Un-Veiling Islamaphobia in Britain

By Salwa Al Khatib

19 January 2011


Following September 11th 2001 the US and European Countries began making a prominent issue of the Muslims living in the West. Islam became the most discussed religion in recent years. Nothing was off the table, nothing was out of bounds. Freedom of speech was taken to a whole new level and the culture, history, people and even the clothes of Islam were to be dissected like frogs in a biology laboratory.

English Defence League march in Newcastle on 29 May 2010

The one difference being, whereas scientists dissect the frogs in the laboratory and it is contained, with the dissecting of Islam, everyone was to have a go at it! And it was all in the name of Free Speech.

On the 27th October 2010, The Independent broadsheet newspaper printed an article by Julie Burchill proclaiming that Israel is the most tolerant society and that Islam is “a religion which supports the oppression, torment and murder of thousands of Christians, homosexuals and spirited women, worldwide, every year?”

There are so many inaccuracies in her statement it is difficult to imagine how or why the high journalistic standards of The Independent were completely dropped when printing her article. A bold statement such as thousands of Christian’s and women are killed every year by, erm, Muslims surely requires some background information, a small factual report maybe, some semblance of a statistic from the UN, International Red Cross or any other independent reliable source?

Something that does not kill thousands of women or Christians every year but might as well considering its reputation, is the veil. Considered by many as a symbol of Islam, the Hijab, Burka or the Veil, which covers the face apart from the eyes became the centre of the European debate that takes in religious freedom, female equality, secular traditions and even fears of terrorism.

The veil worn by an estimated 10,000 women in Britain has become the subject of many an article on the oppression of women in Islam and the inability of Muslims to integrate into British society.

In the last two years alone more articles have been printed about the veil than women that wear them, which begs the question is the treatment of women wearing the Veil simply an extension of Britain and America’s War on Terrorism?

There is no ban on Islamic dress in the UK, but schools are allowed to forge their own dress code after a 2007 directive which followed several high-profile court cases.

UKIP is the first British party to call for a total ban, after the anti-immigration British National Party had already called for the veil to be banned in Britain’s schools causing much more heated debates and inciting further racism.

A piece of clothing surely does not require such on going scrutiny, after all, women have worn it for centuries, why the sudden drastic interest and repulsion?

Perhaps the long black fabric is unwittingly serving a greater purpose for those who are inciting Islamaphobia in the West or perhaps Rupert Murdoch and his minions of journalists are truly concerned for the rights of women under the Veil.

  • A Veil of Propaganda

Leading political scientist and communications theorist Harold Lasswell once said that “Propaganda relies on symbols to attain its end: the manipulation of collective attitudes … There must be no ambiguity about who the public is to hate.”

The British Media has used the veil as a backdrop for its systematic and consistent attack on Muslims in Britain referring to it as both a ‘Security Threat’ and ‘Symbol of Terrorism’.

Lasswell himself could not have dreamed up a better example to his theory of propaganda than the British media’s psychological association between the visual image of the Islam and the volatile and provocative content that appears alongside it.

The image of the veiled woman has become synonymous with Islam and dare I say it, terrorism. Murdoch and co’s constant bashing of the oppressed Muslim women behind the murderous veil has finally transferred onto the British public psyche.

Muslim women in the UK who wear face veils say they are seeing a rising tide of hostility and abuse because of the way they dress. British police has recently reported a sharp rise in crimes, ranging from verbal abuse to physical attacks against Muslims in the past year. Most of these attacks barely get a mention in the mainstream press and when they do they are neither criticised nor condemned.

  • Terrorism under the veil

On the 23rd of July 2010 two Muslim woman were refused entry on a London Bus by the driver, who called them a “threat” to him and others on the bus.

The two 22-year-old students from Slough, Atoofa and Yasmin who were wearing the Veil and the Hijab respectively tried to board a No. 7 bus at Russell Square.

Yasmin: “The passengers started getting on. When I went forward to show my ticket he said, ‘Get off the bus’. “The bus driver said to us, ‘I am not going to take you on the bus because you two are a threat.’

The bus driver was right to respond in the way that he did, after all, the risk of two 22 year old women wearing the veil and the Hijab inciting a terror attack on the driver and fellow passengers was too immense!

The truth is, the driver truly was not to blame, he has been bombarded with over 10 years of constant references to Muslims as ‘the greatest terror Threat’ to Europe by the British media, who have successfully managed to leave no ambiguity about who the public is to hate.

A spokesperson from the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) said “Such racist incidents are sadly becoming more common.” “They have been fuelled against the climate of increasing anti-Muslim rhetoric and hostility, in particular on the part of sensationalised stories by the media, demonising Muslims in the eyes of the wider public.”

Suleman Nagdi, spokesman for the Leicestershire Federation of Muslim Organisations said “The figures the police have only show the number of women who have come forward to tell them about their experiences. I fear there are others who have been abused in this way but have never told anyone about it. There is a debate going on, but calling people names in the street is never part of any debate.”

But who needs to call people names in the street when they can do it in print under the guise of journalism or in the House of Commons under the umbrella of ‘integration’ as did Oldham Labour MP Phil Woolas who wrote an article (or something that resembles an article) on Muslim women who cover their faces with veils, declaring to the readers of the Sunday Mirror, that such women are “frightening and intimidating”.

He then cleverly added that Muslim veils could increase racial tensions in Britain, well I think you assisted in that aspect fine all by yourself Phil!

  • True Intentions

Where is all this ‘Racial tension’ leading European societies?

Who exactly benefits from the wide division that is being drawn up with words and images in the Murdoch owned western media? Do such groups as the EDL, The BNP and even many parliamentarians such as conservative Phillib Holloborne who is leading the anti veil campaign in the UK have a final destination to reach? Or are they simply swimming in a pool of their own ignorance?

Holloborne who has described the burka as ”offensive” and ”against the British way of life”, when asked why he is taking on such a campaign insisted that it is for the good of all, ”We are never going to get along with having a fully integrated society if a substantial minority insist on concealing their identity from everyone else.”

It seems veiled women are not the only ones who are concealing their identities from everyone.

A closer examination of Julie Burchill reveals thast although her article began by her attempt to convert to judaism and then deciding it was too much effort, Burchill is a self confessed christian zionist who later said she was an ex-christian but still a zionist! Anyone still following this? It is a bit confusing really, perhaps it is the confusion of her real motives that made her conceal this valid and very relevant information from everyone and instead pretending to want to convert to a religion she is already a part of? Would her article on Islam being the most vile religion and Israel the most intolerant society not have been so ‘balanced’ and had presented ‘conflict of interest’ if the readers knew her true identity as a zionist?

Is the war on terror the modern day equivalence cover up for Herzl’s plan of the middle east and is Murdoch’s media using the black cloth and other images of Islam to ‘create an enemy’ out of Muslims in the west in order to draw attention away from the global threat that the Zionist plan actually offers? And worse still, is the small black cloth paying the political, religious and cultural price or is the cloth truly represent an ‘unimaginable’ threat to western civilisation?

Is Holloborne and co genuinely trying to create a more integrated society or intentionally trying to bring more unwanted and undeserved attention to the Muslim community in Britain?

One 29-year-old from Leicester’s Clarendon Park, said: “There is a more hostile than usual atmosphere at the moment. I have been called names like ”Taliban” and ”terrorist” and one drunk man, in the middle of the day, told me to go back to where I came from.

Racism is very rarely based on actual knowledge or historic information, in fact racism is often synonymous with the word ignorance.

The one quaram in the UK printed word however, is that it is providing the British public with all the information they need in order to become knowledgeable about Islam.

Such ‘journalism’ like Burchill’s article appears in all corners of British press, including in this case one of the most respected broadsheets, the Independent.

So much of the information in the written press is neither backed by fact nor real statistics nor real knowledge of the true history of Muslims, Islam and the culture in which it was born.

In fact, the majority of information about Islam in the written press once collated together reveals a very precise, well thought through veil of hatred that does little more than create a monster out of Islam and all things related to it. Unfortunately for a country that claims to be an example of democratic free speech, Britain’s media does little more than incite hatred and expand the divide between religions.

But we must not be narrow minded here, in fact we must celebrate Murdoch’s media’s honest reporting as a wonderful example of the beauty of False Speech, I mean Free Speech!


Salwa Al Khatib is a Freelance Journalist

© Copyright 2011 by CESRAN.org

This material is available for republication as long as reprints include verbatim copy of the article in its entirety, respecting its integrity. Reprints must cite the author and CESRAN as the original source including a “live link” to the article. Thank you!

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