Ads 468x60px

04 September 2010

This is Why - Part 1

According to the 26th British Social Attitudes survey, the largest of its kind, at least a third (34%) of the British public are negative about Muslims, not much more are neutral, and barely a quarter have positive feelings.

This is in stark contrast to the low level of any negative feelings (6% - 15%) and much higher positive feelings towards other religious groups.

Muslims themselves complain of “Islamophobia”.

Why is there so much dislike or suspicion of Islam and Muslims?

Some Muslims put it down to ignorance. All would be well if only the British knew more about Islam, if they had read the Koran (in the original Arabic, some say), had things explained to them in the right way.

There is another and better explanation. It is the effects that Islam and Muslims have on the world around us. The religion is judged by what comes out of it, and what its followers do, not by what experts and clerics claim it is about (often contradicting one another).

This post is a survey of typical reports and news items over recent months concerning Islam and Muslims. Judge for yourself.

The “War on Terror”, Terrorism, the Israeli/Palestinian issue and ongoing conflicts in Muslim countries are deliberately excluded.

We address the usual objections to media information here.

July 2010

Domestic abuse rampant in modern, moderate Turkey

Stop preaching or get out

A teacher says no to burqa in a West Bengal Muslim university, isn’t allowed to teach

Parents in hot water over missed swimming lessons

Pew Survey: Pakistanis overwhelmingly favor killing apostates

Sonorous black Saudi cleric rescinds objection to fatwa against singing

Hamas bans lingerie displays in Gaza Strip

Claim of 'Islamic veil bus ban' thrown out

Sharia creeps into New Jersey courtroom – but gets short shrift on appeal

Police Muslim forum headed by Islamic extremist

Indonesian police tears down house church: Muslim organisation gets the authorities to tear down the building

Iran cuts off hands from five thieves

Two Muslim women thrown out of pool for wearing 'burkinis

Malaysian first wives and children oppose polygamy

BBC defends Qur'an incident in EastEnders

The burka empowering women? You must be mad, minister

Muslims ban Manchester United shirts over red devil image

Reading, Writing and Ramadan

Syria's niqab ban is part of a clash within Islam itself

White Christian Britons being unfairly targeted for hate crimes by CPS, Civitas claims

Iranian prosecutor urges Islamic dress checks

Muslim bus drivers refuse to let guide dogs on board

Gaza water pipe smoke ban for women

Americans must not be cowed by Muslim objections to cartoons

Pakistani couple face death by stoning threat after conviction for adultery

By refusing to ban the burka, Damian Green is supporting the humiliation of millions of British women

Majority of Brits want burkas banned

The fundamentalist-linked Labour politician and the extremist solicitor

Muslim Public Loo Fury

French MPs vote to ban Islamic full veil in public

Muslims seek to add Islamic holidays to New York school calendar

Egyptian Islamists attempt to draw a veil over 'salacious' masterpiece

Council tells schools to rearrange exams and cancel swimming for Ramadan

Muslim woman sues Somerset Medical Center for religious discrimination

Muslims Attempt to Behead Apostate in Egypt

Iran imposes media blackout over stoning sentence woman

Iranian government bans new women's football kit

Widespread Support for Banning Full Islamic Veil in Western Europe

Chechnya's leader hails paintball attacks on women

Hizb ut Tahrir – we hate it here but let us stay

Iran issues list of approved Muslim hairstyles for men

Iran: Homosexual young man sentenced to death

What isn't wrong with Sharia law?

Alleging blasphemy, fanatics hack lecturer's hand

Swimmers plunged into dark after council covers swimming pool windows 'to protect Muslim women's modesty'

Stop the stoning of Sakine Mohammadi Ashtiani

Morocco Continues to Purge Nation of Foreign Christians

June 2010

Homely Homemaking Homebodies? Why the Quran Commands Muslim Women: “Stay in Your Homes”

Syria bans the Burka

Saudi Textbooks: Still Teaching Hatred

Hard-line groups target Christianity with sharia law

KFC forced to ditch halal-only menus after disappointing sales

Ex-Muslim wants multiculturalism and ‘poisonous’ faith schools ditched

Pakistan to monitor Google and Yahoo for 'blasphemy'

Is a religious bus ban on my dog right?

Saudi women and men sentenced to flogging and prison for mingling at party

Muslim domestic abuse

The Zakir Naik School of Comparitive Religion

Iran cleric says dogs "unclean" and not to be kept as pets

Norway: Sharia courts a possibility

Some Muslim practices cause poverty, Muslim religious leader says

New Report – Sharia Law in Britain – A Threat to One Law for All and Equal Rights

Conductor banned from wearing crucifix necklace

Bremner fears joke about Islam would mean death

A veil, a traffic ticket and deep unease in France over Muslims

Appeal for Afghan Christians, sentenced to death for their faith

Why is secularism incompatible with Islam?

Women’s Rights: Inspired by Muhammad?

Saudi convicts young man for kissing woman in mall

Surge for Dutch anti-Islam Freedom Party

Muslim teens enraged by pop star’s name

Study finds young, devout Muslims in Germany more prone to violence

Has al-Jazeera changed its style?

Why do Muslims hate music?

Belgium: Parents against halal food for their children

Islamic Foundation calls for death sentence if apostate fails to repent

May 2010

"Every Muslim Should Be A Terrorist”

Italy: Imam's consent needed for health-care

Muslims who support football world cup are deviants and hypocrites

Facebook rival launched in Pakistan after 'blasphemous' Prophet images published

The Spanish town of Lerida has become the first in the country to ban the Burka in municipal buildings

Court rules company can fire woman for wearing headscarf

Authorities distribute 20,000 long skirts to enforce tight pants ban in Indonesia's West Aceh

Apple pulls iSlam Muhammad app

How Islamists Came to Dominate European Islam

Sharia court now in session

Dutch Parliament Concerned About Muslim Brotherhood In The Netherlands

Muslim leader: find wives in Britain not Pakistan and India

Poll: 57 per cent of Swiss favour banning the burqa

Pakistan blasphemy laws used to justify 'murder': EU parliament

Morocco expelled Christians 'to prevent conflict'

Brussels Increasingly Looks Like Any Great Middle East City; 'In Years to Come, Muslims in Europe Could Only Grow In Numbers, Coming... In Droves'

France has first 'burka rage' incident

Central Council of Muslims in Germany Pulls Out Of Government Sponsored Integration Effort

Saudi woman beats up virtue cop

Woman in burkha held after MP is stabbed in stomach

Catholic school girl who refused headscarf for mosque trip labelled a truant

Muslim clerics in India issue a fatwa forbidding women to work for their living

Turks found worst integrated group amid widespread bigotry

City of Helsinki Pool Sponsoring Muslim Girls' Only Swimming Classes.......

The Iranian Regime's Efforts to Enforce the Wearing of the Hijab

Taxi refuses to take woman home with alcohol

South Park the last bastion of free thought

Fribourg cuts benefits for veil-wearers

Adulterer to be lashed, jailed in Sharjah

Italy: Third council to fine burqa wearers

Iran detains 80 youths for illegal "pleasure seeking

For Australia's sake, we need to ban the burqa

'I have to keep her indoors now': Muslim husband's shocking response as wife is first to be fined £430 for wearing a burka

Saudi liberals see hope as clerics argue over gender segregation

Aceh Drafts Regional Ban on Non-Islamic Broadcasts

Banning hijab no rights violation, court says

Tan ban in Iran

Saudi eases ban on unrelated couples in cars

02 September 2010

Support for Harsh Laws (Including Death for Apostasy)

More than four-in-ten Pakistanis see a struggle taking place between Islamic fundamentalists and groups that want to modernize the country; and the vast majority of those who do see a struggle identify with the modernizers.

Nonetheless, many Pakistanis endorse extreme views about law, religion and society. More than eight-in-ten support segregating men and women in the workplace, stoning adulterers, and whipping and cutting off the hands of thieves. Roughly three-in-four endorse the death penalty for those who leave Islam.

Thus, even though Pakistanis largely reject extremist organizations, they embrace some of the severe laws advocated by such groups.

Still, Pakistanis differ sharply with the Taliban and al Qaeda when it comes to a tactic associated with both groups: suicide bombing. Fully 80% of Pakistani Muslims say suicide bombing and other forms of violence against civilians can never be justified to defend Islam, the highest percentage among the Muslim publics surveyed. As recently as six years ago, only 35% held this view.

[Extract from the results of the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project published 29 July 2010]

Do you favor or oppose making the following the law
% Who:
Segregation of men and women in the workplace
85 11 3
Whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery
82 13 5
Stoning people who commit adultery
82 11 7
Death penalty for people who leave the Muslim religion
76 16 8

Survey Details

Sample Design: Multi-stage cluster sample of all four provinces stratified by province (some areas were excluded for security reasons as were areas of instability – roughly 16% of the population) with disproportional sampling of the urban population

Mode: Face-to-face adults 18 plus

Fieldwork dates: April 13 to April 28, 2010

Sample size: 2,000 - Margin of error: ±3.0 percentage points

Representative: Disproportionately urban, (the sample is 55% urban, Pakistan’s population is 33% urban). Sample covers roughly 84% of the adult population.

The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project

The Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project conducts public opinion surveys around the world on a broad array of subjects ranging from people’s assessments of their own lives to their views about the current state of the world and important issues of the day. More than 240,000 interviews in 57 countries have been conducted as part of the project’s work.

The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan "fact tank" that provides information on the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It does so by conducting public opinion polling and social science research; by analyzing news coverage; and by holding forums and briefings. It does not take positions on policy issues.

01 September 2010

More Misleading and Pointless Islamist Propaganda

The Islamic Education and Research Agency (iERA) misreport one of the main findings of their study “Perceptions of Islam & Muslims” published last week. They say “75% (of the British non-Muslims surveyed) believed Islam and Muslims had provided a negative contribution to society”

The iERA are an international organisation committed to educating and informing humanity about the truth and noble message of Islam. [see Annex 1]

The finding was seized on by the Guardian who entitled their news report: “Three-quarters of non-Muslims believe Islam negative for Britain”

.... and ENGAGE, an organisation dedicated to promoting greater media awareness and political participation amongst British Muslims, headed its web news item: “New poll reveals 3/4 of UK population believe Islam is negative for Britain”

The finding is based on this table published in the study itself.

What contribution do you think Islam and Muslims have had on British society? - % Who say:
Very NegativeQuite NegativeNo ContributionQuite PositiveVery PositiveNot Stated

For a start the English is incorrect. The question should have been either “What contribution do you think Islam and Muslims have made to British society?” or “What impact do you think Islam and Muslims have had on British society?”

The answers are recorded on a five way scale in which conventionally the middle position is neutral, the respondent here saying he/she doesn’t think the contribution has been either negative or positive (neutral in other words). The English goes adrift again as the middle position is labelled “No contribution” (which is not the same as a negative contribution).

The 75 percent headlined by the Guardian and ENGAGE can only be arrived at by including the 39 percent who are in reality neutral on this question (the most frequent answer). Otherwise it is only 36 percent who think Islam has made a negative contribution. Yes, “only”!

Well, a third of Britons thinking British Muslims make a negative contribution to society is better than three quarters thinking so.

The purpose of the research

This careless (and deceitful) approach shows up in other ways and is a sign we are dealing with token research.

The research is irrelevant, the authors have already decided what they want to say. They think their message has greater impact if it is linked to professional research. “We must be right. Here’s the evidence”. “This shows how important and necessary our work is”. That there might be different interpretations of the research, that it might not be adequate, is not on the cards.

Even though the study is entitled “Perceptions on Muslims and Islam: A study of the UK Population”, the executive summary is a statement of the iERA’s worldview. For example, it contains this long-winded statement:

“Only then are we giving people the opportunity to make an informed free choice as how to use that information, and until that point liberty to make profound choices about particular world views will not exist, particularly if all that was known before had negative spin, psychological barriers and bad experiences. Therefore, unless something changes, the current state of affairs will remain as a form of intellectual oppression as it keeps the door to enquiry slammed firmly shut.”

The executive summary says next to nothing about the research itself. There are pages explaining why the research is necessary and even a “theological backdrop” chapter, all this portraying the ideas and objectives of the iERA.

The message is simple. Britain must be invited to Islam. That’s it! This activity, a summons or invitation to Islam, is known as dawah.

You can read (or not) the whole thing here. A word of warning: even though a sophisticated publishing tool has been used to format the study, the publisher had little idea how to create a readable document, going overboard in the use of colours, the lines in the tables changing colour one after another in the manner of a rainbow, repeating identical chapter headings in the same font size from one page to the next, mislabelling tables, and making extensive use of white out of black. There is no contents page, an annoying omission.

Slagging off your rivals

As early as page 5 the study devotes a chapter to criticising the research carried out in June by YouGov on British perceptions of Muslims and Islam on behalf of the Exploring Islam Foundation (EIF) [see Annex 2] claiming that this research is technically and significantly inferior to what the iERA have done.

iERA even go to the trouble of extensively quoting professional research papers extolling face to face interviewing, the method employed by iERA. They really want to impress you.

[A summary of this EIF research is also published here.]

YouGov used self-completion on-line questionnaires completed by members of a panel who have agreed to be surveyed from time to time. Those who send in their questionnaire are not necessarily an accurate representation of the population at large. They are those who take the trouble to respond. They also don’t have the benefit of the presence of an interviewer. YouGov obtained and analysed results from 2152 people.

iERA boast their face-to-face interviews with a random sample chosen on the street makes their results more representative and meaningful. The fieldwork was done by DJS a UK-based market research firm. Someone should point out to the iERA that recruiting at random on the street involves “self selection” just as much as people on panels.

Not everyone is willing to stand on the pavement or in some public place talking to an interviewer, especially for a lot more than a few minutes as it must have been in this case; 24 questions each of which could take between 30 seconds to a minute to read out, consider, and answer carefully. iERA also boast that some questions had open-ended extensions asking “why do you say that” answers to which the interviewer had to record verbatim! It can also be said that someone at home with the time to think might give better considered answers.

iERA don’t make any comment on the size of their sample, 500, which is grossly inferior and hence less reliable compared to YouGov’s 2152 respondents.

The results

The highlights of the results according to iERA are given in the form of 28 bullet points. The first six and more prominently displayed are:

80% have less than very little knowledge about Islam
51% learnt Islam from school
95% had come into contact with the Bible
20% had come into contact with the Qur’an
93% had very little knowledge or no knowledge at all about the Qur’an
40% did not know who Allah is

The 40% result concerning Allah includes 16% who thought he was a Prophet of Islam, not an unreasonable mistake as respondents were asked to pick the correct answer from a list including possibilities such as “a month in the Islamic calendar” (no one chose that!).

A number of the results in this impressive list of 18 show a dislike or suspicion of Islam (though in some cases not as severe as reported by iERA because of their strange way of counting neutral answers).

(only) 2% responded positively concerning perceptions about Islamic 32% believed that Muslims are a major cause of community tension 70% did not disagree with the statement “Muslims preach hatred” 94% did not disagree with the statement “Islam oppresses women” 86% did not disagree with the statement “Islam is outdated”

Annex 3 gives a full analysis of these and other selected results.

The study also has a list of 18 recommendations. The first six are:

Disseminate the results and implement our recommendations Resource and finance existing dawah organisations Disseminate information about the Prophet Muhammad Develop a dawah strategy with student organisations Attend dawah training courses Create a new language by removing overtly religious connotations and building concepts

Further details are given in Annex 4 including what is meant by the amazing recommendation “Create a new language by removing overtly religious connotations and building concepts”

What is the point?

The iERA assume, as does the EIF, that the British dislike and suspicion of Islam is all down to ignorance. All would be well if only the British knew more about Islam, if they had read the Koran, had things explained to them in the right way.

But the British are not stupid. How much do you need to know about something to dislike it or reject it? You can also judge the worth of a thing or an idea by the results it produces. How it affects you or the world you live in. How many Britons read the Communist Manifesto or Das Capital?

We are witness daily to the effects of Islam. Take for a small start these recent news stories.

"Although music is halal, promoting and teaching it is not compatible with the highest values of the sacred regime of the Islamic Republic"

“Brazil offers asylum to Iran woman sentenced to stoning”

“Pakistanis overwhelmingly favor killing apostates”

“Claim of 'Islamic veil bus ban' thrown out”

“Sharia creeps into New Jersey courtroom – but gets short shrift on appeal”

“Iran cuts off hands from five thieves”

“Two Muslim women thrown out of pool for wearing 'burkinis'“

“Malaysian first wives and children oppose polygamy”

“Council tells schools to rearrange exams and cancel swimming for Ramadan”

“Morocco Continues to Purge Nation of Foreign Christians”

“Homely Homemaking Homebodies? Why the Quran Commands Muslim Women: “Stay in Your Homes””

For a fuller picture see this summary listing of Islam/Muslim news items over the last few months.

The usual objections are also addressed, namely: (a) The mainstream media is biased, putting the worst light on things and even making up stories. (b) Not all Muslims are the same. (c) The media concentrates on the bad news and ignores the good news.

More to the point

It would do a lot more good for everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, if the thought and effort going into “inviting people to Islam” and “ informing humanity about the truth and noble message of Islam” went into changing the attitudes and practices of Muslims themselves.

It seems reform is a dirty word in Islam – you can’t reform something which is supposed to be perfect – but something like reform is needed. Out of the multitude of faces Islam presents to the world, the multitude of practices and beliefs, Muslims have to decide which are right for the modern age and which will enable good relations with the rest of humanity.

Annex 1 – The iERA

From the iERA website

“iERA is an international dawah organisation committed to educating and informing humanity about the truth and noble message of Islam.

Our work is focused around creating a mass movement in dawah, on a scale that would be unprecedented in modern history. As an academy, we support our work through research led initiatives which are developed as projects or ‘models’. For this reason iERA has a dedicated research department; the first of its kind for a Muslim organisation in the West. These projects have already made a big impression in the community; these include Mission Dawah, Muslim Now, One Reason and The BIG Debates.

In addition to this we have full time Islamic speakers (da’ees) who deliver lectures, seminars and training courses.

iERA looks to dovetail into existing dawah efforts, by enhancing their effectiveness, whilst exploring new and innovative methods to reach different audiences and breakdown barriers.”

The iERA website also gives a list of its Advisors which includes Zakir Naik and Bilal Philips both recently banned from entering the UK by Theresa May, the Home Secretary. See Also The Zakir Naik School of Comparitive Religion

Wiki defines dawah as follows

Da‘wah usually denotes preaching of Islam. Da‘wah means literally "issuing a summons" or "making an invitation", being the active participle of a verb meaning variously "to summon, to invite"

A Muslim who practices da‘wah, either as a religious worker or in a volunteer community effort, is called a da‘i, plural du‘at. A da‘i is thus a person who invites people to understand Islam through a dialogical process, and may be categorized in some cases as the Islamic equivalent of a missionary, as one who invites people to the faith, to the prayer, or to Islamic life.

Annex 2 – The EIF

From the EIF website

The Exploring Islam Foundation (EIF) specialises in authoring, publishing and marketing high quality resources which creatively explore the numerous aspects of Islam.

EIF was established to fulfil the following aims:

Challenge misconceptions surrounding Islam and Muslims Raise awareness about the belief, practice, history, and cultures of Islam Collaborate with organisations on humanitarian issues Highlight the contribution of Muslims to civilisation

Our vision is of establishing a Foundation that challenges the damaging stereotypes about Islam through the medium of creative resources. These information packages will provide a comprehensive insight to the faith. We envisage working across the spectrum of media outlets, from traditional print media to innovative e-media. We expect to build strong coalitions with like-minded organisations and campaigns that are addressing global challenges in which we have a common aim. We cannot possibly ignore issues like child poverty, climate change, third world development, Aids and war; to do so would be to disregard our duty towards one another, as Muslims, as humans.


The Foundation is managed by a board of British Muslim professionals from a diverse range of expertise – strategy consultants, magazine editors, journalists, authors, public-relation experts, art directors and marketing executives. The patron is Lord Adam Patel of the House of Lords.

Annex 3 – Selection of results in readable tabular form

How much do you know about
% Who sayIslamThe Qur'an
Don't have any knowledge5573
Have very little knowledge2520
Have basic knowledge177
Am knowledgeable31
Am an expert00


How would you best describe your perception of Islamic sharia law? - % Who say:
Very NegativeQuite NegativeNeutralQuite PositiveVery PositiveNot Stated


How would you describe your perception of Muslims in general? - % Who say:
Very NegativeQuite NegativeNeutralQuite PositiveVery PositiveNot Stated


Do you think Muslims are the major cause of community tensions? - % Who say:
YesNoDon't knowNot stated


"Muslims positively engage in society" - % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


"Muslims are terrorists" - % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


"Islam oppresses women" % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


"The media is negatively biased towards Islam and Muslims" % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


"Muslims preach hatred" - % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


"Islam is outdated" - % Who:
Disagree StronglyDisagree SlightlyNeither Agree nor Disagree Agree SlightlyAgree Strongly


Would you like to know more about Islam? % Who say:
YesNoDon't knowNot stated

Annex 4 – Amazing Recommendations

These selected recommendations and the passages we have emphasized are perfect examples of the fanatical mind at work.

They also show the Islamist character of the iERA; that Islam is a political and social system as well as a religion.

(7) Create a New Language by Removing Overtly Religious Connotations and Building Concepts

…. in this post-secular society there seems to be no psychological or social drivers to increase an interest in religion, and particularly Islam. We recommend that a strategy needs to be developed to ensure that publications and all relevant messages are captured by the target audience.

This may include couching the language of relevant presentations and publications in a new language that is appealing and engaging. This can be done by removing overtly religious connotations and explaining the uniqueness and comprehensive nature of the message of Islam. [In order to attract attention they propose to hide what they stand for. Good of them to be so frank about their dishonesty. It is also a massive condemnation of what they stand for.]

In addition to this, concepts and messages that attract the intellectual and emotional context of the target audience must be used; with an obvious link to the key message that needs to be delivered.

(8) Promote Religion and Show Islam’s Uniqueness

We also recommend that there should be an overall strategy to show that Islam is not just a religion [Islamism] thereby highlighting the importance and relevance of the Islamic way of life. In addition to this we suggest that religion in general must be shown to have been misconstrued in our post¬secular society, thereby removing the mental obstacles apparent in the wider community.

Regarding showing that Islam is not just a religion, a focus may be required to divorce the apparent view that all religions are the same and that they have experienced the same history. It must be highlighted that Islam must not be viewed through the eyes of European history or understood by fallacious references to Catholic intolerance and coercion in the past.

Rather, Islam and its history must be viewed without a reference to the historical or intellectual baggage that is specific to Europe and Britain. Superimposing a specific negative history to understand another world view is fallacious and only skews understanding.

To really understand Islam, or any other world view for that matter, it must be understood as it intends to be. [So we ignore what Islam has achieved and its effects over the last 1500 years.]

(16) Promote Islamic Civilisation and Islam’s Solutions to Modern Problems

The trends of this research have strongly suggested that the non-Muslim population feel that religion is irrelevant in today’s modern society. [The research did not cover this; the relevance or otherwise of religion in general. (What on earth on the “trends of the research”?) It is what the iERA want you to believe and, of course, it helps justify their programme in their eyes.] Combined with apathy and indifference to religion we recommend the Muslims and subsequently non-Muslims are educated on the significant impact that Islamic civilisation has had on the Western world, its unique worldview in providing political and social solutions, including Islam’s ability to address unprecedented problems facing the modern world.

The issue of global economy is a good example to highlight Islam’s relevancy in the 21st century. Islam addresses the issue of global poverty by dealing with the number one problem in economics: the distribution of resources. This stems from the geo-political view announced by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him). The Prophet stated that human beings have limited essential needs and there are enough resources in the planet to cater for these needs.

This is in contrast to the Western (or capitalist) view that there are unlimited needs and not enough resources. The latter creates excessive competition whereas the Prophetic view facilitates distribution, thereby dealing with the number one economic problem. Although this is not the space to elaborate in detail, it is a useful insight on the applicability of Islam in the modern world.

[This sounds like third-form economic analysis. What about production? Distribution isn’t much use unless there is something to distribute. Regarding a balance between man and nature it would be interesting to know what the iERA think about population growth especially as Islam seems so keen on women staying at home and producing children.]

[We might ask why so many Islamic counties are amongst the most poor and backward, apart from islands of enormous wealth – and not much distribution of that going on - brought about by the West’s need for oil.]

(19) Invite People to the Islamic Worldview

This research has highlighted an important view held by iERA that in order to be successful in dawah, dealing with all the apparent negative perceptions and misconceptions of the non-Muslim community may be counterproductive in wanting to convince them of the truth of the Islamic worldview.

…. A view adopted by iERA is that responding and dealing with each of these perceptions actually contradicts the essence of Islam. Islam fundamentally expounds upon the idea of submission to God and its moral philosophy is driven by the view that God is determinative of what good is, and since he has announced himself to mankind in the form of the Qur’an, then that becomes the anchor for all moral teachings.

Therefore it can be argued that linking all of our actions as Muslims to our worldview will not only show people the truth of the philosophical foundations of the Islamic faith but it will also contextualize and provide the conceptual framework for non-Muslims to understand aspects of Islam they had negative perceptions about, in addition to highlighting the validity and human relevance of our view for life. [This recommendation is utter baloney.]

Objections to the Media

Muslims often complain that the media is unfair to them. They say: (a) The mainstream media is biased, putting the worst possible light on things and even making up stories; (b) Not all Muslims are the same and the media creates a negative sterotype.

The Media is even one of the main causes of Islamophobia. Various books and studies push this idea.

Pointing the Finger Edited by Julian Petley and Robin Richardson. Published by Oneworld Publications 2011

Islamophobia and Anti-Muslim Hate Crime: UK case studies 2010 - An introduction to a ten year Europe-wide research project. By Robert Lambert and Jonathan Githens-Mazer. Published by European Muslim Research Centre (EMRC)

Images of Islam in the UK – The Representation of British Muslims in the National Print News Media 2000-2008 published by the Cardiff School of Journalism (CSJ)

The Search for Common Ground: Muslims, non-Muslims and the UK Media. Published by the Greater London Authority when Ken Livingstone was Mayor of London.

Let us look at these objections.

(a) The mainstream media is biased, putting the worst light on things and even making up stories

Given the pressures of reporting and human nature itself, it would be a surprise if news wasn’t sometimes misreported or misconstrued, even deliberately, but the fact is the media usually gives a fair account of what happens and what is said, or makes a valid point.

Even if some is unfair, what is published by reputable or usually reputable sources is a staggering indictment of Islam. The vast majority of news concerning Islam or Muslims is truthful.

The uncomfortable fact is Islam and Muslims do and say many things which puzzle or repulse non-Muslims.

What (Muslim) journalists say

In one of its major sections the Search for Common Ground study recorded the verbatim remarks of six Muslim journalists. The aim of the study was to denigrate the Press but these remarks provide a glimmer of light as to the truth which the authors missed.

“If a story’s there and it’s the biggest story in town they have to cover it. If it’s what your readership asks for, you will respond. …. If you are a news editor getting letters saying you need to be stronger on this stuff, you will … Some of the reporting after the London bombs was very good. It was reported very well and very sensitively.” (Journalist A, p241) See here.

“I think the press has been pretty fair to Muslims. They don’t really need to stitch people up, they do a good enough job of that themselves. My view is Muslims have got to address issues themselves, things like anti-semitism and homophobia that seem to be unchangeable within Muslim communities. As far as I’m concerned newspapers just report them as they are.” (Journalist B, p242)

“I take issue with many things done by British Muslims. If the media was doing its job it would help Britain’s two million Muslims to be able to develop a kind of reasoned, questioning attitude within itself. And you are beginning to see that a bit.” (Journalist C, p243)

These Muslim journalists don’t see any great failing in the media in regard to Islam or Muslims. In the main their concerns are those of any journalist or career minded person. Perhaps because they actually work on the front line and deal with real cases and real people they also know that the occasional press stupidity is the price of a free press.

Newspapers most at “fault”!

The Search for Common Ground study also published a table which shows for each newspaper in the mainstrean British press the percent of stories about Islam and Muslims over a one week period that were negative.

It ranged from 71% to 100%. The 100% were the The Star and Daily Mirror. No surprises there. The newspaper with the least negative percent of stories was the Daily Express.

Includes the Guardian

And what about the Guardian which was also the only newspaper with journalists on the Common Ground study team and is clearly not anti-Mulslim and is even pro-Muslim? It regularly provides a platform to Muslims to explain their views.

Recent examples include: This brutality is not Islam, by Mehdi Hasan, see here. Islam's role in an ethical society, by Tariq Ramadan, see here. Watch out: democratic Muslims about, by Inayat Bunglawala, see here.

Well, the Guardian managed a 84%. That’s right, over 4/5ths of the articles in the Guardian about Islam or Muslims were negative.

Missing the point

A significant proportion of the complaints about negative reporting (in the CSJ and CommonGround work) are disingenuous or open to debate. For example, CSJ complain:

“Though Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, then head of the Muslim Council of Britain, when interviewed by the Daily Telegraph never used the word Nazi, he was accused in very strong terms of comparing Britain to Nazi Germany. Headlines included “Fury as Muslim brands Britain 'Nazi”, “Comparisons to Nazi Germany inaccurately reflect Muslim status in Britain”.

What he actually said was: "Every society has to be really careful so the situation doesn't lead us to a time when people's minds can be poisoned as they were in the 1930s.”.

CSJ might have posed the question what did Dr Bari actually have in mind when referring to the 1930s? Was it high unemployment, the abdication crisis, or was it possibly the Nazi persecution of the Jews? See here.

And often, Muslims just miss the point. In another example Muslims complained about criticism of an Education Authority that gave its schools advice which included changes to the school programme so that Muslim children could observe Ramadan. It wasn’t compulsory advice they declared.

But that wasn’t the point. What was a local authority doing giving this advice in the first place! Why should any authority be making exceptions, giving privileges to a minority of the population, disrupting normal school practice possibly to the detriment of other pupils and creating extra work for staff.

(b) Not all Muslims are the same

That Muslims don’t all practice or understand their faith in the same way even those who live in the same street must be obvious to anyone who hasn’t been living on another planet. But how does this in anyway negate criticism of some Muslim beliefs and practices which non-Muslims disagree with or find objectionable? It doesn’t.

Non-Muslims say x is wrong, or we don’t like x. But not all Muslims practice x or believe x. So that’s alright then! No need to talk about x!

For x read “death for apostasy”, “easy divorce for men”, “stoning for adultery”, “segregation of the sexes”, “polygamy”, “veiling of women”, “a Muslim can marry only another Muslim”, “suppression of other religions”, “Sharia courts”, “a woman inherits half what a man inherits”, “non-stun halal slaughter”, “islam provides a complete political system” etc.

And, from Muslims who don’t go along with these things you don’t get criticism or condemnation, you all too often get dubious excuses.

An American Muslim justified death for apostasy in Pakistan because Islam is the state religion and leaving Islam is an act of treason. Treason is punishable by death in the United States. You may wonder how different this is from peacefully disagreeing with your Government about the way the country is run, or being a republican and atheist in a Christian monarchy such as the UK?

Inayat Bunglawala, a former spokesperson of the Muslim Council of Britain, personally is against stoning for adultery, that is torturing a person to death for the “crime”, but if people in other countries decide to have it, it’s OK by him. He uses the weasel words "choose their own legal system."