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Sunday 5 December 2010

Tabloid Islamophobia: Where It Leads

The avalanche of Muslim scare stories and the associated use of terms that boil the story down to “them” and “us” shows little sign of abating, whichever the tabloid title running them. And the hacks cobbling the stories together have only one purpose: this kind of thing keeps the circulation figures up, and therefore keeps them in the style to which they have become accustomed.

So the consequences of their actions are, by and large, not a matter on which the hacks, their editors, and the owners tend to dwell. This will continue despite signs that their Muslim bashing is not helping relations within the wider community. How otherwise to explain last Friday’s attempted blowing up of an almost completed mosque in the Potteries town of Hanley?

It’s true that fringe organisations like the BNP and EDL have support in the area, but the new mosque was not subject to any special protection, so it must be concluded that the police did not consider it a potential target. But the deliberate manner of the attack, with an adjacent property broken into and its gas supply tapped to enable a fire started in the mosque to be fuelled, has forced a rethink.

Indeed, police are now urging security measures at other nearby mosques to be stepped up in the wake of what they have unequivocally termed a “racist attack on a religious building”. Thus far, four teenagers have been arrested, questioned and bailed over the incident.

The whole business must be particularly worrying for the local Muslim community, who had raised the entire 1.6 million pound cost of the mosque themselves, partly to provide a space for people of all faiths. As one of the fund raisers has said, “This building is not just for Muslims – it is a peaceful place for everyone”.

What you will not read in tomorrow’s Daily Star.

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