Friday, July 11, 2008

COMMENT: Cohesion or incoherence?

I've just visited the blogsite of the so-called Centre for Social Cohesion, started by the allegedly conservative and allegedly liberal UK thinktank Civitas.

And what is the common theme of this blog? Any mention of the British National Party? Any discussion on developments in Northern Ireland? Any word on poverty? Unemployment? Any comments on the recent controversy concerning the Australian staffer of the London mayor?

Nope. It's all about Muslims, Islam, sharia, honour killings, caliphate websites, public libraries conspiring with al-Qaeda, etc etc. The implication is clear - these dirty dark-skinned ugly Mozzlems are a threat to social cohesion. Charming.

Is this the best that so-called conservatives in the UK can come up with? Have they completely lost the plot? Are they obsessed with finding Muslim conspiracies as some Germans (and at least one Austrian) were with identifying Jewish conspiracies some 60-70 years ago?

This kind of thinking seems to have become mainstream in the United Kingdom. It isn't helped by irresponsible comments by self-declared Muslim spokespeople. But it also isn't helped by the hysteria generated by wacky media commentators and thinktanks.

Reuters recently reported comments made by Britain's first government minister of Pakistani Muslim heritage, Shahid Malik ...

Muslims in Britain feel like aliens in their own society and say they are targeted like "the Jews of Europe", the country's first Muslim government minister said.

International Development Minister Shahid Malik painted a bleak picture of the integration of 1.8 million Muslims, three years after Islamist suicide bombers killed 52 people on London's transport system ...

Malik, who has been the target of race attacks including a firebombing of his family car, said some media coverage "makes Muslims feel like aliens in their own country."

"If you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe," he told a documentary to be shown on Channel 4 television next week, marking the third anniversary of the attacks on July 7, 2005.

"I don't mean to equate that with the Holocaust but in the way that it was legitimate almost -- still is in some parts -- to target Jews. Many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way."

An ICM survey done for the documentary shows a narrow majority of 51 percent of Britons blame Islam to some degree for the bombings.

Islam is to blame for the bombings? Which Islam? The Islamic heritage of the 5 or so people who died in the bombings? The Islam of the first victim to be buried?

Are groups like the Centre for Social Cohesion really promoting social cohesion? Or are they really just adding oxygen to the fires of hatred and prejudice?

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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