I’ve had an almost entirely Facebook free week in the sunshine, but thankfully BBC and ITV kept me up-to-date with the important events back home... and away from the terrible floods that have devastated parts of Cumbria, the words of two men have grabbed many of the headlines.
I will consider Tyson Fury’s provocative comments another day, but firstly I just wanted to type a few words in response to Donald Trump’s desire to impose a blanket ban on Muslims entering the United States, and his assertion that Britain is hiding a “massive Muslim problem”.
Such comments are always going to create a the widest possible divide in public opinion, thereby guaranteeing Trump’s place at the top of news bulletins right around the world... and being so blatantly controversial is undeniably the ideal “shit or bust” tactic for a political hopeful.
He may well have a deeply-held conviction in his views, and may also believe he can back up his claims, but frankly the words of anyone who wears the remains of a once cute and furry animal on his head should never be taken seriously....
Unfortunately his comments are serious... they are inflammatory, accusatory... and as far as Britain is concerned, they totally undermine a country that isn’t even Trump’s home.
But Britain is my home. And equally it is home to many thousands of Muslims.
There are people out there far better informed and able to argue the rights and wrongs of conflicts around the globe purportedly raging in the name of religion; it is my simplistic belief (and I apologise for a generalisation of my own) that there are good and bad people of any and every (or even no) faith. The fact is that I share the world/country/town in which I live with a wonderfully diverse group of fellow human beings, so many possessing proud heritages and customs, rich cultures, and... whisper it softly... their own particular God in whom they entrust their spiritual wellbeing.
I am not a Muslim. I do not fully understand what it means to be a Muslim... to follow the Islamic faith, but rather than simply forming a judgement based on the oft-quoted media stereotype, this is what I did....
I made friends within the Muslim community. I observed Ramadan and celebrated Iftar (and yes, I still hate dates), and I even went to Friday prayers at a Mosque. I might have been the only white man (and non-Muslim) in a room of well over one hundred, but that didn’t stop me being welcomed, embraced and respected simply for having an open mind.
Of course, it doesn’t follow that because those members of the Muslim community that I am proud to call friends are inherently good and kind people that the same can be said of all Muslims, but as I mentioned earlier, you can apply the same logic to any faith group. And the reverse must therefore hold true... which is why Donald Trump’s comments are (in my albeit insignificant opinion) fundamentally flawed; and if the friends I have made are symptomatic of this country’s “massive problem”, then I’d settle for Britain as it is today over Donald Trump’s vision of America every time.
Next stop Tyson Fury....