Announcing The Muslim Protagonist 2015: Art as Protest

Click here to redirect to our official site for 2015. You are currently on the site for the Protag Blog and Zine.

Check out our speakers!

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McNally Jackson will sell books for signings on Feb. 28th.


The Muslim Protagonist is an annual literary symposium of Muslim and minority writers, artists, and thinkers at Columbia University, hosted by the Columbia Muslim Students Association (MSA) and opened to participants of all backgrounds, ages, faiths, and cultures as a means of facilitating dialogue, networking, and inspirational as well as practical tools for pursuing “literature as an agent of social, intellectual, and spiritual change.” The event is not an event exclusively for Muslims, “minorities,” or Columbia students/faculty — everyone is welcome.

In 2012, in order to address the growing need for a Muslim voice in the great sea of American literature, the Columbia Muslim Students Association invited renowned novelists, playwrights, journalists and academics from across the world to Columbia University for a weekend filled with inspiration and wisdom. The symposium, a series of talks, panels, and workshops held during the weekend of November 10th, attracted over 300 attendees from universities and communities across the northeast. Focusing on literature and art as agents of social change, the event shed light on the importance of the Muslim protagonist in a post-9/11 America, and gave prominent Muslim and non-Muslim writers of this generation the opportunity to discuss their shared experiences within an emerging American-Muslim literary community. The symposium has since expanded into a three-day event consisting of an open mic and speaker performances, a main day of panels and talks, and workshops and seminars taught by esteemed speakers. The Muslim Protagonist has received coverage from The Huffington Post to Pakistan’s Express Tribune and has been lauded by speakers and attendees as “groundbreaking.” 2014’s Media Kit provides more information.

In its third year, The Muslim Protagonist will build on the previous years’ remarkable successes and delve deeper into the issue of marginalized narratives in and outside of Muslim communities in a unique and thoughtful way, bringing together writers from diverse communities in America. This year’s theme, “Art as Protest,” will feature discussions surrounding art and literature as agents of socio-political, intellectual, and spiritual change. We will be examining questions such as: What does it mean to produce and interpret non-canonical literature? What does it mean to be a subject, a citizen, a community member, an artist, and a protagonist? What roles do literary and artistic works play in the charged political climate dominating our world today? What role have they played historically for Muslims in and outside of modern America, and what lessons if any do they provide us with today? What is at stake in producing work that disrupts dominant narratives?


Open Mic Night 14′: An Exploration of Hyphenated-American Identities


When: Thursday, April 3, 8 – 11:00 PM.
Where: 2nd Floor Diana Student Cafe

Join CU Muslim Students Association and the Muslim Writer’s Collective for the MSA’s third annual Open Mic Night in recognition of Islam Awareness Week. Help us kick off an amazing Islam Awareness Week with art, music, spoken word, and festivities celebrating the diversity and creativity of our community.

This year’s Open Mic will focus on themes pertaining to the hyphenated-American body, with a spotlight on social justice and the American-Muslim identity. Join us as we explore the implications of being a minority American in the liberal US melting pot. What does it mean to be a Muslim in post-9/11 America? What does it mean to be a person of color in this country? How have your experiences with race, ethnicity, class, power, privilegeand shaped your identity? Where does “Faith”or religion fit in within the social structures that govern your daily existence? Share your experiences with your peers on stage, or simply come listen and reflect.

We invite students from all across campus to perform poetry, songs, monologues, stories, or any other work focusing on their interpretation of our theme. We will be showcasing artwork and photography within the performance space. If you would like to showcase your talents through performance or artwork, please contact Alay Syed at by Tuesday April 1st, 2014. Coffee and refreshments will be served and the performances will be held in the Diana Center 2nd floor student dining room.

Luke Aidger Patterson
Sameer Naseem
Haris Durrani
Fainan Lakha
Hebah Akram Khan
Annam Choudhry
Asha Rosa
Farzana Mou Ahmed

Art by
Sarosh Arif
Kyara Andrade