by Ayesha Alam (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 43, No. 4, Sha'ban, 1435)
Hatred against Muslims is rising alarmingly in Britain. The number of attacks on Muslims, especially women in hijab, as well as on mosques is on the rise. There are also demands from fascist elements not to permit any more mosques to be built.
Ever so often, the US or Europe periodically dusts off the moth-eaten, threadbare issue of Islamophobia and unleashes social terror on its people. The latest concerto of this broken record is the UK, where media hysteria in the country about everyday, quotidian expressions of Islam tied to its British Muslim diaspora community is hitting a crescendo. From halal food to neighborhood masjids, Britons are being taught to hate and suspect the simplest, most basic provisions of Islam in the country.
Early in May 2014, the Bolton council’s planning committee unanimously approved plans to raze down the Sughra masjid — an innocuous one-story building that has been there since 1987 — and replace it with a three-story building. This is hardly an isolated decision hanging in mid-space; the anti-masjid campaign in Bolton has been circulating a petition that reached 500 names, and has received the support of right-leaning groups as far away as Yorkshire.
Political parties, ever-savvy to using social hatred as a way of gaining publicity and voters, have jumped into the fray.
Political parties, ever-savvy to using social hatred as a way of gaining publicity and voters, have jumped into the fray. The Ukip party’s Catholic candidate, John Kearney, accused Muslims of “having a contempt for human life” in his blog and declared that “anyone who doesn’t fear Islam is a fool.” “No, Islam is a religion and the Catholic Church with the Lord on her side is the only countermeasure,” he said. “But Catholics must know their Faith and they must be ready to die for it.” Elsewhere, he made a bizarre comparison to Muslims as persecuting Christians the way Rome persecuted the early Christian martyrs (isn’t the shoe on the other foot?)
Also recently in Britain, the long standing campaign of groups like the British National Party and English Defense League against halal food has reached a particularly shrill pitch. No doubt aghast by the fact that lifeless British food has been replaced by popular fare such as chicken tikka masala and roasted kebabs, Islamophobic groups have brought up the charge that UK businesses are secretly selling halal food to British customers, by implication somehow tainting them with Islam via their taste buds.
The Daily Mail ran a story on April 30, about how the fast food chain Subway has stopped catering pork in some of its outlets, no doubt a business decision as pork does not tend to sell well in Muslim areas. However, in the article, the reason is “Muslim force” and its impact on the British way of life, rather than basic business logic. In response, the Sun trumpeted the creative headline: “Halal Secret of Pizza Express.” Even the BBC jumped on the bandwagon (perhaps a ratings boost is needed by the declining news agency) that stores such as Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Morrisons, Waitrose, and the Coop were all selling New Zealand halal lamb.
The Daily Mail got creative with this lead, flourishing a May 7 article trumpeting on the “stealth takeover” of British supermarkets by Muslims. But if prose is not sufficient to rile emotions...
The Daily Mail got creative with this lead, flourishing a May 7 article trumpeting on the “stealth takeover” of British supermarkets by Muslims. But if prose is not sufficient to rile emotions, accompanying the article were photographs taken inside a halal slaughterhouse alongside the comment, “more than 100 sheep appeared to writhe in agony after being ritually killed.”
Not only does the British public have to fear Islam being secretly, covertly dosed to them in their food, but they also have to stamp out its insidious, pervasive, mystical influence on their children at schools. Seumas Miles writing for The Guardian on April 27 observed that the tabloid press has found a new, shadowy Muslim boogeyman secretly trying to impose Shari‘ah in the schools. “In Britain, the campaign against Islamist ‘extremism’ is once again in full flow,” he noted. “In fact, it is open season on the Muslim community. For the past few weeks reports have multiplied about an alleged ‘Islamic plot,’ code-named Operation Trojan Horse, to take control of 25 state schools in Birmingham and run them on strict religious principles.”
The message is that Muslims simply don’t belong — they do not belong in parent-teacher conferences at their school, they don’t have the right to purchase the food they wish to eat in the marketplace, and…
“Locals insist the reality is that Muslims, both liberal and conservative, have been getting more involved in their children’s schools to raise standards, not ‘Islamise’ them,” observes Miles. “But the result of the uproar has been to poison community relations and deter ordinary Muslims from taking part in civic life for fear of being branded ‘extremist.’” The message is that Muslims simply don’t belong — they do not belong in parent-teacher conferences at their school, they don’t have the right to purchase the food they wish to eat in the marketplace, and…
The impact of this public hate campaign has been spiking levels of hatred and intolerance inside Britain, where Muslims face hatred, discrimination, and exclusion in places of work, universities, shopping centers, and more. A report from the University of Birmingham titled “Maybe we are hated: The experience and impact of anti-Muslim hate on British Muslim women,” notes an increase in physical attacks and intimidation of Muslims, especially Muslim women, who tend to be a visible target.
“Racist rhetoric from the likes of the EDL and Ukip is definitely making things worse,” says Zab Mustefa, a British Muslim woman journalist. “I am definitely feeling more hatred towards Muslims as a result. I went to the police but they failed to investigate, let alone take any action. This was the point, that an EDL supporter was threatening to come and ‘teach’ me a lesson simply because I am a Muslim woman. I have been called many things such as hummus eating, camel shagging, Paki Muslim slut. No joke.”
Zab’s comments were reported in an article written by Ava Vidal for The Telegraph. Vidal also quotes a Muslim woman who prefers to remain anonymous for the article, “I was in London, and on the Tube and a group of three well dressed white men were sitting opposite me. One was looking at me singing ‘Kill them all. Kill them.’ His friend pointed out that I could hear him. The guy singing said ‘I don't give a f**k.’” Such KKK-esque hatred for any other racial or ethnic group would be intimidation, harassment, and unpardonable bigotry warranting a lawsuit. Here, in the UK’s increasingly toxic culture of Islamophobia, it becomes an expression of patriotism.
Not that former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is helping the matter in any way, shape or form. The friend and consultant for Egypt’s brutish General el-Sisi, Blair recently gave a speech where he defended el-Sisi’s takeover of the government and violent crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood. Blair’s business interests are tightly hitched to the neocon-NATO agenda for total war in the Muslim East, he also made sure to publicly support military intervention in Syria. Blair’s pitch tied blood-stained Middle Eastern politics abroad with the culture of fear and suspicion for Islam inside the UK.
“The threat of this radical Islam is not abating,” declared Blair “It is growing. It is spreading across the world.” So, in one dangerous stroke, Britain’s former Prime Minister linked the US encouragement of bloody dictators a la el-Sisi and violence-crazed militias like the NATO-armed goons harvesting death in Syria, with a tacit encouragement of violence against Muslims within the US and Europe. In short, Muslims don’t belong — innocent, ordinary Muslims holding down a 9 to 5 job, raising children and stressing out over bills, don’t belong on the neocon map of world domination.