Of all the people to choose for her diary, I can’t believe she chose my son: Moeen Ali’s father

Munir Ali

I am hurt and shocked to read Taslima Nasreen’s vile remark against my son Mooen. In her “clarification” tweet, where she called her original remark sarcasm, she also says she opposes fundamentalism. If she looks at herself in a mirror, she will know that what she has tweeted is what is fundamentalist – a vicious stereotype against a Muslim person, a clearly Islamophobic statement. Someone who does not have self-respect and respect for others can only stoop to this level.

Frankly, I’m really angry, but I know I would play people like her if I let my rage get out of hand. If I ever meet her, I’ll tell her what I really think about her on her face. For now, I would ask him to pick a dictionary and see the meaning of sarcasm. It’s not what she thinks it is. It’s not spitting vile toxic stuff at someone you don’t even know and then retracting it saying it was sarcasm. Of all the people to choose for her program, I can’t believe she chose my son. Everyone in the world of cricket knows the person he is. Let me repeat for those who don’t.

Difficult initiation

My father came to UK from Mirpur in Pakistan administered Kashmir and my mother is English. I loved the game of cricket but couldn’t make my dream come true, but I did all I could to help my sons to become professional players. Over the years, I have met people like Nasreen who cursed at Moeen; the only difference is that they were from England.

I remember sitting on the ground in Worcester years ago when Moeen came out to fight. A loud voice shouted: “Shave your beard!”. I had heard murmurs in the cricket world before about Moeen’s faith. “Even some coaches. They would kindly tell you: “look, this is England, think of that beard”. I was worried and went to see Moeen, who told me in a clear voice that it was him. That he wasn’t going to care about the critics. It is his strong character.

It was not easy, of course. During a development tour in India, a coach, who will not be named, told him to cut his beard. Moeen told him, “I will quit cricket today but I will not quit my belief, and that is my belief. If I play, I will play with who I am. He didn’t play a single game there, I think, and when they asked him at the end of the tour what he had learned he said, ‘nothing, just a net practice, I could have done it in England. Everyone was playing but he was not playing, and he knew it was because of the beard. I was worried about his immediate future, but he racked up performances in County Cricket and progressed. He’s the kind of strong character he is. He’ll shrug his shoulders too, but that doesn’t mean anyone can pop him like that. English cricket has changed for good over the years and everyone loves and respects Moeen.

Faith heals

I am not religious in the conventional sense of the word and I still remember when Moeen embraced Islam. He was 19 when a West Indian supporter Wally, who followed his game, taught Moeen about Islam. I saw that it helped him calm his body, and the more he engaged in religion, the more calm he became. It had a really beneficial effect on his cricket and his life. I didn’t have to worry about anything.

In 2014, during a test against India, Moeen wore bracelets marked “Save Gaza” and “Free Palestine” while striking with the stick. He did what he believed in, but once he was told it wasn’t allowed, he didn’t. He lets people be. Religion does not stand in the way of his friendships. “Each to his own” as he said. I really feel bad to even say it all as if to say it. As if his character needs validation now. I say this because the world at large should know what kind of man Moeen is.

His journey to the top was not easy. My journey to sustaining my sons’ love for gambling has not been easy. There were days when I only had 10 pounds in my pocket and had to spend 9 pounds on gasoline to be able to take my sons out to play games. With the remaining pound, I would buy bread for the family. My brother also threw everything into the dream. It takes sacrifices on the part of the family to support the dreams of the little ones.

I clearly remember the day he made his debut for England. Four wickets fell when my daughter said, “Daddy, Moeen is coming out. I couldn’t watch. I didn’t even see the start. I was so nervous that my hands and legs were shaking. And I accidentally hit my foot against a lady next to me. She said, “Are you nervous, Mr. Ali? Me too “. I look at her and she says, “I’m Gary Ballance’s mom.” These are the memories I want to keep; not Nasreen’s venom.

(As said to Sriram Veera)