Top 10 British Muslim stories of 2017

Reviewing all the major headlines from 2017, Roshan Muhammed Salih concludes that it has been another challenging year for Muslims in the UK.

Targeting of Muslims by the British state and the mainstream media continued, and several domestic attacks put the community firmly under the microscope.

On the other hand, Muslims showed they could organise effectively around common causes, such as supporting Jeremy Corbyn at the general election or promoting awareness about the Balfour Declaration.

But without further ado, here’s our top 10 British Muslim stories of 2017.

GRENFELL TOWER FIRE

Grenfell Tower was a Muslim story although it wasn’t presented in the media as such.

It was confirmed towards the end of the year that 49 out of the 71 confirmed deaths in the fire were Muslims, although locals believe the true death toll was much higher.

The Grenfell disaster exposed how Muslims are among the most deprived citizens and residents of this country, comprising a large proportion of those living in the sub standard tower block located in the richest borough in the UK.

It also exposed how the authorities have complete contempt for the poor, and to date, no one has been arrested for the criminal neglect that led to the fire.

On a more positive note, several Muslim organisations did a sterling job in assisting the bereaved and the needy following the tragedy.

MUSLIMS VOTE IN DROVES FOR JEREMY CORBYN

In June, Muslims voted in droves for Jeremy Corbyn in the general election, helping Labour to do much better than expected with many describing Corbyn as the “Prime Minister in waiting.”

The Labour leader has been a friend of the Muslim community for decades, and has a consistent track record of opposing wars on Muslim majority countries, as well as supporting the Palestinian cause.

The Muslim Council of Britain said that Muslim votes may have made a difference in 39 key constituencies.

They identified 16 constituencies where the impact of Muslim communities could be “high”. In those constituencies, the swing towards Labour was 7,789 on average and every one of these 16 seats is now held by the Labour party.

And in the 23 constituencies where the MCB determined the impact of Muslim communities as “medium,” the swing towards Labour was 6,839 on average.

DOMESTIC ATTACKS IN LONDON AND MANCHESTER 

We aren’t happy to include politically-motivated domestic attacks in a list of the year’s “Muslim stories,” but the ISIS-inspired attacks on Britain in 2017, as well as the attack on a mosque in Finsbury Park, most certainly affected Muslims.

And this was indeed the year that ISIS made good on its promise to target the UK in revenge for the bombing of Syria and Iraq.

In March, Khalid Masood drove a car into pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before exiting the vehicle and stabbing a police officer to death at the entrance to Parliament. Four other people died as a result of the rampage, and 50 people were injured.

Masood, a 52-year-old British man, was shot dead by other officers. He acted alone, police said, but may have been inspired by ISIS.

In May, a bomb exploded just outside Manchester Arena as people were leaving an Ariana Grande concert. Twenty two people, including children, were killed in the attack.

The bomber, Salman Abedi, a 22-year-old British national of Libyan descent, was also killed. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack.

In June, three men drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before going on a stabbing rampage at bars at nearby Borough Market. The attack killed eight people and injured more than 40 others. The attackers were shot dead by police.

Police named the attackers as Khuram Shazad Butt,Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba. ISIS also claimed responsibility for this attack, though the group provided no evidence for its involvement.

Also in June, a man drove a van into a group of worshippers who had attended late-night Ramadan prayers at a mosque in London’s Finsbury, killing one man and injuring 11 other people.

Police arrested Darren Osborne, 47, a resident of Cardiff, on suspicion of murder and terrorism offences.

And finally, in September, an improvised bomb detonated on a London Underground commuter train at about 8:20 am at Parsons Green station.

More than 25 people were treated at hospitals for injuries, most apparently the result of flash burns.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA CONTINUES TO BE ISLAMOPHOBIC

In 2017, the mainstream media continued to display deep denial about its institutional Islamophobia.

It continued to cover the Muslim community largely through the lens of counter-terrorism, and continued to give prominent platforms to unrepresentative figures like Maajid Nawaz and Sara Khan who bolster arguments about Islam and Muslims “being the problem”.

The press is largely a law unto itself with The Times, The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Sun, The Mail and The Star being the worst offenders when it comes to targeting Muslims. But the supposedly “neutral” or “centre-left” media – such as The Guardian, The Independent and the BBC – also continue to promote Islamophobia, albeit in a more subtle and sophisticated way.

One media outlet in particular is worth mentioning – LBC radio station. Broadcasting to a mainly London audience which is traditionally left-leaning, majority ethnic-minority, and one in nine Muslim, 19 out of 20 of LBC presenters are white, and the only brown one (Maajid Nawaz) spends a lot of his time slagging off Islam and Muslims.

Until recently, the rabid Islamophobe Katie Hopkins was one of LBC’s presenters before she got sacked.

Still, LBC and many other mainstream media outlets continue to take their Muslim audience for mugs.

OFSTED VOTED ISLAMOPHOBE OF THE YEAR

In November, the schools watchdog Ofsted was voted UK Islamophobe of the Year.

Ofsted won the dubious accolade at a ceremony organised by the Islamic Human Rights Commission in London.

Many in the Muslim community feel that Ofsted has targeted Muslim children over the past few years.

Several high-performing schools in Birmingham were put in Special Measures by Ofsted and Muslim educationalists were forced out of their jobs following the “Trojan Horse” affair, which was later largely discredited.

The former head of Ofsted, Sir Michael Wilshaw, critcised the wearing of the veil in schools and the current chief, Amanda Spielman, said that Muslim girls will be questioned by inspectors about why they wear the hijab.

THE ARMY TRIES TO INFLITRATE MUSLIM COMMUNITY

The Armed Forces continued to try to grain inroads into the Muslim community by getting mosques to sign the “British Armed Forces Covenant.”

In October, Birmingham Central Mosque signed the Covenant which is a promise to ensure that those who serve or who have served in the Armed Forces, and their families, are treated fairly.

Leicester Central Mosque and Nottingham’s Karimia Mosque have already signed the Covenant.

The move proved controversial within Muslim communities given the Armed Forces’ role in recent wars against Muslim nations such as Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya, which have led to hundreds of thousands of deaths.

ZIONISTS TARGET PRO-PALESTINE ACTIVISTS

Throughout 2017 Zionist media and activists targeted pro-Palestine campaigners.

The attacks on high-profile figures such as Jeremy Corbyn and a Conservative Party Minister seemed to be orchestrated by the Israeli embassy in London, which is headed by war crime apologist Mark Regev. The embassy’s antics, as well as its influence over Jewish groups in the UK, was exposed by an Al Jazeera documentary.

The Zionists also targeted the former National Union of Students president Malia Bouattia, as well as Muslim activists Nazim Ali and Laura Stuart.

Their tactics seem to consist of labelling anybody who expresses harsh criticism of Israel as “anti-Semitic.”

But the good news is that they wouldn’t be doing all this if they weren’t worried. And they should be worried because the Palestinian narrative and the reality of the Zionist regime finally seems to be penetrating public opinion in this country.

BALFOUR DECLARATION COMMEMORATED

In November pro-Palestinian campaigners commemorated the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the document signed by the British Foreign Secretary in 1917 which led to the creation of Israel and the dispossession of the Palestinian people.

Tens of thousands marched through London on November 2 demanding an apology from Britain, sanctions to be imposed on Israel, and reparations to be paid to the Palestinians.

On the other hand, Israeli leader Banjamin Netanyahu visited the UK to “celebrate” the anniversary and Theresa May and some members of the British Jewish community rolled out the red carpet for him.

MUSLIMS JAILED FOR SUPPORTING ISIS

On an almost weekly basis young British Muslims continue to be arrested on terror charges and many were convicted in trials during 2017.

Up until August 2017, 22 people were arrested for offences which included being a member of ISIS, travelling to Syria to join ISIS, planning terror attacks, supporting ISIS or spreading “extremist propaganda.”

Approximately 850 Britons have travelled to either Syria or Iraq to support or fight for “jihadist” groups, according to the British authorities.

ACID ATTACKS TARGET MUSLIMS

A spate of shocking acid attacks targeted Muslims throughout 2017.

Perhaps the most shocking was in June when a Muslim woman and her cousin were attacked in east London.

Jameel Mukhtar, 37, and his cousin Resham Khan were celebrating the aspiring model’s 21st birthday before the horrific attack.

Corrosive substance believed to be acid was thrown on them through their car window while they were waiting at traffic lights in Beckton, east London.

John Tomlin, 24, has been charged with two counts of grievous bodily harm with intent.

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