How the cricketing world rallied around Moeen Ali after Taslima Nasreen’s ‘ISIS’ tweet

An immensely popular cricketer globally, Moeen has for years represented English cricket’s inclusivity and also the growing numbers of players with Asian roots in the UK.

Moeen Ali’s England teammates have rallied around him after author Taslima Nasreen targeted him with an offensive tweet. The post by the Bangladesh-born author said: “If Moeen Ali were not stuck with cricket, he would have gone to Syria to join ISIS”.

An immensely popular cricketer globally, Moeen has for years represented English cricket’s inclusivity and also the growing numbers of players with Asian roots in the UK. Jofra Archer to Ben Duckett, his teammates have stood by Moeen. The 33-year-old all-rounder will turn up for Chennai Super Kings (CSK) in the upcoming Indian Premier League (IPL), starting on Friday.

Though, it wasn’t clear why Nasreen posted the provocative tweet, over the weekend Moeen did hit the headlines for reportedly asking CSK management to remove a sponsor’s logo of an alcohol company’s surrogate product from his team jersey. However, CSK officials confirmed to The Indian Express that no such permission has been sought by the England all-rounder.

What was the tweet?

“If Moeen Ali were not stuck with cricket, he would have gone to Syria to join ISIS,” posted Taslima on Twitter on Monday.

Later, on Tuesday evening (IST), the author, who calls herself “Secular Humanist and Feminist”, gave an explanation to her tweet posting: “Haters know very well that my Moeen Ali tweet was sarcastic. But they made that an issue to humiliate me because I try to secularize Muslim society & I oppose Islamic fanaticism. One of the greatest tragedies of humankind is pro-women leftists support anti-women Islamists.”

What is Taslima’s profile?

She suffered a number of attacks for her radical opinions on religion. In 1994, she left Bangladesh, the country of her birth, and lived in exile. Her Bangladeshi passport was revoked. Following the post on Moeen, she found herself at the receiving end of a serious social media backlash. A person, tweeting from the handle @pythoroshan, wrote: “Reporting this tweet for its hateful content.”

How have Moeen’s teammates reacted?

Moeen’s England teammates have torn into Taslima. “Are you okay? I don’t think you’re okay,” posted Archer followed by, “Sarcastic? No one is laughing, not even yourself, the least you can do is delete the tweet”.

“Can’t believe this. Disgusting tweet. Disgusting individual”, wrote Lancashire and England fast bowler Saqib Mahmood.

“This is the problem with this app. People being able to say stuff like this. Disgusting. Things need to change, please report this account!” England batsman Ben Duckett tweeted.

Has Moeen suffered hate before because of his religion?

Moeen, born in Birmingham in 1987, is a practising Muslim. “I want people to know I am Muslim and British and proud of both. I want Asian kids to look at me and realise that they, too, can enjoy a career in cricket,” he was quoted as saying by Wisden two years ago.

Back in 2014, during a Test against India in Southampton, he wore wristbands carrying the slogans “Free Palestine” and “Save Gaza”, which infuriated a lot of people. According to Wisden, the cricketer received a death threat that mentioned Israel.

Is Moeen a ‘Save Gaza’ activist?

He has helped in raising funds for Gaza relief efforts in his home city, but Moeen hasn’t worked as an activist. “I was surprised. Let me just say that he did what he believed in. I don’t think he expected it to blow up big as it did,” Moeen’s brother Kadeer once told The Indian Express about the wristbands controversy. The England and Wales Cricket Board insisted that the messages were humanitarian and apolitical, but the International Cricket Council (ICC) had warned Moeen.

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