Following on from the piece about contradictions and my concerns about recent developments surrounding the ‘Search for Common Ground’ report, I came across this short piece at http://www.mediawatch.org that struck a chord with me…

Bari: Satanic Verses “should have been pulped”
10 November 2007

In an interview with the Telegraph, the head of the Muslim Council of Britain Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari complains that the government and media are creating “an air of suspicion and unease” about the Muslim community”. He appears to be blissfully unaware of his own contribution to this atmosphere.

Asked about Salman Rushdie’s knighthood, he said:

He caused a huge amount of distress and discordance with his book, it should have been pulped.

His attitude to Islamic hate literature, however, is far more liberal-minded:

The bookshops are independent businesses. We can’t just go in and tell them what to sell … I will see what books they keep, if they have one book which looks like it is inciting hatred, do they have counter books on the same shelf?

Fair enough. Pity he cannot see the contradiction.

Emerging out of this and developing a theme was the piece published on Comment is Free today from Sunny Hundal. I thought it was interesting:

Sikh, Hindu, Muslim, you
20th November 2007

Over the past 18 months of writing on Cif, I have been consistent in my criticism of “community leaders” who claim to speak on behalf of people of minority religious backgrounds. This is for two main reasons: firstly because their motives are never as benign as they claim; secondly because they have a rather cosy relationship with religious extremists of the same backgrounds. This applies to Sikh and Hindu organisations as much as it does to British Muslim ones, though the former attract less media interest for obvious reasons.

Even if they don’t command grassroots support, these organisations remain relevant by riding on legitimate concerns. For example, though there is little backing for an independent Sikh state, the Sikh Federation UK retains support by emphasising human rights abuses against Sikhs in India to bolster its cause. The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) similarly rides on concerns that Muslims as a whole are being demonised and actively voices their opposition to the war in Iraq. The MCB benefits by taking a hardline position on issues and clearly makes people more wary of British Muslims thanks to its over-the-top assertions and contradictions. There is little point to its existence.

It’s all making me think…

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3 thoughts on “Calling the kettle black through a rose-like tint

  1. Sunny Hundal is right-wing, non-religious Muslim and represents people like himself. He is right to say the MCB aren’t representative, and indeed naff, but I don’t think they deserve the hammering he gives them. Nor do I concur with what he suggests as an alternative, which would only see the kiss-ars Sufi Muslim Council taking their place.

    I’m rather disappointed by Bari. Sacranie was just risible, and Bari looked promising when he replaced him. Now it seems we have another media no-brainer.

    It really angers me because there are legitimate issues of prejudice with regards the media and wider culture – but that needs lots of positive input, and targetted reposts to the worst of it – such as the new Channel 4 gruesome reality TV show reviewed in today’s Media Guardian.

    Thankfully, there are other players in town, but I don’t have details to divulge. Nothing to do with me, though. I’m just watching the media watch us.

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