Yasmin A-B on ‘Dispatches’ documentary

“The latest Channel 4 expose makes excitable and contradictory claims. In a sample of 1,000 Muslims, one-in-four said the London bombings were ‘justified’ yet only eight people ‘maintained a very hard line’. Eighty per cent apparently said anyone who protected a terrorist was as guilty as the perpetrator…. the programme shows many Muslims believe we have not been given the whole truth about 11 September and the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. Millions of non-Muslims are sceptical too – including beef eating, American mid-westerners.

“Snow – a journalist I admire unreservedly – is reported as saying: ‘For the moment, British Muslims are on side.’ What side? I am not on side, if it means agreeing to the immoral and racist foreign policies of the UK and US axis. Many militant Muslims are not ignorant, fanatical worshippers, but people with eyes wide open, staring at political duplicity…..

“To claim, as our power merchants do, that only murderous Muslims are furious about western actions serves our leaders well. To dwell on Islam and Muslims as the causes of all turmoil, to paint us as malevolent deviants serves them better still, permitting them to scythe through freedoms and choices which otherwise would never be surrendered in democratic societies.

“In his sober essay ‘In the Streets of Londonistan’ (London Review of Books) the lawyer John Upton wrote: ‘A black cloud of Islamist terror is said to be hanging over the Western world and specific causes of violence and discontent have disappeared into it. Instead we promote the idea that all acts of violence involving Arabs or Muslims, if seen from the correct (that is to say US inspired) angle, will fit together like a jigsaw to form an image of Osama bin Laden… If this is a war, as the Neocons and Blairite hawks would have us believe, it is being fought as much in the realm of ideology and words as in the realm of explosive shoes and ricin laboratories. It is a propaganda war of shadowy unprovables….’

“And part of this propaganda war of shadowy unprovables is to pore over and pronounce endlessly on Muslim alienation to prove that we are indeed aliens, unable to live as quiet citizens, always suspect, devious and determined to destroy the place that once gave us shelter.”

Yasmin Alibhai-Brown in the Independent, 7 August 2006