Yesterday’s piece about Victoria Derbyshire has been described as ‘good humoured’. Well, as Bob Monkhouse so presciently said, I’m not laughing now.
New day; new scenario. The Victoria Derbyshire programme in the background, sound turned way down low.
I caught an occasional glimpse of the caption. Obesity; Olympics; blah blah blah. At one point Victoria seemed desperate to find something - anything - new or interesting to say about the Olympics and all but ground to a halt. But then…
Did I mention that she was wearing a terrible shirt today? It set the tone.
One minute (yesterday) she was castigating Jeremy Corbyn in an almost terrier-like manner over the antisemitism in the Labour party and his apparent reluctance to do anything tangible to change it.
Next minute, (today) there she was, listening, with almost ostentatious sympathy, to three guests decrying Islamophobia. “There has been a recent study.”
We’ll leave the fact that Islam has been officially designated a ‘race’ for now. Let’s concentrate on the BBC’s role in this affair. We’re shown a short film.
"There's no Sharia law here". A passer-by interrupts our interview on Islamophobia #VictoriaLIVEhttps://t.co/KG1XjYCp4h— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) 18 August 2016
A young woman in a hijab ‘student Ruqaiya Haris’ is in a park with the BBC’s Catrin Nye, being interviewed about islamophobia. A caption says: ‘A BBC interview on Islamophobia has been interrupted by Islamophobia.’ Oh noes!
The Islamophobia in question was committed by man named Paul who had apparently mentioned Sharia Law. What he had actually said or to whom was not shown in the film.
The ensuing mini drama might not have turned out entirely the way the BBC intended. In my opinion.
Ms Haris put her hands on her hips “Do you want to talk about Sharia?” she screamed at Paul; the BBC reporter is clearly chipping in as well.
Rather than a helpless Muslim being victimised for wearing a hijab by an Islamophobic hooligan, it looked more like an aggressive Muslima attacking a somewhat inarticulate man for criticising Sharia. The hapless Paul was painted ‘racist’ and the BBC seemed satisfied that they had made their point.
Do we want Sharia law? Does Victoria Derbyshire, the terrier-like critic of antisemitism in the Labour party want Sharia Law?
Let's also mention the man from Demos, Carl Miller, playing the part of useful idiot. If ever there was a need to demonstrate the epitome of useful idiocy, I nominate this man.
However, the most unsettling aspect of the whole thing was a the BBC’s choice of guest number three. Imam Ajmal Masroor.
This person is a frequent guest of the BBC. He has been seen on The Big Questions more frequently than Victoria Derbyshire’s shirts. And once he starts talking, there’s no stopping him. It’s verbal incontinence gawn mad, and it keeps going, on and on, over and above everyone who dare disagree. How many times have we heard the story about his ten-year old nephew who wanted to stop being a Muslim? (because of Islamophobia) Several. We’ve heard it several times; it’s supposed to convey pathos. We don’t actually hear whether he tells his ten year old nephew that apostasy is ‘frowned upon’.
Is one ‘born’ Muslim?If so, then I suppose Islam is a kind of race, in which case how does that fit in with the contention that I.S. is nothing to to with Islam?
“Why must we say ‘Islamic terrorists’? Why not just ‘terrorists’?” – Imam Ajmal Masroor says it fuels Islamophobia https://t.co/XDPmLo83GY— Victoria Derbyshire (@VictoriaLIVE) 18 August 2016
Only yesterday people were arguing about whether Anjem Choudary should have been ‘given a platform’ on the BBC. Some of us thought that his blatant advocacy was, in a way, a breath of fresh air. Anjem made no bones about it. He set out the principles of Sharia, the longed for ‘world-wide Caliphate’ and all the other ‘ideal-world’ lifestyle practices that make Islam so incompatible with Western values. (That cliche). He set it all out in no uncertain terms.
Now we have people like Ajmal and Ruqaiya Haris defending Sharia and their right to do what they want in ‘their own country’ (“We’re born here!”) and telling us that Islamic State are merely thugs and criminals and NTDWI.
The fact that Ms Haris was born here is also quite worrying, as it indicates that the kind of militant unwillingness to integrate is on a downward trajectory, and the more we enable it with programmes like this, the more entrenched it will become.
At one point Victoria Derbyshire warned her guests that she was now going to read out some comments from viewers that they might not like. Comments that disagree with them. Steel yourselves!
An keyboard warrior had the audacity to mention antisemitism. Yes, that antisemitism. Not the antisemitism that you could safely attack because it was coming from the British Labour Party’s hard left. No, they mentioned the unmentionable antisemitism that emanates from Muslims. Muslims like Ajmal Masroor, in fact. Victoria dutifully read out the message and swiftly moved on. She did not press the good Imam on the topic, but let me take you to this:
Jewish News published an opinion piece in July 2015, headlined: ‘Where are the mainstream Muslim voices?’
Written by editor Richard Ferrer, it addressed then prime minister David Cameron’s call to tackle “non-violent extremists who radicalise young people and overpower mainstream Muslim opinion”.
Ferrer wrote: “The danger [of radicalisation] does not come from mad mullahs such as Anjem Choudary. Rather, consider a popular mainstream Imam like Ajmal Masroor… who preaches that Zionism “stands for racism and Jewish supremacist ideology”… warns of “abusers” in the UK “Jewish lobby” and the “Jewish supremacist ideology” that “holds our government hostage”.
Rather than accept Jewish News’ invitation of a right of reply, lawyers for the popular Imam, who regularly appears on television and leads services at mosques across London, threatened to sue Jewish News for libel – effectively gagging this newspaper from reporting further on an important and timely issue of public concern.
After five months of exchanges between Masroor’s legal team and Jewish News’ lawyer Mark Lewis, partner at law firm Seddons, the one-year limitation on libel claims came to an end on 25 July without Masroor serving his threatened defamation lawsuit – finally allowing us to make his legal threats known to the public.
Responding to the libel challenge, Ferrer said: “The point of my column was to show how British Muslim opinion can be overpowered by extremists posing as moderates. By attacking this viewpoint, the Imam proved my point.
“The concept of Jewish supremacist ideology is pure bigotry. The Imam’s reference to the abuse of “Jewish identity” to “hold our government hostage” is textbook anti-Semitism. His views are the problem, not the solution. There is no place for such anti-Semitism in society. If the Imam wants to constructively engage in a debate he should accept our offer of a right of reply – an offer that remains open.”
A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: “We are having an increasing number of open and constructive conversations with Muslims in which they admit to having, or having had, no knowledge of what Zionism actually is: other than an entirely hateful grasp of the word, such as that expressed by Ajmal Masroor.
“We need our communities to better understand each other and imams have a crucial role to play, moving beyond such limited and negative stereotypes of something that is for many Jews just a basic part of their identity.”
***********Masroor leads prayer services at mosques in Palmers Green, Goodge Street, West Ealing and Haringey and is a regular media commentator on issues concerning British Muslims
Oddly enough, one of the arguments used by Masroor himself is in there - penultimate paragraph.
“A spokesman for the Community Security Trust said: “We are having an increasing number of open and constructive conversations with Muslims in which they admit to having, or having had, no knowledge of what Zionism actually is: other than an entirely hateful grasp of the word, such as that expressed by Ajmal Masroor.”
That is exactly what Masroor claims would lead to a better understanding of Islam and Sharia. “We need to know what it actually is.“
That’s why some people would far rather the BBC gave their precious platforms to the likes of Anjem Choudary who fills that brief in no uncertain terms, than to people who pretend to be moderates, but who really wish to impose their religion on the rest of us.