Press Release: GLMCC Responds to Recent Events at Batley Grammar SchoolAssima Alam
Anti-Muslim views have become increasingly normalised since the unfortunate events at the turn of the 21st century. As a result, Muslims in the UK have been subjected to various hues of marginalisation, prejudice and vilification over the past two decades. Today, this is known as Islamophobia.
The ongoing vilification of Muslims in both public and private spheres is now at worrying heights, leading to a sense of frustration by the Muslim community that is evident by the protests in Batley.
Muslim organisations and mosques across the country have worked tirelessly to push back against the damage that Islamophobic narratives have on society through education and raising awareness on Islam.
The ongoing debate about free speech and British values is seen by many as another attempt at the vilification of the Muslim community. Muslims in the UK uphold high standards of respect and tolerance and international values. British Muslims have been living in the UK for many decades and several generations, and consider being British a core part of their identity.
At Green Lane Masjid & Community Centre (GLMCC), we advocate British and universal values of respect and tolerance between communities, groups and individuals. In a sermon given on Friday 26th March 2021, Head Imam, Sheikh Zakaullah Saleem said:
‘Showing respect is part of our religion, and it is an integral part of the religion of Islam. Living in this country, we believe in respect and tolerance. This is one of the British values, and as Muslims, we promote respect and tolerance.’
The recent events at Batley Grammar School, in which a derogatory cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was shown reflects some of the challenges that Muslims in the West face in the realm of showing mutual respect. In Islam, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is considered to be the best and most noble of mankind.
Sheikh Zakaullah added, ‘our beloved Messenger (peace be upon him) is closer to us and dearer to us than anything…’ He continued to explain that showing young children offensive cartoons of a Prophet is antithetical to British values of respect. Reducing the man who Muslims hold in the highest esteem into a terroristic and deeply racist caricature will undoubtedly fuel feelings of anger.
Defending the honour and status of the Prophet Muhammad (and all prophets) is a core tenant of the Islamic faith. As a mosque, we empathise with the frustration of the Muslim community in Batley.
We do however urge all Muslims to maintain a sense of wisdom and balance. We must recognise and appreciate the swift action that Batley Grammar School took by providing an unequivocal apology, suspending the teacher involved and launching a wider investigation into the matter.
Under the guise of ‘freedom of speech’ it is inevitable that such incidents will occur repeatedly over the years. As Muslims, we will always rise to defend our beloved Prophet and must use the best possible means of doing so.
Primarily, we urge mosques, Muslim organisations and individuals to invest time into educating their communities on the life and character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). It is through knowledge that light enters into the hearts, and distinguishes the threads of ignorance, malice and prejudice.
‘And We have not sent you, (O Muhammad), except as a mercy to the worlds.’
Green Lane Masjid and Community Centre is a leading UK mosque situated in the heart of Birmingham serving the community since 1979. Operating from its award-winning grade II listed Victorian building, GLMCC fulfills its mission of inspiring, educating and serving through its educational college, outreach work, welfare services, youth work, international humanitarian wing, as well as its fully functional mosque which is attended by thousands every week.
Recognised internationally, GLMCC is a multi-award-winning mosque, having won the 2019 British Muslim Award for Mosque of the Year and the Beacon Awards for ‘Best Run Mosque 2019 and ‘Best Covid Response 2020’.
For more information about or work and services visit: www.greenlanemasjid.org
Or access our annual report at: 2019 Annual Report