Where anti-Muslim sentiment leads

Where anti-Muslim sentiment leads


Written by: Jon Burnett

Mainstreamed anti-Muslim sentiment creates the climate for attacks and harassment.

Condemning the presence of Muslims in Britain is now routine. Media darling and quintessentially English TV chef Clarissa Dickson-Wright (full name Clarissa Theresa Philomena Aileen Mary Josephine Agnes Elsie Trilby Louise Esmerelda Dickson-Wright) wrote in her new book  (published a few months ago) of her terror, when once visiting Leicester, and feeling ‘in the heart of a city in the middle of my own country, a complete outcast and pariah’. Muslim men (wearing ‘Islamic clothing’) wouldn’t talk to her because she ‘was an English female and they don’t talk to women they don’t know’.[1] The Sun’s Trevor Kavanagh has offered his support, claiming that it is unsurprising how many ‘otherwise tolerant people’ feel as she felt when they enter what seems like a foreign land in Britain’s inner-cities.[2] Meanwhile, the Mail’s Peter Hitchens has, this month, warned how the ‘real Islamist threat to Britain comes from mass immigration and multiculturalism’, lamenting how ‘we now also officially urge them to stay separate from the rest of society, and apologise to them for our Christian traditions’, apparently.[3]

Last week, Keighley MP, Kris Hopkins, criticised the Children’s Commission’s report into child sexual exploitation for ‘dancing to a politically correct tune’ and ending up as an ‘opportunity lost’. The report provoked rage in some quarters because it didn’t capitulate to the dominant line that sexually exploiting white children was something inherent to British-Pakistani culture. The organisation JUST West Yorkshire reminded Kris Hopkins that all the report did was reveal that sexual exploitation wasn’t an issue intrinsic to one ethnicity, faith or ‘culture’. Kris Hopkins’ earlier remarks in the House of Commons about ‘gangs of Muslim men raping white kids’ may have made headlines, said JUST, but portraying sexual exploitation ‘primarily through a white girl/Muslim gang lens … does victims an injustice and even impedes efforts to keep children safe’.[4]

None of this rhetoric is new, of course. The suspicion of Muslims, that has been given legitimacy through the ‘war on terror’, has been absorbed into government policies, ‘intellectual’ arguments and tabloid columns for over a decade now. But it is a form of racism that has become so normalised within dominant frameworks in the media, and with opinion-formers, that it is now completely routine for Muslims to be maligned and derided. Little wonder that such public Islamophobic sentiments are the backdrop for violent attacks.

Earlier this month, a 28-year-old man in Dundee, Grant Robertson, pleaded guilty to assault and acting in a ‘racially aggravated manner’. He told police that he had thrown a sword at some Muslim men praying, and explained ‘I wish it got them in the throat’.[5] This came within a few days of an EDL supporter telling a jury that, although he had been part of one of the organisation’s demonstrations, in Surrey, in 2010, he was not part of a mob which went on to threw sticks, beer bottles and bacon at a mosque after it had finished. At the beginning of November, Barry Stanbury, a 42-year-old man, was convicted of vandalising a mosque earlier in the year. According to Islamophobia Watch, Stanbury’s Facebook page indicated his support for a plethora of far-right organisations.[6] Last week, a teenager was caught throwing pieces of ham at a mosque in West Sussex.[7] The week before that, racist graffiti was sprayed close to a mosque in Surrey.[8] The list goes on and on. A family in Nottingham moved into their new home this month, and soon after, they received a house-warming present of a burning cross wrapped in ham on their doorstep. It was a case that barely made the news.[9] When rhetoric begets racist reality the tabloids, of course, never want to know.


[1] Laura Elvin, 'Fury at TV chef Clarissa Dickson Wright's comments about Muslims in Leicester', Leicester Mercury (17 November 2012). [2] Trevor Kavanagh, 'Muslim leaders must re-brand religion for 21st Century Britain', Sun (18 November 2012). [3] Peter Hitchens, 'Dragging us into a futile war is a job for the political blowhards, General - not YOU', Daily Mail (22 November 2012). [4] JUST West Yorkshire, 'Open statement issued by JUST West Yorkshire in response to Kris Hopkins MP's statement in the Telegraph and Argus on grooming', JUST West Yorkshire (23 November 2012). [5] ‘Dundee man who threw a sword at Muslims faces jail’, BBC News (12 November 2012). [6] ‘EDL member claims he only attacked mosque because of news report from Libya’, Islamophobia Watch (2 November 2012). [7] Tom Pugh, ‘Boy held after ham thrown at Crawley mosque’, Independent (27 November 2012). [8] ‘“Racist graffiti” leads to arrest of Woking woman’, BBC News (15 November 2012). [9] 'Burning crucifix wrapped in ham left outside the home of Muslim family in suspected race-hate attack', SWNS News (22 November 2012).

The Institute of Race Relations is precluded from expressing a corporate view: any opinions expressed are therefore those of the authors.

9 thoughts on “Where anti-Muslim sentiment leads

  1. Endemic racism is infecting all walks of British society. It is a well known fact that British education is a home of institutional racism. The immigrant children are victims of bullying and racism. Muslim children suffer more than other children. Majority of them leaves schools with low grades or without any qualification. There is no arrangement for them to learn Arabic and Urdu languages making them cut off from their cultural roots. They suffer from Identity crises crucial for mental, emotional and personality development. According to s study report British teachers have no respect for Islamic faith and Muslim community. Muslim children need state funded Muslim schools with Muslim teachers for proper education based on their needs and demands.

    Immigration is lifeblood of British society and economy and without legal immigrants it could bleed to death. The Treasury has estimated that foreign-born workers account for about 10% of Britain’s gross domestic product. It brings new blood and extraordinary advantages. London is the richest and most exciting place in Europe. It is due to free mixing of the cultures and the endless transformations which one does not find anywhere else. Stops the flow and the British society will stagnate. The British politicians and Media should understand and explain to the people that immigration is essential to sustain the economic growth and lifestyle. It is not a problem or burden. According to Immigration Minister,”Migrants contribute a great deal to our society and we are keen to encourage people to come and work here in ways which help our economy grow.

    The Home Secretary has mounted a strong defence of his plan to educate children of asylum seekers in segregated centres so that they do not swamp overcrowded state schools. Majority of asylum seekers is Muslims and if there is state funded Muslim schools than they can be admitted to reception classes with Muslim teachers who could speak their language as well as English.

    The best solution of this problem is that those state schools where Muslim pupils are in majority should be designated as Muslim community schools under the management and control of Muslim educational Trusts. Newly arrived Muslim children can be educated in Muslim schools with Muslim teachers. They are not going to swamp state schools and they will not suffer from bullying and racism. They will feel at home with teachers speaking the same languages. This is a humane approach to the education of newly arrived children otherwise they will suffer educationally and emotionally like their predecessors. I hope Policy makers will look for alternatives to educate children of asylum seekers so that they could be easily accommodated and adjusted in the British society as equals.

  2. We should oppose any form of segregation as it only panders to those who say we cannot live side by side.
    More opportunities for integration should be developed and not looking at a snapshot in time and concluding we need state sanctioned segregation. Its a backward Idea which gives succour also to racists and fascists.

  3. “Multiculturalism is not about integration but about cultural plurality. It is not about separation but about respect and the deepening awareness of Unity in Diversity. Each culture will maintain its own intrinsic value and at the same time would be expected to contribute to the benefit of the whole society. Multiculturalism can accommodate diversity of all kinds – cultural, philosophical and religious – so that we can create a world without conflict and strife. Britain can assume the role of accommodation and concern for all peoples, for our planet and indeed for our survival. Multi-culturalism is even more important and crucial after 9/11 and 7/7. Muslim youths are also likely to feel alienated by a focus on shared Brutishness, rather than multicultural diversity. Rather than promoting a single British “us” teaching should acknowledge that “us” can be diverse and plural. Children should be encouraged to explore differences in appearance, history and religion to reduce social and educational fears. The pressures of multi-culturalism, racism, bullying and Islamophobia have forced the Muslim community to set up their own schools.There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim pupils are in majority. In my opinion all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. Such schools will be able to satisfy the needs and demands of the Muslim children and their parents.

    A growing number of British-born Muslims and especially Pakistanis are suffering from psychological problems and apathy and are either turning to crime or radical Islam. Majority of British Muslims are from Pakistan.
    A growing number of young Pakistanis feel they are ‘second class citizens and will remain so. They are addressed as outsiders – as ‘immigrant, **** or Muslim’ and increasingly shut out or discriminated against. The hardening of attitudes towards Muslims in British society is also having an effect.

    I have been campaigning for state funded Muslim schools for the last 40 years because British schooling is the home of institutional racism and British teachers are chicken racists. British teachers are not role models for Muslim children during their developmental periods.

    I set up the first Muslim school in London in 1981 and now there are about 170 Muslim schools and only 12 are state funded. I would like to see each and every Muslim child in a state funded Muslim school with bilingual Muslim
    teachers as role model. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.

    Western media and politicians have been trying their best to propagate against Muslim schools. Muslim schools are even called Osama bin Laden Academies by a Teaching Union. Only less than 5% of Muslim children attend Muslim schools while more than 95% are in state schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.

    The demand for state funded Muslim schools is in accordance with the law of the land. Muslim community is not asking for any favour. Muslim community pays all sorts of taxes and is less burden on social services.

    Church leaders say it is no longer “appropriate” for them to run Sacred Heart RC Primary School which has just six Christian pupils. The school in Blackburn, Lancs, could be handed to the nearby Masjid-e-Tauheedul mosque.

    Harry Devonport of Blackburn with Darwen Council Children’s Services, said the decision to abandon the school was made by the Diocese of Salford. Diocese education director Geraldine Bradbury said: “We have never
    experienced a change to this extent before. We would not be serving the local community by insisting that we run the school. It brings things like having a Catholic head teacher and devoting 10% of the timetable to RE.
    “It would be wrong of us to insist on putting a school community through that.”

    There are hundreds of state and church schools where Muslim children are in majority. In my opinion, all such schools may be opted out as MusliAcademies. Bilingual Muslim children need bilingual Muslim teachers as role
    models during their developmental periods. There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.
    London School of Islamics Trust

  4. This is a very sad comment “There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school”. There should be a place for EVERY child and every good teacher in British schools.

  5. I agree with Helen – I don’t see that your last very negative, intolerant conclusion follows from your own previous arguments, that I strongly agree with, for the need for Muslim schools, multiculturalism and unity in diversity.
    Instead it’s an uncomfortable echo of the racists who say there’s no place for Muslims in English state schools, and sounds like a Muslim version of zionism!

    I’m an English teacher, and in the 1980s I taught in schools in Birmingham where over 90% of the students were from Pakistani Muslim backgrounds, an experience which made me really ashamed of the ” paki-bashing” culture that the National Front had encouraged among English youth in the 70s.
    I wish that Peter Haine, when he was a Labour minister, had apologised to England’s Pakistani community for this, instead of lecturing them on
    ” britishness”.
    This was a factor in my deciding to leave England for good to live in Italy in 1989, where I’ve taught in both state and private Catholic schools.

    At present, Pakistan, against which the US military is now almost at war, needs all the friends it can find. Maybe you remember how General Zia, who set up a fascistic dictatorship in the 1980s, set out to ” islamise” Pakistan – with US backing at the time, mainly because he was anti-socialist?
    I don’t see that Islamic separatism in education will help, but think that Muslim schools should encourage their students to work in the media especially to counter anti-Muslim racism.

  6. Iftikhar Ahmad writes:

    “In my opinion all such schools may be opted out as Muslim Academies with bilingual Muslim teachers as role models. Such schools will be able to satisfy the needs and demands of the Muslim children and their parents.”

    “I have been campaigning for state funded Muslim schools for the last 40 years because British schooling is the home of institutional racism and British teachers are chicken racists. British teachers are not role models for Muslim children during their developmental periods.”

    “There is no place for a non-Muslim child or a teacher in a Muslim school.”

    “…more than 95% are in state schools to be mis-educated and de-educated by non-Muslim monolingual teachers.”

    What divisive, separatist nonsense. Is it any wonder Muslims in the UK are viewed as unwilling to integrate with the rest of society, when their spokesmen are peddling this agenda.

  7. Try substituting “Muslim” with “Aryan” in the bits I quoted from this guy – he is a Muslim version of Hitler!

  8. I don’t think it’s right to say that Iftikhar Ahmad “is the Muslim version of Hitler”: there is a difference between the racism of a fascist member of an oppressor “race” wielding political and state power and the prejudices of a member of an oppressed group with no political representation. That said, the latter are still prejudices.

    Where do such separatist views come from? Firstly, as the article so eloquently shows, as a reaction to the growth of Islamophobia since the start of the “war on terror”. Secondly, they stem from a misguided approach to multiculturalism, which the IRR – and Ambalavaner Sivanandan in particular – have been criticising for nearly the last 30 years. It is an approach that promotes the existing elites in the ethnic minority communities and blesses them with largesse from the state.

    This largesse is part of the third source of Islamic (and other) forms of separatism: the sanction of the state, especially in the form of state support for religious schools. While it may be the case that there is a queue of Islamic schools wanting state funding, the state has also allowed and funded the setting up of Islamic schools, where they are prepared to follow the national curriculum and follow entrance rules. I’m opposed to this, as I am to all schools that promote one religion, or any religion in preference to atheism.

    I get the impression that Mr Ahmad wants schools that do not follow these national constraints, since he wants teaching in (all?) the languages that Muslims speak, especially at the start, and requires that all teachers be Muslims as well. I would be interested to know how he sees our society evolving, with an education system based on such arrangements. Perhaps the six counties in Ireland is his template?

    I also don’t recognise Mr Ahmad’s description of current schools. I have worked in five (secondary) schools in the last 8 years, all of them with a sizeable Muslim representation and my children went to primary and secondary schools with large Muslim majorities (they are atheists). While I am prepared to admit that in some rural backwaters you may find openly Islamophobic teachers and pupils, I think that, in general, the schools are doing a pretty good job in the challenging Islamophobia fostered by the government and the far right. Where you do get separate social groups etc. in schools, they are more commonly based on class, not ethnicity or religion.

    It is far more difficult to be a racist in a school in Britain now than it was when I was a school pupil, more than 40 years ago. That is partly because, in many places, people from different ethnic groups and cultures are being educated together.

  9. What about the other way.. my son goes to a school where it’s mostly Asian children. They have gangs where they bully non Muslim children?? My son life has been made a living nightmare by this gang. My son is mixed raced himself English and Jamaican..bullying happens to most kids I’m sick of just hearing one side.If you come here integrate..

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