BIAS AGAINST MUSLIM PLAYERS

Media raising malicious non-game issues

SYED M. ASLAM
Mar 05 - 11, 2007

Discrimination and victimisation of Muslims seemed to have become a favourite past time globally. This is also true for the Pakistani 'Muslim' players participating in the International Cricket Council's Cricket World Cup-2007 hosted by island nations of the West Indies.

International media has found it fit to criticize the special meals, prayer rooms and toilets, yes toilets, for the members of Pakistani cricket squad instead of concentrating on the game itself.

The visit of Pakistani coach Bob Woolmer last September to oversee the arrangements for his team as like the coaches of 15 participating teams also included identifying a place for prayers and arrangement for 'Halal' food was termed by a section of the media as a part of 'meticulous World Cup planning.

Much was also made of Mr. Woolmer's comments on ensuring plans and preparations for Halal food and prayer rooms which he said "was important to create the right environment for his players to help them concentrate solely on the game".

Pakistani cricket players are known to pray in the dressing room during foreign trips as well as in their hotel rooms that do not have spaces reserved for obligatory congregation prayers five times a day. Mr. Woolmer was also singled out by a segment of the media for trying to make arrangements for collective prayers at hotels during the World Cup 2007.

He has been successful to make arrangement for collective prayers at the hotels where Pakistani squad will be staying to play out the event across the nations in the Caribbean. However, Mr. Woolmer had also said that since one-day matches offer free time of up to 45 minutes at the maximum his players also offer prayers separately- at times in their rooms.

And then there were some who found it convenient to extend the prayers and food habits of Pakistani cricket players to other non-game issues as Muslim dress codes, facing Mecca during prayers, ablution before specific timings of five obligatory prayers and bathing habits - things that have nothing to do with the game whatsoever.

There were also talks of should or should not there be toilets in hotels and cricket grounds to cater to the ablution and personal hygienic needs of Pakistani players. The issue seems to have been blown out of proportion and exclusively targets the Pakistani players. Would any one make such a fuss if Jewish players demand Kosher food at Olympics? We all know the answer.

Just how this bias against the Muslims is exercised to stir hate is obvious from the fact that the 'toilet' issue has been extended to housing projects and jail cells. The perpetrators of hate also say that since Muslims refrain building toilets facing Mecca many housing projects and jail cells in UK had to be redesigned.

There are others who say that several hotels in a number of non-Muslim countries have seen it fit to reserve entire floors for Muslims, which have rooms with changed toilet direction. And their non-sensible extension of this argument culminates in punch line that the people of other faiths are allowed on these floors and that even the maids and hotel service people are all required to be Muslims to work on such Muslim-dedicated hotel floors.

And the ultimate punch line is that this self-biased outlook prompts the people on the Caribbean whether the hotels in the West Indies, the venue of CWC 2007, offer Muslim-only floors? And, also that should hotels on the island turn away people on the basis of their religion - say, if a non-Muslim wanted a room and the only one available was on a "Muslim" reserved floor?

The above questions are meant only to deprive the all-Muslim teams of Pakistan and Bangladesh support and goodwill of the people of the Caribbean islands hosting CWC 2007 in particular and some 100,000 sports visitors in general.

Targeting the Pakistani players - when there is an all-Muslim Bangladeshi team as well as an Indian team that includes many Muslim players - accommodation ploy seems to be a well-orchestrated campaign to let the Pakistani squad not pay its fullest attention on the game.

What else does such malicious non-issues hope to achieve except discord, disharmony and hate? The poisonous ink is as deadly as poisonous sword.

MAN OF THE MATCHES  IN WORLD CUP FINAL

WORLD CUP

PLAYER

PERFORMANCE

TEAM

1975

CLIVE LLOYD

Runs: 102 Balls: 82 4ís: 12 6ís: 2

WEST INDIES

1979

VIVIAN RICHARDS

Runs: 138 Balls: 157 4ís: 11 6ís: 3

WEST INDIES

1983

MOHINDER AMARNATH

Wickets: 3/12

INDIA

1987

DAVID BOON

Runs: 75 4ís: 7

AUSTRALIA

1992

WASIM AKRAM

Runs: 33 Balls: 19 4ís: 4 Wickets: 3/49

PAKISTAN

1996

ARAVINDA DE SILVA

Runs: 107 Balls: 124 4ís: 13

SRI LANKA

1999

SHANE WARNE

Wickets: 4

AUSTRALIA

2003

RICKY PONTING

Runs: 140 Balls: 121 4ís: 4 6ís:8

AUSTRALIA