Eid Mubarak to all of those celebrating, and those who aren’t! I hope you’ve had a good one. Today, it seems appropriate to reflect on what it means to be Muslim in Britain right now.
I’ve been fortunate to live my life in a multicultural place, thanks to a combination of Birmingham, my parents and my schools. I was raised in a moderate, accepting home with friends of every walk of life. I never questioned my belonging; the idea of being “different” does not cross your mind when you live surrounded by love.
The past few years have forced Muslims to think about these things; I’d like to give a particular shoutout to certain strands of the mainstream media for this. It’s such a horrible question to ask yourself, “Am I wanted?”.
It’s a really strange thing how certain things make you really aware of who you are and how people feel about you. Britain post-Brexit has had an affect; you do question whether so many people in the country you love are opposed to living in a multicultural society. The day of the Referendum, I tagged along with my sister Aminah to campaign for Remain, and genuinely had a British flag waved in my face (albeit very calmly) and was told that I didn’t belong here. My sister had a beautiful collection of sweary racial slurs shouted out of a passing car.
I attended a dinner the day after the attack on Parliament in March; one of the speeches was particularly troubling. The speaker was keen to stress that he believed that it was the responsibility of the Muslim community to stamp out terrorism, and that this could only be done by them. I have some issues with this:
1. I have (to my knowledge) never met someone who has been radicalised.
2. Most importantly, Muslims condemn terrorism until blue in the face in every way they can. The vast majority of reports to counter-terrorism are made by Muslims with concerns about people they know. How much more can the community do before they are classed as “doing their bit”?
3. Since these terrorists are going against the essential nature of any morally driven, school of thought, religious or otherwise, why should Muslims be singled out in taking responsibility for these people? These attacks by people claiming to be Muslims are horrific, crimes against humanity which hurt every single person who cares about love, democracy and other human beings, regardless of our differences.
As in touched on earlier, the media do not help when it comes to sowing division. Are they really still calling it Islamic terrorism? Are they really still relunctant to call terrorist attacks against Muslims terrorism?
However bleak it all seems, there are so many funny British quirks which bridge the gaps between us. The same levels of tea consumption, the same excessive distance left at cash points in fear of invading someone’s personal space, the same incapability to be happy with literally any form of weather, the same obsession with the Beckhams and the Royals and the same love for Wimbledon and reality tv and Team GB.
I looooove this country. It’s a melting pot of beautiful places and cultures and people. (Also, who doesn’t want to be able to choose between a falafel, an Italian, a curry, a roast, a Chinese on Deliveroo?). All insecurities aside, writing this article has made me realise that even though we have some distance to go, there are so many more beautiful, accepting people than there are closed minded, and that with love we will get through all of the rubbish there is trying to dividing us. One love – keep celebrating what makes us the same ♥