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Have you visited a Mosque yet?
Last week our content editor, Stuart, gave his sharp perspective on society’s inability to solve problems, due to the unwillingness of too many people to even try to step into anyone else’s shoes. So here’s your big chance to do just that in Islamophobia Awareness Month, a campaign founded in 2012 to showcase the positive contributions of Muslims in the UK, as well as raising awareness of Islamophobia in society.
The series of events in November aims to challenge the stereotypes people in the UK may have about Islam and Muslims, developed over the years through lack of empathy and knowledge…ever was it thus. More than most faith groups, Muslims are targeted because of their beliefs and, in an increasingly secular society in western countries, respect for others’ faith and opinions is replaced by intolerance and mistrust.
Zara Mohammed leads the Muslim Council of Great Britain (MCB) having been appointed Secretary General in 2021, the youngest, the first woman and the first Scot to hold this post. And she said, on her appointment: “My vision is to continue to build a truly inclusive, diverse and representative body; one which is driven by the needs of British Muslims for the common good. Being elected as the first female Secretary General is quite an honour and I hope it will inspire more women and young people to come forward to take on leadership roles.”
As a woman in this job she has a unique opportunity to break the stereotypes, and, in a podcast with HDN this year, Zara talked about Visit My Mosque, a national campaign facilitated by the MCB supporting over 250 mosques across the UK to hold open days. Anyone can go and visit a Mosque, just get on the website and make your move. Then you might be learn more about their faith and be able to share in the upset and pain felt by Muslims every time one of their places of worship is attacked. A recent report shows that 35 per cent of Mosques experience a religiously motivated attack at least once a year. Attacks rose to a peak after the Christchurch shootings in New Zealand in 2019 when a spate of attacks on UK Mosques immediately followed across the country, including attacks using hockey sticks and bottles on a Mosque during the month of Ramadan.
Home Office data revealed that, between March 2020 and March 2021, around 45 per cent of all hate crime offences were targeted at Muslims, a far greater percentage than for any other group.
And the media has a big role to play in all this.
Did you know that British Muslims contribute over £31bn to the UK economy every year with a spending power of over £20bn, while also being the biggest charity givers among all social groups, donating £100m a year, and that British Muslims orchestrate widespread campaigns to feed the homeless during Ramadam.
If you did know that, well done!
If you didn’t then don’t feel too bad because you have to dig around a little to find that kind of information. Meanwhile, you’d need to have your head in the sand to avoid the clumsy rhetoric of the Qatari spokesperson for the World Cup or, in the tabloid press, the blame for public sector failings being lumped onto the weary shoulders of migrants crossing the Channel.
Muslim Engagement and Development (MEND) is a not-for profit organisation which helps Muslims within local communities to become more actively involved with the British media, and to survey Mosques across the country to help understanding of hate crimes and security threats.
Ignorance is not always bliss folks, and this is an area of life where lack of understanding can be positively destructive. So the more of us who can gain knowledge of Islam the more we will be able to improve society.
And where better to start than at your local Mosque?
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