(To avoid the unnecessary cricketing details just read paragraphs 3-19)
Hashim Amla has proven himself over the last few years to be one of best batsmen in world cricket today. However, as we see in this article, it was not without troubles and race issues in the start. At this point in time he was still working to prove himself in a first class team and the press was at his heels for being a possible beneficiary of the controversial quota system that has allegedly lead to weaker colored players replacing their white counterparts in a few South Africa sports.
Following this, we would not be surprised if his reaction to such an insensitive comment was one of outrage and exasperation at a public that could not look past his religious choices. In my first reading I was astonished by his tolerant and almost carefree treatment of the commentator (Dean Jones). Not only is he able to understand and forgive such a prejudiced comment but he is able to use this as a platform to teach a largely uninformed population about some of the aspects of his religion.
Indeed for Amla “to share knowledge is a duty” and his prominent position as a celebrity in the eyes of cricket-watching people around the world provides him with an opportunity to spread understanding through his media exposure. With such a humble and tolerant man as Islam’s face in South African sports it is easy to see how such news-makers can shape the popular sentiment on religion for better (or worse). In this case Islam is lucky to have such a well-meaning and inspirational figure.
Yet for all of the tolerance and understanding of Jones’ ignorance that Amla showed, we have to wonder if there is a need for more condemnation of such thinking. If people believe that calling all Muslims “terrorist[s]” is something tolerated and forgiven so easily then there may be a difficulty in preventing this kind of situation in the future. The question comes down to where you draw the line between understanding others’ mistakes and making it clear that this kind of thing is not acceptable.