Look! Over there!
Bizarrely, from the Daily Fail, comes good news for British moderate muslims. While arguing with idiots on the internet, of both the UK and US varieties, I’ve become accustomed to certain stock insults being thrown about. Formulas, oft repeated, are much easier than nuanced positions which modify to fit the facts. One of the ones often leveled at the moderate muslim community (apart from “There is no moderate muslim community”) is that if they existed, and cared, and were not tacit fascists, they’d be out in the streets protesting against or confronting the militants in their own community. Where are the moderate muslims shouting down Omar Bakri? Where are the muslim Britons defending our troops from the insults of extremists?
Well, Luton, apparently. The local community of moderate muslims (and Luton has lots of those) apparently did not like the men, or the morals, behind the infamous protests triggered by the return of the Royal Anglian regiment. They also didn’t like the football/fascist reaction. So on the 29th of May as the extremist faction tried to set up a stall and continue their campaign of hate:
[…] they were surrounded by a crowd shouting ‘we don’t want you here’ and ‘move on, move on’. The moderates chanted ‘Out, Out, Out’, and after an uneasy stand-off, police officers were able to persuade the extremist group to leave the area. Farasat Latif, of the Islamic Centre in Luton, which was firebombed after the protest against the soldiers, said moderate members of his community took action because police had failed to move the group on.
Mr Latif said: “We have been fighting these Muslim extremists for you. They represent nobody but themselves. The community decided to move them on because the police won’t. We have asked them, but they did nothing. I don’t know if they will be back. We have been the victims twice over – from the stupidity of Muslim extremists who metaphorically pour petrol and fan the flames of the right-wing extremists. This was a peaceful demonstration and we hope they get the message that the law-abiding community is sick and tired of them.”
And there you have it. I would very much like to be able to say that my first thought was something profound about doing multiculturalism right, but it wasn’t. My first thoughts were, approximately, “Stick that in yer pipe and smoke it, LfaT!”, followed by “Hmmm, football thugs connected to right wing extremists cause trouble again. Film at 11.” Of course, the conscientious reader will have noticed that the “football” link above 404s. There’s a reason for that: the article as originally published, charting connections between Dave Smeeton, Glen Jenvey and Paul Ray, has been self-censored after the fact. I wonder why that might be…
There are some very disturbing things in these articles, alongside the news that the reactionaries have been proved publicly wrong, again. For example, one Wayne King, a self-appointed spokesman for the right-wing extremists involved in the rioting, referred to his own side firebombing a mosque in these terms:
“Our community has been racially attacked for the last 10 years. A mosque in the town got set on fire a few weeks ago and it made national news but churches in Luton are regularly being set fire to.”
I’m sorry, are they really? Regardless of the main-stream media, google should surely have heard about this, but does not seem to have. In fact, the top few references in a search for ‘luton church fire’ are to church groups condemning the arson attack on the mosque. Assuming such attacks are going on against churches in Luton, is there any evidence that they’re being carried out by muslims rather than our own, home-grown, poor white vandals? The disturbing thing about this is not that a right-wing extremist should have publicly lied: it’s that the Fail neither challenges the assertion nor attempts to substantiate it. They just leave it hanging out there and hope no-one will notice. Clare Ellicott, you must do better: or start working for an editor who will do better for you.
That kind of editorial tactic may also explain the by-line on the more recent post. In a relatively balanced article about moderate muslims facing down and defeating their own extremist elements in the public streets of Luton, the by-line is ‘Daily Mail Reporter’. If they’re prepared to append their names to such idiocy as I have just highlighted above, why on earth would they hide behind generic by-lines when they’re reporting that muslims get it right?
The only answer I have yet come up with is that they are afraid that there will be a backlash, possibly physical, against the author of the piece. Now, I can only think of one group that might respond violently to a positive piece about moderate muslims: and that’s the Mail’s own pet extremists.
British muslims are socially conservative relative to their European co-religionists, but unusually dedicated and committed to their adoptive nations. I suspect I can see a reason for that: I suspect, though I can’t prove, that it’s to do with the percentage of the UK muslim populations whose origins are in India and Pakistan, either by way of East Africa or directly. Black African muslims tend to be less medieval than the hardliners from Arabia or Pakistan; second and third generation immigrants tend to be less hard-line in their own behaviour but reflect the values of their parents and grand-parents when asked. What matters here is that the Luton response is exactly the one the reactionaries have been asking for. British moderate muslims, acting on their relatively high commitment to their adoptive country and on their dislike of the idiots within their own community, took action against those extremists, in public, and without significant violence.
I do not expect the right wing to admit they were wrong; that’s the kind of thing liberals do. But I’d like to see them laying off on the insults in the comment thread, at least.