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Black Muslim Activists Held Month-Long Festival

Black Muslim Activists Held Month-Long Festival

Earlier this month, Black Muslim activists from around the world launched the world’s first festival to raise awareness about their community as well as to discuss the specific challenges their community faces.

The festival has now been going on for much of October, coinciding with the Black History Month.

London-based activist LaYinka Sanni said that their community has often been “dismissed and diminished” among both Muslims and the wider population and added that an event such as this is needed for “visibility and acknowledgement”.

The Festival Was Organised by Black Muslim Renaissance

The event, which ran between October 2nd and 25th, was organised by the activist group, Black Muslim Renaissance.

According to the founder, Na’ima B. Robert the festival was created to cater a need among Black Muslims to discuss shared challenges and ideas for the future.

Community awareness among Black Muslims around the world has been growing steadily in recent years, with many Black Muslim activists increasingly vocal about the acts of discrimination they face from other Muslims as well as a perception that they are not real Muslims due to the prevalence of the belief that Muslims are either Arabs or southeast Asians.

Even before the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020 took place, Black Muslim publications were increasingly highlighting the sense of alienation many of them experienced.

However, there is no denying that the Black Lives Matter protests have energised the community. With large numbers of Muslims openly or tacitly supportive of the protests, it opened a door for Black Muslims to discuss their own experiences of racism and discrimination. “Programmes like the Black Muslim Festival are deeply meaningful to Muslims throughout the African Diaspora and around the world, as many feel that the contributions and legacy of Black and African Muslims throughout history up to the present remain not widely known,” said Youssef Carter from University of North Carolina, adding that many Africans were side-lined in Islamic history.

The Festival Took Take Place Online

Owing to the on-going coronavirus pandemic, the organisers were unable to hold a physical festival. Instead, the festival took place over the course of a series of online seminars and meetings over the course of October.

The Black Muslim Renaissance said that over 40 speakers and guests would take part in the festival. Topics covered varied from religious – such as the place of Black Muslims in Islamic history – to common social matters, such as family life, relationships, social media and the intersection of Islamic and African cultures.

Each week revolved around a specific theme, with week one dedicated to the “Self”; week two to “Family”; week three to “Wealth”; and week four to “Village”.

“The festival is about bringing the global Black Muslim community together in a spirit of healing and empowerment,” said Robert.

The organisers say that they would like to see the festival become an annual event, evolving as it goes along.

“We don’t want to have a conference or festival in a year’s time and still be talking about the same issues. We are better than that,” Robert said.

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