Pakistan’s leading rock star promotes pluralism and counters extremism 

25th May 2010

Quilliam has been honoured to facilitate a media-intensive trip to the UK for Salman Ahmad, one of South Asia’s most influential musical figures. Ahmad, who has sold 30 million records and is now a UN Goodwill Ambassador, is using music to speak out against extremism in Pakistan. He has just completed a trip to the UK where he has spoken to Muslim communities, students, policy makers and journalists. He has received an overwhelmingly positive reception from a broad range of media, community organizations and individuals.

Challenging those to whom he refers as ‘murderous thugs masquerading as holy men’, Ahmad seeks to use his music to reclaim Pakistan’s long history of cultural plurality and expression from the stifling dictations of extremists. His recently released autobiography, Rock and Roll Jihad (2010), details this long struggle against the extremist narrative.

A Quilliam spokesperson says,

‘Despite opposition from some Islamist elements in the UK and from far-right anti-Muslim voices, during the last week Salman Ahmad’s message of tolerance has reached millions through mass media and live speaking events. Facilitated by Quilliam, his speaking tour has helped amplify the voice of mainstream Muslims and has shown why decent people, of all faiths and none, should join together against extremists.’


Events in the UK:

Quilliam roundtable: Quilliam held an event with Salman Ahmad on Wednesday 19 May to discuss, with James Crabtree the Managing Editor of Prospect magazine, the power of counter-radicalisation efforts using music and art, in tackling extremist ideologies. The event was well-attended by policy-makers, British Muslims and representatives of numerous media organisations.

A summary of the proceedings can be found here.

Other events: Salman Ahmad also spoke at events at Chatham House, Minhaj ul-Qur’an London, City Circle and the University of Oxford.


Media coverage:

Some of the media highlights of Salman Ahmad’s UK visit include:

BBC World News, Impact Asia with Lyse Doucet, 20/05/10

Sky News, 22/05/10

Geo TV, 20/05/10

British Forces News, 24/05/10

The Sunday Times, 16/05/10

Independent, 24/05/10

BBC News Online, 22/05/10

BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme Online, 21/05/10

CNN Online, 21/05/10

Dawn News, 23/05/10

Guardian CiF, 20/05/10

BBC Radio 4, The Today Programme, 21/05/10

Talk Radio Europe, 19/05/10

BBC Asian Network, News Bulletin, 21/05/10

BBC Asian Network, The Gagan Grewal Show, 24/05/10

As a result of his UK tour, Salman Ahmad is also due to appear on BBC HARDtalk, ABC News, BBC Urdu Service and BBC The World Today, and in Index on Censorship magazine, Eastern Eye and Asian Express.