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Jan 24 2012

Spot the agenda

The letter to the Guardian cited a survey.

“Muslims deserve a better press than they have been given in the past decade.” And according to a recent ComRes poll, one in three people in Britain today believe that the media is responsible for “whipping up a climate of fear of Islam in the UK”.

The letter calls it a ComRes poll, but that’s just a brand name. What it really is is an Ahmadiyya Muslim Association survey, and to be exact, it’s an Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK Islamophobia Survey. It’s not an impartial bit of research, it’s an agenda-driven poll.

The poll was commissioned by one of the UK’s oldest Muslim groups, the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, in order to inform its plans to counter the tide of prejudice against Islam and highlight strategies to promote better community relations.

The poll comes on the eve of Britain’s biggest annual Islamic convention which will see 30,000 members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community gathering at a 220-acre site in Hampshire. Foremost on the agenda will be ways to build bridges between communities and spread the word that Islam means peace.

That’s an agenda. The Ahmadiyya Muslim Association (it’s amusing that ComRes slipped and called it the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community) plans to counter “the tide of prejudice against Islam” – which is to say, it plans to persuade people that Islam is good. That’s an agenda. It wants to “build bridges between communities” (it’s been following Stedman!) and “spread the word that Islam means peace” – which is to say, it wants to persuade people that Islam means peace when in fact it means submission. That’s an agenda.

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  1. 1
    Your Name's not Bruce?

    Maybe they could hire Karen Armstrong. I know, she’s a woman, but still, she’s making the right noises. If they can find another woman who holds similar views, they will add up to those of one man. Did I get my math right? Or do female unbelievers have an even lower value than half a man?

  2. 2
    MosesZD

    Seems simple enough to accomidate that. As long as the Muslim community drops the demands for Sharia law. Drops the demands for unearned ‘respect.’ Stops casually threatening people with death. Stops treating women and children like garbage. And, of course, stops killing people over cartoons and different view-points than your own or their choice to not live in your barbaric, iron-age religion.

    But when you refrain from those basic civilized constraints and your western-living population believes/wants crap like this:

    In 2004:

    36 percent said they wanted Sharia law in the UK.
    Half said British people who insult Islam should be arrested and prosecuted.
    Almost 80 per cent said those who published cartoons of the prophet Mohammed should be punished. (BTW, the punishment is death so we all understand here…)

    In 2007:

    37 percent of young British Muslims want Sharia law in Britain.
    36 percent of young British Muslims think apostates should be killed.
    13 percent of young British Muslims said they “admired” Al Qaeda.

    And in 2008:

    40 percent support the introduction of sharia for British Muslims.
    33 percent support a worldwide Islamic caliphate based on sharia.

    You can pretty much go fuck yourself if you think you’re going to get any kind of respect or support anytime soon.

  3. 3
    stonyground

    I would concede that it may be a minority of Muslims that act like ignorant barbarians but they are the ones who make the news. Papers like the Daily Mail go out of their way to paint Muslims as bad guys but we also have the likes of the Guardian and the BBC who go out of their way to whitewash them.

    If Muslims want a better public image they need to clean up their act. Stop treatening people with violence, stop acting like spoiled toddlers over cartoons and stop lying about Islam not meaning submission but peace.

  4. 4
    Stephen Turner

    OT but interesting.
    There was a very interesting talk on the parallels between
    the construction of religious texts and comic books on BBC Radio 3 last Friday.

    It seems that worlds like that of Marvel Comics are
    full of inconsistencies and great effort is put by fans
    and publisher into ironing these out.

    The speaker (Jon Adams) relates this to how religions have chosen their
    canonical texts, and he tells us about a first-century
    text called The Infant Gospel of Jesus, which portrays
    the boy Jesus as a little monster.

    You can get the MP3 here as a podcast (15 minutes):
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/essay

  5. 5
    Eric MacDonald

    iSLaM, as I understand it, and SaLaM, both come from the same root SLM, but that does not mean that the word ‘islam’ means the same as the word ‘salam’. The first means submission and the second means peace. Hebrew works the same way. The root MLK is the root of the Hebrew word ‘Melek (king or ruler) or the Arabic word ‘Maalik’, but the same root, pointed differently, produces the name of the deity ‘Molek’ (Moloch, in the KJV). And apparently, one of the infinitive forms (returning to SLM) of the root SLM (‘Salama’) means ‘the stinging of the snake’ or ‘tanning leather’. It’s not only an agenda, it is a deliberately misleading one, because not based on an accurate account of the meaning of the words involved.

    But of course we all know that in practice no religions are relligions of peace, for the very simple reason that religions always invoke power and almost always abuse it. Power involves violence of various forms, whether in terms of coercion by threats, or physical force. Some religions with no experience of the Enlightenment are also foolishly skittish and sensitive when honour is challenged, which is done whenever the religion is criticised, challenged or dealt with in ways considered blasphemous (which can include practically anything). Such religions have no place in free societies, and must adapt or perish. The only way to force the issue is by criticising them in season and out of season, until they change features which are contrary to human rights, and learn to respond in terms of reasoned defence. This of course is the most difficult requirement, since there is no ultimate reasoned way of justifying religious belief, but, like those who are accustomed to Christian apologetics they can at least pretend. Those who cannot do this, but resort to violence instead, must suffer the penalties provided by the law for uttering threats of GBH or death, committing acts of aggression, or subjecting people (mostly women and children) to oppression and illegal restraint. Surely, it’s not so hard to understand this. Religions cannot prove that they are religions of peace by gathering in Hampshire.

  6. 6
    Ophelia Benson

    Yet Hampshire is so peaceful!

    :- )

  7. 7
    Eric MacDonald

    Well, yes and no, Ophelia. Aldershot is in Hampshire! :-)

  8. 8
    Deepak Shetty

    @stonyground
    I would concede that it may be a minority of Muslims that act like ignorant barbarians but they are the ones who make the news.
    Which would be valid if the “majority” actually spoke out against the acts. They rarely do. How many moderate/liberal muslims are willing to come out and state publically that its ok for non believers to draw (satirical) images of Mohammed drinking a beer ? Instead you hear the tired old how offensive this stuff is to them and how people are out to provoke Muslims.

  9. 9
    Ian MacDougall

    The letter to the Guardian is signed by Robert Pitt of the website Islamophobiaatch. [I'll call it IW for short.] This in turn features an attack on Joan Smith, the scare-quote featuring title of which (Joan Smith on ‘intimidation’ of Islam critics) gives the reader an idea of what will be found on reading further into it. Smith writes of the events that have been discussed on this site recently. IW quotes her as saying:

    “It’s been a dreadful week for free speech. A meeting at a prestigious London college had to be abandoned on Monday evening when members of the audience were filmed and threatened by an Islamic extremist. Then the president of a student society at another London college was forced to resign after a Muslim organisation called for a ban on a joky image of the Prophet Mohammed. Finally, on Friday, the author Sir Salman Rushdie cancelled an appearance at India’s largest literary festival, saying he feared an assassination attempt after protests by Muslim clerics.”

    IW proceeds to deconstruct Smith’s assessment, concluding:

    “So, to summarise, we have one individual who disrupted a meeting, a polite request by an Ahmadiyyah student group that an illustration which offended Muslims should be withdrawn, and a dubious report of a threat against Salman Rushdie which Rushdie himself says in baseless. And this supposedly amounts to a pattern of Muslim intimidation of critics of Islam.

    “You might think that Joan Smith’s ill-researched, inaccurate, dogmatically secularist scaremongering plays directly into the hands of the far right and will be used to bolster a racist narrative about the Islamic threat to the West (which results in real acts of violent intimidation, against the Muslim community and its supporters). You’d be correct.

    “Update: Smith’s article has been reproduced in its entirety on the EDL-admiring hate site Bare Naked Islam.”

    My conclusion (and this is me, IM, speaking here): if I don’t want to play into the hands of the lunatics of the far right, I’d better remember to be always polite about Islam and lots of the behaviour of lots of Muslims.

    NB: I’m not as silly as I look.

    http://www.islamophobia-watch.com/islamophobia-watch/2012/1/23/joan-smith-on-intimidation-of-islam-critics.html

  10. 10
    rogerallen

    There’s a certain irony in Ahmadiyyas complaining about hostility to muslims. In Pakistan, where they originated, Ahmadiyyas are so hated by other muslims that they are legally forbidden to call themselves muslims.

  11. 11
    evilDoug

    One the matter of “ordinary” Muslims not speaking out:

    I can see a variety of reasons for this.

    The worst case that I see is that they in fact are not moderate and they do support ideas such as imposed shariah, death to apostates, and other such horrors. I really hope such Muslims are a tiny minority.

    I would guess that the reason many don’t speak out when they don’t like what the Islamists are doing is because they are simply too busy with trying to get through life – working, taking care of families and all that other stuff that seems to eat up every minute of every day.

    Some, especially recent immigrants and most especially refugee immigrants, probably feel that it isn’t their place to raise any kind of fuss about anything in their new country.

    Sadly, I expect some do not speak out out of genuine fear. The attempts at intimidation of us “outsiders” seem to work pretty well too damned often. Imagine being an “insider”, where you risk being labeled an apostate or enemy of Islam. Where do turn if your “own community” turns against you, again, especially if you are in a new homeland?

    The whole business of questioning why moderates don’t speak up comes up time after time. I see many liberals poopooing the whole notion that they should. Personally, I don’t expect the “ordinary” Muslim to speak out publically. I would expect them to express disapproval in a “private setting” if asked. I don’t expect them to get together and buy billboards. What I bloody well do expect is for those who have existing public positions and platforms, such as community leaders, clerics and politicians to speak out of their own volition. If such people fail to speak out, I shall consider them complicit with the Islamists.
    ~~~
    Greg Laden posted a short video of US President Obama ripping a bunch of GOPers new cloacae (on an entirely different matter). That is what I expect of those who have existing platforms. Three and thirty cheers for Mr. Obama.
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/xblog/2012/01/24/republicans-act-like-jerks-get-dressed-down-by-president/

  12. 12
    LibertyPhile

    Here we go again. “Islamophobia”, it’s all the fault of the media. It’s nothing to do with Islam itself!

    The Search for Common Ground study (commissioned by Ken Livingstone when he was Mayor of London) in one of its major sections recorded the verbatim remarks of six Muslim journalists.

    The aim of the study was to denigrate the Press but these remarks provide a glimmer of light as to the truth which the authors of the study studiously ignore.

    “If a story’s there and it’s the biggest story in town they have to cover it. If it’s what your readership asks for, you will respond. …. If you are a news editor getting letters saying you need to be stronger on this stuff, you will … Some of the reporting after the London bombs was very good. It was reported very well and very sensitively.” (Journalist A, p241)

    “I think the press has been pretty fair to Muslims. They don’t really need to stitch people up, they do a good enough job of that themselves. My view is Muslims have got to address issues themselves, things like anti-semitism and homophobia that seem to be unchangeable within Muslim communities. As far as I’m concerned newspapers just report them as they are.” (Journalist B, p242)

    “I take issue with many things done by British Muslims. If the media was doing its job it would help Britain’s two million Muslims to be able to develop a kind of reasoned, questioning attitude within itself. And you are beginning to see that a bit.” (Journalist C, p243)

    These Muslim journalists don’t see any great failing in the media in regard to Islam or Muslims. In the main their concerns are those of any journalist or career minded person. Perhaps because they actually work on the front line and deal with real cases and real people they also know that the occasional press stupidity is the price of a free press.

  13. 13
    Bruce Gorton

    Imagine being an “insider”, where you risk being labeled an apostate or enemy of Islam. Where do turn if your “own community” turns against you, again, especially if you are in a new homeland?

    Especially if in this new homeland the local liberals are less likely to help you after you start getting death threats, or even outright physical attacks, than the bloody xenophobes are.

    It takes a pretty strong personality, with pretty strong disagreements to stand up and say “no” in those circumstances.

  14. 14
    Deepak Shetty

    @evilDoug
    Some, especially recent immigrants and most especially refugee immigrants, probably feel that it isn’t their place to raise any kind of fuss about anything in their new country
    Ok. So Muslim majority countries with native Muslims shouldn’t have this problem right?

  15. 15
    evilDoug

    Deepak,
    My remarks were specifically about Muslim people in “western” countries, and they are not anything I can support with evidence. In Muslim majority countries, those of “low social status” probably (and I’m guessing) don’t have a lot to say, or much of an opportunity to say it in any way that will be noticed. For people with higher social status – I really don’t know. Fear? Indifference? Complicity? Inertia? What is your take? Can someone else offer some perspective?

    If I were to look at failure of “moderate” Christians to speak out against “radical” Christians in Canada and the US, I would rate indifference and complicity as the key reasons – and I don’t know which would rate higher.

  1. 16
    Religions are totalitarian. If we cannot criticise religion, we cannot be free. « Choice in Dying

    [...] Wheels, has a whole series of posts on the problem of free speech: Everybody to get from street, Spot the Agenda, Say more good things about Islam please, It has come to our attention that you are wicked, and [...]

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