Mo Salah: Fighting Islamophobia one goal at a time
Categories: Latest News
Tuesday June 26 2018
The Egyptian national team was eliminated from the world cup following two defeats in the first two games of the opening rounds, but Mo Salah, the 26-year old from Nagrig and current Liverpool striker, is a man whose success extends well beyond the football pitch.
During an interview for the BBC Radio 5 Live documentary “Mo Salah: Football is Life”, Liverpool city region Steve Rotheram praised Salah for “breaking down cultural barriers”, saying “The breakdown of Islamophobia caused by one person is an absolutely phenomenal achievement… [his] legacy will be much more about what’s happened off the field.”
Mo Salah is a devout Muslim, who arrived to Liverpool in June 2017 after playing a super season for Roma, in Italy. Father to a four-year-old girl named Makka (after the holy city), and husband to a veiled Egyptian woman, Salah has promptly made national and international front pages for being humble, inspirational and charming – as well as a terrific footballer, of course.
His impact in British football is significant. Liverpool fans coined a chant celebrating Salah that goes: “If he’s good enough for you he’s good enough for me, if he scores another few then I’ll be Muslim, too. If he’s good enough for you he’s good enough for me, he’s sitting in the mosque that’s where I wanna be.”
In another one, Mo Salah is celebrated as the Egyptian King “running down the wing” – a song that is sung before every Liverpool game and that shows the highly contagious enthusiasm of Salah’s British fans. Incidentally, Mo Salah has gave his approval to both chants.
While having a significant impact in Liverpool’s domestic and European successes this past season, Salah has achieved far more than trophies, effectively becoming a symbol of how football can overcome racial and religious barriers to bring people together. At a time in which Muslims all over the world are suffering the repercussions of widespread Islamophobic sentiments, this is indeed a significant achievement.
Considering Salah’s personality, this achievement is even more remarkable. Salah wears a beard, comes from an Arab country and speaks English with a very strong accent; when he scores, he raises his index finger up in shahadah, and prostrates himself on the field. His Facebook page – which counts over 10 million followers – is filled with pictures further revealing his faith, including prayers and holy sites.
For Muslims in Britain, Salah’s behaviour is inspiring. Speaking to The New Yorker, a young Muslim Liverpool fan said he sees in Salah a man “who goes to the mosque, who prostrates and prays on the pitch, who is widely in the public eye, and who is not hiding his religion.”
While Salah’s football skills will certainly give him a long and fruitful career, his charm and mannerism will keep contributing to eroding negative views of Muslims and challenging Islamophobia within and beyond football.