The sight of Egyptian soccer star Mohamed Salah scoring goals for Liverpool Football Club is getting common these days. But there is another aspect of this striker, who has won a couple of Player of The year awards, that fans are getting used to.
After scoring another goal, and having his teammates congratulate him, Mo Salah takes a moment. As Neil Atkinson, host of The Anfield Wrap, a Liverpool fans’ podcast, and a regular at the stadium said, “There is this pause”.
The football player raises his hands to the sky in adulation, and then kneels on the field, prostrating himself in a personal demonstration of his Muslim faith. Atkinson continues, “The crowd goes a little quieter, allows him that moment of reflection,” Then, there is another roar as he stands up, “and then everyone celebrates again.”
Miqdaad Versi, the assistant secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain, said that Mo Salah “is someone who embodies Islam’s values and wears his faith on his sleeve. He has a likability. He is the hero of the team. Liverpool, in particular, has rallied around him in a really positive way. He is not the solution to Islamophobia, but he can play a major role.”
At a time where hate crimes are becoming increasingly common towards Muslims, especially after terror attacks in Paris, London and Manchester in recent years, Mo Salah becomes an equaliser of sorts. Football has a fan base made up of billions, and by being unafraid and proud to display his religion, Mo Salah has not only been breaking barriers, he has also been getting rid of them altogether.
Even when it comes to his fellow Muslims, Mo Salah sets an example. He shows them that through hard work, regardless of faith or race, one can make a name for themselves. This thread is evident in how in one of the football chants in Mo Salah’s honour has the line, “If he scores another few, then I’ll be Muslim, too”.
It is no wonder then that Mo Salah’s Facebook fan page alone has over 80,000 fans and followers alike.