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Monday 22 August 2005

Panorama vs MCB [Lurks]

I've got to hand it to them, after viewing last nights Panorama show on the tele, it seems like the BBC did the unthinkable. They grew some balls and tackled the thorny issue of the muslim community in the UK following the apparent rise of extremism that lead to the bombings.
I watched it and near as I could tell, they bent over backwards to allow the boss of the Muslim Council of Britain the right of reply on a whole bunch of thorny issues. As the picture built up, it became clear that the MCB isn't in a position of leadership which has a chance of steering the muslim community to deal with extremism. Rather it sees itself as a body that has to right wrongs of the oppressed muslim etc.
Now the latter point is fair enough, and maybe they do need some body to act as a voice whenever the inevitable ugly face of racism appears. However, I think the show adequately called out that there is no actual logic applied to when it is appropriate to step up and beat the drum. Two cases rammed home the point to me; the first was the female student that demanded to be allowed to wear an ankle length dress on religious grounds. This is blatantly a cultural and not a religious issue, no one else has problems with the attire but the MCB turned it into a huge issue, apparently being a case of discrimination.
More recently, in the aftermath of the bombings, they were highly active in criticising the police concerning how they dealt with acts like searching homes and so on. You would have thought that would have been a good time to be helpful but apparently it needed some firmer encouragement to begin the process of getting leaders together to denounce the bombings and so on.
For whatever reason it is, the politically inclined arm of the muslim community (as opposed to the silent majority who view Islam as being a personal and spiritual relationship for them) is capable of some remarkable demonstrations of double standards as was very skillfully demonstrated in the in interview of John Ware (the interviewer and narator of the episode) and Dr Bari, deputy secretary general of MCB and so on.
When taken to task about various highly offensive views that some of the Islamic organisations have that are represented by the MCB (things like no Kaffar can be your friend, the West is generally corrupt etc etc you know the sort), he downplayed all of that saying that these are views and these organisations are entitled to them and the MCB cannot influence them.
And yet... the same chap lead the fight to ban Salman Rushdie's book the Satanic Verses and when quizzed directly, still believes that the book should be banned. So it's fine to ban a view so long as it's anti Islam (even in the case of that, it's a work of fiction) but of course if there's any anti secular, anti West, anti Christian etc view points then those are just 'views' which they are powerless to influence.
I found the combination of the obvious making politics out of Islam and this rampant double standards are being quite disturbing because the programme left the viewer with the real sense that in the first instance, muslim leaders were in denial of extremism and in the second instance, that there was no real chance of the MCB (or anyone like it) doing something collectively about it because it didn't serve their political agenda.
I was also touched by the comments from many of the other muslim representatives being interviewed - who offered insights which you were highly enlightening. Explaining the backdrop of the MCB and, perhaps most worryingly, the claim that there's generally one set of language for the public (promoting cross-faith tollerance) and quite another behind closed doors (promoting isolation from the Kaffars etc).
I came away from the show worried. It seems obvious that the MCB will do nothing to assist the issue but instead will continue their agenda of portraying muslims as victims at every turn. This view was reinforced by reading their statement today, responding to the Panorama show. Here's an extract from the Media Guardian story:

"It was dishonestly presented and mischievously edited to present a pre-conceived view. We are absolutely disgusted with the clearly Islamophobic agenda of this programme," the spokesman said.

It's hard to comment about how it may have been mischievously edited but I didn't get that sense at all. Whatever the programme was, it was certainly not Islamophobic. I guess it's hardly surprising to see the MCB attempt to equate any attack on it as an attack on Islam but it's clearly not going to wash with any thinking viewer.
Make your own mind up by reading the transcript for yourself.
The danger here is that if a representative body for muslims in the UK cannot (or more accurately will not) help to deal with extremism in the ways it needs to be dealt with, then it'll be left to legislation and police who will be galvanised by a generally unsympathetic public following the right-wing agendas of the tabloid press. That treatment might very well lend factual weight to the victim mentality that desperately needs to be dismantled to tackle extremism for real.


  1. I hope that Muslims will start to speak more openly and vocally as British people. A spokesman from a body isn't helping much. What is needed when extremists home or abroad fuck something up is for Brits to be quite vocal about it being unacceptable in our society. I think we need to see this much more vocally at the grassroots level. The grassroots provide the power that brings change. Britain must become unfertile for extremism. It needs to be impossible for Imams to preach the twisted stuff, and difficult for extremist groups to try to hide within the legitimate British community.
    The MCB is not necessarily the definitive body for British Muslims and perhaps it shouldn't be unless it encourages discussion and reform and a pro-active removal of extremism. If it doesn't drive solution-finding then maybe the MCB is unwittingly positioning itself as an obstacle rather than as an ally.

  2. The MCB are apologists and defenders for those that seek to spread the cancer of Islamic fundamentalism throughout this country, whilst simultaneously screaming "Islamic Rights!" when challenged or asked to clarify their absurdly murky opinions on a whole range of matters.
    I formed this opinion a while ago, when it became clear that they had no real objective relevant to every day followers of the Islamic faith, but were simply a vehicle for the progression of self inflated ego and political finger pointing amongst those who have somehow convinced their fellow believers that they are the right people for the job.
    They can kick and scream as much as they like about the Panorama programme; I personally thought it was absolutely on the money - the retarded lack of comprehension from the MCB and others when asked simple questions demonstrated admirably that they are completely clueless when it comes to actually understanding and acknowledging that yes Houston, they have a fucking problem.