UK: Muslim-led arts initiatives tackle “Islamophobia,” promote “interfaith harmony” among children

Note that after listing several jihad attacks, along with an alleged “Islamophobic” attack, the writer of this article says that this program was started to combat “Islamophobia.” Where is the program to combat the spread of the jihad ideology among Muslims? If the organizers of the Muslim Art and Cultural Festival really want to end “Islamophobia,” here is how they can accomplish it. They can call upon Muslim individuals and groups to:

1. Focus their indignation on Muslims committing violent acts in the name of Islam, not on non-Muslims reporting on those acts.
2. Renounce definitively, sincerely, honestly, and in deeds, not just in comforting words, not just “terrorism,” but any intention to replace Western constitutions (or the constitutions of any non-Muslim state) with Sharia even by peaceful means. In line with this, clarify what is meant by their condemnations of the killing of innocent people by stating unequivocally that non-Muslim civilians, including Israelis, are innocent people, teaching accordingly in mosques and Islamic schools, and behaving in accord with these new teachings.
3. Teach, again sincerely and honestly, in transparent and verifiable ways in mosques and Islamic schools, the imperative of Muslims coexisting peacefully as equals with non-Muslims on an indefinite basis, and act accordingly.
4. Begin comprehensive international programs in mosques all over the world to teach sincerely, and again transparently, against the ideas of violent jihad and Islamic supremacism.
5. Actively and honestly work with Western law enforcement officials to identify and apprehend jihadists within Western Muslim communities.

If Muslims did those five things, voila! “Islamophobia” would vanish! But it ain’t gonna happen.

“Muslim-led arts initiatives tackling Islamophobia, promoting interfaith harmony among UK children,” by Heba Hashem, Salaam Gateway, September 30, 2018:

A record number of anti-Muslim attacks and incidents of abuse were reported in the United Kingdom last year, according to monitoring group Tell Mama in its annual report released in July. Many were triggered by four incidents between March and June 2017, which a police review said “were the most deadly terrorist attacks on British soil since the 7/7 London tube and bus bombings of July 2005.” Three attacks targeting public places in London and Manchester were perpetrated by Muslims who were mostly British, and the fourth was carried out by a non-Muslim Briton on a London mosque.

A year later in April, a three-day festival of culture and ideas dedicated to Muslim communities was held at the British Library in London. In November, a ten-day event will open in Manchester. Both aim to bridge cultures and tackle Islamophobia.


MFest in London and the Muslim Art and Cultural Festival (MACFest) in Manchester are big multi-day, multi-arts events in the two cities directly affected by last year’s four terrorist attacks. Where MFest was held at central London institution The British Library and targeted the general public, the much bigger MACFest will be more widely distributed and also involve museums, galleries, universities and schools.

“The reason why I wanted to [have some events] in schools is because with the rise of extremism, there’s been a lot of negative backlash and children suffer in schools if they are Muslims because they get bullied,” critically-acclaimed novelist Qaisra Shahraz, who is founder and curator of MACFest, told Salaam Gateway.

The rationale behind this aspect of Shahraz’s MACFest programming is backed by data. Tell Mama’s report found that 72 percent of the perpetrators of reported anti-Muslim incidents last year were white men, with younger men, including teenagers, being some of the main perpetrators. There’s clearly a need to reach young people with issues related to Islam and Muslims.

“I want these [Muslim] children to feel proud of who they are. And for the children who bully them to learn that those are the actions of extremists – the rest of us are normal peace-loving people,” said Shahraz, whose community involvement includes being a trustee of Manchester Multi Faith Centre, Vice Chair of Faith Network 4 Manchester and Executive Member of the Muslim Jewish Forum of Greater Manchester.

MFest and MACFest are not by any means the first focusing on Islam and Muslims in the UK. Shemiza Rashid, a social and cultural entrepreneur working in the interfaith, Asian, and Islam and Muslim creative industries, pointed out smaller community arts and cultural events that have been organised in recent years.

“A lot of Muslim arts organisations across the country are reaching out and working alongside non-Muslim galleries to help make Islam more accessible,” said Rashid, who hosts a faith-inspired creative arts and lifestyle show for a community radio station based in Luton, a town just northwest of London….

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