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The politicization of Mo Salah’s injury

Mashari Althaydi

Published: Updated:

The way Egyptians as well as many Arabs reacted to the injury of Mo Salah, Liverpool's star striker, during the Champions League final with Real Madrid on Sunday reveals an aspect of our flawed thinking and understanding.

The story is well-known. This final game represented a dream for the talented Mo Salah just like it was the dream of both Real Madrid’s and Liverpool’s players especially those who hail from third world countries. However, Mo Salah was painfully injured by Real Madrid’s violent defender Sergio Ramos and he left the game in agony, Millions of people in Egypt and other countries were angry as a result.

So far, it’s reasonable and within the expected but afterwards the story transformed into a political debate and random statements were made. The agenda of the Brotherhood, Qatar, Turkey and “a bunch of revolutionaries” became active in an attempt to ride the wave of the Egyptian and Arab “spontaneous” popular sympathy with the talented Salah or Abu Salah.

They said there was a conspiracy to neutralize Salah and that Ramos is behind it and maybe other western and Arab countries are behind it and I don’t know what!

Religious debate

Things did not end here but this incident at the final match also became a religious debate!

Bigoted and long-time controversial Kuwaiti activist Mubarak al-Bathali wrote on Twitter that Salah’s injury was God’s punishment because he broke his fast to play the game with his club Liverpool. In another tweet, he wrote: “May Allah guide you Mohamed Salah. Perhaps [the injury] is good for you.”

Al-Azhar Fatwa Global Center responded to the “instigator” Bathali saying a hardship may be a sign of God’s love to the worshipper and of the worshipper’s closeness to God. It added that Bathali must worry about himself and leave people alone, or in other words “let us be!”

Dr. Mohamed Abdelati, the head of the Islamic Studies Department of the Faculty of Education in Al-Azhar University, said Salah broke his fast during the final game with Real Madrid according to a legitimate permit granted to him by God Almighty.

The jurisprudential reasoning as to why Salah was permitted to break his fast during Ramadan, and whether it’s due to travelling or due to performing a difficult job, does not matter. What matters is that this incident and all its details revealed to us how our “receptors” – and I am not referring to the Egyptians in particular – are flawed and programed to politicize everything and tackle everything from a religious angle no matter how distant they are from politics and religion.

The Mo Salah incident is such a revealing example.

This article is also available in Arabic.

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Saudi journalist Mashari Althaydi presents Al Arabiya News Channel’s “views on the news” daily show “Maraya.” He has previously held the position of a managing senior editor for Saudi Arabia & Gulf region at pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al-Awsat. Althaydi has published several papers on political Islam and social history of Saudi Arabia. He appears as a guest on several radio and television programs to discuss the ideologies of extremist groups and terrorists. He tweets under @MAlthaydy

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.