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Launching the UK’s first festival dedicated to culture and ideas from Muslim communities, award-winning novelist Elif Shafak will deliver a key note speech after music by acclaimed Palestinian musician Reem Kelani.

The evening ends with poetry from Hodan Yusuf, Suhaiyma Manzoor Khan, Momtaza Mehri and Aliyah Hasinah, hosted by the indomitable Zahra Dalila.

Elif Shafak
Elif Shafak is an award-winning novelist and the most widely read female writer in Turkey. She is also a political commentator and an inspirational public speaker. She writes in both Turkish and English, and has published 15 books, 10 of which are novels, including the bestselling The Bastard of Istanbul, The Forty Rules of Love and her most recent, Three Daughters of Eve. Her books have been published in 48 languages. She is published by Penguin in the UK and represented by Curtis Brown globally.

Reem Kelani
Reem Kelani, the Palestinian singer and musicologist was born in Manchester, brought up in Kuwait and lives in London. Reem has pioneered the introduction of Arabic music in schools across the UK and has lectured at Istanbul’s Bosphorus University, Seattle’s Cornish College of the Arts, Shanghai’s Conservatory of Music and Damascus’ Higher Institute of Music.She wrote and presented “Songs for Tahrir” on the music of the Egyptian revolution for BBC Radio 4. Reem’s two albums “Sprinting Gazelle” and “Live at the Tabernacle” have gained wide acclaim across the world. For her performance at MFest, Reem will be accompanied by Bruno Heinen on electric piano

Suhaiyma Manzoor-Khan
Suhaiymah is a writer and award-winning spoken-word poet who writes at www.thebrownhijabi.com. With a background in History and Postcolonial Studies she is interested in race, gender, Islamophobia, intersectional feminism and decolonising knowledge.

Momtaza Mehri
Momtaza Mehri is a poet, essayist and co-editor of the digital platform Diaspora Drama. Her work has been featured in DAZED, Buzzfeed, Vogue, BBC Radio 4, Real Life Mag and Poetry International. She is a Complete Works Fellow and winner of the 2017 Out-spoken Page Poetry Prize. Her chapbook sugah lump prayer was published in 2017. If you’re interested in writing your own poetry, Momtaza will be running a workshop to get you over the first hurdles at 12pm on Sunday 29th April.

Hodan Yusuf
Hodan is a poet, writer, multimedia freelance journalist and photographer. She is also a mediator and trainer in conflict resolution. Hodan has read her poetry at many events and venues including IHRC, York University, Muslim Institute and BareLit Festival, Numbi Arts and many spoken word nights. She is currently working on her debut collection of poetry and Hodan is an essayist in Cut From the Same Cloth, the upcoming anthology by Unbound Publishers.

Zahra Dalilah
Zahra Dalilah is an arts and culture writer and activist from Lewisham, South London. In both her writing and in her activism she has focused on the interplay between arts and politics and how personal and collective freedoms can be propelled by artistic expression. In her history as an organiser, she has worked on campaigns to increase political participation amongst young people and those whose voices are often pushed aside from the political process. Elsewhere, she has co-founded a research project on Black British fatherhood and is currently working on building a national forum for UK based organisers from the African Diaspora.