More on Eccentric Reportage

The Guardian on Dilpazier Aslam and his critics, part 2. Scott Burgess pointed out this article by Shiv Malik in the New Statesman.

What readers of the Guardian were not told was that Aslam is a member of the extreme Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir. Though it publicly dissociates itself from violence, Hizb ut-Tahrir is shunned by most British Muslims and banned from many mosques…My strongly held view is that members of such a group should not be allowed to write on this subject in the national press (just as the British National Party, which also claims to be non-violent, is very rarely given space), but if they do their connection should be made clear, preferably at the beginning of the article.

Seems reasonable. Let’s not ask the BNP to write think pieces, and let’s not ask Hizb ut-Tahrir either – and if we do ask them, let’s sure as hell make sure we say what their affiliation is, as opposed to keeping it a secret from the readers. But apparently the Guardian didn’t think it seemed reasonable at all at all.

How had it come about that this Guardian journalist was reporting and commenting on such events without his background being made known to readers? When I raised this with the paper, it confirmed that Aslam was a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir but would only say the matter was “under review”…When I approached the Guardian again, it accused me of being “irresponsible in the extreme” and said it had complained to the editor of the Independent on Sunday. As for the key questions, it said only: “This is an internal matter which is currently under review and we have nothing further to add.”

The Guardian accused Malik of being irresponsible. That’s rich.

Just last Monday the responsible Guardian reported on a Hizb ut-Tahrir conference. It did a remarkable job of it.

Tony Blair is fomenting anger and frustration in the Muslim communities by branding widely held Islamic ideas as extremist, a conference was told yesterday…”After the bombs on July 7, before the dust had settled, before the dead were removed, before any investigation, the British prime minister was pointing an accusing finger at the Muslim community.”

Yeah right. I remember that – there was Blair at Gleneagles, pointing his finger, saying ‘The Muslim community did this.’ Uh huh.

“But, regardless of the amount of provocation, we need to stand firm with our Islamic principles. The problem is more than violence. The problem is an idea that you and I carry.” Those ideas, he said, included living under sharia law within a caliphate of Islamic countries, opposing the “corrupt and dictatorial” regimes in the Middle East and central Asia and resisting occupation of Muslim lands. “According to the logic of Blair and Bush, this is terrorism.” Hizb ut-Tahrir, he said, had been banned across the Muslim world for its political radicalism.

Note the ‘living under sharia law within a caliphate of Islamic countries’ bit – what that means, of course, is not just ‘living’ under sharia law, but imposing it on everyone with the misfortune to be living within the borders of that caliphate. Just imagine how pleased and excited we would all be if the House of Commons or Congress suddenly up and established sharia as the law of the land. Well, guess what, people living in Nigeria or Pakistan or Indonesia or the Philippines or Iran or Egypt don’t all automatically want to live under sharia just by an accident of geography. As a matter of fact a lot of people in those places loathe and detest the very idea. They prefer basic human rights and secular law, oddly enough.

So that article looks depressingly peculiar and sinister in the Guardian. Would it report on a BNP conference in the same bland, neutral, anodyne tone? Have they ever reported on the BNP in such a tone?

Allen Esterson gave a link in comments to this article by Dilpazier Aslam from last January on ‘a Muslim school.’

This is Manchester Islamic high school for girls, one of the 107 independent Muslim schools criticised last week by the chief inspector of schools, David Bell, for educating pupils “with little appreciation of their wider responsibilities and obligations to British society”…Next it is year 10 biology with Saduf Chaudhri, and the lesson is about drugs…”Why can’t you take drugs? From your own point of view, because, remember, you are Muslim,” says Chaudhri.

How’s that again? From your own point of view because you are a Muslim? That’s a contradiction, isn’t it? ‘Because you are a Muslim’ means something like ‘what is the rule on this for Muslims’ or ‘what does the Koran say on this’ – which is hardly the same thing as ‘from your own point of view.’

“Because you’re not meant to do anything that harms your body, because it’s not our body,” says one of the girls. Chaudhri flicks the overhead projection on; it’s a list of verses from the Qur’an. She reads aloud. “O you who believe. Intoxicants and gambling, [dedication of] stones, and [divination by] arrows, are an abomination – of Satan’s handwork: reject such [abomination], that you may prosper.” The girls are reminded that, not only are drugs bad for your health, they’re also bad for the next life.

Ah – bad for the next life. In other words the girls are reminded of something that is not true. They think their bodies are not their bodies, and that there is a next life which things can be bad for, and that there’s someone called Satan. Yeah, that’s what happens in religious schools, I realize that. But I don’t think it should be treated as just ordinary and acceptable and reasonable. Fairy tales are fairy tales, and they shouldn’t be taught to students as if they were true.

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