A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Warsi on warpath over Islamophobia

Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party chairman, is highlighting today the fact, as she sees it, that prejudice against Muslims has "passed the dinner-table test" and become socially acceptable in the UK. Whether she has used the term "islamophobia" I do not know, but the media is suggesting she has done. These social phobias are cropping up all over the place. A phobia is an irrational dislike, hatred even, of some aspect of life, a thing or people. I know people who are claustrophobic. That is they go quite crazy when shut in a room. They can't abide cars, planes or even trains. Arachnophobic people even squeal at the mention of spiders. None of it makes much sense to those who don't have such phobias.

Now the modern society has taken the word phobia and stuck it onto Islam and come up with Islamophobia. Are there people who become irrational in the presence of Muslims? If there are perhaps they can be cured of their phobia. However, I doubt that it is a phobia. In fact it isn't. What it is is a hatred or dislike of the Muslim faith and of some Muslims in particular. Literally a prejudice. I have no doubt that there are some who sit around a dinner table and mutter disparagingly about Islam. Most probably have no clue and allow themselves to say, "In the school, the kids say: 'The family next door are Muslim but they're not too bad'" as Baroness Warsi says they do. "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'." She has a point.

But I don't think Muslims need to be singled out for protection against the bigots. One could say that about Christians, about anyone who does not conform to the prevailing secular attitudes. I know that not all priests are paedophiles, but I bet a few dinner parties have discussed that topic and it being concluded that they are. Were all Catholics murderers in the Irish troubles? Were all Protestants anti-catholic bomb plotters? Of course they were not.

When it comes to understanding Muslims in Britain we need people like Baroness Warsi to stand up and say why Muslims, like her, make good citizens. She says "the patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media", is making Britain a less tolerant place for believers. Don't we just know it. Look at the way the media is portraying the Ordinariate. How they portray Christians generally.

What I would say is that it would help considerably if there was some sort of Chief Imam who could express Islam in a way that is more freely understood by the non-Muslim population. And I think that cultural aspects should be separated from religious ones. For example, it is not necessary to be a good Muslim by wearing garments of a particular type. But if people want to wear certain clothing then that should be respected.

In short, we live currently in a secular, un-churched, non-religious country. Many are spiritual in many ways, but most just go with the flow. I'm still pondering how those who are not in the current flow can determine whether they should be in those waters at all.


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