The year maybe far from over, but 2016 has already been dominated by European Muslim success stories, taking social media by storm.
The latest addition to the growing list of Muslim personalities is the Eurovision Song contest winner – Jamala, 32 from Ukraine.
Her song, which evokeed emotional memories of “1944”, recalls the tragic deportation of Crimean Tatars by the Soviet Union with politically charged lyrics.
With 200 million people around the world tuning into the contest show, namely from across Europe, it wasn’t long before her Muslim identity had begun to be noticed across social media platforms as parallels were being drawn from the 1944 forced deportation to 2014’s annexation of Crimea.
Earlier this month, Sadiq Khan was elected as mayor of one of most powerful western city’s in the world. He made history multiple times – being the first British Asian and Muslim to be Mayor of London and gaining the largest mandate in British politics.
During his victory, the Twitter hashtag #YesWeKhan was trending as thousands took to the microblogging site to express sentiments of excitement and adulation over the historic win.
Nadiya Hussain, the Great British Bake Off winner from 2015, has continued to generate Twitter fans across the continent as she baked a cake for the British Queen’s 90th birthday, was commissioned with her own TV series called “Chronicles of Nadiya” and news of her first cook book “Nadiya’s Kitchen.”
From cooking heroes to sporting ones, April was dominated by Twitter celebrations for Riyad Mahrez, the 25 year old Leicester City player winning the PFA player of the year award. Being the first African player to win the award, the Algerian midfielder sparked a buzz online with many citing his journey from modest beginnings in France to becoming one of the most sought-after football players in Europe.
Many Twitter users across Europe have been keen to connect with the successful personalities that have contributed to politics, cuisine, football and music with their Muslim backgrounds, proving that mainstream European culture and identity can be inclusive of Muslims.
“In a perfect world, the faith of a TV cooking show star, an athlete or even a major politician would be irrelevant. But in our deeply imperfect — and, yes, Islamophobic — world, it isn’t,” wrote British political journalist Mehdi Hasan in a New York Times piece titled “Sadiq Khan and the future of Europe”.
The list of successful Muslim personalities have inspired a tone of optimism as observed by Maha Akeel, the director of the Information Department at the Organization of Islamic Cooperation.
“The recent examples of Muslims making their mark in the west are exciting to hear about especially during these times when there is a rise in Islamophobia, suspicion and hostility towards Muslims to dispel negative views of Muslims and illustrate that Muslims are part of Europe and contribute to its diversity and coexistence, but they should be seen within a wider picture.”
She goes on to add, “While it’s wonderful to celebrate and recognize Muslim success stories in the West, we should keep in mind that these successes and contributions to European culture and society are not new or recent and definitely not few where they might be thought of as exceptions.”[Source: Al Arabiya]