Channel: Fatima Barkatulla
Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala rasulillah dear brothers and sisters Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh and welcome to another end feed podcast episode. I'm your host Fatima barkatullah. And today I have another guest, who is an inspiring person who inshallah all of us can benefit from its sister Sahar and Fifi. Sister Sahar is a molecular geneticist. I got that right. And she is also a community activist. So Mashallah salaam aleikum, sister, Sal. It comes around to live I gotta thank you so much for Stella fadli. Man to the team for inviting me today. I'm really really honored. She's like,
Well, yeah, come in for coming. I don't know if you remember the first time we ever met.
Do you remember? What was it in the consultation? No. And one of the centers here in East London. I'll tell you what it was. It was a channel for
discussion. Uh huh.
When she was in this building, Douglas Murray.
Another two ladies do you remember? And it was supposed to be like a quick fire discussion about the niqab?
I don't remember what had happened at the time. But yeah, there was the niqab, as usual was in the in the news? Maybe something to do with another European country? Yes. Yeah. And I think a few of us had been, you know, like, invited to come and talk. And that video has kind of gone viral. And and if you've noticed, actually, yeah, and it's basically three sisters wearing the cob. Yes. Two of them with me. And you. Yeah. And then we have Douglas Murray, from the hen at the time from the Henry Jackson society. Yeah. And to others who were opposing it. Yeah.
thoughts. After that? I first of all, I didn't know. Douglas Murray will be there.
And I remember very well that the audience were mainly in Aqaba, sisters. Yeah. Which was amazing to see. Yeah. But I felt in a way it was deliberate from an image perspective, because at that time, there was like a polarized discussion around the niqab. And this narrative of Muslims taken over and, and for some reason, they gathered all the Nickleby sisters to be in the audience. But some of them were really vocal. And I remember one of the sisters who put Douglas Murray in his place. They were quite passionate, passionate, and she was saying that this is my human rights to wear what I want to wear. But had I knew that Douglas will be there, I actually wouldn't go there, again,
because of his vile Islamophobic. Thinking and comments. But yeah, it was the I guess, the first time I was in the media, and also, it's nice to see that the media are actually actively trying to get the Muslim woman voice in these discussions because most of the time our voices missed and we have white men speaking on our behalf telling us that we are oppressed and we need to be saved by them this kind of thing. But yeah, good memory
that you forgot.
Mashallah, you really stood out as somebody who's so eloquent? Really? spoke very well. Mashallah.
My own thoughts about it were
I think, you know, I was kind of asked to do it by some, some people. Yeah, and, you know, I just thought it will be a good thing to do like, just is to represent, at least to put a few have a nice discussion. Unfortunately, what I found was that it was so insincere, the whole setup, I found it very insincere, in the sense that as soon as we walked in, obviously, I was very nervous. It was one of the first times I'd ever, you know, been on a program like this. And I just felt that the presenter said to me, right, we're going to keep it really short and snappy, right? And when she said that, I think alarm bells started ringing in my mind because I thought, right, this isn't a
sincere discussion. No, this is about entertainment.
And to me, it was like we were, sadly we were kind of visual entertainment. For the wider public who obviously misunderstand, Muslim women misunderstand the garb and he job
and so I think reflect
Back on it.
I think it was then that I decided that I wasn't personally going to take part in those type of shows anymore. No, yeah, yeah. No, I agree with you because that was because it was it was presented to be a circus on air. Yeah, as you said, for entertainment. Because if you want to explain the reasons behind wedding, then it's an act of worship act of devotion. But then you're asked to say everything in few seconds soundbite sentences. How is that fair? And I agree with you. And in fact, I had a similar experience. In one of the BBC Sundays shows the question, another question time.
Questions, the big question. Yeah, the big question on Sunday. And I was there.
I don't remember exactly what happened. But all I remember that I did not have the time to express myself. Well, things were taken out of context, because he had so many panels, so many people speak and behind you, there's no way you can speak in this kind of setup.
So I agree with you, like I made a decision after that, that I will never be on the question time, I will never be in a show that is just a circus on there. But at the same time, I still have to engage with the media, but also encourage more women to engage with the media have their voice heard, being educated about the kind of counter narratives that you hear about, because that is far more powerful than having men speak on on your behalf, let alone white men speaking on your behalf. So through these experiences, actually have learned that the tips the tactic on on, what are the questions that they're going to ask me about, I do practices beforehand with a friend over the phone. I asked about
the panelists beforehand, I asked about the nature of the show. And if I'm happy with everything, yeah, then I go. Before that. I was lucky. I was like, I've never experienced that. I don't know what to expect. But I guess I had to try it. Yeah. To know how and then improve and, and carry on? engaging? I'm glad. I'm really glad that you do that. You know, and I think it's Would you agree that it's like for each of us to kind of make a decision for ourselves? Because I guess like, not all of us are suited for every type of show every type of discussion. Yeah. So after that, for example, for me, I did take part in like, if I was called on as an expert, yeah. As an Islamic
scholar, or as you know, somebody who speak authoritatively about an aspect of Islam, then I've accepted those type of invitations, like, especially field, yeah, because for me, it's like, I'm not there to talk. My life is not talking about niqab. My life is not about sort of just constantly batting away the fires, you know, like putting out fires, right? I think there is a role for people, you know, they need to be able to do that as well. And I'm not saying that that's not important it is.
But I think after having those kind of experiences of really going home feeling unheard, feeling like it was not a sincere discussion. No, it was.
and feeling like, you know, what was really achieved by certain types of shows.
I just felt that, you know, we've got a lot to say, yeah, definitely have to be selective, but also we have to be trained, professionally trained, right, to a point, you know, not anyone can go and speak on on the media, like a single mistake that you make, can actually get out of proportion and attract more negative attention to you and what you're trying to get across. So I wouldn't advise anyone to go and engage with the media, and have at least a practice with a friend who can play the devil's advocate. Yeah. And then have a professional training and hamdulillah through mend, which is organization I'm working with. The organization has invested a lot in my professional training. And
we spent hours hours trying to counter any arguments, not only to do with the niqab, but let's say with the, with the Sharia courts, or with the Muslim schools or halal meat or the meat, the irresponsible media reporting and all of that. So excellent. This is what we need actually more professional training. And so who runs the training? Like who actually is meant that No, but I mean, like the people, so you mean, oh, so those will deliver in the end? Yeah. So we have professional organizations who
trainers on how to communicate yourself, communicating your message body gestures, how to avoid questions that you're not comfortable answering it. But then, with the other colleagues, we practice the narrative and the counter narrative constantly and we practice the facts and so on. Because the idea is that we need to
be part of making the collective positive collective memory about Muslims and Islam in Britain. Now, how can you make that collective memory if you don't say, the same facts constantly in the media by different people, that we're united in the in the message that we get in across, then people will, will remember your message more than anything else? Because of the consistency? Mashallah, and I think you really come across very well as well. You know, I saw I saw you on I think it was piers Morgan's show. Yeah. Boris Johnson sister. Right. And Rachel, Rachel, just overall, you know, like, came across very well. I think one of the things, I didn't tell people, but many people, maybe this
is a time set, first time seeing in public, right. But I remember before going to that debate, ITV deliberately separated us. So put me in one room, Rachel Johnson, right. Right. And I am the kind of person who I would love to engage with my opponent beforehand, you know, just to sense what kind of things that they could say, and prepare myself. And sadly, I didn't have the support unity then. But as we go, as we were going to the studio, I saw Rachel coming, and straightaway took her on the side, I shook her hand, and I said, I'm Sahar, I actually work in the NHS, and I wish you the very best, that actually changed
the entire tone, the
debate, but also, like, I was also scared about Piers Morgan. And, you know, he's not one of the kindest people, you know, but and handleless is this. In the initial engagement that I had with her, even though he was short, I think it played a role in this and ultimately, is a blessing really, why shall I know that that's a really good point, actually. And that's a really good tip, actually, for people if there are going on to any of these types of shows that at the end of the day, there is a type of demonization, that's taking place, isn't it the dehumanization of women who are wearing the niqab. And so by you meeting her, I guess, humanized you immediately and what's what's kind of dodgy
and or not very nice is the idea that they would want, they would kind of want you to not connect. Yeah, exactly. beforehand. Yeah. And that's really unfortunate, isn't it? I mean, that's what I mean, about this sort of insincere aspect of Yeah, media because, okay, this is gonna sound controversial, okay. But
Douglas Murray, write
me out. Okay. Okay. God help me.
I've read his book. Okay. First Book. Uh huh. I read it at the library cuz I didn't want to buy it. I
didn't want it to get any money. That's a good thing. Okay.
So that's the one about, you know, this strange death of Europe, right? Uh huh. Where he pretty much blames immigration and Islam for all the
falling apart. And yeah, you know, all sorts of things that are going on. And he talks about, you know, the Muslim population growing and all that kind of thing, right.
In fact, similar narrative to the type of narrative that say somebody the guy in New Zealand, yeah. When he was attacking the mosque, yes. The same sort of narrative that he was writing about, right. But Muslims are, you know, Muslim populations growing. So I do understand that what Douglas Murray says and what he
what he, he has played a role that has kind of really negative, big time, but at the same time, okay. I have been watching some of his interviews recently. And I think, I think he's identified a bigger problem than Islam in the West now. And he's jumped onto that now.
His his recent book is all about
it's mainly about kind of identity politics. Yeah. And the kind of way that there's certain the left and crazy things that are being accepted in society. Yeah, that weren't before or that and people aren't speaking the truth and, and a lot of the things that he's saying actually do make sense. Okay. Yeah.
And his new book. If you look at
His interviews. In fact, I heard him in one interview saying
that he couldn't believe it. But he actually was feeling like, you know, the Muslim parents are resisting, you know, some of the RSC teaching and legislation. He found him and his friends found themselves agreeing with us and parents. And he found that sort of, you know, like, yes, the strange.
But what I'm coming to after this is basically that, I think, look, at the end of the day, even someone like him is a human being, right, yeah. And I feel that
you all should be empathetic. Empathy is a great value to have. And you must have even with your worst enemy, because you want to know the experiences that they went through that made them who they are today. And that's the reason that I interacted with Rachel Johnson initially, right, is that I wanted to understand her perspective and her perspective, in fact that she actually never interacted with nakaba sisters, right. So all the ideas she had is from the print media, specifically demonizing people like you, and I, right. But with Douglas Murray is a different story, because he is a professional islamophobe You know, he makes money from this kind of narrative from publishing
this kind of books, it is his living, to do this kind of thing. So for me, I wouldn't empathize with it. I guess I like that I get like, when I said empathy, I don't mean feel sorry for him or feel sympathetic or anything like that. What I mean, is, I think even somebody like him, and maybe I'm sounding really naive, saying this, right?
I wish that we could, as Muslims have dialogue with even somebody like him, you know, have sincere dialogue. Because when I hear why, why would you waste time with people? Because I would, you know, you have different you have different people, you have people who are in the middle? Yeah, sure. whether to believe the Islamophobic narrative, or to believe what the Muslims are saying about themselves? Yeah, I would, if I have unlimited resources, time and energy, I would invest in this group of people in the middle to make them my friends, my allies, that to, for them to help me challenge the professional islamophobes like Douglas Murray, and the Henry Jackson society fire,
right and think tank and so on. Because you these people can only be challenged if you have organized people and organized money at their level, their their Yeah, you the way to gender is to have a another Think Tank, you know, that challenges, their reports and narratives and so on. Right? So I wouldn't, as a person, invest my time engaging with Douglas Murray or Tommy Robinson, or these people, I would invest my time engaging with the people who are not sure yet, right. Or they been sadly socially conditioned by the print media by the sun by the Daily Mail. Yes, I'm more than happy to have a cup of tea with you. And let's share a Welsh cake. Yeah, I don't mind right. But I
wouldn't do the same thing with Douglas Murray, I am giving him more legitimacy if I were to engage with him, because I am actually helping him to spread this Islamophobic narrative that doesn't have me doesn't help the Muslim community.
Yeah, I understand where you're coming from, because I guess that we have limited resources, right, and we have to get strategic exam and I think that's what you're saying. But let's be strategic, let's focus on the people who, who at least are listening. Right. I think what I meant was not necessarily to do it publicly, you know, not to have like a public engagement because I like you said, I think because these people are professional islamophobes almost like called on to be the the professional, you know, talking What do they call them talking heads, you know, on the television, just direct to oppose Islam or oppose Muslims oppose immigration or whatever is.
I think often when you're when you're when the cameras are on.
Suddenly, people's personalities change, the human aspect goes and it becomes like, Okay, I'm in my clinical. I'm in my role. You know, I'm in my, you know, I'm going to play this role out. So there's this insincerity bear, but I don't know, maybe I'm just like, softy, but
If you're going to challenge these people, you have to have a thick skin. Yeah, but I feel I wish I do wish that there was a way that some of us, especially you know, certain types of people obviously be selected. If only we could, as Muslims have some dialogue behind this.
Since you know, and not everyone, but again, there should be some people, because sometimes I reflect on the Prophet sallallahu wasallam, right? And his Dawa, and, you know, the Subhan Allah, all the types of characters that we've got in front of us. He had, right. So he had the professional, anti Islamic people, right, who had made the whole kind of personality and the whole kind of public persona on that, based on that. And then he had this, the people who weren't sure, like you said, you know, or the people who had some sympathy, the people who had a heart right, with em, Bernardi and those types of people, you know, who was still helping the Muslims, even though
they wouldn't become Muslim. And then you had the Abu Talib, who's fully supporting, even though he didn't become Muslim.
So yeah, you're right. There's all those types of people, but I do you feel that at some in some way. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam tried to engage with them, even though you're right, that some of them, you know, because of their staunchness because of their kind of real hatred in bill hatred.
You know, he didn't put his focus on them. You're right. And he let them go, you know, obviously, but but but what I'm trying to say is, I feel like sometimes as a community,
we allow the media to pull us down a certain road as well, you know, because the media is trying to polarize people all the time. So, they want us to think, Okay, this person is someone who we could never talk to. And that person is someone we could never talk to, definitely, but actually, you know, so panelo were human beings, most of us,
you know, we've had interactions with people who we thought we'd never we'd never get on with and then over time, you know, we we got on with them, they understood us, we understood them.
So I just fear that sometimes we fall into that kind of No, I agree with you, and the media loves it, you know, the media loves playing the game of good bad Muslim and a bad Muslim. And even when there is any issue about Muslims to be discussed in the media, the media tend to invite the most polarizing personality to talk about it. Yeah. Let me give you an example. They might invite maajid Nawaz, you know, as perceived the good liberal Muslim with Anjem Choudary, right from the Mahjong group, right to discuss the Muslim issue, sidelining mainstream Muslims and organizations who should be given the platform, but certain type of media, media, they like the entertainment, they like the
tension between the two. And that's why it's so important that you never get your way and understand the nature of each program. But I wouldn't say don't engage with the media, it is absolutely vital. If you trained if you have the knowledge, we can share experiences to engage with the media, because this is where the narratives where the stories are made about us. And if we don't engage with it, things will not change. So it's Islamophobia Awareness Month, yes. Tell us what is Islamophobia Awareness Month about? And how can Muslims engage with it?
Thank you for asking this question. So
we know October is Black History Month. Every year, we know that different organizations, different colleges, educational institutions, organize countless events to raise awareness about black people contribution, slavery and all of that. So the idea of Islamophobia Awareness Month is similar to that is that we want to raise awareness about the problem that it exists, and we acknowledge it, and also proposed solutions to that to that problem. And the idea that we wanted different institutions to
organize events to organize exhibitions, that highlights for example, the positive contribution of British Muslims to Britain, you know, you'll be surprised to know maybe that 26% of the NHS staff are British Asians or Asians and if you were to include Arabs, it can increase to 50%. Now, not a lot of people know about this. The shards, the shards, the shards building in London, right? The most beautiful building right? is owned by a Muslim businessman. Right, right. Muslim contribute almost 31 billion pound to the British economy. Now when we know there's a constant demonization of Muslims. The way to tackle that is to highlight the positive contribution in order to normalize
Muslims in the public eye but also in the public sphere and in
Islamophobia awareness month we focus on the wider society. So, you know, in men, we, we do a lot of work in building the internal capacity of Muslim communities, ie, improving their political literacy and media literacy. These are the two things we work on, right? We want more Muslims to know about their political rights, but also engage with political parties in order to challenge Islamophobia. And also, we want more Muslims to do the same in the media. And this is building the internal capacity, which is part of our strategy. The other part is working with the wider community. Because over the last decades, it was always the left groups, the anti racism groups, the socialists, the
Socialist Workers, the labor, who fight on our behalf all the time, right? Like, you know, Muslims are because they're progressive, and they celebrate multiculturalism and all of that, which is nice to see amazing and we need more of that, right. But we need Muslims to lead that fight now. Yeah, we should not be relying on the lefties to do it. Right. We appreciate the work and support, but the change will not happen unless we change within ourselves. Right? What does a Lost Planet Allah says in the law Hello, you're a euro. Maybe Coleman had the euro euro maybe unfussy him, right? God will never change the conditions of people until they change within themselves. Now, how do you expect
for Islamophobia to disappear for your kids to be safe wearing the hijab in school for you and I to wear the niqab? Bray, if we don't ourselves lead the fight or lead the movement to challenge Islamophobia. So, Islamophobia Awareness Month is all about creating this movement. Yeah. And that's why I encourage people to take part of that, you don't have to be a volunteer meant, you don't have to be part of it, to organize it, you know, in your institutions, or in your schools, do anything to raise awareness of Islamophobia. But But I genuinely want to ask you like, what exactly does that mean? Like, raise awareness of Islamophobia? Are we all we asking people to realize that Muslims are
suffering? Or what exactly does that mean? Because I'll tell you where I'm coming from, like,
I understand that, you know, even when Boris Johnson made his remarks about, you know, as a joke, or whatever it was about, about Muslim women, and you had two boxes, right? I wrote to the chairman of the Conservative Party, right? I'm one of those people who do who does, right? And does do, you know, do I do what I can or where I feel something needs to be said or done. However, sometimes I'll worry that just as certain other communities, okay, have kind of become known for constantly complaining and, and kind of crying about victimhood. And, you know, sometimes I fear that we might fall into that.
And so, I was involved with some work, some of our organizations in the past and one of the things that we used to say, and I want to hear what you think about this, and where this Islamophobia, awareness fits in with this. One of the things we used to say is, the greatest thing you can do to fight Islamophobia is Islam is to do that we're here to engage with the community is to do that work to engage with people to to do the things that the Prophet sallallahu wasallam was doing in society, right? So we have Muslims setting up soup kitchens, we have Muslims, you know, look at what happened after Grenfell, really, the Muslim community had a huge role in, in that opening the mosques up.
And all of those kinds of things, and also the everyday interactions, you know, Muslims in different fields, being proud to be Muslim, and being willing to engage and talk to people about Islam, right.
All of those kinds of I would call them proactive things.
You know, we kind of encourage that as probably one of the key ways. So where does, how do we prevent ourselves from falling into a victimhood narrative? And where does this campaign fit into that? Yep. So I agree with you, we should not fall into the victimhood, right. And this is one of the things that we focus on is actually calling for equal citizenship, okay? Because what does raising awareness about Islamophobia mean? It means to identify the root causes of it, right? and disseminating that information to grassroot communities, so they can have educated conversation with people around them about Islamophobia, right? If you ask anyone in the street, why do you
Think Islamophobia exist, they would say Oh, because of the Sun and the Daily Mail, right, which is right. Yeah. And a lot of people would say the same right, but stada not a lot of people know that there is actually a legal loophole in an act called racial and religious hatred act 2006. This legal loophole does not protect Muslim community equally as other communities of faith, like Sikh community and the Jewish community are considered an ethno religious group in the UK law, the Muslim are considered a religious group, not an ethno religious group. And therefore, they're not actually protected as other minorities. And there's a legal loophole that enabled people to say anti muslim
comments and sentiments against Muslims. They would not say the same comments again, the Jewish community Sikh community of black community. Hence you say Katie Hopkins, right. Calling Asian men rapist, and she gets away with it. Yeah, you have a UKIP counselor has named Eric Kitson, who posted once in his Facebook, hang them all and ask questions later. And when he was taken to the police, he said it wasn't my intention. I wanted a debate. Yeah, freedom of speech. Right. This is what this is what this is why the amo fobes, you know, capitalize on now, when you tell people, there's a legal loophole that does not protect me, most of them get surprised. I have interacted with so many
politicians across the political spectrum. And they tell me so hard. I Gosh, I didn't know that. You know, I want to work to seal that legal loophole. Right? So this is what I mean by raising awareness about Islamophobia. We have the media as one of the reasons, but also we don't have effective legislation. And thirdly, we don't have as many Muslims participating in politics and media now, how can I get Muslims to participate in politics in media is by educating them around politics around media, you know, what is the difference between members of the Parliament?
MPs and the Lords? Yeah, what is the difference between MPs and assembly members? If you're new Wales, you know, these technicalities, right? Who do you engage with, like, you mentioned, for example, are see as as, as a way or as an example in our conversation. Now, in Wales, for example, it has a unique political system. Yeah, not a lot of people know about this, this, this system says that education in Wales is devolved. All right, right. Because of devolution, because of devolution, right? So why you see some Welsh Muslim, follow the same methodology methodology of engaging with political party as the English Muslims, which is proven not to be effective in Wales in Welsh
context, right? This is understanding these differences in your physical systems in order to engage like, I'm sure, for example, you saw so many petitions to get 100,000 signatures and all of that being shared in the WhatsApp and they tell you, unless we reach 100 1000s,
this is not gonna be discussing, right? In the Welsh Assembly, we only need 50 50,055, zero.
People surprised, right? You only knew
exactly zero right? To discuss anything in the Welsh Assembly, if I'm concerned about the RSC or I'm going to live in Wakefield.
Not that many people living in Ireland,
example of how you should politically engage, right, understanding the need to understand the differences between the different regions, and how you engage and how you raise awareness of Islam, right. It's not victimhood, actually attending you take an action to
engage with politicians, and know what you're going to take took about. Tell them that is a legal loophole, what are you going to do about it? Tell them that we need a definition of Islamophobia. We don't have any rightly so there's a definition of anti semitism, but there's no one for Islamophobia. What are you going to do about it? I'm not saying oh, you know, and I miskeen I, you know, I've been a victim of countless abuse, which is true, right? But we shouldn't allow the victim mentality to overwhelm us, or influences as much as you should be the leader of that specific change. Hmm. So I guess what you're saying is that, just like that was one area that people need to
engage in, of course, politics and the media and these kinds
Things are also very well with NEOs brain. With your small close proximity, it does work really well. But it really doesn't work very well with politicians, you know, if you invite a politician over a cup of tea and explain to him Islam and what we believe it will not change much. Yeah, a lot of them, they need more awareness about why Islamophobia exists, and how, as a politician, can I debate it in the parliament? And
so, you know, sometimes I think people see somebody like, say, a divorcee, for example, you know, who's, who resigned from the Conservative Party, because of, you know, the way they were engaging with Israel, etc. And then, you know, the way she's been at really leading the whole discussion about Islamophobia in the Conservative Party, and then the way she sort of treated afterwards, I think, sometimes that can be quite
demotivating for people because she was quite a senior person, wasn't she, she was the co chair of the Conservative Party, she was the co chair of the Conservative Party. Yes.
But I guess we all have a role to play. It's about numbers of voices. And it is the motivating, sometimes it is stuff. Because as soon as you you encourage people to participate in public life, and politics and media, and as soon as you do so, and you become visibly, as someone who's as well spoken, and
what well organized in all of that you get attacked, left and right and center, and it can be emotionally draining, mentally, unbelievably exhausting. And it's not easy. So I really admire what cider was, he does, because, you know, I remember vividly when I, you know, received a letter from
accusing me of all sorts of things. And the letter came through the door and I opened it and I just could not believe what's in there, like an anti semitic and an extremist and, and all of that and accusing me of things happened in the UK, and I wasn't even in the UK that time. Right? Is that is that bad. And it was the first time I was attacked. And it affected me so much, that I actually had to go to the emergency and stayed in the hospital for a couple of days, because the mental size was unbelievable, because people see you as a different person. And you know, you're not extremist, you know, you're not anti semitic, and this media production is going to highlight all of this in a
And it was really, really tough and, and I crumbled, I'm not gonna lie, I crumbled for the first, I don't know, three months after that, and had it not been for it for the support of my colleagues who, you know, keep telling me this is a badge of honor, you know, you're making a difference. And that's, that's, that's why carry on and things like that. And for me, that experience actually,
as painful as it was, it enabled me to constantly renew my intention, and ask myself, why am I doing it? Is it actually worth it? Is it really worth it to get countless tweets abusing me like this? Is it worth it to be abused in the streets? Because I did this show or debate? And the answer is no, is not worth it. Unless it's for a las panatela That's the truth. Because it's draining. It is exhausting and had it not been for God. It's It's It's very, very difficult to take in and you know, we have we have this verse in the Quran that has humaneness on your Roku and your Hulu Armando on life and on that, would people think that they will say that they believe, by the tongue by their
action without being tested? And I believe this is the test for all of us, not only me, so yeah, it's it's not easy, but inshallah together we can
because of one another.
Yes, upon Allah, because
I have had some experience of that myself, but much more limited, I think. And, yeah, it is. It's very upsetting, actually, it's I think it's because you feel misrepresented you feel.
I'll tell you how I felt when the first time I ever heard anyone sort of insinuate that you know, anything about me in that sense.
You know, after a media appearance or something
I felt like
My country was disowning me. Hmm, that sounds like a really extreme reaction.
But I actually loved Britain, you know, I grew up here. I was born here, I've always felt very British. I love my schools, I love my teachers. They were British people, you know, who, who always kind of encouraged me and all that kind of thing.
And I guess sometimes, the feeling you get when somebody,
well, whether it's a media organization, or someone or an organization, that sounds important, might not really be that important, you know, but the way they they sound, and they accuse you of things that you know that your fellow citizens would look on you as, in a negative way for right. And that completely doesn't represent your views.
So apparently, it really does hurt, I can imagine. And because I really don't belong anymore, you feel that you have to defend yourself. And you shouldn't be. That's the truth, you shouldn't be. But I think maybe brothers and sisters who are involved in the media, need to have a better network, you know, of support. Because
this is difficult when when that sort of thing happens. You must feel really on your own. And
sometimes I think brothers because there are more brothers who are, who experience it, sometimes I get a feeling that they get they meet each other more, and they get that sort of, you know, Pat each other on the back and, you know, give each other that support. And like you said, wear it as a badge of honor. Right.
For four sisters. So Pamela, I think, I think I don't think we have that kind of network. We don't have that kind of support network. No, no, no. And honestly, the world sometimes feels really, really a lonely place.
And to be honest, like, what keeps me going is just the focus on the mission, and what I'm trying to achieve, and if I can help a sister to wear the hijab confidently, then I have done my job, right. But otherwise, it really does feel lonely. And there isn't much of support on network out there. Because even when you're asked for support, people don't know how to support t anyway, so you ask the question, is it even worth it to ask them for support? So yeah, it is it can be both support?
How can they support like for me now?
Because I was attacked in 2017.
And I crumbled.
That actually strengthened me so much.
I'm far more determined. And maybe because that's my personality, I'm sometimes stubborn. Like, if I want to get things done, I will get it done no matter what, yeah, I will die, or do it. That's it.
But it's, it's not enough. Like it's it's not enough to be just in your own and focusing on on your resilience. How can people support I genuinely don't know. But I one of the things that helped me, there's a friend of mine who organized
a healing session, you call it and he invited activists and organizers, community organizers and academics who went through the same thing, and we were just sharing letters, healing letters between us and and it was nice, because then I felt Oh, I'm actually not alone. Not Alone. Yeah. That's the key isn't Yeah, there are people who can really feel like
the world is attacking you alone. And when Actually, yeah, there are people out there who've had a similar experience, but they don't, we don't talk about it. So I must say also that I get most of the support from my
non Muslim friends
or friends have faith in a non faith. I have actually a Jewish friend we share office with and she's absolutely phenomenal. Like she understands it all. She went through some, she went through experience of her character being assassinated by an individual. While my, my experience is that my characters been assassinated by a think tank. So there is differences, but because, you know, she was able to help me and support me in the office and things like that. It was it was really nice to know that there are friends who don't share my faith, who are supporting me and my cause. Yeah, and for me, that gives me a lot of
It restores my faith in the humanity. And and it's really nice to see. And hamdulillah Yeah, I think a lot of Allah sends us those people. Yeah. Just to kind of remind us,
actually, most people out there are good people, you know, they want to live peacefully. They, it's it's unfortunate that the media and different people from different political persuasions try to create that, you know, sort of artificial
anger and artificial
demonization, you know, of people who are very peaceful and savant, like, you know, that's why I really think that the more people do mix with Muslims
the better that opinion of Muslims is because sometimes I you know, I watch a program where I listen to the radio, and somebody is trying to demonize Muslims, and they'll always be that person who phones in or
what are you talking about, you know, like, it's not like this.
You know, I meet these Nickleby sisters here, there and everywhere, and they just like you and me, you know, they, in the humans, you know, they just like us, we have the same issues in terms of very worried about that gives you so much hope. Yeah. So I think, you know, those voices ended up being the counter voice, you know, to, to those who might try to whip up
hatred salon, Allah knows it's true. So, in terms of Islamophobia, like for most people, I think, if they've ever experienced it, it's usually, you know, like, on an everyday basis, like on the street,
not necessarily in the media, you know, as with some of the examples that we've given
Have you ever had experiences like that? Is it common for you to experience that?
experience? What exactly like Islamophobia on an on a street level on the street to be out? Yeah, okay. Yeah, yeah. So um, so first of all, like some some practical tips, especially for for for the sisters. Now, one of the most important things is that if you been a subject to Islamophobic, hate crime, do not ever think it's trivial. And do not just let it go. You must report it to the police. And I know a lot of the sisters Tell me so hard, I know the police won't do anything. To be honest, I agree with you. Like I honestly, I voted all the incidents, all attacks that I've been subject to, and I'm telling you about, like, at least twice a month that I get these attacks and all of them.
And in none of these incidents, the perpetrators were found or prosecuted, except one funny incident that I want to share because it gives you a bit of hope.
is I think is an affiliate given is like a village outside Cardiff, very white, not many Muslim there and we decided to do an event there specifically. And I was in the panel and someone barged in, came into the room and he started shouting at myself and other speakers and the panelists and urine, you're a terrorist. You and he was calling terrorists names that I've never heard of right. And you're supporting the terrorist groups and all of that. Luckily, one of the volunteers
got her phone out and recorded the incident instantly. This is one thing you should do when you're under attack. Get your phone now most of us have a smartphone right practical tip just film it to record it. She recorded the whole incident. And she gave it to the police. The police found him easily not not not because of that video mainly to be honest, but because he was idiot enough to leave his name and address at the reception
give you a tip
islamophobes if you're gonna barge into a Muslim meeting, don't leave your name
on the door.
We will we will find you
like within minutes, right? He was fun stripped away. And he was taken to the court and hamdulillah
but you know, it's fun.
But the sad reality that was the only incident where the police found him.
But it tells you still is important to report it recorded as important. I actually went to the court and provided the testimony when he was sentenced
and was ordered to give a fine of 1500 pound. So it was good results. Ultimately, all I'm saying to the sisters, please do not let it go. I agree. I agree. Make sure you say first and then report it. Can I give you an example of Yeah, please?
Yeah, I've only reported something like that. in the, in the last 10 years, I would say. I've only really had one experience of it. Wow. I think maybe it's could have to do with like I don't when a cop all of the time when I'm outside. Okay. But I wasn't wearing niqab on this day. And I was just near a shopping center. And this man was walking past with his wife, an old man. And he just was ranting because it seemed to be annoyed with his wife. And they were sort of talking and then he looked at me, he saw me, you know, I was with my little daughter as well. And this is a really nice area of London. You know, it's not even. It was just outside a shopping center. And he turned around
and he said,
you know, the problem with Hitler.
In the middle of life.
Was Hitler come from right? He said the problem with him was he got the wrong lot. Oh, my goodness.
Me and my dude, I was looking at my house thinking wow. And I looked at him and I said, Excuse me, what did you just say? What did you just say? He said, you heard me? You heard me? And then he started going off quickly, you know, because nobody else could hear it was in within like, earshot. Yeah. And I must say I was really shaken by that. And I went and sat in my car for a while, you know, and I had to like, think about it and take stock. And, and I did report it immediately. And the police came the next day. And and you know, for any sisters out there who have haven't reported the police were really nice. You know, they really do. I really felt that they really did try to
empathize. And they said, Look, don't think it's trivial, because I was saying to them, you know, I can't really say he hurt me physically or anything like that, you know, it was a verbal verbal abuse, right. But at the same time, you know, they took it very seriously, they didn't. And they even checked the CCTV cameras and things like that. And like you said, Nothing really came of it. Right. But just that act of reporting it, and that it was noted as something that took place. And getting that kind of reassurance from someone in authority, I think, yeah, there was something psychological, psychological healing. Yeah. You know, and, and I must say, you know, anytime I've
had any contact with the police, like, even like something innocuous, like, once I was having a nosebleed right, just I just had a nosebleed in the middle of the airport. Yeah. And there was happened to be a policeman. Yeah. And there was nobody else around and he came and he said, Can I help you? And he literally like, to me to a to a bathroom. And he stayed outside. And he waited until I thought I thought he would have gone because like, you know, he waited until I came out. He made sure I was okay. Yeah, he just went beyond.
So my experience, my very limited experience with the police has always been very positive. They respond quickly, and they come and they take statement and all of that. Sometimes, though, can be patronizing, really, because I remember and this is something that I learned later on. Okay. When some police officers came to my house to take a statement in a full uniform, right. So the next day, my neighbor was asking, what kind of terrorist attack did you do? Why the police came? Right? So the police car outside, the police came in, in in a uniform, and it was for me ash, yes, he had an islamophobe
natural tendency, and that's why he reached his prejudices. But I felt, gosh, I wish the police didn't come in uniform, and I wish they didn't Park outside the house. And from that experience, I learned that and that's why I'm telling the sisters is another practical tip that you have every right
to ask the police to come in non uniform, to park their cars outside really know how this is right. You don't have to go to the police station to provide these statements. They can come to your house, in a civil clothing or they can take your statement. Good to help make sure that you provide the emotional account to that incident.
It is so important to say how you felt that day but you're threatened, you're scared that you no longer feel safe. Obviously, there has to be true and authentic. But the emotional capture of all these feelings could actually impact the sentence of the perpetrator was found. So, so important to remember the details of the perpetrator, but also record your emotional
feelings because ultimately we want to show that Islamophobia is a problem. Here are the numbers. Right, right. Even if people aren't court, exactly the fact that these numbers are being tallied up the impact of the rhetoric in the media, the rhetoric of politicians, we can show people look, this is this is the impact it's having. Right, exactly.
So the brothers and sisters, I hope you all really benefited from that. Sister, Sarah, thank you so much for coming. I really appreciate your advice. And you know, I think we need to build that network.
So brothers and sisters, please do share this episode with your friends and family. And with that, I will bid you farewell subhanak along Moby hamburger Chateau La ilaha illa Anta esto Furukawa to be like a Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.