Between a bikini and a bomb

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To this day, I have never found a representation of Muslims in Britain that fits. The glaring reports of ISIS and British runaways into the arms of a Syrian army doesn’t fit.

The shocking images of decapitated victims doesn’t fit.

The veiled women covered from head to toe in black doesn’t fit.

The Muslims denouncing their religion doesn’t fit.

We’re trapped between bikinis and booze on the beach – forgetting religion altogether – or terrorist bombs and ISIS reports. In England, there is no middle ground. I’m not allowed to be a young British citizen enjoying my youth and a Muslim. Britain wants me to pick one and that’s not a choice I’m ever going to make.

Because that’s me up above; legs and arms bared for the world to see. The day that picture was taken, I spent it on the beach in a bikini. I prayed during the day. I don’t drink, but that night I partied and danced until the dawn and when I finally crawled in at 5:30am, I prayed the last of my five daily prayers before falling asleep.

I believe in Islam and all the beauty and compassion my religion teaches me. I’m also British, and I live like any other twenty-something year old in England; having fun, partying too much and meeting people.

I grew up surrounded by a Muslim community that was British. A community that taught me to never hurt another person, let alone chop a head off. A community that taught me patience and kindness, not guns and war. A community that taught me to work hard and respect those around me, no matter who they were. That’s what being a British Muslim has always meant to me.

 So when Cameron calls for us to not ‘quietly condone’ terrorism, he once again destroys the middle ground and firmly puts us back into the categories of either terrorist, or British, when the only category there ever should be is British Muslim. Terrorism is nothing to do with Islam, it never has been.

Salma El-Wardany