Today is: 
24 March 2018 

Claiming our Muslim Identity


Issue 5- Mar 2013

Late last year on the New York subway - the same subway where Pamela Geller ran an Islamophobic ad campaign – a Hindu man was pushed in front of a train and killed because his assailant thought he was a Muslim. Speaking a little over two years ago, the British parliamentarian Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, warned that Islamophobia had passed the “dinner-table test” - meaning that openly expressing prejudice against Islam and Muslims had become socially acceptable. According to the 2011 census, Muslims make up more than 5% of the UK population (with some 60,000 converts to Islam amongst them), making them Britain’s largest and most visible minority. And though Islam continues to thrive in spite of the persecution and discrimination its followers have suffered in the wake of 9/11, a crisis looms on the horizon. Even though all the research shows that Muslims feel a strong bond with their homeland and even though Muslim public figures abound - journalists, politicians and athletes (including some Olympic gold medallists) - a growing number of British people see us as “not-British.” It is all too easy to dismiss this as a reactionary fear of change, but we would do well to remember that the process of “othering” a minority is an essential step towards persecuting it. It is politicians and the media who are manufacturing the image of Muslims refusing to integrate into British society. Sometimes commentators distort facts to blame crimes and other social ills on Islam and at others they resort to outright lies and fabrications - who can forget the Daily Star’s infamous “Muslim loos” story? We are cast as segregating ourselves in inner-city ghettos (or, paradoxically, ‘colonising the suburbs’), scrounging benefits and being predisposed to criminality. Unless we take action, this trend of anti-Muslim prejudice will not subside of its own accord. In Britain and throughout the West, Islam is here to stay. Muslims are lawabiding, productive members of their societies whose sense of belonging is just as strong (or, in some cases, stronger) as any other citizen of their country. We have spent far too long on the defensive - apologising for ‘extremists’ and trying to make our religion seem as non-threatening as possible. No more. It is time that we as Muslims showed that will no longer allow ourselves to be marginalised or made the victims of crude Islamophobic attacks. It is time we took the initiative… Alexander Khaleeli ... read more