by Yasin Bangee
Fraser Nelson of the Spectator kicked off this week’s Islamophobia by publishing a fascist apologist piece: A fascist takeover of Greece? We should be so lucky. Despite many accounts of Golden Dawn’s racism, homophobia and sexism, Taki Theodoracopulos has the temerity to say, “No, Golden Dawn is not house-trained, and many of its members tend to use rough language and get physical.” Tend to get physical. Here’s an instance of Golden Dawn tending to get physical: a letter from Golden Dawn to Greek Muslims threatening them to leave the country or “face slaughter like chickens”.
Charming lot, aren’t they? When fascism strikes, minorities suffer and a large proportion of minorities happen to be Muslim.
Boy George and hidden news
Of course news hit this week that a woman gave birth. Not just to any old baby boy though, but to our future head of state. Third in line to the throne, a tough task for many 4 day old babies, much less one named George Alexander Louis.
Why does this news matter? Monday’s newspapers actually carried stories of the death of Mohammed Saleem, who died at the hands of a terrorist who happened to be white.
The attacker, Pavlo Lapshyn, is also under arrest on suspicion of targeting mosques around the West Midlands. Suddenly newspapers like the Daily Mail, Sun and Mirror covered the story. Not with great coverage, mind. The Sun resigned it to a top right postage stamp whereas the Mirror sent it to page 30.
Reporting on terrorism in the UK
Special shout out to the Sun for dedicating a whole 21 words to a Mosque being attacked. The Mail did offer a half page splash, but all this leads me to question why the delay? The attacks have been ongoing for weeks. Muslims have been targeted for months?
Pavlo Lapshyn is a Ukrainian student in the UK and the tabloid papers see their chance to swoop, to condemn attacks against Muslims by pointing the finger at a foreigner. God help them should they realise many of the worst perpetrators of violence against Muslims are white Brits.
By Tuesday and Wednesday the papers had moved on to covering the world’s most privileged baby.
News you may have missed
As with other weeks, violence and threats against mosques and Muslims continued this week with only local newspapers reporting.
In Huddersfield a mosque already targeted by racists was targeted again, causing evacuations. A pig’s head was claimed to be hidden within the building, meaning children between the age of 4-15 had to be removed.
The comment at the bottom of the article questions why racism is the charge as “Muslims aren’t a race”. This common argument frustrates when the targets of Islamaphobia are visible Muslims, such as bearded men, hijabi women and mosques.
Meanwhile in Edinburgh a man threatened to blow up a mosque. Remember that chap who jokingly referred to blowing up an airport? Turns out bombing a mosque isn’t a big deal. So Gareth Wood, a 27-year-old brave white knight who also racially abused a 14-year-old outside of the mosque, has been ordered to complete unpaid work in the community. His not guilty plea for assault was accepted.
We’ve got the message.
A minority knows these words well. It means “You Do Not Belong”. “Go back to your own country” is born from racism and yet the Home Office felt it necessary to display such banners, designed to intimidate and bully people to leaving the country.
You argue it’s not racist, it’s just designed to rid the country of illegal immigrants by offering amnesty. Except the van has targeted Asian areas of London, like Brent and Hounslow, and the translated message appears in Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
A large proportion of minorities from those regions who enter the UK seeking asylum are doing so to escape persecution or hardship. Many of those are Muslims. The Go Home campaign run by the Home Office doesn’t just affect Muslims, but minorities of all denominations.
Different faith, same outcome?
When a Police Deputy Chief raises the issue over media representation over Islamophobia, people take note. Dave Thompson of the West Midlands police, the area specifically targeted for terrorist attacks against Muslims, has spoken out of the lack of assistance his force received in seeking information and help.
He queried whether another religion under attack would receive such little coverage. Well, Dave, I assure you had a rag tag bunch of Muslims attacked churches over a 3 week period leading up to Christmas, the papers would be filled cover to cover.
Jason Manford, the Big Iftar and Charity
So let’s end this week with some positivity. Ramadan has entered its third week and Jason Manford, the comedian, sent a message out to his followers on Facebook, asking if one could invite him over for iftar, the time of day Muslims open their fast.
Lo and behold, an evil Muslim family accepted, opened their doors and here’s Jason with the family enjoying a very late meal.
News of this has coincided with The Big Iftar, a community-led drive to open homes and community centres to non-Muslims during Ramadan to share in the opening of the fast.
To reiterate: positive news about Muslims rarely make the news. News about Muslims facing attack rarely make the news. Only stories which can be manipulated to show Islam in a bad light make the news.
Yasin Bangee is a writer based in the North West. He writes about his main passions, football, social justice and inequality, and offers thoughts on all things political. As a a British Muslim he has first hand experience of the rise and impact of Islamophobia. Archive of his column ‘This Week in Islamophobia‘ Find his writing at False7andahalf