July 04, 2008

Islamophobia?

Here's Peter Osborne in today's Independent:
Islamophobia – defined in 1997 by the landmark report from the Runnymede Trust as "an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination" – can be encountered in the best circles: among our most famous novelists, among newspaper columnists, and in the Church of England.

Its appeal is wide-ranging. "I am an Islamophobe," the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wrote in The Independent nearly 10 years ago. "Islamophobia?" the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle asks rhetorically in the title of a recent speech, "Count me in". Imagine Liddle declaring: "Anti-Semitism? Count me in", or Toynbee claiming she was "an anti-Semite and proud of it".

Anti-Semitism is recognised as an evil, noxious creed, and its adherents are barred from mainstream society and respectable organs of opinion. Not so Islamophobia.

Its practitioners say Islamophobia cannot be regarded as the same as anti-Semitism because the former is hatred of an ideology or a religion, not Muslims themselves. This means there is no social, political or cultural protection for Muslims: as far as the British political, media and literary establishment is concerned the normal rules of engagement are suspended.

"There is a definite urge; don't you have it?", the author Martin Amis told Ginny Dougary of The Times: "The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. Not letting them travel. Deportation; further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they're from the Middle East or Pakistan. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children." Here, Amis is doing much more than insulting Muslims. He is using the foul and barbarous language of fascism. Yet his books continue to sell, and his work continues to be celebrated.
The article provides quite a contrast to this report in the Telegraph about 18 months ago. I recall the glee with which the article, titled, Jews far more likely to be victims of faith hatred than Muslims was greeted in certain zionist circles with it's claim that:
One in 400 Jews compared to one in 1,700 Muslims are likely to be victims of "faith hate" attacks every year. The figure is based on data collected over three months in police areas accounting for half the Muslim and Jewish populations of England and Wales. The crimes range from assault and verbal abuse to criminal damage at places of worship.
But consider this from the Independent piece:
An investigation for Channel 4's Dispatches programme discovered many violent episodes and attacks on Muslims, with very few reported; those that do get almost no publicity.
And what about when an innocent Muslim gets shot in the shoulder by the police? does that qualify as faith hatred? Or how about a Brazilian being shot eleven times in the head after being mistaken for a Muslim? Does that count in the stats? And yet Ken Livingstone saying to a Jewish reporter words to the effect of "give a man a uniform and he thinks he's Hitler" almost definitely did qualify as an antisemitic "incident". I also thought I remembered a UK cabinet minister saying that Muslims could expect more attention from the police than other communities. Any takers on that one? Would it count in the stats if she (if I'm right, I think it was Ruth Kelly) did?

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