By Patrick Barlow
A Manchester-based international festival, which aims to celebrate Muslim Arts and Culture and tackle Islamophobia, has launched this week.
MACFEST 2022 highlights Muslim art from around the world, as well as promoting interfaith connectivity between Muslim and non-Muslim people.
The festival, which is made up of a mixture of online and in-person events, will feature events across Manchester and as far as Indonesia and the United States.
More than 75 events will take place between now and September.
Qaisra Shahraz MBE, who headed organising the event, said: “As a community activist, I wanted a festival to connect people through the arts.
“We promote social inclusion, community cohesion, we celebrate diversity, and above all we celebrate art, and Muslim heritage and we celebrate the beauty of Islam.”
The festival, which is in its fourth year, was originally organised in the wake of the Manchester Arena attack.
Events kicked off with an opening ceremony on Saturday, February 5, which showcased cultures from around the globe include a Sri Lankan choir and the stunning Cambridge Central Mosque.
Guests and speakers at events so far include Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, former co-chairwoman of the Conservative Party, and High Sherriff of London Lynn Cooper.
In a talk about Islamophobia in the media, Baroness Warsi said: “A decade ago I said Islamophobia had passed the dinner table test, now I would say Islamophobia is Britain’s bigotry blind spot.”
The festival includes a range of different themed events, including a week on African Heritage and a festival dedicated to Ramadan.
MACFEST also includes a “country of honour” which will showcase a range of in-person international events, with Indonesia chosen for this year’s festival.
A new element which has been added for this year is the Muslim Women’s Arts Festival, which aims to highlight female artists from a range of backgrounds and crafts.
Shahraz added: “I want to reach those women in rural, remote places who are not famous but who are being creative and want to celebrate their work.”
More information can be found on the festival here, and events can be booked on Eventbrite.