Delivered by Osama Saeed at an event on Preventing Violent Extremism as part of Edinburgh’s Festival of Spirituality and Peace – 17th August 2009 at St John’s Church
Archive for the ‘Dialogue’ Category
Muslims around the world eagerly await the coming of every Ramadan, the annual season of reflection, repentance and renewal. The month of fasting begins with the sighting of the new moon, this year around 20th August, and ends with the arrival of ‘Eid al-Fitr: a day of celebration and thanksgiving for the blessings of the past 29 or 30 days.
“And their dog stretched out its forelegs at the threshold.” [Qur’an 18:18]
There was a feature by Peter Oborne in the online edition of today’s Daily Mail (of all papers) arguing that post-war Britain is Islamophobic, basing a good part of its argument on the zeal of newspaper editors to print ridiculous stories to make Muslims look bad. At the moment it has been taken offline. (It was so good that the Mail had to preface it with: “Doubtless, many will disagree with him…”!)
Update: Here it is at a new link: Is post-war Britain anti-Muslim?
One case he didn’t mention is the recent scandal surrounding Rebel, the Tayside police puppy whose image was used on a promotional leaflet for a new emergency number. The police received a complaint from a Dundee councillor who sits on their board, and then apologised profusely for their lack of sensitivity. The story? The councillor is a Muslim and based his complaint on alleged offence caused to Muslims due to dogs being “unclean”.
The result? Letters like that in yesterday’s Metro, saying that “If Muslims don’t understand our culture, then I think they belong elsewhere.”
The papers have to answer as to why many of them ran this story without any basic fact-checking. First of all, why should a councillor be taken as representing a religious community? Perhaps the complaints have more to do with culture – why was it made into an “Islamic” issue? Did they consult the local mosques or other Muslim organisations to establish whether the complaint had any substance to it? Did they even solicit the opinions of shopkeepers to see whether Councillor Asif’s claim that they were particularly offended was accurate?