The event is viewed as a manifestation of the need for ‘discussion, debate and dialogue’ at university campuses
NEW DELHI — The three-day Aligarh Literary Festival (ALF) being jointly organised by the Students Islamic Organisation (SIO) and Centre for Educational Research and Training (CERT) commenced on Tuesday.
The inaugural day was marked with addresses by Syed Ahmed Muzakkir, General Secretary, SIO, and Fawaz Shaheen, Director, CERT, followed by the launch of a book titled ‘Minority Status: AMU and JMI’.
Talha Mannan, Zonal President of SIO, AMU, who delivered the welcome address stated that the Literary Festival was a manifestation of the need for “discussion, debate and dialogue” at campuses.
Muzakkir, in his address, described the festival as a “celebration of thoughts and ideas”. He explained that the purpose of ALF is to provide a platform for “these ideas”.
He congratulated the organisers on their efforts, and expressed his hopes that, with the participants’ indulgence, the festival “will be a success and will be received in good spirit by the audience”.
Shaheen lamented the censorship of discussion on “uncomfortable topics” in literary festivals saying how they have “sanitised spaces”.
“These festivals have, therefore, turned into a commodity rather than a space for meaningful discussions,” Shaheen said, adding that the aim of ALF was “to address the important topics that would otherwise be suppressed”.
The topics addressed at ALF will range from writing, poetry and pop culture; to fake news and technology-related privacy concerns; to the questions of identity, religion and spirituality.
Shaheen said that Indian identity is presented as “uniform and monolithic in most academic settings” and explained how ALF can change that by starting a conversation “about the spectrum of identities that exist within India, and will invite discussion on religious identity. This will encourage young Muslims to reject the ham-fisted approach of tailoring the narrative in order to find a sense of belonging, or associating Muslim identity with Mughal rule; and instead to assert their identity unapologetically.”
He concluded by saying that ALF will invite conversations that will “push the boundaries of the prevalent discourse”.
The session came to an end with the cover-reveal of the book ‘Minority Status: AMU and JMI’.