There is a lively debate taking place in the UK media between left and right wing commentators as to the causes of the English riots, in which hundreds of shops and businesses have been looted. However, both sides agree that the looting has been inexcusable. I hope both sides will also agree with me that Muslims have played an important role in helping to tackle the looting and preserve public safety. This would be an especially important acknowledgment if it came from those Islamophobic commentators who consistently denigrate Muslims.
“When accused of terrorism we are Muslims, when killed by looters, we become Asian”, a Muslim student explained to me. He was commenting on the media reporting of the death of three young Muslims in Birmingham on Tuesday night. Like many other Muslims, they were bravely defending shops and communities as rioters went on a violent rampage of looting.
In recent days Muslim Londoners, Muslims from Birmingham, and Muslims in towns and cities around England have been at the forefront of protecting small businesses and vulnerable communities from looting. Having worked closely with Muslim Londoners, first as a police officer and more recently as a researcher, for the last ten years this commendable bravery comes as no surprise to me. But their example of outstanding civic duty in support of neighbours is worth highlighting – especially when sections of the UK media are so quick to print negative headlines about Muslims on the flimsiest of pretexts.
Bob Lambert writes at Al Jazeera, 12 August 2011