Sunday, August 21, 2005
The BBC just will not lay off the Muslim-baiting, and it's getting more blatant all the time. The latest installment of the media jihad (cf. last Sunday's outrageous Observer article [via particleist] and the MCB's rebuttal [via bat020]) against the MCB comes today with the gleeful revelation that certain 'prominent British Muslims', including a former member of the MCB's central committee, are represented in today's infamous Panorama special as 'question[ing] the MCB's commitment' to fighting extremism.
The exploitation of sectarian disputes within a movement to discredit its members is time-honored and disreputable. It should be beneath any organization with pretence to journalistic standards. Given that it's pretty obvious by now how little that characterization applies to the BBC anymore, I'm not surprised that they stoop to it.
What does really chew on my mittens, though, is this bit of hard-hitting reportage:
But an investigation by Panorama reporter John Ware found groups affiliated to the MCB promoting anti-Semitic views, the belief that Islam is a superior ideology to secular British values and the view that Christians and Jews are conspiring to undermine Islam.OK, let's take that apart.
1) promoting anti-Semitic views: Yes, this is undeniably a Bad Thing, and the MCB needs to be harder on this issue. Without for a moment condoning or apologizing for anti-semitism, however, it's also worth wondering to what degree John Ware finds synonymy between anti-zionist views and anti-semitic ones. Since I won't be able to see the show, I'll rely on my Brit friends to be watchful for that all-too-common conflation and report back on the credibility of this claim.
2) the belief that Islam is a superior ideology to secular British values: This is the one that really fucking gets me. Islam is a RELIGION. Of course it believes its ideology is superior to anyone's secular values! DUH! Do you know of a religion that doesn't believe its ideology is superior, not only to secular values, but to everyone else's religious ideologies? Not a worldview I personally find charming, but hardly one exclusive to Islam--about one second's worth of googling furnished me with this handy primer, courtesy of the Christian Information Ministries, on World Religions and why they're all inferior to Christianity.
C. I. M. desires to inform, teach, and equip the body of Christ to define and defend these issues by contrasting Biblical truth with the secular philosophies that seek to destroy this generation.I don't see the media lining up to condemn Christian groups for their opposition to secularism, in whatever society. And look, here we have the Beeb itself empathizing with the shrinking British Jewish population under 'the increasing pressure of a secular society on a small faith community.'
3) the view that Christians and Jews are conspiring to undermine Islam: Honestly. Given articles like this one, today's effort and the Observer article, programs like Panorama, and any or all of the crimes listed here, is that (alleged) perception so very hard to understand?
While 'Christians and Jews' as a group are in all likelihood not conspiring to undermine Islam (if they are, I didn't get the memo), it is increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that the mainstream media, both conservative and liberal, genuinely are. This Muslim-baiting has to be confronted directly, pilloried publicly for the blatant bigotry it is, and shut down. Letters to editors, people, get the lead out. It's not much, but it's a start.
Yell at the Beeb here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_4030000/newsid_4032600/4032695.stm
The Observer here: Letters to the Editor, The Observer, 3-7 Herbal Hill, London EC1R 5EJ (to be received by 5pm Thursday). Fax: 020 78377817 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (Make 'Letter to the Editor' your subject line.)
The Guardian here: email@example.com
New York Fuckwitted Times here: firstname.lastname@example.org
Update: Courtesy of WIIIAI, here's the transcript of the Panorama special. As the advance press indicated, it's a truly ugly piece of smear journalism, exploiting intra-community divisions to supply decontextualized quotations that purport to show that even Muslims think Islam is violent, anti-Western and intolerant, a veritable breeding-ground for terrorists. The whole argument of the program is viciously exceptionalist, singling out and demonizing tenets of Islam, or even just opinions of individual Muslims, which with appropriate substitutions of vocabulary are indistinguishable from tenets of Christianity and Judaism.
A handful of these snippets, with about as much context as the program gives them:
Dr Taj Hargey: Ad infinitum and ad nauseum, it's there, it's with us. We see it from the time you're a child, you're given this idea that those people they are Kaafir, they're unbelievers. They are not equal to you, they are different to you. You are superior to them because you have the truth, they don't have the truth. You will go to heaven, they will go to hell. So we have this from a very young age.Not very neighborly, sure, but how exactly is this different from Christian ministers preaching hellfire for the unbelievers, or Mel Gibson believing that his wife is going to hell because she doesn't partake of his brand of ultra-orthodox Catholicism?
Professor Kurshid Ahmad: Islam is a revolutionary message. Islam wants the whole of mankind to accept God as creator and to live in God's presence, in his grace.Again, different from the teachings of Jesus how?
It's a blessing because what is a revolutionary idea? A revolutionary idea means that let people try to change the world on the basis of values of faith in Allah, justice, service to humanity, peace and solidarity. So revolution is not something to be afraid of."
John Ware: The ideologue and founder of the Jamaa'at Islami was Sayid Mawdudi.Hmm, I have this vague recollection of something in some other religion about a 'Chosen People'...
He divided the world into believers and non believers.
"God likes Muslims and dislikes Kafirs" he decreed.
Ohh, this one's vicious. Do you see what he's doing there? Whittling away at the distinction between 'Muslims' and 'radical Islamists', trying to wear us down into believing his subtext, i.e., that Islam really is definitionally anti-Western and terrorist in its attitudes, that Islamism is Islam.
He said his international revolutionary party should be called simply; "Muslims".
Finally, this baroquely horrific piece of thought-engineering about the difference between Palestinian and Israeli civilian deaths:
John Ware: The Israel-Palestine conflict is over land and holy sites.'Israeli military operations targeting the Islamists have also caused many civilian deaths.'
It's a rallying cry for young martyrs in the global Ummah.
Islamist groups like Hamas have used terrorist tactics against Israel because they want to destroy it.
Israeli military operations targeting the Islamists have also caused many civilian deaths.
The Islamists have deliberately targeted Israeli civilians in cafes, clubs and buses using suicide bombers.
'The Islamists have deliberately targeted Israeli civilians'
Outrage! Israeli military personnel have deliberately assassinated Palestinian children! In their hundreds! The only way you can call that 'Israeli military operations' is by acknowledging that the entire IDF occupation and administration of the Territories is one long military operation, specifically a relentless, murderous siege.
If anything so overt were needed, this last gives away the outrageous bias of Ware and the entire program. It's a scandalous piece of bigotry, and the MCB were absolutely right to come out fighting.
Update of the Update: Courtesy of Bat, here's the MCB's detailed response to the Panorama program. It's a .doc file.