Afghan cultural activist and festival organiser, Maryam Sharifi, who came to the city of Harstad together with ICORN musician Hamid Sakhizada in 2016, organises the minifestival A Night With Buddha in Harstad and Karlstad in March.
A night with Buddah is a minifestival that started 11 March 2013 in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, on the anniversary of the memory of the two Buddha statues that were bombed by the Taliban in 2001. Bamiyan is on UNESCO’s World Heritage list. The destruction of the Bamiyan statues is an obliteration of everyone’s common heritage that connects humans all over the world. The festival will create a bridge between different cultures, give people from a diversity of traditions, a common experience. It presents storytelling on stage and theatre, music and dance by among others Monira Hashemi, with her new storytelling work called SalSaal and ShahMaama, music by Hamid Sakhizada and Marja Mortensson, and exhibitions by other artists.
As Hamid Sakhizada, Maryam Sharifi was also under threat for her cultural activities. She worked for the Simorgh Theatre project that raises human rights awareness, specifically women’s and minority rights, through theatre. For several years she has run workshops and training for several organisations, and been engaged in social activism. Since 2012, she has directed the annual Night With Buddha festival, an international project that celebrates the Bamiyan Buddhas destroyed by the Taliban in 2001. Bamiyan is situated in the Hazara region of Afghanistan. For this, Sharifi has received threats from Islamist extremists who see Buddhism as counter to Islam.