Interview: Rahma Hegy

Hear from Rahma, our Barts and The London Pre-Clinical Rep, about her upcoming event, the importance of challenging Islamophobia, and what it means to be a rep.

Tell us a bit about yourself

Hello, I am Rahma, a second-year medical student. I am Egyptian, born and raised in Italy. I moved the UK around 4 years ago. I am also this year’s Barts and the London’s Preclinical Rep.

Why did you decide to organise an event for Islamophobia Awareness Month?

I am passionate about raising awareness about Islamophobia because it is something I have been personally exposed to for a long time. I hope that by raising awareness I can help to protect others who may be experiencing discrimination and bullying because of their faith.

I would like this event to be eye-opening for many people that might not be aware of the nature of the discrimination that Muslims around the world (including their own university students) be experiencing.

This event aims to break stereotypes; offer a safe place to ask questions; discuss various topics and allow people to reflect on their ideas about Islam.

Can you tell us a bit more about your event?

The event is a panel talk called “Islamophobia in our daily lives - let’s have a chat” it will be at the Perrin LT, Blizard Institute at 5:30pm on Monday the 15th of November. We will address certain topics and give the audience a chance to ask questions related to these:

  • Meaning behind Islamophobia, its prevalence and causes
  • Muslims with a certain outward appearance (hijab, beard etc) can be particularly affected by Islamophobia
  • Introduce the principle of modesty in Islam (for men and women)
  • Misconceptions around women's rights in Islam
  • Lifestyle of Muslims (Halal food and drinks)
  • Experiences of Islamophobia by Muslims students

Another student, Bara’a Al-Diri, and I, will be hosting and facilitating the discussion. We are pleased to announce the attendance of renowned speakers and scholars, details of whom will be released soon. Keep an eye out for any updates through my Instagram account @rahma.preclinicalrep and on the official SU Instagram page and website.

What are you looking most forward to about IAM?

I am looking forward to reading about the influential Muslims in our society, that serve as empowerment and motivation for us all! I hope IAM will be a mean through which more people learn about Islam and understand the impact and threat of Islamophobia.

More importantly, IAM is a chance for every Muslim, of any age or gender, to understand that they are not alone in their struggle with Islamophobia, that we are all here to support each other, lift each other up, and strengthen each other. This is the meaning of community and brotherhood after all.

To all Muslims students in this university: never let the fear of discrimination get in the way of you achieving what you have dreamt of and worked hard for. Never lose confidence in yourself, your worth, and your potential if ever faced with derogatory and Islamophobic comments. It does not reflect on you but on the personality and upbringing of the authors of such hate. Do not compromise your Iman to fit someone else’s preferences, always be true to yourself, it is your right!

Why is it important to raise awareness about Islamophobia?

Islamophobia has a detrimental impact on many people. It is important to raise awareness to prevent Islamophobic episodes from happening and to allow people to recognise them when they occur and do something about it. We must make sure that Muslims in our society know that they matter, as well as their right to practice their religion without being discriminated against. Moreover, that their voice is heard, that their complaints are listened to and considered. I believe that such initiatives are of extreme importance and would have a significant impact on the lives of many Muslims.

It is when we collectively start treating something as unacceptable that people’s views and attitudes towards it change. Just like when you stop laughing at the jokes the bully makes in class and point out that they are in the wrong…they will eventually stop. This is the importance of raising awareness about anything of unjust nature in society.

What can we do as a community to combat Islamophobia?

I believe there are two ways through which, as a community, we should act, one does not exclude the other. It is important to educate people about Islam using reliable sources and directing them to appropriate Islamic centres, scholars, books, documentaries. This is to ensure they do not get a biased, inaccurate representation of Islam and Muslims. Also, it would be beneficial to promote events where to have safe and respectful discussions between Muslims and non-Muslims. In addition, we must call out Islamophobia when we see it, in our own day to day lives and on mainstream media!

You’re the Pre-Clinical Rep this year – can you tell us a bit about the role and your plans for the year?

I represent year 1, 2 medical students in both the London and Malta campus, as well as GEP year 1 students’ educational needs to the university. I collaborate with the medical school and the University to ensure the students are satisfied with their course, are listened to and that their wellbeing is taken into consideration. May aim is to ensure every student is given the chance to achieve their full potential. I also co-chair the MBBS Junior Student-Staff Liaison Committee.

I have many plans for this year, including improving the clinical experience of the students and ensuring a more efficient methodology of communication between students and staff members is put in place. My focus now is redirected towards improving the format of the final exams (online vs in person) as well as ensuring more in person teaching.


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