Letter to a young British Muslim about Gaza

Samosa Media Director Anwar Akhtar reflects on some of the conversations he has had with young British Muslims regarding the war in Gaza. 

This may be an incredibly difficult time for you.

Or maybe you are suddenly feeling empowered?

You see the gloves come off and the extreme racism that is often disguised, expressed subtly, become ever more explicit. The media is full of commentators telling you there are too many Muslims in Europe. That they are not like “us”. They are a demographic threat.  They are having lots of babies. Maybe these babies in places like Bradford, Manchester, Newham, will become Hamas supporters.

That you don’t have the civilised values of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage and Suella Braverman.

Better to know who the racists are, best to have them out in the open, you think.

You know that if what is being done to the children of Gaza was happening to White children anywhere on this planet, something would be done to stop it by the West.

Many politicians, media commentators, historians, actors, quiz show hosts, appear to be defending large scale child killing as a necessary act in a time of just war.

You see how this world works for the first time, how life that is not White is held as less valuable by the West.

You feel sick seeing Black and Brown politicians in Britain stepping up to support this hypocrisy in exchange for some career success and power.  

Your school may have held assemblies and fundraisers for Ukraine, but you’re not even allowed to talk about what is happening in Gaza. Maybe your parents are worried that you may get reported for thought crimes under the Prevent programme if you do.

You know that what Hamas did was wrong and evil. You also think how long has Israel been doing wrong and evil things to the Palestinians?

You know what anti-Semitism is because you see it around you. People casually sharing on social media Holocaust deniers like David Irving, Jew-haters like Kanye West, stuff about how the Jews control the media.

As a young Muslim, especially if you are growing up in orthodox families and communities, you are constantly told about loyalty and love for the Ummah. Sometimes by people who do not show that much loyalty and love to their family and friends, but talk a great talk about the Ummah.

Maybe you think it’s great that Muslims are shouting back on social media and angry TV shows.

Or maybe you think some of these guys are loudmouthed hooligans only in it for themselves. The same guys who were recently telling you Jordan Peterson and Andrew Tate are go-to role models.

If you are a girl, you will probably have seen the boys and men stepping up as community leaders ready to lead, making sure you are in the background, in the smaller back room in the mosque, the one without the chandelier.

You are part of that post-9/11 generation where you have grown up with Islamophobia everywhere. You are also part of your home town, your community, your neighbourhood, your home in Britain. You know this country can give you some of the best chances in life.

You love the place despite the racism because it’s your country good and bad and the racists can go get stuffed. Britain went to India two hundred years ago and now we have ended up British.

You have been on all the marches for Gaza and will not stop supporting the children of Gaza. No White man or women is going to stop you speaking up for the children of Gaza.

Good for you. Keep marching.

Can you also try to think what it must be like as a Jewish teenager in Britain. How hurtful it is people saying stuff about their community, culture, religion. That the Holocaust was a lie or exaggerated. The same Holocaust their family members were killed in.

Ah yes you say, not all Jews are the same, not all Jews support extremism. Then you think how often you’ve heard the same said about Muslims.

Then maybe you think it’s about people, good and bad. That some stuff is complicated and you need to think about it. Maybe you start to think it’s about power, land, armies, empire, history, people making a profit and the parts that religion plays in all of that.

Your friends have just got involved in an activist group against the arms trade making billions. Business is booming from the killing of the children of Gaza. New models, new innovations, new products being market tested through the killing of the children of Gaza. 

Maybe you think that’s where you should go. With the activists and away from the community leaders and self-appointed spokesmen for the Ummah.

Maybe you are working out stuff for yourself.  Maybe you need to be speaking to as many different people as possible, especially Jewish people, to understand what is going on. Read more and think more. So, you don’t end up getting exploited by social media armchair warriors, the self-appointed leaders of the UK branch of the Ummah. Maybe you should do that and keep marching for the children of Gaza.

Stay safe and keep us posted on how you get on.

Anwar Akhtar