Given the recent confrontation between the egotisical media-whores from Indolent Strangers for the Welfare State and the fomer(?) Communist, who was once a sympathiser for a mass-murdering war criminal (how's that for mud-flinging?), it is worth reading Yakoub Islam's response to the latter's patronising drivel on how Muslim parents should raise their children. Some will see Reid's comments as a specific targetting of Muslims. Personally, I see it as part of the general nannying approach which Neo-Labour has adopted when trying to solve social issues (perhaps this is a consequence of the total transformation of the family and general loosening of social bonds). In this case, even Omar Brooks (pictured), a professional Angry Muslim, is right when he says the government should not be interfering in parent-children relationships. (One might also see Reid's lecturing as an example of the patronising tone about "British values" adopted by prominent politicians, largely playing to the gallery, when addressing people still seen as 'immigrants'.)
Update (21/9): I'm watching Question Time, and a good point was raised. Since when was heckling politicians ever considered a crime (whatever one thinks of Brooks'views)? Have people not seen Prime Minister's Question Time?
Angry Arab: "This is how Islam is now presented to Western readers.
When I read this, I miss the classical Orientalists. Unlike [Efraim] Karsh, they
were at least learned, erudite, sophisticated, and quite knowledgeable."
It is easy to feel this way after you wade through the Bigotsphere, read the latest in the What Islam Really, Really Says(Yes, Really!) series of books, sift your way through the media dunces who think Osama bin Laden is a Tablighi, or see comment pieces in the 'quality' newspapers on the 'Islamic revival' written by people with little or no expertise, experience or connection to Islam, (via Islamophobia Watch). I note from internet searches that David Selbourne, author of The Times piece I've linked to, claimed back in 2004 that his book, The Losing Battle with Islam, was rejected by British publishers over its 'controversial' nature (that's one way to hype up a forthcoming publication). The synopsis of Selbourne's book claims he has "piece[ed] together up-to-date information from more numerous sources than in any other work on the subject". Well, one can only hope that Britain's very own Robert Spencer wannabe has made sure his "sources" aren't as 'leaky' as one of his previous outings.
If the reported comments are true, then this is an error on a grand scale from the secretary-general of the MCB:
"If that demonisation continues, then Britain will have to deal with
two million Muslim terrorists — 700,000 of them in London," [Dr. Muhammad Abdul Bari] said.
"If you attack a whole community, it becomes despondent and aggressive."
I'm not even going to analyse his statement. I've already looked this issue (twice). What I find more alarming, given that the reported comments are true, is the complete lack of nous in dealing with the media. In the age of the soundbite, and the droves of dimwits who take these for The Truth, he has made a gross error of judgment in his statement. Even if one believes that racism or bigotry drives terrorism, statements like "Britain will have to deal with
two million Muslim terrorists" do not explain that stance, but merely provide ammunition to anti-Muslim bigots. He practically handed The Sunday Telegraph everything it was no doubt hoping for on a plate. And with glee they open the article with:
"Britain could face the threat of two million home-grown Islamic terrorists, says a senior Muslim leader."
Update: The MCB have issued a statement rejecting the quotes in the Telegraph article:
"The Muslim Council of Britain is shocked and dismayed to see how the
Sunday Telegraph has today in its front page headline story ('Muslim
Leader warns of 2 million British terrorists') misrepresented an
interview with its Secretary-General, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari [...] 'I was interviewed on Thursday by the Sunday Telegraph's David
Harrison. I am quoted in his story today as allegedly saying that if
the demonisation of British Muslims in the media continues then
'Britain will have to deal with 2 million Muslim terrorists, 700,000 in
London.' These are categorically not my words. What I had in fact said
was that 'sections of the British media should not treat as terrorists
the two million British Muslims, of whom 700,000 reside in London.'
Indeed, the Sunday Telegraph's unfair distortion of my views only
serves to underline the manner in which the views of Muslims are so
often misrepresented by sections of our UK media,' said Dr Muhammad
The MCB, or Dr. Abdul Bari, should look into making a complaint to the PCC, as the reported article clearly flouts Article 1 of the PCC's Code of Practice (albeit the PCC is quite toothless, it can provide a moral victory).
The Guardian reports that improving performance of Pakistani and Bangladeshi girls at school but are being held back at the work place through discrimination:
"Muslim girls are forging ahead at school but hit a brick wall of
discrimination when they enter the workplace, the Equal Opportunities
Commission says today in a report on its two-year investigation of the
experiences of women from ethnic minority communities across Britain [...] It
found that girls of Pakistani and Bangladeshi origin - 90% of whom are
Muslim - have overtaken white boys in performance at GCSE, with a
higher proportion achieving five good passes at grade C or above.
Despite lower family incomes they are also rapidly catching up with
Ibrahim N. Abusharif has another couple of brilliant posts. The first is on how the Qur'an connects despair and disbelief; the second on the subtext of many reports on "radical Islam" which link salat and the ritual practice of Islam with violence and extremism.
Despair and Disbelief: "Despair and disbelief are soul-mates, according to the Quran: “None despairs of God’s mercy except people who disbelieve” (12:87). What’s implied here specifically is the loss of hope for God’s compassion as a quality of those who willingly or unwittingly scoff the sacred, or, as the word kufr strongly suggests, those who are ungrateful to the point of denial."
Prayer and Violence:"I noticed something in the two-hour report -- something which I had
noticed before in many a documentary or report on "radical Islam" --
that the film footage accompanying the narration that speaks of OBL's
radicalization process included men praying in a mosque. Now this is
hardly the first time we see the Ritual Prayer of Islam linked (through
image) with a scripted narrator's screed about violent teachings and
extremism. We all sense it: image is a formidable conveyor of a
message, especially in a time of intellectual sloth in which "image" is
paramount culturally, politically, and commercially, more so than the
written word, which also struggles with dilution."
I got back from a weekend away (it was a long Bank Holiday weekend here), to find the world in pretty much the same sorry mess I left her in.
I did catch something about the release of two American journalists taken hostage in Gaza. Israel/Palestine is not something I blog about for a number of reasons. But what did prick my ears about this story was the video of the two men being forced to convert to Islam (note, you might the comments distasteful on that link), after which their ordeal ended:
"Mr [Steve] Centanni told Fox News the two had been forced to convert to Islam at gunpoint [...] I have the highest respect for Islam... but it was something we felt we had to do because they had the guns and we didn't know what the hell was going on," he said by telephone from Gaza City."
Thankfully, the journalists were not harmed and Centanni himself seemed to acknowledge that his 'conversion' was not considered part of Islamic practice or belief. But Steven Guess opines:
"It distresses me greatly that thusfar no Islamic websites I visit have made any mention on their blogs/news outlets that this was wrong and inhumane."
He acknowledges that people, Muslims in this case, perhaps don't feel the need to speak out against something which they obviously bear no responsibility for. One could cite scripture, but that is not the point here. The crux of the matter is this: should a Muslim feel compelled to speak out against something 'done in the name of Islam' which they believe to be totally contrary to their faith?
One side would argue that no matter how loudly a vast number of Muslims will shout about terrorism, murder and so on being against Islamic beliefs and principles, bigots will still claim that such acts are 'part of Islam'. Further more, as the blogger in that link says, no one asks the English to apologise for the acts of English hooligans abroad. The flip side is explained by Tariq Nelson:
"[The] political realities, even though we may not like it, make it necessary for the Muslim organizations to distance Islam from it in a clear and unambiguous manner. Given the constant barrage of negative images of Muslims the common person sees on a daily basis, and our relative isolation from society, I don’t think it is reasonable to expect a person not to ask a few questions about this or expect to see some type of condemnation of things done in the name of Islam."
The (sad) reality is that, ordinarily, people do not inform themselves of what they see or hear in the popular media. Even when they do out to seek more information, it can end up simply being a task to enforce their own prejudice (which might explain the popularity of certain blogs and the comments on the videos of the 'conversion' at YouTube). In our media-saturated environments, and especially in more affluent societies (where everyone, rich or poor, has access to a television), sound bites, opinion polls and visual images on the box-in-the-room seem to form the staple diet of information today. It's not that television cannot be informative; it most certainly can. Nor is it the case that everyone should become a scholar of the subject under discussion. Rather, when watching television people may not be discerning or critical and accept everything at face value (the same approach, should be taken when reading a book too, of course). So, if the news reports that two hostages were forced to convert to Islam whilst showing videos of these 'conversion', but does not report that such 'conversions' are considered contrary to Islamic principles and that even the most ardent "fundamentalist" would reject such a forced conversion, then Muslims are left in a bit of quandary.
For me, it comes down to personal preference. Some people do not feel compelled to speak out against such matters. Others, including myself on occassions, do. For me, speaking out against actions is not necessarily 'apologising', but part of the general attempt to take back the usage of Islamic terminology and principles which have become villified in the popular media, whether at the hands ofextremists amongst us or those hostile to us.
Needless to say, on this occassion, such 'conversions' deserve to be derided and rubbished, and I am glad that the two journalists are free and appeared to have a better opinion of their Palestinian hosts, than the Palestinain kidnappers had of them.
Update:Aziz, Eteraz look at the issue in greater detail.
It looks like the questions over the intentions, motives and affiliations of the Sufi Muslim Council has entered the (Muslim) mainstream press. Shehla Khan, a researcher in the social sciences at the University of Manchester, writes in The Muslim News:
"[T]here is anonymity about the [Sufi Muslim Council], which could be countered by the organisation’s renaming itself as House of Commons Sufis, Establishment Sufis or even Blairite Sufis. In the absence of clear identification, we are left with the impression that the ‘sufi’ logo functions here as at best as a garbled, and at worst as a disingenuous statement of political detachment."
"The Daily Express has come under intense criticism for running an inflammatory headline based on a recent poll of Britons on the subject of terrorism.
When asked if Britain is engaged in a "battle against Islamic terrorists", three out of four respondents believed it to be true. However, a frontpage article by the Daily Express' Gabriel Milland claimed: "Britain says: we're at war with Islam"."