Sunday, July 17, 2005

The blame game

Am I alone in reading Faisal Bodi’s occasional pieces in the Guardian as veiled threats? “Stop being beastly to even the most conservative strains of Islam– or else!”

Portadown News (in a Northern Ireland context) offers a great explanation of the difference between a warning and a threat (“only one needs to be accompanied by a recognised codeword”).

Putting his recent pieces together, he seems to be suggesting that criticism of Islam – and an assertion of secular values – is a provocation in itself.

Last year, he criticised Will Hutton for a very prescient article advocating an active engagement with Islam and at a number of points recently, he has confused criticism of Islam with ‘Islamophobia’. He criticised the Muslim Council of Britain for “appealing to Britain's Muslims to remember their duties vis-a-vis "terrorism"…. it is likely to fan the flames it seeks to extinguish.”

Elsewhere, in the same piece (one of those to-and-fro dialogues that the Guardian likes so much), he refers to “specific criticism of [the Muslim Council of Britain’s] advice on terrorism, which - worryingly - seems to be based entirely on the government's unproven claims of an increased threat to the mainland.” (my bold text).

Humility in the face of events? Not a bit of it! Now, in the wake of the London bombings, “it should not be forgotten that the bloody trail of blame leads straight to 10 Downing Street.” (the rest is here). He also implied (before the identity of the bombers was known) that it was all a plot cooked up by dark forces simply to defame Islam.

It is not racist or Islamophobic to suggest that British Muslims need to examine their own community’s attitudes. Muslims I’ve spoken to have explained to me that they have a duty to try and convert me to their faith. Fair enough. And I have a duty to try and covert them to mine – atheism. Does this make me an Islamophobe?

The last Muslim evangelist I spoke to explained to me that his religion had been widely defamed by associating it with attacks like 9-11. He explained that “it wasn’t Muslims who did it at all – it was the Jews. No Jews went to work in the World Trade Center that day…”

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