On Friday, June 10 we were all invited to celebrate Muhammad Ali’s amazing life. Here was a man who inspired a whole world to speak truth to power, no matter what the consequences.
Here was a man who didn’t just talk the talk, he walked it too, in the most spectacular way, by giving up his liberty and his material possessions just so people irrespective of background could stand together in solidarity for each other’s human rights.
When I was a young person, son of a migrant family, born in the UK through the lottery of birth and watching Muhammad Ali videos, one particular quote inspired me more than any other:
“I ain’t draft dodging. I ain’t burning no flag. I ain’t running to Canada. I’m staying right here.
“You want to send me to jail? Fine, you go right ahead. I’ve been in jail for 400 years. I could be there for four or five more, but I ain’t going no 10,000 miles to help murder and kill other poor people. If I want to die, I’ll die right here, right now, fightin’ you, if I want to die. You my enemy, not no Chinese, no Japanese. You my opposer when I want freedom. You my opposer when I want justice. You my opposer when I want equality. Want me to go somewhere and fight for you? You won’t even stand up for me right here in America, for my rights and my religious beliefs. You won’t even stand up for my right here at home.”
I just wish it inspired most of our politicians too – particularly those politicians who chose to take us to countless wars, yet remain silent on refugees and asylum seekers, for the fear of becoming unpopular with the electorate.
I am still bewildered why our Mayor shows no leadership in developing and signing a Public Compassion Charter for Doncaster and the unity of people, given her knowledge that we are housing refugees, and the constant resentment that many people in this town express towards them. For the record I personally wrote to her to take this action.
Finally, I have to say I am heartbroken that the LGBT community in Florida have been subject to the most heinous of crimes, and I want anybody who reads this to know, that both as a Muslim and human being I stand in solidarity with my LGBT brothers and sisters.
I should also point out that I don’t condemn this latest terrorist attack because I’m a Muslim – I do it because I’m a human being, and in my mind, humanity has no race, faith, sexual orientation, gender or politics.