In the wake of the Paris attacks and subsequent unity marches, I decided to get in touch with Sughra Ahmed, President of the Islamic Society of Britain.
Sughra is somebody I spoke to whilst on placement at Sky News. Seeing her on various news outlets including the BBC and ITV this week, I decided to get in touch with her to conduct a phone interview on the topic of the Paris attacks and the Islamic Society of Britain’s view on what has happened.
Sughra kindly agreed to an interview, and gave me a lot of very powerful quotes. I am pleased that I actively used contacts that I’d made during placements to help contribute to my portfolio.
PARIS ATTACKS: ‘It’s in difficult times that humanity reaches out’ says President of the Islamic Society of Britain
The President of the Islamic Society of Britain, Sughra Ahmed, has expressed her pride at the strong sense of unity in the wake of the Paris terror attacks.
The non-for-profit, community based charity was founded in 1990 and elected Ahmed in 2013, making her the first female president of the body.
Condemning the recent attacks in Paris, which claimed the lives of 17 people, Sughra said
“These people are murderers and criminals.
“The marches last weekend sent an important message to those who want to wreck-havoc and destroy our society.”
Speaking of the solidarity which was shown across the world, Sughra continued
“It’s in difficult times that humanity reaches out to one another. We do things together as people – the differences fade away and we march for the same reason and same cause.”
The solidarity walk was attended by world leaders, from David Cameron to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Reports estimate that over two million people took part in the march, which began at Paris’ Place De La République.
Sughra also spoke of the controversial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in Charlie Hebdo’s latest edition.
The front cover shows the prophet with a tear in his eye, holding a single sign expressing sympathy with the deaths of the cartoonists and journalists.
“They have printed the cartoon, but the message is ‘All is forgiven’ and it’s important to mention that, because whilst staff and relatives are reeling, they’ve still made that heartfelt gesture.”
“All religions advocate freedom and fairness. If people feel hurt, they need to engage with others in legitimate ways.”
On what could be done to stop avert further atrocities, she said
“We have learnt from history that talking can work. We need to have conversations across our society, within Muslim communities and outside of them.
“Any kind of challenges people have should be spoken about. This isn’t just Islamophobia, but wider issues like racism and homophobia.”
Discussion amongst diverse communities is a major focal point for the Islamic Society of Britain, which regularly works alongside other organisations to promote the bringing together of people through national events and schemes.
One such event is Islam Awareness Week which runs from March 16-22. An ‘open and inclusive’ week, it is something of a welcome celebration for Sughra, who spoke of the upset and challenges the Islamic Society of Britain feels when terror attacks like those in Paris occur.
For more on the Islamic Society of Britain or Islam Awareness Week, visit www.isb.org.uk
or follow @BritIslam on Twitter