How to become a media pawn

Sunday, 27th May 2007 at 9:00 UTC 1 comment

I was reading a story a couple of days ago about a man who has left various Islamist groups and subsequently written a book about his experiences and what he sees as the state of play between the government and these groups. Sadly, I feel a sense that his noble aims of exposing those who would seek to impose a violent and deadly Islamist State on Britain are being caught up in the state/media project of Islamophobia.

To anyone who follows this sort of thing, one organisations name stands out: Hizb-ut Tahrir. Formed as an international organisation working to recreate an Islamic state, it has, over time, settled into a quite reasonable political organisation that seeks to represent the large group of UK Muslims who genuinely identify with the aspirations of Islamism, but who wish to do so ‘in the open’, away from the world of terrorists and covert action.

I have to say the article was kind enough to point out that the original leader of HT has since moved on and created what is undoubtedly a violent organisation: Al Muhajiroun.  But the dirt still sticks.  HT, once again, is being vilified for simply being the moderate organisation that has a few too many idiots in its membership.

The language of the piece is interesting: apparently HT holds both public and secret meetings.  I think the secret Qu’ranic study meetings might be kind of similar to small group meetings in some churches: if the aim is to create a study circle, why advertise it more widely than the few people you want to have show up?  Churches have had small discussion groups that are largely unknown to the outside world for centuries.  I’m sure the same is true in other faiths.

If the man who wrote this book wants to mete out some kind of vegenence on the religious groups he feels duped him as a kid, then this is a really bad way of doing it.  If, on the other hand, he wants to make people aware of issues within some parts of the muslim community, he’s going about that an even worse sort of way.

By talking to the media, he is fulfilling their appetite for anti-Islamic horror stories.  What he says will naturally be taken out of context, and conflated in the minds of the readers to prove what a terrible faith this Islam is, and thus to fuel determination towards racist social policy.  The media is a big machine, and its very rare that anyone successfully uses it to their own ends unless they are already rich and powerful.

One should read such stories with an air of caution, as prejudice seems to be getting in the way.  Obviously, very few readers will actually manage to do this, and with HT having little to no right of reply, its members will continue to suffer from harrasment and probably the eventual outlawing of the group.  This in turn can only be a bad thing, as the membership of the group will not simply disband and turn into the nice push-over muslims that the state wants, they will just go underground.

At the end of the day, though the Islamists have, to my mind, all the wrong answers, at least they’re actually questioning whether or not Western values are good ones or not.  To fail to question such things can only be bad for society; Golden Bulls have never served anyone.

Entry filed under: Free Speech, Freedom, Human Rights.

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. tiggs  |  Sunday, 27th May 2007 at 9:19 UTC

    Nevertheless, it is still a *Book* and when all the media reviewing has died down, it still has the power to inform people without the pressure of what they “should” think about it.

    Never underestimate the power of a book, found quietly in a library or bookshop, and chosen through interest in the contents, not because The Times says that it was good/bad.


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