Friend of Bangladesh Nora Shariff’s funeral held


Nora Shariff’s funeral was held on 6 Dec, following Jumma prayer at the historic Brick Lane Mosque. Nora Shariff (nee Murray), who passed away on 29 November, had been suffering from cancer. She left behind her husband Sultan Shariff and two daughters Razia and Fouzia Shariff.

Following the funeral, her body was taken to Shahid Minar in Altab Ali Park for public to pay their last respect. Bangladesh High Commissioner Mijarul Qayes and human rights campaigner Shahriar Kabir from Bangladesh including many freedom fighters were present. A guard of honour was presented by the freedom fighters led by Lukman Husain, Ishaque Kajol, Faizur Rahman Khan, Cllr Khalil Kazi OBE and Shahriar Kabir.

Fluent in Bangla, Nora was one of a number of non-Bengali campaigners who fought for the rights of Bengalis during the Bangladesh Independence Struggle (in 2012 she received a Liberation War Honour award from the Bangladesh Government).

She distributed leaflets and organised campaigns and meetings out of her London flat, where Bengali activists would make placards for demonstrations. It was during this time, in 1967, that she met and married Sultan Shariff.

Following the 1970 general election in Pakistan and Awami League’s victory, she camped outside the Pakistan High Commission in the UK for several days and nights demanding transfer of power, and she was directly involved in releasing political leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, after he was imprisoned by the Pakistani Army.

In an interview about her first visit to the country, she had said, “I spent over three years there (in the early years soon after the independence) and was very happy. I had a job with the University of Dhaka as a lecturer in the law department. I was leading a reasonably normal life. My youngest daughter, Fauzia, was even born there.”

Charlie Sen, a London-based filmmaker, the creator of short film Nora – Emerald of Bengal, said:  “Set during the Bangladesh Independence Day anniversary commemoration in East London, ‘Nora’ follows this incredible young Irish woman whose courage lead her to play a major role in the country’s liberation struggle, from Britain; formed through a love affair with another land, language, and the man she would marry. She was an important woman and we hope her legacy will continue.”

Colonel (Rtd) Shahid Uddin Khan, a family friend of Nora Shariff, remembers her restless efforts towards the making of a nation: “As a trusted friend of Bangladesh, she will always remain an inspiration to us forever.”

A television programme celebrating Nora’s contribution aired on Channel 9 titled ‘Amader Jonopodey’ following the news of her death. Rahman Jilani, host of the programme, said: “She was an amazing human being and a true friend of Bangladesh. She had always been helpful and charming. She was once a guest on my TV show; the topic was Friends of Bangladesh and she discussed some unique features about Bangladesh.”

Until her death, Nora continued to be extremely active within the British-Bangladeshi community.




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