Islamic Human Rights Commission
14 July 2006
ALERT: Protest Islamophobic programme on Channel 4 ‘Who Represents Muslims’
Political Editor of the New Statesman magazine, Martin Bright (see IHRC alert ‘Protest Observer article on MCB, August 2005, https://www.ihrc.org.uk/show.php?id=1488 ), broadcast his views on what he defines as the greatest challenge facing society today i.e. the clash between Islam and the West (in his view). He places his fears in the context of a post 7/7 Britain waiting for further similar attacks. His criticism related to the title of the programme suggests that organisations such as the MCB and MAB represent a minority, possibly only 5 – 10% of British Muslims and that they represent political Islam. Whilst this may or may not be true, Bright implies that their association with the government somehow translates into the radicalisation of youth which again translates into anti-Western violence and terrorism.
The programme is Islamophobic in many ways but notably because:
(i) Bright talks up the idea of a clash of civilisations implicitly being played out on the streets of Britain. His narrative calls the interface of ‘Islam and the West as the defining issue of our times, and claims that the government’s engagement with organisation like the MCB and MAB is ‘appeasement’ of the very radical Islam the government is trying to tackle, thus implying that the events f 7/7 and their like are somehow related to the beliefs and policies of these organisations and any others that have ideas that can be described as ‘political Islam’
(ii) it suggests that for Muslims to be peace loving and tolerant they must be apolitical – thus calling for the disenfranchisement of Muslims in the UK, and the limiting of their freedom of belief and criminalising and demonising Muslim thought
(iii) he misleadingly associates ‘political Islamists’ e.g. the Muslim Brotherhood, as the cause of violence exemplified by 7/7
(iv) he castigates a Muslim foreign office official for his advice regarding certain Muslim scholars as somehow sinister or malicious. This is particularly ludicrous at a time when Lord Levy, whose appointment as Tony Blair’s Middle East envoy was publicised by the Labour Party in a Jewish newspaper as a sign of Labour’s support for the Jewish community, is being questioned in the honours for loans investigation by the police.
Please write to Channel 4 to complain about the quality and content of this programme. A sample letter is given below.
Channel 4 Television
124 Horseferry Road
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to express my deep concern regarding the broadcast of ’30 Minutes: Who Represents Muslims’ on 14 July.
The programme was essentially prejudiced against Muslims, demanding different standards for Muslims to adhere to than other minorities or indeed other citizens. Indeed all Muslims who believe in any form of political Islam are tarred with the same brush as the 7/7 bombers – a grotesque and dangerous caricature of Muslims in the UK.
The programme goes further to suggest that peace loving and tolerant Muslims are apolitical and that this must be the model pushed by government onto the next generation of Muslims. Not only does this call for social engineering, it clearly espouses the idea that Muslims must live by different standards than their co-citizens, and that they must be disenfranchised, if as the broadcaster suggests, the people of Britain are to be saved from further attacks.
More detailed complaints can be made about this programme but the above suggestion are troubling enough and the broadcasting of this diatribe can only fuel denigration of Muslim sin the public psyche and legitimise the further marginalisation of Muslims and the exclusion of various Muslim voices, something the programme title suggests it wants to facilitate.
Please broadcast an apology for the airing of this programme and an apology for the misrepresentation of the beliefs of the organisations pejoratively mentioned and the suggestion that there is a connection of any sort between their beliefs, political Islam as a whole and indeed all Muslims and those of the 7/7 bombers.
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\”And what reason have you that you should not fight in the way of Allah and of the weak among the men and the women and the children, (of) those who say: Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town, whose people are oppressors, and give us from Thee a guardian and give us from Thee a helper.\”
Holy Qur\’an: Chapter 4, Verse 75
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