A South Tyneside couple have urged people to stay united and not allow recent terror attacks to cause divisions in the community.
Feruz Hussain and his wife Karen say they have been left shocked at some of the vile comments being posted online following the recent terror attacks in Manchester and London.
And while they understand the anger, upset and fear being felt by people in light of the atrocities, they are calling on people not to let terrorists tear communities apart.
Mr Hussain, 37, who runs Fighting Fit, a Mixed Martial Arts gym in Boldon Lane, has a range of students from a range of faiths and countries.
He said when news broke of the Manchester attack which claimed the lives of South Tyneside couple Liam Curry, 19, and Chloe Rutherford, 17, many of the students were heartbroken – with a number knowing their families.
He said: “South Shields has lost two people and that did affect me, like it did the students who come here, as some knew Liam and Chloe.
“I’m like everyone else, I can’t understand why anyone would want to try and destroy the country they live in and to kill innocent people.
“What has happened is horrible but what some people are posting on social media, shouting about deporting all Muslims, is not helping. All it’s doing is dividing communities.
“I was born in South Tyneside, my wife is English, my children are English – where would I go? What would happen to my family?
“I love South Shields, I’m proud to be from South Shields – there really is no other place like it.
“I have visited a number of countries through MMA matches and have visited lots of mosques, but if I came across one which spoke of such hatred I would be the first one to have something to say.
“But we all have a part to play and if anyone suspects someone is being radicalised then they need to be reporting it.”
His wife Karen, 36, said: “After it happened, I went on social media and it was horrible some of the things that were being written.
“For me, these people who are carrying out these acts clearly hate Muslims and by claiming they are doing it in the name of Islam, they are encouraging other people to hate them too.
“They are wanting to divide our communities. I’m not a Muslim, myself and Feruz are totally different faiths and it makes no difference to us as a couple. And it shouldn’t to other people.”
Mr Hussain says he is opening the doors to his gym to invite anyone who has any questions around Muslims and their faith to visit and speak to either himself or one of the many MMA students.