Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Ken Livingstone on Muslims, Islam and the media

Cranmer has been emailed a document by ‘Spurius Lartius, London Citizen’ which examines a number of issues about Islam and attitudes towards British Muslims but not in the way the authors intended. It is published by The Greater London Authority and was commissioned by the Mayor of London, and is entitled ‘The search for common ground: Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK media.

Mayor Livingstone gives pride of place to the finding that in a typical week 91 percent of the news articles in the UK press mentioning Muslims or Islam were negative. He means that we now have firm proof that the UK Press is biased against Islam and Muslims. And yet what were these articles about?

A very large proportion of the stories are about terrorism in Britain, Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan. Given that the events taking place in these countries, it is difficult to see how the reporting could possibly be positive, or why Mr Livingstone is insisting that a positive spin should be put on them.

This pattern of perpetual negativity is replicated across all newspapers. Even The Guardian and the Independent convey the same sentiments. One might perhaps expect The Guardian, which was also the only newspaper with journalists on the study team, to be more positively disposed to Islam and Muslims, but it rarely is.

What does this prove?

Should Newspapers carry a Government Health Warning: ‘Whatever you think of this story or this biased newspaper, your Muslim neighbour is really a nice guy’? Have the good stories been missed or purposely omitted, even by The Guardian? Perhaps the UK Press has failed to report the ‘good news’ stories like the following that never made it to their pages:

● Saudi authorities welcome plans to build large church in Riyadh.

● Muhammad Bari, the secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB), says arranged marriages are not a good idea and not practical in a developed country like the UK. He expects both his daughters to go to university in another part of the country. They will make social circles of their own, but he and his wife look forward to being introduced to the first serious boyfriends.

● Girls now surpass boys in numbers in school and exam results in Afghanistan.

● Birmingham will not become a majority Muslim city. The birth rate amongst Muslim women is now at a level comparable with the rest of the population. The rate was double the national rate but has come down as Muslim women have gained equal status with men and stopped believing large families are a cultural-economic necessity.

● East London mosque will do all in its power to terminate the lease of a shop on mosque premises selling literature extolling hatred and jihad against non-Muslims.

● Sir Iqbal Sacranie, former secretary general of the MCB, says there are limits to multiculturalism.

● Pakistan repeals law that requires a female rape victim to have four male witnesses. Iran stops stoning and public executions.

● Dr Al-Qaradawi says Muslim women in the UK should not wear a veil. You only cover your face in the West if you are unwell, cold, or in mourning. Otherwise covering your face means you want to hide your true feelings and it is very rude.

Or there is another grim possibility: the authors of this report believe the persecution, murder and mayhem throughout much of the Islamic world, and events like the London and Glasgow bombings, are nothing to do with Islam(-ism).

The report claims that a theme has developed in the British media the British way of life is under threat, and this is blamed on the pernicious influence of ‘political correctness’. It examines four newspaper stories expressing such views in relation to relatively trivial incidents.

• the alleged banning of piggy banks by a building society in a Lancashire town

• the alleged banning of Christmas by a local council in London

• the use of BP (Before Present) instead of BC (Before Christ) at a museum in the West country

• the Crown Prosecution Service taking a 10-year-old boy to court for playground insults in Salford.

The report makes an effective rebuttal of all these stories. They were either completely false or based on embellishment and twisting of innocent facts. But it goes on to make the most remarkable assertion:

…. even though real fears exist. These arise not from so-called political correctness, nor from the presence of Muslims in modern Britain, but from social and economic change, globalisation, and new international relationships.

The report may have conveyed a degree of objectivity if it had mentioned the many true stories - ranging from the ridiculous to the sinister - that the British people have good cause to perceive as threatening to British customs and tradition> How about:

● Marks & Spencer shop assistant refuses to sell book of Bible stories.

● Imam’s daughter threatened with death because she converted to Christianity.

● British government formally recognises polygamy (but only for Muslims).

● Muslim staff in supermarket refuse to serve alcohol.

● PC forced to resign because he gave Muslim colleague bottle of wine and pack of bacon for a Christmas present.

● Female Muslim students refuse to shake hands with university Chancellor at degree awards ceremony.

● Muslim medical students refuse to treat illness caused by alcohol.

● Three pigs story ruled offensive to Muslims

Cranmer has covered a few of thee stories, and all are true and sourced. He shall remind communicants and readers of a few:

Imam’s daughter threatened: A British imam’s daughter who converted to Christianity has been forced to live under police protection because her family threatened to kill her. Her brother told her that he could not be responsible for his actions if she did not return to Islam. (The Times, 10 December 2007)

Britain recognises polygamy: The Department for Work and Pensions recognises polygamous marriages that are conducted overseas. The department states that claimants in polygamous unions are entitled to ‘additional allowances for each additional partner’. This is an exception solely for Muslims. (The Daily Telegraph, 4 Bruary 2008)

PC forced to resign: The constable gave the gift as part of a ‘Secret Santa’ game at Luton police station during a Christmas day party. The Muslim policeman recipient of the present did not complain, he thought the joke was just a bad joke, not funny, though imam was found said what a crime this was, insulting Islam. (The Daily Telegraph, 15 January 2008)

Three pigs: The remake of the children’s classic, the Three Little Pigs, was criticised by BECTA, the education technology agency, because ‘the use of pigs raises cultural issues’. (The Times and Daily Telegraph, 24 January 2008)

Although this report is commissioned and paid for by the Mayor of London (i.e., London taxpayers) it gives considerable attention to the views of the Muslim Council of Britain, some of which are warped. It is absurd to state that the ‘real causes of anxiety over Islam’ are to do with globalisation, the long-term decline in Britain’s position as a world power, Britain in Europe, devolution, the end of empire, or the rapid advance of social pluralism

The decline of British influence and the end of Empire have little relevance to anyone in Britain under pensionable age. And how devolution, Britain in Europe, or social pluralism could have a bearing on, say, the revulsion Britons feel about the murder of teachers in Afghanistan, hate preaching in British mosques, blowing up tube trains, or death for insults, is a complete mystery.

The truth is much simpler. Certain Islamic beliefs and practices are at variance with political liberalism. Of course, not all Muslims in the UK seek to aggressively assert these beliefs or practices, but very few challenge those who do.

Causes of concern include the undeniable belief that:

● death is a just punishment for apostasy or insulting Islam or the prophet.

● women are viewed as subordinate to men even if they do have rights.

● Islam should be pre-eminent above all other religions.

● Muslims have a duty to impose Islam, by force or deception if necessary.

● Muslims have a duty to usher in Shari’a law.

● Islam is a political movement and should dominate in the public sphere.

Some of the basic tenets of Shari’a law are incompatible with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. There is no equality before the law between men and women and between Muslims and non-Muslims, and there is no freedom to choose and change religion.

‘Common ground’ is important but it is not the answer. It is possible that both you and your Muslim neighbour are both unhappy with binge drinking, underage sex, immodesty, break up of families, or Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but there comes a point where all the common ground in the world will not compensate for the irreconcilable differences. This is what the report fails to address.

The concluding part of the study presents a summary of how the authors believe the West views the problems concerning Muslims in Europe. It identifies:

1 Failure to integrate

2 Unreasonable demands

3 Mixed loyalties

4 Support for extremism

5 Obscurantism

6 Incompatibility of values and interests

7 Lack of Muslim leadership

8 Corroborating evidence from overseas

And some of these are reasoned:

1 Barriers to integration

The vast majority of Muslims in Western Europe would like to be fully integrated – though not culturally assimilated – in the economic and political affairs of west European societies but are prevented from doing so by the factors summarised in points 2 to 5 below.

2 Material disadvantage

Most Muslims in Western Europe are people who came, or are the children or grandchildren of people who came, to meet labour shortages. The jobs they were recruited to fill were poorly-paid, often dirty and in labour intensive heavy industries. Material disadvantage continues, as do discrimination and racist violence.

3 Negativity in the media and the general climate of opinion

Media coverage of Muslims, particularly but not only in the press, is almost entirely negative and hostile – when, that is, there is any coverage at all.

4 Foreign policy

Much of European foreign policy works to the disadvantage of Muslims overseas.

5 Policing

Since September 11th, and even more so since terrorist attacks within Europe, many Muslims have had experiences, either directly themselves or indirectly through their friends, families and acquaintances, of heavy-handed and insensitive policing, often in the full glare of the media.

6 Self-criticism

Muslims accept that some of the criticisms made of them by others are legitimate – the criticisms are not necessarily instances of ‘Islamophobia’. Muslims are ready to debate these, both with others and internally amongst themselves. Appropriate self-criticism is difficult or impossible, however, within the wider context of hostility and suspicion listed in points 2 to 5 above.

It is incredible that points 2-5 are given as reasons why Muslims in Europe are not integrating. If they can be considered barriers to integration they can even better be considered as reasons for integration. To assert such reasons can only be seen as another attempt to shift the debate about Islam on to more comfortable ground. It is saying that we are not going to discuss ‘your’ issues: we don’t recognise them; they are ill-founded.

In the final paragraph, the authors have realised that to slam the door shut looks a little bad, so as an afterthought they say: ‘…some of the criticisms made of them [Muslims] by others are legitimate’, but this is evidently qualified by points 2-5 above.

Yet in an unguarded moment, the report gets to the heart of the matter which no amount of ‘common ground’ is going to solve. It identifies the true nature of the Islamist position as perceived and interpreted by the authors of this report, which is that Muslims want political and economic integration but not cultural integration, and that this should be actively pursued.

This is nonsense.

Culture is at both the foundation and the heart of society, and finds expression both in and from its politics and economics. It is not possible to opt out of one dimension of this intricate fusion, for culture includes such things as attitudes to crime and punishment, law and order, how business is done, freedom of individuals, the status of men and women, acceptable humour, freedom of religion and freedom from religion. It permeates every level of social life.

Yet the authors of this report suggest that Muslims want all the benefits of an advanced economy and liberal society, they want a better life, they want political power and influence, but they should be free to reject and indeed aggressively oppose the very religio-political foundations in which these had their genesis.

This is separatism. There is no separatist committee, no separatist master plan, no separatist party, though there are groupings of the like-minded - like the MCB - who are incrementally taking the UK along that path. ‘Multiculturalism’ is the codeword. The whole basis of this study is that Multiculturalism is essentially a good thing.

Culture is not, of course, in any sense static, and over time both internal and external influences bring about changes which cohere with what preceded. But now we have a new phenomenon: such influences are aggressively challenging what preceded and demanding conformity to the new context. It is no longer an expectation that aliens should adapt to the culture of the host nation, but that the host nation should adapt to the cultural demands of the alien. This is giving rise to the foundation of permanent communities based on a different culture. The operation of Shari’a law in certain areas of the UK is one of the forces creating separate Islamic communities - the ‘no-go areas’ to which the Bishop of Rochester alludes - which will lead inexorably to the balkanisation of Britain, and is sowing the seeds of future conflict and bloodshed which will be borne by future generations. All enthusiastically supported by Mayor Ken Livingstone.

God help us.


Anonymous najistani said...

Red Ken has recently admitted that the Muslim problem will cost him votes.


"I made clear these outrages were the acts of a group of murderous criminals who did not represent the mainstream views of any major faith, and called on Londoners not to be divided. While the Guardian, and most Londoners, thought this was the right response, it unleashed criticism from many of those who believe in the so-called "clash of civilisations" and the "war on terror".

It is not at all surprising that in the campaign now being waged against me are some former leftwingers, such as Bright and Nick Cohen, whose fear of multiculturalism and Islamism has tipped dangerously towards a paranoid Islamophobia that threatens harmonious community relations in this city. This group wants the mayoral election not to be waged on central issues for Londoners - affordable homes, public transport, investment in policing, radical policies to tackle climate change - but on their own obsessions."

6 February 2008 at 12:45  
Anonymous Stop the planet - I want to get off said...

"All enthusiastically supported by Mayor Ken Livingstone".

... and most of our elected representatives in Westminster.

6 February 2008 at 12:46  
Anonymous Stop the planet - I want to get off said...

Correction. That should have read:-

...and most of our spineless elected representatives in Westminster.

6 February 2008 at 12:50  
Anonymous Wapping Boy said...

It is interesting to note that of the 9 authors 6 have been published on the subject of Islamophobia. I do enjoy seeing my taxes being spent on a report that is written by people who know its conclusions prior to any work being commenced.

6 February 2008 at 12:54  
Anonymous mickey said...

Multiculturalism is not in the natural order of things. Dominant species always take over.

6 February 2008 at 13:11  
Blogger The Heresiarch said...

A little late in the day, your Grace: this report is several months old. Still, a superb, detailed analysis. You're right to pick on Sharia law as a particular danger. It's utterly inconsistent with modern ideas of equality, but it's also utterly central to true practice of Islam. So equality loses.

The thing to remember is that it's Muslims, especially Muslim women, who suffer the most from the spread of Sharia in Britain.

6 February 2008 at 13:23  
Blogger Cranmer said...

A little late in the day, your Grace: this report is several months old.

His Grace is not a news service, and would rather offer analysis of 'old news' than simply become another superficial commentator upon every trivial piece of tittle tattle which appears to preoccupy much of the blogosphere.

6 February 2008 at 14:01  
Anonymous Atlas shrugged said...

Surly the simple point should be made that possibly 91% of all news stories are negative.

Even the good news is often just concerning some kind of lucky England sporting result or some other trivial matter.

Bad news is good news for the media. Which is why the media love Ken to bits. Everything Ken does is BAD NEWS.

6 February 2008 at 15:09  
OpenID yokel said...

At the grubby face of vote capture, it would seem that Uncle Ken is displaying his Kuffarphobia again.

Or there is another grim possibility: the authors of this report believe the persecution, murder and mayhem throughout much of the Islamic world, and events like the London and Glasgow bombings, are nothing to do with Islam(-ism).

Your Grace, may I venture to suggest a third option; possibly the authors of the report have concluded that the behaviour quoted above is in fact morally correct, that it is an essential part of the true implementation of Islam in this fallen world, and that it is indeed a proper emulation of the acts of Mohammed (the example for all men for all time).

I don't suggest this could possibly be the case, just that it is technically an alternative that has not yet been considered.

6 February 2008 at 16:26  
Anonymous najistani said...

What never ceases to amaze me about the Muslims, and their dhimmi slaves such as Red Ken, is their barefaced taqiyya in attempting to deny that we are engaged in a clash of civilizations, even though it is the Muslims, not the kuffars, who have divided the world between Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb.

Dar al-Harb is what they call us, and regrettably Dar al-Harb is what they will eventually get - a self-fulfilling prophecy.

6 February 2008 at 17:34  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace here is a new one, calling wait for it "not just the dissolution of Parliament but the abolition until its act is cleaned up"

About bloody time someone said it.

6 February 2008 at 18:23  
Anonymous hear o israel said...

an article full of perspective your grace.

what i find so interesting is the use of islamophobia only in the context of believers of other faiths.
ken forever uses this arrangement "religions should not fallout"

what i would like to know is why so many people dislike the support and spread of islam who are not of any particular religion .

they gradually stop going to there local shop , street conversation ceases and the cultural divides take place.

this analysis of multiculturalism has always been from the perspective of someone such as ken (who is athiest) . multiculturalism is an exchange of culture nothing more , one for the other .

it is not creating the synergy strengths that we were led to believe , the muslim middle classes want sharia law , they have never changed or moderated that position , they hope to see the uk become a muslim country (which basically means they dont accept christainity as being worth more that islam , they will be happy with church and state broken .

as i sit in my office , i wonder who will be happy with what i would like !!

6 February 2008 at 19:30  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A Glimmer of Hope for Europe

by Srdja Trifkovic

6 February 2008 at 20:27  
Anonymous Sir Henry Morgan said...

Excellent Your Grace. Thank you.

I'm filing that one on my own machine.

7 February 2008 at 00:54  
Anonymous zeno said...

God help us indeed, Your Grace.

I have just read with astonishment that Dr. Williams is reported as saying that the adoption of some aspects of Sharia law in the UK is unavoidable, and that "An approach to law which simply said - there's one law for everybody ... I think that's a bit of a danger".

I am not a lawyer, but I thought that it was a foundation of English law that it applies equally to all, unless there are specific exemptions.

How could our Archbishop, an intelligent man to whom we look for moral and spiritual leadership, be so spectacularly wrong-headed?

7 February 2008 at 15:25  
Blogger Man in a Shed said...

Can I suggest your Grace does not ingest cornflakes at the same time as he has sight or sound from any news outlets about the statements of Rowan Williams today.

You'll live longer.

7 February 2008 at 16:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Balkan problem that is oft quoted, is really an Islamic problem that was bought to Europe by the Ottoman invasions of Europe.

Now, through our own neglect of the realities of the permanent Jihad on the Infidel, we have self-inflicted a "Balkan" problem in the West.

As his grace says,"God help us".


19 February 2008 at 00:32  

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