“When I was four or five, I moved from Leeds to Keighley, a small town about twenty miles away. It was a challenging place to be. At the time, the National Front had a strong presence there. I didn’t encounter it a lot, but the fear was always there, and there were places around town to avoid.
“My family is Muslim, however, me and my two elder sisters went to Catholic school. It wasn’t a choice based on religion, but rather on how we as a working-class family could get the best quality state education available – something my Mum felt our local Catholic school was best at providing for us. I wasn’t properly confirmed or anything, but I was an altar boy!
“There were other schools in the area that had more Asian people and also there was a Muslim community. But I was kind of kept away from that. So for me, I didn’t have much of a cultural or religious identity growing up. I saw culture and religion as being hand-in-hand; I saw them as the same thing. My school life was this strange dichotomy of being Muslim and Catholic, but I found it really helpful because it made me learn about different religions. Quite often, when people think about religions, it’s from the outside, but here I was an outsider in two communities – two very similar monotheistic religions. But people tend to focus on the differences, I guess.”