YEP Letter: Debate on Islamophobia

The following letters appeared in Yorkshire Evening Post in response to Saeeda Warsi’s comment on Islamophobia at:

Tory chief Baroness Warsi attacks ‘bigotry’ against Muslims

The Telegraph. Published Date: 19 Jan 2011

Prejudice against Muslims has become widespread and socially acceptable in Britain, the Conservative chairman will claim.

Islamophobia has “passed the dinner-table test” and is seen by many as normal and uncontroversial, Baroness Warsi will say in a speech on Thursday…..In response, Lady Warsi will blame “the patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media”. The peer will describe how prejudice against Muslims has grown along with their numbers, partly because of the way they are often portrayed.

The notion that all followers of Islam can be described either as “moderate” or “extremist” can fuel misunderstanding and intolerance, she will say. “It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of ‘moderate’ Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: ‘Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’. “In the school, the kids say: ‘The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’. “And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: ‘That woman’s either oppressed or is making a political statement’.”… More at The Telegraph

Letter: Path to social harmony

Yorkshire Evening Post. Published Date: 26 January 2011

Letter: Tolerant nation

Yorkshire Evening Post. Published Date: 04 February 2011

Letter: Media has fuelled anti-Muslim feeling

Yorkshire Evening Post. Published Date: 10 February 2011

Media has fuelled anti-Muslim feeling

Published on Thu Feb 10 12:07:48 GMT 2011

A G Goldsbrough’s and T Valentine’s letters (YEP Letters, January 26 and February 4) miss the point Sayeeda Warsi was making.

Her comments reflected on how the unprecedented growth in Islamophobia over the last decade has made anti-Muslim sentiments acceptable.

The media has relentlessly covered stories about few bad Muslims and helped to tarnish a faith and a whole community of people. When a Muslim does something bad, all Muslims are blamed.

Ordinary people learn about Islam and Muslims from their TV, hence anti-Muslim sentiments have been capitalised upon by the English Defence League and the British National Party, who now have two MEPs.

There are laws against anti-Semitism, there needs to be similar protection for Muslims too.

Although Britain is a tolerant society, it’s far from being perfect as A G Goldsbrough and T Valentine portray. Every community has their problems, as do the Muslim community.

A G Goldsbrough, living in affluent Ilkley, conveniently says “I don’t want to be involved in any way”. In a shared society we have a shared responsibility, it’s not “them” versus “us”.

Minorities still suffer discrimination e.g. in employment, leading to deprivations such as poor housing, education and health. These are the people, and their descendants, who came here in the 50s and 60s to rebuild Britain after the Second World War. Most are law-abiding citizens who have become part of British society and appreciate living in Britain.

Brits who retire to Spain, do they not form their own community and hold on to their culture, language and way of life?

T Valentine, you talk about Britain’s reputation around the world for respecting others’ culture and way of life. I wonder what the millions who suffered under British colonialism and the slave trade say to you? I wonder what the Aboriginal, African and people of the Indian subcontinent say to you?

Samuel Agustus, Beeston

Out of order

I AM guessing that T Valentine is referring to Baroness Warsi’s “dinner party prejudice” comments. There may indeed be a hint of hypocrisy in this, but does he (an educated guess as to gender) realise that he has gone a long way toward showing such claims to be true?

First, Mr Valentine implores the Baroness to get her “own house” in order. Which domicile is this? Is Lady Warsi to be held to account for all the perceived wrong done in the name of Islam?

He then goes on to draw up the borders around “us British”, with the clear implication that she does not, and will never, belong to this club.

Lady Warsi was born and brought up in Dewsbury, has lived in the UK all her life and, arguably, through her public office is playing a full part in the life of this country – very much showing “concern” for “us British”. (As much concern as any Tory can show!)

In the light of his own comments, does Mr Valentine still wish to claim that “our house is in order”? I suspect that there is a word to describe Mr Valentine’s viewpoint here and it begins with ‘r’. Or at least ‘b’.

Lewis Proll, Vesper Gate Mount, Leeds

Tolerance myth

T Valentine writes about the worldwide reputation for tolerance of the British people. Well, I don’t know where he got that idea from but I certainly don’t agree with him.

If he did a survey asking people if they would like to see hanging brought back, whether they would like to see the human rights laws scrapped, whether they were happy about mass immigration or whether they were happy about burglars getting community service, to name just four examples, I think he would get a rude awakening about the tolerant British people.

The tolerant society idea is a myth spread by successive governments to make us think everything is hunky dory when we all know it isn’t.

S Smith, Pudsey

About Leeds PSC

Leeds Palestine Solidarity Campaign