BRITAIN: On the 8th anniversary of the 7/7 London bombings, and in the aftermath of the killing of British army soldier Lee Rigby, much evidence suggests that so-called ‘Islamophobia’ has moved beyond small fringe far-right groups to being far more widespread across broad sections of the population.
al-Jazeera While the majority of Britons certainly do not regard Muslims as terrorists or terrorist sympathisers, the proportion leaning towards this position has doubled since 7/7. In 2011, 75 percent viewed Islam as the most violent religion and 43 percent saw Muslims as fanatical. Large segments of British society today accurately believe that Muslims possess dual loyalties and the number of those who perceive Islam as a threat to Western liberal democracy has risen sharply.
In a survey conducted immediately after the Woolwich murder, 59 percent of respondents regarded a “clash of civilisations” as inevitable, with only a third, in contrast, deeming Islam as compatible with the “British way of life”. (That many?)
So what or who is fuelling this belief? I believe that political rhetoric and the media has a lot to answer for. In a whole host of speeches and acts since July 2005,
Islamophobic anti-Islam discourse has become normalized and become more coded and subtle. (That’s bad, it should be more blatant)
Indeed, some believe that an underlying hostility and resentment against Muslim communities was lying dormant, only for Lee Rigby’s murder to spark its re-eruption with a sharp rise in
Islamophobic anti-Muslim attacks, from online and hate-filled speeches, to arson and the fire-bombing of mosques.
In the wake of the Woolwich attack, the home secretary, Theresa May, has outlined tougher pre-emptive censorship of internet sites, a lower threshold for banning extremist groups and renewed pressure on universities and mosques to reject so-called hate preachers (They should be deported or jailed).
A range of people and social groups, including politicians, judges, journalists, intellectuals and university authorities feel obliged to be co-opted into the process of detecting, monitoring and reporting “suspect” Muslim individuals and behaviours. (We don’t have to be co-opted, we do it willingly)
I slamophobia Anti-Islam blowback is becoming increasingly institutionalised – we find it in official policy documents and in the voices of state institutions and those holding authoritative positions.
Various research, including a 2010 report suggests that politicians – with their
sensationalised understandable focus on those Muslim groups that adhere to anti-western ideologies – have pandered to, fuelled and reaffirmed anti-Islam anxieties in their ambition to achieve electoral advantage. (And it works!)
And in the media, the broad tendency has been to magnify the
perceived actual threat posed by Muslims to entire communities. The public has been bombarded with negative and distorted accurate messages regarding Muslims’ inherent difference and incompatibility with “normal” values and “normal” ways of life – reason enough to view being anti-Muslim as acceptable and justified. (It IS!)
Compare Woolwich again with the death nearly 10 years ago of an innocent Iraqi hotel receptionist, Baha Mousa, who was kept hooded in British army custody for 36 hours and subjected to “appalling and cowardly… gratuitous violence”. For this, Corporal Donald Payne was charged with a war crime but was sentenced to only a single year in prison. What does such disproportion indicate? (Who cares? It was 10 years ago)
It is important we don’t forget how such actions, along with Islamophobic discourse and rhetoric, can play into the hands of extremist groups and provide the fuel for extremist messages. But eight years after the worst terrorist atrocity on British soil, it seems this lesson still hasn’t been learnt. (It is not so-called ‘extremist’ groups that hate you, it is ordinary British citizens)
FRANCE: Anti-Muslim blowback rising in France, according to so-called ‘Islamophobia’ group.
REUTERS Anti-Muslim attacks and insults have risen steadily in France in recent years as some politicians and media increasingly present Islam as a problem for French society, a Muslim rights group said on Wednesday.
Hostility rises when Islam is in the news, for example last year when an Islamist killed seven people or when a politician accused Muslim children of stealing classmates’ snacks, the Committee against Islamophobia in France (CCIF) said.
The CCIF welcomed a European Parliament decision on Tuesday to lift the legal immunity of far-right leader Marine Le Pen so she can be tried on racism charges for comparing Muslims praying in the streets here to the wartime Nazi occupation of France. (Marine LePen is right and this will only increase her soaring popularity)
The group said in its annual report that anti-Muslim acts rose to 469 last year, after 298 in 2011 and 188 in 2010. (Anti-semitic attacks, mainly by Muslims, are far more frequent that anti-Muslim attacks)
CCIF President Samy Debah said Le Pen and other politicians were making anti-Muslim rhetoric commonplace. France’s estimated five million Muslims form the largest Islamic minority in Europe but are poorly represented in politics and business.
“There is a link between the political discourse and the rise of these violent (in Muslim speak, ‘violent’ includes graffiti, hijab-pulling, and name calling) acts and discrimination against the Muslim community,” Debah told a news conference. “There is a link between the political discourse and the rise of these violent acts and discrimination against the Muslim community,” Debah told a news conference.
The CCIF report said anti-Muslim acts were increasingly aimed against people, especially women, rather than institutions such as mosques, cemeteries and shops. Attacks against mosques had almost doubled to 40 in 2012 compared with 2011, it said.
The report called France’s civil service “one of the principal vectors of Islamophobia” because it said bureaucrats often over-interpreted official secularist policies to wrongly refuse to serve Muslim women wearing headscarves. (Over-interpreted? France is a secular society. NO exceptions)
Debah said the CCIF hoped an investigating magistrate would now order Le Pen to stand trial for the comments about Muslims praying in the streets. This completely blocks some streets in large cities, which prompted Le Pen to describe it as an occupation in 2010. She used her immunity as a European Parliament deputy to avoid answering a summons to meet an investigating magistrate. “I stand by my words and I’ll defend them in court,” she told BFM television after the parliament voted to lift her immunity at the request of the snubbed magistrate.
Her National Front party ranks almost equal in polls with the main opposition UMP party, whose leader Jean-Francois Cope raised a storm last year by saying Muslim children stole chocolate pastries from non-Muslim classmates to keep them from eating at school during Ramadan. The National Front has also gained ground as high unemployment and an embarrassing scandal sap support for the governing Socialists.
Le Pen’s argument that she is being harassed by political opponents has proved popular with her supporters. If found guilty of inciting racial hatred, she would face a maximum penalty of one year in jail and 45,000 euros in fines.