Between the fat generals who ruled us and the mullahs who beat us at Qur’an school, we had no living heroes, only dead ones from centuries ago. I remember our sadness when we discovered Omar Sharif was not a Muslim.But far more than religion, it was Muhammad Ali’s defiance of the white power structure in America of the early 1960s that lit the fire of political protest within many of us, who would later go to prison in the 1968 global student uprising over the Vietnam war.
Simply said, the vast majority of Muslims are frustrated with their lives. They live in countries that are autocratic with little or no freedom, that are unjust and corrupt at the core, economically unsuccessful and where the individual’s relationship to the Almighty has been swept aside by rulers; religion is used as an instrument to control and rule, with rulers and their cronies living in unimaginable luxury while the average person cannot even make ends meet; the average Muslim has limited productive opportunities to make a decent living; and most frustrating of all, there is little hope of a better future.
There’s little support for what most of us would consider female equality; one in three believes men should be able to take more than one wife; and more than half of Muslims think homosexuality should be illegal.Almost a quarter want the introduction of sharia law in this country; and a frightening 4 per cent — equivalent to 100,000 people — support violence, including suicide bombings, to ‘defend’ Islam.
We attended a mosque meeting advertised as being ‘open to the public’, and were abusively shouted down as soon as my mother attempted to make a contribution. No one had yet informed us that ‘the public’ does not include females.