Wednesday, October 18, 2006

The Provocation Continues......

Over a week has passed since Jack Straw made his remarks about Muslim women wearing the veil. Since then, we have had the non-story about the classroom assistant who refused to remove the veil in front of her male colleagues. The media repeated the same mistake again and again by implying that the woman involved was actually teaching children at the front of the class. Of course, right-wing groups (like our 'socialist' government) and far-right bloggers jumped on the story and used it as evidence of the Muslim populations lack of will to integrate within our society. Some of the rhetoric is getting so out of hand, it is beginning to feel like a throwback to 1930s Germany.

Predictably, this rhetoric is provoking horrendous acts upon innocent civilians all over the country. Whether by accident or design (I suspect it is the latter), many on the far-right are fermenting an environment of hatred towards Muslims in our communities. Every time there is an increase in this kind of racist, baseless rhetoric, there is a sudden rise in violence towards Muslims. This, in turn, is barely reported in the media which then leads to further aggravation amongst the Muslim community. Since Straw made his comments on the veil, there have been a range of violent attacks, including:

Friday 6 October: Muslim woman had her hijab pulled off and thrown on the floor by a white man in east London. Muslim woman had her veil snatched from her face in Liverpool. Muslim girl wearing a veil in StrawÂ’s Blackburn constituency was verbally abused by three youths.

Saturday 7 October: Two Asian men were attacked by racists in Leicester, one critically injured.

Sunday 8 October: Racist graffiti was daubed on a house on Teesside.

Monday 9 October: A 21 year old Turkish woman wearing a hijab was verbally abused by a white woman in Canterbury, Kent. A black Muslim woman wearing a veil was verbally abused in Hackney, east London.

Furthermore, an imam was attacked in Glasgow inside his mosque by a white man in a racist attack. Mohammed Shamsuddin was punched and kicked by his attacker, who also hit the 53-year-old using a chair and a safe deposit box. This incident follows a recent fire attack on a mosque in Falkirk which caused £10,000 worth of damage.

The government, along with their right-wing cohorts, have encouraged this despicable behaviour. They continue to demonise the Islamic community in an attempt to justify their vicious wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The more they can create anger amongst Muslims, the more they can justify their wars and their illiberal measures. The more they create a divide in society, the more that people will turn to extreme measures to be heard. There has been a massive increase in the terrorist threat ever since the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, whatever the government and the far-right would have you believe. There is no doubt that they are provoking this divide for political gain. The more they can provoke an angry reaction from the Islamic community, the more they can point at them as evidence of extremism, no matter how reasonable their response. This, of course, has the added bonus of distracting an increasingly sceptical public about the merits of the attack on Iraq. After all, the official reason for the war in Iraq has changed from being about WMD, to facing down the 'extremists'. What better way to present your argument than to continually present 'extremist' images to the general populace, particularly in our communities? By drawing a parallel between the 'extremists' at home and abroad, the establishment aim to justify their support for the illegal invasion of Iraq and build public support.

As far as the Labour party are concerned, they have hammered the final nail in the coffin of their relations with the Muslim community. Never again will the Muslim population turn to the Labour party for support, given the disdain shown by the leadership. Even the BNP have been caught by surprise for this attack on Islam, as one activist said:

'New Labour ministers are scrambling over one another to become number one hate figure amongst the Muslim community, leaving BNP spokesmen trailing.'

When the BNP are getting left behind by the rhetoric of the party of government, there has got to be something wrong.

Interestingly, this talk of Muslim extremism has pushed a growing extremism out of the headlines of late. The capitulation at the hands of the Christian lobby by Blair and Kelly have set a worrying precedent for democracy in this country. There is a growth in Christian fundamentalism that, although not on the same scale as America (just witness the recent documentary, Jesus Camp) , is threatening to usurp basic democratic principles (and is routinely ignored by the right, for obvious reasons). We have seen this before with James Dowson's attack on a school teaching sex education and Christian Voice's attack on our culture, and now it is having a profound effect on the day to day business of government. Everyone is well aware of Kelly's involvement with the secretive Opus Dei and Blair's commitment to convert after he has stepped down, what we are witnessing is a very steady erosion in the separation between state and the church. It is interesting to note that as the attacks on Islam grow stronger, so does the influence of Christian extremists in government. It certainly appears to be the case that the west is pushing ever closer towards a white, Christian order and the demonisation of Muslims is part of the way towards that goal.