Get well soon, Salah! Image: AFP
Mohamed Salah has enjoyed an exceptional run for Liverpool this season.
He won the Premier League Golden Boot, has scored 44 goals across all club competitions in Europe, and had a major role to play in taking the Reds to the UEFA Champions League’s summit showdown. But unfortunately, the Egyptian had to walk off the pitch in the final after sustaining a shoulder injury following a hard tackle from Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos.
This has thrown his chances of representing Egypt at the FIFA World Cup into uncertainty. But there’s one thing I am certain about – Salah is my hero for creating a stir against Islamophobia in the island nation. This contribution, which is important to the social fabric of the UK, is probably bigger than the number of goals he’s scored.
There’s no denying that football and politics play an important role in setting the general sentiment in the UK.
Xenophobia fueled the sentiment for Brexit. After that, Britain was in need of a hero who could disparage this fear and let the citizens know about the contributions made by the immigrants.
This is where Mo Salah delivered. The chants heard at Anfield during every Liverpool game were a testimony to how this man from Egypt united people.
This chant has been heard many a time, as fans hailed Salah, who is predicted to be the player of the year.
This achievement is especially noteworthy when you consider the demographics of Liverpool. A major part of the city comprises the non-Muslims. And Salah proudly outgrew his image of a "lesser-known footballer", despite being a devout Muslim.
He abstains from alcohol and has often been spotted at a Liverpool mosque, offering the Friday prayer, along with his teammate Sadio Mane.
Nikesh Shukla in his book, The Good Immigrant, says that western societies consider migrants to be "good" if they tick certain boxes. One of the requirements is being a sportstar who can bring glory to a certain region.
The benefits of this cultural indulgence are being felt by everyone. There have been many inspirational Muslim sportsmen before Mo Salah, but he stands out for his remarkable personal traits. He hasn’t uttered a word of complaint against Ramos, who pulled the brakes on Salah's dream run.
He serves as a reminder to the world that there are good people and there are bad people – to stereotype and discriminate against a religious group is not socially favourable.
From the bottom of my heart, I pray Salah gets better for the World Cup, so that he can continue hitting the sweet spots, both on and off the field.