July 11 marks the 23rd anniversary of the genocide at Srebrenica, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, when 8,372 mostly Bosnian Muslim men and boys were murdered in the worst atrocity on European soil since the Second World War.

During the war, there are stories of the neighbours who hid their friends in their basements, who brought food to them, and risked their lives to conceal the truth when interrogated by soldiers.

There are stories of teachers running through sniper alley in Sarajevo to go to children’s homes to give them school lessons.

There is the story of the village where Serbs and Muslims lived side by side and decided not to go to war.

A tiny and remote village, that saw conflict as both illogical and unnecessary.

These are the stories of those who refused to turn against each other, who resisted, and who undertook extraordinary acts of courage.

We can all learn from these acts of courage, and think about the choices that we make; the language we use, the ideas we accept, and the actions we take.

Do we act in ways that bring about unity or are we complacent?

Last year in the UK, there were record levels of hate crime reported.

There were also terrible tragedies in Manchester and in London, where acts of hatred and terrorism that killed so many were met with communities uniting and standing together.

Hatred was overcome with love, and people resisted by speaking up against division and by having the courage to continue to do the ordinary; looking after their friends and families, and trusting their neighbours.

In reflecting upon and honouring those who resisted hatred, we can learn important lessons.

The lesson that choice is possible, even in very difficult circumstances.

The lesson that courage is not the absence of fear; it is the meeting of fear with the hope that our common humanity is stronger than manufactured division.

When one person stands up and speaks out against prejudice and hatred, they inspire others to follow.

We are all therefore responsible to find our commonalities with others, and seek out that which brings our communities together. We must all be more courageous, and act with heart.

Elinor Chohan

Altrincham and Hale Muslim Association

Altrincham Interfaith Group