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    Muslims demand more change to something!


    by Sunny on 6th October, 2005 at 6:47 pm    

    Let me start by recalling four recent controversies for a bit of context.

    1) Burger King is recalling its ice-cream cones after a customer thought the swirl on top looked too much like the Arabic translation of ‘Allah’ and therefore BK was insulting all Muslims (The Sun & Eastern Eye).

    2) Dudley council said last week it was banning novelty pig calendars and toys from office in case Muslim staff were offended.

    3) Some Muslims are apparently planning to boycott Birmingham City FC after the club said it was considering building a casino to supplement its income (Eastern Eye 30th Sept).

    4) Prison staff have been told to stop wearing Cross of St George tiepins because they could be “misinterpreted” as a racist symbol.

    There was a time when I would see such political correctness as cute, but in today’s highly-charged climate it has become downright stupid.

    We have well-meaning liberals going overboard with their PC credentials and knowing little about religious issues, nutters who clearly have too much time on their hands and companies who react excessively just because they do not know how to deal with religion.

    The real problem is that Muslims are villified even though most are unaware of these controversies or, going by online chatter, scarcely care for them. In all of the above cases, there was no consultation or a grassroots campaign - just a decision by one or two people making assumptions.

    For Asian papers like Eastern Eye it makes a natural tabloid story for their audience, with apparently little regard for how others might see the story of course.

    In a similar controversy two years ago over books containing pigs, the Muslim Council of Britain said such moves were “well-intentioned but misguided”. Inayat Bunglawala:

    The headteacher has acted sensitively, because there are parents and families who believe that portraying the pig in books is wrong. But there is absolutely no scriptural authority for this view.

    A bit of sanity from the MCB for once.

    Maybe someone could tell Dudley council that. It might also help to tell the Prison Service that not all Muslims are still obsessed with the Crusades. The idiot that came up with that statement needs his head examined.

    One person makes a statement and blogs jump all over them shrieking with derision at the absurdity of it all.

    For most it’s just another example to reinforce their prejudice that Muslims want to destroy the “British way of life”. No one stops to ask whether it’s a conjured up controversy or whether most Muslims are supportive or even aware of the move.

    Ideally, it should be the MCB ensuring that such stupid stories don’t end up tarring the name of all Muslims. But instead they are too busy fighting Panorama to clear their name.

    Pickled Politics itself is guilty of carrying stories like the BK controversy, but its worth examining whether this is a wise move in the future. We help perpetuate that prejudice by giving the impression that such absurd moves are supported by most Muslims when clearly they are not.



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    36 Comments below   |  

    1. Rohin — on 6th October, 2005 at 6:58 pm  

      You know, irrespective of whether I am going to post up the next Burqa King episode, I know that I’ll still email it to some mates for a giggle. Because that’s the main reason I talk about these sorts of stories - I find them funny.

      So you raise an important point Sunny H (I wish your surname began with D), do these have more serious repercussions? I know loads of Muslims, they’re my mates and my colleagues, so know these wacky stories are not the norm for Muslims - but readers of the blogosphere may not be in the same position. I think the way these things are covered is important. When we on PP ran the BK thing - it was tongue in cheek and making fun of the MCB. I hope no one got the impression it reflects on all Muslims. But if you had said it very seriously, perhaps they would have. And I know that is how some people do report these things.

      I don’t know. The journalist in me says you should report everything of interest. I would also report on nutty Jews asking for piggy banks to be banned, Hindus asking for cows to roam the streets or Christians who want shops closed on Sundays, knowing full well that these people don’t represent the majority. However, the equivalents of the MCB in these faiths don’t seem to be saying stupid things. But the MCB (and other groups) do. Frequently.

    2. Robert Sharp — on 6th October, 2005 at 7:24 pm  

      Decision makers need to examine why are people offended by a particular image/symbol/ice-cream. If the answer is “because my religion doesn’t like it” then there’s no logic or causal argument there. It has the same relationship to argument as a parent who shouts “because I said so” at their kids. In these cases, I’m happy to proceed to cause offense with a clear conscience.

      But if you can give a reason for the offense that doesn’t involve God (e.g. gollywogs are demeaning to black people, the George Cross represents the crusades, page 3 objectifies women etc.) then that argument deserves to be taken seriously.

      I’m not a muslim, but I’m still offended by the St George cross - why use a Christian symbol to represent a country that is Christian no longer?

    3. Mokum — on 6th October, 2005 at 8:05 pm  

      Pickled Politics itself is guilty of carrying stories like the BK controversy, but its worth examining whether this is a wise move in the future.

      Ha ha, stop carrying your principles so heavily! This is just a funny story.

      If you scour the image, you will see that the alif in BK’s version does not stand on its own, as it must. The accents are missing too, which is a no no.

      I don’t think this is a wicked subversion of the language of the Koran, and anyone who does is here on earth for our entertainment, not our worries!

      PickledP and Bollywood and todo el mundo should never fear the absurd when there is so much of it about.

    4. David T — on 6th October, 2005 at 9:39 pm  

      There’s an important point here.

      These stories are funny.

      It is worth pointing out that in the paradigm case - the Satanic Verses - the ‘offensiveness’ was cynically used by those who have now installed themselves as self-declared community leaders to mobilise communal opinion. Those ‘community leaders’ are now consulted by government when policy is being determined. Indeed - as we saw in the Tate Modern exhibition story - newspapers immediately turned to the MCB who had not been consulted: Sacranie immediately declared that he was surprised that he had not been consulted.

      The real issue here is the faustian pact between those community leaders and public authorities, which constitutes a power grab by self-appointed vaguely demagogic figures.

      What we’re starting to see, in response, is those who do not regard themselves as the constituency of those community leaders wresting power to define themselves back again.

      You carried a story about child prostitution in Asians in Media and Pickled Politics, which the BNP sought to leverage for their own racist agenda. Well, so what. Fuck them. They’re not the only game in town anymore.

    5. leon — on 6th October, 2005 at 9:42 pm  

      “The real issue here is the faustian pact between those community leaders and public authorities, which constitutes a power grab by self-appointed vaguely demagogic figures.”

      Agreed.

      “Fuck them. They’re not the only game in town anymore.”

      Indeed. There will be more, trust me.;)

    6. Sunny — on 6th October, 2005 at 10:37 pm  

      The stories are only sometimes funny. The BK one for example. The story about Birmingham FC and the Prison service banning the St George’s cross were downright stupid.

      The problem isn’t that they are funny. On Asian forums for example, most Muslims even laugh at them.
      Here for example

      In the wider blogosphere though, people post these stories and what you get underneath is a torrent of anti-Muslim abuse, because it fits into people’s prejudices that the Muslims are trying to change everything to suit them. Do they know that most Muslims don’t even know, much less care about these controversies? Not really.

      In the Tate controversy for example, I would have been interested to see how the MCB responded. They have the power to diffuse these so-called controversies (because the media runs to them), but they always fuck it up anyway.

      So what does an ordinary Muslim see? Some story breaks, people get into a moral huff, start blaming Muslims, column inches get devoted to “our culture is under attack”, blogs from Daily Ablution to Dhimmi Watch, Little Green Footballs and others lap it up, and more anti-Muslim abuse follows. That to me is sickening.

    7. Sunny — on 6th October, 2005 at 10:42 pm  

      Robert - I’m pretty sure this country is still classed as a Christian country, though it has since become largely secular.

    8. Mokum — on 6th October, 2005 at 10:49 pm  

      Sunny,

      Have you ever visited IslamOnline’s forum section?

      In the abundance of water, the fools are thirsty.

      Correct MCB response to the Tate and all other controversies:

      Allahu akhbar

      If Muslims are worried about blogs, they aren’t Muslims

    9. Sunny — on 6th October, 2005 at 10:55 pm  

      Mokum, I know for a fact that not all Muslims hang around Islamonline or even the MPAC site, so I’m takinbg a much broader view here, including anecdotal evidence from friends and colleagues.

    10. Mokum — on 6th October, 2005 at 11:00 pm  

      I know those facts too. What’s the point? Fools everywhere. That’s the broad view.

    11. Siddharth — on 6th October, 2005 at 11:13 pm  

      those stories are essentially light-hearted digs at the muddle headedness of our so-called community leaders. but it was nice to see you acknowledge they also pile on the ammunition for those who need to take a swipe at muslims. there is an unfortunate twist to the hilarity though. Some poor woman gets to have dog shit piled through her letterbox because the bnp man’s eyes glazed over after reading the last post on pakistani child sex ring on Pickled Politics. meanwhile sir iqbal will be busy that night deciding which bow tie to wear for the next political schmooze party he’ll be gracing. Thats the rub but a small rub in the scheme of things. the cats who need asians for a scratch-post would have whether there were these types of posts on the blogoshpere or not. carry on with those stories PP!

    12. David T — on 6th October, 2005 at 11:17 pm  

      In the wider blogosphere though, people post these stories and what you get underneath is a torrent of anti-Muslim abuse, because it fits into people’s prejudices that the Muslims are trying to change everything to suit them.

      So? Its a chance to take the bigots on.

      The point is this: if you self-censor because you’re afraid that bigots will catalogue this sort of stuff and redeploy it to suit their own agenda, you end up saying nothing. You also let the “community leaders” set your agenda. Why would you let either group do that?

      About a year ago, Leslie Bunder started doing a site called “The Board of Guardians” which parodied the self important style of the British Board of Deputies. The Board of Deputies immediately responded by stating that the spoofs would be circulated by anti-jewish racists to their own racist readership. They happened, as a matter of fact, to be right: you can find some of this parody stuff on a racist site called “tribalreview”. Sacranie, as you saw, used some of Bunder’s more serious stuff to push his own argument in the Guardian.

      Again, so what? Bunder’s stuff is often funny. The Board of Deputies are still self-important and unrepresentative. The racists are still racists. But he still has important points to make, and they get a hearing too.

      People aren’t idiots. They can sniff a bigot out a mile off. We just keep pushing the good arguments.

      If you don’t think you’re going to win in the end, and want to give up, fair enough. But I wouldn’t throw in my hand just yet…

    13. Eric — on 6th October, 2005 at 11:20 pm  

      Sunny,

      the MCB did bugger up the Tate issue.

      On the wider point I do think that there is a strain of non-Muslim thought that we should do everything to prevent possible offense, leading to bizarre decisions like banning plastic pigs, or alternatively Burger king caving in to one complaint - when they should have told him to relax and that it was an ice-cream cone.

      This sort of action creates bad publicity for Muslims, which is the exact opposite of what these people intended.

      Lord preserve us from interfering do-gooders. The Muslim community needs protecting from fascist morons who attack mosques and girls in hijabs - not plastic pigs, modern art and ice-cream wrappers.

    14. Mokum — on 6th October, 2005 at 11:41 pm  

      Siddharth,

      if PickledP has BNP readers, which apparently it has, like another place, it should be honoured.

      Nerves are wonderful. Apparently Buddhists have some of the best on earth.

    15. Sunny — on 7th October, 2005 at 12:30 am  

      I’m not fussed about the readers - those come with the territory and you give as good as you get.

      I’m worried about people hyping up stories which are, in effect, non-stories. But because a Muslim is involved, it suddenly becomes important. That CNN poll was idiotic IMO and for some reason, everyone blamed Muslims again. Its becoming beyond a joke.

      I know for a fact that Eastern Eye, after reading a similar piece on Asians In Media, will think twice about hyping up such silly controversies in the future. They’ve got a temporary editor who clearly has much to learn.

      I don’t see it as a self-censorship issue. We all make decisions as editors to highlight certain pieces of news. Something which is non-existent becomes news just because papers, political parties or other organisations hype it up. So I don’t believe we are without responsibility. That is my stance anyway.

    16. Old Pickler — on 7th October, 2005 at 12:31 am  

      Any Muslims I know personally think the pig thing, the flag thing, the ice cream thing etc are stupid. However, it would be good to see more public ridicule of this kind of nonsense and more effective leadership coming from Muslims.

      Also it is not silly to ask why Muslims, of all religions are treated with kid gloves in this way. Answers are needed.

    17. Siddharth — on 7th October, 2005 at 1:25 am  

      Only those who don’t know or have ‘forgotten’ what it is to be a minority in the UK could carry on happily posting these type of stories about such and such a minority without understanding the broad cause and effect. Once again, Sunny, I’m glad you do mate.

    18. douglas — on 7th October, 2005 at 1:57 am  

      I know what you are saying here, but I’d like to make a point about the Cross of St George. If you go to the front page of the BNP site, on the top right there are three wee lassies in St Georges Cross T-Shirts.

      As a symbol it has historically been sequestered by the right. If one prison officer is wearing it, no problem. If many are then it could well be a coded message.

      Call me paranoid. Of all the stuff I’ve read here that is the only one that seems to me to be worth at least considering as racist, or at least sinister.

      douglas

    19. Shahid — on 7th October, 2005 at 6:02 am  

      Funny, I didn’t know about any of these stories, which just goes to show how little value they have. Either that, or how underpowered my radar is!

      It would be interesting knowing how many Muslims have been targetted with abuse or assault, simply because some idiot was wound up by stories that his victim knew nothing about.

    20. David T — on 7th October, 2005 at 9:47 am  

      These stories get out there for a number of reasons. Plastic pigs are banned in Dudley: a council worker tells a newspaper. Burger King offends the MCB fools: they tell a newspaper. A play dishonours Sikhs: 400 chanting people turn people turn up and they’re pretty hard to miss.

      OK - perhaps you’re get a minor “scoop” on day that you’re not going to print.

      If its of the plastic pigs variety, frankly who cares? The story - or one very much like it - is probably going to get out there in any case: as long as there are MCB-types being consulted on communal sensibilitiies, and local authority policy makers deferring either to them, or to what they think they might think. By not printing this stuff, you’ll not make a difference one way or the other.

      If its of the “child prostitution” variety, and you don’t print it because you’re worried that the BNP will hold a march in “your honour” - well, that’s quite a different matter. First, the BNP will run their campaigns in any case. Their issue isn’t “child prostitution by asians”. Their issue is “the existence of asians in this country”. As long as there are asians in this country, and racists, the BNP or other racist organisations will continue to exist, and they will always have a cause .
      Do you really flatter yourself that the use of your name has provoked their demonstration? Is this what all of this is really about?
      You’re not responsible for the demonstration.
      Do you think that anybody believes the BNP is seriously motivated by anything other than racism? They’re transparent. Racists don’t think “its OK to support the BNP because they quoted an asian”. Non-racists don’t think “perhaps the BNP isn’t racist because the quoted an asian”. Fuck them. Don’t let them run your agenda.

      If you’re going to self censor because you’re worried about what the racists will say, you’re deeply fooling yourself that you are simply making a “decisions as editors to highlight certain pieces of news” rather than others. You are, as a matter of fact, letting racists dictate your editorial policy.

      If you do that, you’re reporting becomes deeply compromised. I’d go further: your identity also becomes deeply compromised AND defined by racists, because you have let them decide what you are going to say.

      And what is worse: you’ve done it for no reason at all. Because stories like the Burger King wrapper fiasco are going to get out there in any case. And the only people who will be commenting on it WILL be the racists.

      What a great leap forward for anti-communalism and liberal values that will be.

    21. Chris — on 7th October, 2005 at 10:03 am  

      Douglas - David T’s excellent points about the news agenda also apply to the St George’s flag and (for that matter) the union flag.
      It has only been “appropriated” by the BNP etc because normal people see the BNP using it and therefore unwilling to display it themselves - a form of self-censorship.
      Thus we allow the BNP to dictate whether we can display our own country’s flag…not a good outcome…this then reinforces the “Muslims can’t really be British - they even hate the flag” stuff to persist.
      There was an excellent witness on Wed’s Radio 4 “Moral Maze” - an Asian woman whose name I’m afraid I forget - who spoke brilliantly about the damage “top-down” policies of “sensitivity” and “inclusion” did by constantly emphasising difference.

    22. David T — on 7th October, 2005 at 10:18 am  

      Putting the news agenda business completely to one side: I can’t stress the personal aspects of this sufficiently.

      To adapt your behaviour because of fear of the BNP is the equivalent of taking your hijab or skull cap off, bleaching your skin, changing your accent, and creeping around in a submissive way saying “sorry sir sorry sir” all the time.

      This is the conduct of a colonised culture.

    23. Siddharth — on 7th October, 2005 at 2:04 pm  

      DavidT:
      I think you’re missing the point Sunny is making here. Its not about the BNP. We know their motives and their agenda and yes they are just transparent racists and all that. Putting the BNP clowns aside, Sunny is asking a more subtle/serious question: when does the relentless info published on Muslims, (the term ‘Muslim’ used here in the widest sense) both of the trivial Burger King variety and the more serious sort, stop becoming news and instead morphs into material for plain old anti-Muslim racist invective and actions. It does happen and Sunny has illustrated it very well. This is compounded by the fact that so-called progressive blogs, Sunny mentioned at least 3 but we know there are plenty more, are more than happy to continue to post this material. This raises the question - does the Progressive Liberal politics expounded by these blogs mean its OK to be anti-Islam?

      Harry’s Place is not in the category, as much. But take a look at the stuff posted by commenters on Islam-related posts and you will might be forgiven in thinking you’re been redirected to the BNP site’s discussion forum.

    24. Sunny — on 7th October, 2005 at 2:55 pm  

      It was interesting to read Robert Sharp’s take as well on his site about the St George’s cross, and I think douglas makes the same point.

      But regardless of whether the cross needs to be reclaimed from the BNP or not, it is not my main point.

      David you already know that the news agenda is carefully selected and shaped by each news organisation. The Telegraph is interested in different news to the Guardian for example.

      A quote from the Telegraph article linked above.
      Is it really a victory for “tolerance” to say that a council worker cannot have a Piglet coffee mug on her desk? And isn’t an ability to turn a blind eye to animated piglets the very least the West is entitled to expect from its Muslim citizens? If Islam cannot “co-exist” even with Pooh or the abstract swirl on a Burger King ice-cream, how likely is it that it can co-exist with the more basic principles of a pluralist society? As A A Milne almost said: “They’re changing guard at Buckingham Palace/ Her Majesty’s Law is replaced by Allah’s.”

      By the way, isn’t it grossly offensive to British Wahhabis to have a head of state who is female and uncovered?

      I doubt whether the Post Office will be in any rush to issue another set of Pooh commemorative stamps, or the BBC to revive Pinky and Perky. Forty years ago, Britain’s Islamic minority didn’t have the numbers to ban Piglet and change the Burger King menu. Now they do. What will be deemed “unacceptable” in the interests of “tolerance” in 20 or even five years’ time?

      http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/10/04/do0402.xml

      the commentator doesn’t really care if Muslims know about the controversy at all - to them ‘the Muslims are coming’.
      Scott Burgess and Robert Spencer (dhimmi watch) link to them and shrief even louder.

      It’s firstly that commentary that worries me.

      Secondly, Eastern Eye, most probably, found a few Muslims who complained to them about Birmingham FC. They probably then approached the club and made it a front page story because it sounded good. The club now probably thinks it’ll have a riot on its hand if the casino opens just because two or three boys harassed EE to run the story.

      Is it really a story or a cynical attempt by a newspaper to exert some pressure and conjure up a massive outrage? I see too many examples of this.

      No doubt in the coming weeks, months and years many commentators will use the above examples to emphsise that Muslims can not live in this country, without mentioning that Muslims themselves do not even care about such issues.

    25. Nush — on 7th October, 2005 at 3:20 pm  

      would i be niave to wear a st georges cross then?

    26. David T — on 7th October, 2005 at 4:36 pm  

      Secondly, Eastern Eye, most probably, found a few Muslims who complained to them about Birmingham FC. They probably then approached the club and made it a front page story because it sounded good. The club now probably thinks it’ll have a riot on its hand if the casino opens just because two or three boys harassed EE to run the story

      Yeah, but isn’t this an allegory for the way that Siddiqui et al captured the news and then the political agenda?

      Is your argument that communal-based newspapers etc. should ignore Siddiquesque figures altogether?

      As for the HP comment boxes: you know exactly where I stand personally. They are also open to all of you.

    27. nukh — on 7th October, 2005 at 6:15 pm  

      why all the brouhaha over the mention of pigs..
      when in the dear quran, the most perfectest of all books, allah cursed Jews and turned them into apes and pigs (2:62-65; 5:59-60; 7:166).
      go figure

    28. Sunny — on 7th October, 2005 at 6:45 pm  

      David - My argument is that a paper like EE should see whether there is a genuine grass-roots movement, backed up by genuine outrage by a large group of people, and then give it credence.

      There is nothing in the Qu’ran, that would justify BK changing their swirly. Just because one idiot made it his Jihad doesn’t mean EE should put pressure on BK to change it. And the just MCB added fuel to the stupidity as they do.

      Papers have made these big issues just because a Muslim is involved, not because there is genuine outrage by loads of people. That to me is biased and sensationalist reporting that serves no real purpose in news reporting.

      As for the comments - yeah of course I could join in and defend Muslims, and I sometimes do. But for people its herd mentality. They see a slew of these stories and their paranoia is heightened. Who cares if no Muslims were involved.

      Nukh - That is about context and historical events, not general advise. People who start citing references without context and commentrary bore me - there’s far too many fools like that for me to justify wasting my time.

    29. douglas — on 7th October, 2005 at 7:32 pm  

      Chris,

      Point. But at the moment the flag, particularily the Cross of Saint George seems to me to have been misappropriated. If one is not of the extreme right, it seems sensible to me that you do censor yourself. You do not, after all, want to be assiciated with extremism.

      You can argue all you like, and I’d agree with you that it shouldn’t be so, but it seems to me to be a fact that it is a right wing symbol.

      Sad, maybe. But having grains of truth in it. Reclaim the flag. It could be done easily when you watch the cricket, for instance. That centering of the flag as a symbol of all that is poositive, rather than all that is negative, has not reached a tipping point for me.

      douglas

    30. douglas — on 7th October, 2005 at 7:34 pm  

      Chris,

      Point. But at the moment the flag, particularily the Cross of Saint George seems to me to have been misappropriated. If one is not of the extreme right, it seems sensible to me that you do censor yourself. You do not, after all, want to be associated with extremism.

      You can argue all you like, and I’d agree with you that it shouldn’t be so, but it seems to me to be a fact that it is a right wing symbol.

      Sad, maybe. But having grains of truth in it. Reclaim the flag. It could be done easily when you watch the cricket, for instance. That centering of the flag as a symbol of all that is positive, rather than all that is negative, has not reached a tipping point for me.

      douglas

    31. douglas — on 7th October, 2005 at 7:39 pm  

      Sunny,

      You should be able to edit a post without making it obvious to everyone that you can’t spell or type for toffee. Please improve this web site by including an edit option. :) Smileys would be good too.

      douglas, the idiotic typist.

    32. Sunny — on 7th October, 2005 at 7:46 pm  

      Smileys are there brother, but I’m still trying to figure out his this version of Wordpress works. don’t worry, we won’t hold your spelling (or my spelling) against you ;)

    33. nukh — on 7th October, 2005 at 8:27 pm  

      ohh, i cho sorry sunny, for boring you
      did i hurt your feelings?
      ..maybe if little sunny would pull out his swollen head from your ass…and take a look around….he would have the intellect to discern the context or reference..or the cynicism….
      and please spare me your sanctimonious…it is my blog crap!

    34. Sunny — on 7th October, 2005 at 9:18 pm  

      Hehe, no feelings hurt Nukh. Seriously though, I get the Quran people quoting all the time dude… no joke. One day the BNP press office called me up when he got annoyed that I compared the BNP to Hizb ut Tahrir to the BNP. Started quoting the Quran to me… I did ask if he understood the context, at which point he pointed out he didn’t want to know.

      so tell me why I should humour people who learn stuff only that fits into their prejudice?

    35. David T — on 9th October, 2005 at 9:52 pm  

      Papers have made these big issues just because a Muslim is involved, not because there is genuine outrage by loads of people.

      Yeah, but this is my point isn’t it. Blame the papers all you want: but you’ve got to admit that - at the very least - self appointed ‘community leaders’ have ended up famous and publicly honoured as a result of creating fusses just like this.

      Come on - this is basic stuff, isn’t it?

    36. Sunny — on 9th October, 2005 at 11:13 pm  

      Totally agreed, the MCB came out of the Salman Rushdie fatwa and the same happened during the Sikh play Behzti controversy, as I’ve written here:
      http://www.asiansinmedia.org/news/article.php/theatre/763

      The self appointed community leaders do well out of such controversies only because the media do their best to hype them up.

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