Tameena Hussain is the Chairman of Maidenhead Conservative Future
First of all, my thoughts & prayers are with Lee Rigby’s family and friends and offer my sincere condolences to the family. I first heard about this horrific attack at 7.30pm on Wednesday, and watched the news coverage unfold. As a British citizen, I was angered & saddened by the attack on one of our armed forces. No innocent man deserves to have his life taken away from him – and no-one of any faith should carry out or have to witness such an inhumane act.
As a British Muslim, I was saddened to see a number of people – although a minority – abusing other Muslims and telling us to go back home. What I say to these people is that, like you, I was born Britain and, like you, I’ve been raised in Britain – and therefore the Britain is my home. My faith is about peace, so I preach about peace and will continue to do so. I was encouraged by the amount of support I received from my non-Muslim brothers and sisters in the aftermath of the attack, when I made these points on Twitter.
The messages of support are a source of comfort, and I am glad that, just like the minority of self-claimed ‘Muslims’ who support these criminals, that there is only a very a small minority who preach hatred about Islam. Terrorism is so widely practiced that I believe the media find it difficult to class what terrorism is, although there is a pattern forming. Let me give you an example. In the immediate aftermath of the acts of terror from Anders Behring Breivik, it was simply known as the Norway massacre – yet when Muslims have been involved in massacres, they’ve been labelled as Musim crimes.
All Muslims ask for, is consistency from the media and from politicians. The definition of terrorism is: “The use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes or to further religious ideologies”. In all of this, I think what the media forgets is that, no faith promotes hatred and violence. Yet time and time again, the media links an individual to a faith but no link between the individual and faith should be made, irrespective of what faith they claim to be acting in.
Any individual who lives here yet preaches hatred about the UK, our armed forces, doesn’t respect our law and doesn’t respect the multi-cultural society we live in, quite simply needs to question themselves as to why they are living in a country which they hold in such disregard. If you wish to influence Government policies, then use local platforms. If you are so passionate about going to war, or are unhappy with the way the Government is being run, stand up to it by standing in local elections and working in local communities. Don’t use Government policies as an excuse to attack innocent people.
The Quran says "Whosoever killeth a human being, it shall be as if he had killed all mankind, and whoso saveth the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind." So let’s be clear in saying that no faith, including of course Islam, supports the killing of innocent people, despite what the disgraceful human being, Anjem Choudary has to say (I will not class him as a Muslim because he goes against the teachings of Islam).
I see the problems that have arisen through these attacks. I see what the likes of EDL and MDL preach. That is why in Maidenhead, I play an active role. Like you, I work full-time, and like you I pay my taxes – but I have one chance at life and I want to use it to make my area and my country a better place to live in. That’s why I started volunteering, and the ironic thing is that the first charity I started volunteering for,is a charity called ‘Aik Saath’. This is A charity based in Slough that was setup in light of gang violence between young people
The founders of the charity believed that young people needed to lead the efforts to resolve this conflict. Over fourtenn years later, young people are still leading Aik Saath's efforts to build peace. As well as being a volunteer for Aik Saath, I’m a member of the Maidenhead Islamic Trust’s Women’s Committee – the first of its kind! Through various classes and activities we engage these young people and promote the real message – that is, peace and harmony.
One of my other roles is being part of the Windsor and Maidenhead Community Forum, (WAMCF), where I’m a volunteer and a member of the Women’s Interfaith Group, which comes under WAMCF. In these meetings, I am the youngest person present (whch I’m not ashamed to admit), and we all sit there with the same common goal, that is to promote community cohesion. We educate each other about other faiths, so we can base our views on facts rather than hearsay and we discuss controversial topics but also look for solutions to any problems that we may foresee. Luckily, Maidenhead is a cohesive town but that’s not to say we can sit back. No, we must always look to get groups of all faiths working together.
That’s why for the first time in 2012, I worked with the Reverend Sally Lynch from St Luke’s church to arrange an interfaith concert. Our prime goal was to bring young people together from all faiths and backgrounds to put on a cultural show. We were both delighted to say all faiths participated and due to the amazing feedback we received that night, we are now in the process of organising another interfaith concert for 2013 to co-incide with ‘National Interfaith Week’.
I also see working with the local authority and local emergency services as a huge part of building cohesive communities. That is why I maintain a positive relationship with the police, and offer my support whenever I can. I want to see communities tackling criminal behaviour by working with the police, and consequently have started arranging events to bring the two together. Once again in 2012, to co-incide with ‘National Interfaith Week’ and with the support of Thames Valley Police, I helped to arrange a hugely successful interfaith netball tournament and the buzz and the laughter we saw between the various faiths and the police is what I strive to achieve.
Yesterday, I spoke to senior Thames Valley Police commanders and have written to Theresa May MP about the attacks – again making the point that this was not an attack by, for or with the consent of Islam or Muslim, and that we wholeheartedly support our fellow citizens in fighting terrorism. I’m one of few Muslims who is in the local public eye, but rest assured that Muslims across Maidenhead and across the UK work extremely hard to bring communities together, which is why an act like this will not divide us. If anything, it will bring us together and make us stronger in our fight against terrorism.