Gold Blog Original Barrister... Chaplain... Human Rights

It was The Sun wot lost it

13690887_10157145250260322_4552959324439292698_oMY EX-BOSS IS A FOOL. HE USED TO EDIT THE BIGGEST DAILY NEWSPAPER IN BRITAIN. Now he is providing material that will be recycled by extremists.

They seem odd bedfellows but bedfellows they are: ISIS / Daesh and the Sun.

The attacks in Western European cities are an attempt by a moribund and largely rejected ideology to try and divide our society in two. Nice is no different. It takes limited analysis to understand that Daesh and Al-Qaeda have a very simple modus operandi: it is to shock and split communities. In their limited, barbaric and binary worldview they need a world where there are visible community tensions; splits between Muslims and non-Muslims; they want to create a narrative of them and us; and yes they feed off Islamophobia and recruit young and often lost individuals on the back of that Islamophobia.

Channel 4 News decided to dispatch Jon Snow to the scene whilst back in the studio that night the programme was anchored by Fatima Manji. Fatima is a journalist and in my opinion a good one. She is a journalist who dresses in a hijab. Whether the choice was intentional or not: having Fatima anchoring that night was akin to sticking a pejorative two fingers up at Islamist extremism and in one moment defeats the rhetoric of Daesh. This is Western Europe: it is a world where we coexist and collaborate creatively in our economies, our media and elsewhere. Fatima’s appearance on television is a psychological blow to extremists. Their desire for a ‘them and us’ narrative disappears in a puff of smoke.

So who rescued the narrative? Was it a preacher? Another attacker? A response by the state? This time it was Kelvin MacKenzie of the Sun. His response was both predictable and divisive. He used the usual memes: his attack on Ms Manji and Channel 4 centred on her attire describing the ‘hijab as a sign of the slavery of Muslim women by a male- dominated and clearly violent religion”.

Kelvin – you may have once been my boss – but seriously YOU ARE A FOOL – and as far as Daesh/ISIS or whatever-they-call-themselves – you are their ‘useful idiot’ who has come to their aid. Your article has been reposted by two groups of extremists as evidence for the mainstreaming of their worldview: the far right – and their groups of organised racial hatred and Islamist extremists (ditto). Both will love Kelvin’s article. It reinforces the worldview of those who believe in tribal siloed societies: divided by ethnicity and religion.

The scene in Nice before the attack was a common one in France on July 14th: Bastille Day Рa day which France celebrates its overthrowing of the Ancien Regime in favour of the maxim Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité. It is a scene where Catholics, Jews, Protestants, Atheists and Muslims were out celebrating before some petty criminal driven by an extreme ideology ploughed a lorry at high speed into men, women and children Рdestroying the lives of families on an evening out РFOREVER.

We should be talking about how we mend society. We should be providing a counter-narrative to this. We should be reassuring each other. We should be building bridges and not walls: we can put someone with a hijab on prime time because unlike you Mr MacKenzie we have the confidence to do so…

… And while we are at it… Why would you not put someone looking like me into a reporting role in the Middle East? Or a Hindu journalist on anchor on an evening when their are communal tensions in India or Pakistan?

The first time I met people at work that were openly members of far right groups was when I worked for you Mr MacKenzie. All those years ago in the Sun (I was a summer vacation intern on the Sun when he was Editor – my school thought I’d been assigned to the Times – but the Murdoch Empire had other plans for me ;). It was working there I met members of the ICF – a hooligan group who associated themselves with West Ham. They used to be runners for you at the Sun – indeed most if not all the runners had ICF insignia on their notebooks etc. They were nice enough to me but their views were narrow and siloed and dangerous – and ICF’s violence has been well documented. I had assumed you never knew about their view – too low down the pecking order. And I never thought the editor of Britain’s most successful daily newspaper (ever) would be running for someone else now but there you go: your narrative is one that nourishes the Islamophobia and racism that the polar extremes need to feed on. You are running for them now. Sad. So sad.

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