Brighton Festival offers "unapologetic response to rising Islamophobia "

As Rosema Nawaz, co-creator and co-director of Peaceophobia, says, everyone has got their tipping point.

Peaceophobia - pic by Karol Wyszynski
Peaceophobia - pic by Karol Wyszynski

She and her colleagues had theirs. Peaceophobia – one of the final events in this year’s Brighton Festival, running from May 26-29 at 7.45pm at Brighton Marina car park, is the result.

The team offer it is an unapologetic response to rising Islamophobia around the world. Part-car meet, part-theatre, the show explores how you find peace in a world that tells you who you are.

In the piece, growing up in the shadow of the Bradford Riots, 9/11 and police harassment, cars and faith are a sanctuary, an escape, an expression for three Muslim Pakistani men. Ali, Sohail and Casper are taking control of the narratives around their religion, their city and their cars.

Staged in a car park with a Supra, a Golf and a classic Nova, Peaceophobia brings together cars and theatre with cinematic lighting and an original electronic sound score.

Peaceophobia began as a one-day discussion event in Bradford; the response was such that all concerned wanted to take it forward; the theatre piece is the result.

Rosema said: “My own experience from school was just going through day to day Islamophobia from other students and then every time you try to talk to a teacher, they would just tell you that it wasn't important, that there was nothing they could do and that it was just people expressing their opinions. I got so used to it but I was quite sad to think about what was happening. And then I went to university in London in 2016 and my cousin came to visit and was wearing a headscarf. There had just been a football match at Wembley and the football supporters were getting a bit rough and some of them were getting on the same train from London to Leeds as my cousin did. So I spoke to a conductor and said that she was a bit nervous and just warned him. But when the football supporters were getting off at Wakefield she had her scarf ripped off. They were just laughing. They just thought it was funny and she was trying to put her scarf back on and she was crying. I just thought this is not normal. This is not what we should have to put up with.

“Another incident was with a younger cousin who was about five at the time and there must have been some event in the hall nearby. People came out and they were quite drunk and they threw alcohol at me and my cousin. My cousin was not aware of the significance but if you think about it: we are Muslim and they were throwing alcohol at us. I remember saying ‘Oh you are sticky because of this Coke that has been thrown,’ just trying to calm things. But it wasn’t coke.

"And so it was a build-up of instances and it just got worse and worse, people throwing alcohol and the scarf incident and so on and I think things built up to a tipping point where you just think I've had enough. I want my nieces and nephews to live in a better world and that's how Peaceophobia came about.”