Charter launched by 250 women at Nisa-Nashim’s Annual Conference, which also featured addresses from Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, London Deputy Mayor Debbie Weekes-Bernard and Rachel Riley
More than 250 Jewish and Muslim women have made a commitment to being #ActiveAllies and take firm and united action against antisemitism and Islamophobia, after declaring that “the time for talking is over” and “we are in this together”.
The women, of all ages and backgrounds and from all parts of the UK, launched the campaign at the Nisa-Nashim Annual Conference – Europe’s only such gathering of Jewish and Muslim women, which took place at the University of Westminster on Sunday (April 7).
Nisa-Nashim’s co-chairs Laura Marks OBE and Julie Siddiqi said: “For too long in both of our faiths communities we have seen insular thinking when it comes to tackling hatred. The time for talking is over, now it’s time for us to take united action together.
“We know that both our communities are the targets of hatred and, largely, by the same type of people – people who are intolerant and despise difference. We need to face this challenge together and by standing up for each other.
“We recognise, as women in Nisa-Nashim, that both Islamophobia and antisemitism are on the rise. The devastating attacks on innocent people in both Pittsburgh and Christchurch have strengthened our resolve and we commit to be #ActiveAllies. It’s not enough, nor is it right, to only stand for ourselves. We are in this together, as Jewish and Muslim sisters – especially when the hatred is targeted at women.”
The 250+ delegates at the conference, along with other Nisa-Nashim members around the UK, have signed up to the #ActiveAllies charter – vowing to:
Call upon every political party in Britain to review their processes for preventing, exposing and dealing with both Islamophobia and antisemitism within their party – to ensure they include measures to address gendered Islamophobia and antisemitism.
Demand that government increase support for integration projects across the UK particularly those led by and affecting women.
Call on devolved assemblies, regional authorities, Police and Crime Commissioners, to ensure that all meetings with policy makers focusing on issues of hatred, include representation of women – with a view to 50% representation within three years.
Enable and encourage Jewish and Muslim women to understand and speak out about hatred against the other faith group, and also against all other women, wherever we see it.
Encourage and role model a gentler and kinder use of language, in the media, social media and face to face, across society including amongst people in leadership roles
The conference – titled Faith and Friendship, Shaping the Future Together – also featured a number of keynote speeches, on stage interviews, sessions and workshops.
There was a vigil held for the victims of the terrorist attacks in Christchurch and Pittsburgh, a chance for the women of both faiths to pray side by side during breaks and a communal song at the end with lyrics in Hebrew, Abrabic and English.
Speakers and presenters included Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, Countdown star and antisemitism campaigner Rachel Riley, London Deputy Mayor Debbie Weekes-Bernard and the Deputy Director of Hope Not Hate Jemma Levene.
In her keynote speech, Cressida Dick talked personally about her life story and how she ended up becoming the first female Commissioner of the Met. Praising the way the Jewish and Muslim women were supporting each other through Nisa-Nashim, she said: “It’s important to celebrate what we have in common. It’s important to recognise differences and respect them. And it’s important to work together for a better future.
“I believe that as citizens we all need to challenge the casual nastiness that there is around at the moment, celebrate the successes and shout about the positivity. We need to encourage people – girls and boys, women and men – to realise their potential, make change, become leaders and ultimately make the world a better place.”
Deputy Mayor for Social Integration, Social Mobility and Community Engagement, Debbie Weekes-Bernard, said: “Antisemitism and Islamophobia have absolutely no place in our society and the Mayor and I are committed to tackling the scourge of hate crime in all its forms. It is essential that we all do everything we can to stand together against those who seek to divide our communities, and I’m proud to support Nisa-Nashim’s vital work.
“Friendship is an extremely powerful force and by standing together we can not only combat hatred, but actively build relationships and bringing communities together.”