• John Oliver

Hommage to Sabeen Mahmood - social activist, entrepreneur

A wonderful example of a leader of a dynamic social hub, connecting artists, activits and entrepreneurs, that often comes to mind in how I wish to connect my art work with social / civic discourse.

Sabeen Mahmud was a progressive Pakistani human rights activist and social worker who founded in 2007 the Karachi-based cafe The Second Floor (T2F) a café/bookshop/performance space. She gave Karachi a place where talk—about art, science, politics, anything—could flow freely, and citizens could get online and organise.

From the Economist obituary: "In 2013 she organised a hackathon, Pakistan’s first, where for a whole weekend people brainstormed new ideas and apps to make Karachi work better. Don’t just bad-mouth the government, she would say. Take charge! Change things!"

Due to her fearless tackling of controversial social and political issues of her generation,

"Abuse and threats came often. She laughed them off. Other dissidents left Karachi, but she loved it too dearly to live anywhere else. Friends said she should put a security guard on the café door; she preferred to invite her enemies in, to eat panini and join the conversation." (The Economist)

On 24 April 2015, she hosted a debate on Balochistan conflict which included activists like Mama Qadeer. After the event, she was shot dead by a gunman on her way home after hosting a seminar at T2F.

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