Fatima Khaled, from Algeria, has lived in the UK for 26 years and is the founder of the charity Lotus Life, a youth group for girls that aims to provide them with valuable life skills and experiences. She also runs a community school where bilingual students can go to learn Arabic, an integral part of understanding and knowing their identity. She shares her thoughts on a number of issues including identity and narratives about Muslim women when we talk to her at the Goodge St forum.
Her opinion on the narrative on Muslim women needing to change is shaped by the work that she does and she points out that much of it comes down to mentality. “This is what needs to change, the fact that we are looking at everything as them and us.” She explains further that coming from a community where it has been easier to isolate themselves encourages others not to like them. “What I want is women not thinking we need to integrate because we are hated but instead by being a part of our communities takes away the veil of ignorance,” Fatima so artistically puts it, “we are people just like them and the more you give to them the more they are inclined to give back and understand.”
We ask her about her thoughts on how she would define herself and whether that has had an impact on who she is today. “I see myself as a person who can make a change, a person who is needed and I don’t have the mentality of thinking wherever I go I will be automatically hated.” She also explains that she has never been one to have the fear that is often associated with Muslim women wearing the hijab, which highlights how heavily the narrative is forced upon us instead of being heard by us.
Looking to the future, Fatima would like to see “opportunities and awareness for many Muslim women… and a society where we have understood the importance of integrating and being knowledgeable about whats around us.”