Festive Bradford by Syima Aslam and Irna Qureshi

What do you think of when you think of Bradford? Bradford is a city where a number of small, but hugely impactful, events have led to the creation of an urban myth embedded in the British and international consciousness. Carefully crafted by the media, every new story emerging from Bradford adds to this legend.

When journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown tweeted from the inaugural Bradford literature Festival in May 2015, she referenced an event dating back a quarter of a century, that marks the point from which all Bradford myths stem: ‘The city that burnt The Satanic Verses’. The event defined our city as the absolute centre of conservative Muslim culture in Britain. The ideal place for fleeting visits by journalists to pick up horror stories, and to measure the pulse and gauge the temperature of collective Muslim feeling. But it was the second part of Alibhai-Brown’s tweet that is of significance: ‘Hosts a fab @BradfordlitFest.’ Bradford is a city of many stories. And the Bradford literary Festival is creating and telling new ones.

That the 1989 Rushdie affair still looms large is significant. Not only did it mark the first time a post-Windrush ‘racial’ minority community redefined itself according to its faith, it was the first time a minority Bradfordian community had catapulted the city onto the media world stage... Read more