With support for the ludicrous occupation of Afghanistan flagging, government efforts to ramp up Islamophobia become ncreasingly febrile. Now we have the deeply unlovely taxpayer funded Quilliam Foundation
being paid by Newsnight to produce a piece exposing the Islam Channel as a biased and unbalanced source of Islamic propaganda. It will be hitting our screens sometime in the next week.
I am really glad the government funds the Quilliam Foundation. Without their sterling work, we might all have been taken in – I am sure that I for one thought the Islam Channel was Movies for Men plus one hour.
Just as with Andrew Gilligan’s execrable piece on the East London Mosque,
I have no doubt that we will learn that the Islam Channel contains people who are homophobic, have regressive views about women, want to impose sharia law on the UK, etc.
Nobody deplores theocratic government more than I do. Faith may motivate individuals but religious dogma should not be imposed on society. But many good Muslims believe that, for the proper order of society, the laws established by Mohammed to govern Medina 1500 years ago should be imposed universally now.
They are quite entitled to believe that, just as I am quite entitled to disagree. Probably a majority of British Muslims would agree with Quilliam that precise laws need to be updated for modern times and maybe it is unrealistic anyway to want to impose Islamic law in a country with 3% Muslims. But some deeply religious Muslims want to proselytise and impose, just as Livingstone wanted to impart Christianity and Christian values on an Africa where Christians were at the time a tiny minority. We are more than entitled to think they are wrong, but the proponents of sharia law are in their own eyes trying to save us from our sins.
What we have seen in the “War on Terror” is a growing intolerance of this Islamic proselytising, and increasing efforts to ban groups or outlaw activity which seeks to campaign for fundamentalist Islam. Yet at the same time we are urging young Muslims to eschew political violence and engage in the political process. If we forbid the outlet of political organisation and activity such as campaigning and broadcasting to the tiny groups of extreme Muslims, we grant them more publicity than they merit (as Newsnight is about to) and appear to justify those among them who argue that there is no freedom in the West and the way forward is violence.
Still there’s good money in it for the Quilliam Foundation and hacks like Gilligan. And it all feeds in to the ridiculous line that killing Afghan civilians keeps us safe in the UK.