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?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Support Analyst - London - £22,000

£20000 - £22000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Support Analyst - Chel...

Learning Support Assistants-Nantwich area

£8 - £9 per hour: Randstad Education Chester: We are currently recruiting for ...

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Primary Teachers-Northwich area

£85 - £110 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Primary Teachers- Northwich Ar...

Day In a Page

Read Next
'Irritatingly Disneyfied': fashion vlogger Zoella  

Zoella is a great role model - she changed my life

Vicky Chandler
 

The reactions to Renee Zellweger's face say more about us than about her

Emma Gannon
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?
Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals

'You need me, I don’t need you'

Ed Sheeran hits back after being labelled too boring to headline festivals
How to Get Away with Murder: Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama

How to Get Away with Murder

Shonda Rhimes reinvents the legal drama
A cup of tea is every worker's right

Hard to swallow

Three hospitals in Leicester have banned their staff from drinking tea and coffee in public areas. Christopher Hirst explains why he thinks that a cuppa is every worker's right
Which animals are nearly extinct?

Which animals are nearly extinct?

Conservationists in Kenya are in mourning after the death of a white northern rhino, which has left the species with a single male. These are the other species on the brink
12 best children's shoes

Perfect for leaf-kicking: 12 best children's shoes

Find footwear perfect to keep kids' feet protected this autumn
Anderlecht vs Arsenal: Gunners' ray of light Aaron Ramsey shines again

Arsenal’s ray of light ready to shine again

Aaron Ramsey’s injury record has prompted a club investigation. For now, the midfielder is just happy to be fit to face Anderlecht in the Champions League
Comment: David Moyes' show of sensitivity thrown back in his face by former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson

Moyes’ show of sensitivity thrown back in his face... by Ferguson

Manchester United legend tramples on successor who resisted criticising his inheritance
Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Ranked seventh in world’s best tourist cities - not London, or Edinburgh, but Salisbury

Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2015

UK city beats Vienna, Paris and New York to be ranked seventh in world’s best tourist destinations - but it's not London