Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Some people will believe anything

Some people will believe anything

Author: Julie Burchill
Publication: The Guardian
Date: August 18, 2001
URL: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4240141,00.html

You're always hearing about how "media-savvy" people are today, and that it's really hard to pull the wool over everyone's eyes. I wonder: seems to me that, as never before, so long as you keep on talking the talk, that suspect way in which you stagger from pillar to post will not be called into question.

Strangely, no one seems to be as gullible as the media themselves. Let's take music. I can understand nine-year-olds getting excited about Sophie Bextor's singular beauty (sorry, I don't do made-up hyphenated names; a bit trashy, no, like Robert Kilroy-Silk?) and rushing down to Claire's Accessories to get her look, but I'll never understand how grown-up journalists can wet themselves about her "one-woman crusade to rescue pop", as she pipes of "dignity, sophistication... all this pop music that is directly geared towards children and gay men is incredibly patronising", and then releases a Cher song as her first solo single. That's Cher - famous, of course, for her dignity, sophistication and, um, not being aimed directly at gay men.

It wouldn't be so bad if media gullibility ended with a dodgy taste in popstresses. But it doesn't. Perhaps the greatest beneficiary of the breakdown in the media's bullshit detector has been Islam. I don't know about you, but I'm still reeling from the BBC's Islamic Week. This, hot on the heels of that madwoman - sorry, Strong Muslim Woman - on Radio 4's Thought For The Day a few weeks ago saying that the 16 Afghan and eight foreign aid workers arrested by the Taliban for "promoting Christianity" pretty much deserved what they got if found guilty (it's a capital offence). I look forward to the day when some C of E vicar tells us that any Muslim caught promoting their religion over here deserves even 20 flicks with a wet towel. (BTW, we've come across the SMW on the BBC before - she just happens to live in the decadent west, with all the dirty little freedoms that implies, but still strongly believes in the veil and arranged marriages.)

For quite a few years now, there has been a sustained effort on the part of the British media to present Islam - even after the Rushdie affair and now during the Taliban's reign of terror - as something essentially "joyous" and "vibrant"; sort of like Afro- Caribbean culture, only with fasting and fatwas. Just last week, the BBC's Kate Clark, the first female correspondent to be sent to Afghanistan, said blandly, "The situation is a lot more complex than just thinking that the Taliban are bad. For example, they have eradicated opium poppy cultivation this year."

Yes, and this year they also had a woman and her 12-year-old daughter beaten to within an inch of their lives when the woman removed her daughter's burqa - that hideous mobile prison women have to wear in the street - in order to help her breathe during an asthma attack. So, yes, Kate, the Taliban are bad, and it's not complex at all.

Islam Week brought us the wonders of mosques and Mecca, glossing over the Islamic Empire, which at its height was bigger than the Roman (remember: British Empire = bad, Islamic Empire = good), taking in - ho, ho, ho! - a Muslim football team and Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen's creation of an "Islamic garden" and finishing up with Jools Holland's Rhythms Of Islam. Mind you, I did briefly start to feel sorry for them here: any espousal of one's cause by the terminally naff Holland must surely kill its cred stone dead.

That's Islam, then - fun, fun, fun! Not a mention of the women tortured, the Christian converts executed, the apostates hounded, the slaves in Sudan being sold into torment right now. Call me a filthy racist - go on, you know you want to - but we have reason to be suspicious of Islam and to treat it differently from the other major religions. I don't think that either Judaism or Christianity, for a start, have in recent times held that apostasy - rejecting the religion one was born into - should be punishable by death; a pretty humungous violation of basic human rights, I'd say. And, getting on to the woman question, we have every reason to feel suspicious of the motives of a religion that, in many countries, insists that half its followers - even children - spend their lives worrying about covering up every inch of the body God gave them. What a depressing view of human nature, that the glimpse of an ankle can turn men into ravening beasts. And what a sad example of sensory deprivation never to feel the sun on one's back or the breeze in one's hair.

While the history of the other religions is one of moving forward out of oppressive darkness and into tolerance, Islam is doing it the other way around. It is impossible that any Christian or Jewish country would suddenly start practising their fundamental religion as the Taliban have. And by 2025, the BBC informs us, a third of the world will be Muslim.

In the light of this, and the threat it poses to our human rights, I believe that mindless, ill-sorted Islamophilia is just as dangerous as mindless, ill-sorted Islamophobia. I know how dedicated it is to the cause of dumbing down, but the BBC really should try to take this amazingly complex notion on board.

Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements