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June-July 2020 | Articles

Give peace a chance

Give peace a chance

Iqra Khan, nominated by Bradford Rotary, is this year’s Rotary Young Citizen Peacemaker Award winner.

Growing up in Bradford has been difficult for 16-year-old Iqra Khan.

When she was a child, her family suffered a racist attack and racial abuse.

“That was the defining moment in my life and I have always wanted to be at the helm of the fight to bring my community together,” reflected Iqra.

“I did not want to be known as the British Pakistani girl in the hijab.

“I wanted to be known as the girl who fought for others.”

Iqra is a founding member of Team Theology set up in her school, Bradford Academy, as a faith discussion group.

She began advocating for a group that was more about action rather than discussion, one which was more about positive change rather than conceptual change.

Iqra organised and led whole year group assemblies on the true meaning of Ramadan. Iqra did not stop there.

She took Team Theology to a community Iftar evening, presenting to parents and religious leaders.

iqra_khan

Iqra is a founding member of Team Theology set up in her school, Bradford Academy, as a faith discussion group.

She also contacted the local interfaith group to deliver a message of peace at the local cathedral. Iqra looked at key readings from all faiths and taught about the shared truth of peace.

Iqra works with her local community and has trained as a ju-jitsu coach.

She said she never wants any young person to feel vulnerable and isolated. What she has learnt from Team Theology is that peace can only come once everyone has a shared vision.

She coaches some of the most vulnerable young people in Bradford, giving them a sense and purpose.

I wanted to be known as the girl who fought for others.”

As the first Muslim Pakistani coach at her school, Iqra has inspired a number of local residents who have also taken to ju-jitsu training.

The local group is now made up of a number of females.

Iqra made the front page of the school newspaper with her passion and message for peace.

iqra khan

Iqra said she never wants any young person to feel vulnerable and isolated. What she has learnt from Team Theology is that peace can only come once everyone has a shared vision.

PE teacher, Warren Clarke, said: “Iqra is not only an amazing athlete. She is an amazing person and her exceptional attitude drives others forward.

“She is unique. Her personal message for bringing communities together seeps through her inner core and all she wants to do is inspire others.

“She has certainly inspired me.”

Iqra has delivered at two PeaceJam Slams and shared her vision of bringing communities together.

She spent time with Rotarian Remah Kasule, the Ugandan author and social innovator, who predicted: “This girl will take over one day with her message of peace, what an inspiration.”

Iqra said: “Winning the Rotary Peacemaker Award means a lot to me.

“I would like to say thank you to everybody who has helped me achieve all that I have, including my family, friends and teachers at school and my Onna Ju-jitsu Club coach, Sensei Mumtaz.

“They have been truly supportive and inspirational.

“I am grateful for the countless opportunities that they have provided me with and I hope that it inspires others to push the boundaries and try new things.”

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