North West Migrants Forum

Political Support Continues To Pour In Following ‘Yara’s letter’

Political Support Continues To Pour In Following ‘Yara’s letter’

(Above) DUP MLA Deborah Erskine (centre) with Migrants Forum Director of Programmes Lilian Seenoi Barr, Programmes Manager Naomi Green and Forum members Shamano and Frank. Ms Erskine visited the centre to discuss a range of issues around identity and race relations in Northern Ireland.

Senior politicians have continued to weigh in behind an 11-year-old girl who objected to being described as ‘other’ on her school application form. Yara Moustafa has made headlines across the UK since penning a letter to the North West Migrants Forum.

In it she took issue with a form which asked was she ‘Catholic’, ‘Protestant’ or ‘other’. Yara, who is a Muslim, said she refused to be called ‘other’, adding that it “isn’t nice”.

Her appeal for help in highlighting the issue has caught the eye of elected representatives across the political spectrum, at both Stormont and parliament levels.

Earlier this week DUP MLA Deborah Erskine visited the Migrant Forum’s premises on Fountain Street. Ms Erskine talked about a range of issues including identity and race relations legislation. She has now vowed to raise matters discussed with her political colleagues.

The North West Migrants Forum has also met in recent days with Simon Hoare MP, Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. Mr Hoare had previously voiced his support for a move away from the binary labelling of school children. He took on board representations from the North West Migrants Forum Director of Programmes Lilian Seenoi Barr and Programmes Manager Naomi Green who is Yara’s mum.
Ms Greene said her daughter had been “genuinely upset” when confronted with three ‘Catholic’, ‘Protestant’ or ‘other’ tick boxes.

Previously Sinn Féin’s Michelle O’Neill had tweeted that she would follow up the matter on Yara’s behalf while SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has sent a handwritten letter to the schoolgirl pledging his full support.

NWMF Yara's Letter

The five page handwritten letter from SDLP leader Colum Eastwood to Yara, the schoolgirl who has objected to being described as an ‘other’.

“No one in our society should be made to feel ‘othered’, Mr Eastwood wrote in his five pages of correspondence.
‘All religions, faiths and beliefs should be cherished and respected, our diversity makes us stronger.”

The Migrants Forum has also written to Secretary of State Chris Heaton-Harris to request a meeting.

His office has acknowledged the request and has vowed to respond.

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