As Muslim teenagers we're sending our solidarity to victims of the Westminster attack

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Friday 24 March 2017 14:06 GMT
People hold up a banner ahead of a candlelit vigil at Trafalgar Square
People hold up a banner ahead of a candlelit vigil at Trafalgar Square (Getty)

We, as a group of 14 Muslim madrasa students, aged between 13 and 17, write this letter in the aftermath of the horrific attack near Westminster, in which a coward took it upon himself to destroy the peace we had been living in for so long. Before starting to make our point, we pray to Allah that he gives good health to those who were injured and grants peace to the victims’ families.

Our parents, madrasa teachers and our Imams continue to stress the importance of being good, productive British citizens. On the day of the attack, our Imam spoke to us about it, how violence against innocents is prohibited in Islam, how we should respond to such attacks, and how to cope with the inevitable and unfortunate backlash facing our community.

As students of the school and madrasa systems, we understand the importance of education, and that good education is the key to our development. We also appreciate the responsibilities that come with living in a multi-cultural, multi-faith society, to maintain peace and harmony, and to respect the freedoms we are privileged to have.

At times like this, we need to spread a message of solidarity, unity and defiance. If we begin to isolate and ostracise a 3 million strong community because of the actions of a few depraved individuals, we are doing the extremists’ job for them, causing hate and division. The last thing we need as a country is to allow these cowards and criminals to divide us and incite hatred between us.

There are many positives to be taken from the Muslim community’s contributions in making this country great, and we would like to see the media make more of an effort in providing a truer picture of the Muslims in the UK and Islam in general. We are making every effort to integrate, and for integration to work, we need it to become a two-way street, starting with the media. We hope the bridges we have worked to build, are not burnt by the actions of a criminal.

As a Muslim, and a survivor of terrorism, the famous Malala Yousafzai recently spoke out against the problem of dividing victims of terrorism: “If your intention is to stop terrorism, do not try to blame the whole population of Muslims for it, because that cannot stop terrorism.” Her final message speaks volumes and should serve as a stern warning for us all: “It will radicalise more terrorists.”

It is time we all re-considered our responsibilities, and re-evaluated what we are doing to make our great country safe and united once again.

A group of teenage madrasa students

Solidarity in our communities

I attended the vigil in Trafalgar Square last night which showed Britain at its best with short but powerful speeches by the Home Secretary, the Mayor and a senior police officer. Politicians from different parties united in a message of hope, tolerance and defiance against terrorism.

A stark contrast to Katie Hopkins and Nigel Farage who rushed over to the Fox News Studios with the former tweeting about how we have been cowed and claiming that we were not united.

Chris Key

Following the multiple arrests in Birmingham on Thursday, we have once again been subject to much journalistic hand-ringing about why this great city produces a disproportionate number of would-be terrorists. While this may be a legitimate line of enquiry, the use of such ill-considered journalese as “the jihadi capital of Britain” by the usually excellent Nick Robinson on Friday’s Today Programme, plays into the hands of those who seek to demonise the entire Muslim community after the attack in London. We need look no further than Paul Nuttall’s assertion that the Muslim community have a responsibility to root out “this cancer of radicalisation” to see what a boon this is to the populist right.

As someone whose family has lived in Birmingham for over two hundred years, I am proud to share my city with all its current inhabitants, regardless of how recently they arrived or where they come from. Our major weakness remains that too many of our residential areas are segregated along ethnic lines, with too little mixing of our diverse population in everyday settings and especially our schools. If we wish to combat the kind of extremism with which we are currently faced, it is to this that all of us should turn our attention.

Ian Richards

On Tuesday, 22 March 2017 the UK Parliament was the centre of an atrocious act of terrorism where an individual by the name of Khalid Masood attacked by first plowing his car into pedestrians then fatally stabbing a police officer.

As an Ahmadi Muslim I condemn this barbaric and un-Islamic act; there is no such place for this violence in this world. My deepest condolences are with the families of all affected and my prayers are with the injured. In the Qur’an it states: “Whosoever kills an innocent … it is as if he has killed all of mankind” (5:32).

London also happens to be a centre for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community as the leader of our community worldwide, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad resides there. Time and time again His Holiness has condemned all acts of violence and he states: “One who sheds blood of innocents has nothing to do with Islam and its Prophet.”

In the US, the community has dedicated itself to promote the peaceful message of Islam and in hoping to break the barriers that divide us, has launched a campaign called #MeetAMuslim where we go out into the streets and answer any questions one might have regarding the true teachings of Islam.

Arsalan Ahmad Khan
Virginia, USA

When mainstream politicians call for unity in the face of murder, why do voices on the far right describe fear, confusion and fragmentation?

Mark Grey

Banning electronics on flights won’t stop terrorism

The Department of Homeland Security and its sister equivalent in the UK are now banning all electronics bigger than a cellphone from the cabins of some direct flights to the UK in six Muslim-majority countries.

Doesn’t this just make the bad guys fly to France or Germany and then fly to the US or the UK? Duh!

It is ridiculous also to think that just Muslim-looking people would carry out this threat.

Mahmoud El-Yousseph
Ohio, USA

Go vegan for Earth Hour

Turning off the lights for Earth Hour at 8:30 pm on 25 March may make for a romantic meal, but if you truly want to help combat climate change, go vegan. The production of animal-based foods – whether eaten by candlelight or not – requires more resources and causes more greenhouse-gas emissions than that of plant-based foods does. Research even shows that meat-eaters are responsible for about two-and-a-half times as many dietary greenhouse-gas emissions as vegans are.

When scientists at Chalmers University of Technology in Sweden calculated various ways to combat climate change, they found that cutting greenhouse-gas emissions from transportation and energy use would be much more expensive than curbing consumption of meat and dairy. They concluded that cutting down on these foods is key to bringing emissions down to safe levels.

So if you’re serious about saving the environment, prepare a vegan meal this Earth Hour – or whenever you choose to eat dinner. You’ll be helping not only the environment but also animals and your own health.

Jennifer White
London, N1

Brexit date ‘saddest day’

I was proud to be a subject of a United Kingdom that was an integral and major part of a United Europe.

The building of a united Europe was started during my lifetime. Its creation began after hundreds of thousands of European citizens had lost their lives in wars against racism and nationalism. Nations that had once been locked in brutal conflict and divided by iron curtains had started to forge alliances and friendships based upon a common peaceful cause.

We did not lose our “sovereignty” or national identity when we became European Citizens. We all gained rights, freedoms, protections and representations that none of us had previously enjoyed. European Unity added to my freedoms, it took none of my freedoms away. It did not steal my nationality – it added to it.

On the 29 March, the process will start whereby I, and 65 million of my fellow countrymen, will be stripped of our European citizenship whether we like it or not.

Brexit is taking away a citizenship, an identity and freedoms that millions of British people valued. Brexit has torn countries, families and the people of our United Kingdom apart.

Next Wednesday will be one of the saddest days in my 75 years of living. And, perhaps, it will be the saddest day in the history of a nation that I loved.

Martin Deighton

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