CEO of MPACUK on SIW 2012
Having a background in computing, it hardly phases me to learn a new acronym and welcome it into my vocabulary. However, SIW 2012 is more than just a new cryptic collection of numbers and letters to decipher. It stands for 'Stop Islamophobia Week', which is a week in which we tackle discrimination against Muslims. It deliberately coincides with the commemoration of an event from recent history, that is so dreadful, that it should make us pause and reflect for a while.
The merciless and gruesome massacre of over 8000 Muslims that took place in Bosnia, is so shocking that words cannot really describe the horrors and pain inflicted upon a fully integrated people. It happened to them not just because of their ethnicity, as much of our media led us to believe at the time, but mainly because of their faith. It was a religious cleansing and depraved discrimination of the worst kind, which included the destruction of Mosques and the wholesale slaughter and rape of Muslims.
You will only have to dig a little deeper into what happened on our European doorstep, to unearth, among the skeletons of our dead, the terrible truth of what happened and the attempts that were made to eradicate all traces of Islam and Muslims in the area. You can now read about first hand experiences of women, children and men who lived through the ordeal, only to survive a tortured existence, as they find themselves in a world which is uncaring or loathes to acknowledge and remember their pain.
To learn the facts about what happened, you can't go far wrong by reading the many first hand accounts written by witnesses of these atrocities, that took place in Bosnia during the mid 90s. Zlata's Diary, by Zlata Filipovic is one such harrowing account and was compiled by her when she was just a child of 11 at the time.
Once we take a moment out of our busy and increasingly distracted lifestyles, to think about how such a terrible Muslim Holocaust unfolded in Bosnia, we can only come to the conclusion that it is the duty of everyone in society to proclaim "never again".
And this is why it is quite shocking to find that some staunch anti-Muslim bloggers, chose to go to a new extreme low recently. To insult the memories of our dead by attempting to label us as radicals, just for paying our respects to the dead Muslims of Bosnia, is not only impudent but is testament to how bold and depraved the Islamophobes have become in opposition to the very existence of Islam and Muslims in the world.
But whilst they are busy manufacturing and inciting this hatred and animosity, we need to ask what action our Muslim leaders are taking to counter it. Absolutely none, would be the simple and honest answer. In fact, when the EDL arrives on their doorstep to destroy cohesion and cause mayhem, they still require advice regarding how best to deal with this new and increasingly sinister menace to British society.
We need to ask why. Why are we still in a situation where our leadership is in such a state of disarray, that they are woefully unprepared to tackle the serious issues affecting Muslims in the UK? This is despite the fact that we have been shouting from above the rooftops for years. Even prior to to the Stop Islamophobia Week initiative, which we launched last year, we have been warning Muslims, that unless they learn about how to gain awareness and become politically empowered to tackle it, their situation will only get worse.
Now after the ever increasing attacks on Muslims, both physically in the street, as well as those in the written or verbal form, which come from certain Islamophobes entrenched in the media and even by certain politicians, the question remains: will our leaders finally start to take the issue of Islamophobia seriously? Or will they continue to bury their heads in the sand to remain in denial, until the situation gets to a stage where we become completely and utterly helpless due to the deluge of mass hatred, discrimination and intolerance?
To unite on a platform of tackling intolerance and defending our rights is the most important and effective thing we can do as Muslims right now. It is the need of our time that we cannot afford to ignore.
It is for this reason that I feel honoured to be serving MPACUK after being elected its new CEO a week ago. It is the only organisation that I know of, that has a membership which actively puts aside any sectarian bias or division and works tirelessly in a united fashion, to tackle the real issues facing Muslims today.
We have set the example for others to follow. Now it only remains to be seen if there are enough people with a conscience to come forward and join us in our good work or at least, emulate or endorse it, in the hope that we can define a better future for ourselves and our children.