When did Shariah become cuddly?
Last night’s This World documentary on BB2, Inside a Shariah Court was actually a very dangerous programme. It is dangerous because it tackled a hideous political issue in an authored documentary style, which is completely inappropriate. This approach meant that there was only one voice analysing the situation, and worse, in attempting to apply it to our own society.
The BNP would never have been given this kind of platform – I agree the BNP should have a voice because I believe in free speech, but fascism would never be allowed without a dissenting voice alongside it. Why does the BBC think Shariah is any different?
I believe in authored documentaries; they are accessible and enjoyable and having made three myself, I always bemoan the lack of this style of documentary on TV. Inside a Shariah Court kept to this style, it kept to the author’s point of view and aesthetically, it was a ‘nice’ film, as these types of films should be. However, Shariah is not a suitable subject for a ‘nice’ style of film.
The reason I call it dangerous is because it takes Shariah out of the “this is really bad for the world” box where it quite firmly belongs, into a “this is a cuddly personal issue” box, where it clearly does not belong – or have I been sleeping while Britain decided that democracy is a questionable political system?
We know that some people favour Shariah, we know that judgements of Shariah law will sometimes be reasonable – whether Shariah works to mete out justice is not the issue – at all. The issue is the fact that this is an immutable system, there is absolutely no room for changing or even questioning it. Muslim liberals, like the author,
Ruhi Hamid, may think that Shariah is workable with tweaks, but that is frankly a ridiculous position. The fundamental premise of Shariah is that people cannot decide what is right or wrong. The fundamental premise of Shariah is that human beings must not presume to challenge what was written down between 12-14 centuries ago.
The blood and tears of millions of people, through many centuries, from many nations, have gone into creating political and judicial systems that take immutable “divine” laws out of the justice system. This is development. Nations where this is adopted are more civil, humane and peaceful. We do all we can in our power to support development so that other nations can also benefit from fair judicial systems, from healthcare, from education, from all the other indicators of development.
I don’t question that Shariah is a reasonable subject of discussion, quite the opposite, I welcome the opportunity to discuss it and to challenge it and hopefully to persuade as many people as possible that it’s a bloody daft idea with no place in the 21st century.
What I am objecting to, is that the gravity of this subject is reduced when we have an ordinary British Muslim taking us on a journey of personal exploration. I’m not criticising Ruhi Hamid – this isn’t about how well she did the job. This is about the fact that sending an ordinary person on a personal journey diminishes an important subject we should be debating with rigour into a genteel cultural consideration.
On a terrestrial channel, with its access to the largest audiences, this does Islam absolutely no favours. It shows that British Muslims are nice people, like Ruhi, so if they want to consider backward systems, that is their culture and they are entitled to explore it. If this isn’t quite the “fetishisation of balance” that Martin Amis writes about, I don’t know what is.
As a British Bangladeshi, would the BBC broadcast a film I make about how excluding women from education in Bangladesh teaches Britain lessons and there are some advantages to it? An authored piece about adopting Shariah is the same, it’s discussing going backward in development terms.
How could going backwards possibly be a cuddly subject? I am utterly baffled at why the BBC considered it suitable to attempt to turn something horrific into something ‘nice’.
This a guest post. Jobeda is a filmmaker.
|Post to del.icio.us|
Filed in: Current affairs,Religion