Generally I try and stay away from stories moaning about Islamists western governments and institutions operating an appeasement strategy. It is old news and we know the problem well and there are many people doing a fine job of highlighting the maddness.
One story, however, caught my attention recently. It involved an episode of Dispatches on Channel 4 several moths ago where cameras were sneaked into mosques and various imams were recorded openly promulgating the most vile bigotry, racism and general hate speech.
There was an outcry and thousands of people demanded an enquiry, which was launched the the West Midlands Police. The results of that enquiry was not at all what was expected. Instead of the imams being arrested and deported, the documentary makers came under scrutiny. That’s right, the journalists who exposed the imams were themselves investigate for – get this – stirring up racial hatred! It is a frightening story about just how far the appeasement and denial of reality has gone.
From The Daily Telegraph:
There are lots of stories running at the moment about how television makes things up to suit its purposes. It was into this pattern that prominent press reports on Thursday appeared to fit. The reports said that the Crown Prosecution Service and the West Midlands police had decided that a programme called Undercover Mosque, made for Dispatches on Channel 4, had “completely distorted” the remarks of Muslim preachers featured in the programme. The CPS and the police announced that they were making a complaint about the programme to the television regulator, Ofcom.
Few seemed to notice what a strange story this was. Why is it the business of the CPS or the police to make complaints, which are nothing to do with the law, about what appears on television? Aren’t they supposed to be fighting crime, not acting as television critics?
When you poke around a bit, the story becomes a little clearer, but no less strange.
After the programme appeared earlier this year, many people who watched it were horrified by the extremism it depicted. It was, indeed, horrifying. The programme, all of whose material was collected, sometimes covertly, from British mosques, mainly in Birmingham, showed film, DVDs and internet messages from Islamist sermons and speeches. One preacher speaks of a British Muslim soldier killed by the Taliban in Afghanistan and says: “The hero is the one who separated his head from his shoulders.” Another says that all Jews will be killed at the end of time, and makes a snorting noise as if imitating a pig.
One pronounces that woman is “deficient” and that homosexual men should be “thrown off the mountain”, another that children should offer themselves for Islamic martyrdom, a third that Aids was deliberately spread in Africa by Christian missionaries who slipped it into inoculations.
As a result of all this, people, including, I believe, local MPs, asked the police to investigate the preachers to see if prosecutions for crimes of racial hatred could be brought against them. C4 itself did not ask for these investigations, but co-operated with police inquiries.
But then, on Wednesday, without any warning to Channel 4, the CPS and the West Midlands police issued their fatwa. Not only had they investigated, and decided, as they were entitled to do, that there were no charges to bring against people featured in the programme: they also announced that they had investigated the programme itself for stirring up racial hatred.
…These new, self-appointed guardians of televisual editing techniques have not detailed their accusations, so C4 cannot respond. None of us can yet judge fully. But the preachers shown in the programme have not claimed that they did not say the words attributed to them. That would be difficult, since you can see and hear them speaking them. They complain about the “context”.
…But there are many things quoted in the Dispatches programme which have a plain meaning. Take the remark that Osama bin Laden is “better than a million George Bushes … because he is a Muslim”, or that “we hate the kufaar [unbeliever]”, or the one about beheading the British soldier. One sheikh teaches, in reference to young girls, that “if she doesn’t wear the hijab, we hit her”.
No doubt some wider context would deepen our precise understanding of these words, but they are pretty damn clear, and pretty damn nasty. Do you remember when the alleged killers of Stephen Lawrence were exposed in undercover film making horrible jokes about racist violence? I don’t recall the police complaining to Ofcom about the lack of context there.
Let us, however, take the context point seriously. The context is, according to many of the preachers, that they are talking not about Britain now, but about the Islamic state that they seek. They are not, therefore, they say, urging the breaking of existing laws.
This appears not to be true of some on the programme – for example, the ranter who urges rejection of “the way of freedom …the way of democracy”. But even if we accept that it is true, is it reassuring? The Islamic state envisaged by most of those featured is not an ideal, imaginary kingdom of heaven where the lion shall lie down with the lamb. It is, as one of the speakers explains, a concept for the here and now, a concept of “political dominance”.
On the programme, Sheikh Hasan, from “a major mosque in east London”, explains how this Islamic state would operate. There would be “the chopping off the hands of the thieves”, “flogging of the drunkards”, “jihad against the non-Muslims”. Another speaker, trained in Riyadh and operating from Derby, rejects the existing order – “King, Queen, House of Commons … you have to dismantle it” and rejoices in the day when, in Britain, “every woman will be covered”. A fellow in the Green Lane mosque in Birmingham explains the punishment coming to the apostate when right rule is established: “Kill him in the Islamic state.” Crucifixion will be an approved method of death, he adds.
Similarly, the line about killing all the Jews at the end of the world is not invented by the preacher who says it, though the smirk and the noise of the pig are all his own. The words come from one of the hadith, the traditionally accepted records of Mohammed additional to the Koran: “Allah’s apostle said, ‘The Hour will not be established until you fight with the Jews, and the stone behind which a Jew will be hiding will say, ‘Oh Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, so kill him’.'”
Does that context make you feel better?
I do not know whether the Dispatches programme is right in every detail. But it clearly raises serious, important questions – about extremists in our midst, about the way apparently moderate organisations give them shelter, about the Saudi Arabian network that supports them.
What security agencies call “thematic analyses” show that, at present, the problems of Islamist extremism are particularly acute, especially in prisons and universities, in the West Midlands area.
Yet the West Midlands police and the Crown Prosecution Service decide that the target of their wrath should be not people who want to undermine this country, but some journalists who want to expose them.
Are they fit to protect us?