A lot has happened since my last column – from being challenged by the council’s CEO on whether a multi-million pound infrastructure programme is a good thing for Doncaster; receiving confirmation that the Black and Ethnic Minorities health-needs assessment is more than 10 years out of date and convincing Sheffield Council to change some of its procedures when providing care for the elderly.
However, all that pales into insignificance given the number of innocent lives lost due to terror attacks in Ankara, Lahore,Iskandaria, Maiduguri, Istanbul, Grand Bassam and Peshawar, as well as Brussels.
The list goes on. They are not well-known places are they? Many of the people from these areas did not receive media coverage, a campaign to change Facebook profiles, a minute’s silence, or even a high-profile brother- in-arms stance in a capital somewhere.
It raises important questions about our mainstream media and our politicians. Why do they have the power to select whose suffering and pain we should share in, and those we shouldn’t?
Not only is this incredibly irresponsible, it goes against every value that makes us British.
As a British Doncastrian Muslim, born in the UK, and an active member of the local community, I often wonder why do all of us have no problems in condemning these evil crimes, yet our compassion has boundaries to particular shores?
I have been asked whether I condemn these evil attacks on many mainstream media programmes responding.
I have got to a point where I have to say if you’re asking me as a British citizen then of course I condemn the attacks, but if you’re asking me specifically because I’m a Muslim, then you should know that in your ignorance you unknowingly associate me to the perpetrators, you potentially dehumanise me.
Worst of all, you give rise to a fear among communities that impacts on us all, whether you look like me, have a faith like mine, or not.
I would be delighted to participate in a debate about British values. The only problem is that even our Prime Minister struggles to explain what these are.
Finally, in response to the infrastructure programmes question, of course it will create jobs for ‘those who can’.
The real challenge is, as Gandhi said: “Judge our democracy and decisions, not by the way we support the majority, judge us by the way we supported the most vulnerable and minorities.”
That is why I want to see a real programme targeted and co-produced with those poorer neighbourhoods that have not experienced any change despite the millions spent.
Focus on transforming lives – not services.