Young Muslim Advisory Group’s first national youth conference

Published 21 March 2009

The conference, intended to build dialogue between government and young people will be a unique opportunity for young people of all faiths to engage with each other, with Communities Secretary Hazel Blears, and with a range of community leaders.

Speaking ahead of attending the event Hazel Blears said:

"I am delighted to be taking part in the Young Muslim advisory group's (YMAG) first national youth conference. This group is part of our long term vision to empower young people to shape the society they live in by being active citizens and making a positive contribution - the conference, I am certain, is the first positive step of many to come.

"The conference will bring together more than 300 young people of different faiths from across England and I am sure that the debate will be lively. These young people have so much to contribute to society and I am keen to take every opportunity to hear from them."

The young people attending the conference will have the opportunity to question the Secretary of State and also to take part in a number of workshops and discussions on a whole range of issues including:

  • preventing violent extremism - to help inform young people about everything central and local government are doing to prevent violent extremism - any misconceptions and concerns about this issue will also be discussed
  • how young people can become active in their local community - helping young people understand how to kick start their own community involvement by showcasing good examples from around the country
  • building bridges between different faiths - to help develop understanding between young people of different faiths and no faith by addressing myths and preconceptions that may exist
  • the impact of foreign policy on young people - looking at how foreign policy is interpreted by young people and how it may affect their attitudes
  • understanding the police - looking at the attitudes and relationships between young people and police and how any barriers between the two can be overcome

Speaking about his involvement in YMAG and the youth conference, Abdullah Saif, 22, Chair of the YMAG and a trainee solicitor from Birmingham said:

"I joined the YMAG because I believe that instead of sitting back and complaining I should step up to the plate and make my voice heard. Young people of all backgrounds can sometimes be disillusioned with politics; they often don't feel heard, they feel they have no voice - but the YMAG and the youth conference we have organised gives us a strong voice and means we get direct access to government Ministers."

The conference will finish with a speech from Gill Hicks MBE, a survivor of the July 7th bombings in London. She will talk to the conference about surviving a terror attack, the appreciation she has for life, and also the responsibilities she feels we all have to make a positive difference to society.

Notes to editors

  1. The YMAG a group of 23 young Muslim leaders was launched by Communities Secretary Hazel Blears and Children and Families Secretary Ed Balls in October 2008. The Government is keen to deepen its engagement with young Muslims and ensure that ministers and policy makers hear first hand about the issues affecting their day to day lives.
  2. The YMAG are working with Government departments to find solutions to a range of challenges including tackling discrimination; increasing employment levels; preventing violent extremism and boosting civic participation.
  3. The YMAG are supported in their work by a Peer Network, made up of young Muslims from across each English region. Involving the Peer Network in the work of YMAG will help ensure that hard to reach groups and a diverse range of young people are consulted, particularly at the grass roots level.

Members of the YMAG are:

Arzoo Ahmed, 22 from East Didsbury, Manchester
Recently graduated from Oxford University with a physics degree. A member of a number of organisations including Islam and Muslim Awareness Project she is also on the executive board of the Federation of Student Islamic Studies and whilst at Oxford served as Vice President, Secretary and events coordinator at the Oxford University Islamic Society.

Magda Ali, 20 Islington, London
Works as a freelance journalist and has worked as a volunteer for Islamic Relief and a fundraiser for Muslim Aid. Magda is an undergraduate at City University where she studies Journalism and economics.

Aziza Al-Yassin, 19 from Brent, London
A 2nd year student studying medicine at Kings College London, she is the chairwoman of Noor Youth, a subcommittee of the Ahlul Hayt Society at Kings.

Mohammed Shafiul Amin, 19 from East London
Recently started a degree in medicine at Kings College London. He is currently the President of the Islamic Society of Tower Hamlets and works locally with young people as an outreach worker.

Faheem Ayyub, 25 from Brixton
Youth work coordinator in Lambeth, Faheem is a qualified mentor and also counsels young people who have been in prison or are in trouble with the police.

Raffein Azaim, 25 from Derby
Currently works as a speech and language therapist. Alongside her career commitments she has also been heavily involved in local voluntary work in Derby for the last two years. As well as acting as chair of Lil Muslimah, a voluntary Muslim women's organisation which represents women in the city, Raffein is a member of the Derby Muslim Forum and works as both presenter and part of the management team at the local community radio station Radio Ikhlas.

Farah Elahi, 20 from Willesden Green, London
An undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies studying Economics and Development studies, Farah is a member of the association of Muslim researchers, the SOAS Islamic Society and the South Asian Society. She has recently completed an internship at Christian Aid.

Zahrah Foy, 21 from Blackburn
Currently studying for a degree at the University of Lancashire.

Talha Ghannam, 19 from Knowle, Solihull
Currently studying maths and economics at the London School of Economics. He is a member of the Solihull Muslims Community Association and during 2006 -07 worked with the UK Youth Parliament as elected member for Solihull. He is currently employed as a consultant for the National Youth Agency.

Kulsum Gulamhusein, 17 from Harrow, London
A committee member of the youth panel at the Shia Ithna'ashari Community of Middlesex (SICM) Kulsum also teaches the Quran, has established an Islamic society at her school and founded a cross country team.

Bilal Khalid Hanjra, 19 from Surrey
Currently studying Business at Kingston University and is a representative for the Kingston Muslim Youth Association.

Aisha Iqbal, 24 from Selly Park, Birmingham
She is an active member of Hear My Voice - an organisation that encourages young people to have a say on issues that matter to them. Currently studying for a PHD in liver disease at Birmingham University.

Sabiha Iqbal, 18 from Bradford
Currently studying at Bradford University, where she is also an Ecoversity and Marketing Ambassador. She works as a hate crime researcher, community relations developer and youth mentor with Bradford Civil Rights Group. A member of Bradford Youth Service's Arts and Politics groups, she runs her own not for profit organisation teaching and performing drumming and poetry. She was involved in the Women Working Towards Excellence OurLives project which used workshops and films to dispell myths, empower and champion Muslim women in Bradford.

Khadija Aqil, 17 from Whalley Range, Manchester
Currently at college, she has taken part in a number of conferences discussing issues relating to topical issues around Islam and British Society.

Fahad Khan, 21 from Leeds
A student from Leeds studying International Relations and Security Studies at Bradford University. He is a project development worker for the Leeds Muslim Youth Forum. Following the 7/7 attacks Fahd took part in a consultation event in Leeds where he raised issues with the former PM Tony Blair and has since engaged with former Lord Nazir Ahmed and Baroness Warsi on a range of issues.

Ibrahim Khan, 18 from Thornaby, Durham
Currently studying for 7 A levels, he is also part of the Islamic Awareness group which works with Muslims and non- Muslims, Thornaby Muslim Association, Thornaby cricket club, works at Al-Haaydiyah (an Islamic school that teaches Muslim children Islam) as well as serving as an Imam in the local mosque. He has previously attended the Global Young Leaders Conference in Washington DC and New York - which bought together 400 academically gifted teenagers from across the world to educate them about world leadership.

Ali-Abbas Khimji, 19 from Watford
Previously worked as a secretary at the local Ansar Youth project organising various events for young people in the local area. Currently studying, Ali has previously worked as a youth worker where he helped to engage parents in workshops to see what they perceived to be their children's greatest concerns in Britain today.

Usman Ahmed Nawaz, 19 from Rochdale
A member of the UK Youth Parliament for the Borough of Rochdale. Usman is also a member of the Sufi Muslim Council where he coordinates activities for young people. Through this role he has developed an understanding of how vulnerable young Muslims can be susceptible to radicalisation and this has helped him to develop strategies to deter Muslims from organisations linked to terror. Also a local DJ, he works as a presenter on Crescent Community radio station and currently hosts a phone in programme which often deals with controversial issues around Islam.

Senay Nihat, 22 from Ilford Essex
Senay recently graduated from Oxford University, (modern History and politics) and is hoping to be a barrister. Currently taking a year off before starting law school she is working as a project officer for the organisation MyBnk, a social enterprise which teaches financial and enterprise skills to young adults and disadvantaged groups in inner city London.

Saad Qureshi, 21 from Brixton in London
Saad is studying Business Management at Queen Mary, University of London. He has over 8 years experience in the voluntary sector working with communities, Metropolitan Police and local government, and managing numerous counter-terrorism projects. He is a qualified Youth Worker and Mentor, and is mentoring some young individuals, whilst also helping young people improve their educational attainment as an Assistant Teacher.

Asma Rahman, 22 from East London
A recent graduate of Oxford University where she studied English, Asma is currently a volunteer mentor for the London School of Excellence in Whitechapel. Whilst at Oxford she was Vice President and editor of the newsletter for the Islamic Society. Asma is the vice-chair of the YMAG.

Waliur Rahman, 24 from East Ville, Bristol
Involved in numerous community projects around Bristol, including a Governor at the Bristol Metropolitan College and has previously been an Education Welfare Officer at Bristol City Council. Currently works as a Company Operations Manager for Active8 Education Ltd.

Abdullah Saif, 22 from Hall Green, Birmingham
As well as working as a trainee solicitor for the last year he has been a cub scouts leader for the Birmingham 304th Muslim cub scouts group. Whilst studying at Keele University he was twice voted president of the universities Islamic Society and he also set up the first Islamic Society at the College of Law in Birmingham. Abdullah is the chair of the YMAG.


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