photo credit: IOM/Thomas Marchal
"I am a Lancastrian by birth, because I was born in Lancashire, so that makes me English and British. I am also European. My parents came to the UK from Pakistan, and I am a Muslim. So like many people in Europe, I am a person with multiple layers of identity, but that is of course what provides us with our greatest strength – diversity.
For me, home is Lancashire in the UK, but of course on a broader context home is Europe. For me, the United Kingdom is a part of Europe. I have for many years been a direct witness of racism and discrimination, and I have directly experienced both. Things have changed for the better over the past few decades, but based upon recent political developments there is a real need to reenergize in order to fight discrimination and racism.
Messages of division, intolerance and hate have found their way into our mainstream political discourse. All of us have to work together to reject these ideas. Our continent has been built by newcomers, who bring ideas, energies and strengths to develop and move forward – economically and socially. The arrival of newcomers ready to make positive contributions, this is within our own short, medium and long term interest. This is something that I welcome."