Cummins & Co

“It could hardly be more embarrassing: the British Council, charged with promoting British values throughout the world, is forced to fire a senior press officer this week after he penned an extraordinary series of attacks on Islam.

“For those who doubt the very concept of Islamophobia, the columns of Will, aka Harry, Cummins in the Sunday Telegraph should be a set text. His brand of virulent paranoia combines racism – ‘all Muslims, like all dogs, share certain characteristics’ – with a particularly vicious aggression – the massacres in Bosnia were ‘more a tribute to (Muslims’) incompetence than their humanity’.

“This is very nasty stuff and one wouldn’t want to give it more space in another newspaper but for the fact that there is still a well-meaning, but fatally blind strand of opinion which refuses to accept the phenomenon of Islamophobia. Refuses to see how it represents a mutated form of racism, and refuses to see how such comments about Jews or blacks would be quite rightly regarded as unprintable.

“What makes the Cummins case so disturbing is that he didn’t lurk in the backroom of British National party offices, writing Nick Griffin’s speeches. No, he was at the very heart of a quintessential British institution. It exposes, in a way which can no longer be denied, how deep the worm of Islamophobia has crawled.”

Madeleine Bunting in the Guardian, 4 September 2004