The MMK Academy: Upskilling and enabling young Muslims to enter politics21 Jun 2023
In March 2020, The MMK Academy was born. It had one aim – to improve the public speaking skills of young people across the country. Since then, it’s expanded and now works with adults, schools, charities, businesses and organisations. In addition, it won TransferWise’s 20 under 20 award which recognised it as one of the top 20 companies in Europe to be run by someone under the age of 20.
The MMK Academy has always believed that to be able to effectively speak and debate, you must be talking about something you’re passionate about. Therefore, it always had political topics at the core of its approach to improving public speaking. As such, there was a natural progression onto what is now the academy’s second goal: increasing access to politics for Muslims.
So now, the Academy works on two things: improving public speaking skills and increasing access to politics for young British Muslims.
The Academy’s first political event took place in February 2023 at the House of Commons at Speaker’s House. Here, a panel of seven Muslim politicians were invited to talk to a group of over 100 young Muslims ages 12-30 about their inspirational journeys into politics. It provided a fantastic opportunity for people to understand a little more about what it takes to get into the political world. At the end of this, the participants were hungry for an in-depth conversation about the challenges around managing faith and politics.
Subsequently, in June 2023, a group of about 20 young Muslims from around the country met in Westminster with MPs Afzal Khan and Naz Shah for an honest conversation about the challenges of balancing the two, including some of their own experiences.
There was more advice than I could reasonably echo, so I’ll give my favourite: If you’re not being challenged, you’re not making change. It’s meaning is a profound one: that to make the world a better place, you have to face those that will disagree with you. An idea that applies to every industry, but especially politics.
Events like this are so vital to Islamic youth because it allows us to break into a field where we’re so poorly represented. Muslims have half as many MPs in parliament as we hold a percentage of the population, and to be properly heard, this needs to change. We can only hope that we grow up in a Britain where we’re heard, and The MMK Academy is taking the steps that will allow us to fly.
Written by: Reza Nabulsi