The Salah effect: How Mo is tackling prejudice
Can role models like Mo Salah turn the tide on Islamophobia? The Liverpool star has won the Champions League. Now, new research shows that he is also winning the fight against hate…
In the changing rooms before a match, Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah performs the Islamic ritual of ablution. Before kick off, he cups his hands in prayer. If he scores, he kneels in celebration.
He is open about being Muslim — and new research suggests that he is changing attitudes in Liverpool.
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An American think-tank called Immigration Policy Lab looked at the numbers of hate crimes in Merseyside. It found that since Salah joined Liverpool FC two years ago, they have dropped by 18.9%.
“Few Muslims in British public life have been as open about their Muslim identity, and [are] as well-liked, as Salah,” said the authors of the research.
In Liverpool, fans call Salah the “Egyptian King” and chant, “I’ll be Muslim too!” The researchers found that the level of Islamophobic tweets by Liverpool fans was half the expected rate.
The authors say that Nadiya Hussain, the hijabi winner of The Great British Bake Off, is another positive Muslim role model who is helping to change attitudes in the UK.
Can role models like Mo and Nadiya stop Islamophobia?
“Role models like Mo Salah are key in the struggle against hatred and racism,” says Imam Atta, director of an organisation which supports Muslim victims of hate crimes. Salah is proof that Muslims are ordinary people who can be admired and respected. This is particularly important right now when Islamophobia is rising across Europe.
Role models cannot do it by themselves. It is too much responsibility for one person. To stop Islamophobia, we all need to work together — Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This means standing up for our friends if they are being bullied, or correcting people if they say something mean or untrue about Muslims. That is how you stop hate from spreading.
- Who is your biggest role model?
- Choose another celebrity or sports star who is challenging stereotypes. Write your own news story about them in the style of The Day Explorer.
Some People Say...
“For an Egyptian like me, to have entered into the world of professional football, it just means that nothing is impossible.”Mohamed Salah
What do you think?
- Related to Islam, the second largest religion in the world.
- Also known as “wudu”. This involves washing the hands, arms, head and feet before prayer.
- A research centre.
- Hate crimes
- Crimes motivated by hatred for someone’s race, religion or sexuality.
- A characteristic which makes someone who they are.
- Motivated by fear or hatred of Islam.
- Someone who wears a hijab (the scarf that sometimes covers a Muslim woman’s hair).