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World

June 5, 2020

British-Pakistanis raise voice for justice for George Floyd

World

Fri, Jun 05, 2020
"As a minority living in the west, I know what it is like to be oppressed. Racist people in school always have said disrespectful stereotypes to me because they were uneducated and influenced by the media," 16-year-old Pakistani protester Samar Rana said. The News/Ramsha Khan

MANCHESTER: British-Pakistanis have come together to advocate for the Black Lives Matter movement in a protest to demand justice for George Floyd's murder at the hands of a US police officer.

The Black Lives Matter is an international human rights movement that was founded in 2013 and campaigns against the violence and oppression of black people.

It came into existence after 17-year-old African-American Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in a racist attack. It has since become a global phenomenon, fighting for racial equality and justice and challenges narratives such as “white supremacy” and “white nationalism.”

The Black Lives Matter protests became global after the murder of Floyd, an unarmed black man killed by Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

British-Pakistanis joined the protests in the United Kingdom to seek justice for George Floyd and aim to raise awareness on violence against black people.

Samar Rana, a 16-year-old Pakistani protester, said: "As a minority living in the west, I know what it is like to be oppressed. Racist people in school always have said disrespectful stereotypes to me because they were uneducated and influenced by the media.

"So when I witness another minority being oppressed and murdered on the streets, it makes me want to take action. This is why I am part of Black Lives Matter.”

The BLM rallies originated from the United States, turning into global protests, which are now at the forefront of the world’s attention.

Chum Salma Ahmed, another Pakistani protester, argued: "Our very own Pakistani culture has so much racism and discrimination against dark-skinned people.

"I was sick of the narrative and I wanted to challenge the cultural norms, so I came out to protest and it was a beautiful feeling,” Ahmed said.

Zal Ahmed, a Pakistani law student and digital activist for the Black Lives Matter movement, stated: "Everyone is always on their phones, so I am taking the opportunity to spread awareness over social media such as Instagram and Twitter.

"I want to teach people to be anti-racist. This was another senseless killing and I fear living in a world where someone can be killed for the colour of their skin,” she added.

Ahmed explained that she hoped her digital activism can also inspire the British-Pakistani community.

“I am particularly doing this to spread awareness about the issue of colourism and hate in our community. There is a lot of hate towards darker skin preference over fairer complexions; I hope my activism can educate Pakistanis on the issue too.”

Earlier, American Indian comedian Hasan Minhaj shared a video, shining light to the issue of 'desi racism' and encouraging South Asian minorities living in the West to take up responsibility for it.

Minhaj argued that “when a black man walks into your living room and, God forbid, wants to date or marry your daughter, you call the cops.” His 10-minute monologue won the hearts of millions of South Asians worldwide and inspired a conversation on colourism and racism.

Ahmed, the Pakistani digital activist for BLM, added: "There is too much discrimination in our communities and Hasan Minhaj’s conversation really inspired myself and my friends.”

However, the Black Lives Matter protests have also become a cause of concern domestically as growing violence and riots emerge, with up to 13 arrested as demonstrators clashed with the police in the United Kingdom.

Ahmed, the protester, said she witnessed "a lot of violence at the protests and many times we witnessed police cars driving in to the peaceful protests, which would cause tensions".

"Otherwise, the protests were mostly peaceful and people were civilised,” she noted.