Can you stand with the NAFSAT community centre in Manchester, targeted by an arson attack?

By Gerry Gable

TellMama writes as follows:

On  15 July, the NASFAT family of mosques walked towards their national peace rally in Trafalgar Square. A deeply spiritual group who believe in community and family, this predominantly African group of social activists and organisers came to show their support against extremism and against groups like Boko Haram. One of their banners read, “Say no to extremism”, whilst another read”No to Boko Haram.” They marched, they stood tall with their voices resonating in the centre of London and with pride in their steps. Their faith and their beliefs had led them on a journey against extremism and intolerance.

Since 9/11 and 7/7 many have asked Muslims to speak up and speak out. Well, on a summer’s afternoon, here were Muslims of African heritage, a minority within a minority, who came from Manchester and various parts of the country to stand against extremism and intolerance. At the heart of their message was one which stood in solidarity with all communities who believe in a better future, where women and young people are not drawn into, abducted into or brainwashed into hatred and extremism.

Attacked by an arsonist filled with hate

24 hours later, the NAFSAT Community Centre in Manchester was ablaze. Five fire engines could do nothing to reduce the damage. Training rooms were gutted, the centre reduced to a shell and the rooms in which placards were put together against extremism, now stood empty and blackened by the hatred of someone who believed that this community should have no space to live free from fear in their local area. How can we accept that?

The NAFSAT Centre in Manchester had reported multiple anti-Muslim hate crimes against the centre to Tell MAMA, the national anti-Muslim hate monitoring project. Letters of hate, pig’s heads and a torched minibus have affected this law abiding British Muslim community of African heritage, just because they are perceived to be different. The centre has suffered overt racism and anti-Muslim hatred and women at the centre have also been targeted for being visible Muslim women. Gender, anti-Muslim and racist hatred have affected users of the NASFAT Community Centre, yet the patience of this community has meant that they have absorbed such hatred with dignity and patience. How can we allow such hatred and intolerance to continue on?

You can send a message that they matter

You can make a difference. You can send out a message to those who think that they can intimidate communities through racism, prejudice and intolerance. You can send out a message that the NAFSAT Community Centre in Manchester will rise again. For even as the centre users surveyed the ashes of their centre, young men in cars jeered at the them from passing cars. “We don’t want you here”, they barked at the women who had come to see their local centre reduced to a charred skeleton of what they had invested decades into.

So stand with us; stand with those who march against extremism and hatred; stand with the users of the Nafsat Centre who have lost their centre; stand with them and rebuild their centre as a symbol against intolerance, hatred and prejudice in our country. Your support and your support alone can raise the NAFSAT Community centre from the ashes of hatred.

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