Following the many comments made in response to my review of 'Make Me a Muslim', it struck me that it would make more sense to reply to the points in the form of an article rather than individually, owing to the overlapping nature of their content. This will also provide the opportunity to clarify some of my thoughts on the programme, the agenda it seeks to articulate, and Islamic doctrine and practice more generally.
Some readers of the review were evidently new visitors to the blog, and found the tone and content of what was presented here unpalatable. To them I offer not an apology, but a call for them to respect the right to freedom of thought, speech and expression; neither I, nor many of my regular blog readers, will bow to your demands to submit to your system of belief, whether it happens to be Islam or politically correct self-censorship. Intellectual pluralism is essential to the survival of any free society, and the right to criticise, ridicule and expose the negative aspects of doctrine, whether it happens to be religious or political, should not only be promoted, but demanded. For those affronted by what was written, I can only say that I and my regular readers are tired of your constant carping and belligerent insistence that we shut up and comply with your set of randomly assembled superstitiously sanctioned beliefs and cultural practices.
Upon the basis of reading one review, a number of ‘the affronted’ have managed to divine, apparently, the very essence of my being as well as my educational background and life experience, which they bizarrely adjudge to be of an exceptionally limited and ‘ignorant’ nature. The natural and frequent accompaniment to the word ‘ignorant’ is the term ‘bigot’, which given the undoubtedly bigoted position of those who have here freely employed that word, is deliciously paradoxical. Let me draw to their attention what the noun ‘bigot’ actually denotes: an individual who adheres to their opinions about something or someone and fails to modify these in light of evidence and logic that undermines the said opinions. A bigot is someone imbued with absolute certainty, or, to translate this into religious language, ‘faith’, and there exists no branch of humanity more self-assuredly and aggressively bigoted as doctrinaire Muslims who adhere to the literal ‘truth’ of the Qur’an and its associated traditions contained in the Hadith.
Not all people born into a Muslim background are doctrinaire, and thus are not bigoted fundamentalists. Indeed, the presenter of the programme – the personable Shanna – appeared to fall into this category. One new visitor laughably asked if I realised that I was being ‘anti-Islamic’: of course I was being anti-Islamic, for I see nothing of value in Islam that cannot be found outside of it, whereas conversely, I see much within that belief system that is backwards, vicious and deeply repressive. As for those who trot out the tired old line that you cannot judge the religion because: a) you don’t understand it; b) you’ve not studied it enough; c) you’re taking verses, beliefs or practices out of context; d) the Qur’an cannot be properly understood in translation, I say this: stop this blatant practice of deception and Dawah! We have no reason to waste our time toiling through your turgid self-justificatory celebration of misogynist irrationalism, cobbled together from the garbled leftovers of Judaism and Christianity with a bit of additional contradiction and hatred thrown in for good measure by way of original material. So, one of you did not like the fact that I described Allah as ‘a wily old fox’? What of it? It was a humorous remark. Given that he does not exist, it matters not how I refer to this hate-filled fictitious entity; you ought to be thankful that I did not refer to him in a more scatological fashion.
For those readers who describe themselves as ‘Muslims’ I ask them to take the ‘Quiz for Muslims’ at the following link, and to look at the vitriolic comments – from Muslims – that this quiz has elicited, for to date, not one of them has finished it. However, whereas it contains nothing offensive whatsoever, it does compel Muslims to reflect upon an unsavoury aspect of their ‘prophet’s’ biography which is accepted by Muslims to be ‘true’. Provide me with a straight and honest answer, and I will be impressed. This exercise will unfailingly differentiate decent people with a humane outlook on life, from those who deserve not to be trusted. So far as branches of Islam go, those who follow the Baha’i tradition would appear to possess a more decent and humane approach than those who do not.
Those who control language, control the debate
As some of my regulars have pointed out, use of the terms ‘Islamophobic’, ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Islamophobe’ is heavily politicised, with these three words having been coined with the purposeful intent of waging a cultural war against freedom of speech and expression. These words are designed to stigmatise individuals and groups critical of Islam and to shut down debate through implying that dislike of Islam is irrational, thereby facilitating the spread of Islam. Moreover, they are typically deployed in association with an array of words and their cognates that already possess a long pedigree of eliciting a negative emotional reaction in residents of western countries: ‘racist’, ‘bigoted’, ‘intolerant’, ‘hate-speech’, ‘fascist’, ‘extremist’ and ‘far-right’. It matters not to those who employ such language that the vast majority of their targets will not deserve any of these labels, for they know that mud sticks, and that if they repeatedly use these terms in close association, then significant sections of the public will be convinced that those seeking to defend their liberties and way of life are actually ‘fascists’, which is a complete inversion of reality; a form of Islamist and Leftist Newspeak.
Catuvellaunian proposed a neologism of his own derived from Classical Greek which rather appeals, for unlike ‘Islamophobia’ it accurately encapsulates a position that he, I and many others share: Islamoantipatheia – a dislike of Islam. We are Islamoantipatheists, which is a bit of a mouthful, but it is nonetheless a term that deserves to be popularised, for whoever controls language, controls the debate. We are engaged in a cultural struggle, and it is a struggle that we must win. It is clear however, that we will not be able to rely upon the BBC to give us a fair hearing, for it is intent upon normalising and extending the influence of Islam. Why? As Ruth has pointed out, the Corporation is legally obliged to be impartial, but alas, it is clearly nothing of the sort.
‘Make Me a Muslim’, ‘World Hijab Day’, Halal Prison Food Outrage: The BBC's Week
One of the ‘affronted’ did not like my alleged insinuation that Aaqil Ahmed is a Muslim, which is odd, because he is a Muslim and is publicly declared to be such. I knew this when writing the piece, but chose not to state this and thereby encourage readers to search for more information on the man themselves and draw their own conclusions. He however, is not responsible for the all-pervasive pro-Islamic slant of the BBC’s output, for it is simply something that is deeply ingrained in the Corporation, with this week providing a particularly good example of this fact with the screening of ‘Make Me a Muslim’ on BBC3 on Wednesday and the promotion of ‘World Hijab Day’ on Friday – both focusing on and seeking to normalise non-Muslim women either accepting Islam or adopting associated cultural practices – and then yesterday running an outraged story over unspecified traces of pork being discovered in a number of halal prison pies and pasties. Why is so much uncritical attention being devoted to Islam? Is the BBC similarly outraged that the majority of non-Muslims are not notified when halal meat is sold to them in supermarkets or in restaurants? I cannot recall any outpouring of horror on the BBC’s part, can you? Why not? Halal slaughter is barbaric, end of story (cue idiotic comments appearing below about how halal slaughter has been ‘scientifically proven’ to be less stressful/painful for the animal, etc, etc).
The BBC is in the main staffed and governed by people who have fallen hook line and sinker for the fallacious set of assertions that ‘Islamophobia’ is akin to racism and that as a consequence we are never more than a hair’s breadth away from cattle trucks and the mass extermination of Muslims. Baseless rubbish of course, but it is a paranoid anti-British fantasy that courses through the veins of the Corporation, meshing with associated delusional narratives that feed into reflex assertions that anyone who objects to EU membership is a ‘xenophobe’, and those who oppose mass immigration are ‘racists’. The legislation subsequent to the wrongheaded Macpherson Report must bear a significant amount of the responsibility for this intrinsic bias, but what else may be at play? The Cranmer blog has something very interesting to say on this score.
‘Make Me a Muslim’: Superficial? What other factors were at play?
In the review I made reference to the above programme hiding more than it revealed, by which I meant that it failed to look at anything other than the most superficial proximate reasons for the adoption of Islam by the women it featured, and even then, the individual biographical and psychological details that were made available were sketchy. What it failed to analyse was the wider political, social and informational context within which these individuals had made their choices, and how their biographies and psychologies had been structured by radically different educational and social experiences, to those encountered by those of us belonging to older generations.
All of those featured were in their twenties and thus would have been no older than their early teens when Blair came to power in 1997; moreover, Claire and Inaya were 24, which means that they will only have been 8 or 9 at the time. They will thus have progressed through a schooling system in which the teaching of history was altered so radically as to strip out any sense of national narrative and continuity, focusing instead upon a disjointed heavily politicised and globalised curriculum imbued with a deep sense of cultural relativism – as a value system rather than a technique – and an ingrained anti-westernism. Coupled with this, they have grown up in the era following the implementation of the recommendations of the Macpherson Report, its invention of the concept of ‘institutional racism’ and attendant set of ‘diversity’ policies that demand ‘respect’ for ‘minorities’ and invoke a misplaced sense of racial and cultural guilt on the part of all native Britons. We have also seen the introduction of so-called racial and religious hatred legislation that has cowed critics of Islam and Islamisation.
These young women would have been approaching their early teens at the time of 9/11 and the subsequent reassertion of Islamic identity that occurred in the UK amongst immigrants from Muslim countries and their offspring in particular, a reassertion that was accompanied by a BBC going into overdrive to accommodate Islam and to make it appear unthreatening, ‘normal’, and just part of natural everyday life in the UK. This was a decade during which Saudi financial influence helped to proselytise Wahhabism in the UK through the funding of new mosques, madrassahs and the distribution of Saudi-printed literature, an influence that was also feared in nominally traditional Muslim states that were now in effect secular.
The Blair era and beyond also witnessed unprecedented levels of mass immigration into the UK and an explosion in the Muslim population, and whilst his administration promoted the dissolution of national identity as popular culture became obsessed with the vacuity of celebrity, Islam was permitted and encouraged to embed itself and to grow, developing a greater sense of security and self-confidence. In sum, might it not be that to a certain extent, the young British converts encountered in ‘Make Me a Muslim’ were a sign of a deep social malaise, a loss of confidence and identity amongst many young Britons fostered by the interweaving factors outlined above? If so, how tragic it should be that they chose to adopt such a backward and negative system of belief and practice. Such factors and the questions that they raise however, did not inform ‘Make Me a Muslim’, which thus remained a deeply unsatisfying programme undeserving of the title ‘documentary’.