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Kalsoom Bashir- Co-Director of Inspire, addressed the audience at this year’s Anne Spencer Memorial Lecture organised by the University of Bristol’s MultiFaith Chaplaincy on Wednesday 27th of April 2016.

Kalsoom’s address followed a talk by  Sami Awad, a Palestinian Christian and peaceworker on the importance of Muslim-Jewish relations in the UK and Rabbi Monique Mayer.

The text of Kalsoom’s closing statement follows:

If there is to be peace in the world, 
There must be peace in the nations. 
If there is to be peace in the nations, 
There must be peace in the cities. 
If there is to be peace in the cities, 
There must be peace between neighbours. 
If there is to be peace between neighbours, 
There must be peace in the home. 
If there is to be peace in the home, 
There must be peace in the heart. 

Peace radiates outwards and in order for it to take root we all bear a responsibility to impact within our sphere of influence.

Increasing parts of the world are becoming battlegrounds and although distant, these war zones and areas of conflict are brought into our homes and play upon our emotions testing the tolerance that has been traditionally at the forefront of our communities in the UK.

Our Jewish neighbours  fear they are being held to account for events far beyond their control. Similarly, Muslim communities feel under threat from those who blame them for the actions of others.

The conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the summer of 2014 brought protest marches and a peace vigil to our City amid tensions between different communities across the country.

Many felt it was right to protest but also felt unease at things they were hearing and felt the climate was ripe for misunderstanding. I felt that it was not acceptable that there were those that felt fearful of people like me- Muslims because of the protests and that I I could not allow that fear to take hold and fester.

I accepted the invitation to be a facilitator at the two sided dialogue events not because I was an expert on the Israeli Palestinian issue-far from it in fact. But because I felt a personal obligation to do what I could to bring neighbors together to help humanize one another and in doing so challenge the dehumanization of the other,

In facilitating dialogue, we were clear it was not facilitating debate, This was to be conversation in which the participants’ primary goal was to pursue mutual understanding rather than agreement or immediate solutions.

We hoped it would give an opportunity to learn about the perspectives of others. And that participants reflect on their own views.

I can’t say with rose coloured spectacles that it was easy or without challenge. Members of Bristols Muslim communities were low in attendance but were represented. It was a start.

We made it clear that we were not there to solve   ‘the problem’ but hopes concerns, fears and frustrations were shared, listened to and heard. It was a sold foundation upon which we could move forward and I am pleased that the work of the Multi faith forum and salam shalom in the city continues.

Why I took part despite my reservations can be summed up in a story from Islamic tradition that I would like to share with you

Prophet Ibrahim and the small bird or Ababeel as it is called in the quran. 

When Prophet Ibrahim (pbuh) was thrown into fire for refusing to worship idols, a small bird was taking a drop of water and dashing towards the fire. A crow asked the bird what would he do with this drop of water. The fire was massive and a mere drop of water won’t help in any way. The bird replied that on the day of judgement, God  would  question him of what he had done to extinguish the fire in which the Prophet Abraham was thrown. He said, “I am sure God will not ask me whether I managed to put out the fire or not, but God  will ask what I did to stop the fire”. The fact was that the fire wouldn’t get any colder but at least his drop of water, his responsibility, and his contributions were there. I wanted to be counted amongst those that tried. 

 

 

 

 

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As we approach International Women’s Day (8 March), the National Army Museum is hosting a public discussion about the representation of women and gender in recruitment propaganda. Appearing on the panel will be Kalsoom Bashir from Inspire alongside Professor Jo Cox and Claire Langhamer

Exploring the imagery in propaganda posters of the First World War up to present day (including terrorist organisations like Daesh), we will ask how and why gender has been used to encourage men to fight, and for women to send their men off to war.

The panel of experts will have ten minutes each to discuss these questions from the perspective of their own research and experiences before opening the floor to questions from the audience.

For further information and bookings, please visit:

http://www.nam.ac.uk/microsites/ww1/events/women-britain-say-go-use-gender-recruitment-propaganda/#.Vs2Kh32LTnD

 

 

 

 

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Inspire and Sara Khan recently spoke in Birmingham at the “Our Families, Our Future” conference.

Acting as keynote speakers, Inspire spoke on how parents can help safeguard children from extremism and were well received by an audience of over 170 women.

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Sara Khan was asked by the European Parliament’s Committee of Culture and Education to give evidence on the prevention of radicalisation on the 15th October 2015. The only Muslim and the only female on the panel,the purpose of the hearing was to debate issues relating to the prevention of radicalisation and the possible approaches to prevent the various forms of radicalisation in the European society.

You can read more what Sara and the other panellists debated here:

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We launched “Making A Stand” in September 2014 because as British Muslim women we believe in the principles of democracy, human rights, peaceful co-existence and respect for life.
As successful as that launch in London was, we did not want to stop there. We are now set to take “Making A Stand” around the country.

Across the UK, we want to stop the damage caused by extremists poisoning young minds, by building resilience in our communities and strengthening women’s voices. All of which we feel are crucial in challenging extremism.

Extremism impacts women in particular. Extremists try to erode women’s rights and justify sexual violence against them. They prey on our children, encouraging them to leave for Syria; the fear of losing our children to such violent groups is heartbreaking.

And yet groups like ISIS, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram and others justify their violence in the name of our faith. As Muslim women, we are here to reclaim our faith back. We are determined to ensure that these terrorists will no longer be able to prey on our children with impunity by recognising our crucial role in our communities in deterring people from being drawn into extremism.

No more. Enough is enough.

We want you to join us as we visit Birmingham, Luton, Cardiff, Leeds, Burnley, Crawley, Leicester, West and East London.

We’ve already visited Birmingham and Luton to great success, and we can’t wait to continue our roadshow in Leeds on March 10th.

To register to attend, please email events@wewillinspire.com specifying your name, date of birth and event location or fill out the online registration form by clicking here.

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The Times(£), 10 March 2015

Muslim parents must warn their daughters about the threat of sexual from grooming posed by Islamic State, just as they would alert them to any other risk to their safety, a campaigner as urged.

Sara Khan, director of the anti-extremism charity Inspire, said that jihadist fighters were using highly sophisticated techniques to lure impressionable teenage girls by exploiting their tendency for forming crushed on older boys.

Ms Khan said she was particularly concerned about the new Isis propaganda campaign group al-Zawra which had been specifically set up to lure girls by romanticising the jihadist fighters.

“First there is radicalisation, then there is froom. Then, Thrown into the mix are normal teenage crushes. Instead of lusting after someone like Zayn Malik from One Direction it is these jihadi men. They have become pun-ups,” she said.

She named Omar Yilmaz, the Dutch fighter whom some girls are calling their “jihadi pin-up”, adding : “It’s quite sick. For girls at that stage, already radicalised, already groomed, they become convinced that the most masculine man is a jihadi warrior who want to be a martyr, so what could be better for a girl [than] t be married to one.”

Ms Khan, who set up Inspire in 2009, said she felt “aggrieved and upset” when she heard that three girls from east London had flown to Turkey last month to join Isis. Shammia Begum and Maira Abase, both 15, and Kadiza Sultana, 16, crossed into Syria shortly afterwards .Just like other child abusers, the fighters were grooming the girls online and persuading them to leave their families. She was shocked at some of the responses to the girls’ plight, especially after the review into victims of sexual grooming in Oxford, who were labelled “very difficult girls making bad choices”. Ms Khan said: “This ‘let them go’ attitude is how we dealt with sexual grooming 20 or 30 years ago…We are blaming them instead of helping them.”

Little was being done to warn the girls of the risks they were running, she added, and parents had a key role to play. “Too many parents are afraid to speak about Isis at home, fearing they may be bringing the risk into the family. In reality it is already there, everyone is talking about it because it is all over the news.”

She recommend an open-ended conversation, with parent asking their daughter what they think about Isis and what they have heard.

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Chaired by Alom Shaha, the four panelists included Mamadou Bocoum – Public Relations Officer for the Sharia Council; Huda Jawad – Advisor at the Centre for Academic Shi’a Studies and research Coordinator for Solace Women’s Aid; Sara Khan – Co-Founder and Director of Inspire, and Yasmin Rehman – from the Centre for Secular Space and researcher into polygamy and the law.

A number of prominent topics were discovered including Muslim identity and racism, feminism and Islam, LGBT rights, the rise of ISIS and extremism and the idea of multiple Islams, among other issues. An excellent summary of the event by Jeremy Rodell can be read here:

http://humanistlife.org.uk/2015/01/19/common-ground-dialogue-how-can-humanists-and-muslims-live-and-work-together-in-21st-century-london/

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Sara Khan meets with a group of Muslim women in Wandsworth who have gathered to discuss how they can take the lead in their community #MakingAStand against extremism, and what challenges they have faced trying to do so.

Muslim women accross the UK are adding their voice to the #MakingAStand campaign. “Women are the heart of their own communities whether it’s in their household or their neighborhood…..If we don’t try and make a stand for something better, than who else is going to?” Hodan Hussein, the Elays Network.

Add your voice by tweeting the hashtag #MakingAStand.

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What a day! I was incredibly humbled by the response of our #MakingAStand campaign launch yesterday. Prior to the launch we received messages of goodwill and support from British Muslim women across the UK who wanted to voice their opposition to ISIS but didn’t feel a platform was there for them. #MakingAStand is that platform.

The hope expressed by attendees yesterday was clear; the speeches moved them and upon leaving many were determined to make a stand and take the lead in voicing their opposition to extremism, wherever they may find it.

The Home Secretary, who spoke at our launch, made it very clear that, like us, she believes women arecrucial in defeating the extremism which threatens families and communities alike. Ms May received a round of applause when she stated that our declaration – that ISIS are un-Islamic, was being heard in every corner of the UK.

Twitter was awash with messages of solidary for the campaign, not only from women, but men too from all faiths. We even had a young American Muslim woman who tweeted her support for the campaign by donning a headscarf of the American flag!

With this stirring endorsement of #MakingAStand, I know that we’re off to a great start. But there’s so much for us all to do. We must grow our campaign beyond the success of yesterday and I urge every single one of you to get involved in any way you can. We’re here to help you get started. Whether you’re Tweeting your support or keen to set up a local #MakingAStand group, the team at Inspire are here to advise, encourage and support you.

Get in touch – and together we will make a difference.

Let’s start making a stand and taking a lead!

SOCIAL MEDIA