Actress Tracy-Ann Oberman admitted to anti-hate campaigners last night: “I’ve never felt safe as a Jew or woman.”
The startling claim was made during a glittering ceremony in central London to celebrate the annual No2H8 Awards.
The awards, which returned after a hiatus of three years due to the pandemic, champion those who tackle hatred, intolerance and prejudice nationwide. The event is partnered by Jewish News.
The EastEnders and Friday Night Dinner star told over 200 attendees: “It hurts me when I see young Chabad boys go up to Oxford Circus on Chanukah, be spat on and then find out there will be no prosecution against the perpetrators.
“I have seen incredible hatred towards Jews, particularly online, from 2018 onwards. Social media has become a battleground for hearts and minds, where people are radicalised online.
“I realised it needed voices like myself- who found a bravery from somewhere- to stand up and be counted to puncture these echo chambers.”
Congratulating the diverse range of winners, Oberman concluded: “Minorities are stronger, prouder and safer when we stand together.”
Award categories included Upstanders in the fields of law enforcement, sport and community.
Fiyaz Mughal, awards co-founder and chair, warned politicians not to “pander to hate and fear”.
He said: “Over the past year we have seen cultural battles unleashed on social media and in political circles. We should give hope instead of hate, and courage where there is fear. That is what we ask from our politicians.
“It is the right to be who we want to be that we are defending and celebrating here tonight with our award winners.”
After presenting the Esther and Edwin Lifetime Achievement Award to Gerry Gable, editor of Searchlight magazine, Iraqi-born businessman and philanthropist Edwin Shukur, told Jewish News: “As a nine-year-old I remember standing in the shower wanting to wash my religion off. We were persecuted for who we were, with no care for what we had done.
“I will never forget what it feels like to be persecuted and I will never rest in fighting prejudice: this is my payback.
“I have supported this event right from day one and have huge pride in seeing its growth. The Jewish community embraced this anti-hate narrative, as we always do.
Other Upstander award winners included 17-year-old Jake Daniels, who became the UK’s first male professional footballer to come out publicly as gay since Justin Fashanu in 1990.
The Media Upstander Award was won by Guardian columnist, Marina Hyde, while the Young Upstander Award was picked up by Adam Khan, who organised the first ever Trans Pride event in Birmingham.
As numerous speakers noted, this year’s No2H8 Awards were presented against a backdrop of rising intolerance.
Last year there were more than 150,000 hate crimes recorded by police in England and Wales- a 26 percent rise on the previous year.
Addressing these alarming statistics, Deputy Mayor for Policing and Crime in London, Sophie Linden, who attended on behalf of the Mayor of London, pledged:
“We will continue to call out and condemn hatred and intolerance wherever we find it. We will always seek to work with those who wish to unite, not divide, communities.
“We will not witness attacks in silence and we will act. In London, we will do whatever it takes to make all our citizens feel secure and welcome.
Further supportive messages were sent in advance by Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Secretary, Michael Gove, and Labour leader Keir Starmer
Partnered by Jewish News, the Daily Mirror, CST, Tell MAMA, and GALOP, the awards have been running since 2014. Jewish News editor Richard Ferrer said: “It’s an honour for us to work with such a group of highly-respected organisations battling hatred and intolerance.”
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