Breaking bread and Islam myths

Joining Muslims as they end their Ramadan fast is a way to fight back

Share

This weekend, mosques have been opening their doors to people of all faiths, and none, to share iftar, the meal Muslims have when they break their fast each evening during Ramadan. These events have been taking place in scores of community centres, living rooms, parks – even flash mobs – across the country.

It's all part of the "Big Iftar": a month-long opportunity to show Islam in practice. It comes at a time when myth-busting is more important than ever; research earlier this year showed that nearly half of all Britons thought that a clash of civilisations between the West and Islam was inevitable, and less than a quarter thought that Muslims were compatible with the British way of life. Regrettably, it proves what I said two years ago: Islamophobia has passed the dinner-table test.

Suspicion can spur some – a small, abhorrent few – into committing acts of hatred. We have seen a worrying spate of incidents over recent weeks and months, with bombs found in West Midlands mosques, arson attacks on a north London centre and a Kent school, all of which followed the tragic murder of Mohammed Saleem, who was stabbed to death in Birmingham as he walked home from evening prayers in April.

A person has been charged in connection with some of these incidents, so we can't comment on them. But these acts have been treated as acts of terrorism – and rightly so. This response, as Home Secretary Theresa May wrote last week, shows violence against Muslims will not be tolerated in this country. Meanwhile the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, wrote to Muslim organisations, outlining the Government's determination to tackle Islamophobia.

It follows our unprecedented crackdown on anti-Muslim hatred. We have set up a cross-government working group to advise us on the issue. We are the first government to fund an organisation to record anti-Muslim attacks and support victims. And we are warning of the consequences of hatred taking hold, by supporting the first Srebrenica Memorial Day. We are also demonstrating the positive contribution of Muslims to Britain, past and present, by commemorating the thousands from British India who fought for the Allied victory in the First World War.

We should not allow any let-up in our fight against hatred and prejudice. As the Prime Minister said after the horrific murder of Lee Rigby in May, our country will never give in to terror. This means we must stay true to our British tradition of making this country a place where people are free to worship without fear.

We can take inspiration from the Somali community of Muswell Hill, whose centre was razed last month. With the help of the Al-Khoei foundation, they held their own Big Iftar this weekend, to which they invited Mr Pickles. This is a community which has defied those who tried to create division; it has kept calm and carried on. And there couldn't be anything more British than that.

Baroness Warsi is Minister for faith and communities, and a member of the Prime Minister's extremism task force

twitter.com/@sayeedawarsi

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Junior DBA (SQL Server, T-SQL, SSIS, SSAS) London - Finance

£30000 - £33000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Junior DBA (SQ...

Business Anaylst

£60000 - £75000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Business Anal...

Senior Project Manager

£60000 - £90000 per annum + Bonus: Harrington Starr: Global leading Energy Tra...

Associate CXL Consultant

£40000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: CXL, Triple Po...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi addresses the nation on the country's Independence Day in New Delhi, India  

With Modi talking tough and Sharif weak, the India-Pakistan love-in could never last

Andrew Buncombe
At the time of the investigation Patrick Foster published a statement on Twitter, denouncing the “unnecessarily heavy-handed police investigation”  

Long-term bail allows lazy police and prosecutors to leave cases to gather dust

Oliver Wright
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment