“I always think about the mothers who were left behind and who continue to struggle to get justice”

                       – Hifsa Haroon Iqbal MBE DL, Nisa-Nashim Co-Chair

Big Ideas and the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation collaborated with Laura Marks OBE and Hifsa Haroon Iqbal MBE DL, Co-Chairs of Nisa-Nashim, to run a Foundation Stones painting workshop as part of a nationwide Nisa-Nashim event. This virtual workshop was run to commemorate the 1995 genocide at Srebrenica.

Nisa-Nashim brings the Jewish and Muslim communities in Britain closer together by setting up groups of women to raise awareness of Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and women’s role in society. It felt especially poignant to commemorate the genocide at Srebrenica with this group, given it’s impact on Muslim women.

The workshop opened with a welcome from Laura, followed by an introduction to the Foundation Stones project. Next, Elinor Chohan from Remembering Srebrenica spoke, sharing words and thoughts about the importance of remembering the genocide. Elinor called on participants to act, because:

“Every action matters, no matter how small. Your actions can make a difference. Always challenge hate, prejudice and genocide denial”.

These powerful words were followed with 10 minutes of stone painting and reflection. Gentle music was played over Zoom as people painted their stones, and then people were invited to share what they had painted.

Many participants painted the 11 petaled Srebrenica flower, signifying the date of the genocide, and used colours such as green and white to signify growth and innocence. Some used their stone as a source of inspiration, with one participant saying that the stone she chose was gnarled and jagged, which for her symbolised the struggle that took place at Srebrenica. Other people wrote messages of hope, choosing to represent themes of love and unity with their Foundation Stones.

Hifsa Haroon Iqbal, Nisa-Nashim Co-Chair, used the seed from inside a mango instead of a stone, because “from little seeds, wonderful big things can grow”. She wrote the number 8732 in Urdu to represent the men and boys who were murdered in Srebrenica.

The workshop culminated in a message from Hifsa, thanking the members of Nisa-Nashim from across the UK for taking part.

All of the stones painted in this workshop will form part of the new UK Holocaust Memorial and Learning Centre. The 1995 genocide at Srebrenica will be part of the exhibition in the Learning Centre, to find out more and to take part, please visit our Foundation Stones page.