‘Free Thinkers’ Heaven’: Pakistani Creatives Mourn Loss of Progressive Art Space | Human rights


reanial Shah turned to Sabeen Mahmud for help with his first photo exhibition when all other organizations refused to exhibit his work. Shah’s photographs cover political and cultural issues such as local elections and women’s rights. Some refused to work with him for political reasons, while others did not respond at all.

After meeting in Mammoo’s T2F community space in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, she agreed to host her exhibition. However, Mahmood, a 40-year-old human rights activist who oversaw a progressive art program on T2F, was unable to see Shah’s first exhibition. Killed months after they met..

“Without T2F, I wouldn’t have expected to be a photographer and teach photography,” Shah said. “This event introduced us to photographers, artists and fans. It was a space for everyone, and we held our first workshop there.

A mural by Sabeen Mahmud outside T2F. The Urdu language says, “You are my hero. Photo: Shah Meer

The pioneer community place, originally known as Second Floor, was founded by Mahmud in 2007 after being in an office building. But now the T2F board has decided to shut down T2F in what is called “more than a tragedy”.

Mahmood wrote in the magazine Innovation at the opening: Tyranny of the city for a while. “

Karachi is unique. The paintings and photographs are lined up on the walls, not in the colorful cafes and bookstores. Often full of artists, activists and writers, it became a refuge for free thinkers, as Mahmood wanted, and survived his assassination.

Shakil Jafri, Director of T2F, said: The board of directors will determine the future of T2F in a few months. “

Marvi Mazhar, who ran T2F after Mahmood’s murder, told The Guardian: Our society has already been damaged and is full of extremism and intolerance. In these difficult times, we need more space and alternatives than ever before. “

On the evening of April 24, 2015, Organize a conference on BalochistanMahmood, a troubled state in southwest Pakistan, was on his way home when two men shot him. Her mother, who was about to return home, was also shot but survived. A friend of Mahmood’s told The Guardian he was threatened with murder while holding talks on various issues, the last of which was censored elsewhere in Pakistan. Two men, Saad Aziz and Aliur Rehman, were found guilty of his murder and sentenced to death. Many of Mahmood’s friends believe the “deep state” of the country’s military is responsible, but authorities have linked the men to Islamic terrorism.

Activist and writer Mir Mohammad Alitarpur, who was invited as a guest speaker at the Balochistan event, said: A space to record their concerns and dissenting opinions. “

The term was coined by tightening regulations on free speech, increasing attacks on journalists, and shutting down public and community spaces. “Hybrid system” In Pakistan, to seize the democratic recession that is raging in the country.

In 2019, Pakistani artist Adeela Suleman’s exhibition “The Killing Fields of Karachi” at the Karachi Biennale was attacked by authorities and forced to close after taking charge of the exorbitant deaths of 444 people by police.

Gibran Nasir, who is also a friend of Mahmood, Criticized the closure of security agencies Speaking at the exhibition, he said: “Censorship and curtailment of free speech can be seen all over Pakistan. I don’t know if this administration is worse than the previous one. Dictator ZiaBrought Islamization and radicalism to the country. But I know the current regime is doing its best to shut down even online spaces after shutting down most public and community spaces. “

Cima KelmaniCommitted to the performing arts and founder of Tehrik-e-Niswan (or the Women’s Movement), said there was little community space for artists and the number of venues has declined in recent years. “Right now we don’t see a lot of space,” Kermani said.

Sabine Mahmood sandals lie on the floor of the car after being shot. Photo: Shakil Adil / AP

The PIA Arts Academy was founded by Pakistan International Airlines in 1966 and later became the National Performing Arts Group. She says: “This beautiful space was recently closed. We are losing all the space.

The closer Pakistani public spaces are to artists and activists, the more a culture of censorship and blasphemy accusations develops instead.

Pakistani Movies Jindagi Tamasha, Or the Circus of Life was nominated for an Oscar, but most Pakistanis can’t see it. Although accused of being blasphemous, the film was cleared by a group of censorship committees and senators. However, it was not released after the extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP) party staged a protest against the film and director Sarmad Khoosat was threatened with murder.

Mars, Sindhi writer Amar Jaleel Accused of blasphemy And because of a literary festival that read a short story about the plight of political opponents, the threat of violence tracked him down on social media.

Prime Minister Imran Khan Defend Pakistani blasphemy law Activists and writers say Khan is turning Pakistan into a more conservative and intolerant place and preventing it from gaining religious support shortly before the 2018 election. Freedom of expression and the media.

Fatima Butt, a writer for the Butt political dynasty, said: “Sadly, this is the time when the country should support young people, encourage art, hang out and use soft power to make Pakistan’s new face. In the world. The art of combat is Imran Khan. It is a miserable miscalculation on the part of the administration. “

‘Free Thinkers’ Heaven’: Pakistani Creatives Mourn Loss of Progressive Art Space | Human rights

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