Comment: Muslims are not that bad after all?

Moshin Zaidi responds to a viral blog post by a gay man living near a mosque.

When I first sat down to write a response to Thomas Mauchline’s viral blog post “15 things I learnt about Islam and British values being a gay boy living opposite a mosque”, I intended to write about how terrible it was. And then I read it again.

“You can do that look British people do to each other, when someone near by is making a scene, in a full face veil”. He’s right, I thought. You definitely can.

The story of Thomas’ Muslim neighbour encouraging him to make an ‘honest man’ of his boyfriend warmed the heart.

He welcomed the streets being full of friendly people at prayer time. It’s great he feels safe, rather than at threat, surrounded by that many Muslims… I guess.

Then this: “Young Muslim women are really, really, really ambitious”

That got me thinking… that’s not right. Some of them are. Some of them aren’t. Just like everyone else, regardless of religion (or gender for that matter).

So why write this? Oh. Now I understand. What he means is he didn’t expect them to be ambitious. Perhaps rather he expected them to be treated like second-class citizens?

Thomas’ post speaks volumes more about his own preconceptions of what a Muslim should be like than it does about what Muslims are actually like.

Thomas has been hailed by people for helping to dismantle the stereotype of Muslims as extremists.

Even a newspaper from the Muslim world described him as being able to do what Muslims struggle to do day in and day out. Maybe that’s right, but the Muslim world shouldn’t have to struggle.

The burden should’t be on 2.7 million British Muslims, or 5% of the UK population, to demonstrate that they are like the ‘other’ 95%. There should be no burden.

If Thomas had replaced “Muslims” with, for example, “black people”, would we still find the 15 things he learnt heart warming? Or would we congratulate him for no longer being a racist? Try this on for size:

“Black women are really, really, really ambitious”. Doesn’t sound right does it?

What if a Muslim had, after living opposite a gay club for four years, written that “Gay men party a lot” (not all Muslim’s “pray a lot” by the way) – would gay men welcome this stereo type?

The Metro described Thomas’ post as “eye opening” – which part exactly? The part where he replaces widespread misguided generalisations with other, albeit kinder, stereotypes?

He has clearly had his mind opened by living opposite a mosque. And his well intended post has opened a few minds in the process. But forgive me, and other British Muslims, if we don’t jump for joy at the idea of being ‘reviewed’ as being just like you. We knew that already. Didn’t you?

As with all comment, this does not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.