Meet the MFest Team

Tufyal Choudhury

Director

As a researcher and academic working on human rights, discrimination and social inclusion, I spent the past decade exploring the experiences of Muslim communities across Europe and north America. My conversations with political activists, community organisers, writers and thinkers, leave a sense that there are huge shifts happening below the surface, as young Muslims are exploring the ideas and identities that will shape this century. The inspiration behind MFest arises from the acute disconnect and disjuncture I’ve experienced between the diverse and vibrant Muslim communities that I know and see emerging across Europe, and more globally, and the narrow and...Read more

As a researcher and academic working on human rights, discrimination and social inclusion, I spent the past decade exploring the experiences of Muslim communities across Europe and north America. My conversations with political activists, community organisers, writers and thinkers, leave a sense that there are huge shifts happening below the surface, as young Muslims are exploring the ideas and identities that will shape this century.

The inspiration behind MFest arises from the acute disconnect and disjuncture I’ve experienced between the diverse and vibrant Muslim communities that I know and see emerging across Europe, and more globally, and the narrow and restricted space afforded to the representation of Muslim lives in our public culture.

A festival of books and ideas that recognises the diversity, differences and dynamics of Muslim cultures and lives, challenges a fundamental feature of Islamophobia that sees Islam and Muslims as a monolithic, static block.

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Naima Khan

Programme Manager

Naima has a background in arts journalism with specialisms in theatre and film and has worked in radio and third sector communications. She is the Arts, Culture and Communications Officer at the Aziz Foundation, Social Media Coordinator for TEDxLondon and a trustee of the Inclusive Mosque Initiative.

Saba Khan

Communications and Marketing Director

As CEO of ArtEase and a Visual Artist, I believe in the transformative power of art and literature.  I first saw Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals at the Tate, in the dark compact room with its private, subtle lighting.  I was immediately transfixed, absorbed in the dark maroons and blacks.  In this intimate setting, something shifted emotionally for the better.  At this moment, I truly realised the immense power of creativity, artistic platform and the absolute need to engage with the arts and literature for personal growth and understanding.  MFest will impact on cultural producers and their audiences in ways...Read more

As CEO of ArtEase and a Visual Artist, I believe in the transformative power of art and literature.  I first saw Mark Rothko’s Seagram murals at the Tate, in the dark compact room with its private, subtle lighting.  I was immediately transfixed, absorbed in the dark maroons and blacks.  In this intimate setting, something shifted emotionally for the better.  At this moment, I truly realised the immense power of creativity, artistic platform and the absolute need to engage with the arts and literature for personal growth and understanding.  MFest will impact on cultural producers and their audiences in ways that we intend and in positive ways that we cannot begin to predict.  I am excited at the ‘gift economy’ MFest will bring, with it’s enjoyable nuances, exchanges and learnings.  I look forward to sharing these stories with you through our marketing and social media.

Having also worked in social inclusion for 20 years, both in the UK and Europe, it appeals to me to work for a Festival that offers an excellent artistic platform for established and emerging artists and authors from Muslim communities, a much-underrepresented genius.

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Arifa Akbar

Lead Curator

Arifa is a journalist, critic and head of content at the publisher, Unbound, where she is launch editor of the online literary magazine, Boundless. She also writes about books for the Financial Times and The Guardian. She is the former literary editor of The Independent, where she worked from 2001 until 2016 as a reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2013. She is a trustee of the Orwell Foundation and co-administers its annual book prize. She has moderated extensively at literary festivals including Bath, Bradford, Charleston, Asia House, Jewish Book Week and at the Southbank...Read more

Arifa is a journalist, critic and head of content at the publisher, Unbound, where she is launch editor of the online literary magazine, Boundless. She also writes about books for the Financial Times and The Guardian. She is the former literary editor of The Independent, where she worked from 2001 until 2016 as a reporter and arts correspondent before joining the books desk in 2013. She is a trustee of the Orwell Foundation and co-administers its annual book prize. She has moderated extensively at literary festivals including Bath, Bradford, Charleston, Asia House, Jewish Book Week and at the Southbank in London, and judged book prizes including, most recently, the Costa Biography Award 2017.

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Adrienne Loftus Parkins

Literature Consultant

Throughout my career, whether it was in marketing communications or in literature, I have focused on intercultural dialogue and understanding, because these are crucial to each of us living our lives in a fulfilling and open way in this interconnected world. As a non-Muslim, non-BAME immigrant to the UK, I can look at British society as both an outsider and insider.  I can see that there is a wide gap between what the public knows of Muslim communities – what we hear and read – and the warm, joyful and welcoming nature of the Muslim communities I’ve been exposed to...Read more

Throughout my career, whether it was in marketing communications or in literature, I have focused on intercultural dialogue and understanding, because these are crucial to each of us living our lives in a fulfilling and open way in this interconnected world.

As a non-Muslim, non-BAME immigrant to the UK, I can look at British society as both an outsider and insider.  I can see that there is a wide gap between what the public knows of Muslim communities – what we hear and read – and the warm, joyful and welcoming nature of the Muslim communities I’ve been exposed to in Britain and in South Asia.

I welcomed the opportunity to join the M Fest team, to share my knowledge of starting and running festivals, in order to create something unique to the UK: a festival that will both engage Muslims and welcome non-Muslims in sharing and celebrating all that is wonderful in Muslim culture, in all its diverse forms.

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Shaheen Kasmani

Programme Administrator

I am an artist, curator and creative producer, and my background is in a background in literature, languages and education. My most recent project was co-curating The Past is Now exhibition at Birmingham Museum, and my own artistic practice focuses on Islamic art and fusing traditional patterns and motifs in contemporary contexts.  I like my work to be part of telling a story. It could be celebrating something long forgotten, exploring a theme or idea, or a reclamation of the narrative from those who have hijacked or imposed their own upon others, which is why a festival like MFest is so...Read more

I am an artist, curator and creative producer, and my background is in a background in literature, languages and education. My most recent project was co-curating The Past is Now exhibition at Birmingham Museum, and my own artistic practice focuses on Islamic art and fusing traditional patterns and motifs in contemporary contexts.  I like my work to be part of telling a story. It could be celebrating something long forgotten, exploring a theme or idea, or a reclamation of the narrative from those who have hijacked or imposed their own upon others, which is why a festival like MFest is so exciting and important. My work is about history, heritage, culture and conversation, and I strongly believe in the power of learning and education. Read more at www.shaheenkasmani.com

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