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May Praises Jewish Muslim Women

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Muslim Jewish women's conference by Yakir Zur

Two hundred Jewish and Muslim women made a series of promises – including to learn more about each other’s faiths, share tears of joy and sorrow, fight all forms of hatred and always be their ‘sister’s keeper’ – at the first ever conference of its kind in the UK….reports Asian Lite News

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Muslim Jewish women’s conference by Yakir Zur

Pledging to live up to the event’s title of ‘challenging the narrative’, the delegates pinned their vows on a ‘promise wall’ after listening to a series of powerful speeches, taking part in an eclectic set of workshops and participating in activities from prayer to yoga.

The conference was organised by Nisa-Nashim, the new National Jewish Muslim Women’s Network.Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin – Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons and to the Queenand tipped to be one of the first female British Anglican bishops – delivered the keynote speech.

Reverend Hudson-Wilkinsaid: “Today I am amongst women who believe in change; women who are determined to be the change they want to see; women with a cause, a purpose, that is not self-seeking but rather a purpose of making a difference – challenging the narrative and re-writing history {his story) so that ‘her story’ can take its rightful place. Your very presence here today, is saying – ‘I am my brother’s keeper, I am my sister’s keeper.’

She concluded: “Generations in the past have seen powerful men in suits, and sometimes in uniform and clerical garments, setting the agenda of how we should live. With Nisa-Nashim, you have given birth to a new possibility of real peace.

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Jullie Siddiqi and Laura Marks

“By your very presence, you are challenging that narrative out there which tells you that you have nothing in common; that narrative that says you are poles apart. Let this become a worldwide movement that affirms all that we have in common.”

The conference was praised by Prime Minister Theresa May, who wrote a letter of support saying: “The work of Nisa-Nashim is so valuable in demonstrating that our communities are stronger and better when we focus on what we have in common and work together.

“For all our communities, strong female role models are also incredibly important to ensure the next generation has the confidence to succeed.”

Speakers and presenters at the ground-breaking event included prominent women from the worlds of politics, academia, media and religion, as well as from leading charities and community organising groups.

The 200 attendees at the conference, which took place at the University of Westminster, came from Nisa-Nashim’s 17 groups around the country – including London, St Albans, Manchester, Leeds, Newcastle, Dorset and the West Midlands.

Nisa-Nashim Co-Founders Laura Marks OBE and Julie Siddiqi made a joint introduction to the conference, a powerful symbol of a Jew and a Muslim working side by side.

Laura, the Founder of Mitzvah Day and a former Senior Vice President of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, said: “Traditionally, we have been told that Jews and Muslims don’t get on.  There is mistrust, suspicion and, at worst, open hostility.  We are deeply aware that with 3 million Muslims in Britain and 300,000 Jews, most Muslims will never have met a Jew and most Jews will only have had fleeting acquaintances with Muslims.

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Muslim and Jewish women in prayer

“But Jews and Muslims are so alike – especially our women.Our fixation on family first, our traditions, way of dressing, our rules on charity and on what we eat, and our scriptures are very similar. And Jews, like Muslims, are immigrants and we too, feel slightly on the outside.

“It’s time for a new approach, a fresh approach and a female approach. We believe, the first step is building friendships and that is what this conference is all about.”

Julie Siddiqi, Nisa-Nashim Co-Founder and former Executive Director of the Islamic Society of Britain, added: “Anti-Muslim hatred is very real, as is anti-Semitism, we need to stand together and fight the common enemy of bigotry and hatred. As a Muslim I need to be standing in solidarity with my Jewish cousins.

“We also need to be brave and call out prejudice in our own communities, in our families, online. We need to find ways to do that. We mustn’t turn a blind eye.

“The status quo needs to change. It needs collaboration and co-operation, it means respecting difference while celebrating similarities. Islamic teachings tell us that we should speak out against injustice even if it is against ourselves. That needs bravery.”

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