Sunday, 6 March 2016

Brits for blasphemy (II)


Following on from Sue's post (and from two previous posts about the BBC's Innes Bowen)...


This morning's Sunday led with the news about Mumtaz Qadri's funeral, with Edward Stourton expressing his (understandable) astonishment that tens of thousands of people had come out to demonstrate in favour of an assassin and BBC correspondent Shaimaa Khalil echoing that, saying that if you'd have landed in Pakistan and seen the crowds you might have assumed Qadri was a national hero rather than a killer.

Ed then talked to Innes Bowen, BBC editor and author of Medina in Birmingham, Najaf in Brent:

Ed Stourton: Innes, what have you picked up on social media here, by way of indications of the sort of impact it's having in Britain? 
Innes Bowen: Very, very surprising actually to me. Shaimaa called the people who are regarding this guy as a martyr as 'hardliners' but in the UK the people who've come out in his support are people who were previously regarded as the most moderate of religious groups, and that's a group called the Barelvis - a Sufi group that controls about just under 40% of mosques in the UK. And these are people who have no connection with jihadist groups, who are really regarded as the love-and-peace wing of Sunni Islam in Britain. Yet some of their most prominent clerics have this week come out, calling this guy a 'martyr'. And this has caused quite a stir on social media. You know, it's brought other people out to say, 'No, this is completely wrong' - for example, the Association of British Muslims. One of their co-directors, Paul Salahuddin-Armstrong wrote, "Under no circumstances should anyone be celebrating the death of a convicted murderer as a saint". But in saying that he's actually coming out against his own Sufi order. A prominent mosque of that order in Birmingham - the Ghamkol Sharif mosque - on the front page of their website has something calling this chap 'a martyr'. 
Ed Stourton: What's going on? I mean, why from a moderate group (as you say) those sort of opinions? 
Innes Bowen: Well, the Barelvis have a very, very intense love of the Prophet Muhammad...Of course, all Muslims revere the Prophet Muhammad but with the Barelvis it's kind of done with a great intensity. And that does mean when there are things like any insults to the Prophet Muhammad or anything regarded as blasphemy that is when they are really roused. So over The Satanic Verses, the cartoons...the Danish cartoon dispute, that kind of thing, they will come out quite militantly. But this I think is really a quite dramatic development. 

Shaimaa Khalil then described how the Barelvis have also been involved in the Pakistani demonstrations, despite their having been the target of violence themselves from hardline Wahhabis mainly from Saudi-funded madrassas. These institutions have been vigorously trying to convert the Barelvis - at the insistence of the Saudis.

Then Ed Stourton continued his discussion with Innes Bowen:

Ed Stourton: Innes. You're sitting in Whitehall worrying about extremism and you pick up the kind of social media traffic that you've seen you're going to be...well...discouraged. 
Innes Bowen:  I think so. I mean, this was the largest Muslim...you know...Islamic network in the UK that was considered 'moderate' and now some of its most senior people and most important institutions are effectively supporting violent extremism. 

Well, quite.

That was good reporting from the BBC, wasn't it? As per Sue, they were not letting support for Mumtaz Qadri by British Muslims slip by under their noses, unchallenged and uncontested. And that's as it should be.

Let's hope their outrage here finally marks the start of the BBC investigating this properly - and prominently.

4 comments:

  1. So over The Satanic Verses, the cartoons...the Danish cartoon dispute, that kind of thing, they will come out quite militantly.

    I thought all that violence had nothing to do with Islam and was un-Islamic? Oops.

    I mean, this was the largest Muslim...you know...Islamic network in the UK that was considered 'moderate' and now some of its most senior people and most important institutions are effectively supporting violent extremism.

    At some point, the BBC is going to run out of proper, 'moderate' Muslims.

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    1. I did snigger at the use of the word "militantly" there after translating it into its new BBC meaning: "terroristically".

      Though actually it's not really a sniggering matter.

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  2. Is the presenter's astonishment really "understandable"? Only if they are ignorant of (a) Islam as taught by clerics (b) Sharia law and (c) the history of Pakistan. And if they are ignorant of these things what the hell are the doing presenting a programme about religion in the UK and getting well paid for doing so? In my view the guy's not stupid or ignorant. His astonishment is entirely fake, just like the BBC's attempt to present Islam as a "religion of peace" in the rather brittle hope that it becomes one.

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    1. The BBC is apparently still working on a way to blame Brexiters and racist Islmaophobes on the Right for pushing them to radicalize.

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