Enthusiastic Response for Journey into Europe at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies

On May 21, Ambassador Akbar Ahmed spoke at a screening of  Journey into Europe held at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London to a packed hall.

The event was hosted by two key partners and patrons of the Journey into Europe project, Professors Amina Yaqin of SOAS and Peter Morey of the University of East London.

Attending the screening were distinguished guests including His Excellency Syed Ibne Abbas, the Pakistani High Commissioner to the UK, as well as prominent figures who appear in the film including Sir Nicholas Barrington, the former British High Commissioner to Pakistan, the author and activist Kristiane Backer, and Mohsin Akhtar, the owner of Heydon Grange golf course and farm outside of Cambridge.

The film received a very enthusiastic response from the audience. Frankie Martin, who is leading the research team for the project and is the associate producer and assistant editor of the film, joined the panel discussion for the question-and-answer session following the screening and shared his experiences and ideas working on the project.

The occasion had added significance for Ambassador Ahmed because he received his PhD at SOAS, in 1978. Ambassador Ahmed’s PhD tutor, Adrian Mayer, was in the audience for the film. The previous evening, May 20, Ambassador Ahmed gave the Annual Lecture, “ISIS, Paris, Pakistan and the search for peace: conversations with an Islamic scholar,” also to a packed hall, which was moderated by the prominent political theorist Lord Bhikhu Parekh.

Among the audience attending the event, which was also received very enthusiastically, were many SOAS alumni. Prominent guests included Sir Nicholas Barrington, Justice Khurshid Drabu, the first secretary and the defense attache at the Pakistan embassy, Jonathan Benthall, the former Director of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and many others.


AAINA Team’s Scintillating Performance in New York Wins Accolades


The vibrant South Asian community of Boston has produced and presented numerous creative musical and literary events over the past few years. However, few have attained the level of success that AAINA did. 

A production of the Aligarh Alumni Association of New England (AAANE) and directed by Siraj Khan, who also co-hosted this show with Gauri Chandna of The Foundations TV, this colorful event was staged on October 17th last year at the Double Tree Hotel in Westborough. Now, after its phenomenal success and for the first time ever, a local Boston show was restaged in another US city with the same Boston team. AAINA was rerun in New York on  May 21st and was hosted there by AAANY.

AAINA  – Aligarh se Bollywood Tak  – seamlessly combines and harmoniously unites the soul of Urdu and Hindi poetry with different musical forms, to showcase the literary talents emerging from Aligarh Muslim University, who have made a huge impact on the landscape and culture of Bollywood. To the person who is as inclined towards poetry as music, it provided a great opportunity to experience the versatility and artistic skills of a wonderful team of performers involved – both poetry recital as well as the musical.

AAINA features the works of luminaries like Jan Nisar Akhtar, Shakeel Badayuni, Kaifi Azmi, Shahryar, Javed Akhtar, Ravindra Jain, Dr. Rahi Masoom Reza and others who took the film lyrics to a new high. This event is unique in character and turned out to be very engaging, entertaining and energizing, all in one. It’s rare to experience so many of our talented Indian and Pakistani artistes from Boston and now New York sharing the stage for a great cause. – need-based scholarships for deserving students aspiring to study at the Aligarh Muslim University.

The New York event was almost sold out. It was a huge achievement for the entire team. Congratulations to Siraj Khan and each and every member of the AAINA team for taking the show on the road (they are literally traveling together in a coach) and making us proud. Most importantly though, this proves yet again that Boston truly is the cultural heart of the nation.


Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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