Zahid Maqbool, Media Spokesman for The Revival has his day in the media spotlight after attending a meeting with Home Office Minister Hazel Blears.
'I am cordially invited to a meeting of the Interfaith forum at the grand location of the council chambers in Oldham.' That’s what my email invite says.
As I munch on some food, a BBC reporter pops the question: “Excuse me but I saw The Revival Magazine and found out that you are due to speak to Miss Blears at tomorrow's meeting”. I swallow my food quicker than an M5 on wimmy road. 'Yes I am. How can I help?'. A request is made for an interview to be used on the BBC Radio 4's Today programme.
I arrive at 7.30am and meet up with a member of the interfaith forum who is also on hand to air his views. The satellite feed is fixed up and we go out live. My friend from the forum offers yet another cordial welcome, but I interject with a simple question.
“Why is the Minister, who in charge of protecting us against terrorism, kicking off her UK tour in good old Oldham and not in the Capital City that is reeling from the terror attacks?”
The scene is set and I can't wait for the meeting, but there's a slight hitch. It would appear that we are no longer on the list of representatives. Was it something I said?
The choice is to go home and chill, or try to make a difference. You're either part of the solution or part of the problem. Besides I believe the war on terror can easily be seen as a war on Islam.
I sneak past security and look at the list pretending that I am still on it. I manage to tongue tie the receptionist into thinking I am R Kous... and I am in!
The meeting has about 10-12 people representing various groups. They look at me rather strange. I realise that the name card for my alias is a female. D'oh!!!
The good minister arrives with her entourage and the meeting begins. One brother starts by mentioning the success of street cleaning campaigns, another chants about a recent BBQ event. I am somewhat bemused.
These events have their merit, but my question “why are we as British Muslims being made to feel like criminals over the barbaric acts on July 7th, which have nothing to do with Islam” is far more relevant. I follow up with “what assurances can the Minister give Muslims in the UK about their safety?”. Sadly Miss Blears seems unhelpful with her response.
The minister has backed the Stop & Search policy with Racial Profiling. This means the police would only stop 'ethnic looking' Muslims. An astonishing own goal and yet another opportunity for The Revival to correct the Minister. Muslims it would appear can be white, can also be white & elderly, and can even be going about their own business!
The meeting has finished with most of the invitees pretty impressed. But we at The Revival feel that Miss Blears had managed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
On my exit its time to speak to the media, lets see who’s first. How about the BBC? Next I speak to The Manchester Evening News, then on to the broadsheets. The Guardian, The Independent & The Mail. By now we are the hot ticket. We are featured on 'BBC World at One'. Soon we are greeted by SKY News then BBC News 24 followed by The Jhang. ITV are in hot pursuit as are Channel 5 and we sure as hell don’t disappoint.
I am now driven in a glossy looking 4x4 to an upmarket set of offices where I give an interview for the BBC Asian Network. Have we managed to get our point of view out there? Well not quite. I get whisked across Manchester to appear as a feature on the evening's Channel 4 News.
I give better than expected and move back to Oldham for a final interview with BBC Look North West where I am again joined by the excellent brother from the Interfaith forum. We again have differing views.
A hadith says; 'if you see something wrong stop it with your hands, if you cannot stop it with your hand, then speak out against it, if you cannot speak out against it then hold it in your heart, this is the weakest of Iman.'
We at 'The Revival' spoke out.
Wanna read what the media said? [url=http://therevival.eu/editorial/revival_zahid_talks_to_press_020805.php]c... here[/url] for the full update!