Muslims working in a position of influence, be aware it is only a matter of time until they catch up with you. This might sound ominous to some but if the recent media attack on Leeds Imam Qari Asim is anything to go by we may well be a little concerned.

Qari Asim, was appointed to the government’s Islamophobia panel last year and has been a keen commentator on religion and community cohesion. In the past few years he has been a vocal supporter of free speech and aimed to engage with people from all faiths.

But this week the Sunday Times decided to post this article looking to question the ethics of Imam Asim.

It was in many ways an attempt to undermine the efforts of someone who has done insurmountable work in helping to break down misconceptions about Muslims and other religions. So, why would anyone look to discredit his work in this way? And what was to be achieved in doing so? And why have we not been up in arms about this?

The article has little foundation and is similar to many that have been written about other Muslims in the past by many sections of the press. You find an old speech/comment, take it out of context and then ask someone of supposed influence to comment on it.

As soon as you have free speech, extremism and Muslims in the same sentence - you have yourself a story.

Qari Asim was forced to respond to allegations that he was supposedly questioning free speech.

The Sunday Times article clearly backfired.

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Miqdaad Versi, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, Mohammed Shafiq joined among others the Board of Deputies of British Jews and people from all religions in sharing their support for Qari Asim.

Of course there were those who simply chose the evidence to the contrary to call for his resignation but their concerns seem to have fallen on deaf ears.

Firstly, what this recent episode showed was the glaring prejudice in this country. If you do look to work with all religions and work tirelessly to counter extremist narratives then that simply is not enough because at the end of the day you are still a Muslim.

Getting past this stumbling block for us will take more than calling out moments like this. The fact of the matter is that far too many sections of the press are still comfortable enough to print articles and produce reports based on the notion that a person is Muslim first and therefore not truly British.

It feeds on the fear of readers that regardless of what that person has done in the past, his loyalty essentially lies with his religion and not with the nation. So, we must ‘out’ these people to ensure they are not able to gain any level of influence.

Secondly, it was important to see a unified voice in support of Qari Asim but sadly not enough members of the Muslim community followed suit. The very same organisations and individuals that are quite vocal every time and time again when something like this happens were strangely silent.

There is still this huge chasm within British Islam from those who see themselves as ‘more Muslim’ because they do not engage with the government and other organisations in the same way the likes of Qari Asim have done. Or see themselves fighting more for the cause.

But this was not really a time to take any sides. Qari Asim deserves all our support when more prejudice in the mainstream press was there for all to see.