6 December 2017

The Day of Ashura

Demonstrators in Holland Park

On the 1st October, I took part in a celebration of the religious Day of Ashura in London. Ashura is an annual event that celebrates an important date in the Islamic calendar. For all Muslims, it is a significant religious day, marked by a day of fasting. For some Muslims, Ashura also represents the commemoration of martyrdom, and the struggle against oppression and tyranny. Which is why in London this year, many Muslims also chose to take to the streets with placards and banners and peacefully protest Daesh (ISIS).

I was very honoured by an invitation to speak to the thousands of men, women and children at the procession. Seeing the many faces united against Daesh was incredible. Whole families ranging from grandparents to grandchildren chanted and waved placards condemning violence, extremism and calling for equality for all.

There was not much media coverage of the march, despite the many, many imams who were condemning the actions of extreme groups such as Daesh.

Although because of my mobility I could only walk part of the route, I witnessed incredible organisation and forethought. The excellent cooperation between the MET Police and demonstration officials was very evident. Food and drink was available for every person taking part. At every point officials guided and aided any who needed their assistance.

Seeing so many people, from babes in arms, toddlers just able to carry a small placard, to elderly folk in wheelchairs showing their faith and condemning violence against all, it was so moving.

My speech was very well received with the masses chanting my ending line, “we reject hate”. I had many well-wishers coming up to me to thank me for my words and also to express their condolences on my family’s loss. Taking part in this wonderful day was one of the best days of my life.