On Saturday I took Molly to a very British tea party at our local mosque. It was held to counteract the vile English Defence League march that was being held in Birmingham city centre that day. It was organised by the Birmingham Central Mosque and the West Midlands Crime Commissioner, and all were welcome.
When I first found the event on Facebook my heart jumped for joy, and I knew instantly that I wanted to go. Partly because I had never actually been into a mosque before, and also because I thought it was the best idea I’d heard in a long time. What better way to combat an extremist group than drinking tea and eating cake? How very British!
I have driven past the mosque on many occasion, and have always marvelled at how awesome it looks from the outside.
Upon entering, we had to take our shoes off (thankfully I’d cut my toenails and sorted my feet out that morning as it was a sunny day!), and we were welcomed warmly by the elders of the mosque and a lovely lady who told us where everything was. There was a delicious spread laid out with tea, coffee, cakes, sandwiches and the most amazing homemade samosas I’ve ever eaten.
Upon looking around the room I saw people of all ages, races and ethnic backgrounds. Everyone was chatting happily, and Molly played with a few children. There was an abundance of jelly beans for the kids which she was more than happy to take advantage of. I had a cuppa and chatted to a few people, all of whom agreed that the event was a fantastic idea to bring the community together and unite against the extreme views of the EDL.
The speeches by an executive board member of the mosque and the police commissioner brought a tear to my eye. They each talked about how the people of Birmingham, from all walks of life, are united against hatred and fascism, and that we are all good neighbours and can live in peace with each other. He ended with this amazing quote from the late MP Jo Cox:
I left on an absolute high and feeling quite emotional. I had never been more proud to be British. Each one of us in that room was united, and the Muslim community went above and beyond to ensure that everyone felt welcome and included. I was so glad that I was able to show Molly this different culture, and that I was there to support such a great initiative.
The day after I was scrolling through Facebook and saw that Metro had written an article about the tea party and the contrasting EDL march in Birmingham. I left this comment in the morning:
I had to work on Sunday so didn’t have a chance to check back until the afternoon, but when I did I was absolutely astounded to see that I had over 2000 likes and about 70 comments! Not all the comments were supportive as you can imagine, but the majority were ones of love and gratitude. It seemed that my post had resonated with people, and it was just so refreshing to read positive comments rather than negative ones.
The day after came as even more of a surprise as I started to receive private message after private message from people all over the world. From what I can gather my post had been shared in an Islamic group on Facebook and the responses I got were just staggering!
The messages kept coming all day, and I replied to each and every one. I couldn’t believe that people as far and wide as India, Algeria and Pakistan were contacting me just to say thank you. I was truly humbled, and it just proved that the majority of Muslims are kind, peaceful people who are just as appalled by terrorists as you and I, probably even more so as they are now being tarred with the same brush.
However, what shocked me were these two messages that filtered through:
They’re lovely aren’t they? How shameful that they are both, unfortunately, from British males. These two guys actually chose to send a message to a female, without knowing me whatsoever, because I had dared to share my experience of a tea party. I didn’t respond to either one, there was absolutely no point. How can you reason with someone with that sort of attitude? It was just telling that every message I had received from a Muslim person was one of happiness, hope and love, and yet these two from Brits were just vile. Luckily, as we all know, these people do not represent the majority of Britain, and it did nothing to dampen my spirits.
I shared these messages on Facebook and again I received nothing but praise. I really think that people need to read these sorts of stories, especially at the moment when morale is so low after Brexit/Trump and the recent terror attacks. More than ever we need to come together, unite, and celebrate our differences. This experience has taught me so much, the power of the internet is astonishing. Who knew that a comment I wrote in 2 minutes would have such an impact! I’m just glad that it was a positive one.
I stand by my post – there is enough hate in this world, and we can choose to either be part of the problem or part of the solution. We can live together peacefully, it’s what makes Britain great, but we are all responsible for making our society a cohesive one. I am more determined than ever to find ways to bring people together, debunk the common myths that are perpetuated by the media, and break down barriers – one tea party and blog post at a time!
And what about those messages of hate? They’ve now been deleted. I absolutely will not give in to any form of abuse or bullying – don’t give them an inch, it will infuriate them even more. And if you ever find yourself in that situation? Just smile 😊
The Tale of Mummyhood