In June of 2017, Sadiq Khan, the mayor of London, released that the rise in Islamophobic attacks quintupled after the attacks on London Bridge last year. Due to this, we often ask ourselves, how do we react to such hate? What can we do to lessen the common misunderstandings held by many today against Muslims worldwide? Are we actively doing enough, or anything at all, to spread more love than there is hate? We caught up with Imran Shah who is a member of MPAC UK who are actively funding for Project 10k, Project D.A.W.A.H, and Ummah Awakening and how this can benefit Muslims and their efforts in decreasing Islamophobia.
Q: What is MPAC and what sparked its organization?
Imran Shah: What sparked MPACUK was the Muhammad al-Durrah incident in Palestine back in 2000. BBC initially called both the father and son terrorists. A few individuals rang up the BBC and informed them how they were just civilians. They quickly corrected it, off the back with so little effort. Those individuals who took action thought: if it took so little effort to make a change, why can’t other Muslims do it? It was with this idea that MPACUK was born. We have done many things since we started: campaigns, fighting elections, media appearances, workshops, and events; but MPACUK, at its core, is about trying to pioneer, equip, and push the necessary reforms the Muslims in the UK need for their future.
Q: What is MPAC’s initiative and can it be helpful globally?
Imran Shah: Islamophobia and its narratives are not just active in the West. It is a global phenomenon that manifests itself in many different forms. Domestically in the West, we see largely a rise in hate crime and general populist bigotry. We also see European governments exercising bans on halal meat or niqab/hijab coupled with “counter-extremism” programmes that are directed at Muslim populations.
In the Middle East, not only do we see Islamophobic narratives reinforce the War on Terror narratives, but those narratives are also being adopted by Arab rulers, such as UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain. They’re unsurprisingly being used to clamp down on dissent and sustain those oppressive regimes.
At the very extreme, we see genocide, ethnic cleansing in Myanmar, China, Central African Republic, and we could be seeing another genocide in Bosnia, and the same narratives are fueling this.
All of this is linked by a single narrative: “Muslims are a problem and we must deal with this problem”. The arguments, “evidence”, and angles we hear and see in the West are used in every other part of the world to create different political demands.
We have always challenged these narratives, but now we are building the tools, ideas, and infrastructure to equip Muslims and Muslim organisations to be able to challenge all of this and start having some control over our own destiny.
Q: MPAC is campaigning for three causes: Project 10k, Project D.A.W.A.H, and Ummah Awakening Long-Reads Series. What is the purpose of these campaigns?
Imran Shah: Each project is designed to generate capacity for Muslims in specific ways.
Project 10k is about creating the tools in which ordinary Muslims of any background can come together and do simple campaign action on a mass scale. We will be initially doing this via an app, but we are already looking into more new innovative ways we create better systems.
Project D.A.W.A.H is focused entirely on formulating an organised response to organised Islamophobic narratives, backed by research and streamlined narratives. We will be producing 2 outputs: high-quality media briefing sheets for organisations and animations for the masses.
Ummah Awakening is a long-read series designed to inform, equip, and empower Muslim changers with the ideas, concepts, and language that will help increase their impact. We don’t talk about our condition in terms of a struggle for equality or freedom from oppression. Until we have that intellectual and linguistic framework, Muslims will not gain the traction they need. This project is an attempt to produce this.
Q: What are the collected funds going towards?
Imran Shah: All of the funds will be going directly to our three projects. It will help us outreach to the Muslim public through events and stalls, as well as traditional marketing methods. It will give us the capacity to outreach to Muslim organisations in Europe and create means of collaboration.
Research efforts for campaigns, Project 10k, and Project D.A.W.A.H, production of video, and animations are also necessary to bring these projects to fruition.
These projects will produce outputs that will be a constant benefit, it will be a sadaqah jariyah. The money invested now will open up the possibility of much bigger and fruitful results that will help us build a movement, insha’allah.
If you like to donate to our work, you can do so here.
Q: Can we truly eradicate Islamophobia? If so, how? I.e, whats the plan
Imran Shah: No, we cannot. However, what we can do, is learn how to fight it and keep it under control. There has always been and there will always be people who want to undermine Islam for their own personal benefit.
We as Muslims of every generation need to learn and be equipped with how to defend justice for all, the truth, and the light of Islam, for the sake of Allah. That is our task in Dunya.