THE TELEGRAPH — A man deliberately tried to kill a Muslim woman by driving his car into her, just days after the Parsons Green terror attack, a court has heard.
Paul Moore is accused of targeting Zaynab Hussein because of the colour of her skin and the fact she was wearing a hijab, five days after the attempted attack in London last September.
The 21-year-old allegedly drove his Volkswagen Up! into Ms Hussein – a Somali national – after spotting her in a Leicester street shortly after 8am on September 20. Witnesses claimed he was laughing at the time.
Just moments later he is accused driving the same vehicle at a 12-year-old schoolgirl, a short distance away in an attempt to cause her serious harm.
The jury was told how Ms Hussein, a Somali national, was struck once and subsequently driven over again moments later during the incident which took place in Leicester.
A jury of seven men and five women at Nottingham Crown Court were told Mr Moore had tried to kill Ms Hussein “purely because of the colour of her skin” and her “perceived Islamic faith”.
The prosecution said four other people were in the car with Moore during the incident and they had begged him to let them out afterwards.
Opening the case against Mr Moore, prosecutor Jonathan Straw said: “(Moore) carefully and deliberately, in an act of calculated evil, aligned his wheels so the front and back wheels were over her (Ms Hussein).
“He did not know her. He tried to kill her purely because of the colour of her skin and because of her perceived Islamic faith as she was wearing a hijab.
“It is no coincidence, we say, that there had been a bomb at Parsons Green Tube station in London, said to have been carried out by sympathisers of Islamic State.”
Mr Straw said it was only thanks to members of the public and medical professionals that Ms Hussein’s life was saved.
He continued: “She had received severe fractures to her pelvis, her spine, and one of the bones in her leg was broken.
“Having deliberately, we say, tried to kill Zaynab Hussein, the defendant then drove at a second victim – a 12-year-old schoolgirl.
“He did not hit her, he brushed her, but it is only by the grace of God and nothing more that she was saved.”
Mr Straw said Moore intended to offer no defence, adding: “It may well be he has no defence. He admits he was the driver.”
In a recorded interview played to the court, Reece Bishop, a passenger in the car at the time of the alleged attack on Ms Hussein, told police: “He was just driving like a maniac. I thought we were going to be dead. He said ‘I feel like running someone over. Anyone.’
“It all happened so fast. He turned the steering wheel and he just hits her out of the blue.”
On the recorded interview with police, Mr Bishop said Moore was laughing as he drove at Ms Hussein.
Mr Moore denies attempted murder, causing grievous bodily harm with intent and dangerous driving.
The trial continues.
Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri named young people’s laureate for London
THE GUARDIAN — The 24-year-old Somali-British poet Momtaza Mehri, who has been chosen as the new young people’s laureate for London, is hoping to spend her year in the role convincing young people “to see poetry as part of their every day, rather than in some dusty tome, or academic niche interest”.
Mehri, who has a background in biochemical science and wrote the poetry chapbook sugah. lump. prayer, has been shortlisted for this year’s Brunel African poetry prize and won last year’s Out-Spoken Page poetry prize. As laureate, Mehri hopes to encourage young people to voice their concerns and experiences through poetry.
The poet, from Kilburn in north-west London, was selected for the role by a panel of arts organisations and poets, and is, according to Spread the Word’s chair of trustees Rishi Dastidar, “an inspired choice” and a “poet to watch”.
“For young people to have an artist who is an ambassador for them, who brings their concerns, struggles and joys to those in authority, and the wider world, is vital,” Dastidar said. “Her poetry is precise and powerful, and rich with images that are haunting. She is not afraid to tackle the biggest of subjects, which, combined with her talent, is going to give the role a renewed sense of purpose and visibility.”
Mehri said she was exposed to oral forms of poetry by her family when growing up, but only began writing for publication around four years ago. “Over time I honed, or found, my voice, and that allowed me to feel comfortable, finding the poetic voice I felt was most suited to me. Obviously at the beginning you’re very much inspired by your influences,” she said. “I think the poetry I write is interested in questions or ideas around disruption or movement, whether it’s movement of people or places, movement between different ideas, between how things change over different generations, and in themes of migration and urban spaces.”
During her time in the role, Mehri will be looking to amplify the voices of Londoners aged between 13 and 25, “to let them lead conversations, to be as inspired by them as hopefully they can be inspired by me”. She will work with writer-development agency Spread the Word on youth-focused residencies across London, head a tour to six outer London boroughs, and co-host a special project for young London poets called The Young People’s Poetry Lab.
According to research from the National Literacy Trust, 84% of teachers who participated in a poetry programme for disadvantaged children in London schools over a five-year period said their writing skills had improved.
Outgoing young people’s laureate for London, Caleb Femi, said that “poetry has the potential to play a vital part in self-expression and artistic enjoyment in the lives of young people”.
“We need a dedicated person who can assist in integrating the joys of poetry into the everydayness of young Londoners,” he added. “We are extremely lucky to have a talented and dedicated poet such as Momtaza Mehri appointed as the new young people’s laureate for London. Her tenure is sure to be an extraordinary one.”
Mehri said that she wanted to: “Reach everybody, to allow people to see poetry as part of everyday living in London, and all the different poetry traditions that people bring to London.”
“I am very much aware of the fact that I came out of a very different poetic tradition, and what that’s brought to my writing of the English language. So I want to be aware of the fact that people are carrying different poetic influences, whether they consider themselves poets or not,” she said.
Bristol’s Somali Kitchen: Empowering women through cooking
Suad Yusuf set up the Somali Kitchen in Bristol to bring women together to share recipes, promote healthy eating and to support and empower one another.
London lawyer acquitted of forcing daughter to undergo female genital mutilation
LONDON, (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – A London solicitor accused of forcing his daughter to undergo female genital mutilation was acquitted on Thursday, increasing pressure on police and prosecutors who have yet to secure a conviction for FGM more than 30 years after it was outlawed.
The prosecution was only the second to be brought under FGM legislation introduced in 1985.
During a nine-day trial at London’s Central Criminal Court, the prosecution alleged that the defendant had twice arranged for someone to come to the family home to cut his daughter as a form of punishment when she was around nine years old.
But the defendant, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said in an emotional testimony that the allegations were fabrications arising from a very acrimonious divorce.
He said his wife had repeatedly threatened to destroy him and had turned their children against him.
“I didn’t cut my daughter. I would never hurt my daughter,” he told the jury. “I would give my life for my children.”
A medical expert confirmed the girl’s genitalia had been cut but said the scars were unusual and could not say when the injuries occurred.
The 50-year-old lawyer, who comes from West Africa, said FGM was not practiced in his community and he had no idea who had cut his daughter. He was also cleared of three counts of child cruelty.
Police and prosecutors have faced mounting pressure in recent years to secure a conviction for FGM as part of broader efforts to eradicate the practice, which usually involves the partial or total removal of external genitalia.
An estimated 137,000 women and girls in England and Wales have undergone FGM, which affects immigrant communities from various countries including Somalia, Sierra Leone, Eritrea, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt.
Politicians and campaigners, who believe thousands of girls in Britain are at risk of FGM, have said a successful prosecution would act as a deterrent.
Prosecutors were criticised over the first FGM trial in 2015 when a doctor was accused of performing FGM while treating a woman who had given birth. He was acquitted.
A leading obstetrician branded the trial a “ludicrous” travesty of justice which would leave doctors on labour wards terrified of touching women who had been subjected to FGM.
A second trial involving FGM – but brought under child cruelty laws – collapsed last month. (Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, which covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change. Visit news.trust.org to see more stories.)