An 11-year-old Muslim girl moved her teachers to tears with a speech she wrote after comforting a friend who was caught up in the Manchester Arena bombing.
Sara Hussain, from Blackburn, Lancashire, talked about inventing a time machine so she could persuade Salman Abedi not to carry out the mass murders as fans left the Ariana Grande concert nearly two years ago.
Her speech, If I Could Change the World, won top prize in a local schools’ public speaking competition – and has been widely shared on social media.
Sara, a Year 6 pupil at Blackburn’s Wensley Fold CE Primary Academy, said: “A friend had been at the concert and was in the front row. I heard it on the news and my mind just went to my friend who was there.
“I felt upset and couldn’t believe that someone from the religion of Islam could do that. Islam means peace and almost all of our faith is about peace and to spread peace. You should try to make others happy. He painted Islam in a bad light.
“When my friend told me about what had happened I could only comfort her but decided that I wanted to speak about it. Some people might think that because it is coming from an 11-year-old girl I can’t make a difference but we can. I hope I change people’s views and attitudes. Words are powerful.”
In her “time machine” speech, she says: “Continually I would say stop, please, talk to me. Tell me why you are doing this. What makes you think that this will justify your actions? How can this possibly be for your religion?
“I would explain what Islam teaches us. That he isn’t doing it for me. Then I would try my hardest to show him that there’s no need to do this, that this isn’t an option, that there is no need to injure and harm so many innocent people. Because for what reason was he doing it? To make people hate and fear Muslims? Islam is about peace and not terror.”
Wensley Fold headteacher Donna Simpson said the school, and the community, was “incredibly proud” of the youngster.
She said: “Sara is an amazing citizen. How I wish that there were more people in the world like Sara – what a wonderful world it would be.
“Her speech took my breath away and the emotions overwhelmed me. I cried. I must have heard it around 15 times and I still get goosebumps. I’m incredibly proud to be her headteacher.”