Baroness Warsi attacks bigotry


Conservative Party Chairman Baroness Warsi is due to give a speech today asserting that Islamophobia is now seen by many in Britain as ‘normal and uncontroversial’.

Baroness Warsi will speak on ‘My Faith’ when she delivers the annual Sternberg Lecture at the University of Leicester later today.

The leaked speech has sparked a torrent of comments across the media led by the Telegraph who reports that, “The minister will warn that describing Muslims as either “moderate” or “extremist” fosters growing prejudice.

That she has pledged to use her position to wage an “ongoing battle against bigotry”, and describes her comments as ‘the most high-profile intervention in Britain’s religious debate by any member of David Cameron’s government’.

And adds that ‘Lady Warsi will use a speech to attack what she sees as growing religious intolerance in the country, especially towards followers of Islam’.

Lady Warsi will speak about the “the patronising, superficial way faith is discussed in certain quarters, including the media”; And will describe how prejudice against Muslims has grown along with their numbers, partly because of the way they are often portrayed.

She will say that the notion that all followers of Islam can be described either as “moderate” or “extremist” can fuel misunderstanding and intolerance.

Explaining, “It’s not a big leap of imagination to predict where the talk of 'moderate’ Muslims leads; in the factory, where they’ve just hired a Muslim worker, the boss says to his employees: 'Not to worry, he’s only fairly Muslim’.

“In the school, the kids say: 'The family next door are Muslim but they’re not too bad’.

“And in the road, as a woman walks past wearing a burka, the passers-by think: 'That woman’s either oppressed or is making a political statement’.”

Lady Warsi will also reveal that she raised the issue of Islamophobia with the Pope when he visited Britain last year, urging him to “create a better understanding between Europe and its Muslim citizens.”

Read the full article here

Winsome-Grace Cornish

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“The minister will warn that

“The minister will warn that describing Muslims as either “moderate” or “extremist” fosters growing prejudice."

So it seems as if Baroness Warsi is attempting to undo at least a semblance of understanding between the groups in question. The Muslim community has been working very hard to separate itself from notions of extremism to the point that the now accepted vocabulary is either a 'moderate' follower or a 'fundamentalist'.

'Moderate' Islam is the form of faith that is similar to Westernised Christianity in that the concepts of faith are malleable, social or less acutely defined. In a sense, 'Westernised' Christianity is the 'moderate' Christianity, such as Protestantism e.t.c (none of these are very well defined when it comes to properly emulating Jesus) as opposed to Catholicism or Orthodox Christianity.

'Fundamentalist' Islam is the form of Islam of which followers emulate, to their best attempts, the literal translation of the Qu'ran, including the rules, guidelines and suggested punishments that should be followed. Think of it as following 'Mohammad's Manifesto'.

Fundamental Islam took to a great resurgence in terms of ruling governments in the Middle-East during the post WWII period. Essentially, due to the nature of these regimes and the rules that they suggest should be followed, Fundamentalist Islam (the Literal translations) is generally seen to be incompatible with the European social ethos and modern trends in social structures, evidence including the poor relationships between these regimes, protesting within Iran (such slogans being used as 'Deopse the Supreme Leader'), incompatibility with European laws or UN Human Rights programmes, and the Afghan people's unwillingness to support a Taliban regime (who follow a very harsh Fundamentalist ideology).

Many people in Britain who claim to follow Mohammad simply do not share any of the same social values that he wrote about. Muslims in Britain also appear to neglect the concerning realities in that: just because British Muslims do not see things such as the Burka (because they are not actually opressed and appear not to know the meaning of the phrase 'opression') as an example of opression it does not mean that other regimes in other countries do not use these things as a form of opression. Women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to go outside the house without being escorted by a male - pure sexism.

I'd like to see how Baroness Warsi would manage as a Muslim women in Saudi Arabia - she wouldn't be a cabinet minister that's for sure. She'd have to wear the Burka and be escorted by a man everywhere. Such fundamentalist regimes represent the lack of choice within their respective societies.

People are allowed their oppinion as to whether a social phenomenon or a philosophy fosters an effective form of social wellbeing or not. Baroness Warsi appears to show her lack of empathy for other people. I question whether she would stand up for the image (this press-release is more about image and status than it is about any concepts of social injustice) of Muslims if she were not one herself.

To sum up, there are only ever three stances when it comes to social groups of any kind: Moderation (Sharing Ground), Fundamentalism (Holding Ground) or Extremism (Taking Ground). Baroness Warsi cannot look logical facts in the face and instead attempts to find a mythical 'Fouth Wall', a search (other than being impossible) which serves no other purpose than to make herself feel special.

Saeeda is right

I think the vast majority of the 'sensible' British public could see no fault with what Saeeda has stated.
I am disgusted by the comment above from 'Anon'. It seems a typical attacking comment from an Islamophobe.

We now live in a society where the oppressed are no longer allowed to feel oppresed and express that they feel oppressed.

Many Muslims do feel marginalised by society. All we see in the media is muslims and islam portayed in a negative light. There are no postive stories about muslims, because it's high season for muslim bashing. Society can feel ok with itself for muslim bashing because everyone is doing it - even the western sponsored puppet dictatorships and kingdoms in the middle east are bashing their own muslims, so why on earth shouldnt the west do it.

Good on Saeeda for speaking her mind and saying what every muslim feels.
how many Muslims do we have in front line politics?
how many Muslim MPs are there...comapred to Jewish MPs for example? (far fewer as compared to their overall polulation I can assure you).
How many Muslims do we have as CEO's and chairs of major organisations/banks/companies etc?

Muslims don't generally get a look in as compared to other faiths - so yes bigotry is rife, you've only got to read Richard Littlejohns racist and anti-muslim comments in the Daily mail to see how rife it is.

'Oppressed' is such a harsh

'Oppressed' is such a harsh word, possibly being used to embellish a situation. I can understand the concept of marginalisation, given that Islam is not an ideal shared by the majority of the pupulace, however, I cannot see any forms of active or institutional oppression taking place in this country. I can only see people who are misguided and confused about what they should assume about the world and the society that they inhabit. What advice do you have to help these people?

Regarding the notions of 'representation' (i.e how many muslims in parliament), each parliamentary candidate ultimately selects themselves to run for their constituency and each citizen then votes for their candidate of choice, a social pheonomenon known as "The Democratic Process", it could do with some improvements but it certainly will suffice.

You make two vague points or errors in your suggestions:

1. You suggest that it is or should be a moral or legal obligation for a parliament, made up of individually minded social communities known as Constituencies, to be comprised of individuals that reflect or model the different attitudes of social groups on a national level.

Parliament is designed to bring regional communities together in the national interest. Perhaps the Muslim community is 'jumping the shark' when it comes to asking for national representation in a system that selects representatives at a REGIONAL level. That difference is very important.

2. You are suggesting that society is not allowed to question the will of authority and that authority should dictate the attitudes that the people have towards social groupings such as religious institutions. You are also suggesting that we should elect people in a way that correlates with their claimed beliefs. Nick Clegg tried that kind of tactic by promising to vote against the raising of tuition fees - then raising them, did it ever occur to you that he might not have been genuine? It certainly occured to me. Do you believe that we should pass out positions of authority simply because people claim to believe or understand something? Hardly an effective administrative policy...

And finally, can you please explain to me how exactly Islam is important or socially relevant, particularly within a country comprised of individuals that do not often dwell on the questions or hypotheticals of Theology? I simply do not believe nor can I claim to understand because I would be lying if I did claim to understand. Rather than it being the government's job to force me to understand, do you not think it might be a Muslim's job to co-erce me understand?

Quite frankly, you are already losing my sympathy when you suggest that I have an irrational fear of a certain social movement. A fear of peanut butter being stuck to the roof of one's mouth counts as a phobia (irrational fear), the concern that a unproveable belief can lead to fanaticism is a justifiable concern.

I don't think that alienating people who disagree is an effective tactic to achieve this social harmony stuff we are all searching for.

Fighting Islamophobia is essential

As a Brit I am proud that we live in a society where you can criticise the media and rightwing elements that cause problems for social cohesion. Baroness Warsi should be commended for being so brave and highlighting the fact that we should not be told how to think of people belonging to a religion in categories of social tiers. That phenomenon was a Blair-Bush scaremongering tactic to advance military assaults and is destined to fail. Ben Ali of Tunisia had branded secular opposition politicians or civilians as 'fundamentalists' and look where it got him, to US loving yet burka imposing Saudi Arabia, being forced out of the country by secular headscarfless women. Islam is a peaceful religion whose followers mustn't be branded into categories by the likes of Rupert Murdoch's media machinery for commercial purposes. All UK politicians must now follow Baroness Warsi and condemn Islamophobia in order to create a more cohesive society. Labour politicians like Harriet Harman are falling behind in this respect.