Yusuf Smith replies to an article by Ben MacIntyre in the Times claiming that, despite the occasional talk of a Muslim “fifth column” in Britain, there has been no scare remotely comparable to those surrounding German spies in the early years of World War II and the “Red Scares” of the 1950s:
“As a Muslim who has been paying close attention to the media since Sept 11, I’d beg to differ that society has moved on much since then. The key difference is that Britain is not facing an invasion from a regular or well-equipped army, as Britain did from Germany or the Spanish Republic did from the Nationalists who first coined the term ‘fifth column’. The situation is more of a small, international criminal syndicate capable only of occasional, but devastating, acts of terrorism. Most British people know, whatever the media is telling them, that most Muslims couldn’t possibly support such a thing.
“While ‘official pronouncements on the threat of Islamic extremism have been deliberately nuanced, and carefully measured’, the same cannot be said for the media treatment of the situation, which has been marked by ignorance and by sensationalism across the board. Newspapers have routinely given space for bigoted and inaccurate articles written by people with an agenda, notably Amir Taheri and Patrick Sookhdeo, who have often used the space to lay into ordinary Muslims, not just the extremists…. the fact is that it has become fashionable, and acceptable, to malign an entire religious community in the press.”