Past Events

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Syrian refugees: A European moral crisis

Title: Syrian refugees: A European moral crisis

Speakers: Esmat Jeraj, Muzna Al-Naib, Nazmiye Yolcu, Sulaiman Osman

Date: Friday 25 November 2016

Time: 18:45-20:30

Venue: Abrar House, 45 Crawford Place, Marylebone, London W1H 4LP

We all know what’s been happening in Syria since the war started in 2011, almost 6 years ago. We’ve seen the news reports, the pictures and the videos of the attacks on homes, hospitals and schools; of the hundreds of thousands killed; of families fleeing. We all know what’s happening in Calais too. In the last week, the ‘Jungle’ has been demolished with the remaining refugee children having been moved from Calais to reception centres around France. 

What began as a peaceful pro-democracy demonstration has become a full-scale civil war devastating the country and creating a refugee crisis of historic proportions. Families are risking their lives everyday to escape Syria. Children are making the journey alone in search of safety. Half of Syria’s pre-war population has either been killed or is on the run, 4.8 million have been forced to seek safety in neighbouring countries, 6.1 million people are displaced within Syria and 13.5 million are in need of humanitarian assistance. 

This is the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. Refugees are risking everything on their way to Europe seeking safety, acceptance, and opportunity. We don’t need to raise awareness of this issue. We need to help the millions of Syrians struggling to survive. Really, the question now is what can Europeans do to help? Or have we lost all empathy? Is this a Syrian refugee crisis or a European moral crisis?

Chair and Speaker

Esmat Jeraj is an activist working in leadership roles both in the Muslim community and in broader community contexts. Her background is in public relations, and she currently serves as the Secretariat for the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation & Public Life, where she is undertaking national research on barriers to Muslim participation before producing a report with policy recommendations, expected in mid-2017.

Outside of her professional responsibilities, Esmat has taken on leadership roles with a number of organisations at both a local and national level, and is an active campaigner on a number of social justice issues. Alongside utilising media to raise broader awareness of key issues and to affect change, Esmat has acted as a guest panellist for Universities and spoken at other public seminars on issues pertaining to Islam and Muslims in Britain and abroad.  She sits on the Executive for the Patchwork Foundation, which seeks to engage young people from under-privileged communities with politics, and acts as a consultant on media, strategy and communications for a number of charities. Esmat also facilitates leadership development training for young people exploring issues such as power, privilege and understanding self.


Muzna Al- Naib lived in Damascus during the revolution and was involved in peaceful activism on the ground. Muzna has close relatives and friends who were detained and tortured in the regime prisons, and she lost a friend to torture. Muzna is a spokesperson for Syria Solidarity UK – an advocacy group committed to solidarity with the Syrian Revolution, it aims to provide political solidarity for the people of Syria and support their struggle for freedom. Syria Solidarity UK focuses on the protection of civilians through supporting the unconditional right of Syrian refugees to come to Britain, humanitarian relief to the refugees and to the internally displaced and besieged areas in Syria, release of all the detainees in Syrian jails. Syria Solidarity UK supports all efforts towards a political settlement for a democratic, pluralist and united Syria, where all Syrians can freely determine their future with the support of the international community.

Nazmiye Yolcu is part of the Insaaf project, a group of professionals based in London and France who came together to help refugees in France, Greece and Lebanon. Insaaf's main focus is to provide shelter, food and clothing to refugees and provide moral support. Insaaf applies a 100% donations policy to ensure that every penny of the donations is strictly used for the refugees directly. This initiative has been launched after noticing a desperate need for manpower and resource to support refugees during this terrible crisis, and the lack of structure and coordination among the NGOs. Outside of her charity work, Nazmiye is a business consultant in risk management.

Sulaiman Osman is the founder of the Hikayetna [Arabic for ‘Our Story’] project, which is raising awareness of the crisis, sharing stories of refugees through art, and aiming to show the Syrian people from a different perspective. Sulaiman is a Syrian Journalist, broadcaster and blogger based in London, has having graduated in Journalism from the University of Damascus (Syria) and the Institute For War and Peace Report. Sulaiman has worked as a news and current affairs journalist for BBC and Alaraby TV, and is a regular guest contributor on television and radio news programs. 

Additional details

Free entrance. All welcome. Prayer space available. Street parking free from 18:30. Doors open at 18:45 and the talk begins at 19:00. If you have any questions, please contact the event organiser on