Wanting to make a difference

editorial image

A community activist represented his home city in a national study on the experiences of Muslim people in British public life.

Usman Ali was part of the 18-month research project The Missing Muslims - Unlocking British Muslim Potential for the Benefit of All.

The project drew up a series of recommendations after hearing hundreds of hours of testimony from communities around the UK.

Mr Ali, who established the Wakefield City Youth and Community Project, was one of 15 people on the Youth Leadership Group of the study, set up by Citizens UK.

The group was part of a research commission which brought together high-profile names from business, academia, politics and faith.

The commission was chaired by the former attorney general Dominic Grieve MP.

Mr Ali, 23, said: “Over the 18 months I went down to London for meetings and met other leaders to discuss the various issues they were facing.

“It’s been a good experience for me.

“I’m proud to represent Wakefield at a national level.

“We want to make a positive difference.

“We want to make sure it has a positive impact on society.”

The report found that discrimination, and the fear of being discriminated against, was causing young Muslims to be disillusioned with politics.

It said: “Anti-Muslim prejudice, and a lack of action against those perpetrating or condoning hatred, is a notable obstacle to integration and participation.”

Employers were already addressing issues of bias against Muslims, but more should be done, the report said.

It said: “Employment disadvantages, and discrimination, act as barriers to integration for British Muslims.

“Disadvantages in employment are particularly acute for Muslim women, and is compounded by cultural pressures some feel from within their own communities.”

Recommendations included a review of the government’s anti-radicalisation Prevent strategy, which has been criticised for stigmatising young people.

The report suggested new guidance for the media on accurate reporting of issues affecting Muslim communities.

It also called for the government to come up with a definition of anti-Muslim prejudice.

Mr Ali said: “It has been a great journey to be part of this commission over the last 18 months. It’s time for us to look at the recommendations and put these into practice here in West Yorkshire and across the Wakefield District.”