Call to end Islamophobia in Islington at first awareness event
- Credit: Kat Pirnak
As part of a campaign to increase awareness in London, Islington Council held its first Islamophobia Awareness event at Finsbury Park Mosque last week.
The event featured representatives from the council and the Met as well as several external speakers who all shared their lived experiences of Islamophobia.
Chairman of Finsbury Park Mosque Mohammed Kozbar opened the discussion, which took an intersectional approach to experiences of Islamophobia.
He said: “It’s very hard when our children are being told to go back to their country.
“This is our country. Our children are born in this country, they grow up in this country, and they are not going anywhere. We are proud to be British and we are proud to be Muslim. There is no contradiction.”
Local teacher Merium Bhuiyan shared that, as a woman wearing a headscarf, she is frequently subjected to verbal abuse.
She said: “I remember coming home from school one day in September 2001. That day myself and many other Muslim children had to grow up very fast.
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“I will never forget the look of worry on my parents’ faces thinking about the implications of this terrorist attack from across the ocean. It’s not been easy having to work twice as hard to seem half as good.”
Kozbar, who is the vice president of the Muslim Association of Britain, later told the Islington Gazette that the event, which he co-organised with the council, is an important part of raising awareness.
“Many people hear about Muslims from the media, but they don't hear from Muslims themselves,” he said.
“Reaching out and engaging with Muslims is very important. But this is partly our responsibility as well – integration goes both ways.”
At the same time, Cllr Bashir Ibrahim, who offered the perspective of a Black Muslim, maintained that more still needed to be done.
He said: “Muslims will always be celebrated and accepted when we are serving some extraordinary good but if we are merely existing then it’s still a problem.
“British society is not ready to admit that islamophobia is a very serious issue. So, let’s redouble our efforts.”
A pre-recorded video from the Islington North MP Jeremy Corbyn was also played at the event in which he praised mosques for continuously helping the vulnerable throughout the pandemic.
Attendees were later given the chance to ask questions and go on tours of the mosque.