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Layla Moran: Liberal Democrat, parliamentary hopeful and Palestinian-British Open in fullscreen

Katia Youssef

Layla Moran: Liberal Democrat, parliamentary hopeful and Palestinian-British

Moran hopes to win a seat in parliament for the Liberal Democrats [al-Araby]

Date of publication: 8 March, 2015

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International Women's Day: Moran is running on a wide range of issues including education, the environment and mental health. Politics is in her genes.
"You cannot be a Palestinian and be detached from politics," said Layla Moran, a Liberal Democrat candidate for the UK parliamentary elections in May. 

Moran is representing the Oxford West and Abingdon constituency. "My mother is from Jerusalem and I am proud of that fact," she added.


Moran's political views were influenced by her parents. Her mother's background and her father's work in public affairs "cemented in me a belief in peace and in pursuing it". Moran told al-Araby al-Jadeed she started advocating for local issues when she felt a sense of belonging for being British, "a thing that took a long time to achieve".

The nature of her father's work as a British diplomat forced the family to live in many countries, introducing Moran to a variety of different education systems. She has lived in Belgium, Greece, Ethiopia, Jamaica and spent five years in Jordan.

     You cannot be a Palestinian and be detached from politics.

- Layla Moran

She has a master's degree in comparative studies and began her career as a physics teacher at an international school in the UK. Currently, she works at an Oxford-based educational institution delivering exam preparation courses for International Baccalaureate students.

But she could not stop herself getting involved in public affairs, especially because of her belief that providing equal educational opportunities for all will eventually open the doors to further creativity and community development. As well as English, Moran is fluent in French. She also speaks Spanish, Arabic and Greek.

Moran is an active social activist and led the first street-campaign in her neighbourhood to save a community centre from closure. She has taken part in a number of campaigns on behalf of local companies and endeavours to provide better schools and to create a more equitable tax system.

Moran is also an environmentalist. Housing and transport issues are high on her list of priorities and she encourages investment in scientific innovations.

"My decision to join the Liberal Democrats stemmed from my conviction that the party offers the best policies on education compared to any other party in the country. It actively and effectively works towards improving British society," she said.

Moran said that it was her party that ensured the closure of a detention centre for refugee children under 18. Children detained in the centre were prevented from receiving appropriate education and healthcare for months and sometimes years. This would continue until a decision was made about their asylum status, and they would either be deported or granted leave to remain in the country.

The party is also trying to close detention centres for adult asylum seekers. It protested against the expansion of Campsfield House immigration detention centre on the outskirts of the city of Oxford. The centre contained 4,000 beds and the government is trying to increase this to 5,000, the politician explained.

     The detention of refugee children under 18 is a routine procedure in the UK that contravenes human rights.
- Layla Moran

"The detention of refugee children under 18 is a routine procedure in the UK that contravenes human rights," she added. This is because a child should not be held accountable for entering the country legally or illegally. The blame is on the parents who made the decision on their behalf. She also argues that most European countries are trying to reduce the number of refugee detention centres or completely eliminate them, while the UK is trying to expand them.

Currently working with the Liberal Democrats campaign team to support asylum seekers, Moran advocates for their rights and supports them with their cases. She expressed her "pain towards the miserable conditions suffered by some of the refugees" she has met.

If Moran wins a seat in this year's elections, she plans to focus on education issues. This is where her experience is and where she feels she can make a difference. Moran also seeks to support and encourage investment in scientific projects and to shed light on health and public services that are under threat.

See our full coverage of International Women's Day here

Seeking to follow the "prevention before treatment" policy, she hope to promote sports and draw attention to the dangers of depression, which can be as serious as those of cancer. In the UK, one in four suffers from depression.

The Liberal Democrats have also pledged to support research on mental diseases and to seek solutions to local problems suffered by the people in their constituencies.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.

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