DUBAI: Tributes have been paid to the BBC journalist Hanna Yusuf, who shot to fame for publicly defending headscarf-wearing Muslims.
The BBC journalist's family broke the news of her death on October 1, saying they were “deeply saddened and heartbroken,” but gave no further information on her death.
“While we mourn her loss, we hope that Hanna’s legacy will serve as an inspiration and beacon to her fellow colleagues and to her community and her meaningful memory and the people she has touched for many years lives on,” her family said in a statement.
In 2015, she made a video for British national daily the Guardian defending the use of a headscarf, dispelling misconceptions of the hijab as a form of oppression.
In the video she said people should not assume that every woman who wears the hijab had been forced into it.
Andirachid Fidow, a Somalian activist who attended the Yusuf’s funeral in London, along with 6,000 others, tweeted: “Beautiful soul gone to soon, may her soul rest in peace.”
Hanna Yusuf was laid to rest today in London.
Over 6k people prayed Janazah on her.
80 people across the media attended the Janazah today & paid their last respect.
She made a profound positive impact at a young age. Beautiful soul gone to soon, may her soul rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/pKNIli7QRk
— Abdirachid Fidow (@Iamfidow) October 4, 2019
British Muslim journalist and author Hussein Kesvani said Yusuf was a “dear friend” to him, and posted a link to a fundraising campaign created following her death.
Goodbye to our dear sweet Hanna - who gave us (and continues to give us) so much. We’ll keep the spirit of your journalism alive and make sure young women from a minority and working class background, entering the our industry, knows where to find us. pic.twitter.com/bgmKKoekH8
— Megha Mohan (@meghamohan) October 4, 2019
According to the Go Fund Me page, the money raised will be donated to a charity in Yusuf’s name, which will serve as her “Sadaqah Jariyah,” a form of ongoing charity usually given after a Muslim’s death.
UK-based non-profit organization Measuring Anti-Muslim Attacks (Tell MAMA) also paid its tribute on Twitter, saying: “This is such a big loss.”
Hanna Yusuf was a committed, compassionate, empathetic and very talented journalist. This is such a big loss. May her legacy of important journalistic work continue to inspire others.
Our thoughts are with loved ones, colleagues, family, and friends. https://t.co/g2SzCJbtfl
— TellMAMAUK (@TellMamaUK) October 1, 2019
Muslim-focused blog Muslim Girl published a story remembering Yusuf’s work as an investigative journalist, including her stories on the violence in Somalia and her recent investigation into labor conditions at Costa Coffee stores in the UK.
The media industry was equally shocked by the news, and her colleagues quickly paid tribute to Yusuf, who worked her way up from a researcher to a television presenter.
The BBC’s Editorial Director Kamal Ahmed said: “Hanna Yusuf was sharp, witty and allowed us all to understand the important stuff a little better.”
Today @BBCNews is in mourning after one of our brightest stars died. @HannaAYusuf was sharp, witty and allowed us all to understand the important stuff a little better. We will remember Hanna by learning from her remarkable work https://t.co/pNKO949Gr2
— Kamal Ahmed (@bbckamal) October 1, 2019
The 27-year-old journalist was born in Somalia in 1992 and emigrated to Europe at a young age. Before her stint at the BBC, she wrote for other British publications including the Independent, the Times, and Muslim-focused news organization Muslim News.