“Now for a party political broadcast on behalf of Islam.”
Not heard in so many words on the BBC, but the strategy of bringing Muslims and Islam into our lives with a series of “they’re just like us” programming has been hammering away at the audience with the intensity of one of Saatchi’s finest ad campaigns.
As well as programmes about Islam itself, programmes about Muslim family life, programmes about Islamic culture, dramas with Muslim heroes, plots where all things Islamic are depicted as virtuous, often contrasted with some indigenous British scroungers, scoundrels and amoral good-for-nothings just in case we haven’t already got the message that Islam is thoroughly and benignly British, there is the increasing role Islamic preachers are playing in mainstream religious broadcasting.
This would be all very well if they were willing and able to openly mention and examine the negative characteristics associated with Islam and Islamist practices, as honestly and readily as they obviously expect us to accept all the rest of it.
When such things inevitably feature in the news, overtly politically correct attempts to distance them from the ‘religion of peace’ prevents the connection from being openly and realistically acknowledged. Not only terrorism, but honour killings and forced marriages. When we hear scary tales about these, it’s made very clear that they’re not exclusively Muslim, but Asian. Similarly, there are ‘unmentionable’ aspects of the sexual grooming phenomenon that are worth mentioning. Apparently statistics say the perpetrators of sex crimes are predominantly white, but the figures don’t show whether there are behaviour patterns and attitudes within this broad grouping that are specific to Asian gangs. There is also the unasked and unanswered question of whether Muslims’ alleged moral superiority makes it all the more incongruous that any of them indulge in this crime in the first place. Or does repressed sexuality and a contemptuous attitude towards non Muslims constitute an explosive combination?
Additionally, there’s the question of whether the number of sex crimes, or criminality in general by Muslim offenders is relative and proportionate to the population as a whole.
Must we assume that the high number of Muslims in the prison population is because of Islamophobia in the justice system, or unfair targeting of Muslims by the institutionally racist police? Or is it for some other mysterious reason.
All over the papers yesterday, but, at the time of writing, absent from the BBC, was the incident involving a Christian worker at Heathrow airport who allegedly lost her job after being bullied by Muslim colleagues. Most concerning to many of the online commenters was the predominance of overtly Muslim employees at the UK’s largest and busiest airport. The gateway to the UK gives new arrivals the impression that they’ve landed in an Islamic state. Several people alluded to foxes guarding the henhouse.
This morning’s Start the Week discussed the Arab Spring, and various speakers assured us the new Islamist ideologies are moderate and tolerant. Someone told Andrew Marr that Erdogan is so popular with the Turkish people “because of his attitude towards Israel and Syria.” This went unchallenged. Not unusual, because Andrew Marr habitually lets this sort of thing pass without a murmur. Criticism of Israel, the assumption that it’s evil, lumping it together with Syria, etc. is an everyday occurrence on that programme.
But just moments earlier, Today put out a lengthy promotional piece about Alan Yentob’s upcoming radio 4 programme on the dwindling number of Jews in Iraq. The trail even featured the remarkable Canon Andrew White ‘the vicar of Baghdad’, who told us that the recent Wikileaks exposure of their names and addresses put the lives of the seven remaining Jews still living there in grave danger.
During this feature John Humphrys sounded sympathetic to their plight and that of the thousands of Jews who had been hounded out of Iraq. No doubt, had he been involved in that conversation, Andrew Marr too would have responded sympathetically, and gone ‘mmmm,’ as he is wont to do. But the cognitive dissonance displayed here, by which I mean the disconnect between the BBC’s sympathy with persecuted Jews, alongside their own simultaneous compliance with and participation in Israel’s vilification is staggering.
Yet Alan Yentob’s programme information has this.
“Nazism, Arab-nationalism and anti-Zionist feeling created a wave of anti-Semitism“
In black and white, the BBC has allowed a writer to link Nazism with Arab-nationalism. They’ve even gone so far as to connect the terms ‘created’ and ‘a wave of antisemitism’. Normally, antisemitism is regarded by them as something that just exists, out of nowhere, and persecution of Jews arises from nothing, and is not created by Nazism and Arab Nationalism, nor fueled by the antismitism inherent in Islam.
A recent From Our Own Correspondent featured one of the few Jews remaining in Macedonia, an 89 year-old holocaust survivor who remembers the deportation of Macedonia’s Jews. In the same section of From Our Own Correspondent, the reporter himself, Mark Lowen, recounted a moving tale about his own grandmother, a concert pianist who had been sent, with her sister, to the concentration camp that was immortalised in the film “Schindler’s List.” Furthermore these items were briefly featured and linked to on a main BBC news webpage, under the heading ‘Features and Analysis’ before being relegated to another section.
Is this a sea change somewhere in the bowels of the BBC, or is it just part of the same ‘old one step forward, two steps back’ progress we’re more used to. The BBC is still some way off from connecting the current waves of antisemitism with events in the present day Arab world. They seem uncannily eager to impress upon us that every newly, or about-to-be, democratically elected Islamist party is moderate. The Muslim Brotherhood, Ennahda, the moderate Islamist party that recently won the elections in Morocco, and last but not least our moderate friend Mahmoud Abbas. But it seems these moderates swiftly impose restrictions on the population as soon as they get the chance. Veils in universities, modest dress, polygamy and hatred of Jews, Israel and the West may seem moderate to some people, but surely not here in ‘Great’ Britain.
Programmes and items about the holocaust are not unusual. The BBC and the film industry have always been interested in depicting the holocaust. The pathos can sometimes appear self indulgent and gratuitous, but when people refer to “the holocaust industry” they don’t mean that. What they actually mean is that in their opinion the holocaust is being cynically and exploitatively used by Jews to shut down debate and act as a smokescreen to obscure the wrongdoings of Israel. This accusation works just the same in reverse, shutting down debate from the other side and unconvincingly masking the antisemitism that lies behind the accusation. Remembering the holocaust does more than beg for the universal sympathy vote. It reminds us how far things can escalate before they’re acknowledged, properly recognised and seen for what they really are. Hindsight shows how easily people can abandon reason, and should warn us to be vigilant lest history repeats. Be vigilant, BBC, and wake up.