It takes a 20 hours long flight from Mumbai all the way to Washington DC; however, it takes the passion for liberty to be privileged among the thousands of leaders around the world to actually experience the wonder that LibertyCon rightly represents. My journey to LibertyCon involves an array of experiences that I have had over the past two years into the global freedom movement. From being the sole local coordinator in Mumbai to being part of the South Asia Executive Board to being invited to attend LibertyCon19, I am delighted to state that these have been the defining years that have shaped me individually, socially and academically. And it continues, as I write this piece.
Volunteering and working with SFL is a unique experience both in letter and in spirit. On one hand, the idea of liberty unites you in movement to thousands of other individuals who share the same commitment while on the other hand, you create magical friendships, almost bonding as a family with your team.
As an SFL volunteer, I was also honoured to receive the Liberty International Scholarship to attend the Liberty International Conference in August 2018 in Krakow, Poland. However despite the best efforts by the organisers, I could not make it to the Conference because of an arbitrary Visa refusal just two days before the Conference. That, I believe, was a real tough time to reconcile with. I am narrating this incident to acquaint the readers of the many challenges I faced to attend LibertyCon19 and the immense support I have received from SFL staff in particular. Among other things, it is indicative of their belief in the people who genuinely believe in the movement, and in the cause the movement represents, in general.
I was really delighted to receive the mail inviting me for the Top Global Leadership Retreat as well as LibertyCon 2019. Although, my biggest fear was a Visa refusal, given my past experience, and that cast shadows of skepticism about my attendance in the event. I conveyed it to the staff at SFL who have been at the helm of assistance. I am, also, grateful to the office of Late Congressman Walter Jones who helped this young student from India to come all the way to DC. In a way, these events highlight the amount of work and logistics that is involved in organising such great Conferences. LibertyCon19 was unlike other such Conferences for two major reasons: Firstly, because it was not a conference that was focused on a uniform discourse and secondly, it was an active platform for competing ideas to challenge each other in a civilised manner.
The Conference brought together thought leaders and Institutes from diverse backgrounds, and the reason was solely to engage and compete in the ideas business in a civilised manner. That is what liberty stands for, the freedom to ensure that the most unpopular ideas are given a space to be discussed and debated. In fact, recently when an American news portal raised concerns that LibertyCon19 was a gathering of climate change deniers, I was really surprised as to how the article clearly missed the plot.
All these years, I have closely studied and even cited from the books of freedom lovers like Dr. Tom Palmer, Mustafa Akyol, David Boaz, Jeffrey Tucker, Cory Massimino as well as David Friedman. The opportunity to meet them in person and to know the humility with which they interact was refreshing, and left me in awe. But LibertyCon19 was not just about the intellectual discourse and the academic narrative; it was also about creating agencies of libertarian discourse within cultural and religious communities and bringing them on board the global freedom movement.
I was privileged to interact with Muslims for Liberty and never have I felt closer to my faith than to know that there is no conflict between the highest ideals of Islam and the universal idea of liberty. The work that Muslims for Liberty is doing is crucial in terms of reclaiming the narrative of our faith from those who are destroying it from within, while at the same time ensuring that the negative public opinion be changed through educating people on the real ideals of Islam. I am grateful to both Muslims for Liberty for engaging in this noble cause and to Students for Liberty for being an inclusive movement. As a practicing Muslim and someone who loves theology, I really wish Muslims4Liberty to become a global movement in the coming years. I hope their work attains much importance in these times when the world, in general, and Muslim world, in particular, has been ravaged by orthodoxy and war.
Lastly, I’d like to especially emphasise the everlasting bonds I made with other SFLers around the world. The ‘Socials’ as well as the many conversations on life, cultures as well as our individual experiences create the magic behind the hashtag #SFamily. I am truly overwhelmed and there is much more that I want to write and talk about LibertyCon19 but at times, one falls short of words to express the high degree of happiness experienced.
Sincerely and For Liberty!
By Mohammad Anas S. Khan
Local Coordinator at South Asia Students For Liberty
This piece was originally published on the Muslims4Liberty blog.
This piece solely expresses the opinion of the author and not necessarily the organization as a whole. Students For Liberty is committed to facilitating a broad dialogue for liberty, representing a variety of opinions. If you’re a student interested in presenting your perspective on this blog, visit our guest submissions page. Like what you read here? You can sign up for a weekly digest of the SFL blog and subscribe for a weekly update on SFL’s events, leadership programs, and resources.