Ayfer is an active Labour Party member and a councillor, also having stood as a parliamentary candidate in the last General Election. A Turkish Cypriot by origin, she studied graphics and fine arts, eventually establishing her own business. On Muslim involvement in the political process, she notes, “I am hopeful that in the next parliament we will have more Muslims and maybe more Turkish members in parliament; even if I don’t get in I would like to see Turkish MP’s there. Especially in Europe as Turkey role is now made more critical”. She remained a Labour activist notwithstanding Blair’s misadventure in Iraq: ” I went through a dilemma during that period like all Muslims did, it almost caused my sending in my resignation to the Labour party but in the end I thought I would be far more of value staying in then getting out. I don’t believe I would have achieved more outside than I did inside the Labour party. I believe you can only change people’s views by reason and discussion not by force”.
On her religious and cultural identity she observes. “The teachings in the Quran are about respect and tolerance and its interpretation is as diverse as we are. The Guardian debate [January 2005] reflected the wonderful diversity of the Quran and its people. The message in the Quran is not negative, it’s positive; I think that it is a beautiful and gentle religion for me it means a focus on prayer and self development and externally respecting of others. I believe we can learn and grow by messages of all the religions of the world. I was a little annoyed with the Guardian because on their front cover they used the stereotypical image and I participated to challenge this, I wanted to show that there are many different types of people in the Muslim culture just as there are many types of Christians in the world. If I had covered my head this would have been a barrier for me like my name has been being so foreign.
Ayfer Orhan has two children both at university.