20 June 2017

After Finsbury: Time for the UK's right-wing press to address its Islamophobia

For years, many conservative columnists have denied that Islamophobia exists. We must urgently consider whether there is a connection between their language and the insults, abuse and attacks on Muslims in this country.

.... There are urgent questions to be asked about our double standards. One bad Muslim is taken as a proxy for all Muslims, but one crazed, vicious white Englishman is not taken as proxy for all Englishmen.

Why aren’t we asking who radicalised the Finsbury Park attacker, and why they weren't reported by their community?

Why do we worry desperately about Islamist hate preachers, but not seem to care about hate preachers on the far-right. Tommy Robinson of the English Defence League was on breakfast TV within hours of the Finsbury attack. We need to contemplate new rules of public discourse.

For the last few years, I have been travelling around Britain as a commissioner for the Citizens Commission on Islam, Participation and Public Life. Our report comes out in two weeks.

We have heard harrowing accounts of the kind of intimidation and abuse that ordinary Muslims (all too often women) are obliged to endure.

And yet much too often, serious and influential people refuse to accept that any such thing as anti-Muslim bigotry exists. This week’s Queen’s Speech is a chance for Theresa May to change course.

Meanwhile, the moment has come for some of my colleagues (and, in some cases, friends) in the Conservative press to ask some deep, searching questions about their own use of language about Muslims and Islam. [Middle East Eye] Read more