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The power of words

A young woman from Ware who has converted to Islam spoke movingly of her experiences during East Herts Council's first Holocaust Memorial Day event last Thursday.

Becky Aykildiz was in conversation with Ware councillor Jonathan Kaye who organised the event. She told the packed council chamber in Hertford that she had never suffered any negative comments and described East Herts residents as welcoming and open-minded.

Semira Baily from the Bahai community in Bishop's Stortford explained about her faith and said that Bahai members in Iran still suffered persecution, making Holocaust Memorial Day as relevant as ever.

The event also recalled subsequent genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur.

St Edmunds College

Pupils from St Edmunds College, Ware showed excerpts from a play they'd performed called Quarry about a former pupil, Andreas Frohlich, who was murdered at Mauthausen concentration camp. 

East Herts chairman Jeff Jones said: "On the whole East Herts isn't a very diverse community. It is mostly white, British, Christian. But that doesn't mean we should be complacent because just one person being harassed because of their background is one too many, and there's no place for such behaviour in East Herts.

"We've all gathered here today to send out that message loud and clear."

Break down barriers

Council leader Linda Haysey said: "Here in East Herts we sadly can't solve some of those big international conflicts but in our own way each one of us can speak and get to know people from different communities and ethnic groups which can help break down barriers, reduce fear and enhance our towns and villages."

Other speakers included Rabbi Irit Shillor from Harlow Jewish Community. Six memorial candles were lit by:

  • Edan Solomon - family members survived the Holocaust
  • Rev Ysmena Pentelow - vicar of Church of St Mary the Virgin, Ware
  • Annabel Ross - Richard Hale School headgirl
  • Cllr Peter Ruffles - Hertfordshire County Council
  • Sadiq Haq - Herts SACRE member and representative of the Muslim community
  • Alderman John Wing.


January 30 2018