Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
How did you get into peace activism?
My mum kept taking me to peace activism and demos and I watched Uncle Mil and Emily [author Milan Rai and artist Emily Johns, co-editors of Peace News and Justice Not Vengeance activists] do peace activism and direct action. I wanted to be part of it, so I started a group called Children Against the War when I was seven. I’ve basically been doing demonstrations and vigils and organising and trying to aim for children to come so they understand what’s happening to other children in the world.
How did you set it up Children Against the War and how did you get children involved?
Well, I had the help of ARROW [Active Resistance to the Roots of War] and Voices in the Wilderness and they helped me set up the group by making leaflets. I wrote the leaflets and I organised demonstrations and vigils and basically on the demonstration I did a speech to get them aware of what’s happening.
Were you nervous to give a speech when you just seven years old?
It was a bit nerve-wracking. It was scary but I started and I was okay. Someone had to do it, someone had to tell children what was going on in the world and I wanted to tell them myself because children have the right to live and be safe.
What do your friends and the other kids at school think about your activism?
My friends don’t really know. They don’t understand. They think I’m a bit strange, because of their backgrounds, what their parents are teaching them – we live around an RAF base.
What about your family?
My mother is also a very strong peace activist. She’s been going to demonstrations for many, many years and going to different countries, like Palestine, and doing direct action and she’s taken me since I was four. I liked to get involved. I liked to give out leaflets and stuff.
Can you tell me about the film you made in Jordan?
Yeah, because I’ve always been demonstrating for children and Iraqi children and I actually wanted to give them a voice so they could speak out. We heard that these families fled to the neighbouring countries, such as Jordan and Syria, so I went there with my filming equipment to give them a voice and I interviewed them and they spoke and I made a film about it.
What was that experience like? Was it very upsetting? Did you find you had a lot in common with the children?
I found that we had a lot of things in common – no-one would have known that they’re from Iraq and I’m from Britain if we were put together because we had so much in common. When they were telling the stories I met this boy who was kidnapped and got hurt and tortured and I was really upset to find that out and had nightmares when I went to sleep and I really felt strongly about this.
What are you busy with at the moment?
I’m doing interfaith stuff – getting young people from different backgrounds to come together in understanding. I’m also helping with a Justice Not Vengeance film on Islam. I’m going to be interviewed about it, because I’m a Muslim myself and I’m interviewing some children.
How has your faith helped you as a peace activist?
At the moment I’m reading about the prophet Mohammed and how he brought peace, because Mohammed has been a big influence on my life. Also all my family are very religious as well and Mohammed, my prophet, basically inspired me – he taught us compassion and peace and not to hurt anyone and nonviolence.
What message would you like to send to the children of this country?
I think it’s really important they be aware of what’s going on around the world and they should meet people from other backgrounds and faiths. We’re all like a bouquet of flowers – all different, but all beautiful and the same.
The collapse of Carillion could be a watershed moment. Let's seize it to end economically disastrous outsourcing schemes. By Cat Hobbs.
Campaign groups highlight UK complicity in Saudi Arabia's human rights abuses.
Three founders of Momentum talk to Ashish Ghadiali about the two years that have transformed their lives and the fortunes of the British left.
Andrew Smith from Campaign Against the Arms Trade gives the run-down on one of the UK's most profitable - and most deadly - industries.
The real story behind the fire in Grande Synthe’s Linière refugee camp, Dunkirk. From 'Bordered Lives – How Europe fails refugees and migrants' by Hsiao-Hung Pai
Javier Pérez De La Cruz writes about the working class Berlin neighbourhood wrung dry by gentrifiers.
Across the world, thousands of protesters are taking on the planet’s biggest fossil fuel companies. We should support them – and if we can, we should join them. By Kara Moses
Students are suffering the effects of financial instability, stress, and slashed mental health services. Mark Crawford reports.
They're not defending free speech - they're just seeking to shore up their own power, writes Ilyas Nagdee
How can the heavily-armed Israeli state claim to be victimised by one teenage activist? By Richard Seymour.
Jeremy Hunt is poised to flog the last of the NHS
Peter Roderick sounds the alarm on an 'attack on the fundamental principles of the NHS'.
Viva Siva, 1923-2018
A. Sivanandan, who died this week, was a hugely important figure in the politics of race and class. As part of our tributes, Red Pepper is republishing this 2009 profile of him by Arun Kundnani
Sivanandan: When memory forgets a giant
Daniel Renwick calls for the whole movement to discover and remember the vital work of A. Sivanandan, who died this week
A master-work of graphic satire
American Jewish cartoonist Eli Valley’s comic commentary on America, the US Jewish diaspora and Israel is nothing if not near the knuckle, Richard Kuper writes
Meet the frontline activists facing down the global mining industry
Activists are defending land, life and water from the global mining industry. Tatiana Garavito, Sebastian Ordoñez and Hannibal Rhoades investigate.
Transition or succession? Zimbabwe’s future looks uncertain
The fall of Mugabe doesn't necessarily spell freedom for the people of Zimbabwe, writes Farai Maguwu
Don’t let Corbyn’s opponents sneak onto the Labour NEC
Labour’s powerful governing body is being targeted by forces that still want to strangle Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership, writes Alex Nunns
Labour Party laws are being used to quash dissent
Richard Kuper writes that Labour's authorities are more concerned with suppressing pro-Palestine activism than with actually tackling antisemitism