Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fresh outrage

The Muslim "community" is up in arms again. Just metaphorically this time. There's fresh outrage over a documentary - Undercover Mosque, which aired in January on the UK's Channel 4.

The documentary is largely based on secret filming by a undercover reporter at Birmingham's Green Lane mosque. It shows that some Muslim preachers are spewing hate. Hate for homosexuals, hate for Jews and Christians, and at the very least disrespect for women. (We are "deficient" - fathers should beat daughters who don't don the hijab from around ten.) This same mosque claims to be working toward "community cohesion" - i.e. multicultural understanding, blah, blah, blah. But as the program shows, really a number of preachers are Saudi trained, Saudi subsidised and supported.

This was supposed to be a shocking expose. I missed it when it first came out in January. But I watched it this morning (See it here on YouTube) Can't say that I found anything terribly shocking. Religious fundamentalists hold abhorrent, archaic views. Duh. I didn't need to go to years of Church of Christ Bible study to work that one out. Some religious fundamentalists hold particularly militant and violent views (some of these preachers were filmed saying that Muslims should bide their time, wait for the right moment for the big jihad and establish the UK branch of the Islamic Caliphate - I'm paraphrasing). Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war.

I do understand that folks living with their heads in a kind of soft, fuzzy, lefty la-la multi-culti land might have found this shocking. "What - you mean evil isn't an exclusively Western attribute?" Ha. I have to admit that while I don't find the revelations particularly shocking, I do find them disturbing. I don't want to live under Sharia law.

The outrage though - from some of those filmed - was that their comments were taken out of context. I doubt it. Sure, the documentary makers picked out the most inflammatory statements, but the statements were made. It would be like the highlights of a sermon being taped in your local church, but editing out the prayer list and information about next Sunday's potluck.

And those filmed were given a right of reply.


Here's the outrageous bit.

Following the documentary, the police investigated. They may have investigated some of the nasty things that folks said. You can watch the show and judge for yourself, but only a few things sounded to me like they might have been direct incitement to violence - the rest were just deeply unpleasant. And yes, they might well fall foul of "stirring up hatred" - which is against the law. I don't believe that should be against the law - stirring up an emotion. So we'll let that pass without further discussion.

But the police also investigated the program makers:

After investigating 56 hours of footage, West Midlands Police said that it had been advised by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) that there was insufficient evidence to prosecute the broadcaster for stirring up racial hatred, but that selective editing had helped to create an impression of Muslim hatred.
And from the Metro:

Confirming that police had now made a formal complaint to broadcasting regulator Ofcom, Assistant Chief Constable Anil Patani said: "The priority for West Midlands Police has been to investigate the documentary and its making with as much rigour as the extremism the programme sought to portray."

Stop just a moment and let that sink in. Someone spews hate. You film it. You do some necessary editing. It's got to fit into an hour less commercials. You broadcast. It could certainly be argued that it's in the public interest to broadcast this material. Some of the people filmed have advised or are associated with those who advise the government on community cohesion. It's in the public interest to understand just what kind of community they're hoping to cohere.

And then you get investigated by the police. Rigorously. For stirring up racial hatred.

And what lesson is in that? Investigate unpleasant elements in the Muslim community, get investigated yourself.


A.C. McCloud said...

It would be like the highlights of a sermon being taped in your local church, but editing out the prayer list and information about next Sunday's potluck.

Right. The Muslim version of spreading the word often seems to feature the spilling of disbeliever blood whereas the only blood mentioned at a Baptist service is that of Christ. But questioning this often gets the questioner charged with deliberate misinterpretation.

That said, the thought of "thought police" and "hate crimes" as a method of combating such bigotry is nearly as distasteful.

Vol Abroad said...

What I meant was - that if you were to distill the essential meaning of a sermon - you wouldn't include the announcements section of a church service.

I wasn't equating your average Sunday sermon to what these guys were saying (though I've heard calls for smiting in Christian services I've attended!) - but I presume they probably have run of the mill announcements after even the most vile pronouncements. Those would never be shown in a documentary, not relevant and boring. That's not the same as taking things out of context.

Vol Abroad said...

But questioning this often gets the questioner charged with deliberate misinterpretation.

What I want is for us to be able question - and if broadcaster are getting prosecuted - we certainly can't.