I often hear people talking about others as if they know them - as if they have heard them tell their story. It seems we are quick to judge and form our perceptions of others without knowing or interacting with them. Isn’t it strange to have a perception of somebody without actually hearing their story as told by them?
If we take the British public's perception of Islam as an example, it becomes quickly apparent that many people have a certain perception of Islam and Muslims without actually interacting with Muslims themselves. For many, this perception is a negative one.
In 2010 a YouGov Survey found that 60% of the British Public say they do not know very much about Islam and 57% obtain their information about Islam from the news. (http://www.inspiredbymuhammad.com/yougov.php)
In 2015 another YouGov survey found that 55% of British voters currently think “there is a fundamental clash between Islam and the values of British society.” (https://yougov.co.uk/news/2015/03/30/majority-voters-doubt-islam-compatible-british-val/)
The results from these surveys demonstrate a problem - people are not being able to tell their stories and people are not hearing the stories of others as told by them. Having a view of Islam and Muslims is one thing, but to hold these views based upon assumptions rather than interaction is counterproductive. You wouldn't form your perception of a type of food based on what someone else told you, would you?
Within this context, Voices aims to promote a community of diversity through the sharing and telling of each other’s stories. We believe that telling each other's stories allows us to put ourselves in the shoes of others and draw out the humanity that we all share.
This is our motivation, and the projects we embark on, beginning with Young Muslim Voices, are geared towards reminding us that we are united by more than divides us.
Young Muslim Voices is aimed at challenging preconceived perceptions of difference and providing a creative platform for people to hear the stories of young British Muslims. The project will involve inviting young Muslims to submit stories, which will then be performed by a diverse group of professional actors. The launch of the submissions campaign will be centred around a short film we made - so look out for that! Below are a few behind the scenes snaps.
In this blog, we will be inviting guests to bring our attention to stories that may be overlooked and to celebrate diversity and community.
Look out for the next post!