An Odd Contrast

“Islam” and “Muslim” are not synonyms

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Another week, another atrocity. Sadiq Khan’s “new normal”? What has surprised me (no, not really) has been the different reaction to the actions of Darren Osbourne when compared to the reaction to the Westminster, Manchester Arena and London Bridge attacks. The Islamophiles at Jimmy Saville House have been gleefully chucking petrol on the anger the attack on the mosque has caused, just as last week they were happily fuelling the resentment caused by the fire at Grenfell House. To paraphrase the great George Orwell, as far as the BBC are concerned, all victims are equal but some are more equal than others.

I’d like to make a few observations, in no particular order…

The media have been quick to label the events in Finsbury Park as terrorism. Darren Osbourne has been labelled a racist, an Islamophobe and a white supremacist. He probably is, I don’t have a problem with describing him as such. His declaration that he wanted to “kill all Muslims” is taken at face value. There is no attempt to get at Osbourne’s ‘real’ motives – was he ‘radicalised’ by the mistreatment of Egyptian Copts, the authorities’ supine reaction to the grooming gangs in Rochdale, etc or by the brutal sex slavery inflicted on Yazidi women? Probably not. But when one of the London Bridge attackers shouted “this is for Allah” there was still the desperate attempt to look for any other motive – the Iraq war, the Palestine question, the price of eggs, whatever.

After every other attack, people are urged not to get angry but to simply get on with their lives. No such sentiments this time. I’ve read the Koran from cover to cover and I’m not aware of an Islamic equivalent of “turn the other cheek.” I fear we are in for a difficult few weeks and months.

Opposition to Islam is routinely described as “far right.” But Islamism is the most right-wing ideology around today – misogynistic, homophobic, anti-Semitic, kafirphobic, misanthropic. Even mainstream Islam seems pretty right-wing to me, wedded as it is to some rather old-fashioned ideas about, for example, gender relations. Jeremy Corbyn describes Islam as a “great religion” but I haven’t heard him say the same about any other manmade delusion.

One moment Sadiq Khan says terrorism is “part and parcel” of living in a city, now he says terrorism is an “attack on us all.” Make up your mind.

Since Osbourne’s reprehensible actions, there have been attempted Islamist atrocities in both Brussels and Paris. Neither got the level of coverage as Osbourne’s attack.

There is a difference in kind between the drunken fool Osbourne driving into the crowd outside a mosque and Salman Abedi’s carefully planned attack on Manchester Arena.

I made the mistake of clicking on a link of an argument between the repellent Piers Morgan and comedy racist Tommy Robinson.  I don’t know why anyone goes on Morgan’s show, all he does is shout and interrupt people. But Morgan’s demand to “show some damned respect for people’s religion” can only be met with one answer. No. I respect your right to practice your religion but I don’t respect your religion. I have the same respect for Islam as the BBC and the Guardian have for Christianity in general and fundamentalist Christianity in particular.

The victim complex is wearisome, Ali G was a joke. Saying “Is it because I is Muslim” is beneath contempt. This constant victim narrative is allowing some scarily right-wing religious bigots to hide behind the smokescreen of racism.

Finally, “Islam” and “Muslim” are not synonyms. I have no doubt that some people are racially prejudiced against people of South Asian, North African or Middle Eastern descent. I am also sure that Obsourne’s actions had a racist motive. But opposition to the shrill demands of conservative Muslims or fascist Islamists in not the same thing as racism. Hatred of people because of their “race” is always wrong. Opposition to ideas is the very essence of democracy.

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