The Muslim Youth of Gibraltar: "Ignorance can only be destroyed by the use of knowledge"

The Muslim Youth of Gibraltar: "Ignorance can only be destroyed by the use of knowledge"

The Muslim Youth of Gibraltar have been holding communal Iftar’s for a number of years. Today, on account of the covid-19 pandemic, they will hold their first ever ‘Virtual Iftar’, hosting a number of talented speakers and artists from across to world. For this piece, we interviewed Youssef El Hana, one of many founders of The Muslim Youth of Gibraltar. We spoke of a number of issues that are involving the goals of these yearly Iftars, as well as the Virtual Iftar itself: the difficulty of organising the event, the meaning of ‘#luvramadan’, and the future of the Muslim Youth of Gibraltar.

Youssef is “working as a secondary school science teacher here in London. Many people back home in Gibraltar know me for a couple of things, but mainly for being a St. John’s ambulance volunteer for as long as I can remember. I’ve spent many years in Kingston where I did my undergrad and postgrad at Kingston University”.

The Muslim Youth of Gibraltar was founded on the basis of bringing attention to the various cultural and ethnic backgrounds of Muslims in worldwide, and through communal events, impart a more personal and profound understanding of Muslims as a whole in Gibraltar. “The initial Muslim community in Gibraltar is comprised predominately of - and sort of still is – people from Moroccan decent and heritage. It’s paramount that we differentiate between being Moroccan and being Muslim because these are two very different things”. For the Muslim Youth, it is because Moroccans are “the biggest ethnic group in Gibraltar, everyone would see the Moroccan community as the Muslim community. So you would equate Moroccan as Muslim. And because of that, well, there was a danger in that”. Muslims of other nationalities and cultural backgrounds and heritages were, for Youssef, left behind in the wider socio-cultural understanding of what ‘Muslim’ was. “They would have a feeling of not belonging, or feeling alienated. Of course, that is not something we wanted to happen – it’s not something myself or any member of the Muslim Youth of Gibraltar wanted to see happen”. Certainly, the Muslim Youth – all of which can speak English and Arabic – saw themselves as capable to bridge that gap in public consciousness, a gap that presents a worrying ignorance which only communication, understanding, and patience can redress. “It is key that we identify where the issues lie and remedy them accordingly”.