How one man overcame his Islamophobia

How one man overcame his prejudices

How one man stopped discriminating

Leslie Marshall got in touch with Quilliam to offer his views on his changing attitude towards Islam. After following the work that the Quilliam Foundation has embarked upon, Leslie began to moderate his views to adopt a more progressive and inclusive attitude to the religion.

Before embarking upon this transition, Leslie found himself possessing “undiluted hostility” and “intolerance” towards the religion. With a degree in international relations and possessing detailed understanding of the politics in the Middle East and Asia, Leslie said his aversion towards Islam was not a knee-jerk reaction, but rather a viewpoint that stretched back decades.

Leslie said that a big eye opener for him was when he followed the work of the Quilliam Foundation. Realising that the version of Islam being narrated by Muslim extremists was just that – one particular interpretation, Leslie said he stopped holding divisive views and instead adopted a more inclusive perspective on the religion. Through reading and watching the news Leslie has sought a more proactive approach, he frequently enjoys engaging with individuals of all religions, including Islam. He said it is important to engage and converse with them. While he may not share the same political or religious views, Leslie believes it is important to be open to different perspectives and attitudes.

However, Leslie transition to a more moderate understanding of Islam has not come without its difficulties. The December 2014 attack on a school in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by the Taliban which killed 152 people, 132 of those were children, Leslie acknowledged his difficulty in comprehending how anyone could justify these killings in the name of religion. Nevertheless, Leslie noted that out of the 1.6 billion Muslims in the world, it is wrong that they should be held accountable for the deeds of extremists who have hijacked Islam to fulfil their own goals.

Leslie said that he moderated his views not because he was told to, but because it is wrong to live a life blinded by misguided hatred. Leslie believes that it is important for society to educate themselves on the beliefs and attitudes they hold. Through watching the news and engaging with people of all beliefs, Leslie believes that negative attitudes towards Islam can be altered.

The Quilliam Foundation would like to thank Leslie Marshall for sharing his views on Islam with us.