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This article is more than 4 years old

We can't afford to sit this out

Blog by Taj Khan, Newcastle Central Mosque, Tyne and Wear Citizens

With a new Prime Minister in post and the prorogation of Parliament, another General Election is likely to be on the horizon. A lot is at stake and communities like mine can't afford to sit this out .

However we may each personally feel about the current political situation, we have to take every opportunity we can get to fight for a better, fairer society.

See, for a long time I was angry about injustice and I took part in countless demonstrations but... nothing ever seemed to change and I began losing hope that people like you and me could be heard.

It's not an exaggeration to say that all of this changed when my local mosque in Newcastle joined Citizens UK's alliance in Tyne and Wear . Being trained in community organising meant that I could see a way forward.

Since then, in the space of less than 2 years we've secured real change in Newcastle. We launched a Hate Crime Charter that was adopted by not one, but four, public transport companies that have now, as a result, improved how staff respond to hate crime incidents.

I'm still angry about injustice, of course. As a visibly Muslim woman, I've felt the brunt of the rise in hate crime. And so have many others : from women of all backgrounds facing misogyny, to people of colour and members of the LGBT+ community.

We've held Prime Ministers to account before. In 2010 and 2015, we held huge Election Assemblies and negotiated with the main candidates like David Cameron and Nick Clegg. We secured pledges that changed national policy, like ending the detention of children for immigration control purposes. You can watch it back here .

Aside from another General Election, there is another crucial opportunity to win significant change on hate crime . The Law Commission, the independent body that makes recommendations to Government on how to reform the law, is doing a review of all hate crime laws . Myself and other women in Newcastle just gave evidence to the Law Commission this week . But more of us need to share our stories, if we want to be sure that the Law Commission makes a clear case for stronger legal protections for victims of hate crime.

Please take the Citizens UK survey on experiences of hate crime here:

PS: if you would like to support Citizens UK financially, you can easily set up a donation online. Your donations help us become more powerful, train more under-represented community leaders and hold Citizens Assemblies that keep politicians accountable.

Posted on 30 Aug, 2019