Graffitti For Gaza
Birmingham born-n-bred artist Mohammed Ali, bringing his unique 'Aerosol Arabic' designs to the streets. Here is him having a head-to-head with PC Ali.
Below is the final product - which all-in-all took about a day. Considering, the attention to detail is staggering. Some features may not be immediately obvious, such as the rather wry fact that silhouette Palestinian is not throwing a rock, but actually a shoe towards the incoming helicopter gunships.
The piece is visible from the main road cutting across Small Health (more popularly known as "Somali Health") - a constituency in which 48.8% of registered voters are Muslim. The piece superbly demonstrates the Islamic community in Britain's sympathies for Palestine, being signed in the top right-hand corner with a simple "Bismillah" - "in the name of God". Palestine as a nationalist struggle is represented by the prominent flag, but it is equally significance is portioned to the injustice if the crisis, and the need for solidarity with the Muslim 'Ummah'. This solidarity is only reinforced by identification with a fellow minority community, which has been shunned by the wider community.
Islam in Britain still suffers from an inward-perspective, shown in its firm abidence to doctrine compared to other urbanised Muslims living in the Islamic world. The challenges represented to the community in the last several years in the rise of religious extremism on one hand, and Islamophoebia on the other - had given way to an understandably defensive position. Muslims in Britain have often expressed under pressure from both sides
Art has lead the way considerably in opening-up to society; Giving some Muslims the opportunity to apply their religosity to creativity, to harmonise community relations between different kinds of Muslim and to contribute to the culture of their communities. The success has not ended on street corners however.
Mohammed Ali is just one of many such artists to display work in British galleries and even link communities in America, Dubai and Malaysia with various exhibitions and workshops aimed at promoting the arts amongst disaffected youth, in particular.
The success looks likely to continue in affirming the identity of British Muslims, but this goes hand-in-hand with political cohersion and projects to increase social equity.