I won’t voluntarily agree to self-censorship

Islamist Inayat Bunglawala says the amount of negative stories is “demonizing” Islam and calls on the government to do all it can to “ensure a fairer portrayal, a more balanced portrayal of the faith of Islam” in the British media when appearing before the Leveson Inquiry (which is looking into increasing government oversight into the media, including bloggers).

Err, it’s easy to have a balanced portrayal. It’s Islamism that’s demonizing Islam more than anything else. We’re merely reporting on the ensuing carnage.

Getting rid of Islamism will do a lot to help save Islam at least as a private affair but that is not what Inayat wants, now is it? He wants us to stop talking so he and his buddies can bulldoze over civil society. Which is why he interchanges Islam and Muslim in order to make it seem as if criticism of a belief and a person are one and the same…

And of course everyone is so keen to appease at our expense. Lord Justice Leveson expressed sympathy for Bunglawala’s plea and said that any government regulation of the British media would have to extend to the Internet and include blogs.

Lord Hunt, Chairman of the Press Complaints Commission, has even gone so far as to invite bloggers on current affairs to voluntarily agree to regulation.

Well sorry but that’s not happening. I won’t agree to self-censorship even if you try and force me by regulating what I can say.

This tiny little thing called free expression is all I have at my disposal to fight Islamism, and no one is going to stop me from saying what needs to be said.

(Link via Roy Brown)


  1. Upright Ape says

    You rock, Maryam.
    And I wouldn’t worry too much. Nothing is as pathetic as a “request for self censorship”.

  2. Martyn N Hughes says

    I read about this on the National Secular Society’s website this morning.

    It’s absolutely depressing, but you’re right. I am not ‘self-censoring’ myself either.

    Lord Hunt and others can go whistle.

    As you once wrote.

    Freedom of expression – No ifs, ands or buts.

  3. says

    You can make anything sound benign/attractive by using the word ‘voluntary’.

    But ultimately you can’t polish a turd.

    There are other organisations/individuals who rely on people ‘voluntarily’ agreeing to regulate their behaviour without any formal legal basis (on the contrary, often with an illegal basis of the threat of violence). For example: the mafia, drug dealers, gang leaders, loan sharks…

    To that list of defenders of our civil liberties can be added Islamists – and those who do their bidding.

  4. Acleron says

    A more balanced portrayal would not be beneficial to Islamism. If the major media outlets were to report on its misogyny, unfairness, willingness to suppress free speech, bully boy tactics etc just in the UK I’d have more respect for the media.

    Yes, bring on balanced portrayal.

  5. says

    I thought quite a few of the instances raised by IB were fair enough. They were nothing like the kinds of points routinely raised here. They were the kind of story which prompted Hope not Hate to launch a campaign against the Daily Star. It’s important, however, not to allow any sympathy which one might have for criticism of that particular kind of coverage to drift into agreeing that criticism of Islamism, or indeed Islam, or of course satire should be (self)censored. I do hope, weather etc permitting, to be at the Free Expression march on Saturday, by the way.

  6. says

    Fantastic post Maryam and as always 100% spot on.

    It is of course no surprise to find that factually based valid criticism of an irrational belief is something they wish to see suppressed. If Mr Bunglawala does indeed wish to see fewer “negative” stories, then perhaps he should consider advising his “friends” to stop giving us so much to write about.

  7. says

    To be balanced in one’s writing does not need being accommodating.

    In writing about Anders Breivik (the shooter in Norway) we can ask the questions about whether he was driven by politics, religion, xenophobia, or if he is mentally ill. It is not balanced to attempt to justify actions. The same is true of any others.

    A balanced discussion of creationism or intelligent design vs evolution should include that the first two are religious concepts with no relationship to the facts, while evolution has been proven many times over. There is a difference between being balanced and being accommodationist.

  8. Jet says

    The problem with the ‘friendly, moderate Muslims’ is that they never seem to get in the news.. wonder why. Oh yes, perhaps it’s because they are smart enough not to think that they have to commit atrocities in the name of magical sky daddy. Or to insist that non-Muslims follow Muslim rules in countries that aren’t even majority Muslim citizenry. Or any of the crazy things that Islamists are portrayed truthfully in the media as doing.

    • says

      Please Inayat I know you like the back of my hand. I can see an Islamist a mile away. I know all your tricks and whilst you may fool some, you can never ever fool me. So yes it is very clever of me.

      • says

        One could argue that the testimony does not represent the full agenda of iengage (quite easily perhaps) or that the stronger examples of anti-Muslim bigotry in the tabloids might be used as leverage to start criticising coverage of hate preachers etc and making people feel that such points are ‘Islamophobic’- but I still thought much of the testimony was fine – it echoed my own reactions to such stories (I signed the HnH petition), reactions which are perfectly compatible with agreeing with a lot published here.

  9. Martin says

    Hi Maryam, please may I ask why did you cancel the debate in Ireland at UCC on 15th Feb? Hamza Tzortzis (not known for always telling the whole truth) says it was because you wanted to change the debate topic to “Secularism vs Theocracy”. It would be good to hear your version of what happened, thanks.

  10. Martin says

    I’ve just read Inayat’s testimony and submission and I have to say that he does point out some examples where the press have played on people’s fears with alarmist and misleading headlines that will fuel prejudice against Muslims. In some of the examples he gives, the stories turn out to have little or no substance and the headlines are misleading. There is a genuine problem here; it doesn’t all seem to be down to the inevitable mistakes you get in journalism. That’s not to say all his complaints are justified (I think the PCC was right to reject the Ld Ahmed example)

    I don’t think he complained about accurate stories and headlines that feature misbehaving Muslims (on the contrary – see pg4). Whatever you think of Inayat, Soeren Kern’s blog post title, “British Muslims Try to Ban Negative Reporting of Islam”, is a ridiculous mischaracterisation of his testimony and submission.

    For me, the only contentious issue is that he wants the PCC to allow 3rd party complaints, so a member of a social group such as Muslims can lodge complaints if they believe a story about a member(s) of that group is inaccurate. The justification being that they are somewhat effected as well as the person(s) being directly misreported about. That’s not a request for censorship, however; just widening who can report perceived inaccuracies.

    • says

      No one is saying racism doesn’t exist. The problem is they are mixing attacks on people with criticism of religion and they have political purpose for doing so. It is geared towards silencing criticism of Islam and Islamism and protecting Muslims. That is their excuse.

  11. Mriana says

    And you shouldn’t have to self-censorship. There isn’t a thing wrong with religious criticism. It’s probably what helps keep it from smoothing society and individuals.

  12. BillyJoe says

    “I am not ‘self-censoring’ myself either.”

    Let me do it for you then:
    I am not ‘self-censoring’ either.


  13. Sam C says

    Well Ms Namazie, what a nonsensical and nasty blog post! Clearly you didn’t bother to listen to or read Mr Bunglawala’s testimony to the enquiry. Instead, like the lazy irresponsible hate-mongers that he castigates, you just peddle a load of mis-representation based on your own prejudice.

    Your straw-man of Islamism is absolutely nothing to do with what Mr Bunglawala was talking about. He was talking about the racist prejudice against Muslims and the Muslim community spouted by the filthier parts of the British tabloid press. Whether we like it or not, there are a lot of decent people practising a variety of religions as members of various racial groups, and most sane people regard hate speech and attempts to stir up unfounded prejudice as unconstructive, and often illegal.

    Your attitude seems to be to tar all Muslims with the brush of Islamism, rather like some idiotic Christians might like to blame atheists for Stalin’s horrors. Or atheists might blame Christianity for the sectarian horrors of Northern Ireland. It doesn’t work; we don’t blame whole communities for the sins of a small minority. Or perhaps you do?

    This tiny little thing called free expression is all I have at my disposal to fight Islamism, and no one is going to stop me from saying what needs to be said.

    What a crusader! Such bumptious self-importance! Who’s trying to silence you? Not Mr Bunglawala, who you pompously malign from your custard-flinging high chair.

    You have two eyes, two ears but only one brain and one mouth. Better to read more, listen more and use the brain before speaking rubbish.

    • says

      Yes I know you think an attack on Islamism is an attack on Muslims. It’s not. There are many Muslims who hate Islamism and are fighting it tooth and nail. Plus Muslims or those labelled as such are the first victims of Islamism. It’s about taking sides as much as anything else. I side with people and you are free to side with Islam and Islamism.

    • says

      “Your attitude seems to be to tar all Muslims with the brush of Islamism”

      Wrong. Her point is to say that Islamists are Islamists, not that all Muslims are Islamists. Many people and many media outlets are confused about this. The BBC for years treated the MCB as both “moderate” and representative of UK Muslims in general.

    • BillyJoe says

      Speaking against Islam (dogmatism) is not the same as speaking against Muslims (victims of this dogmatism). It can, in fact, be the exact opposite (see bits in brackets above).
      And speaking against particular Muslims (like that idiot who cried because his particular god had been rubbished while, at the same time, calling for the death of someone who dared express another view) is not racism.

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