Standing up to Islamofascism
[May 23, 2008]
The silly season makes its bow in mid to late summer, but climate change ordained its unexpectedly early appearance. Prof David Marquand, a former Labour MP, founder member of the Social Democratic Party — parent of the present Liberal Democrats — once a Guardian leader writer, currently an academic of some renown, whose works include a biography of Ramsay Macdonald and a political study entitled The Progressive Dilemma from Lloyd George to Neil Kinnock, likened what he chose to describe as Europe’s rising Islamophobia to the continent’s anti-Semitism of the 1930s.
An august gathering in one of the committee rooms at the House of Lords heard him in phlegmatic silence. Britain’s Foreign Secretary David Miliband, having entered and left like an impatient zephyr, would have been somewhat bemused to hear these words.
In speaking as he did, Prof Marquand personifies an orbital being swirling in an intellectual and moral void. There was no disguising his passion born of an ingrained belief that a satanic wrong was being done to a helpless population. A late night television documentary on Adolf Hitler’s Germany, which included considerable historical footage, was a reminder of the gulf dividing muscular truth from inflamed fantasy.
The street scenes of Jewish citizens assaulted at will by Nazi thugs were repellent, as were the attacks on Jewish-owned properties; yet nothing could compare with the images of the skeletal remains of Jewish corpses in the extermination camps of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and Treblinka, the starving men, women and children perishing in the cold. It was a picture from the depths of Hell. Hardened soldiers of the Allied armies were shaken by the sight. When Hermann Goering and his Nazi associates were shown these films at their Nuremberg trial, their previous jocularity froze into grim silence.
London, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Frankfurt and other of Europe’s capitals are their bustling normal selves. Visiting the British capital’s East End one saw Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Arabs and kindred Muslim communities shopping and going about their business without let or hindrance. At local post office counters were queues of hijab and burqa-clad women claiming unemployment benefit.
Jews in Hitler’s Third Reich threw no bombs, plotted no explosions, published no hate-filled books or pamphlets against the Gentiles among whom they breathed and lived. Far from railing at their shared culture, they ennobled it with myriad contributions. European science, music and literature would have been immeasurably poorer for their absence. What would the world be without Spinoza, Einstein, Freud, Proust, Marx and many more of the gallery of the great and good, whose manifold achievements have added a whole new dimension to the human experience?
A day after Prof Marquand’s peroration came news of the Jaipur bombings with its loss of some 70 innocent lives; meanwhile, in London, a gang of eight British Muslims, born in foreign parts, are standing trial for a conspiracy to cause carnage “on an almost unprecedented scale” by detonating up to 18 bombs on trans-Atlantic passenger flights.
There was no sign that the professor was deaf, dumb or blind. He must, therefore, have known of the Bali bombings, the Madrid bombings and the bombings on the London Underground trains and surface transport. He is surely acquainted with the messages of anti-Semitic hatred that are rife in the Muslim ghettos of Britain’s inner cities. Has he never heard of the black Jamaican Imam, Abdullah Al Faisal, who called publicly for the murder of Jews and Hindus, was tried eventually for incitement, found guilty as charged, duly imprisoned and promptly deported on his release to his Caribbean homeland?
Prof Marquand must know of this and similar other cases, where the accused, however, are in possession of British passports, hence cannot face deportation. Muslim families in Britain who convert to Christianity are hounded mercilessly by their co-religionists and are under constant threat to life and limb, because there is no recognition of apostasy in Islam. What price the Universal Declaration on Human Rights? As for instances of stoning and beheading in such bastions of civilisation as Saudi Arabia, Iran and Pakistan, to name only three countries on the right side of Paradise, these clearly have failed to bestir the Marquand conscience, let alone the inflatable Marquand ego.
Oriental hyperbole has long been a tedious fact of life, but its Occidental variant is now something of a spectator sport. Consider the following pantomime: A few months ago, Channel 4 Television screened a film called Undercover Mosque — recorded secretly — on Muslim preachers of hate sermonising in mosques up and down the land, their incendiary words an unequivocal violation of the law.
Imagine the shock and consternation when the Crown Prosecution Service and the West Midlands Police instituted proceedings against the makers of the film on the ground that it incited racial hatred. Ofcom, the television regulator, rejected the complaints. Channel 4 sued for libel and won substantial damages. The police and the CPS accepted at court that they were wrong and that there was “no evidence that the broadcaster or programme makers had misled the audience or that the programme was likely to encourage or incite criminal activity”.
Mr Kevin Sutcliffe, the deputy head of current affairs at Channel 4, spoke for the community of the sane: “This is a total vindication of the programme team in exposing extreme views being preached in mainstream British mosques. The programme’s findings were clearly a matter of important public interest. The authorities should be doing all they can to encourage investigations like this, not attempting to publicly rubbish them for reasons they have never properly explained.”
However, there are no national boundaries for self-regarding surrealists much given to contemplating their navels. An opinion-sheet published in London and portentously entitled South Asian Perspectives included an offering from one Neera Chandoke, a Delhi University academic, arguing the right of secession in the Sub-continent. East Pakistan went down that route in 1971 and lost three million of its people to rape and murder by the West Pakistani soldiery.
Hitler supported secession when it was restricted to Czech Sudetenland. The European project became flesh only with the disappearance of Nazi Germany. The pan-African dream was in reality a nightmare with an apartheid regime flourishing in the continent’s south.
Partition gave the lie to a South Asian perspective long ago. Let Indians rest content with an Indian perspective true to their nation’s best traditions. Otherwise, we may say with Shakespeare’s Falstaff, “I do perceive that I am an ass.”