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How Islam could do with Ali's like now

Published 10/06/2016

Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor
Belfast Telegraph letters to the Editor

Although I absolutely and without reservation agree with Dr Munjed Farid al Qutob's assertion that the late and much lamented Muhammad Ali "was simply the greatest of all time" (Write Back, June 8), I cannot help but observe how the contemporary Western world lacks an Islamic leader with the same courage and gravitas.

Ali was the greatest - not simply as the greatest heavyweight of all time, but as a civil rights leader who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Dr Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela.

Like both of these men of integrity, grace and courage, Ali was prepared to sacrifice everything for a principle of equality that was not merely misunderstood, but violently rejected by the white political establishment.

As far as I am aware, not a single leader of the West's diverse Muslim community has had the courage to stand as tall in the face of such adversity as Ali did against racial injustice, and condemn the barbaric and murderous actions of homegrown jihadis.

When this is queried, the justification for such inaction is that they are too scared of the consequences from radicals within their own community. Or, when there is limited criticism, it is contextualised in a far-from-subtle critique of Western policies in the Middle East.

Ali opposed injustice in what was arguably the most racist and politically volatile era in modern history and he rejected the established social framework by demanding, with grace and intelligence, an equal place for African-Americans - despite the threat not just to his career, but his life, as xenophobic and racist organisations like the Ku Klux Klan put out their version of a fatwa on this magnificent being.

Therefore, there could be no better way of honouring this wonderful example of courage, leadership and self-sacrifice than if a Muslim statesman, sporting icon, or thespian did as Ali did: stand up and, without equivocation, condemn the horrendous actions of a so-called Islamic caliphate that does not speak for the ordinary Muslim citizens of the West, who just want to co-exist in peace with their gentile neighbours.

But, sadly, they have no spokesman of Ali's calibre to speak for them.


Kinsale, Co Cork

Belfast Telegraph

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