UK Muslims Mourn Slain MP Jo Cox

YORKSHIRE – European Muslim leaders, refugees and activists have mourned the death of British MP Jo Cox who was murdered last Thursday after a short life she spent in fighting for human rights of Syrians, Palestinians and Muslims.

“I am shocked by the attack on Jo Cox and saddened to hear of her death,” the Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain Dr Shuja Shafi said in a statement published on MCB’s website.

“Jo was known for her tireless campaigning for human rights and for the disadvantaged. Her campaigning meant that she positively affected the lives of many people abroad and here in the UK as well. She spoke up for the children of Syria and campaigned for migrants to be welcomed here.

“My thoughts, prayers and condolences go to Jo’s young family and to her husband Brendan Cox, himself a good friend of Muslim civil society,” he added.

Cox, an MP who regularly spoke up for their human rights, was stabbed and gunned down on Thursday on the streets of Birstall, a West Yorkshire village in her constituency, fewer than five miles from where she was born.The attacker yelled Britain First as he killed her, referring to an anti-Islam group.

The assassination of Cox, a 41-year-old mother of two, is the first in the past two decades in UK.

She also worked with anti-slavery charity Freedom Fund and Oxfam.

Mourning messages flowed from the groups she worked with – from Syrian refugees and Palestinian rights activists to youth campaigners and Muslims.

“She was a tiny woman with a massive voice,” Razia Jogi, a lawyer with strong links in the large Indian Gujarati community of Cox’s constituency, told Al Jazeera on Saturday, June 18.

“She united in life and she’s still uniting in death,” added Jogi, who attended a memorial service in the northern English town on Friday evening.

“She took on plights which weren’t particularly glamorous, that nobody really wants.”

Building Bridges

Mourning Cox, a memorial service was held at the Indian Muslim Welfare Society in Batley, and attended by hundreds of people of all faiths and backgrounds.

Cox “gave a voice to the voiceless” and “hope to the hated” – and that she would often cross party lines to galvanize support for the causes she championed, Sayeeda Warsi, a Conservative politician, said.

In her political life, Cox campaigned for diversity; victims of the Syrian conflict; child refugees; Palestinians affected by the blockade of the Gaza Strip; and Muslims who suffered Islamophobia.

“I worked quite closely with Jo on and off with community programs and projects,” Abdul Wajid, who runs youth groups and workshops within the Batley community, told Al Jazeera.

“She was very visible in the community. She would make it her business to attend as many activities as possible,” added Wajid, who also works locally as an associate clinical psychologist.

“She was very approachable, accessible, she was an empathetic listener – she would listen; she might not agree but she would listen.”

Cox was also an active member on parliamentary groups working on Palestine.

“I had the privilege of sharing the platform with Jo Cox on a number of occasions,” said Hugh Lanning, chair of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. “She was a passionate advocate for Palestine – speaking up on child prisoners, the siege of Gaza, the right to boycott and many other issues.

“Her murder is a tragic loss – most to her friends and family, but also to the causes she so brilliantly supported. She was a bright star who will be much missed.”