Zara Mohammed, the destroyer of prejudice

“One of the most deeply rooted and widespread prejudices – said the Russian writer Leo Tolstoy – lies in the belief that every man possesses in exclusive property certain definite qualities: that he is good or bad, intelligent or foolish, energetic or apathetic, and so on. . But the reality is that people are not so one piece but infinitely more complex. “

Stereotypes are a danger. Whoever says that they are superstitious, these are nickel-minded, others are horny, those from over there are brutes, English are arrogant, Americans are naive, Russians are romantics or Germans have square heads, runs the risk of put the leg up to the cook. Just like those who claim that Muslim men are fanatical bearded macho men and Islamic women, submissive and obedient housewives.

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Zara Mohammed, as difficult as it may be, has set herself the mission of annihilating this latest stereotype as the new general secretary of the Muslim Council of Great Britain, the largest organization representing the three and a half million citizens of this country who profess that religion and culture, 5% of the population of the United Kingdom, the great majority of Pakistani origin, and later Hindu. It is your great challenge.

At just 29 years old, Mohammed is the first woman, the first Scottish, and the youngest person to lead the influential group. “There are countless myths about the Islamic woman,” she says with a strong working-class Glasgow accent, reminiscent of former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson. That we are conservative, that we accept a secondary role with respect to man, that we keep quiet instead of responding. But in many cases this is not true, there are those that stand out in journalism, politics and the arts ”.

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Graduated in Law from the University of Strathclyde with a Master in Human Rights and experience in professional training consultancies, Mohammed has
She was elected to the position by 107 votes in favor and 60 against, defeating Ajmal Masroor, a conservative professor and imam who was considered the favorite. But the Islamic Council has opted for a sexual, territorial and generational revolution that goes directly against the stereotypes that exist about that community.

Zara is very politically correct, but does not hesitate to criticize both Boris Johnson (for having said the famous phrase that “women with burqas look like mailboxes”, in the prime minister’s opinion an unintentional grace) and Donald Trump (“The entire planet breathed a sigh of relief when he lost the elections, he had supported the racists and the consequence of this was the assault on the Capitol”). She covers her hair with a scarf and defends the traditions of her faith and religion, but also that Muslim women decide how they dress, that Islam has a more tolerant attitude towards homosexuality and gay marriage, and that anti-Semitism is as condemned as the phobia of Islam.

In addition to dismantling stereotypes about Muslim women, the great goal of the new secretary general is to get as many members of Britain’s Asian community as possible to agree to get the covid vaccine, and to denounce the fake news that circulate about its secondary effects or conspiracies to introduce a microchip into the body and that the State thus has even more control over the population. Ignorance, he points out, paraphrasing Galileo, is the mother of all vices.

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The new leader of the Muslim Council of Great Britain explains that she only came across racial and religious prejudice at the time when, while going to university, she decided to cover her head with a scarf to reaffirm her identity in that way. “Suddenly everything changed. I realized that people were looking at me differently, I was afraid that they would insult me ​​on the trains, ”says Mohammed, who assures that he has friends who have been discriminated against at work for proclaiming their religious beliefs.

The phobia of Islam is a historical reality in the UK, magnified in recent years as a consequence of Islamic terrorism, Brexit and the hostile attitude towards immigrants fostered by the conservative governments of Cameron, May and Johnson, and previously, albeit in to a lesser extent, also by Gordon Brown and Tony Blair. Racial crimes have multiplied since the British decided in 2016 to leave the EU. Zara Mohammed – young, visionary, full of energy and enthusiasm – has proposed to denounce this problem, and believes that it is possible to reconcile “Muslim exceptionality” with belonging to a modern society.

“You can express your faith and your culture in many different ways, and it is important that Muslim women are seen for who we are and for the role that we have in society, and not because of the stereotypes that exist about us,” she says. But the task ahead is arduous. As Einstein said, it is more difficult to destroy a prejudice than an atom.

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