Founded in 2002 by husbands Malik Gillani and Jamil Khoury, Silk Road Rising (originally Silk Road Theatre Project) began as an intentional and creative response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001. Our Co-Founders recognized that the consequences of that catastrophic day would reverberate for years to come, posing unique and urgent challenges for Pan-Asian, North African, and Muslim communities. This dangerous backlash, and its recurring manifestations, underscore our commitment to educating, promoting dialogue, and healing rifts via the transformative power of storytelling.
Harnessing that power, we set out to challenge the ideology and hatred that fueled the 9/11 attacks and the anti-Arab and anti-Muslim violence that immediately followed. Our vision was to counter negative images of Middle Eastern and Muslim peoples with representation grounded in authentic, multi-faceted, and patently human experiences. We centered politics that were anti-racist, anti-colonial, and pro-feminist, and elected to tell stories that were by us, about us, and for all.
Our focus quickly expanded beyond Southwest Asian and North Africa to encompass the vast territory known historically as the Silk Road, a network of trade routes stretching from China to Syria and beyond. The legacy of the Silk Road provided us with a narrative from which our core values would appear: Discovery, Empathy, and Polyculturalism.