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What Jashn-e-Faiz meant to me

April 19, 2011

Jashne-Faiz: something for everyone - in keeping with CFDs one-point agenda. Photo: Amima Sayeed

By Farieha Aziz | Journalist, CFD volunteer and activist, Karachi

This event was heatedly debated when it was proposed and there were doubts about its success right till the end. Many are still questioning, logistics aside, how this kind of an event is in keeping with CFD’s line of thought or how it was linked to Faiz Ahmed Faiz. But after the event, I stand convinced more than ever that it WORKED without CFD losing sight of its initial aims and objectives.

The aims of Jashn-e-Faiz were manifold. The idea was to create a space for all kinds of activities and to have free and open discourse… Faiz Ahmed Faiz was a symbol of resistance, and the many activities yesterday – even that people came out of their homes to this public event – were an act of resistance against the rising extremism in society where we are forced into being suspicious of people, barricading ourselves from each other, living in fear and under threat.

CFD’s one-point agenda was adhered to. The session on ‘Tolerance vs Intolerance’ addressed the blasphemy law and its misuse, vigilantism, murder in the name of religion, target killings, rule of law and also the Charter of Compassion, with different people raising and addressing different issues. Personalities like Iqbal Haider, Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim, Hasil Bizenjo, Abbas Hussain and Zain Sheikh spoke – and so did audience members, among them a university student whose zeal made quite an impression on the audience.

Lyaris leva dancers: resistance doesnt just come in polemics. Photo: Amima Sayeed

One of the plays was about suicide bombers. In between the concert, a resolution was read out addressing the above-mentioned issues. Booklets designed to educate on the issue of blasphemy were distributed among media personnel and others, and those who attended the session ‘Tolerance vs Intolerance.’ (See report:Blasphemy law: speak now or forever hold your peace). The song and dance and fun-filled atmosphere was most obvious feature of Jashn-e-Faiz – the Makrani ‘Leva’ dancers were a great hit and talk of the town – but the important issues were not ignored.

Those who disagreed with the ‘mela’ feel of the event, that it was repugnant to CFD’s aims, must understand that sometimes direct arguments don’t work. You’ve got to reach out to people so that you don’t lose their attention. At a time when people have generally lost their appetite for anything overtly political or direct, and are starved of ‘something good,’ something to enjoy, it was heartening to see thousands people of all ages, from all parts of the city and especially families, pouring in for an event such as this. Also, from my experience and what I saw among the concert crowd, the ‘younger lot’ doesn’t want to be preached to and most – not all – don’t have the patience nor interest to listen to ‘the serious stuff’. A lot of them didn’t come for Faiz Ahmed Faiz. They came for Strings and Shehzad Roy, Fuzon and Laal. If we managed to slip our message to them, hopefully they’ll take some of it home with them.

For me, the people-to-people contact and personal interactions were one of the success stories of the event. The organiser/volunteer-warden-vistor engagement was my highlight of the day. At the registration desk, the volunteers wore smiles into the night – as did the wardens and policemen. They were all patient – as were the visitors with the registration process. And though there were some who considered themselves above the process, well that just wasn’t acceptable there. Everyone came through the same process, same file, same entrance, to  attend the event.

One attendee recited Faiz sahb’s verses for those of us at the registration desk who were far from the activity areas, eliciting ‘wah wah’ from volunteers and bursts of silent laughter from the wardens and policemen. There was great spirit and camaraderie. That itself is all a kind of resistance – and a change – in its own way.

Much more ground to cover, but like the letter campaign, this was also a leap forward.

p.s. A lot of things didn’t work out at Jashn-e-Faiz. Most people already know what those are and have pointed them out, so I’ve focused here on what worked. We tried to do the best we all could in our own capacities. We didn’t always succeed and to those who were inconvenienced, we’re really sorry.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 19, 2011 2:31 pm

    Congrats. It was a very successful event. The vibrance of the organisers and participants was tremendous. We must meet early and audit our shortfalls to improve it further. One thing was obvious and that was signalogy. There no signs to guide the audiance. The area is huge and needs proper direction. Several women, children and elderly were asking for the direction of the restrooms. We are determined to overcome our shortcomings and do much better next time.
    The fellowship and comraderi amongs the organisers and volunteers is commendable and it is our asset. Let the collective leadership of CFD assimilate this spirit.
    Fahim, you and your lead team deserve our sincere acknowledgement, and we hold you in high esteem. This is called selfless work for a cause.
    Very well done.
    Iqbal Alavi

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  1. CFD's Jashn-e-Faiz pulls in crowds | Gawaahi.com

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