Salah’s popularity reducing anti-Muslim hate crime say researchers

28th Jun 2019
Salah’s popularity reducing anti-Muslim hate crime say researchers

Photo: Mohammed Salah  (Photo: FootballCoin/WikiCommons)

Nadine Osman

Researchers have attributed the drop in anti-Muslim hate crimes in Merseyside with Liverpool Football Club’s signing of Egyptian striker Mohammed Salah in 2017.

“We find that Merseyside county (home to Liverpool F.C.) experienced a 18.9% drop in hate crimes relative to a synthetic control, while no similar effect was found for other types of crime,” the Stanford University Immigration Policy Lab report claimed.

The number of anti-Muslim tweets was also seen to have reduced by 53 per cent among Liverpool fans after researchers analysed approximately 15 million tweets from UK-based fans before and after Salah joined the club.

However, researchers also argue the ‘Salah effect’ is ‘not unique’ to the 26-year-old.

‘Celebrities with role model-like qualities have long been thought to shape social attitudes. … British-Bangladeshi Nadiyah Hussain, the headscarf-clad winner of the most watched program on British television, The Great British Bake-Off, was credited with doing “more for British-Muslim relations than 10 years of government policy” after her 2015 win (Wiseman, 2018; Aly, 2015)’ reads the report.

The report, titled ‘Can Exposure to Celebrities Reduce Prejudice? The Effect of Mohamed Salah on Islamophobic Behaviors and Attitudes’ concludes the drop in anti-Muslim incidents ‘may be driven by increased familiarity with Islam’ adding, ‘These findings suggest that positive exposure to outgroup celebrities can reveal new and humanising information about the group at large, reducing prejudiced attitudes and behaviours.’

Researchers said Salah’s ‘phenomenal’ abilities and ‘charismatic’ personality has helped humanise Muslims to many Liverpool fans. Salah openly practises his religion both on and off the pitch and prostrates himself in Muslim prayer (sujood) every time he scores.

Salah can also regularly be seen pointing his index finger to the sky while reciting the shahada (Muslim profession of faith). It was also found that Salah’s openness on social media and in media interviews about his family life and religion had challenged stereotypes and contributed to the change in attitudes.

Salah posts photos of himself breaking fast during the month of Ramadan with an explanatory caption. Salah’s daughter is named after Islam’s most sacred site, the city of Makkah.

The report said: ‘Salah’s portrayal as an agreeable friend, father, and teammate is counter-stereotypical, and as such may dampen the perception that Muslims are threatening while making Muslims seem less socially distant from white Brits.’

His hijabi wife can often be seen cheering him on from the sidelines at Anfield stadium alongside the other footballers’ wives.

Salah has been a revelation since moving to Merseyside from Roma. The 26-year-old scored his 50th Premier League goal for Liverpool in April, reaching the landmark faster than any other player in the club’s history.

He finished third in the 2018 FIFA Best Awards, which acknowledge the world’s finest players. Salah scored Liverpool’s opening goal in their victory over Spurs, helping the Reds become champions of Europe for a sixth time.

One Response to “Salah’s popularity reducing anti-Muslim hate crime say researchers”

Amin KashmeeryJune 29, 2019

Fans from Makkah, Saudi Arabia, sent collectively a message of appreciation to Salah on this phenomenal achievement that spared the Muslim community in Merseyside county some of the islamophobic vexation expressed irresponsibly in social media by a tiny minority of the British people.
Thanks Salah.

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