At a time where Islamophobia is rising in Great Britain and the government has created a hostile environment for illegal immigrants, Mo Salah, has worked to break down these barriers. After every goal he scores, he runs to the fans to hug them, walks back to center circle and raises his hands to the sky and then kneels on the field. Salah, a Muslim from North Africa, is Liverpool’s soccer star who has taken the world by storm.
“He is someone who embodies Islam’s values and wears his faith on his sleeve,” said Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain. “He has a likability. He is the hero of the team. Liverpool, in particular, has rallied around him in a really positive way. He is not the solution to Islamophobia, but he can play a major role.” According to the New York Times, in his native land of Egypt, Salah is beloved. His face adorns countless walls, his image is on all products, and he even garnered support in the country’s recent presidential election, despite not being a candidate. Thousands of soccer fans pack coffee shops and bars to watch Liverpool’s games and cheer on Salah.
The New York Times states, “Mr. Salah’s popularity is not just the result of his prowess on the field; just as important is his philanthropy. ‘He is constantly donating money to charities and to his hometown,” said Said Elshishiny, the coach who discovered his talent as a child in Nagrig, a town in the Nile Delta. It is enough to make anyone adore him.’” He has donated medical equipment to local hospitals, renovated sporting complexes and he even donated to Egyptian investment funds to help boost the local economy. Fans and local communities loves that he is not scared of embracing his religion by kneeling in prayer. He ignites conversation and spurs social change through his personal beliefs as well as acts on and off the field. By using his platform to change the conversation and embracing his beliefs, Salah is changing attitudes and perceptions of Muslims in Great Britain and around the world.
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