The late, great Christopher Hitchens gave his excellent 2007 polemic God is NOT Great the subtitle “How Religion Poisons Everything.” The events of Wednesday 22/03/2017 in Westminster prove his words to be truer now than they were ten years ago. To all the old fashioned racists out there who wouldn’t know a Salafist from an Ahmadi (or frankly, a Muslim from a Sikh) and to the modern racists of the “see no Islam” faux-left, I say that the problem we are facing is religious-ideological not racial.
Did anyone else notice the reaction of the UK Establishment to this murderous, religion-inspired rampage? The House of Commons had prayers for the victims of the attack and England’s Chief Druid, Justin Welby, used his platform in the unelected House of Lords to drivel on about his own imaginary friend. So, the proper comeback to terrorism inspired by religion is more religion?
The response to these events from politicians in the UK (and the rest of the world) has been clichéd and formulaic. From Prime Minister Theresa May’s ghastly Churchillian rhetoric to London Mayor Sadiq Khan’s bromides about not “dividing communities,” no-one has shown real passion or anger about what has happened. (FYI Mr Khan, it would be better to talk about the London “community” in the singular if you really want to unite people). This is in sharp contrast to the intense debate about Brexit and the vicious condemnation of Donald Trump. It shows what the political and media class really care about.
I would also like to respond to the old and the new racists who have tried, once again, to make this all about the “Muslim community.” Such a community does not exist; for the ten-billionth time, Islam is not a race and nor is Muslim. If you don’t believe me, believe Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, “Islam is an ideology. It’s not a race.” The only people responsible for what happened on Tuesday are Khalid Masood and his god-bothering mates for egging him on. If you claim to know an individual’s deepest religious beliefs based on their ethnicity then you are just as much a racist as those idiots who claim men from the Middle East are all rapists. And don’t tell me 99% of people from Somalia, Saudi Arabia, etc are Muslims – all that does is prove the repressive nature of those societies. If you met an Egyptian, would you know if he was a Sunni Muslim or a Coptic Christian just by looking at him? Religion is a chosen identity, it is not racial.
A number of commentators have raised the usual straw man of the “far right” seeking to use the Westminster attack to further their racist agenda. I’ve written about this term before and it is one of the BBC’s favourite weapons they use to demonise anyone they wish to silence. The real far right in the UK has yet to recover from ex-BNP leader Nick Griffin’s car crash performance on Question Time in 2009. The repellant Britain First has a few thousand members and “struggles to get more than 150 people at public events.” Scarily right-wing Salafists control 8.6% of UK Mosques and according to the 2011 census there are 2,706,066 Muslims in the UK. This works out at 232,721 Salafists! By the way, this calculation is facetious. I don’t believe religion is a racial characteristic and I don’t believe 2,706,066 people are dedicated followers of Islam any more than I believe there are 31,479,876 Christians in the UK.
The best way to deal with the religious nutjobs who are behind attacks like the one in Westminster is to deny them what they want. They want desperately to be taken seriously and they can’t stand being laughed at. Both extreme Islam and its far right political offshoot Islamism are perfect for satire. The sheer absurdity of the Koran and the myths that surround the semi-historical founder of Islam are easy to laugh at. Where is the bitter scorn of Monty Python’s Life of Brian directed at Muhammad? The gentle mockery of Father Ted? The disgustingly unpleasant anti-religious art of “Piss Christ“? We need to start laughing, openly and loudly, at the ridiculousness of Islam in the same way we have laughed at Christianity. Here’s a few questions that should get the Salafi-Wahhabis going:
Why do jihadists get 72 virgins? Why not 71 or 73?
If your god is so perfect, why can he only speak classical Arabic?
If humans are so important to your god, why did he make such a mess of female genitalia that they need to be “improved” with razor blades or pieces of broken glass?
Who is the victim of the “crime” of blasphemy?
If your religion is so perfect, how can it be undermined by such prosaic things as women’s hair, ham sandwiches and cartoons?
And here’s one for the new racists of the faux-left…
If Islam/Muslim is a racial identity, how can people like Khalid Masood (born Adrian Elms)become Muslims?