A fact about British Muslims’ charitable donations during Ramadan is being shared online after the furore around a Sun column arguing that Muslim journalists shouldn’t report on terror attacks.
A day after Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie wrote that it was not appropriate for a “lady in a hijab” to cover the Nice attacks, one woman from Wales decided to try add some balance to on social media.
A Twitter user called Anna, an Oxford law graduate and trainee solicitor, tweeted that UK Muslims gave £100 million to charity during the month of Ramadan this year - the equivalent of £38 every second.
Her figures came from a blog from the Charity Commission from last week, which revealed that Muslims gave approximately £100 million to charity during Ramadan, which ran from 5 June until 5 July this year.
Some individual donations were as much as £30,000, the commission said, and hundreds of cakes were delivered to raise money for Syria “on long, hot Sundays during Ramadan by volunteers who were themselves not eating or drinking”.
None of the UK’s major media outlets, including The Huffington Post UK, reported the news.
Meanwhile, MacKenzie’s column in Britain’s biggest selling newspaper has been furiously discussed, with one critic claiming it was “possibly the vilest, most Islamophobic thing” he had seen in the media. Channel 4 branded his piece “religious hatred”.
Anna, who had earlier commented that MacKenzie’s column made him look “fucking stupid”, said she was sharing the charity donations fact because the “media won’t report it”.
“I just want people to see some balance rather than only hearing about extremists,” she later posted.
The Commission classes Ramadan as a period of “increased charitable giving” in Britain, and shared details of the good work that the donations will support, ranging from helping people affected by floods in Carlisle, to others starting honey-bee farms in Palestine and Pakistan.
Research in 2013 suggested that Muslims give more to charity than other religious groups including Christians and Jews, as well as Atheists.
Giving to charity is an important part of Ramadan. Zakāt, one of the five ‘pillars’ of Islam, dictates that Muslims must give a fixed percentage of their income to the poor, but many give more than this, especially during Ramadan.
Anna’s post quickly went viral with over 4,500 retweets:
She claimed that she was subjected to Islamaphobic responses as a result:
She also implied some Twitter users didn’t trust her information because they thought Muslims were “inherently bad people”. She said others had told her Muslims only donate to “Islamic foundations “ and “only care about Muslims”.
In fact, money donated through Ramadan appeals this year will be given to a huge variety of causes. Countries around the world from Europe to North America were reported to be benefitting, with projects including:
- Helping people affected by floods in Carlisle
- Running soup kitchens for homeless people in Britain
- Supporting people to start honey-bee farms in Palestine and Pakistan
- Distributing hygiene kits and food in Haiti
- Teaching hairdressers and beauticians how to sterilise their equipment to prevent the spread of hepatitis
- Building ‘micro-dams’ in Mali to harness water from flash floods to be used during the dry season
- 300 volunteers delivering 22,000 chocolate cakes to be eaten at the end of the day when the Ramadan fast is broken. Cakes cost £10 each and all proceeds went to provide humanitarian relief in Syria
“The sheer scale of the work is immediately apparent,” the Charity Commission said in its blog. “One Muslim-led charity (not one of the largest) estimates that its work last Ramadan had helped over 1 million people. Much of this work is helping people in the most severe hardship, like those living amidst the drought in Somaliland or the conflict in Syria.”
One commenter replied to Anna’s tweet, claiming that the mainstream media doesn’t often cover donations to charity by other faiths either.
Another replied that this was a “fair point” but the situation was different because the media does a “poor job” of reporting on attrocities committed by non-Muslims.
Anna added that despite some Islamaphobic comments, she had received an overwhelmingly positive response to her initial tweet, concluding “people are awesome”.
It’s not the first time The Sun has stoked controversy around Islam.
As well as Monday’s column, which has received 800 complaints, the newspaper has the record for the most complained about article since press watchdog IPSO was established in 2014.
Its front page piece on alleged jihadist sympathies within the UK Muslim community drew over 3,000 complaints.