The Sun Newspaper this week launched its ‘United against IS’ campaign, showing The Union Jack draped in a hijab. This was seen to highlight how British Muslims are standing up and saying ‘no’ to -extremism.
Is this an image promoting solidarity against extremism or as Journalist Nesrine Malik in the Guardian suggests, the Sun’s way of saying your either with us or against us.
Nesrine says Muslims should condemn the Islamic State ‘but not have it demanded’ of them, at the risk of being seen as terrorist sympathisers. So as Muslims do we sometimes have to go out of our way to prove we are against IS or are we comfortable in our own skin to let people judge us by our words and actions?
A brother from the mosque shared an experience where his work colleague jokingly said to him don’t let us be the ones on the news saying ‘he was such a nice guy, we didn’t think he’d do something like that!’ Tongue and cheek comment on how British Muslim terrorists happen to be the last person friends suspect to turn out like that. A joke perhaps but with a tinge of paranoia and suggestion of ‘how well do we really know you’.
You may talk about the mosque activities your involved in but to them this could mean anything depending on what newspaper they read. With this in mind there is no harm in finding an appropriate time to explain that loyalty to one’s nation is in fact an Islamic principle. In doing so in the past I have experienced that undertone of ‘we wish all Muslims thought like this’.Not knowing that in fact most Muslims already do!
We have to accept that the general public do have a genuine confusion and fear of the unknown fuelled by media sensationalism. As Muslims citizens we may feel loyal to our country but what’s the harm in saying it or displaying it now and again. It may not change some of the stigma attached to us but will go a long way in attempting to teach the peaceful and tolerate message of Islam which is often misconstrued. …..now let me learn those words for the national anthem : )