By Nazmin Akthar (Co-Chair of Muslim Women's Network UK)
September 2022 has become a month of global mourning with the passing of British Monarch Queen Elizabeth II. However, for Muslim Women's Network UK (MWNUK), our mourning started much sooner, and the pain of our mourning is more personal and rings much deeper.
2nd September 2022 saw the one-year anniversary of the tragic death of Fawziyah Javed, former MWNUK member and volunteer, who was taken away from us in the most devastating circumstances one year ago; a mere two days before her 32nd birthday. Fawziyah was pregnant at the time of her death.
Yasmin Javed, mother of Fawziyah, took the very courageous decision to hold a vigil to mark what is undoubtedly the most excruciatingly painful moment of her life in the city – and country – that saw Fawziyah last: Edinburgh, Scotland
The vigil was started with a beautiful recitation by Quran reciter Madinah Javed and followed by moving speeches from those in attendance, the most heart-wrenching of all of course being the words of Yasmin Javed.
Along with fellow co-organisers Amina MWRC and One Million Rise, and many other women's rights activists and organisations (including Bradford Rape Crisis, Amour Destine and Karma Nirvana), we gathered outside Scottish Parliament on 2nd September to remember Fawziyah and show solidarity and support to her family and loved ones. The vigil was started with a beautiful recitation by Quran reciter Madinah Javed and followed by moving speeches from those in attendance, the most heart-wrenching of all of course being the words of Yasmin Javed.
Similar in age, both lawyers and connected through MWNUK, Fawziyah and I had much in common – including our shared passion to promote equality and social inclusion for Muslim women and girls, and to see an end to all forms of violence against women and girls. An employment and discrimination lawyer by profession, Fawziyah strongly believed in using the law to its full potential to support those in need and make changes in society. As I shared words about Fawziyah on behalf of MWNUK, I was overwhelmed not only by the fact that her life had been cut devastatingly short (conscious the whole time that Arthur's Seat is looming right behind Scottish Parliament where the vigil is held) but also that an agent for change has been taken away from us; there would have been many who would have benefitted from Fawziyah's skills and expertise and this possibility has been taken away from them. As we gave to Yasmin the bouquet for the vigil (thirty-three lilac roses being Fawziyah's favourite colour and to mark the age that Fawziyah would have been), it strengthened my resolve – and that of MWNUK – to continue the fight to end abuse and discrimination and make the world an equitable and just place to live for all. That would be the best way to remember Fawziyah, and her unborn child.
As we mourn the loss of a queen who many regard as the nation's grandmother, there is another woman who lost her beloved child and the opportunity to be a loving grandmother. One loss is being acknowledged throughout the world; it is on us to ensure that the loss of the other is never forgotten
As I write, I cannot help but reflect on the fact that this month marks the death of two women who died in Scotland in very different circumstances. As we mourn the loss of a queen who many regard as the nation's grandmother, there is another woman who lost her beloved child and the opportunity to be a loving grandmother. One loss is being acknowledged throughout the world; it is on us to ensure that the loss of the other is never forgotten.
Rest in peace Fawziyah. We will never forget you; we will never stop saying your name.
(The circumstances of Fawziyah's death are the subject of an upcoming trial and as ardent supporters of the rule of law and in the interests of ensuring that a fair trial can take place, we have limited the information shared regarding her death and the vigil. We would urge all to refrain from sharing details too)
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