Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Preachers stir up hate: police blame the media

I was on holiday when the story about Channel 4's documentary 'Undercover Mosque' broke. I didn't see the programme and haven't read all the coverage, but I thought Andrew Anthony's article in Sunday's Observer had it about right. He points to the absurdity of the West Midlands police assuming the role of TV critics when they should have been investigating the instances of alleged hate-speech and incitement to violence reported by the programme. As for the claim that these were shown 'out of context', I agree with Anthony that it's hard to see how any amount of contextualising could have made this kind of hate-filled rant (from Abu Osamah, one of those featured in the programme) acceptable:

No one loves the kuffaar! Not a single person here from the Muslims loves the kuffaar. Whether those kuffaar are from the UK or from the US. We love the people of Islam and we hate the people of kuffaar. We hate the kuffaar!

As Anthony comments:

what conceivable context could make these quotes acceptable or reasonable? Was he rehearsing a stage play? Was it a workshop on conflict resolution? Or perhaps it was the same context in which a spokesman from those other righteous humanitarians, the BNP, might attempt to aid community relations by repeatedly stating that his followers 'hate Muslims'.

Apparently the assistant chief constable (security and cohesion) of the West Midlands, Anil Patani, believes that Channel 4's programme 'had an impact in the community and the cohesion within it.' As Anthony says: ' "We hate the kuffaar" is not a statement best designed for community cohesion, but whose fault is that - Abu Usamah's for saying it or Channel 4's for recording him?'

As I say, I haven't seen the programme, but Christopher Hitchens has:

And there it all is: foaming, bearded preachers calling for crucifixion of unbelievers, for homosexuals to be thrown off mountaintops, for disobedient and 'deficient' women to be beaten into submission, and for Jewish and Indian property and life to be destroyed. 'You have to bomb the Indian businesses, and as for the Jews, you kill them physically,' as one sermonizer, calling himself Sheikh al-Faisal, so prettily puts it.

There may or may not be grounds for prosecuting the preachers shown in the programme, but surely the police's response to this programme is a particularly odd example of ignoring the obvious and looking in the wrong direction in the fight against terrorism and religious extremism.

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