PART 1-2018. Austin, Texas, home to thousands of musicians has hosted the largest music conference since 1987 branding it the Live Music Capital of the World. The 2018 conference excitedly touted London's Muslim Mayor, Sadiq Khan to the convergence session platform. Khan addressed how advances in technology will make our societies morally right, inclusive, and provide equality for all. In other words, a smart city.
However, Khan, opened his speech by mocking the tweeting of President Trump who has been a staunch critic of Khan. Khan lumped together that terrorists and far right groups are using technology to drive division. Khan provided a few examples of extreme hate tweets he received pointed at his faith, and declared that social media platforms must immediately regulate and remove content to protect people online from such activity, namely children. To address this, Khan revealed the first of its kind online hate crime hub thereby affirming the criticisms that Khan takes hate tweets and tech regulation more seriously than he takes machete wielding Jihadis on mopeds, grooming gangs, vehicles crashing into street cafes, and deadly nail bombs at concerts attended by little girls.
Sadiq Khan is no stranger to terrorism and Islamist controversy having been a legal consultant tied to 911 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui, and Louis Farrakhan of The Nation of Islam. Khan is accused of dismissing and minimizing Jihad as the knife crime in London sharply escalated after his election. Khan stated that he couldn't possibly keep track of the 400 returned Jihadis occupying London somewhere. He did not comment on the additional 23,000 suspected. Khan is harshly criticized for complaining of lack of police funds to combat terror, but instead allocating available funds to prosecute citizens for tweets that criticize Islam.
Khan's legacy ironically dogged him, when on the morning of his convergence keynote speech, the second of five bombs went off in Austin. Combined law enforcement agencies desperately searched for serial bomber, Mark Anthony Conditt during SXSW. Khan, still mortified from the May 22, 2017 Ariana Grande concert massacre in nearby Manchester, England, declared that the liberal, tolerant city has lost a third its music venues and half of his night clubs. While London's Islamic gang and knife crime reached catastrophic levels, highlighted by the June 3, 2017 London bridge attack, Khan affirmed London to be the safest city on the planet. At SXSW Khan reported that London is open for business and that all venues in London are under close watch.
The convergence tract at 2018 SXSW contained a social impact faith-based series. One session entitled Covering Islam as a Muslim in Trump's America featured Muslim reporters: Rowaida Abedelaziz, a journalist from the Huffington Post who launched the “Islamophobia Tracker” and has shared the stage with Linda Sarsour at ICNA and ISNA conferences; Malika Bilal, a Emmy nominated host, moderator, and producer of The Stream at Al Jazeera English; and Ayesha A. Siddiqi, a Pakistani American writer, television developer and consultant who is known for her 2015 Vice production Does America Deserve Malala? The panel's moderator was Slates' Aymann Ismail, and focused on shattering stereotypes, myth busting, and the complications of being Muslim in America facing increasing Islamophobia.
The 2019 SXSW conference welcomed, among others, Islamist Linda Sarsour podcasting with the Mother's of the Resistance panel, Wajhat Ali, the lead author and researcher of Fear Inc., Roots of the Islamophobia Network in America, and the Combating Islamophobia with Marketing and Tech panel.
We will profile 2019 in Part II.