Faisal Bodi: 'Panorama' was a hatchet job on Muslims

Anyone who didn't meet the programme's standard was an extremist

Share
Related Topics

That's an apt description of the political and media reaction to the July bombings. Instead of directing the heat at politicians whose neo-colonial and Islamophobic motives led Britain into a quagmire in Iraq, the chattering classes have been digging the nation into an ever bigger hole by pointing the finger at its Muslim minority. Notwithstanding fitful spurts of interest in foreign policy, "the problem with Islam" has become the dominant narrative. Whether it's Salman Rushdie arguing for an Islamic reformation or the Metropolitan Police Commissioner Ian Blair asking the community to get on side in the war against terrorism, a determined effort is afoot to keep Muslims and their faith in the blame frame, and our politicians out.

So far, the wave of Islamophobia has taken in Muslim schools, multiculturalism and dodgy mosques. As influential Muslim opinion formers, outspoken imams, dubbed "hate preachers", were among the first culprits to be fingered.

Alleged to be the intellectual stimulus for potential suicide bombers, they have been earmarked for removal. Isolate the leadership and the disciples will follow reads one of Tony Blair's "changing" rules of the game.

The policy appears to have been taken up with a vengeance by the makers of BBC's Panorama programme, the latest instalment of which sought to expose the Muslim Council of Britain as a wolf in sheep's clothing. It accused the umbrella group of speaking with a forked tongue, saying it was opposed to terrorism while its affiliates encouraged it from the pulpits and in their publications.

The evidence for Panorama's disturbing conclusion rested on the shocking discovery that the MCB's affiliates believed in the supremacy of Islam over other faiths, the subordination of politics to religion, and martyrdom.

While we might chuckle at Panorama's revelatory finding that Muslims, like Christians, Jews and Hindus, consider their religion to be superior to its rivals, Muslims will detect a more ulterior motive, namely an attempt to force a cornerstone of secular liberalism - moral relativism - on the community.

The inference most Muslims will have drawn from a programme savaging orthodox Islamic positions is that it is not so much the MCB but Islam itself that is being put on trial (when did we ever see a documentary grilling rabbis on some of the vile beliefs some rabbis have historically held about gentiles?).

Subjecting Islamic beliefs to critical scrutiny is not at issue here. Sunday's programme was a hatchet job cum propaganda piece, based on demolishing decontextualised beliefs, and demonising those who hold them in the court of secular liberalism. The programme makers had decided the standard they wanted Islam to meet and anybody who didn't was an extremist.

The strongest example came when the head of the MCB, Iqbal Sacranie, was challenged about his organisation's "extremist" refusal to attend the national Holocaust remembrance service earlier this year. The MCB's stated reason for declining was the exclusivist nature of the ceremony, focusing as it did on simply Jewish victims - it had argued for the event to mark all genocidal campaigns and victims of occupation, especially those in the Muslim world.

Leaving aside the exploitation of the Holocaust by Israel and its supporters to perpetuate Palestinian suffering, the MCB's more inclusive position is one that is held by Muslims and non-Muslims alike. What then, one wondered, was the object of this interrogation, which also took in Sacranie's decision to attend a memorial service for Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the founder of the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas?

The MCB believes that it is the victim of a concerted political campaign to blackball it for its opposition to Israeli oppression. "It seems that to qualify as so-called 'moderates', Muslims are required to remain silent about Israeli crimes in Palestine, otherwise they are automatically labelled as 'extremists'," it wrote in a recent press release.

They would not be the first to fall foul of a cynical alliance of secular liberals and hard-line Zionists seeking to draw political advantage from 7/7. After 7/7, the question of where Muslims fit into British society is being reduced to two criteria: their willingness to downscale the importance they attach to their religious values, and the extent to which they support the Palestinians in their unequal struggle against the Israeli state.

In as far as Muslims refuse to do either, they will continue to find themselves on the receiving end of a modern-day Inquisition.

Faisal Bodi is the news editor of the Islam Channel

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A pack of seagulls squabble over discarded food left on the beach at St Ives on July 28, 2015  

Number of urban seagulls in Britain nearly quadruples: Hide food and avoid chicks to stay in gulls’ good books

Tom Bawden
 

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen