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Sonia Bassey MBE has been speaking after reports of incidents of racial abuse targeting members of the Muslim community following Sunday’s terror attack by Emad Al Swealmeen.
“I’ve had Muslim friends who’ve told me they didn’t go to work after the attack, not because they were afraid of what would happen in work but on the way to and from work, and it’s so wrong and so unfair that they are in fear like that.
“The Muslim community is fearful of what’s going to happen because the first thing some people do when they start to feel threatened is attack who they think is causing that threat.
“But we’ve never allowed Nazis in this city, and we’ve never allowed hate, so we’re not going to start now.”
Sonia has urged everyone to focus on the facts as they are confirmed by official sources rather than being influenced by speculation which can be so easily spread on social media.
“Obviously people are fearful of the unknown and when events first happened, some people reacted based on rumours. Rumours, in my view, can fuel hate and that’s what the people spreading hatred do: they exploit people’s insecurities.
“It’s really important to make sure we listen to the facts, go to official sites where information is released like the counter terrorism team and Merseyside Police, and support our leaders in the city to help them to present a united front and a united stance in supporting communities.
“We have to continue to challenge the negative narratives so we’re not fuelling hate.”
One group of women from Liverpool 8 have been campaigning outside the Women’s Hospital over the past few days, with homemade placards making their opposition to racism clear.
Reinforcing a message of ‘no hate in L8’, one banner read ‘Nans against Nazis.’
“Individuals have been trying to incite hate against the Muslim community but our elders, who’ve been active in L8 for over 50 years, are challenging racism and hated, and letting people know that that kind of behaviour won’t be tolerated in our city,” says Sonia. “They are the generation of activists in whose footsteps we follow.
“Liverpool has a long-standing history of being welcoming to migrants and people from all over the world and we’ve been working together, across communities, over many years.
“Since Sunday the majority of the city has done what we do best, we’ve united and come together to support each other.
“My heart goes out to everybody who’s been affected by this, but I would appeal for calm while people find out the facts about exactly what happened because making assumptions and reacting in fear or ignorance is the most dangerous thing we can do.
“We’re doing great work in this city to educate around race and create a greater understanding and tolerance, to teach people how much we have to offer each other, and we can’t be distracted from that.
“It’s even more important now that we continue with that work, commitment and a collaborative approach. That’s what’s got to leave a lasting legacy in this city. We are strong and we will stand up to this.”
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