What. A. Year. 2017. Was.

As we enter upon 2018 I wanted to share a few reflections on what a magnificent year 2017 was and how much good came out of it.

This year I visited several countries around the world as well as going to different parts of the United Kingdom.

Having returned home from prison in mid-2015, it is only this year that I began to feel that my feet are finally standing on the ground again.

So here goes, my list of five great things that happened in 2017…

1.One man has succeeded in uniting the world

Donald Trump
Donald Trump

Yes, you got it: Donald Trump. I cannot remember in living memory a time when the other permanent members of the UN Security Council voted against the United States. Even Britain.

I cannot remember, not in my lifetime anyway, when a serving British Prime Minister dared to criticise the president of the USA.

So something good is definitely happening in the world. All the good people in the world are gathering together against those spreading and promoting hatred, fear and division.

As surely as the night and day, nations rise and fall. This is the tradition of history and this is the tradition of Allah.

2. The response of the British people to three terrorist attacks in Britain this year

Woman victim of Finsbury Park terrorist attack helped by police officers
Woman victim of Finsbury Park terrorist attack helped by police officers, June 2017

This year was a very difficult year for Britain. The Grenfell Tower fire, three terrorist attacks in Manchester, Finsbury Park and London Bridge, losing our way over Brexit…

But the response of the British people this year was different to previous years.

Normally, a terrorist attack carried out by Muslims leads to an upsurge in hate crime against Muslims, led by the politicians and the press.

This year, however, things were different.

You had the usual pigs heads thrown into a few mosques and the hijabs pulled off by cowards but nothing of the sort that we have experienced in recent years.

For once, there seems to be a sense of realisation in both the politicians and the law enforcement authorities that self-serving statements attacking Islam and Muslims over the actions of a few ignorant Muslims actually embolden the ignorant ones instead of beating them down.

For the first time, politicians were quick to label as a “terrorist attack” the Finsbury Park Mosque attack, in which a man drove a van into Muslim worshippers in Ramadan.

I personally attended a Ramadan fast-opening event outside Finsbury Park mosque and was surprised by the thousands of goodwill messages left by the community on the walls around the mosque.

Message left outside Finsbury Park Mosque in wake of terrorist attack
Message left outside Finsbury Park Mosque in wake of terrorist attack, June 2017

Words usually do not mean much, but as the example of Donald Trump shows, when they are spoken by the leadership, they have consequences.

A responsible leader unites his or her nation. An ignorant leader spreads hatred, fear and division.

The tide is definitely turning, even for the gutter press, as my next point demonstrates.

3. The British people are finally taking a stand against the tabloid hate-papers who spread hate while claiming to speak up for the “silent majority”

The Sun front page from 23 Nov 2015, later admitted by The Sun to be
The Sun front page from 23 Nov 2015, later admitted by The Sun to be “significantly misleading”

During the last twelve months, a campaign known as “Stop Funding Hate” has spread beyond all expectations until it is beginning to hit the hate-papers where it hurts.

Stop Funding Hate simply asks ordinary citizens to lobby big British brands and companies to stop advertising with hate-papers that are spreading hatred against foreigners, Muslims and migrants.

A few minutes of your time makes a difference to the whole country. The link is at the bottom.

4. The Muslim ummah is more united today than at any other time in recent history

Muslims praying outside FInsbury Park Mosque in wake of terrorist attack, June 2017
Muslims praying outside Finsbury Park Mosque in wake of terrorist attack, June 2017

I can certainly testify to this, given the thousands of people who I have met this year up and down Britain and in several other countries around the world that I visited this year.

Of course, we still have our haters and deviant police, but they are in the minority and hardly anyone listens to them.

Just like the world needed Trump to unite it, the Muslim ummah needs these haters to unite everyone else.

5. The emergence of Turkey as an icon for the Muslim world

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey

Yes, I have several disagreements with some of Turkey’s policies but there is no doubt that in recent years Turkey has left all other Muslim countries behind in making a stand for justice.

While the world was issuing condemnations about the massacre of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, Turkish President Erdogan immediately sent a delegation to Bangladesh offering to cover all the costs if Bangladesh was to open its borders to the fleeing refugees.

These were not empty words. Six years on, Turkey continues to host three million Syrian refugees, paying for their meals, accommodation, education and even providing jobs for them.

And soon after the US announced its unilateral decision to move its embassy to Jerusalem, Turkey responded in kind and announced that it too would open its embassy in East Jerusalem, the Palestinian half of the city.

Proof of Turkey’s emergence as a regional superpower comes in the failed July 2016 coup attempt to overthrow the government of President Erdogan.

The undemocratic coup attempt was supported by most of the world until the Turkish people were able to take their country back.

As 2018 begins, this is an exciting time to be alive. The world is changing for the better. Good is becoming stronger and evil is becoming weaker. The future is bright.

Support the Stop Funding Hate campaign here.

Read my story and why I was in prison here.

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