Monday, September 06, 2004

Islamophobia Part 734

Norm and newbie clever-clogs Jonathan Derbyshire do a pretty good job on Madeleine Bunting's tastelessly timed Guardian piece.

But five stars for the following - Jack Straw, as spotted by Harry.

Sometimes we are too swift to move away from the original and fundamental causes of such terrorism, namely the terrorists who perpetrated such an act, and shift away to other things - in a sense taking for granted their culpability.
There are some things which happen amongst human kind which are almost inexplicable according to any basic moral norms - Nazism was and this is.

And the wondrous Yasmin Alibhai Brown, a burning bright flame amidst the hideously white self-haters of the Indie. No liberal guilt there.

When confronted by such abominable crimes, we have an obligation to cross over the horror which wells up and try and comprehend (not forgive, but understand) the perpetrators and the circumstance which led to the violence. Today I find such searching analysis almost impossible. For some people that line was crossed with the Sept 11 attacks (which, it will be remembered, Yazza believed the US brought upon themselves - but it's never too late to repent). There are events which silence the voice ... for now, for me, this crime has no place even within the farthest boundaries of human behaviour; it has destroyed the fundamental definition of what it means to be human.

For Yazza, for Jack Straw, and for me, the crime is too disgusting, too unspeakable, to be balanced in some equation against Russian actions in Chechnya. Not so the Indie's vile cartoonist, who I presume is the same guy who did the baby-eating Sharon.

Putin stands, dunce's cap on head, in the corner of a bombed-out classroom, blood and glass on the floor. Surprisingly there are no dead children, not even being eaten by Mr Sharon.

The blackboard contains the equation


The caption ? "Back to School".

UPDATE - as I've said before, what Ms Bunting knows about history could be tattooed under a child's armpit.

" ... the particular association of Islam with violence is a colonial hangover, dating back to the 1857 Indian Mutiny, when Muslims rebelled against British imperialism."

Two points. The Indian Mutiny involved Hindu and Muslim troops. As the Army Museum site says "Fortunately for the British the Mutiny was almost exclusively confined to the Bengal Army. The Company’s Madras and Bombay Armies were relatively unaffected and other units, including Sikhs, Punjabi Moslems and Gurkhas, remained loyal.". Nicholson's force at Delhi mainly consisted of Muslim tribesmen from what is now the Afghan border region.

To say the revolt was against imperialism is incorrect. Imperialism of one sort or other - Sikh, Muslim, Hindu - was the usual form of government on the subcontinent. The mutineers proclaimed the re-establishment of the Moghul Empire under Bahadur Shah. In Charles Allen's words 'the root cause was a growing unease among both Hindu and Muslim sepoys about the way their traditional way of life was being interfered with .. a real fear that religion and caste were being actively undermined. The British Government was forcing the pace of change in ways that threatened the customs of centuries, bringiong reforms such as the banning of suttee and female infanticide ...'.

Caste, suttee (the burning of widows), female infanticide. Can't say Madelaine doesn't know a good cause when she sees one.

And as for the particular association of Muslims with violence, I'd better quote again the Archbishop of Canterbury. No, not Rasputin - Queen Elizabeth I's Matthew Parker, nearly 300 years before the Mutiny.

" Better it is for us to fall into thy hands, than into the hands of men, and especially into the hands of Turks and Infidels thy professed enemies, who now invade thine inheritance... First, the Turke with his sword, what landes, nations, and countreys, what empires, kingdomes, and provinces, with cities innumerable hath he wonne, not from us but from Thee! Where thy name was wont to be invocated, thy word preached, thy sacraments administered, there now reigneth barbarous Mahumet with his filthy Alcoran. The florishing churches in Asia, the learned churches of Grecia, the manifold churches in Africa, which were wont to serve thee now are gone from thee."

Or what about the Irish poet Thomas Moore, who wrote 'The Fireworshippers' in 1817, describing the conquest of Zoroastrianism in Persia by Islam. He described

One of the saintly, murderous brood,
To carnage and the Koran given,
Who hold through unbelievers blood
Lies the directest path to heaven

I'm not saying I agree with Moore or Parker. But to suggest that Islam only became associated with violence in 1857 is ridiculous. She's making it up as she goes along.

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