Ban the word ‘Muslim’ March 16th 2015

I want to make a case for non Muslims in the UK to think more carefully about the way they talk about 'Muslims'. If non-Muslims are so careless about the way they use phrases like 'the Muslim community' (and the very word 'Muslim' now carries an insinuation of fostering violence), then perhaps we non-Muslims should be banned from using the word 'Muslim'!

Our identities are formed in many different ways. We belong to many groups, each with their own identity - so country of origin, gender, class, work, profession, employment, food habits, sport, musical tastes, social commitments - these and more describe who we are . We have many identities.

'Muslim' unduly magnifies the voice of religious authority. But there are many attitudes to Islam. Some go to the mosque regularly, some infrequently; women will go to a mosque where their presence is appreciated, some observe Ramadan, some don't. And there are many permutations - some Muslims hold a strong faith but with tolerant politics.

And there is no such thing as the UK Muslim community or the European Muslim community - much more a patchwork of communities.

So we non-Muslims - politicians, commentators and journalists should stop using phrases like 'The Muslim community'. Let Muslims reclaim the word 'Muslim' while the rest of us keep quiet.

What we need to do is to establish the idea of citizenship - I learnt about this in Chicago in 1968 from pioneers like Saul Alinsky.

Donald Reeves

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