Friday, July 08, 2005

Bombs that silence dissent

Most of the bloggers I read live outside the UK, which probably explains the sudden increase in traffic to my blog during the last 24 hours. Perhaps people appreciate that its not always easy to understand events – specifically the London bombings and its aftermath - from the perspective of another nation and culture. This was evidently true in the views of one otherwise astute blogger-friend from the USA, who thought Massoud Shadjareh, Chairperson of the Islamic Human Rights Commission, was probably sensible in advising British Muslims to "remain vigilant and calm and stay indoors." Of course, there is an issue of safety, but Massoud Shadjareh’s comments – like his ill-conceived Islamophobe of the Year awards – were utterly counterproductive, disproportionate and irrelevant to the real threat facing Muslims in Britain post 07/07.

Iqbal Sacranie, the Muslim Council of Britain frontman recently knighted by Bliar's government for his service to grovelling, was quite right to describe Shadjareh's advice as 'irresponsible'. But Shadjareh is symptomatic of a wider problem. When one Oxford-based Muslim scholar recently lamented that British Muslims simply "didn't have the people" to build a leadership base comparable to the Jewish and other minority communities, he was thinking of self-appointed ‘leaders’ like Shadjareh, who was not entirely alone in responding to yesterday's tragic events in London with his brain switched off. Thankfully, there have been sufficient sensible voices, mostly from coalitions like the Muslim Council of Britain and the Muslim Safety Forum, to ensure British Muslims were better advised following yesterdays attacks, but not before Shadjareh’s appeal to paranoia had found a sympathetic ear in the offices of the Press Association.

Muslim blog-comment following the events yesterday partly focused, quite rightly, on the political injustice surrounding the terror and counter-terror of Al-Qaeda and Empire. Worthy as they are, these responses need to be put into the context of what the mainstream British press and TV and the majority of politicians are saying. Most of the media, typically, have downplayed the political nature of the bombings, focusing instead on personal narratives and issues of the emergency services’ technical efficiency. Both media and government have highlighted the usual nationalist tropes of British stoicism and resolve. But in the interstice permitted for political comment, Bliar’s spokespeople have been keen to deny any political motivation to the bombers whatsoever. Appealing directly to the mass circulating tabloid press, the assertion is that the “terrorists responsible for this outrage” are insanely irrational and driven solely by a demonic nihilism.

Next to the senseless loss of life and the suffering of those injured and traumatised as a result of yesterday’s attacks, the greatest tragedy is that the voices raised against Empire, so vocal around the Gleneagles G8, voices which were beginning to filter their way in the mainstream media and popular thinking, have now been either silenced or debased by the bombs of the 07th July. Now these voices are struggling to be heard, because media and politicians consider it legitimate to denigrate and deny platform to anyone voicing such opinions. Why? Partly because of the shift in media attention, of course, but also because Some of al-Qaeda’s grievances are shared by anti-globalization protesters and Muslims, particularly the occupation of Iraq. Most British people know that. And Bliar's government knows that. So from now on, don't mention the war - or at least the REASONS for the war and its wider political context - because someone might think you're on the side of terrorism.

The silencing of dissent was a fact fatefully acknowledged by Iqbal Sacranie when he appeared on BBC Newsnight yesterday evening, in his reluctance to even get drawn into the politics surrounding this attack, instead seeking refuge in the fact that claims of responsibility made by an al-Qaeda group have yet to be “officially” verified. Media-savvy Sacranie, whose ardent call for British withdrawal of troops from Iraq have rarely found a platform in the mainstream media, understands all too well the need to stay schtum on such matters whilst he works with journalists, senior government officials and police to ensure post 07/07 British Muslim safety.

It may seem plausible to argue that the terrorists who perpetrated yesterday’s outrages and events such as the Coalition’s decimation of Falluja are equivalent crimes against humanity, and that the blood of British and American citizens is always seen as more valuable than that of Muslim towel heads and sand-niggers. But this line of thinking fails to take into account what the London bombers ‘achieved’ yesterday, which was to silence dissent against Empire. They didn’t just kill and injure innocent people; they wounded the hopes of those Muslims and others who want to wake up the world to the post-Soviet political settlement, which has seen neoconservative economics walk fist in glove with American militarism. There is a great evil in the world; but a more sinister evil emanates from those who, even by default, silence its critics. That is why I condemn yesterday’s attacks in London as the greater outrage.

UPDATE on Friday evening: sadly, the Islamic Human Rights Commission have managed to again issue alarmist advice via the Muslim Security Forum, which includes a list of 24 dos and don'ts for frightening British Muslims. I actually think engendering this kind of fear is potentially extremely divisive, effectively playing into the hands of the bombers. Worse still, the advice failed to include the most important safety tip - stay away from places or people who have been drinking!

5 comment(s):


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/08/2005 01:10:00 PM  

  • Wow... I take it you didn't read the post then. I guess that the lack of capitalisation proved a problem for you.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/09/2005 08:40:00 AM  

  • Salaams

    Yes, and there is the small matter of the fact that I am a not an emigrant. My father's family originate from Kent and my mother's from Yorkshire. One of my great Uncle's worked as part of the King's bodyguard.

    Not that I think my South Asian and Arab brothers and sisters have any less right to be in the UK. Rather, I think half-witted Islamophobes should be deported to Antartica, where they can bore the penguins instead.


    By Blogger Julaybib, at 7/09/2005 10:57:00 AM  

  • no way yakoub - i don't wanna send 'em to Antartica - those penguins have a hard enough life as it is -

    check out this cool documentary: march of the penguins:


    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/09/2005 11:05:00 AM  

  • Your curse is the evil bombers; our curse (I'm English, white, middle class and have no religion) is evil people like "anonymous" (8 July 10.33 pm). Both think that the crimes of individuals define the characteristics of a group. They do not. Let us unite equally against murderers and racists.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7/14/2005 12:52:00 PM  

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