Posted by: Lister | December 26, 2008

Islamophobia

I missed Peter Oborne’s documentary. He has an article in the Independent:

Three years ago, four young suicide bombers caused carnage in London. Their aim was not just to kill and maim. There was also a long-term strategic purpose: to sow suspicion and divide Britain between Muslims and the rest. They are succeeding.

[…] The first abuse that Mr Sarwar’s family suffered was in October 2001 – just after the 9/11 attacks – when pigs’ trotters were left outside their door, the walls of their house were covered with graffiti and two front windows were broken.

Since then, the family has suffered many attacks, including a failed fire-bombing. In February, the tyres of Mr Sarwar’s new car were slashed; in March his windows were broken again. He has now installed CCTV cameras, replaced his wooden back door with one made of steel and erected higher fences.

An investigation for Channel 4’s Dispatches programme discovered many violent episodes and attacks on Muslims, with very few reported; those that do get almost no publicity.

Last week, Martyn Gilleard, a Nazi sympathiser in East Yorkshire, was jailed for 16 years. Police found four nail bombs, bullets, swords, axes and knives in his flat. Gilleard had been preparing for a war against Muslims. In a note at his flat he had written, “I am sick and tired of hearing nationalists talking of killing Muslims, blowing up mosques and fighting back only to see these acts of resistance fail. The time has come to stop the talking and start to act.”

The Gilleard case went all but unreported. Had a Muslim been found with an arsenal of weapons and planning violent assaults, it would have been a far bigger story.

[…] “I am an Islamophobe,” the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wrote in The Independent nearly 10 years ago. “Islamophobia?” the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle asks rhetorically in the title of a recent speech, “Count me in”. Imagine Liddle declaring: “Anti-Semitism? Count me in”, or Toynbee claiming she was “an anti-Semite and proud of it”.

Anti-Semitism is recognised as an evil, noxious creed, and its adherents are barred from mainstream society and respectable organs of opinion. Not so Islamophobia.

Its practitioners say Islamophobia cannot be regarded as the same as anti-Semitism because the former is hatred of an ideology or a religion, not Muslims themselves. This means there is no social, political or cultural protection for Muslims: as far as the British political, media and literary establishment is concerned the normal rules of engagement are suspended.

“There is a definite urge; don’t you have it?”, the author Martin Amis told Ginny Dougary of The Times: “The Muslim community will have to suffer until it gets its house in order. Not letting them travel. Deportation; further down the road. Curtailing of freedoms. Strip-searching people who look like they’re from the Middle East or Pakistan. Discriminatory stuff, until it hurts the whole community and they start getting tough with their children.” Here, Amis is doing much more than insulting Muslims. He is using the foul and barbarous language of fascism. Yet his books continue to sell, and his work continues to be celebrated.

And then he moves on to discuss the BNP and how it changed smoothly from anti-Semitism to anti-Muslim rhetoric.

On Martyn Gilleard, I found some articles on the BBC. One during the trial, and another when he was found guilty, where it is revealed that:

Police initially searched Gilleard’s flat in Goole, East Yorkshire, in connection with child pornography offences.

But once inside the 31-year-old’s home, they discovered not just evidence of a paedophile, but the equipment of a potential terrorist as well.

The column on the right of the article links to related articles from earlier in the case. I don’t remember seeing this on TV, however.

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