Luciana Berger MP has been nominated for a prestigious national award for those “standing up to hate crimes” after her passionate speech in the House of Commons in which she revealed the anti-Semitic abuse she had received.
The Liverpool Wavertree MP was nominated in the category for upstanding parliamentarian, named in honour of the late Jo Cox MP, ahead of the upcoming No2H8 Crime Awards in two weeks’ time, which Jewish News proudly sponsors.
“Her consistent and strong stance has meant she has had to face horrific online abuse,” said the judges. “Luciana’s response to her attackers has been to act against them through the criminal justice system.”
Several individuals have received custodial sentences in relation to their abuse of the MP, while another received a fine, but alongside her strong stance on anti-Semitism, judges also praised her fight for women’s rights and mental health.
Other politicians nominated include Stella Creasy MP, Paula Sherriff MP, and Scottish parliamentarian Anas Sarwar, who has been a prominent supporter of Tell MAMA, the charity charged with monitoring Islamophobia in the UK.
Tell MAMA founder Fiyaz Mughal is one of the driving forces behind the awards, alongside former Community Security Trust (CST) chief executive Richard Benson, and this week he praised the quality and contributions of nominees.
Other nominees include police officers such as Tony Forsyth, who is responsible for the Met Police Hate Crime Hub, Rukhsana Bashir, who is responsible for all hate crime in Northamptonshire, David Willetts, a neighbourhood beat officer covering Manchester’s gay village, and Medway’s Bobby Mahay.
Organisations nominated include the pioneering Nottingham Citizens, which brings trade unions, faith groups, charities, schools, universities and housing associations together to improve communities and tackle injustice.
Another innovative group heralded by the judges is the Gr@nd H4U Committee in Kent, which has trained young people to become peer mentors, to help other young people tackle any challenges they may face, from relationship advice to bullying, or taking the next step in their education.
In another category, Johnny Marsden, a volunteer in Sheffield, is praised for facilitating face-to-face contacts across “hard-to-reach groups” in an ethnically diverse area of the city, while Safet Vukalić, a survivor of the Bosnian genocide, is credited for his work promoting the ‘Remembering Srebrenica’ initiative.
Proactive councils including Redbridge, Bury and Tower Hamlets are acknowledged, as is Susan Maycock from Kirklees, whose work has included “victims’ hubs” to provide access to support networks for those who experience hate crime.
In another category for reporting crimes, sponsored by the Crown Prosecution Service, is Steven Kelly from Gateshead, who identified that those with learning difficulties felt most at risk of hate crime on public transport. In response, he commissioned a local media company to create two films to be shown on the bus and metro system, with actors with learning difficulties taking part.
Among the youngsters to be nominated is Redbridge’s Yusuf Patel, a school educator who teaches children about anti-Semitism and anti-Muslim hatred, and Sienna Castellon, an advocate for neuro-diversity, who herself is autistic, dyslexic and dyspraxic, and has ADHD.
One of the bravest nominees is Ahmad Nawaz, a 17-year-old boy who on was shot by the Taliban in the Peshawar school attack in Pakistan in December 2014, when 150 of his fellow students were massacred, among them his younger brothers.
Ahmad was seriously injured and his treatment could not be performed in Pakistan, so he was airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Separated from his family and recovering from trauma, he made a fresh start in a local school and decided to counter the attackers’ aim, which was to prevent children being educated.
He began an initiative to promote education and its importance, and has been visiting schools, colleges and universities across the UK, including Eton and Cambridge University, providing a counter-extremism narrative, and encouraging youngsters like him to be positive change-makers.