Friday 27 November 2015

Islam for dummies

Polls are in the news. Has anyone conducted a poll to assess the general public’s perception of Islam?
One problem is how to broach the matter delicately without antagonising the man on the multicultural omnibus.

My poll would be designed to find out how much people know about current issues, and what they think about them; Islam, the Arab world, immigration, Israel and antisemitism. I’d also need to ask where they learn about politics and current affairs.  I’d have one box saying ‘BBC’ and another saying ‘other.’

I don’t have a Facebook account myself, but I have access to one, and I’m taken aback by the inexhaustible torrents of pro Jeremy Corbyn posts that keep appearing in front of me. More and more and still more. Am I hallucinating already?
Are all those star-struck fools really oblivious to Corbyn’s affiliations with radical Islamists and antisemites? Love is blind; even if they were aware of something nasty in the woodshed they’d play it down or they wouldn’t even care. 

One obvious piece of advice to myself. Don’t go on Facebook. Don’t look.
If they choose to advertise their ignorance, who cares?  Am I bothered about those who ‘don’t know much’ about world politics, but ‘know what they like’? Should I care or just go ‘so what?’ 

When questioned, Dara O’Briain explained why he never makes jokes about Islam. The main reason, (apart from the obvious) was that he doesn’t think the public knows much about the subject, other than that  Muslims pray five times a day. He felt, quite rightly, that in order to be funny, a joke must be based on a fundamental truth, and if no-one knows enough about Islam to recognise truth, they won’t get the joke.

I think he may be right. Having just watched a Tommy Robinson video in which he also expresses concerns at the public’s ignorance of what Islam actually is, I think it’s fair to say that universal ignorance is a pretty well substantiated fact.  So - how come? How can it be that no-one knows much about Islam?  It’s topical. More than topical.

If public figures don’t really know what they’re talking about maybe they should just shut up. 

“.... the renowned Quranic scholar David Cameron” he writes. That’s heavy sarcasm, in case you didn’t recognise the joke.

Where’s the BBC? We employ the BBC to inform and educate us. We pay for this. Give us our money’s worth! 
One would think that in the current circumstances the BBC would fully enlighten the audience so that they can make up their own minds about what’s racist, what’s phobic and what’s incompatible with British values.  

This needn’t violate the BBC’s controversial edict that prohibits BBC reporters and journalists from making and airing value judgments. So don’t. Simply equip the people to make them for themselves.
As it is, the BBC seems to be doing their utmost not to do so. Instead they do everything possible to muddy the waters, particularly by overlooking some of Islam’s most outrageous cultural and religious practices, supposedly to maintain social cohesion. I think that bus has already left.

 “It may well be that when you first heard of the barbarous Islamist atrocities in Paris you thought: ‘My God. My God. How could they do that? At least now maybe the scales will fall from some eyes and we will tackle the problem head on.’ And then, like me, having thought this, you will have watched a BBC news programme and very quickly realised — nope, not a chance, business as usual. The same delusional rubbish, the same gerrymandering of public opinion, the same absurdities.”
Says Rod. Yep. That’s the BBC. 

A French reader pointed me to a video of Nabila Ramdani being interviewed sympathetically by Victoria Derbyshire following the terrorist attack in Paris. The entire interview was conducted on the topsy turvy terms of the (hypothetical) imminent anti-Muslim backlash.
Nabila decided to tell Ms Derbyshire that Muslim children in France who had refused to observe a minute’s silence for the victims had been taken to the police.  Our reader said this was false, and I failed to find any evidence of such a thing on the internet. Please correct me if I’m wrong. Until then I’ll assume it didn’t happen. 

Making a potentially inflammatory allegation could have been deliberately  designed to ‘anger the Muslims’. Was Ramdani deliberately setting out to engender a backlash? Why? What is she up to?

Why was Victoria Derbyshire interviewing a distinctly antisemitic Islam apologist in the first place? I wonder if Victoria Derbyshire knows much about Islam. Has she read the koran? Has she heard the rantings of radical preachers whose videos are all over the internet? Has she seen the opinion polls? She probably just dismisses uncomfortable facts as Islamophobic smears.  We can see where Victoria’s sympathy lies. With the lies. 

Rod Liddle refers to a ‘French Algerian’ woman who told Kirsty Wark that the attacks could have been by rival drug gangs’ I assume this was Nabila’s expert contribution to our enlightenment before she thought of plan B. The backlash schtick. 

If Victoria Derbyshire wasn’t savvy enough to apply a healthy dose of skepticism to exaggerated Muslim grievance-mongering, was the BBC acting responsibly in handing the topic over to her? Andrew Neil might have approached Ramdani’s imaginative testimony with suspicion and might even have raised an eyebrow. 

The casual viewer is so anxious not to be thought racist that he tends to soak up lies and propaganda as long as he seems tolerant and right on as he does so.

We can’t be sure how much of the BBC’s sheer disinformation is responsible for the current political situation but if politicians insist that it’s ISIS alone that’s evil, and that it’s solely Isis, not Islam itself, that means us harm, then it’s high time the public were given a fuller picture.  Why did al-Qaeda instigate 9/11? Are Al Shebab and Boko Haram  peaceful? Are they all nothing to do with Islam?
Rod has also noticed. 
“Meanwhile, the Home Secretary was telling us that the terrorists represent a ‘perverted’ form of Islam. Hmm. The same perverted form of the religion as practised by Abdul’s home country, Saudi Arabia? Or in Iran, or Libya, or Palestine, or Somalia, or . . . the list of countries which kill apostates, persecute Christians, Jews, homosexuals and women is longish, you have to say. We must grasp that the proportion of Muslims worldwide who hold this ‘perverted’ view is far, far, higher than Mrs May or the BBC would like you to think. Some 27 per cent of British Muslims, for example, expressed sympathy with the Charlie Hebdo murderers. This week it was reported that one in five British Muslims sympathises with Islamic State fighters. That is a number which is, as John Major might put it, not inconsiderable.”

I note that Rod has come round to the opinion that the conflict in ‘Palestine’ might have something to do with Islam. Long time coming, but hopefully worth waiting for.  

If the BBC did its job properly we could tell our MPs how we feel, robustly reminding them that their job is to represent us. That is instead of being expected to to believe, despite all evidence to the contrary, that Islam is the religion of peace. Rod again:
“I stared at the screen, mouth agape, unable for a while to believe what I was hearing. A whole programme about the Paris attacks in which three words — Muslim, Islam, jihadi — were not used at any point. The desperation to exculpate the ideology was present long before the bodies had been carried away. Then, when it was revealed that some attackers had entered the country as refugees, the Today programme had a fair, balanced and unpartisan debate between three people who agreed that we should take more refugees, because getting tough is ‘what they (the nasty terrorists) want us to do’”

I find assertions that we mustn’t do this, that or the other - because it’s “what the terrorists want” deeply irritating. Usually it’s said in defiance: “We refuse to alter our normal behaviour, because altering our normal behaviour is what the terrorists want.” No they don’t;  they want us to keep repeating our normal behaviour so that we keep on being sitting ducks. They don’t want us to take precautions because they want to kill us.  Where’s the logic in deliberately being an easy target?  

I’d put a question about that in my poll.  What do you think the terrorists want? I could send the questionnaire to Victoria Derbyshire but I doubt she’d bother to tick my boxes.


  1. Interesting post.

    The BBC is really only the leading edge of the bias and denial. The whole of the political elite is in denial - even the supposedly "right wing" section of opinion.

    Isabel Hardman, on the Spectator website, addresses the issue of surveys of Muslim opinion and ties herself in all sorts of knots in her desperation to prove that followers of Islam are really just like non-Muslims in their range of belief.

    Incidentally, I noted that the Spectator for the first time I can remember, couldn't be bothered to comment in its Coffee House section on the latest migration figures despite mass immigration being the no. 1 concern of the populace. Loads of other posts. Nothing about us having to build a city the size of Swansea to cope with the influx (sort of thing we'd have to do if our coasts had been hit by a Tsunami). That's in one year. And we will have to do the same next year.

    Isn't that - well - astounding...

    My thoughts on all these related issues:

    1. How do you account for the Taqiyya effect? What self-respecting pro-Jihadi is going to answer a Kaffir survey? And those who are prepared to answer, presumably are competent speakers of English - another bias factor. Also, can we expect honest answers or is there the equivalent of the "Lying Tories" effect where Tory voters were often too ashamed to admit their real opinion to pollsters.

    2. I think it would be fascinating to see a survey conducted among Muslims to ascertain what they actually know about what is in the Koran and well attested Hadith. It has always been my suspicion (because Islam is not really taught mainly through Arabic, in much the same way that Medieval Christianity was taught via Latin) that a lot of Muslims don't really know that much about what their religion actually teaches. Part of the problem with the "radicalisation" narrative is the idea that Muslims are being tempted away from a religion they are already familiar with, whereas I suspect in many cases it is the Jihadis who are informing ordinary Muslims of the texts and traditional Sharia judgements.

    3. Surveys are good example of bias. Media outlets (or academics) decide what survey subjects they want to cover, who they wish to survey, what questions they want to ask, and how seriously they want to get a particular answer. I guarantee that I could get you any answer you want with a survey, given sufficient resources!

    4. Much more important than whether UK Muslims support Jihadi violence, is what Muslims want in terms of political and constitutional otucomes. There is hardly an Imam in the country who doesn't want to get rid of liberal democracy and subsitute Sharia (though they may differ over method and timescale). That's all I really want to know - what proportion of UK Muslims want Sharia law.

    This poll suggests about 40% back in 2006.

    That's about 39% to much in my view.

    We should of course be screening every single Muslim migrant into this country to see whether they wish to see Sharia introduced into the UK. If the answer is "yes" then they should be sent on their way.

  2. If I see a funny looking beard or a berkar approaching me, my immediate reaction is to make sure my wallet and mobile phone is totally secure.

  3. For Dara O’Briain , a muslim joke that requires no understanding of Islam.

    I look forward to its debut on the BBC, Dara.

    1. When you think about it, O'Briain's position must be that he refuses to do comedy for Muslims - since obviously, according to his theory, Muslims can't understand his jokes about Catholicism.

  4. Think the torrent of pro-Corbyn Facebook/Twitter posts may be due to the populist stance he is taking on some issues, especially on bombing in Syria. No credible intellectual, strategic military or security case has been advanced so far by David Cameron, many Ministers and MPs for bombing IS in Syria. The 'public' it appears are more in tune & aware of what is going on than many in Government and Opposition.

    We also note the hypocrisy of things like the cost of this action at a 'time of austerity' and 'the need for cuts' together with the fact that 'Climate Change is the greatest threat we face' [David Cameron] and constant air missions from a distance (Cyprus) together with the heat/emissions generated by bombs/missiles used & consequent re-supply will add considerably to CO2 emissions.

    1. We must never forget that two years ago Cameron wanted to bomb Assad in support of a bunch of Jihadists. Moreover, before that, he amongst other Western leaders positively encouraged the "Arab Spring" in Syria, despite all the evidence that the movement was not a democratic one but an Islamic supremacist one.

    2. Yes, that's right.

      Politicians and much of the media, especially the BBC, have very short memories.

      Cameron is quick to talk up bombing but I've heard no explanation from him when the UK's previously acceptable, if not good, relationship with Syria deteriorated and why. According to BBC presenters it is always assumed because Assad used chemical weapons but I seem to recall that TWO UN investigations found no evidence AND Assad surrendered the components for chemical weapons when asked to do so.

      No one at the BBC ever asks Cameron, his Ministers or any MPs whether they would like outside nations to intervene in the UK in similar ways to the way we barge in to various countries around the globe.

  5. Looking back over that 'Newsnight' edition - the one Rod Liddle described as his "anti-epiphany" moment:

    Yes, Nabila Ramdani was the "French-Algerian who opined that it first looked like the attacks could have been caused by rival drug gangs".

    Rod Liddle was also right that not once during that programme's coverage of the unfolding events in Paris were the words 'Muslim', 'Islam' or 'jihadi' used.

    The word 'Muslims' did appear though during a separate, non-Paris-related discussion about the killing of Jihadi Mo in Syria. Needless to say, it was of the 'approved' kind: a short clip of David Cameron saying that Emwazi's victims included Muslims too.

    The one bit where a glimpse of what might have been going on in Paris came from Mark Urban, talking to Kirsty Wark:

    KW: I saw one unconfirmed report that something had heard someone shouting "This is for Syria".
    MU: We've seen it..
    KW (interrupting): We've seen it?
    MU: We've seen reports on social media of people saying they heard this, that this was for Syria, and we've also seen reports of people shouting 'Allahu Akbar', but at this particular moment...
    KW: Yeah.
    MU: ..I don't think we can...
    KW: Yeah.
    MU: ..regard what those reports...
    KW (interrupting): Well, Nabila Ramdani is still here...

    1. Yes I noticed the strenuous efforts in the media (again, not just the BBC) to avoid the M word or the I word. At a stretch you got "Islamist".

      The saturnine Nabila Ramdani...what exactly does go on in her head? It's an eternal puzzle. The only clues: the general expression of brooding contempt interrupted by the faintest of smiles at intervals. Why is she chosen to pontificate at such times? My guess is twofold: firstly, her actual comments are very anodyne, banal - it is only the context (her apparent insouciance in response to such attacks) that lends her comments any real meaning and, secondly, unlike most Muslim women, she does not wear any head covering (if she did I really don't think BBC or Sky would invite her on - counterintuitive perhaps, given all the PC garbage they come out with, but true I think).

  6. "The main reason, (apart from the obvious) was that he doesn’t think the public knows much about the subject"

    A sentiment many BBC comedians share, one is sure.

    Which makes their endless jokes about 'Daily Mail Readers' rather odd on a few levels, if you think about it.

    As to the BBC's contribution to community cohesion...

    "Making a potentially inflammatory allegation could have been deliberately designed to ‘anger the Muslims’. Was Ramdani deliberately setting out to engender a backlash? Why? What is she up to?"

    Channelling her inner Mehdi? Maybe the BBC bookers simply don't know any moderates?

    Frankly they do it so much now that they should be shut down simply for incitement.

    That they are not is maybe for David Cameron, John Whittingdale, etc ... or history, to explain.

  7. Another one for your collection - Tim Whewell's PC venture into Mollenbeek on From Our Own Correspondent on the BBC.

    It's an interesting case study in how to use narrative form, selective quotation, tone of voice, false equations, ellipsis, unverifiable assertions and biased selection of facts to create an impression. I am sure he is a very likeable guy - he seems so - and probably none of it is conscious plotting to distort the truth, but distort it he does.

    One of the unverifiable assertions was that journalists were chasing Muslims down the street looking crying out "Do you know any terrorists?" Really? It sounds improbable but it helps to create the impression that racist tabloids were encouraging group hate by calling Mollenbeek "Jihadi central". But take a look at this article from the sober-minded, pretty liberal and pro-migration Economist:

    If somewhere produces a lot of steel then it's not unreasonable to call it "the steel capital of the world". If somewhere has a lot of film and rock stars it's not unreasonable to call it "the home of the stars". And if somewhere produces the highest per capita number of Jihadis in Europe it's not unreasonable to call it Jihadi Central.

    Anyway, have a listen if you can spare the time, as I say it is a marvellous piece in understanding how an impression is created: in this case, Muslim as nice, pro-integration victim. Whewell completely suspends all critical faculties: no interest in whether a substantial section of the Muslim population gives actual or tacit support to the Jihadis; no interest in whether other migrants to Belgium e.g. animists, Christians, Jews and Hindus suffer the same difficulties in integration; no interest in wondering whether non-Muslims, women especially, get hassled in Mollenbeek; and no interest in whether Sharia rules in Mollenbeek (are there Sharia courts for instance?).

    No, it was just a "mood music" piece designed to dull the senses.

    1. I'd have hoped for better from Tim Whewell. He can be a fine reporter.

      This, however, was just the usual BBC report, almost a paint-by-numbers affair, all about the sense of alienation and victimhood felt by the Muslims of Molenbeek.

      Reading about Molenbeek elsewhere, it certainly seems as if it's been heavily Islamised, with alcohol suppressed, women pressured to wear the veil and non-Islamic newspapers restricted. Non-Muslim women have been abused and spat at. The area's Jewish shopkeepers were terrorised and forced out; as was the local gay population. The area has become largely a monolithic, Moroccan-background immigrant district.

      None of that came out in Tim Whewell's 'FOOC' report.

    2. Coming as it does from those wonderful people who never saw nor heard a rocket in Gaza once, it should not surprise, but it does.

      It is really like they are 'reporting' from another place, or their heads are simply not configured to process information the way normal humans would.

      For any individual, much less supposedly professional reporter or editor, proud of skills and supposed integrity to so easily miss, or blot out, or allow to be removed what is clearly shown to exist, takes some doing.

      No wonder the BBC sees itself as 'unique'.

      Vital remains a real stretch, even semantically.

  8. Actually, the BBC and the Government are doing exactly what the terrorists want them to do: bow and scrape and blame the West.

  9. Yet despite what is at best a very superficial understanding of Islam, and in most cases complete ignorance, our politicians and the liberal/left media are happy to lecture us all about how terrorists are, “perverting true Islam”. How would they know?

    Dara O’Briain is correct in the sense that ignorance of Islam is widespread, but in every other sense his rather slippery justification is a complete cop out.


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