‘Making stuff up’ – Mark Steel replies to Trevor Kavanagh

Mark Steel“The most common justification for ridiculing Islam is that the religion is ‘backward’, particularly towards women, as a fundamental part of its beliefs. The Sun‘s old political editor suggests this as a defence of his newspaper’s stance, saying that under Islam, ‘women are treated as chattels’.

“And it’s true that religious scriptures can command this, such as the insistence that, ‘a man may sell his daughter as a slave, but she will not be freed at the end of six years as men are’. Except that comes from the Bible – Exodus, Chapter 21, verse 7.

“The Bible is packed with justifications for slavery, including killing your slaves. So presumably the Sun, along with others who regard Islam as a threat to our civilisation, will soon be campaigning against ‘Sunday Schools of Hate’ where children as young as seven are taught to read this grisly book….

“In his defence of making stuff up, the Sun‘s ex-political editor spoke about the amount of domestic violence suffered by Muslim women. But there’s just as much chance of suffering domestic violence if you’re not a Muslim, as one of the 10 million such incidents a year that take place in Britain. Presumably the anti-Islam lobby would say, ‘Ah yes, but those other ones involve secular wife-beating, which is not founded on archaic religious customs, but rational reasoning such as not letting him watch the snooker’.

“And finally the Sun‘s man defends the line of his paper by saying that, after all, these Muslims ‘are trying to bomb our country’. So it’s their civic duty to make stuff up – the same as keeping a look-out for spies during the Second World War.

“So we should all do our bit, and every day send in something, until the press is full of stories like ‘Muslims in Darlington have been raising money for semtex by organising panda fights’. Or ‘In Bradford all nurseries have been ordered to convert their dolls’ houses into miniature mosques so that Muslim teddies have somewhere to pray’.”

Independent, 9 July 2008