutal murder. From years of prosperity, it threatened to become the scene of just another regional, highly dangerous trouble spot, torn by ethnic bloodletting and prone to outside terrorist intervention”.  To read the full article, click here. 

The Lyrical Terrorist

Only last week I was arguing with a friend that ‘Britz’ had it all wrong – how can a woman possibly think of being a suicide bomber in the UK? ‘It’s only a matter of time’ she replied. And lo and behold, ‘The Lyrical Terrorist’ hit the headlines soon after!!

In this article for BBC News 24, the writer gives an account of Samina Malik’s fascination with Islam and terrorism.

“A 23-year-old who called herself the “Lyrical Terrorist” has become the first woman in the UK to be convicted under the Terrorism Act. Samina Malik, from Southall, west London, was found guilty at the Old Bailey of owning terrorist manuals.

The jury heard Malik had written extremist poems praising Osama Bin Laden, supporting martyrdom and discussing beheading.

Malik worked at WH Smith at Heathrow Airport until her arrest last October.

She had earlier been found not guilty of the more serious charge, under Section 57 of the Act, of possessing an article for a terrorist purpose. She denied the charges.

Extremist ‘library’

Malik burst into tears in the dock when the verdict was read out”. For the full article click here

The Crime reporter at BBC News, Ben Ando’s article sheds further light on Malik’s character, following on from the Judge’s comments that she remains an enigma to him.

The enigma that is the ‘Lyrical Terrorist’

“She cut a slight, almost incongruous figure in court.

Samina Malik denied being a terrorist throughout the trial

Each day, the self-proclaimed “Lyrical Terrorist”, Samina Malik, walked to the Old Bailey hiding her face from the cameras with a headscarf.

Usually dressed in a mixture of traditional Muslim clothing with western tracksuit bottoms and trainers, she is always accompanied by her mother and her solicitor, and rarely speaks.

In the week since the jury of seven men and five women was sent out to consider its verdict; she has been given bail with conditions that she need not remain in the dock but could sit in the cafe at the Old Bailey, or anywhere within the court building”. For a full article click here