feminism

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Sara wins in the Social and Humanitarian category

Inspire is thrilled to announce that our Co-Director Sara Khan won the Social and Humanitarian category at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2016 that took place last night at the Hilton, Park Lane, London.

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Social & Humanitarian Award Winner 2016- Sara Khan- Inspire

The other nominees within the category who also deserve a nod for their service and commitment to the cause of empowering and inspiring women to fight and overcome abuse, inequality and injustice are:
Santosh Bhanot, Founder & Chair, The Circle: Asian Circle
Manjit Gill, Founder & CEO, Binti
Winnie M Li, Co-Founder, Clear Lines Festival

Sara and Inspire are deeply honoured to have our work recognised in this way by Asian Women- Congratulations Sara!

 

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Inspire’s Co-Director Sara Khan with her trophy at the Asian Women of Achievement Awards 2016

 

 

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We are honoured that young talented Graphic Design student Nina McAndrew chose the work of “Inspire” to inspire her college project.

Nina’s poster with her use of Ghandi’s quote ” Be the change you want to see in the world” perfectly captures Inspire’s own ethos and efforts in empowering women, whilst the powerful image of a silenced girl symbolises the many millions of girls and women deprived of human rights.

In Nina’s own words:

‘I’m studying for a HND in Graphic Design at Fife College in Scotland. you may be interested to know how I came to use your organisation in my project. 

The brief was to create a poster using mixed media techniques where a quote and an image are combined so they complement each other. The poster was to be part of a campaign for a non profit organisation.

I picked a quote from Gandhi that I really liked and thought about whose cause it could sit with best. Women’s rights and equality are close to my heart so I started with that. As part of the research I googled “Influential women in Britain” and came across Sara Khan. I then learnt about Inspire and how the organisation carries out valuable work on a grassroots level.’

Thank you Nina for your tribute to our work. We are very touched.

 

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Written by Alex Preston, the Guardian Long Read reflects on the challenges of countering extremism and preventing radicalisation but highlights that despite the difficulties, advocacy work of this nature is desperately needed yet so few are willing to do it.

Please read here.

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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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1st July 2015

Inspire founder and co-director Sara Khan has today been named on the BBC Woman’s Hour 2015 Power List: Influencers.  The list identifies ten women who have had a huge impact on women’s lives in 2015; those who have influenced the way we live our lives and the way we see ourselves and the world around us.

Sara said “I am humbled at being recognised as worthy of such a prestigious title.  Having set up Inspire in 2009 to challenge extremism and to champion women’s rights, I do this work because I passionately believe there is a great need for it especially as we witness the threat of Islamist inspired extremism both here and abroad.  Whether working with local authorities, schools, the police, with parents or young people, it is a cause I am committed to regardless of recognition or award.

However it is heart warming to know that people do recognise the hard work and positive influence of Inspire.  I am grateful to the judges for even considering me as someone worthy of such recognition.”

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Inspire is pleased to learn today (25th November 2015) that the Law Society have withdrawn their practice note on sharia wills which was issued in March this year.

Inspire was deeply concerned by the practice note, which was duly promoted as ‘good practice’, and as a result instructed law firm Hogan Lovells to raise our concerns with the Law Society.

Sara Khan, co-director of Inspire said: “As a counter-extremism and Muslim women’s rights organisation, we were troubled about a number of issues the practice note raised.

Firstly, the Law Society was promoting one narrow interpretation of Sharia, despite the breadth of religious interpretations (including gender equality interpretations) and had chosen to promote a particular interpretation of Sharia law which endorsed the distribution of estates in a way that discriminates against women.”

There exist diverse religious readings of inheritance laws not only among the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence but also contemporary interpretations.  Morocco’s reform of its family law for example the Moudawana has taken on a holistic approach where the principles of the Islamic faith have been reconciled with international human rights law.

Sara Khan continued: “Secondly, we were concerned whether the Law Society had acted in accordance with its own Equality and Diversity Framework in issuing the Practice Note and with international law, in particular with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) as well as other human rights treaties.

Thirdly, the qualifications and views of those who were referred to in drawing up the practice note was of particular concern to us as outlined in section 5 of the practice note. We highlighted our reasons to the Law Society about this.”

Inspire is pleased however that its concerns were duly noted and accepted by the Law Society.

Sara Khan added: “We would like to thank the Law Society for writing to us yesterday in informing us that the practice note has now been withdrawn and will not be replaced.  We also accept their apology and welcome the opportunity to engage and work with the Law Society in offering our guidance and advice where we are able.

“We would also like to thank Hogan Lovells for taking this case on for us and for their outstanding professionalism.”

For all media enquiries please contact media@wewillinspire.com

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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.

In the latest issue of CHARTIST, Tehmina Kazi writes on the complications found in efforts to unite Muslims

During September 2014, the #notinmyname hashtag went viral. Young British Muslims at the East London-based Active Change Foundation created a video condemning ISIS, with a tagline at the end: “ISIS do not represent British Muslims.” This was a great show of initiative by young men and women from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds. It complemented the July 2014 letter, signed by over 100 Sunni and Shia imams and religious leaders, which urged young British Muslims not to join ISIS or fall prey to sectarian divisions.

Further, in September 2014, Inspire launched a women-led initiative against ISIS at the Royal United Services Institute. Home Secretary Theresa May was the keynote speaker, and their #makingastand hashtag has also been shared widely. I was fortunate enough to have attended the launch; it was heartwarming to see a Muslim women’s initiative receive enthusiastic backing from people of all backgrounds, professing a wide variety of beliefs. This is the spirit in which we must go forward to tackle all kinds of extremism and sectarianism, no matter where they emanate from.

Initiatives like #makingastand provide a refreshing change from those that have dominated the British political scene for years. Too many political alliances are fickle, opportunistic, drawn along sectarian lines, and are conceived in opposition to ‘the West’ as opposed to standing for anything positive. These kinds of efforts – which often attract otherwise well-meaning individuals – actually take us backwards and propagate the cycle of hate.

Further afield, efforts to unite different groups of Muslims – including Sunnis and Shias – have spanned the gamut from the King of Jordan’s well-received ‘Amman message’ to the recent US-Islam World Forum convened by the Brookings Institute and the Government of Qatar, designed to bring together leaders in the realms of politics, business, media, academia and civil society. The Salafi governor of Medina also had a noteworthy meeting with the Shia community in which he said “It is an honour to visit this tribe.”

It was heartwarming to see a Muslim women’s initiative receive enthusiastic backing from people of all backgrounds, professing a wide variety of beliefs. This is the spirit in which we must go forward to tackle all kinds of extremism and sectarianism

There are also grassroots efforts in Iraq itself, such as the Organisation of Women’s Freedom, which runs a safe house for women fleeing ISIS persecution, and publicly denounces their genocidal campaign against minorities. These grassroots groups are contending with a seemingly never-ending cycle of brutalism, which was cruelly stoked with the 2003 US invasion. According to a Pew research survey in 2011, the majority of Iraqis are Shia (51%, compared with 42% saying they were Sunni). However, Saddam Hussein’s regime was, of course, Sunni-dominated. After the 2003 invasion, the Shias came to power, and sectarian violence continued until 2008, on both sides. Much of this was exploited by Al-Qaeda terrorists, who killed scores of Shias in bomb attacks.

In March 2010, parliamentary elections took place, and Nouri Al-Maliki’s Shia State of Law Coalition went up against the mainly Sunni Iraqiya Coalition, led by Ayad Allawi. The latter won 91 seats, compared to the State of Law Coalition’s 89. The initial jubilation of most Iraqi voters was not to last: the new Parliament only opened after three months of negotiations, allegations of electoral fraud, and a recount. To top it all off, Maliki remained the Prime Minister of Iraq. After a brief ceasefire, the violence increased again, partly due to Sunnis feeling disenfranchised and under-represented in Government (several were arbitrarily detained by police after protests about this in 2013), and partly after witnessing the actions of militants in the Syrian civil war. All of this has boosted the following of ISIS.

Today, Yazidis, Kurds and Christians have been killed en masse in their own ancestral villages. Shia shrines have been threatened. The border between Iraq and Syria has been decimated. Over 650,000 Iraqis have been internally displaced and are living in transit camps. Sexual violence is endemic, and at the same time, ISIS are enforcing strict female dress codes. Child soldiers have been recruited. Who could stand idly by in this situation? On 27th September 2014, British MPs voted overwhelmingly to support US air strikes over Iraq, albeit cautiously, only offering the use of six Tornados, and refusing to intervene in Syria. Various staunch opponents of the original Iraq war – of which I was one – have noted that the situation is very different this time round.

As Sadiq Khan MP (who voted for intervention) wrote on his blog: “On this occasion, ultimately, a sovereign state has asked for our help, and we had a responsibility to answer that call.” Even Caroline Lucas MP, who voted against intervention, stated on her website: I don’t think this is like the last Iraq war. I don’t think that the Prime Minister is manipulating intelligence or lying to the House.” Further, just because British MPs voted for military action, it doesn’t mean that political and diplomatic solutions are redundant – quite the opposite.

To start with, Iraq’s politicians need to persuade Sunnis that they can participate as equal citizens in an Iraqi state. Secondly, Jordan’s announcement of a draft UN resolution – calling for a new international offence on crimes against humanity that target specific communities – is a welcome one. Thirdly, it is rare to see instances of Sunni-Shia co-operation when it comes to fighting IS in Iraq, but these are rising steadily. When IS fighters tried to storm the Tigris River town of Dhuluiya north of Baghdad in early October, they were stopped by a group of Sunni tribal fighters inside the town and Shias in its sister city Balad, on the opposite bank. Then there was another powerful Sunni tribe who fought alongside Kurdish forces to drive IS fighters from Rabia.

Further, the international community should give greater financial backing to secular groups who fight both extremism and fundamentalism. Professor Karima Bennoune, law professor at University of California Davis and author of Your Fatwa Does not Apply Here notes: ‘While Qatari coffers have nourished jihadists across the region, secular groups who fight Islamists scrounge for funds.’ This brings us nicely to the last recommendation: the UK must establish a clear and consistent foreign policy that is based on respect for international law and human rights norms. This does not mean selling arms to regimes like Saudi Arabia; the British Government approved £1.6bn worth of exports to the Kingdom in 2013 alone. A Human Rights Watch report from 21st August 2014 revealed that 19 people had been executed in the twelve days prior to that. No matter where we live or which belief system we profess to follow, we cannot allow tribalism and allegiance to one’s own particular group to trump universal standards of justice and human rights. That is one of the lessons to be learned from the horrific situation that Iraq – and other countries in the Middle East – now find themselves in.

Tehmina Kazi was writing in the latest issue of CHARTIST, which can also be found by clicking here.

Tehmina Kazi

Tehmina Kazi took up the position of director of British Muslims for Secular Democracy in May 2009. On top of this, she was a freelance consultant for English PEN’s “Faith and Free Speech in Schools” project, is a trustee of anti-fascist organisation Hope Not Hate, an advisory board member of the Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks project, a committee member of the newly-formed Inclusive Mosque Initiative, and a judge of the Accord Coalition’s Inclusive Schools Award 2014. She is a co-Executive Producer of the “Hidden Heart” documentary on Muslim women who marry non-Muslim men. 

Tehmina was shortlisted for Cosmopolitan Magazine’s “Ultimate Women of the Year Awards 2011” in the “Campaigner” category for her work. She also won an “Outstanding Achievement” Award at the Syeda Fatima Interfaith Conference at the House of Lords in June 2012, and was named as one of the BBC’s 100 Women in October 2013 and October 2014.

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Noor Inayat Khan, a proud Muslim woman whose faith guided her in her journey, is the type of role model that young women across the world, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, have long sought out. A woman whose heroism was not defined by any other person but herself. Noor displayed courage and loyalty throughout her life and in death.

Noor, a decendant of Indian princes, became a British secret agent during World War II. She led an extraordinary life until she was betrayed to the Nazis, suffered torture and interrogation, and was killed on 13th September 1944. At this time, she was only 30 years old.

Today at Inspire, we will be remembering the heroic contribution of so many like her, who have given their lives for their country.

Read her story here.

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