The most popular boys’ name in the United Kingdom is Muhammad (BabyCentre, Guardian, 01.12.14). The biggest rise in girls’ names is Maryam and the highest new entry in the top 100 girls’ names is Nur (Ibid).
Some would agree that these developments show “the ever increasing diversity of the U.K. today.” (Sarah Redshaw, managing editor of BabyCentre, Guardian, 01.12.14). Many more see this as the ever increasing encroachment of Islamic influence on the British way of life. It is but a minute step from this latter concern to outright xenophobic Islamophobia.
Over the last two years, there has been a worrying increase is Islamophobia. Islamic State has fed the sprawling hysteria. Our politicians incessantly warn against “Islamic terror” without giving the slightest thought to the impact that such utterances have on the overwhelming majority of law abiding and peaceful Muslims across Britain, Europe and the world.
Every act of terror is a crime that must be unequivocally condemned in any civilised society. The faith of the perpetrator should never be part of the condemnation. It would never occur to any politician or editorialist to call the murder of 77 innocent Norwegians by Anders Breivik “Christian terror”. No one called Baruch Goldstein’s murder of 25 Palestinians at prayer in a Hebron mosque an act of “Jewish terror”. The killing of 76 (plus the four agents and six Branch Davidians) by the FBI was never described as a form of “Davidian terror”. The list can go on for pages.
Yet, any act of terror committed by a Muslim is instantly trumpeted as Islamic terror. Anne Frank was right when she asseverated: “What one Christian does is his own responsibility, what one Jew does reflects on all Jews.” The same applies to all Muslims in today’s increasingly Islamophobic world.
There is a superficially attractive argument that if an act is justified through a faith then it should be designated as prompted by that faith. This is even when the said faith expressly forbids the behaviour under scrutiny. History is full of the most heinous acts being shrouded by references to holy books or to gods; from slavery, the objectification of women, sexual coercion, repression of vulnerable people on to Zionist occupation of Palestine, to the Nazis murdering millions of Jews, to the Turks murdering millions of Armenians, to dictators like Sisi or Stalin or Hussein murdering hundreds of thousands of their citizens…etc…
Religion has persistently been used to persecute or control / oppress others. Voltaire is right when he says “If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him” (“Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer”, Ã‰pÃ®tre Ã l’auteur du livre des Trois imposteurs, 1768). I would like to “reverse Voltaire’s phrase” along with Bakunin and reiterate: “If God really existed, it would be necessary to abolish Him.” (“Ð•ÑÐ»Ð¸ Ð‘Ð¾Ð³ Ð´ÐµÐ¹ÑÑ‚Ð²Ð¸Ñ‚ÐµÐ»ÑŒÐ½Ð¾ ÑÑƒÑ‰ÐµÑÑ‚Ð²ÑƒÐµÑ‚, Ð¼Ñ‹ Ð´Ð¾Ð»Ð¶Ð½Ñ‹ Ð±Ñ‹Ð»Ð¸ Ð±Ñ‹ Ð¸Ð·Ð±Ð°Ð²Ð¸Ñ‚ÑŒÑÑ Ð¾Ñ‚ Ð½ÐµÐ³Ð¾”, God and the State, 1882). But God is here to stay. Either because I choose to believe in Him or, as an ardent democrat, because I wish to defend each and every individual’s right to believe whatever s/he damn well likes including a chosen God of a chosen faith. Such freedom of choice is a non-negotiable in my Republic – along with peace, compassion, humanity, equality and many other desirable qualities.
Few would doubt that Islamophobia is on the increase. A glaring example of the spread of Islamophobia – amongst many – is the alleged Trojan Horse affair. The whole alleged exposÃ© was full of hypocritical double standards and staggering misinformation.
The former head of the Metropolitan Police, Peter Clarke, wrote a report which alleged that there was evidence of “co-ordinated, deliberate and sustained action to introduce an intolerant and aggressive Islamist ethos into some schools in Birmingham.” Apparently, there was a “sustained and co-ordinated agenda” to impose upon children in a number of Birmingham schools “the segregationist attitudes and practices of a hardline and politicised strain of Sunni Islam [which] left unchecked, would confine schoolchildren within an intolerant, inward-looking monoculture that would severely inhibit participation in the life of modern Britain.” (Guardian, 18.07.14).
What an egregious and one sided view of the world! We await further reports on the risks posed by Catholic schools’ attitudes to contraception, abortion, creationist science, transubstantiation, infallibility of the Pope, homophobia…etc… How utterly unBritish! We also await a report on the Jewish school that prohibits women from driving their children to their school, that told its Jewish students that they were “the Chosen People” which, in turn, justified the dispossession of indigenous Palestinians in order to make way for the Jewish State. OfSTED will undoubtedly condemn Church of England schools for having the Lord’s Prayer and celebrating Christmas – after all, the Nativity Play will cause offence to many people who have no faith.
But would OfSTED ever do this? Of course! Her Majesty’s Chief Inspector Sir Michael Wilshaw, who is normally so self engrossed that he sees nothing but his own reflection, says “a culture of fear and intimidation” exists in “Islamic” schools… and, presumably, in a huge number of academies run by Trusts whose so-called Chief Executives have little or no experience of education and whose ‘business’ approach squeezes the life, creativity, compassion and learning out of exhausted teachers who are leaving the profession in thousands. So, Church of England, Catholic and Jewish schools = good. Muslim schools = bad.
Meanwhile, we appear utterly unmoved by disturbing research findings using data from the Office for National Statistics’ Labour Force Survey of more than half a million people. The research found that “Muslims are facing the worst job discrimination of any minority group in Britain” (The Independent, 30.11.14). This is apparently caused by “placing Muslims collectively at the lowest stratum within the country’s social or ethno-cultural system due to growing Islamophobia and hostility against them.” (Ibid.).
OfSTED will, of course, employ its newly found sensitivity to expose the school based causes of this Islamophobia. As children, we were always told that two negatives make a positive. Two positives, however, never make a negative. Yeah! Right! And, apparently, this glaring discrimination against Muslims “could undermine their willingness to integrate in the wider [British] society.” (Ibid).
It has been agreed that the English science curriculum must include the theory of evolution. Ignoring it, or replacing it with the story of creation only, contravenes statutory requirements. Yet, although it advised its students to ignore examination questions on evolution, the Yesodey Hatorah Senior Girls’ School, a state-maintained Charedi Jewish secondary school was still rated “good” by OfSTED (The Independent, 20.06.15).
There was a further disturbing finding. 71% of independent Charedi or ultra-orthodox Jewish schools were deemed “good” or “outstanding” when inspected by Jews. Only 22% of such schools were deemed “good” or “outstanding” when inspected by non-Jews (The Independent, 20.06.15). Of course, Sir Michael Wilshaw was adamant that “his” inspectors were utterly “impartial.” (Ibid).
It requires a lot more research to determine if such discrepancies show discriminatory behaviour or pure misperception or behaviour through ignorance. At best, the non-Jewish inspectors did not have sufficient knowledge and understanding of Judaism. At worst, the non Jewish inspectors’ behaviour was anti-Semitic. One wonders how many of those inspecting Muslim schools (or schools with mostly Muslim students, staff and governing body) were inspected by Muslim inspectors. Not many, presumably, since Muslims are some “76% less likely to have a professional job of any kind compared to white, male British Christians.” (The Independent, 30.11.14). Whichever way one looks at it, many inspectors such as those given as examples above, could not possibly be deemed to be “impartial”.
These “impartial” inspectors “failed” the Sir John Cass’s Foundation and Red Coat Church of England School – “one of the country’s most successful inner-city state school” (The Independent, 30.11.14). This decision was based on a spurious safeguarding issue – a sixth form Islamic Society Facebook page with some links to “hard-line Islamic preachers” which risked making “pupils vulnerable to radicalisation.” (Ibid).
So much for sixth form students conducting research, participating in debate and engaging in critical thinking. Presumably, OfSTED will be invoking the safeguarding card when sixth formers in Jewish schools have links to Jewish Settler speakers, to right wing Israeli politicians’ websites…etc… Similarly, OfSTED will condemn Catholic schools where sixth formers are discouraged from legitimising contraception or abortion…etc…
This sounds remarkably like OfSTED and other snooping governmental organisations are tasked to police British Muslim society whilst eschewing any such policing of British Christian and Jewish societies. There is little evidence of any Trojan Horse. This is a ploy to devalue Muslims and limit their national impact. If that is not Islamophobia then destructive OfSTED is the teachers’ best soft and cuddly friend!Tags: Europe
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi