by Sultanah Parvin

For the ex radical silver foxes out there that champion post feminist critique and demonise extremism, there is a narrative. This narrative takes its form in a perverse courtship between elements of the press that court folk like parasitic stalkers, and they in turn, who love the blaze and heat of skittish attention.

But this is only half the story. This well worn drama where our faithful protagonist ‘awakens’ out of radicalism isn’t new. Waking up and seeing the light is invariably followed by selfless acts of setting up institutions, writing books, getting money from the government and championing feminism. And selfies. Why you may ask did they do all of these things? It’s enough to bring a tear to the eye.

For it would seem that there are some stark similarities in the M (Muslim) list celebrity ‘journey’. And unless us villagers understand, how can we possibly learn to be better, to ‘grow and love’ people?  How can we heal the world, and make it a better place, for you and for me and the entire human race…there are people dying if we cared enough for the living… erm, never mind.

Chapter One: we are introduced to our protagonist’s life through their first book, an autobiography detailing their childhood and all the many adventures which contributed to their ‘vulnerable’ minds. Many of these experiences are fantastical in nature but nonetheless, in the lives of these modern day superheroes anything is possible, especially to audiences who know no better.

What is crucial to mention at this point is the very need for these books to be written in the first place, and the absolute need for talk confessional testimony. It could be argued that really the need is ours (the innocent audience). We just need to listen a little harder to that voice in our heads.

If nothing else, one can safely say that we needed to be informed which musical genre they shunned after leaving normative citizenship for radicalism. Which of their favourite hit singles they broke over their bare knees, to prove loyalty to the cause. We somehow become clear about their sense of self through this literary masterpiece. It’s all in the struggle, my brother.

Chapter 3 – The mistaken identity of radicalism. The dastardly deeds at the hands of those radical (usually bearded) folk are laid out. Secret machinations, underground chicken and chips eating fests, and endless secret revulsion over Sufis, interspersed between talk of saving the world from those ‘Koooofaarrr’.

It is comforting to know that the internal monologue of our hero throughout this period is so courageously documented – so upstanding, so moral, so brave. All ruined of course with too much proximity to beards and baklava.

Act Two is followed by the epiphany of the road back to normalcy. The time when the beards became itchy, and the Missus puts on some weight. It was at those precise moments that the creeping radical agenda became absolutely clear in their beautiful minds for the horror that it was.

In chapter 10 the journey to expiate oneself of any other previous sins in their radical past is reached. So while the Iftikar, Zulfiqar and Shirazs have little else to do apart from further obsessing over our beloved protagonist for leaving, resulting in death threats, and much abuse, our hero has to, nay must, explain to all and sundry, in order to make plain that having M celebrity status is on par with being a martyr. And as luck would have it, the police phone number when experiencing such threats is coincidentally similar to the BBC’s and the Daily Mail’s. Who knew?

arms-open-to-skyAnd so begins all manner of distancing from those radical others in order to rehabilitate the once lost protagonist. Stories of being brown in a white town are penned. Where once this was a cause of feeling alien, this is now highlighted as our protagonist’s entry back into normal life. His boys welcome him back with open arms. He accepts ‘Ma’ssir’ is hard to pronounce with an Essex accent. But you just cannot wash off brown. And do any of us know how hard it is to be brave, strong, to book tickets to travel around the world WHILST being the victim? Do any of us really know what it is like to have to explain why the term ‘paki’ is not a term of endearment to Tommy? Do we have these kinds of pressures in our lives?

The finale. The public declaration of representing all of us misguided Muslims. The room falls silent and the projector is lit. Politics harks. And Newsnight is calling.

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Sultanah Parvin is a writer and blogger covering issues of women, faith and colour. Active in the Muslim community in London for the past 20 years, she is now shares an online platform entitled #SpokenWord, which seeks to expound the most current ideas on topics of race, faith, and justice through all forms of literary expression.

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