BBC Victoria Derbyshire – Sloppy Islamophobia Journalism

What links the BBC News channel, a prime BBC program & reporter, Victoria Derbyshire, with Catrin Nye, the BBC Asian Network, and a shoddy piece of ‘research’ by Demos and their claims to have exposed 7,000 Islamophobic tweets right after the Nice Westernphobia* Kaffarphobia* attack in Nice?

*All aboard the phobia bandwagon.

The BBC News is the BBC’s TV dedicated news channel. Pretty important, the best of BBC news reporting, you’d think.

When that channel gives over a two hour chunk to one programme, that bears the name of the main presenter, Victoria Derbyshire, you think they’d invested in a pretty reliable and thorough journalist, right?

Well, not quite: …

Here’s the very poor programme, hosted by Victoria

Victoria starts out just parroting the Demos line, without any circumspection or journalistic reserve of judgment.

Islamophobia For Catrin & Ruqaiya

Victoria leads into Catrin Nye’s piece. Who is Catrin Nye? She’s one of Victoria’s team. She’s also worked on the BBCAsian network. If you look at Catrin’s Twitter stream she’s making the most of this from a number of angles. This is her pinned tweet:

A man interrupts an interview I’m doing about Islamophobia…with Islamophobia. My new story on rising Twitter abuse

There’s the issue here with the term ‘Islamophobia’, of course – as we’ll find out later in the programme. But if you watch the detail of the interaction, as much as is available in another BBC video here, it’s hard to see anything other than some guy interrupting an interview with his opinion about Sharia law.

He wasn’t being ‘Islamophobic’ in the sense of showing any hate towards the interviewee Ruqaiya Haris (@ruqxx). He pointed out that Islam is an ideology, which it is, a political-judicial-religious ideology. We’ll come back that that point later in the programme.

Of course many Muslims, and possibly Ruqaiya, see Islam as a religion only. While many Muslims may live the private religion, many also see its political and judicial side as important, and at least express it, and all too often enact it. A serious problem we have is when Muslims like the former deny the latter, when the latter are among us for all to see.

The idea of Takfir, the denouncing of other Muslims as apostates because of their ‘un-Islamic’ behaviour (the term isn’t used by all Muslim sects) is so ingrained that whenever you interact with any Muslim you’re pretty much guaranteed to be told that those other Muslims they disagree with aren’t really following Islam, that they are un-Islamic and not really Muslims. Again we’ll see that leter in the show.

But an aside here is how the interruption could have been handled … As a matter of professional journalism, how could the interruption have been handled by the interviewer Nye? Maybe asking the guy not to interrupt, to let the interview go on, with an offer to have a discussion after the interview – if he’s so Islamophobic’ that would have been good material, right? How could an interviewee have reacted? Maybe by letting the professional journalist handle the interruption – after all, interruptions happen in open air intterviews don’t they, so the professional will know best, right?

How was it handled? … Both Nye and Haris go for the guy verbally in a manner very reminiscent of other scenes of Muslims barating opponents, or college kids on university campuses ‘no platforming’ some speaker. It’s nothing but a shouting down. I’m not sure how Muslims, and their apologist lefty friends think this comes across – perhaps they don’t think, because it all looks very emotionally charged.

In the end the guy doesn’t offer much at all, other than his opinion that he doesn’t like Sharia. And that’s Islamophobic? Or is it Islamophobic because he directed it at a Muslim – we can’t even address Muslims now? Look, it was a rude interruption of an interview. It wasn’t hateful, bigoted, it was simply a political view – he doesn’t like Sharia. You see interruptions like that often whenever politics is being discussed in public.

But, back to the actual interview …

The interview itself, between Catrin and Ruqaiya did cover some of the hateful tweets she receives. I’m sure she could have come up with more convincing ones. Or maybe not, because later, when talking on the panel, she says it doesn’t happen often. This hyperbole not matching actuality is symptomatic of the narrative around Islam – a terrorist bomb goes off; but hey, what about white supremacist looking at a hijabi funny!

And I’m afraid you’ll just have to get used to the fact that people will be ‘insulting Islam’. Islam is a political-judicial-religious system. Why can’t it be insulted? What gives your belief system a priviledge or respect that your Quran doesn’t give of Kaffar, Jews, Christians – which it insults often enough?

Insulting an ideology you disagree with isn’t a phobia.

Islamophobia for Carl

Next up it’s Carl Miller (@carljackmiller) of Demos, a ‘Cross Party Think Tank’  that has produced some ‘research’ that claims to show spikes in ‘Islamophobic’ tweets around incidents of Islamic terrorism. There are problems with this research.

I’ve covered Demos and Carl in this post: Carl Miller of Demos Still Misfires on ‘Islamophobia’. So here I’ll just reiterate some of the points relating to this BBC programme.

Carl acknowledges that conflating legitimate criticism of Islam and hate towards Muslims is a problem. And then goes ahead and does it very explicitly.

We’ve been seeing five thousand tweets every single day which are anti-Islamic, seriously derogatory and hateful being sent in the English language across the world. And it’s been building month on month since May, with July as the worst so far with just under seven thousand tweets, judged as anti-Islamic every single day.

Remember, this is supposed to be about ‘Islamophobia’, which is really supposed to be about seriously derogatory and hateful attitudes towards Muslims. But Muslims see our legitimate criticism of Islam as seriously derogatory and hateful attitudes towards Muslims. And Carl explicitly now calls all this anti-Islamic. But being anti- any political, judicial or religious system (Ialam is all three) is not being seriously derogatory and hateful to people – that’s just an excuse to deflect criticism.

Carl picks on some tweets that contain both hate speech and criticism of Islam – the two issues are ‘brought together’, conflated, but are still distinct.

But Carl conflates them as if they are one thing: anti-Islamic, seriously derogatory and hateful.

The Use of Deeyah Khan

The programme uses comments by Deeyah Khan, documentary maker.

The thing is, Deeyah Khan has made documentaries so critical of some Muslims and Muslim groups, on how Islamism has infltrated British mosques, that much of what she says would be considered Islamophobic according to the way the term is used in this programme.

It might be that without some of the ‘key words’ in the Demos study none of her tweets would be counted as Islamophobic. However, suppose:

  • You didn’t look into the Demos report for how it measures tweets.
  • You knew of Deeyah’s work on Islamism.
  • You listened to this programme.

It could very easily leave you thinking that Deeyah Khan is Islamophboc (hates Muslims interpretation).

Ruqaiya Haris

Ruqaiya is shown in the clips with Catrin Nye. But Ruqaiya doesn’t play ball on the panel, when asked to talk about the vast number of horrid tweets she gets.

It’s weird. I wouldn’t say it happens every day, very often. But online it’s become something quite normal to me.

I’m affraid being abused online is quite normal for everyone. I see many Muslims in debates about Islam – and to be honest that happens mostly when they have tweeted something themselves; such as, they have told the world how great Islam is or how bad the west is, and not surprisingly people tweet back in opposition – and the hate tweets are not that common that I can tell, unless you’re a celeb. But then if you want to know what hate and death threats are you should listen to what many atheists get from Muslims and Christians.

Back to Ruqaiya …

On the one hand I feel quite hardened to it. It’s something I’ve grown up hearing. But on the other hand it never stops being something that plays on your mind and angers you and irritating you.

Welcome to political life on twitter. Anyone interested in politics, law or religion will feel this way. We all have our views contested, often robustly, and often with abuse. This really is trivial compared to actual death threats that have a distinct possibility of being carried out: try being Maajid Nawaz for a day, or Rushdie, or a cartoonist.

As soon as someone sees a woman wearing a hijab there’s going to be some kind of reaction. It doesn’t matter what I say, it’s not the content of what I say that’s the problem. It’s just me, as a Muslim.

No, it’s pretty much always the content that is responded to. Look at Ruqaiya’s twitter feed, look at what she writes, then look at the responses.

What I see far more often on social media, especially on Twitter and Facebook, on accounts like British Asians UK, for example, are far more homophobic and misogynistic hate coming from Muslims, and most often it’s fellow Muslims they are passing judegment on.

Victoria Derbyshire asks Ruqaiya what she thinks of the obserevation that many people presume all Muslims are terrorists (or sympethisers).

It’s a shame that people conflate the two. I think it’s a situation where people don’t really don’t engage that much with Muslims in their community, and part that Muslims don’t engage with them.

So, the real problem Ruqaiya is identifying in this specific case, of presuming all Muslims are closet terrorists, is about ignorance. And she identifies it from both directions. Is it not the case that many Muslim communities do actually isolate themselves from the rest of British life? There are examples of how preachers in mosques discourage integration, because they demonise non-Muslims, which is a direct consequence of what the Islamic texts say.

If ignorance leads to this particular ‘monolithic’ view of Muslims, Muslim exceptionalism is a big part of the cause. Muslims contribute a great deal to the ‘monolithic’ view that Carl Miller covers in his work – but because he sees it expressed in anti-Islamic tweets he puts the conflation of hate and criticism at the door of these tweet authors. But if he examined tweets from Muslims he’d find it starts there.

Ajmal Masroor

Victoria Derbyshire asks him:

I wonder if you here a lot, that actually you should be out on the streets condemning from IS and other Islamist terrorists.

To which he responds:

I’ve been condemning them ’till I’m blue in the face, but people still continue to associate and connect Islam with terrorism. You’ve just done it by calling it Islamist terrorists.

This has to be one of the most stupid openings I’ve heard – along with all the other times I’ve heard it.

He didn’t address the ‘out on the streets’ element – and very wisely too. Tell me how often and on what scale you see Muslims on the streets of Britain protesting the following:

  • Israel attacks on Gaza based rocket launchers and Hamas military caches.
  • Israeli soldiers in conflict with stone throwing civillians in Gaza.
  • Cartoons of Mohammed.
  • Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses
  • Gaza based Hamas attacks on Israelis, with rockets, bombs on buses, stabbings.
  • Any number of Islamic terrorist attacks – there’s been plenty of opportunity – 40 so far in 2016, and that excludes some, like Nice, because the authors are not yet convinved it was motivated by Islamist ideology.
  • How many Sunni and Shia Muslims came out in protest against the death of Ahmadi Asad Shah, by Sunni Tanveer Ahmed? I’ll give you a hint: Which Muslim groups failed to attend an anti-extremism event held by Ahmadi Muslims, an event attended by representatives of Jewish and Christian faiths? I wonder.

And on the point of association of ‘Islamist terrorism’ with Islam, what on earth do you expect.

Why give them that credence, why give them that accolade?

Asked what he would call them:

Terrorists, thugs, mugs, name them all sorts, just don’t give them the honour of Islam.

This amounts to pointless denialism, and actually increases the problem of confusion, and the conflation from ignorance that Ruqaiya mentioned above. Because even those with a very limted perspective on Islam can see the patently obvious – the Islamist terrorists are Islamic. Not Ruqaiya’s Islamic, not Ajmal’s Islamic, not Maajid Nawaz’s Islamic … but their Islamic.

Here’s the problem with Ajmal’s nonsense … imagine if you will …

News flash: “The police are on the lookout for a white male, with a short distinguished moustache and beard …”

Ajmal: “Don’t call him white. White people are mostly honourable. Don’t call him male. I’m a male and I’m honourable. Hey! I’ve got a distinguished and very honourable moustache and beard!”

I’m not sure Ajmal will think this a fair comparison, because, ‘respect for religion’. Ajmal again …

Islam is a religion, …

Excuse the interuption, Ajmal, but that’s not quite right.

Islam is a political-judicial-religion. The Quran is very specific about this, and you know it.

… followed by 1.8 billion people of the world. None of them support these idiots.

  • Does that 1.8 billion include Ahmadi Muslims, that many Sunni and Shia Muslims reject as non-Muslim apostate blasphemers?
  • In fact does that include both Suuni and Shia, who, in various numbers, denounce each other as non-Muslims?
  • Does it include ISIS, Taliban, Al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbolah, Baath Party in Syria and ex baathist from Iraq, Hizb ut-Tahrir, … and their sympathisers among ‘moderate’ Muslims.

You can’t claim that there are 1.8 billion Muslims, and then exclude any that are inconvenient, and then claim none of the 1.8 billion support them; especially when various polls show that many people you would consider to be Muslims do support them.

The ISIS magazine Dabiq has made it very clear since its outset that it is very Islamic – just as Islamic as you, Ajmal, even if not ‘your’ specific Islamic.

This is the problem that non-Muslims are up against, and why it is a total nonsense to label any generalisations about Islam, when such conflicting message come out of the mouths of even decent Muslims – even an imam.

If you are a non-Muslim, have you ever been told to go speak to an imam for clarification on matters Islamic?. Best of luck …

Muslim A: I’m a Muslim. I follow the holy Quran.

Muslim B: No you’re not. I’m a Muslim. I follow the holy Quran.You are not a proper Muslim, A.

Muslim C: You are both apostates. There’s only one true Islam and that’s mine.  I follow the holy Quran.

non-Muslim: So, you’re all Muslims really. You all follow the Quran.

Amslim A,B,C: Islamophobe! How dare you tell us about our religion. There are 1.8 billion Muslims. You are treating Islam as a monolith! You are so ignorant.

I must admit I do have a conspiracy theory about Islam. I sometimes wonder if Muslims are playing a big joke on western non-Muslims. They give us this BS and spend their time sniggering in the mosque because they’ve baffled the Kaffir.

Back to Ajmal …

I’m very sad to hear Ruqaiya’s experience, that she feels it’s normal …

Hold on there Ajmal. Have you read the Quran? Actually I asked you this online …

The trouble is, either with Christianity in the UK for a long time, but latterly with Islam too, we’ve been suffering under Unbelieverphobia fro millenia.

And you know when Muslims get all upset about presumptions that non-Muslims might make, as Ruqaiya did when she corrected her interrupting guy, to say that she didn’t want Sharia either? Well, it cuts both ways:

Well, that at least was a more polite request that I check out the Quran than I’m used to from many Muslims.

And, as expected, he moves the goal posts …

Ajmal is a busy man. I’ll wait …

But in the more general case, we non-Muslims – in fact any non-ReligionX, gets it in the neck from at least the texts of ReligionX, and all too often direct from followers of ReligionX.

Anecdote: I had been an atheist adult for many years, when my ex-Catholic mother, who married my Protestant father, told me a story. When she married my father and converted, her priest, a Father Murphy, no relation, told her very forcefully that her children would be condemned to burn in hell. About six years later she visited her mother, still a Catholic, and a different priest happened to be visiting. When he asked why my mother hadn’t been bringing us children to mass, she explained. And then he too condemned us to burn in hell. Maybe that’s why I’m an atheist – I’m preparing for hell. The point of the anecdote is that this is the crap we get from religion all the time … and I know from many ex-Muslims that they get it far worse.

So, in response to Ajmal, I’m afraid this whining by Muslims that they are given some verbals just doesn’t wash. There is no end to the persecution of non-Muslims throughout the Muslim world – and Ajmal knows this full well.

I oppose the intolerant racist abuse that many ethnicities have to face up to – and that includes many Muslim workers from the far east that are subjected to abuse from Arab Muslims in Saudi. I oppose any unnecessary verbal abuse – especially accosting people in the street with no justification (ah, remember the Muslim patrols? LMAO).

But it really is the case that a lot of special peleading goes on from Muslims, as though they are the most persecuted people on earth, when, around the world, a good number of Ajmal’s 1.8 billion Muslims are busy persecuting other people, often other Muslims.

So, back to Ajmal, again, …

We’re heading for a big disaster. In our pub banter, in our restaurant conversations, in our social settings, it’s become sexy and fashionable to deride a Muslim, talk against Islam, …

Whooaaa there fella! Rewind a sec.

Let’s get the easy bit out of the way first. I’ll talk against any political, judicial or religious system I see fit. I’ll criticse Islam because it holds no special sacred place – despite what you may have persuaded yourself to believe. It’s just another ideaology, a set of ideas, and I’m going to ‘talk against it’ if it warrants it – and it does.

Note that Carl doesn’t even come in here and back up his claims elsewhere that legitimate criticism of Islam isn’t a problem.

On top of that, Ajmal, you say “it’s become sexy and fashionable to deride a Muslim” What on earth are you talking about? It’s always been fashionable among all groups to have a go at other groups. Do I really have to remind you, again, about the treatment of Ahmadi Muslims and Jews by many other Muslims?

Our children are feeling fear. My nephew said to me, uncle I don’t want to be a Muslim anymore. He’s only ten.

Come on Ajmal, this is rediculous. If you’re going to give an anecdote, as I did, at least flesh it out with some more detail. Is your nephew bullied by non-Muslims at school? What sort fo school is it? Or has he been told some of the stories about Islam and figured that, yeah, actually, this sounds pretty dumb?

When our prejudice and phobia cascades down to school playgrounds, we have failed.

That cuts all ways, Ajmal, and you damned well know it. This isn’t Islamophobia you’re talkig about but just general prejudice that applies across the board. I’d love to go into some schools in regions where most kids in the class are Muslims and ask them some questions – I’m pretty sure we’d get some unsavoury opinions about the Kaffar, the Jew, the Chrisian; oh, and the Ahmadi, and the Sikh, and the Hindu.

I get it every day. Tweet, after appearing on television, there are media pundits, media personalities, that will speak freely, and candidly, without any shame, calling us all sorts of names, making Islamophobic* and derogatory remarks. There is no accountability. And this is a very bad day for all of us, …

*There’s that misapplied word again.  

I’d like to see all these remarks by pundits and personalities. Given the use of terms like Islamophobia here, I wonder if they’re not mostly opinions on Islam, or perhaps remarks about how many Muslims can evade the obvious – that Islamist terrorists are called such because they profess to follow Islam.

What Ajmal and many other Muslims seem not to get, as I illustrated above, is that if two sets of people are calling themselves Muslims, quoting the Quran, and obviously following some of the prescriptions and proscriptions of the religion, then both sets are Islamic, no matter how much they denounce each other.

Seriously, Ajmal, there is no pope of Islam, and Mohammed has long gone. Within any bounds of rationality, ISIS are just as Islamic as you are.

And the Ahmadi Muslims? Are they Muslims? Are they Islamic? Only many of your fellow Muslims would denounce Ahmadi Muslims as un-Islamic before they would ISIS. This is a fact ou simply want to wish away. Burying your head in the sand is not going to help.

… and I’m glad Demos has done this research**. Just to show the obvious elephant in the room, no more Islamophobia please, stop it.

**This flawed research.

This is now laughable. The ‘elephant in the room’, the thing we mustn’t mention, the ‘Voldamort effect’ as Maajid nawaz puts it, is the association between Islam and Islamism and ISIS.

In previous generations, when this happened, I’m afraid what we saw was bloodbath. And we don’t want to see that ever again.

We’re seeing right now, under ISIS. Who ARE Islamic – if they say so, and if they follow the Quran. Who are you to say they are not. Funny how Muslims can be so divisive among each other, and then whine about how divisive criticisms of Islam are.

Criticisms of Islam are only divisive becasue Muslims take offence so easily. I can argue the toss with many a Christian, and in the end the outcome will be, “Well, that’s what I believe; each to their own.” More often than not, Muslims are offended when their religion is questioned.

Racist and ‘Islamophobic’ Language

Victory asks Ajmal how he’s going to ‘stop it’, and makes the counter point, to Ajmal’s mention of children and schools:

Victoria – Even if there was a period in the curriculum where the teacher had that type of conversation, actually, if you’re a racist child, it’s becasue you’ve got racist parents. It almost doesn’t matter what the teacher says.

This is a great point, and one that secularists and atheists often make. Now, let’s see, if Ajmal is going to agree that parents should have less influence over their children’s perspectives on relationships with others? Would Muslim parents stop teaching their children the traditional Islamic perspectives on Jews and non-believers?

Ajmal – We’re going to change that. You know why, because the generations will change. When I was younger I had bottle broken in my face because I was black or brown, by white supremicist BNP thugs. It doesn’t happen any more. Not on the basis of race. We changed that by fighting back by educating our children.

That’s odd, because 1,400 years of generations haven’t change Muslim opinion about Jews, Christians and un-believers an aweful lot. Oh, yes, becasue Islam doesn’t allow it. Apostasy and blasphemy rules prevent dissent.

Carl comes back in here and brings up Islamophobia again, in the context of changing the etiquette of online discussion. Well, if so much online abuse comes from around the world, that’s no going to happen any time soon. And you really do need to look at the abuse dished out to non-Muslims, and to fellow Muslims, by many Muslims. A lot is being made of Islamophobia here, as an abuse of Muslims, but in the context of online abuse it’s no different than that received by anyone.

By the way, if you think it is, if you think there are degrees of online abuse that are bad, less bad, worse, then you’re not really in a position to make the claim that is often made by non-Muslims: that religions can be compared for the words contained in their books, just as the words contained in tweets can be compared.

Dispite Ajmal’s desire to shut down hate speech through censorship (does he want blasphemy laws? I don’t know his views on that), it’s Ruqaiya that brings in a different view:

Ruqaiya – I think here the biggest issue is how socially acceptable it is, and I think that it’s not something that can necessarily be changed by legislation. If anything it makes Islamophobes* feel like, well, we’re really marginalised now, we’re the victims, we can’t speak our minds and our freedom of speech has been ruined.

Some sense at last [barring the use of ‘Islamophobes’]. Except that I would add that critics of Islam will not merely ‘feel’ their freedom of speech has been infringed, it very much has been. Do the religious really want to get to the point where their hate filled texts can’t be quoted, preeched, for fear of being charged with a hate crime?

Oh, and yes, we can’t have someone else competeing in the victimhood arena.

Ruqaiya – … it’s the fact that these politicians are coming out, they’re insinuating very Islamophobic things. They’re stereotyping us. They are making sweeping generalisations. … It’s about taking care and being accountable.

Taking ‘Islamophobic’ only to mean direct and personal abuse, then by all means work towards reducing it. But do not expect riticism of Islam to stop. Do not expect a disassociation of ISIS from Islam, when they are more Islamic than many Muslims appear to be. Neither Ruqaiya or Ajmal, or any other Muslim has a right to dictate to ISIS Muslims that they are not Muslims. They may be pretty awful human beings, implementing an awful version of Islam, but nobody else is going to take this BS and think they are not Muslims, not ‘Islamic terrorists’. At best you can have ‘Islamist terrorists’, if it helps, but you know you’re only papering over the cracks.

Ajmal – This is a challenge for the BBC and all other channels: stop using the term ‘Islamic’ and ‘Islamist’ before describing a terrorist. Call them a criminal. Call them any other names. If you can do that we can win he fight and we will win that fight together. .. [Victoria – Why will that help?] … Because it becomes a subliminal message in the minds of people. The moment Islam is mentioned they think about terrorism.

Will you stop using ‘Islamophobia’? For which there’s actually a more rational reason for dropping? Only, you do realise that the subliminal message of the term ‘Islamophobia’ is that any criticism of Islam is haterd of Muslims, right?

And, as it happens, I’d rather have fewer subliminal mind bending messages than we have already – Islam is full of them: ‘nuance’, ‘context’, ‘scholarship’, ‘metaphor’, … do me a favour. It doesn’t wash.

We only think about terrorism when it is actually Islamic terrorism, when terrorists are committing terrorist acts, for the furtherance of their version of Islam. It’s not a subliminal message in that case, but a factual one. The lies that many Muslims like Ajmal are engaged in, the ‘Nothimg to do with Islam’ brigade, are a total joke in the eyes of people that see through this.

How’s that for a subliminal message? Your denialism, your word games, are makig Islam even more of a laughing stock. You are garnering even more disrespect for Islam when you play these games.

When the USA next drops a bomb on a hospital, should we not mention the USA? Should we avoid the term hospital? Or bomb? Sounds stupid, doesn’t it.

Get over it. Islam has the Quran and Hadith that were put together in a time of which they are a part. They contain explicit prescriptions and proscriptions that no amount of pussy footing around is going to change the meaning of. No amount of nuance, scholarship, context is going to do any good in the minds of non-believers, because we see exactly the same kind of BS from other religions. You are fooling yourselves and some gullible pseudo-liberals. You are contributing to the rise of the right and alienating liberals.

Ajmal – Terrorism has no religion. Extremism has no religion.

Doesn’t matter how many times you say it. It doesn’t matter how easily you indoctrinate children into your religion, many will grow up, learn to think, to read for themselves, and they will see the link: the texts.

In fact one of the points often put forward is that the ISIS recruits don’t really ‘uderstand’ Islam and the Quran. This fact isn’t doing Islam any favours either. It’s embarrassing. Are you really saying that the holy Quran is so easy to use for the recruitment of gullible minds that they can be turned to ISIS and think they are following a good version of Islam? This is the worst possible news for Islam, and you are telling it to us: Having the Quran in unskilled hands* amounts to giving a child a loaded weapon without any formal training in its use. Wow!

Wrapping Up

Ruqaiya – I do think it’s important sometimes to engage with these people. But at the same time I think you have to pick your battles. To expect every Muslim to go about your life every single day prepared to engage with Islamophobes is infair, because what person has to engage with bigots or racists on a daily basis. Is it really our duty to educate people. At he same time I think it is important in certain situations.

The one with most common sense speaks some sense.

  • It is unreasonable to put up with abuse, racism, bigotry in your Twitter stream. Don’t. Use the Block feature. That’s what it’s for.
  • Actually, many Muslims preach that it is a Muslim’s duty to spread the word, to educate people in Islam. But obviously I don’t expect it. I do aprpeciate it when I get past more than a couple of exchange tweets and we can have a mini-debate and part in peace.

Carl – There are 500 million tweets being sent every day. Even though the numbers are very large and boring they’re a very small kernel.

At 5,000 ‘Islamophobic’ tweets (i.e. including legitimate criticisms of Islam that got caught in the net) that’s  0.001% of the total number of tweets. Even if all 5,000 were aimed at just ten thousand Muslims (out of the 1.8 billion), that would be on average one abusive or critical tweet a day. I’m sure a few Muslims with high profiles get much of it, so let’s say the top most popular 1,000 Muslims were getting all these ‘Islamophobic’ tweets, that’s 5 tweets a day that are racist, abusive, or in some way critical of Islam that you didn’t like.

Wow! No big deal, is it.

Carl – And even there I think we’re going to have to come to terms with the fact that public life has changed. People can jump into public life now just with the use of a smart phone.

Another good point. Let that sink in for a minute. People can bash out this abusive crap without much thought at all, passing time sat on the toilet, half listening to a boring conversation, while drunk or high, … the opportunities for being sent pointless abusive crap is pretty endless, and perhaps should be treated with the contempt it deserves. IGNORE IT!

Carl – It is goig to be out there and it is going to be visible, and there’s nothing we can do about it. In the time it takes Twitter or facebook or the police …

What? Seriously? Do you know how expensive to the public purse it is to run a police force. There are actual muggings, robberies, and actual terrorism going on out there. And people are seriously talking about using police resources to deal with the fact that some senstive souls can’t put up with a bit of shit online?

Look. There are instances of grooming kids, long term bullying leading to people living horendous lives, and actual death threats that should be taken very seriously. This is what the police should be involved in. And our educational systems should be teaching kids how to assess online interactions, not giving them safe spaces – because that’s the kind of nonsense that has led to the over privileged babies no platforming in universities.

Seriously! Mariam Namazie, who fights for the freedom of women oppressed in Islamic countries was verbally abused and nearly shut down, at the Oxford University, by the Student Union Islamic Society – and the Feminist and LBGT societies sided with the Islamic Society. And you’re whining about some stupid shit on Twitter. Get a life.

Victoria reads some responses, and one sides with the guy that interrupted Ruqaiya and Catrin Nye.

Ajmal – I bet you any money that person doesn’t know what Sharia means and never done a single reading about Islam …

Ooops. What did you tweet to me, Ajmal? “I bet you have never read the Quran my only response would be please read it with an open mind” This is so funny. Ajmal is basically having a dig at a guy, for presuing too much about another person (Ruqaiya’s views on Sharia).

Ajmal, the imam, hasn’t really made a good case for Islam throughout this. Ruqaiya deserves far more respect, and has shown how to behave. Yes, she lost it in the heat of the interview interruption, but she actually acknowledged that online in a tweet. At least she seems prepared to deal with the abuse in a mature manner rather than hiding Islam away out of reach.

Ajmal goes on to say we need to build trust in order to integrate. I agree. You will only get my trust if you stop playing the game of ‘Nothing to do with Islam’, running away from criticism of Islam, even robust criticism, even incorrect criticism. And stop pretending errors of the type made in the interrupted Ruqaiya interview mean anything – ignorance is a natural state that we can improve on, not something we should demonise, as many people wanting to shut down speech don’t realise.

There’s actually great value in unfettered free speech (a great point made by Irshad Manji): it’s better to have it out in the open. Let the haters and abusers expose themselves, and then you can either shun them if you’re not in the mood for a debate, or engage and educate them.


The Demos report did nothing but kick up more hot coals and reignite the flames. I’m not opposed to studies that expose real data – but the point is that it didn’t expose what it porported to do (see my linked post earlier). It could have been a lot better – not least by better understanding the relationship and differences between Islam, Muslims, critics of Islam and racist haters.

In the end, as pointed out at the end, by Carl himself, the actual figures greatly exaggerate the extent and nature of the problem … What? So, this whole programme was basically a fuss about nothing.

Ruqaiya’s pragmatic approach seems to work best, and one I’d reccommend to anyone. Engage or don’t as you feel inclined. Oh, and simply block anyone you don’t want to hear from again.

Ajmal? You keep using the term ‘Islam-ophobia’, but not ‘Islamic terrorism’? Seems a bit two faced to me. Islamophobia is actually an incorrect term for most of what you are objecting to, which is racist abuse or robust criticism and disaproval of Islam. And Islamic terrorism is exactly what it is when done by Muslims that do it in the name of Islam, Mohammed, and Allah. Stop using ‘Islamophobia’, and stop burying your head in the sand. You might get somewhere.

Victoria? I think your colleague Nye has jumped on some rather uninformative and suspect data and made a big issue out ot it. This isn’t good journalism. It’s sensationalism. You have bought into the Islamophobia industry. Try harder.





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