Pakistani activist’s life and work commemorated

A group of Pakistanis have organised a memorial gathering on the first anniversary of the death of human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud.

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DUBAI // A group of Pakistanis organised a memorial in Dubai on the first anniversary of the death of human rights activist Sabeen Mahmud.

Mahmud, 40, was shot dead by terrorists in Karachi on April 24 last year. She was the director of The Second Floor cafe and arts space in Karachi, which held public forum discussions, film screenings and poetry events.

“Sabeen was a dear friend and mentor and what better way to remember her than by creating a moment that allows us to mourn, celebrate and share memories,” said Rubab Hasan, one of the memorial organisers.

“It was also about reminding us of her purpose and, perhaps, to think of ours in this world.”

Ms Hasan said the gathering, attended by about 20 people, was organised by word of mouth and social media just a few days beforehand. “The turnout was heart-warming,” she said. “Here we were, a bunch of strangers who showed up to share, listen and celebrate.”

They lit candles, listened to music and shared memories of Mahmud.

“We realised by the end of the evening that unknowingly, we had become part of something bigger than us – a community that will celebrate this spirit of creativity, love and light every year all over the globe,” Ms Hasan said.

Ayesha Imtiaz, one of the attendees, did not know Mahmud but had been impressed with her struggle to promote social change through progressive ideas and cultural activities. She said the gathering “was an initiative to gently remind everyone that one should remember the sacrifices of such brave individuals who have the courage to take a stand, voice it and act against the flawed system”.

Ms Imtiaz said Pakistanis living in Dubai should work to fulfil Mahmud’s dreams for their country. “We should contribute to continue her work and struggle that she started in Karachi, if not political, at least the social and cultural bit,” she said.