THE BLOG

Fighting Hatred With Humour - Why the #1in5Muslims Trend Was Important to Set the Record Straight

25/11/2015 09:26 GMT | Updated 25/11/2016 10:12 GMT

On Monday morning The Sun caused hysteria in the UK by running an "exclusive" poll on its front page that it claimed showed 1 in 5 British Muslims had voiced "sympathy for jihadis" fighting in Syria.

The poll carried out by the market research firm Survation was conducted via telephone interviews with just over a thousand people with Muslim sounding names living in the UK.

The tabloid paper was hit by criticisms about its polling methods and a record number of Ipso complaints - the most it has ever received with over 1200 complaints made to the press regulator. Readers and Muslims organisations were quick to point out that the paper was wrong to misrepresent the results in such a manner and did no favours for the way The Sun often sensationalises headlines about Muslims.

After seeing the events unfold during the day I felt it was important for everyone who was angered by the front page headline to stand up and make our voices heard to send a strong and unequivocal message to The Sun that they can no longer scapegoat a community with sensationalist headlines that do no good for community cohesion.

Me and a group of friends on Twitter decided to get together to start a campaign with the hashtag #1in5Muslims to show that the vast majority of Muslims are just really normal people who oppose the abhorrent views of Isis and the like and with many mocking the survey with jokes and made-up facts.

The campaign was a fun way to show Muslims coming together to set the record straight but also to show the light hearted and fun way to laugh off such ridiculous claims. It was great to see people joining all over the world from America to Malaysia, from India and all the way down under in Australia.

The hashtag has been used more than 80,000 times and trended not just in the UK but also in Malaysia, Pakistan, Australia, Canada, India, Qatar, South Africa, the UAE and the US. It ended up being the number 1 trend in UK for several hours last night and Muslims gave everyone on Twitter a chuckle as people sat back and made a mockery of the Sun. The tweets ranged from life humour to popular Internet memes, from references to popular culture and of course having fun animals involved.

The social media campaign was picked by major media outlets all over the world with articles featured in Buzzfeed,Mashable, BBC, Huffington Post, The Guardian and Al Jazeera to name a few who were quick to point how Muslims created a sarcastic reaction and a mocking hashtag on Twitter to dispel the Suns claim.

The campaign was part of a wider point to show The Sun and other media that draw up conclusions to scaremonger a community that they can no longer do this and people have to stand up to set the record straight. Sadiq Khan the Labour Mayoral candidate for London was correct when he said British Muslims have a 'special role' to play in tackling the extremists and setting our own narrative.

In his article which happened to be in The Sun on the same day he said, 'Because we are best placed to ensure the extremists' messages of hate are not believed by other Muslims. British Muslims must challenge these extremist views wherever they come across them. They must insist that British values and Muslim values are one and the same, and give the next generation the confidence to say this loudly and clearly'

Last night young British Muslims across social media platforms came together to say 'loudly' and 'clearly' and challenge the Sun that they cannot divide people with misleading and sensationalised headlines. Those same thousands of people who used the hashtag #1in5Muslims will continue stand up to set the record straight when extremist groups like Isis try to highjack and set the narrative for Muslims. The #1in5Muslims campaign showed the best of Muslim and British values with people from all backgrounds joining together in a fun, light-hearted and humorous way to say to anyone trying to cause hysteria and hatred that we won't let you! It's time to fight hatred with humour and bring communities together to stand up for justice.