THE BLOG

Stirring Up Islamophobia To Sell Newspapers Is a Disgrace

02/12/2015 10:38 GMT | Updated 01/12/2016 10:12 GMT

After the disgraceful and misleading story in the Sun newspaper - alleging that one in five UK Muslims had sympathy for Jihadi fighters - it seems important to say and write things which in other times would seem unnecessary if not bizarre. I mean that it is even more important right now to point out that almost every one of the UK's Muslims simply want to get on with their lives and do not support those that threaten the UK - as is the case for almost every non-Muslim.

The Sun headline was based on a survey asking Muslims if they had some or a lot of sympathy for people who went to fight in Syria - they did not say which side they were asking about and seemed to ignore the fact that a similar number of non-Muslims had the same views.

I am not an expert on Islam or the life and thoughts of Muslims - however I put on community events in an area where thousands of Pakistani Muslims live - and have been doing this for around eight years.

Muslim families attend many of the events and activities and so I have seen many their children growing up. I know that many are keen to have their children involved in after school activities and that their children like art and cooking and music and games just like any other children. Pakistani families are good at networking and sharing the pick-ups and drop offs in a very organised way - all the mums seem to have each other's mobile phone numbers.

Contrary to some of the old shock horror stories I have not met any Muslim person with anything against Christmas. Their children like Santa and all the shiny fun things that goes with Christmas and many exchange presents and some have said they have Christmas trees.

I have seen some of the children's letters to Santa - letters full of claims of good behaviour (which in some cases I know not to be entirely true). They get involved in the community - I know from experience that a lot of British people living abroad are a lot less likely to get involved in local festivals and customs then do these folks.

At the moment that local Muslim women are reluctant to go out alone in the evenings for fear of being insulted or attacked and this fear is very common amongst UK Muslims after the recent attacks by the cruel and murderous Daesh killers. I almost wrote 'warriors' - but that is inappropriate for people who shoot unarmed civilians with automatic weapons for the selfish aim of a better time in an afterlife.

Hostility towards Muslims in this Country often peaks after terrorist attacks in the UK or around the world - attacks which they have nothing to do with and is not done in their name or with their consent.

I remember the shock and dismay of the Arabic Muslims living and working in the Edgware Road on the 7th July 2005 when a suicide bomber killed both Muslims and non-Muslims in their community which they feared they would be blamed for - and which in too many cases this turned out to be true. Waiters in some of the many Arabic restaurants there didn't go home that night because they thought they might be picked on by Police.

After the brutal murder of the Jordanian pilot by Daesh I remember one local Muslim man - someone who teaches Arabic - simply said he was depressed. He did not gain anything from this brutal murder by people he did not know and did not approve of - but he stood to lose by it.

Children of Muslim families that I see are optimistic and looking forward to a future in this Country and it is a great shame that a national newspaper is trying to make money out of depicting them a threat to the rest of us. It is shame because it is not true and it extremely unfair to these individuals - and to the rest of us - because it causes a fear and anxiety about some of our fellow citizens which we need not have.

These different communities live side by side getting on with business and bringing up their families but perhaps the future belongs to children like the two girls who recently attended an after school club I run - one Pakistani and one white English. They are both eight and boast that they have been best friends for four years - and that is a long time in their lives. What would the cold blooded and cynical journalists make out of that?

I don't recognise the way our media often depicts UK Muslims. Those that wrote the headline and other similar ones most probably did so to sell newspapers - to make more money and in order to do that they risk causing more hatred in this Country and I would guess that they don't care and have no shame.