MAMA

National Secular Society: Occasionally Agitated

Lingering prejudice in Britain can bring out the worst in people. Such attitudes are not confined to thugs in the EDL or the BNP, rather are often found on the periphery of the Hard Right, spoken in polite tones and impeccable English.

More importantly, there is denial about racism towards ethnic minorities in Britain. Denial of the facts.

Recent examples of this form of negation were Douglas Murray’s extended rant in the Jewish Chronicle and Charles Moore’s piece. Sadiq Khan deals with it.

Notable in this trend was Andrew Gilligan’s hack journalism. It sought to deliberately play down racism in Britain and deny the evidence. Tim Fenton’s ably picks it apart, Gilligan’s Islamophobia Goof:

“…Gilligan to put out an article without him getting called out for a mixture of falsehood and misrepresentation. This is probably because falsehood and misrepresentation is exactly what he indulges in. And today he has been at it again, twisting the available facts to fit the Telegraph’s narrative, that the “Islamophobia Industry” is getting above itself.”[My emphasis.]

In all of these articles the conclusions were long decided upon, even before writing and the supposed evidence was shoehorned into place, each according to the authors’ particular bias.

It is all the more annoying when these slanted pieces are used as good coin.

NSS1a

The National Secular Society made such a mistake last week, using Gilligan’s suspect form of journalism, Muslims must be protected. Islam must not.

They should know better than use singular and questionable sources.

If the National Secular Society are truly interested in the welfare of Muslims and ethnic minorities in Britain then they should contact the groups monitoring prejudice against them, Tell MAMA.

Picking a single source, that has a clear bias against an antiracist organisation, was a sign of poor judgement by the National Secular Society. They should know better.

I would recommend that the National Secular Society and secularists read the [PDF] report: Anti-Muslim Hate Crime and the Far Right By Professor Nigel Copsey, Dr Janet Dack, Mark Littler and Dr Matthew Feldman.

Update 1:Tell MAMA’s response to the original article, National Secular Society & the ‘Money’ Shot Which Never Was!

“Furthermore, the flippant manner in which anti-Muslim prejudice is discarded, does a disservice to victims such as this woman, or this one. What is the worst element of all of these discussions, is that the victim’s voice is drowned out by figures, numbers and statistics. It would do the National Secular Society a world of good, if they simply took a few minutes out to listen to the stories of these Muslim women. For Amina, she is starting to put her life together against after 14 months of anguish. For Jamilah, the scars will never heal.”

The Reality of Anti-Muslim Bigotry

We should not underestimate or diminish the extent of anti-Muslim bigotry in Europe.

In Britain, long-standing animosity towards immigrants has been rekindled and focused on Muslims. Police forces and other organisations have been slow to catalogue, detail and deal with this pernicious form of racism.

However, one excellent organisation is MAMA, as they say:

“When reporting an anti-Muslim prejudiced incident to TELL MAMA by SMS, Email or Facebook, please include Your Name, Contact number and Location of the incident. One of our caseworkers will endeavour to contact you within 12 hours. In case of emergency please dial 999.

1. By filling in this form
2. Phone TELL MAMA on 0800 456 1226
3. Text TELL MAMA on 01157070007
4. Email TELL MAMA at info@tellmamauk.org
5. Tweet TELL MAMA @tellmamauk
6. Message TELL MAMA on Facebook at TellMamaUK

Our caseworkers will be able to assist you in a number of ways, including (i) providing a ‘listening ear’, (ii) signposting, (iii) casework and referrals to mainstream partners like Victim Support or Neighbourhood Watch and (iv) working with you to collect evidence that can be used by the police in possible prosecutions. We also have a range of solicitors that provide pro-bono advice that you may be able to access through the project if you have suffered an anti-Muslim incident. “

The report on Anti-Muslim ‘Cultural Racism’ is a must read for those serious about combating racism.

Update 1: Rob Ford takes Trevor Kavanagh to task.

Update 2: Some time ago, Giles Fraser identified the problem of slippage and the comparatively subtle nature of racism in Britain:

“No one actually comes out and directly says “I hate Muslims” – at least, not on the liberal dinner party circuit that was the target of Lady Warsi’s speech. Conversations generally begin with the sort of anxieties that many of us might reasonably share: it cannot be right for women to be denied access to education in some Islamic regimes; the use of the death penalty for apostasy is totally unacceptable; what about the treatment of homosexuals? The conversation then moves on to sharia law or jihad or the burqa, not all of it entirely well informed. Someone places their hands across their face and peers out between their fingers. Another guest giggles slightly. Someone inevitably mentions 9/11. Later, guests travel home on the tube and look nervously at the man in the beard sitting opposite.

The problem Warsi identifies is the problem of slippage. What can begin as a perfectly legitimate conversation about, say, religious belief and human rights, can drift into a licence for observations that in any other circumstance would be regarded as tantamount to racism. Like the 19th-century link between anti-Catholicism and racism towards the Irish, one can easily bleed into the other.”

Update 3: Tell MAMA’s blog asks the question, Problem? What problem? America and Islamophobia.

Anti-Muslim Fear Mongering

A piece in Wired has highlighted how fringe organisations stoke up fear with ant-Muslim sentiment in the US:

“A study published by a sociologist has revealed that fear-mongering non-governmental anti-Muslim organisations have been heavily influencing US media since 9/11, their messages seeping into news articles and television reporting and drawing their ethos from the fringes, straight into the mainstream.

What’s perhaps most troubling about the results is how these minor groups, which would ordinarily receive little or no air time, have gained an element of respect that has led to them receiving more funding and coupling with influential bodies. Their influence is such that they have even been able to paint mainstream Muslim organisations as radical, says the study.

“The vast majority of organisations competing to shape public discourse about Islam after the September 11 attacks delivered pro-Muslim messages, yet my study shows that journalists were so captivated by a small group of fringe organisations that they came to be perceived as mainstream,” the paper’s author, University of North Carolina assistant professor of sociology Christopher Bail, told Wired.co.uk. “

I can’t say I am surprised given the activities of Pam Geller and Robert Spencer, which I have covered before.

In Britain, MAMA is the organisation to contact in the event of racism or bigotry towards Muslims. They can be contacted at, phone: 0800 456 1226, text: 01157070007, email info@tellmamauk.org or on Twitter at @tellmamauk.

The original paper from Dr. Bail, “The Fringe Effect: Civil Society Organizations and the Evolution of Media Discourse about Islam,” American Sociological Review, 77(7) is available as a PDF here.

Faith Matters Report On The EDL

Faith Matters, an NGO which works to reduce extremism, intra-faith tensions and promotes interfaith dialogues, published an interesting report on the EDL in 2010.

Download the English Defence League: Challenging Our Country and Our Values of Social Inclusion, Fairness and Equality, [as a PDF].

Apparently, they will be releasing another report shortly.

Meanwhile, keep up with them by following Faith Matters and Tell MAMA on Twitter.

Dealing With Anti-Muslim Racism & More.

The advent of the MAMA project is most welcome.

Until now it has been hard to quantify the extent and level of racism which faces many Muslims in Britain. Years back when I tried to research the topic I found scattered information, incomplete police reporting and a serious lack of concrete information.

It is going to be a hard and depressing task, to correlate and document the level of racism faced by Muslims on a day-to-day basis in Britain, however, I hope that the MAMA project has the success that the Community Security trust does. Good luck to them.

James Bloodworth looks at a common British habit, When did looking down on others become the national pastime?

Report from Lhasa: February 18, 2012 makes difficult reading:

“Lhasa consists of approximately 1.2 million Chinese and approximately 200,000 Tibetans. The majority of these Tibetans live in an area which is now almost entirely enclosed by military compounds with walls between 10-16 feet; some with barbed wire. This isolation gives the impression of what the Warsaw Ghetto was like. Inside the “enclosed” area groups of armed soldiers, S.W.A.T. teams, and police patrol the streets 24 hours a day. Military drill songs can be heard throughout the day. S.W.A.T trucks and rows of 6 to 15 armored vehicles and tanks come through the area on a daily basis. Each vehicle has 3 to 4 soldiers at the opening turret, armed with assault rifles or machine guns aimed at the Tibetans.

All Tibetans must carry identification at all times. Tibetans residing in Lhasa are required to register with the police. There are approximately 134 new Police station checkpoints in Lhasa for random searches of pedestrians and vehicles. In addition to the military compounds in and around Lhasa, permanent military posts holding 1-10 armed soldiers have been established throughout the city. “

It could be just like Switzerland, that’s what Hirsh Goodman thinks.

Spiegel Online reminds us the Neo-Nazi Terrorist Threat Remains Real.

In local blog news, the Third Estate on How rich institutions, the big parties and the mass media have colonised the blogosphere.

Jeff Goldberg has a worrying piece, Iranian Scientist’s Wife Says Husband Sought Annihilation of Israel. The Fars News Agency has the original copy.

Norms of intervention.

Finally, Bradley Burston makes some excellent points:

“It’s Israel Apartheid Week 2012. Time for people who support Israel to tell the truth. Yes, the settlements are an obstacle to peace. Yes, the occupation, which exists to protect the settlements, is the opposite of democracy. Yes, the present government speaks of two states in theory alone.

In the democracy that was the United States in the year 1840, there were those who said that slavery was essential, irreversible, eternal, God’s will. And that people of color and women of all races should not, and therefore would not, be granted the freedoms and rights of full citizenship, that the only good Native American was a dead one.

And, at the same time, there were those who believed that democracy and equality would become law, however dreadful and protracted the process might be, and they were right.

It is 2012. America’s freedoms, its promises of opportunity and openness to immigrants and minorities, are still under attack, still being tested. The answer is not to dismantle America, but to strengthen its freedoms.

All Americans deserve democracy and self-determination. So do both of the native peoples of the Holy Land, Palestinians and Israelis alike. Just as in 1840 America, in this Holy Land there are people working on both sides, quietly, continually, toward that goal. Not freedom for one people at the expense of the other, but freedom and independence for both.

This is the lesson that BDS has yet to learn. And this is why BDS, and Israeli Apartheid Week, are failures. “