Muslim Voices Share Arts In City Festival
In an effort to shed a different light on Islam, a ten-day-long art festival of Muslim artists' work in the city opened Friday night. NY1's Shazia Khan filed the following report.
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Through music, dance, film and the visual arts, a global tapestry of Muslim artists are advancing cultural diplomacy.
"I have a feeling that we will get through, if only because we have the tremendous desire to do so," says Indian actor Naseeruddin Shah.
Shah brings this devout desire for dialogue to the city first-ever Muslim Voices: Arts And Ideas Festival. Asia Society, together with the Brooklyn Academy of Music and the NYU Center for Dialogues, collaborated on the project to build a cultural bridge of understanding.
"This starts to give a platform in saying we really want to listen to many voices," says Rachel Cooper, Asia Society's director of cultural programs. "We don't want to to listen to just the most extreme voice that fulfills some negative stereotype."
The festival features more than 100 artists from 23 countries, who are diverse in culture and talent but unified in faith.
"The diversity of the Muslim world, the scope of its artistic history, the scope of the contemporary work was fascinating. It was deep, it was a vast well of information and artistry," says BAM President Karen Brooks Hopkins.
The festival includes Arabic cinema, Indonesian dance, Urdu drama and Mbalax music by Africa's best selling pop artist, Senegalese performer Youssou N'Dour.
"Even if you're not in the same religion as me, the same color, the same culture, it's not barriers. It's a richness," says N'Dour. "And the more you open, the more you describe, you become enriched.
While the festival looks to present a better understanding of Islam, organizers and artists say it is also very much for the local Muslim community.
"It's equally important for us to get through to the diaspora here, to the Indians and the Pakistanis and the Indonesians and other people from other Muslim countries who are here, to remind them of the heritage they have," says Shah.
The festival runs through Sunday, June 14. For more information, visit www.muslimvoicesfestival.org.