The largest conference gathering of Muslims and Jews in Europe has seen women from both faiths vow to work together to combat hate.
More than 200 women took part in the Change Makers event on Sunday organised by Nisa-Nashim, Britain’s Jewish-Muslim women’s network, with sessions on topics ranging from the Middle East to self-defence.
They bonded over food, poetry and yoga, and at one stage an afternoon prayer service was held side-by-side, with Muslim participants kneeling as Jewish women davened mincha across the room.
Attendees at the central London conference travelled from towns and cities including Manchester, Leeds, Luton, Exeter, Peterborough and across London.
Robi Damelin moved delegates to tears by speaking about families who have lost relatives in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Ms Damelin is a member of the Parents Circle Families Forum which has brought together more than 600 families.
A panel session included Helen Pankhurst, the activist and author who is the great-granddaughter of Emmeline Pankhurst; Gabby Edlin of the Bloody Good Period charity; Farzana Baduel, chief executive of PR firm Curzon; and Pinky Lilani, founder of the Women of the Future group. The debate was chaired by Nomia Iqbal from the BBC’s Asian Network.
Opening the event, Nisa-Nashim co-founder Laura Marks said: “Antisemitic hate incidents have reached a record level in the UK. Anti-Muslim hate crime has increased, both here and abroad. But what we are focussing on is the need to stick together — and genuinely support each other — no ifs, no buts, no what abouts, just friendship and support.
“One thing I have learned over many years of campaigning with and for women is that we get things done and we don’t put more barriers in the way in doing so. Women are driving change in society today and everyone in this room is a part of that.”
Fellow co-founder Julie Siddiqi added: “The Nisa-Nashim approach is one of collaboration, of meeting and getting to know each other as friends, to understand that in many ways we have a lot in common, in other ways we are different and all of that is fine, to be celebrated and above all, respected.
“We need to be brave, we need to make changes, we need to be the change we want to see in the world and we need to take others with us."