What a year it has been! Blimey... I think it’s one for the Muslims to forget. Or is it?
Well, let’s find out shall we.
First of all we had the terrible and unforgettable bombings in London which were carried out by four Muslims. Not exactly what we needed, was it? As a result every Muslim was seen as a potential terrorist and suicide bomber! The media had a field day, doing its best to demonise Islam and the Muslims.
Directly following this we had the ‘shoot to kill’ policy of any suspected terrorist making life for every Muslim a living hell. What followed was the infamous shooting of the Brazilian Jean Charles de Mendez where Sir Ian Blair tried to cover up the truth...as a result The Revival appointed him as the Turkey of the Month!
Not so great so far was it...but worse was to come. Next, Islamic scholars were savaged by the media. First Yusuf al Qaradawi was denied permission to attend the UK because he was labeled as a supporter of suicide attacks in Israel.
Next it was Tariq Ramadan, seen as a modernist by the Muslims, he was again accused of supporting terrorism, this time by The Sun. Worst of all, Yusuf Islam, was refused access to the United States, again he was suspected of having links with terrorism. Now that was a joke! It seemed as if no Muslim scholar or activist was safe any more!
So far it seems like a terrible year but wait...the media had still a lot more ‘Muslim-bashing’ to dish out. We had the Panorama documentary which went out of its way to attack the MCB, Islamic scholars, mosques and Islamic leaders. Then we had front page headlines about a Muslim family who carried out so-called ‘honour killings’.
If the family was Sikh, Hindu or atheist would it have got the same media coverage? I don’t think so! Towards the end of the year we had the Pakistani gang from London that kicked a white man to his death, the Somalians who shot two police officers in Bradford and also more British men kidnapped and held as hostages in Iraq. Last but not least we had the Anti-Terror bill which will make life so much harder for the everyday practising Muslim.
Now with all this happening is there any wonder why Islam and Muslims are seen as a threat, violent, intolerant and extreme? Stop right there, the above is just the minority among the Muslim Ummah but all the media attention unsurprisingly is upon them. Why is that?
In 2005 Muslims have done so many positive things but of course there is no mention or emphasis on this. We have Amir Khan a young British Muslim who has rapidly become the biggest sports personality in this country, and alongside Danny Williams, a devout Muslim, are doing Britain proud in Boxing.
We also saw London win the Olympic Bid for 2010 and British Muslims represented by the MCB played their part. Also on the sporting side we had Yousuf Youhana, the Pakistani batsman, revert to Islam from Christianity. He is now becoming an inspirational figure for all young Muslims.
Muslims have also had a dramatic influence in the media due to the documentary ‘Operation Muslim Vote’ which focused on MPAC, a Muslim Political Lobby group, highlighting the positive impact of Muslims being involved in the political process. We had the highest ever Muslim Radio Stations in Ramadan across the UK catering for the community. On the political front, in 2005, the Muslims had two new MPs increasing the total to four Muslim MPs in the UK, which should be positive (hint hint...should be) as it gives Muslims a greater voice and representation in political issues.
It should be remembered that the Muslims responded courageously to the London bombings where we saw almost every mosque, scholar and organisation condemn the attacks and have done great work to build the bridges between the communities. Also the Muslim Association of Britain (MAB) should be commended for their efforts in trying to release the British hostage in Iraq, Norman Kember.
How can we forget that the Muslim community held two massive conferences, especially the Global Unity Convention which was the biggest Islamic event in Europe where over 20,000 people gathered in London to listen to guest speakers and artists. And we had more than a couple of successful youth camps this year including the massive Living Islam Camp and the more spiritual Al Hidayah Camp.
So, was it a year to forget... naah, it was a year which brought out the best and the worst of the Muslim community. The lesson is simple: be active, be law abiding, be tolerant, be disciplined, be practicing and as a result you get success, you become a role model to all around you and you represent Islam in a positive way.
Now ask yourself, what did you achieve in 2005 and what plans do you have in 2006 so you can make a difference, be looked up to, be able to represent your faith and be a successful person?