Saturday, February 04, 2006

Taking off his turban, they said, is this man a Jew?

This week my normally liberal stance on things has been rather tested. First by the furore over some cartoons published in the Danish Newspaper, Jyllands-Posten and then by the trial of Nick Griffin and Mark Collett (nice French name that – so much for the indigenous people of the British Isles).

Of course I wouldn’t have banned those cartoons, but they were horrible. Well, not all of them, but a few were pretty nasty and the fact they appeared in series, as The Mohammed Series makes it clear to me that their sole intention was to shock people in general and insult Muslims in particular. The fact the cartoons depicted the Prophet Mohammed is of dubious relevance – nobody deserves their religion mocked in such a vicious manner.

At the same time, I have the strong suspicion that most of the people burning flags and issuing death-threats didn’t even see the thing, but what do we learn from this?

You have a big group of people who already feel persecuted. In some countries, they have been subject to violence en masse for reasons which could appear to be related to their faith. In other countries, they are subject to suspicion, increased police interest and various forms of abuse because of the supposed association between Al Queda and the Muslim faith.

So what’s about the worst thing a media organisation can do; criticise the culture and governments of Muslim countries? Criticise Muslim community leaders? Criticise faith schools and other forms of segregation? Discuss social problems faced by Muslim communities? No; all this stuff happens all the time. What is about the worst thing you can do to a person who feels isolated and hated, verging on paranoia?

Well, you take the piss out of them. Like that.

So whilst I’m disturbed by the ferocity of the reaction to a set of cartoons – which are at the end of the day, well, a set of cartoons - this was a big mistake.

As for Nick Griffin et. al., my logical mind says that he and the BNP should be allowed to say whatever they like, so long as nobody is subjected to it and so long as they don’t incite a criminal offence. But their words disturb me very much. That people can grow up in my country and say such things makes me ashamed to be British. However, that people can talk such utter cock and not fear violence or summary imprisonment is, perhaps, something we can be proud of.


Anonymous said...

IMHO, if some ignorant tw*t suggests everyone of your faith is a suicide bomber, it doens't really help your cause to say you'll bomb embassies...

marmiteboy said...

Griffen and Collet got away with it and it made me ashamed that they did.

Griffen spun the lie that asylum seekers were paedophiles who were grooming children for sex.He said this at a public meeting. It's on tape so there is no argument to whether he said this or not. He also said that Steven Lawrence was a drug dealer. Now his approach is two fold in my opinion. He wants people to believe his lies about asylum seekers so they will be attacked by his followers and other snall minded people and I also think he wants to stir up black and asian people so they resort to violence too so he can gloat and say I told you so. Collett likened asylum seekers to cockroaches and said that the majority were terrorists, where in truth the majority are fleeing from terrorism in their own countries.

My fear is that by not being convicted of these viscious attempts to stir up racial tension the BNP will now be allowed to say anything it wants. Hitler started by spreading lies about the Jews in Germany, he wasn't stopped and in the end he repeated the lie so many times that 6 million Jews along with countless Gypsy's, Disabled People, Homosexuals, Jevovah's Witnesses and political opponents were murdered in the camps.

I believe in free speech but in certain circumstances I don't believe people shouldbe allowed to spout shit like Griffen does. Mark my words if he ever came to power the first thing he would do would be to take away the right tospeek freely.

Anonymous said...

It is a basic tenet of the Muslim faith that you do not show pictures of the Prophet. Ever. They consider it blasphemy. I think it goes back to the prohibition in the Jewish Bible about not worshipping graven images.

Anonymous said...

Just thought - wouldn't it be fab if someone at the BBC did research into the Griffen and Collet family trees? I'm sure one of them must have some "skeletons" - illegal immigrant, Jew... Sadly black or Asian is probably unlikely.

Then they could do a "who Do You Think You Are?" on them - their face would be priceless!

Though they're the sort of people to wriggle out of it.

I wish instead of asking them if they're racists, reporters would ask "When did you last have a kebab/curry/non-British meal of your choice".

The Goldfish said...

Thanks for your comments everyone.

Hmm, Marmite, it is difficult. Like I say, I do feel very conflicted about this issue; I don't believe we should fight those who would remove freedom of speech by removing their freedom of speech. At the same time, I was so disgusted at their comments about Steven Lawrence - the fuss over his death was not because he was a hero, but because the police f*cked up so badly. So trying to make out he was a bad sort is totally irrelevant and yet so offensive - of course you can't libel the dead, so no crime was committed.

Charles, what you say is true, but I really don't think that's the point. Mohammed has been illustrated before - we had pictures of him in our RE books at school. So long as a Muslim didn't do it, I don't think they'd be too much fuss; it is far more the fact that his image was made and mocked that has caused this rumpus.

Vic, you are quite right. Anybody who looks around them, looks in the mirror and considers the surnames in their family tree realises that racial purity is crap. The BNP website conveniently cuts off the "contributing cultures of Europe" in 1000AD, just before the Norman Conquest (and thus the first mass immigration of Jews) into the country.

Mark Collet's name is French and no Celt, Angle, Saxon or Viking would have had hair that black. I reckon he's as about as British as Queen Victoria.