The BBC journalist Hanna Yusuf has died in unexplained circumstances aged just 27.
Yusuf wrote for the BBC News website and had also worked as a TV news producer. She gained prominence by defending her right to wear the hijab in high profile media appearances, although subsequently she made the decision to remove it.
Born in Somalia in 1992, she did an MA in newspaper journalism at City University of London in 2017, following her degree at Queen Mary, University of London.
She started at the BBC as a researcher on the News at Six and Ten in May 2017, before moving to the BBC News Channel and News at One and the website.
Before joining the BBC, Yusuf wrote for publications including the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, the Muslim News, the Pool and Grazia Magazine.
In 2015, she created a video for the Guardian about her decision to wear the hijab, saying “it has nothing to do with oppression. It’s a feminist statement.”
Appearing on Good Morning Britain after the European Court of Justice’s 2017 ruling gave employers the power to ban all political, religious and philosophical symbols at work, she told TV presenters Piers Morgan and Susannah Reid it would “disproportionately affect Muslim women.”
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Yusuf spoke six languages, including Somali and Arabic, and worked with, among others, whistleblowers and victims of serious crime.
Her family said they were “deeply saddened and heartbroken” by her death in a statement. They called the journalist a “vibrant professional who became a bridge between the media and the community.”
“Hanna’s passing was sudden and unexpected and has come asa shock to us all,” they said. “We kindly ask that our privacy is respected at this tragic time as we come to terms with our loss. We are grateful to everyone that has reached out to us with their kindness, love, compassion, and support.
“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,” they added.
Director of BBC News Fran Unsworth said: “This is terrible news that has left us all deeply saddened… and our utmost sympathies go to her family and many friends. Hanna will be much missed.”
John Simpson, BBC world affairs editor, said Hanna was a “brilliant young journalist” who would have been a “major force” in UK media.