Happy Eid from…David Cameron?
Last night I witnessed a very unusual event on television; Prime Minister David Cameron wishing viewers a happy Eid on Islam Channel – a free, UK based, English language, Islamic orientated satellite channel launched in 2004.
Eid is the annual Muslim holiday, which marks the conclusion of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting where those healthy enough to do so, fast for 30 days from sunrise to sunset.
Customarily, the pronouncement of Eid is tentative, based upon the sighting of the new moon but in recent years the United Kingdom has moved towards following the decision of Saudi Arabia which Islam channel is often the first to announce.
Thus, it is no surprise that many of the approximately 2.5 million Muslims, of which I am one, turn to the aforementioned channel for a swift answer to the perennial question of: “When is Eid?”.
However, to my astonishment, Prime Minister David Cameron appeared stating: “I want to send all Muslim families in the United Kingdom and around the world my best wishes for this very special time of Eid”.
Further expanding, “the ending of the Holy month of Ramadan is a joyous time as families and friends join together in celebration. This year many of you will come together to contemplate the appalling scenes we have witnessed on our streets and how our communities have been affected. Community spirit however, remains strong in this country”.
Furthermore, there was a jamboree of Members of Parliament, across parties, with extended greetings from deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, Baroness Warsi, Labour MP’s Sadik Khan and Stephen Timms, with further sentiments from William Hague and Boris Johnson.
All seemed to not only offer their salutations but also acknowledging the huge contribution of Muslims made to British society.
On reflection, one can always analyse the motives of such messages by politicians in a myriad of different ways, with various conclusions drawn.
The sceptic could wonder whether the greetings were insincere, merely an attempt to win public and political favour and capitalise on the fallacy of the “Muslim vote”.
Islamaphobic commentators such as Melanie Philips would probably deem this as clear proof of the “Disaster of multiculturalism”.
Whilst others may believe that given Islam channel is also aired to some parts of the Arab world, that this could be an attempt to relate and sympathise with the tumultuous Arab uprising.
Or perhaps, an appreciation that recently, in my father’s words “Muslims have carried themselves well” and such television appearances mark an attempt to build bridges with the Muslim community, promote multiculturalism and cultivate a rejuvenated community spirit.
Notwithstanding, I however, suppose that David Cameron et al. were in actual fact just wishing Muslims a Happy Eid…As do I.Tagged in: david cameron, Eid, fasting, islam, Islam Channel, Melanie Philips, multiculturalism, muslims
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