LONDON – Mo Farah, a Muslim immigrant of Somali origin, has become the first athlete to win three Olympic gold medals for Britain, a fact many are celebrating in the face of rising anti-immigrant sentiment.
“A Muslim immigrant from Somalia becomes the first British athlete to win 3 Gold Olympic medals. @Mo_Farah,” another added.
Many took to social media on Saturday to celebrate the Somalian-born Muslim long-distance runner Farah’s 10,000 meter gold medal.
The Rio Olympics medal is the third gold for Farah who won the 10,000 meter and 5,000 meter races at the London 2012 Olympics.
Four year ago, when he crossed the line to win the 5,000m, the crowd was cheering so boisterously for Farah that it shook the cameras that were set up to capture the finish.
Ever since, Farah, a devout Muslim, has become a cultural icon for Muslims in the UK and beyond, and his victory dance has been dubbed the “Mobot” by adoring fans.
His victory in Rio came as a divided UK is mired in concerns about the rising fear of immigrants and veiled racism post-Brexit.
Last June, British people voted leave the European Union.
After the vote, huge attacks have reportedly targeted immigrants of all backgrounds, including south Asians and Europeans of other nationalities.
“When the only British athlete to have won three gold Olympic medals is a Black Muslim #MoFarah #brexit,” one tweeted.
Another even linked the victory of the Muslim immigrant to anti-Islam rhetoric adopted by US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.
“Are you watching @realDonaldTrump? Mo Farah, a British MUSLIM, just won 10,000m Gold at the Olympics,” one wrote.
Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2.8 million, according to last census published in 2011.
The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre considers Farah to be one of the most influential Muslims in the world.