Meet the Muslim and Jewish hate crime fighting duo

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

Meet the Muslim and Jewish hate crime fighting duo

Jewish News sits down with Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters and Tell MAMA, and former chief at the CST, Richard Benson

Former Minister Shahid Malik; British Transport Police’s Barry Boffy; director of TellMAMA Iman Atta and No2H8 Awards co-founder Fiyaz Mughal
Former Minister Shahid Malik; British Transport Police’s Barry Boffy; director of TellMAMA Iman Atta and No2H8 Awards co-founder Fiyaz Mughal

 They greet each other like old friends. One, a six-foot Muslim man who founded the Muslim community’s go-to Islamophobia monitoring organisation, the other, a Jewish man a touch smaller, who ran the Jewish community’s equivalent for 15 years.

“Do I know you?” jokes Richard as Fiyaz walks into the room. Theirs is that obvious, genuine warmth you get only when you know each other very well. You get the impression they could almost finish each other’s sentences.

The duo in question is Fiyaz Mughal, founder of Faith Matters and Tell MAMA, and Richard Benson, who spent more than a decade as chief executive at the Community Security Trust (CST), charged with defending Britain’s Jews. They’re on a high because the No2H8 Crime Awards they’re jointly organising has just been given a huge boost, with a double-page spread in the Daily Mirror.

Over the course of the next hour, they explain how they’re growing the awards into a national event, and consistently show that they are on the same page – for instance, when the issue is raised of big national newspapers wanting big national names as winners. “We know they do,” Fiyaz says. “But we push back against that.” Richard nods. “Remember what this is all about – the people who never get a look in, but who do heroic deeds,” he says.

The No2H8 Awards honour those who stand up to hate crimes. They have risen by more than 30 percent in the past two years, so the urge to highlight champions is an obvious one, but how did a Jew and a Muslim come to work together on it?

Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer presents an award at last year’s No2H8 Crime Awards

“Fiyaz woke up one day and felt, as he usually does, that good things need to done,” says Richard.

“He came up with an amazing idea, ran it in 2016 on a shoe-string budget, and it inspired us. The product’s so completely diverse, running across all communities, and the fact that it’s a Jew and a Muslim coming together as well.”

Fiyaz says: “I remember that first night. I called Richard, he said ‘great idea but speak to me later’. After that convergence of the idea and a bit of energy I had, and the structure and reach that Richard has, now you have the awards where they are.”

They’re great to watch, not quite Roo and Eeyore, more like Tigger and Owl. Fiyaz is the energy, the buzz and ideas, whereas Richard is the wisdom, the nous, the reach, and steady hand. So, is Richard the guy that says ‘hang on’?

They laugh. “He always does!” says Fiyaz. “He has to pull me back from different directions.” Richard is diplomatic. “It’s a good double act,” he says. “I bring structure to the energy.” For that, Fiyaz is grateful. “I think the partnership has worked exceptionally well and we’ve complemented each other,” he says.

They first met long before the awards were dreamt up. “Fiyaz came to us [the CST] about eight years ago,” says Richard. “He said ‘Muslims are being attacked. There’s no structure in-place in the Muslim community. How can I replicate what the CST is doing around recording hate crimes and supporting victims?’ We at CST immediately said we wanted to help.”

Richard continues: “We’d known of Fiyaz for some years by then, from his work within communities, so his credentials were fantastic. We sat down with him and helped him develop, essentially, what Tell MAMA is today.”

Richard Benson

The relationship deepened. CST seconded staff to help Fiyaz put it together, but the basis of the links – the relationship between Richard and Fiyaz – continued after Richard stepped down from his position at CST in 2013.

“Fiyaz nailed me,” Richard recalls  with a grin. “He said ‘put your money where your mouth is and join us’. So I did.” He joined as co-chair, with Shahid Malik, an ex-government minister, but he soon chose to become president of Tell MAMA instead.

“I really felt, and I’ll be honest, that an organisation for the Muslim community shouldn’t be led jointly be a Jew. That’s why I became president. Since then I’ve been helping Fiyaz to raise money within government for the work Tell MAMA does. So yes, that’s how we came together. A shidduch made in heaven!”

After Fiyaz has finished laughing, he says: “It shows you what can be achieved when that happens. I mean, you’ve got five different areas of hate crime, but actually, I feel really proud that a Jew and Muslim have come together. That’s the symbolism. It’s what modern Britain is about – coming together, having empathy, binding, bonding, working towards a common good.”

He continues: “Anti-Semitism over the past three or four years has just jumped upwards, it’s become part of the political mainstream, and anti-Muslim bigotry is affecting people on the streets. Now we’ve got the Steve Bannons of this world coming into this country, and it is concerning, for both Muslims and Jews.”

For both men, however, the positive messages outweigh the negative, as they recall last year’s No2H8 Crime Awards, when Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg and Imam Mamadou Bocoum walked hand-in-hand up to the stage to collect their interfaith dialogue award.

“That’s the beauty of both communities,” says Fiyaz. “Together, we can achieve phenomenal things.”





Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...


Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.


There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.


In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.


Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish Newsalso produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more: