Sunday 17 February 2013

The Sun and Anjem Choudary

If you haven't seen Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, let me save you the bother. After the Klingon economy is crippled by the destruction of their main armaments facility, they enter into tentative negotiations with the Federation to normalise relations after their long, drawn-out cold war. However, there are elements on both sides who have an interest in the continued stand-off, and conspire together to derail the peace talks. 

Mutual interest in a mutual antagonism is an oft-noted feature in all kinds of things, and not least is it a useful foil for making sense of the tabloid obsession with Anjem Choudary of the organisation-formerly-known-as-al-Muhajiroun. And as hate figures go, he's perfect - as today's appalling article in The Sun demonstrates. 

CLAIM JIHAD SEEKER'S ALLOWANCE screams the headline, The Sun "exclusively" reveals that Choudary is a man with objectionable views. But if being a jihadi wasn't bad enough, he's urging his band of followers to eschew working to put claims in for JSA so they can play holy war on the tax payers' dollar. An Islamic fundamentalist advocating dole scrounging for religiopolitical objectives? It's enough to turn hard-working Sun readers into slobbering racists and Islamophobes, like this gem of a comment from the entirely normal-sounding 'whitetemplaruk'
if it was the white englishman being outspoken about these radicalists we would be arrested.
why are they allowed to claim benefits yet promote jihad against us ?
i wonder what would happen if we fought back, by say, defacing mosques or the quoran.
these pigs are not like the law abiding hard working muslims that have embraced this country and its ways, a communiuty that we can be proud of.
Choudray and his pigs should lose all rights and should be kicked out of this country along with all the other radicals with the same views.
why should we work to keep them in a life of comfort, why should we fight their wars?
kick this scum and al of his cromnies out, letsa also get out of europe and rule our own country.
sod the human rights, lets give these scum what they deserve, give edl, bnp and ukip a say.
lets get this couyntry clean again and look after our own.
Eloquently put.

Unlike this chivalrous gentleman, some Sun readers are a touch sharper:

macdangler - "We need a Fatwa issued against him. He is defiling the Muslim faith."

Sheroz K - "this is obviously not islam ... these people are just ruining the name of islam ... its disgusting"

Habib_habz - "I'm a muslim ... not all Muslims are like him. I am disgusted by him. We muslims dont give hims don't take any notice of him. But Sun always has him on headline news.."

Habib hits the nail squarely on the head. As much as The Sun professes to be appalled by him, they need his like to fuel its rants against Muslims, well-meaning liberal types, the social security system, and 'soft touch' Britain generally - despite him being as representative of and as influential among British Muslims as the Economic and Philosophic Science Review is vis a vis the labour and trade union movement. And for his own reasons, repeated exposes in the tabloid press and popular outrage against tasteless poppy-burning stunts conveys upon him a degree of Islamist radical chic, which draws a tiny sliver of bewildered and alienated Muslims to him.

Professional jihadi watcher, Shiraz Maher of Kings College, uses his expert view to proclaim it's time for Choudary's threats to be taken seriously. If they were I'm sure it would be party poppers all-round in the Choudary household. If there is actual evidence of a criminal offence then due process should have the opportunity to take its course. But it is reasonable to assume Choudary is an unwitting fool for the security services - how he has remained unscathed while jihadis linked to him have got picked up for a variety of terrorism-related offences is suggestive.

But if Shiraz is really bothered about the impact Choudary has on community relations, perhaps he might want to reflect on the massively disproportionate coverage this man attracts from Britain's right-wing hate rags and the subsequent effect it has on many millions of people. I would say that poses more of a threat to our society than Choudary's antics.

Clearly, Choudary needs The Sun for his profile. The Sun needs Choudary to vent against its political targets. If he did not exist, it would be necessary for them to invent him.


Yakoub Islam said...

Shiraz Maher is a professional Prevent-funded alarmist who tries to find links to Jihadis in every untoward Muslim glance. Like his numpty sidekick Ed Hussain, who thinks it's fine and dandy for spooks to check out the sexuality of every passing Muslim with a dodgy looking beard, his views should be taken with a cargo ship full of salt. Like too many ex-fundis, including Ed, he tries to blame his formerly idiotic views on everything but the fact he was idiotic enough to believe them.

Phil said...

Re: Shiraz, I wonder if a similar berth is available to jaded ex-Trots ...

Yakoub said...

I can think of a few ex-SWPers knocking about in the public domain, like, erm, Roderick Liddle. Now I'm an anarchist, but Rod's post-SWP career trajectory surely stands as an argument for remaining an SWP loyalist come what may!

Chris said...

It isn't just the Sun, there is a guy who keeps featuring on the corporate news in relation to Mali and Algeria who is no doubt being lined up as the next Bin Laden.

There ain't no bogey men nor witches, just greed sons of bitches.

singapore sling said...

Hard cases make bad law. Virtually no one thinks there's any excuse for Choudhary himself, but he's being used as a spearhead not only (or even principally) against Muslims and brown people in general, but against people on JSA.

I know people who are themselves on benefits who are getting worked up against him giving them a bad name, but who won't look deeper and ask themselves why someone who is almost totally irrelevant gets onto front pages so often, as do huge families who make up a tiny proportion of people on child benefit, the tiny number of DLA fakers, etc.

It is all divide and rule. People are basically slagging themselves off and can't see that it's all part of IDS and his journo mates' agenda.

Phil said...

Indeed. It's part of our job as labour movement people to use whatever means are open to us to expose this to try and turn public opinion around.