School pupils urge young people to ‘Lay Down Your Knives’

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Migrant and refugee pupils from South and City Birmingham College and Anderton Park School have produced a short film in hopes to inspire young people to stop knife crime.

Knife crime is one of the leading issues within the UK. The West Midlands, alone, has seen an 17% increase in knife or sharp instrument related crime, according to latest figures released by the Office of National Statistics in January.

It’s illegal to sell a knife to anyone under 18, and the maximum penalty for an adult convicted of carrying a knife is four years in jail and an unlimited fine.

The film was the brainchild of activist, artist and filmmaker, Salma Zulfikar and was funded by The Princes Trust.

It details the importance of the urgent need to recycle and dispose knives as they are increasingly posing a threat to society.

Salma chose to work with mainly female migrant and refugee students “as girls have an important role to play as community peacemakers”.

The collaboration involved students and sister’s Skala and Mawra Abdullah, who are students at South and City Birmingham College and Eimaan Saghir, a pupil at Anderton Park School in Balsall Heath.

Students Skala Abdullah, Mawra Abdullah, Eiman Saghir practising their poem.
(Credit: Salma Zulfikar)

As part of a series of ‘ARTconnects workshops’ over 50 students created artwork which was created into animations for the film.

Skala, who led the project, had fled Iraq nine months ago with her family to start a new life in the UK and contribute to society.   She said the message of the film is very clear:

“Sometimes girls in my class don’t feel safe walking in the street. We want to live in peace in our community and I want other students to help us make our community safe. We need young people to share and accept each other and stop street wars with knives.”

The film poster for ‘Lay down your knives’. (Credit: Salma Zulfikar)

Salma has worked on many creative projects such as ARTconnects & The Migration Blanket with a focus on empowering refugee and migrant women. Her project works towards preventing hate crime and promoting integration.

Speaking to Birmingham Eastside, she said:

“Through this film, we would like an end to knife crime and we want young people to inspire other people who see the film to not throw away their life for a life of crime”

Salma and Skala Abdullah recording for the film. (Credit: Salma Zulfikar)

The film has previously been shown across South and City Birmingham College’s campuses to more than 8,000 college students, as well as The Prince’s Trust Birmingham Centre in Digbeth.

For more information about Salma Zulfikar’s further projects visit : http://www.salmazulfiqar.com/

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