The enemy within? Fear of Islam: Britain’s new disease

“Islamophobia – defined in 1997 by the landmark report from the Runnymede Trust as ‘an outlook or world-view involving an unfounded dread and dislike of Muslims, which results in practices of exclusion and discrimination’ – can be encountered in the best circles: among our most famous novelists, among newspaper columnists, and in the Church of England.

“Its appeal is wide-ranging. ‘I am an Islamophobe’, the Guardian columnist Polly Toynbee wrote in The Independent nearly 10 years ago. ‘Islamophobia?’ the Sunday Times columnist Rod Liddle asks rhetorically in the title of a recent speech, ‘Count me in’. Imagine Liddle declaring: ‘Anti-Semitism? Count me in’, or Toynbee claiming she was ‘an anti-Semite and proud of it’.

“Anti-Semitism is recognised as an evil, noxious creed, and its adherents are barred from mainstream society and respectable organs of opinion. Not so Islamophobia.”

Peter Oborne in the Independent, 4 July 2008

See also “Muslims feel like ‘Jews of Europe’“, also in today’s Independent.

And “Is post-war Britain anti-Muslim?” by Peter Oborne in the Daily Mail, 4 July 2008

Peter Oborne’s documentary “It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim” will be shown next Monday in Channel’s Dispatches slot – which, ironically, has in the past made a signficant contribution to the rise of Islamophobia in the UK.

The pamphlet Muslims Under Siege: Alienating Vulnerable Communities, by Peter Oborne and James Jones, be downloaded (pdf) here.

The study by the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Images of Islam in the UK: The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008, can be downloaded (pdf) here.