Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Fighting for the rights of others

The British government is having its way with ID cards as the opposition to the ludicrous scheme has died down, a leaked UN report on evidence of torture in Guantanamo Bay is hardly making waves, a video showing British soldiers in Iraq having fun with kicking young protesters senseless is not raising many eyebrows, and preparations for an attack on Iran are continuing unabated. Meanwhile, cartoons are all the rage.

Muslims, unfortunately, are still busy organising marches to protest the abuse of freedom of speech, and thereby providing the distraction and diversion desired by the perpetrators of the above-mentioned infinitely more serious abuses of people and their liberties. It is ironic that it was Danish Muslims who played into the hands of the provocateurs since they are not exactly known for being too meticulous about their Islamic duties. For many years Denmark exported stunned meat certified by Danish Muslim organisations as “halal” to all corners of the world to complement their revenue from Danish bacon.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge since the days of the Rushdie affair. Labour, with Muslim support, came to power in Britain and re-kindled the colonial adventure. In return for their unwavering blind support the Labour government turned Muslims into the outcast threat and danger from within. Muslim organisations latched on to a few popular causes like the demonstrations organised by the anti-war movement in the run-up to the Iraq invasion and supporting Galloway’s break-away party when he was thrown out of Labour. But on the whole they have learnt little and hardly left a mark of their own.

When in 1989 the Islamic Party of Britain was set up out of a realisation for the need of Muslim political involvement and in the hope that the post-immigrant generation of Muslims in Britain would be mature enough to provide political leadership for a country increasingly without direction those hopes were soon dashed when the Muslims of Bradford elected the very first Mormon MP into parliament for Labour in preference over his Islamic Party rival. The party gradually downscaled from a potential movement to a think tank, and British Muslims are still paying the price of this failure to turn things around.

When it comes to standing up for one’s convictions and fighting for the rights of others the situation remains that enlightened and principled non-Muslims will stick their necks out to defend Muslim causes, whereas opportunistic and naïve Muslims continue to hope for favours and hand-outs. The former British ambassador Craig Murray is one such brave man standing up to the steamrolling power of the establishment: He is defying state censorship to exercise his freedom of speech by publishing his book “Murder in Samarkand” about British and American collusion in abhorrent human rights abuses against Muslims in Uzbekistan. I doubt whether British Muslims are going to get excited about problems so far away – there is another demo about cartoons being planned for next weekend.

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