The Lahore Literary Festival took place despite security threats which led to a venue change and the festival being shortened by a day.
Though security concerns caused the festival to be moved from the Alhamra Arts Complex to a local hotel, it did not deter organizers from conducting the festival. In fact, even the audience felt the same way and over 100,00 people showed up to the two day festival which was shortened by a third day. The festival, held on February 20-21, became a much needed platform for freedom of expression for topics ranging from architecture, film, food, poetry and even feminism. The festival was also graced by performances from several Central Asian musicians.
Over a 100 session by various authors, actors, filmmakers etc. were held and were appreciated by all. Indians like Sharmila Tagore, B.N. Goswamy, Ranjani Mazumdar, Sonia Faleiro, Tanika Sarkar, Karan Thapar and Shohini Ghosh among others were present as speakers.
One of the festival’s highlights was when Egyptian-American feminist Mona Eltahawy took to the stage to criticize the Hijab and Islamic dominance over women. “I want to talk about how as Muslim women we are reduced to what’s on our heads and what’s in between our legs and I want to talk about the sexual revolution,” she said.
(Courtesy : Agence France-Presse)
Though the reign of terror has considerably reduced due to the army’s involvement, the Pakistani government is often criticized for bowing to the Islamic fundamentalists and not supporting art or liberal thought. The Lahore Literary Festival beat all those odds and did its part in helping restore Pakistan to its cultural and intellectual glory.