Led by Taher Qassim, co-founder and former Chair of both Liverpool Arabic Centre, and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival.
There is always a deep sadness when an old friend dies. Razak was not just a personal friend, but a friend of the festival. We had a long history together, a partnership and a shared culture. Both of us Yemeni, working in one of the country’s oldest Yemeni communities, in a city so passionate, we had much that brought us together.
The close ties between Liverpool Arabic Centre and Liverpool Arab Arts Festival have been there from the beginning. Although a registered charity, the festival would look to LAC for its involvement in events, in engaging with the Arab community. Razak has long provided advice, support and guidance when it has been needed.
Between us we would work hard together, although for two different organisations, with a shared purpose. Diasporic communities always have their blend of strengths and challenges. Razak, as a man of strong and clear principle, found a way to clearly navigate through both of those, through choppy waters and calm.
The phrase, to be a leader of a community, is a simple phrase that does not do justice to the amount of work needed below the surface. There is a balance required, that allows voices to be heard from every part of a community, but that remains committed to the greater good. Razak believed in equality, with his quiet determination he believed in the power of the community.
With this passion comes strong beliefs, and Razak was never afraid to stand up for those and to articulate them gently but firmly. It takes great courage to do this, especially when you are among friends.
We say farewell to a man who worked hard to earn the respect of his neighbours, his peers, his community, his friends, his family and his city. He won it tenfold. At a time when it can be so hard to even countenance the positions of others that seem too far away from our own, we will always take inspiration from a friend who showed us how to do it, with grace and honesty.