Why Look Back To The Past To Explain The Present?
I’ve always been interested in history, even as a child – I was one of those ‘freaks of
nature’ who found the deeds of people, long gone or more recent, more interesting than
fishing or football. And all that I ever wanted to do was become a teacher of history,
when my friends still held illusions of being an astronaut or a racing car driver. I was a
geek before I even knew that the word ‘geek’ existed.
People who don’t appreciate history cannot understand the preoccupation that people
like me have for it. Why bother about the past? It’s gone, over and done with, and has
little bearing on our daily existence. I always saw it as a way that we learned about
ourselves. On a personal level, knowing the story of our families explained why our
relatives acted the way they did, why some people in our family were rich and some
were poor, why some members of the family didn’t like each other and why some
people never spoke. It is the story of human interaction and gives the message of why
individuals, groups of people and even whole countries act the way they act, feel the
way they feel and think the way they think.
As I progressed into my Advanced Level studies, the world of historiography – the study
of history as a discipline – was opened up to me. And the reasons that people learned
about history opened up even more. But the one core belief that I held throughout,
and the one thing that I could always say to people who questioned why it was that I
valued history so much, was that it explained how we, on a personal and collective level,
learn from the past to make sure that mistakes others have made are not repeated
again. OK, there may be the occasional slip-up, but everyone who sticks a pen into a
plug socket to see what happens and gets an electric shock is less likely to do it again
and will tell other people that it isn’t the best of ideas.
How do we learn from the past?
There are many ‘mistakes’ that humankind have made along the way which should be
passed on and avoided. Intolerance towards others is one of the things which
shockingly re-occurs throughout history, all over the world. Humanity, it seems, is
programmed to dislike difference and be rather nasty to fellow humans for the most
trivial reasons. Being brought up in the West, one of the major preoccupations of
history syllabi, from early years, to degree and beyond, is the rise of the Nazis and the
treatment of the Jews. Unlike people from other parts of the world, who I was shocked
to find out only recently, have been taught little about the Holocaust, it was an aspect of
history which was implicit in our education, not only through history lessons, but also
English, with the study of Ann Frank’s tragic story, and, at Advanced-Level ‘Schindlers
Ark’ by Thomas Keneally, years before Steven Spielburg’s adaptation of that book in the
film ‘Schindler’s List’ captivated the world and rightfully made the ‘just goy’ Oskar
Schindler, that imperfect hero, a name known by millions, not just the thousands who
owed their very existence to his bravery and intense humanity. Reading that book for
me was a life-changing experience.
In fact, after I left school, the much-maligned and much revised National Curriculums in
Britain have made the teaching of the Holocaust mandatory; it is a legal requirement for
children to learn about this most dark aspect of humanity’s past. And quite right too.
Because if ever there was a lesson to be learned that should never be repeated, it is the
gradual descent into an abyss of evil where any group of people is dehumanised to such
an extent that they can be murdered on an industrial scale, in an industrial way and how
six million (or more) human beings can be erased from the face of the Earth because of
their ethnicity, their religion or because of the people that nature made them love.
To be honest, even as an adult, and up until the last few years, I always wondered how
this could have happened. It is a event which is singularly hard to comprehend to the
point thay I can even, in a way, understand why some people try to deny that it
happened. How could any human being contemplate doing something like that? How
could anyone actively involve themselves in incarcerating men, women and children
–even little babies – and transport them to places, often packed in wagons like animals –
and then kill them? Mass shootings, forcing victims to lay on the still warm dead bodies
of people they knew so that they could then be shot. Taking people off of trains and
marching them to showers and gassing hundreds at a time, then burning their bodies in
huge crematoria, using their shorn hair to make socks, their syphoned fat to make soap
and their gold teeth to fill the coffers of their banks. Performing medical experiments on
them. How could people just stand by and ignore this happening, pretend that the
rumours are just that, wild rumours, or buy into the official lies even when the weight of
evidence shows the ugly truth? And, without intended prejudice to others, how could
this happen in a “civilised” country which led the way in science, technology and
philosophy, and which exported its civilised values all over the world? I never really got
The Ugly Truth Of How Things Go Wrong
I understand now. I understand how people can be gently coaxed along a path to
things like this happening. And, maybe I exaggerate the case somewhat, but I am
seeing parallels from the history books, articles and television documentaries I have
avidly consumed over the last thirty years, being played out right here and right now, in
the United Kingdom, Europe and the United States – in fact, all over the world despite
this clear lesson from the past. Anti-Semitism is a fact of life once again, but the newer
targets of this victimisation, the new people to blame are Muslims and, increasingly,
migrants. For some, homosexuals can be added to this list. And the sad thing is that
not only have the lessons not been learned from the past, but almost the very same
reasons for this demonization of other human beings are being used by people to justify
Islam, Christianity Nor ANY Belief System, Are Perfect
Now, let me be clear, before anyone of a right-wing persuasion reading this goes into
the usual ‘left-wing’, ‘liberal-fascist’, ‘do-gooder’ tirade that accompanies any mention of
the words they call ‘made-up’ like ‘Islamophobia’ or ‘Homophobia’, nobody can say that
ANY group of people is perfect or beyond reproach in some way or another. Islam
DOES have problems and issues and people who call themselves Muslim are doing
things in the name of their interpretation of Islam which are, to many people, morally
reprehensible, not the least to 99.9% of Muslims who are decent people. The Westboro
Baptist Church and many ‘Evangelists’ say and do very things in the name of Christianity;
Al-Qaeda, Daesh and Boko Harem do the same with Islam. To say it is a problem which
just exists within Islam is wrong. It is not. Extremists are extremists, whatever Holy Book
or political ideology they try to blame for their sickness. However, to deny that these
problems exist is the easy way out and adds fuel to the fire of those who criticise Islam
as a whole.
As the one of the world’s leading professors on religion, Reza Ali, points out, adherents
of any religion can go to their particular holy book and pick a set of ideas which back up
their world view and quote genuine scriptural authority to back up their views and
actions, however abhorrent they are to the vast majority of people. To deny this, to say
that these people are obviously NOT real Muslims, Christians, or Jews, is immaterial. And
the Torah, the New Testament and the Quran and Hadiths are each resplendent with
phrases which, taken in or out of context, can be used by people to justify the worst of
what most people would consider to be crimes against humanity. The Torah / Old
Testament is possibly one of the most violent collection of writings ever penned, with
stories showing God to be a jealous and vindictive supreme being who commands His
chosen people to go and and commit the most evil things against those people who
have not been chosen by Him. But it is the responsibility of the individual to make the
moral decisions which lead them along a good or bad path and, at this moment in time,
those who choose the ‘bad path’ make up a small proportion of the total number of
adherents of the three Abrahamic religions.
Daesh / ISIS / ISIL / the Caliphate is the current stain on Islam, the stick which people
use to beat the whole religion with. In a short time, they have captured the attention of
the world for the very worst of reasons. Their brand of evil is excessive; public
beheadings, stoning of women, throwing homosexuals from the roofs of buildings,
burning people alive, drowning prisoners, rape, sex slavery – there seems no end to the
inhumanity perpetrated by them. And they have the conviction that they are doing this
in the name of a pure form of Islam. Most of the victims are other Muslims.
The series of very public attacks on ‘Western’ targets have succeeded in creating an
atmosphere of fear and mistrust, just as these people have intended. ‘9 / 11’ was far
from the first of these, but was undoubtedly the most dramatic attack to date; since
then, attacks of varying size in Madrid, Bali, London, Sydney, Mumbai, Tunisia and Paris
have been deliberately murderous, deliberately sickening and deliberately public,
succeeding so well in their aim of creating suspicion in the minds of non-Muslims across
the world. The numbers killed are immaterial – ordinary people, who have little or no
knowledge of Islam or have little or no contact with Muslims, immediately associate
these attacks with Islam. And why shouldn’t they, when the people doing them say that
they are doing them in the name of Islam? And why shouldn’t they when they see the
latest terrorist attack, particularly those against the USA or Israel, being celebrated on
the streets by people across the Muslim world?
What tends to be forgotten by Westerners, however, is the other side of the coin. Even
before 2001 and the declaration of the ‘War on Terror’ by Bush and Blair, western
military interventions against Muslim countries, and the actions of Israel in the Middle
East, often supported but more often ignored by Western countries, have caused deaths
on a scale which dwarf the combined numbers of westerners killed by ‘Islamic’ terrorism.
Iraqbodycount estimate that up to August 2015, between 142,749 to 161,991 civilians
have been killed in Iraq as a direct result of the illegal American-led invasion; 5.5% of the
Iraqi population have been displaced at one point or another because of the war and
the Lancet Journal in 2006 said that there were 654,965 excess Iraqi deaths related to the
war – 601,027 caused by violence. Remember, this is just one of the countries invaded.
The combined numbers of westerners killed by terrorist attacks by ‘Islamic extremists’
numbers less than 5,000. This is in no way justifying any death; but the numbers are
needed to put things into context. To many in the ‘Muslim world’, the actions of
Western ‘armies of liberation’ are no less terrifying than the Islamic Extremists are in the
‘Western world’; the behaviour of soldiers in incidents like those at Abu Ghraib are no
less horrific; and the fact that prisoners are held, without that most democratic right to a
fair trial, in institutions like Guantanamo Bay, for years on end, suffering torture, do little
to enhance any moral authority that we in the West may like to think we have.
Equally, it is forgotten, that the organisations which eventually morphed into the Taliban,
Al Qaeda and the Daesh were originally supported and funded by the West in their
attempts to fight for their interests. In effect, the Western world is reaping what it had
sowed – never a nice truth to face.
Nobody is squeaky-clean. Another uncomfortable truth for Islam is that there are people
within the Western Muslim community who are preaching hatred against the West and
the Western way of life, and calling for Islamic law to be ‘imposed’. People like Anjem
Choudhary and his small band of militants do more damage to community relations than
is justified by their numbers, although the connivance of the anti-Muslim media in
promoting this man’s message of hate is equally wrong. Why he is allowed to roam
Britain’s streets freely, invited onto television panels and asked for comments from
domestic and international media organisations when significant events happen, to
preach his warped message and intolerant interpretation of Islam is a mystery to me. It
almost seems, at times, he is allowed to spread his message of hate to add fuel to the
fire of an Islamophobia which is permeating Britain. This pantomime villain serves a
purpose to the right by spreading his message of hatred – quite why they want this
message to be spread is the question.
Where Can We See Modern Islamophobia?
So, there are things which are wrong within Islam. That is undeniable. However, as
mentioned previously, the tactics once used against Jews by the Far Right are now being
used against Muslims, Migrants and, to a lesser extent, homosexuals.
The right-dominated press is taking a lead on this. Just do a Google search for
newspaper articles about Muslims and Migrants and you will see things like this appear:
‘Muslim Plot to Kill Pope’; Muslims Tell British: Go To Hell’; ‘Muslim Schools Ban Our
Culture’; ‘Muslims Tell Us How To Run Our Schools’; ‘Christmas Is Banned By Muslims’;
‘Now Muslims Get Their Own Laws In Britain’
‘Britain Must Ban Migrants’; ‘Hidden Migrant Millions’; Migrant Numbers Out of Control’;
‘Britain Says ‘No’ To Boat Migrants’; ‘Illegal Migrants Flood In’; ‘Send In Army to Halt
Migrant Invasion’; ‘Crisis in Calais: It’s a War Zone’; ‘Migrant Runs 30 Miles Through
‘Muslim Thugs Age Just 12 In Knife Attack On Brit Schoolboy’; ‘BBC Put Muslims Before
You’; ‘Brit Kids Forced To Eat Halal School Dinners’; ‘9 –Year –Old Schoolboy ‘Is Jihadi
‘Muslim Convert Beheads Woman In Garden’’
‘Draw A Red Line On Immigration Or Else!’ (The Sun)
‘Outrageous’ (over a placard of extremists – ‘British Police Go To Hell’;
Admittedly, the liberal, multicultural and non-sectarian democracy that we have become
is really only in it’s infancy; the days of institutional intolerance and ‘No Irish, No Blacks
and No Dogs’ signs in the windows of places to rent are within living memory of many;
and, amongst the older generation at least, casual racism is often the norm rather than
the exception, however much we like to ignore that fact or believe it isn’t. Britain has
moved on, but things do not change overnight and whilst we might like to think that we
have made a change, undoing hundreds of years of bigotry and intolerance is not
achieved by passing a few laws and avoiding using certain language. Xenophobia, the
predisposition to mistrust anyone who is different, a common human condition, is
particularly strong among the British, and one it seems even more recent immigrants
into the country adopt as a sign of how well integrated they are into British society. And
scape-goating others, blaming a particular person or group of people for when things
go wrong is as old as Biblical times themselves, the phrase itself coming from the Old
In the meantime, the British public have been exposed, for 15 years, to a drip-drip
indoctrination by the press against Islam and Muslims. The general narrative of these
stories goes like this, and can be applied to immigrant communities in general as much
●There are too many of ‘them’ here.
●‘They’ are taking over areas of the country.
●’They’ take away our jobs.
●’They’ expect to be looked after for nothing.
●‘They’ do not like our way of life.
●‘They’ want to change our way of life.
●‘They’ want to change our traditions e.g. banning Christmas.
●‘They’ force us into accepting ‘their’ religion e.g. halal food, niqab.
●‘They’ are violent.
●‘They’ all secretly support terrorism / do not condemn it.
How Does Islamophobia Compare to Nazi Anti-Semitism?
This is where the disturbing similarity to Fascist / Nazi rhetoric of the 1930s really shows
itself up, especially when you delve into the sewer world of Britain First, the new Knights
Templar and the self-appointed anti-Islamic on-line commentators like Pat Clondell.
What they actually say is more akin to what a school text-book from Nazi Germany, or
the famous anti-Jewish Nazi film ‘The Eternal Jew’ says about Jews than what you would
expect of people from a modern, progressive democracy.
Religious Excuses for Anti-Semitism and Modern Islamophobia
Jews have suffered more than their fair share of discrimination and intolerance by
Christians over the past millennium due to the alleged role of Jews in killing Christ.
Most modern scholars of religion dispute that this could have happened anyway;
Jerusalem was within the Roman state and Jesus’s execution itself was common for
people who preached sedition against the Empire. He was tried as an enemy of the
state for being a brigand, a disruptive influence in society, as were many other people
claiming to be the Messiah in those turbulent times in Judaea; Pontius Pilate was, unlike
the New Testament picture of him as weak and indecisive, was a hard-nosed governor of
the region who lasted longer than any other in what was one of the toughest jobs in the
Roman world, through his willingness to use terror to subordinate the very rebellious
Jewish population, and the story of him giving-in to Jewish demands to kill Christ do not
fit in with any factual evidence of how he ruled. It is almost certainly a story embellished
for political expediency by the writers of the Gospels, none of whom were present at the
events which they describe. However, whatever the historical truth of the story itself,
Jews were hated as being the ‘Christ-killers’ and for that ‘fact’, due to this, they were
barred from many jobs in society. However they were allowed, unlike Christians of the
time, to be involved in money lending and the charging of interest on the loans.
Bankers then, as now, are never going to be popular, and this gave people yet another
reason to hate them.
Although anti-Semitism was not really a feature within the first one-thousand years after
the birth of Christianity, it has been common and widespread since, and despite the
obvious commonality between the religions, including the shared scriptures and beliefs,
Jewish religious practices were cited as reasons why they were evil. The Kosher killing of
animals was one which was particularly played upon by the Nazi state to show the
inherent evil of Judaism. Kosher killing involves the cutting of the animal’s throat and
the draining of blood, which is seen as impure. It is hard (especially as a vegetarian!) to
see any way of slaughtering an animal as being better than any other, but much was
made of this, and long scenes showing Kosher slaughter were used in ‘The Eternal Jew’
to ‘prove’ that the religion was evil.
Fast forward 70 years. Halal has become the issue of the day. Halal slaughter, which is
very similar to Kosher slaughter, is seen by many as evil. Modern slaughter techniques
require the animals to be stunned before they are killed; this is not allowed by Islamic
rules. Such has the furore been over this, that the practice has been banned in Denmark,
and Far Right groups, unable to stick up for the rights of other human beings, are much
more interested in animal rights and keen to point out the superiority of modern,
western slaughter practises over ‘barbaric’ Muslim ones. The very fact that Halal meat is
served by chains of stores, like Subway, is seen as submitting to Muslim demands; Islam
is taking over and western values are being ignored to satisfy the cruel demands of a
The Halal argument then extends further into ‘shocking’ revelations that schools in
Britain, and across the world, are being ‘forced’ into accommodating Muslim dietry
requirements in school meals. Pupils are being ‘force fed’ halal meat; not only that,
other items are being left off school menus to accommodate Muslim dietary
requirements. The ‘right’ to eat bacon is becoming an issue – Britain, as a ‘Christian’
country should have that right and the Muslims are taking it away from us. The very fact
that Christians theoretically shouldn’t eat pork or pork related products is conveniently
ignored, as it has been for a long time.
The main cause of religious tension though, can be seen in the most simple terms. Jews
believe that they are God’s chosen people. So do Christians, who think that the Jew’s
denial of Christ and the Islamic rejection of Jesus as being the Son of God, make them
the Chosen People. (Only, often, for their particular brand of Christianity, and even then,
some sects accept the idea that few of them will ever be able to be redeemed by God).
So do Muslims, who, whilst on the whole regarding members of the other Abrahamic
religions as kindred spirits in the worship of the same One God, believe that their
continual denial to submit to Islam makes them somehow less worthy to be chosen than
them. Like three children squabbling over who is the favourite child, the immense
similarities between the core beliefs and values are often forgotten because of very small
details, which are exaggerated beyond their true importance. Who, amongst Christians,
actually knows that the Virgin Mary is the only woman to be written about in such detail
in the Quran – in fact, in more detail than in any of the Gospels? And that Jesus, the
Prophet Isa, is held in such high regard and whose return is awaited?
Social Excuses for Anti-Semitism and Modern Islamophobia
The Nazis alleged that Jews separated themselves from the rest of the community and
chose to live in their own ghettos. Pictures showing these ghettos were often shown,
from poor Jewish communities in Poland, to illustrate the insanitary conditions and filth
that Jews lived in, in contrast to ordered and sanitary Germanic way of life. (In fact
ghettoisation was often forced on Jews in many countries, but it did serve a purpose of
protection and allowing them to keep traditions and religious practices alive.)
The Right today allege that Muslims have ‘taken over’ certain towns areas within certain
towns and created their own ‘ghettos’. Luton, Bradford and Birmingham are often cited
as ‘Muslim’ areas and some right-wingers would have us believe that they are ‘no-go’
areas for ‘native’ British people, who have been forced out by the Muslims ‘flooding’ the
areas. It is said that Muslims try and enforce Sharia Law within those areas and Muslim
‘patrols’ try to impose Muslim codes of acceptable dress and values, such as
non-consumption of alcohol, on non-Muslims within them.
Undoubtedly, there are areas where Muslims have congregated in larger numbers. As
with any immigrant community, there is a predisposition for people arriving in a host
country to move to areas where there is an established community of people like
themselves, to be along with relatives or people like themselves to make the transition
easier. You only have to go to parts of Spain today to find places where, even when
the tourist season is at an end, the fish and chips shops are open and English is spoken
on the streets as much as Spanish. There is also some indisputable evidence that some
extremists among the Muslim community have been involved in isolated incidents where
people have been challenged about their dress, for drinking alcohol in public and even
for being homosexual. However, these are blown out of proportion by the right to make
an assumption about the whole Muslim community and create a divide between people.
Yet another argument used to denigrate Judaism was the supposed role of world Jewry
in international and national crime. Statistics were falsified and exaggerated claims made
by the Nazis to ‘illustrate’ what a threat to social order and properly morality the Jews
were. Jews were blamed for pornography and were said to be responsible for 82% of
international crime organisations and 98% of international prostitution. Quite an
achievement for such a small percentage of the population.
Again, the modern bigots have adopted this tone when talking about Muslims. The
paedophile ring which operated in Rotherham for many years and was alleged to be
mainly run by Pakistani men has been seized upon to ‘prove’ that not only are Muslim
men inherently all sexual predators of children, but also to show that Islam itself is
supportive of the sexual exploitation of children, going right back to the Prophet, PBUH,
himself, because he took a 9 year-old wife. The historical fact that early marriage in past
societies, including British society, was a norm, is completely ignored, and the lie spread
that it is purely a vice of Islam and paedophilia is endemic in the religion. Whilst there is
evidence of the involvement of Pakistani men in the Rotherham cases, more recent
reports are showing that the backgrounds of people involved in this widespread abuse
were much more varied than previously believed and, when set against the high-level of
institutionalised paedophilia by people at the highest echelons of British society, this
proves nothing more than the fact the child abuse is a problem among every community
in British society, and that this has been going on and covered-up for decades, if not
Assimilation and failure to assimilate by certain groups are often used, in tandem, to
criticise ‘outsiders’. When the Jews of the 1930s and the Muslims of today have adopted
western clothes, western values and a western outlook on life, they were and are accused
of doing so for sinister reasons – to infiltrate and change society from within to suit
them and their religion. Paradoxically, when they wear traditional dress and look
different, whether they were or are like the Jewish community of Stamford Hill or women
wearing Niqab, they are again accused of undermining society – why should ‘they’ look
different? The Niqab, in particular, has become a highly politicised issue – it is alleged
that women are forced into wearing it, that it is a sign of a male dominance in Islam,
that it is a threat to security as it conceals identity, especially when the face is covered.
It is rather ironic that women’s rights are seen as being served more when society allows
a woman to conceal her identity with make-up, dyed hair and fake tans, and wear
however little they want to wear, rather than for women who choose to wear modest
clothing out of respect to their God and themselves. But there is little logic among the
Political Excuses for Anti-Semitism and Modern Islamophobia
The Nazis alleged that Jews were involved in an international conspiracy to take over the
governments of nation states through their dominance within the capitalist system AND
through the strong links between Jews in Socialism / Communism. Nationalists and even
governments were involved in the writing and dissemination of supposed manifestos, the
most famous being the ‘Protocols of the Elders of Zion’ to ‘prove’ that there was a
worldwide conspiracy by Jews to take over the the running of the world and the
institution of a world government which would be subservient to the interests of the
The Right today talk of the plan of Islam to take over the world; these fears have been
raised significantly since the declaration of the so-called Islamic Caliphate centred on
rebel-held areas of Syria and Iraq. There are a multitude of theories showing how Islam
is planning this take-over of the world, and statistical scenarios presented which
‘illustrate’ how the growing Muslim population in Britain and Europe will, in a matter of
decades, lead to a situation where Muslims will form majorities in ‘Christian’ states, due
to high levels of immigration and a higher birth rate amongst the Muslim community.
Western society, our freedoms, our very way of life are going to be lost forever and we
will revert to the medievalism and barbarity of Sharia Law.
Economic Excuses for Anti-Semitism and Modern Islamophobia
The Nazis made much of the economic power of the Jewish community, particularly
international financiers like the Rothschilds. They alleged that this power was used to
further the purposes of the Jewish International conspiracy to control the world.
Economic crises, such as Germany’s superinflation of the early 1920s and the Wall Street
Crash of 1929 were blamed on Jews exerting their interests to gain power.
Today, the oil-rich nations of the Middle-East are blamed of the same things. Whether it
is the ostentatious displays of wealth of various members of the Saudi Royal Family, who
even, it appears in 2015, can pay so much to stay in the South of France that a whole
public beach can be closed so that they can use it; or, accusations of that they have a
‘stranglehold’ over the West because we rely on their oil; or that the Saudis use their oil
wealth to fund groups which promote their particular, very extreme, brand of Islam
through funding mosques and printing books for use across the Muslim world, and are
in effect creating many of the problems of radical Islam across the world; the extreme
wealth of some Arab sheikhs is never reported positively. Whilst Bill Gates, Richard
Branson and the late Steve Jobs are portrayed as great philanthropists, and the use of
their wealth is rarely commented upon in a negative way, this is in stark contrast to
people of comparable wealth from the Arab world.
Cultural Excuses for Anti-Semitism and Modern Islamophobia
The Nazis saw the decadent movement of culture in the late nineteenth and early
twentieth centuries had been influenced by Jews and had become degenerate; that their
ideas polluted ‘true Aryan’ ideas and that they somehow diluted German culture. The
mantra was that ‘the Jew is instinctively interested in everything abnormal and depraved.’
They tried to expunge this influence by burning books and imposing a new, stark
Germanic style of art and culture.
Few such accusations have been made against Islam and Muslim culture in the West,
though in its place is a complete ignorance of Islamic culture and the idea that the
Muslim world is backward, that the denial of ‘facts’ accepted by a majority of western
scientists, particularly issues surrounding the Creation and a non-acceptance of evolution
prove them to be less cultured and educated than the west. (The fact that nearly half of
Americans share these ideas is glossed over.) This view is particularly prevalent amongst
the aggressive atheist scientific community, whose self-appointed Messiah Richard
Dawkins, is particularly vitriolic about Islam, whilst being only slightly vitriolic about
However, this ignores the one great ‘cultural’ argument between Islam and the West,
centring around ‘freedom of speech’, although more often really concerning the ‘right to
draw’. Islam forbids the depiction of Allah or the Prophet PBUH for fear of idolatry. In
recent times, some people in the West have taken it upon themselves to insist that
doing drawings of Mohammed PBUH is their absolute right and one of the cultural and
spiritual freedoms which our very existence in a modern, secular democracy entitles us
to. There is nothing that I can personally argue about with that freedom, and, although I
now identify as an atheist and was brought up along Christian lines, I personally do not
have any issues with religious art. I can remember doing drawings of the baby Jesus as
a child and a particularly good 3D picture of Jesus on the Cross when I was about 14
years old. They are acceptable to me.
This is where being a decent human being comes into play. When I have had Jewish
dinner guests I have not cooked pork for a meal. It’s just manners. When I have had
meat eating guests, I have often cooked meat for them, even though I am a vegetarian
and have been for nearly 15 years, because I try to accommodate them. As a person
who uses profanity far too much, if I know someone who doesn’t like swearing, I try to
hold back on the use of certain words (not always successfully, in which case I feel like I
want to shrivel up and die on the spot out of embarrassment and because I have let
myself down and disrespected their opinions.) If I know that someone doesn’t like
something, or that it offends their religious sensibilities, it seems not only good manners,
but the right thing to do, to avoid doing it. Quite why I would want to draw a picture of
the Prophet PBUH is beyond me – he is a significant figure in the life of many people
whom I care about a great deal, but I have no compulsion to draw him from that point
of view. Why anyone other than a Muslim would want to make a depiction of him is
beyond me, and they are not allowed to do so. So why is there not only an insistence
among some people that they have to draw him, but also they have to draw him in such
a way as it is even more offensive. With a bomb. Draped in a bacon costume, similar to
that worn by Lady Gaga. Where do they get off on doing this? Did their parents forget
to teach them basic manners?
The freedom to do something also includes the freedom to choose not to do it. The
same people who do these things are often the people who moan the loudest about
things being done which are against their sensibilities. So, rather than adopting an Old
Testament ‘an eye for an eye’ approach, and seeking revenge for actions against them,
why don’t these (usually Christian) activists lead by example and ‘turn the other cheek’ to
insults to their sensibilities?
Judaism and Islam Are Inherently Aggressive
The Nazis acceptance of Social-Darwinism as a scientific truth, pitted different races of
people against each other in a struggle for dominance. Whilst firmly believing that the
Aryan race was the master race, and that other races were to a lesser and greater extent
inferior, the Nazis did not underestimate the power of the Jews to undermine and beat
the Aryans through infiltration, but by also causing conflict within the Aryan race itself.
Jews were blamed for causing the First World War and for ending it by stabbing the
‘undefeated’ German army in the back and accepting unacceptable peace terms. And
Hitler was then to accuse international Jewry for leading the world into war again in
Today, Islam is seen as an aggressive force in the world. The word Jihad, misused by
Daesh, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda to such an extent, has become synonymous in the eyes
of the West with a Holy War that Muslims are fighting against the West to ensure the
spread of their religion across the world. To say that the actions and words of the
Extremists in propagating this idea have not been helpful would be ignorant – every
terrorist attack, every video of a beheading of a Westerner, every military victory by
Daesh in Syria or Iraq and the subsequent stories of the horrors of the occupation are
not helpful to the image of the religion as a whole.
Added to this, the conflicting messages within the Quran on Jihad and the obligations of
Muslims to proselytise and deal with non-believers are seized upon by both groups to
prove their point. The Extremists comb the Quran and Hadiths for Suras which justify
their inhumane actions and make their sickness a religious obligation; the Far Right
equally seize upon the same Suras to show that Islam is far from a religion of peace, and
is in fact a religion of war and destruction. This, unfortunately is a problem which can
be applied to most religions – interpretation is the key. There are far more calls for
violence and examples of violence contained within the Old Testament and New
Testament than in the Koran, many of which are exploited by Evangelists in the southern
United States to call upon actions against homosexuals. The very fact that there are
such a small number of the approximately 1.5 – 1.8 billion Muslims around the world
involved in Extremist activity, whilst continually pointed out, is ignored. If Islam as a
religion, and Muslims as people, were all to follow the same beliefs as Daesh, then the
problems which do exist would be of an astronomical scale. However, the Far Right
pedal these Suras and half-Suras, taken out of context, and are not even averse to
making some up themselves, to prove that Islam is a religion bent on world domination
through a Holy Jihad.
The Path To A Muslim Genocide Or A Holy War?
So, where is all of this heading? Thinking about the obvious comparisons drawn
throughout this article to Germany in the 1930s, is the Western World, including Britain,
heading towards a genocide of Muslims? Regularly reading the posts on social media,
there are plenty of people who say that they want this to happen. Whilst having to put
this into perspective, and bearing in mind that that these people are a very small
minority, though very vocal (more like their Muslim equivalent than they would ever care
to admit) their very presence is a cancer in society. With support for Far Right parties on
the increase in Europe, and with the rise of UKIP in the UK, which, whilst vehemently
denying it is racist nor Islamophobic, has provided a new home with an ‘acceptable face’
for the racist and Islamophobic voters, and which has active support from Britain First
who see them as fellow ‘Patriots’, things are worrying. Though we can hope that
Britain’s common sense and sense of deceny, so bravely shown by the anti-Fascist
protestors in Cable Street in 1936, will prevail, many people in Germany in January 1933,
when power was handed to Hitler in a power-sharing government, probably thought the
Acts of Genocide did not stop in 1945 with the liberation of the concentration and
extermination camps in Germany and the occupied territories. They have continued and
are continuing even today, though the plight of the Rohinga Muslims of Burma has
made few headlines. So, how do we measure our progress along the route to genocide.
These stages happen sequentially, though once one stage starts it continues to happen
as the next stages begin.
Stage 1 – Classification
We live in a world dominated by classification. Animals, jobs, social position, people are
all classified for any number of reasons. Religion is one of those reasons. How often
have you been asked to give your religion on an application form for some reason?
Once classification begins, a profile is often built of that group. Certain groups do better
at school. Certain groups are more likely to own shops. Certain groups are more likely
to be involved in certain criminal activities. Certain groups are more likely to be involved
in terrorism. And from there, governments pass legislation to rectify or deal with that
issue from that group – the Nazi ‘Nuremburg’ Laws which gave an official and legal
‘respectability’ to the regime’s Anti-Semitism; the legislation which instituted and upheld
the Apartheid regime in South Africa; the registration process in Rwanda which enabled
Hutus to be distinguished from Tutsis.
Stage 2 – Symbolization
We all use and adopt symbols to represent and distinguish people of different groups.
Other than the names ascribed to the groups, other symbols become associated with
them, some which are imposed upon the group themselves – facial scarrings,
circumcision, wearing certain clothing, covering heads. Later on in the process,
governments may impose certain symbols on people, the obvious example being the
Star of David and the word ‘Jude’ being mandatory adornments for all Jews.
Stage 3 – Dehumanisation
Language used about the group comes to dehumanise the group – they become less
than human, animal-like. When David Cameron used the word ‘swarm’ to describe the
migrants attempting to enter the Eurotunnel entrance at Calais, many people saw this as
more than a poor choice of vocabulary in describing a desperate group of people who
have travelled thousands of miles from their home, many of them to achieve a safety
that they cannot have in their war-torn countries.
Stage 4 – Organisation
Either the state, or groups of individuals, organise into militias or hate groups which take
actions of varying natures against the target group. The obvious example here are the
SA (Brownshirts) and SS in Nazi Germany, and the myriad of other Far Right groups
which emerged all over Europe in the 1930s. From organising ‘boycotts’ of Jewish
businesses, to bullying or humiliating Jews on the streets, down to the murder and mass
destruction of Krystallnacht in 1938 and finally the deportations and Extermination, these
groups formed the basis upon which the regime could actively repress and attack the
Stage 5 – Polarization
Violence begins between the groups. One group attacks the other, reprisals happen for
these actions and a cycle of killings and counter killings moves until the situation is out
Stage 6 – Preparation
People are identified. Lists of people belonging to groups are drawn up, areas or houses
identified, methods of identifying the people are issued. In Germany, a massive
bureaucracy was created around deciding who exactly was a Jew, and in knowing where
the Jews were. This stage can also include the expropriation of property of the group
and in concentrating them into certain areas – ghettoization – or into camps.
Stage 7 – Extermination
The Final Solution and called extermination rather than murder because, by this point,
the victims have been vilified and dehumanised to such an extent that their deaths are
seen as an act of cleansing a vermin from society. People of all ages who belong to the
group are killed, on a massive scale and with no attempt to avoid suffering. These
‘non-people’ are not even afforded dignity after death, being buried in mass graves or
their remains burned, and denied any memorial to their existence.
Stage 8 – Denial
Every Genocide is followed by a denial. Records and evidence of the actions are hidden
and the facts are covered up. Germany was particularly adept at this – the movements
of the Jews to ‘the East’ were called resettlement, postcards were written by victims on
route and films were even made from model camps showing the resettlement. The
subjects of these films later all nearly ended-up in the gas chambers. Even when the
evidence of genocide is overwhelming, numbers are disputed or the reasons for the
deaths are questioned.
Where Are We?
So, where does treatment of Muslims come on this Eight Steps to Genocide? It seems
odd to even consider this as a serious possibility, but the frequency and intensity of
attacks on the Muslim community, makes it an important question to ask.
Is classification happening? To deny this would be ridiculous. But how far does it go?
Can the ‘Prevent’ initiative, part of the Counter Terrorism and Security Act 2015, in force
in British schools since July 1st 2015, which places a legal responsibility on teachers to
report any signs of radicalisation in young people, the implication being young Muslims,
be seen as an example of classification?
Is the preoccupation which many people have with Hijab / Niqab, its banning in France
and calls for banning here, be seen as symbolization? Is the regular use of the words
‘Muslim’ and ‘Islam’ in newspaper reports in negative ways (rarely ever positive) a sign
that the basic names of a whole religion and its adherents are only associated with bad
things? Why is a Muslim person with a gun always described as a terrorist, but a white
or non-Muslim person described as someone with a mental illness? Why is Anders
Breivik, the murderer of so many innocents, not called a Christian terrorist? Why does
the religion of a Muslim mean something when they do something sinister, and yet it
means nothing and is never mentioned when a Christian commits an act equally as evil?
Language used to describe Muslims (and migrants) is becoming far more derogatory,
especially on social media and in the ‘cyber world’ generally, where keyboard warriors
can write what they want to write without the consequence of seeing the hurt they cause
people through offensive words and statements. An atmosphere is developing in the
West where ‘political correctness’, using non-offensive language to avoid insulting
people, is seen as a bad thing – that people should be able to ‘say it as it is’ and that
people need to ‘toughen up’ rather than complaining about the words people use to
describe others. Is it dehumanisation when people use terms like ‘Muzrat’ and Muslim
‘Pig / Swine’ (the animal chosen as a deliberately offensive one for Muslims)?
Whilst the State is not organising any groups against Muslims, Far Right groups are
beginning to organise. Is Britain First, with its half a million supporters on social media,
a self-proclaimed paramilitary Christian organisation, with it’s ‘Christian patrols’ in Muslim
areas and invasions of Mosques an example of organisation on the move to something
more sinister, or are they one of the ‘fad’ groups which always fill the vacuum on the
right od British politics which will soon fall apart due to ideological differences of
Polarization is more difficult to prove in a purely British context. Whilst terrorist attacks
have happened by Extremists, reprisals committed within Britain have, as yet, been
mercifully few, although attacks on individual Muslims have increased significantly,
particularly in the aftermath of events such as the murder of Lee Ribgy in May 2013 and
the attack on Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. Most of these attacks are, shamefully, on
Muslim women wearing hijab (somewhat ironic considering the Far Right’s use of the
issue of women being treated badly as one of their reasons for hating Islam.) However,
if seen in the context of British and American Foreign Policy, attacks on western targets
have, since 2001, often led to an increase in military actions being taken against Muslim
nations – the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq being the most notable examples. This
in turn has helped extremist clerics in radicalising more young Muslims from the Muslim
and Western worlds and helped increase the likelihood of more terrorism, both
homegrown and international.
In terms of preparation, the Counter Terror and Security Act’s ‘Prevent’ Initiative in
identifying young people (some as young as three years old) as having the potential for
becoming radicalised, is certainly a worry. Those identified will be at the mercy of
security services, police, social services and other government agencies, their internet
histories looked at in detail for and their beliefs, including creationism, anti-homosexual
feelings or even the questioning of the actions of the Israeli government and the
treatment of the Palestinians believed to be examples of being a potential terrorist.
Whilst it is important to be vigilant in preventing young people from becoming
radicalised, not only to save their own lives but also to save the lives of others, how far
do we go as a society to do this? Where is the acceptable line between state security
Has there been an extermination of Muslims? Certainly, this has not occurred in Britain,
though right now in Myanmar, a whole Muslim group is going through an extermination
which is being completely ignored by Western media. The numbers dead in Iraq,
Afghanistan, Libya and Syria, where the West had variously employed direct intervention,
indirect intervention, covert intervention and even non-intervention, are a blot on history
and our claims to be civilised, show the ‘progressive’ democracies in a far from
impressive light. The West’s ignoring of the plight of the people of Gaza in 2014 during
the attack by Israel was particularly abhorrent. But however high the numbers, as yet,
there does not seem to be a planned extermination of Muslims internationally.
However, denial of what is going on is evident in the sheer lack of knowledge people in
the West have of what is going on, in their names, in Muslim countries. Every death is a
tragedy, and those murdered by evil terrorists on the Underground and streets of
London or the beaches of Tunisia, are innocent victims but so are the children killed by
Allied drone attacks in Afghanistan or the civilians killed by ‘friendly fire’ in Iraq, though
they are not mourned with public memorials, and are put down to being ‘collateral
damage’ of a conflict which is blamed on the Muslim countries themselves. Let every
victim of such violence, across the world, Rest In Peace.
What Can We Do To Stop Things Getting Worse?
I still hold on to the belief that most people are inherently good. It’s not easy to do that
some days – the 26th June 2015 being the most recent, when so many people were
pointlessly murdered, and someone who I know was almost amongst that number.
Then, the 27th June 2015 when the haters were out in force, peddling their hatred
against all Muslims based, yet again, on the actions of one sick-minded individual who
represents a tiny, yet very evil, member of one of the great religions of the world.
When my friend’s father went on-line and made some shocking statements about Islam,
what could I say? His son had nearly been killed by someone who thoroughly believed
that his understanding of his religion compelled him to take the lives of innocent people
enjoying a summer holiday. Equally, what could I say to my Lebanese friend, when she
was angry about injuries inflicted on someone she cared about greatly by the Israelis?
Or a boy I once taught, a member of the British Army, whose friends were killed in a
Taliban attack whilst on a mission to take supplies to an outlying village. All of these
people have deep emotional scars, and far be it from me to assume that I can moralise
at them or chastise them for the grief brought into their lives by people using guns,
bombs and terror to inflict pain on other human beings.
But I believe we can change things. Even on an individual basis, we can make a small
difference every day, with very little effort. And none of these suggestions are things
which are shocking, difficult and most we have heard many times before.
1.Learn about other peoples beliefs and cultures and don’t rely on the propaganda
and lies peddled to us by a media with an agenda. It is actually interesting and
expands your mind to new ideas.
2.Question what you read or hear – don’t take everything at face value. Check
those internet stories about groups of people – it’s surprisingly quick and easy to
debunk a lot of them.
3.Don’t share Britain First or other information from right-wing posts on social
media. The things you share might be good, honest statements about stopping
cruelty to animals, treating our elderly with respect or stopping violence against
women, but they use these as hooks to reel you into their really sick propaganda.
4.Share good news when nice things happen. A prime example, the Muslim man,
Lassana Bathily, who saved the lives of Jewish customers in the supermarket who
were being held hostage by Muslim Extremists, for which he was awarded French
Citizenship and acclaim from across the world.
5.Have the courage to challenge people when they make statements or use
language which are bigoted against others. This isn’t easy and won’t always be
successful. But if we all did it, if we all didn’t politely ignore those remarks which
make us cringe or do a false laugh at those jokes which are really offensive,
people will at least know what they are saying is unacceptable. Not everyone will
change their opinions, but if one person does, that is good enough. You will
have done them and society as a whole, some good.
6.Don’t prejudge people. Never forget that people are individuals. There are nice
Muslims, good gay men, horrible old ladies and some people who are disabled
who can be very rude. People are just people – they may have a label, but that
does not define the sort of human being they are. Give people a chance to
prove themselves before making judgements about them.
7.The truest statement of all, and the one thing that ‘atheist me’ thinks is great
about Christianity, but is the essential value which should apply to all humankind.
Treat others as you would want to be treated. No finer sentiment could be
expressed by anyone.