UNITED: Muslim women from Leeds came together last week to discuss the best ways to ‘make a stand’ against all types of extremism in their local communities
UNITED: Muslim women from Leeds came together last week to discuss the best ways to ‘make a stand’ against all types of extremism in their local communities

Muslim women unite in stand against extremism

Muslim women from Leeds came together last week to make a united stand rejecting the barbarism of ISIS as they vowed to take the lead in combating extremism and radicalisation in their local community.

The event was part of a nationwide series of #MakingAStand events, with women from all over the UK attending a series of events in key cities – from London to Leeds, in recognition of the valuable role they have to play in exerting their influence to combat extremism.

Championing the importance of Muslim women’s voices in local society and public life, the #MakingAStand event provided women from the area with an open space to discuss and share practical tips on making a stand – as individuals and as groups – in cultivating a peaceful community by challenging hateful, bigoted and extreme views.

The event was organised by Inspire, a counter-extremism and human rights organisation, in partnership with the Hamara Centre, Leeds.

Sara Khan, director of Inspire, said: “I was delighted with the strong turn-out for the event in Leeds. Women are the backbone of the community and the first line of defence against ‘radicalisers’.

“The women I met from the area know our role in challenging extremism is vital and honourable. They value and believe in the principles of democracy, human rights and respect for all life.

“This is in complete contrast to the sheer evil and barbarism of the very ‘un-Islamic’ extremist groups who murder, rape and steal in the name of Islam. Abhorrent groups like ISIS and Al Qaida distort the teachings of our faith and are a menace to our way of life – our families, communities and women’s rights.”

As part of the #MakingAStand campaign, which initially launched in 2014 with support of the Home Secretary Theresa May, Inspire is urging Muslim women to reject the threat of extremism by taking positive action, however small, within their homes and communities.

Last week’s event saw women sharing practical tips on how to achieve this – from simply talking with friends about current affairs and local issues to holding official positions of influence within the community.

The group discussed positive steps in making their voices heard to help create a stronger and cohesive community. This spanned from spreading news of the campaign on social media with #MakingAStand; exerting their influence in their mosque and community; starting a local support network for women; becoming a school governor; defending women’s rights; and giving to charity.

Nasreen Akhtar, representative from the Hamara Centre, who co-hosted the event said: “We have seen first-hand the devastation that preachers of hate can have on a community – and we must do all we can to protect our children.

“I met with so many fantastic women today – united in our disgust of the abhorrent behaviour of extremism and preachers of hate targeting young people in the community.

“It was a privilege to stand shoulder to shoulder with like-minded women as we shared ways to make our voices heard and take positive and empowering action to protect our community.”

#MakingAStand was created in the wake of widespread reporting of atrocities committed by ISIS and their call for Muslims to commit cold-blooded murder in the streets of Western countries.