Institutional crisis or power to abuse


Power, influence, greed and self-gratification are drivers that underlie the corruption

It is painfully ironic that the aftermath of the child abuse scandals is making bigger headlines then the child abuse scandals themselves. It was thus at the time the abuse occurred when the children were not listened to or ignored. Yet, it is happening again.

The latest meltdown at the BBC personifies the crisis at one of the leading institutions in the country. Media, politics, the police, care homes, hospitals are just some the institutions found to have acted improperly, at the very least, or criminally (investigations pending) in a spate of scandals brought to light in recent months.

The Savile exposure has brought forth an array of other child abuse allegations including two against care homes in north Wales and one against a senior politician in a former government. Many of these date back to the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Some involve child abuse cases which were previously poorly investigated by the police and judges.

The Prime Minister personally became involved in the issue when confronted by a TV presenter about what he intended to do about names of alleged child abusers being circulated on the internet. As with the breakdown at the BBC, this incident with David Cameron caught the headlines and deflected from the real issue of the widespread abuse of children.

These latest allegations have come in the wake of the disclosure of wholesale lies and misinformation by the police during and after the Hillsborough disaster, when 96 football fans died at a match. This police cover-up proves not all modern day conspiracies are fabricated. Meanwhile the Leveson inquiry into the media’s links with and influence over no less than the Cabinet continues to uncover improper favours and inappropriate contacts that undermine if not compromise the office of the Prime Minister.

Some argue these problems are the result of corrupt behaviour of individuals. Others go further suggesting institutional failure. While there is soul searching in some quarters the focus on institutions and individuals fails to address deeper root causes. Individuals and institutions do not exist in a void but are fashioned by values, thoughts and culture in society.

Power, influence, greed and self-gratification are drivers that underlie the corruption that is obvious. These values are the life and blood of today’s politics and the media, while the police and judiciary are politicised to achieve common ends. Abuse of power and influence, which is common to these crises, is thus inevitable. The first to suffer are the vulnerable, the weak and voiceless. It is noteworthy that not unlike these victims, the Muslim minorities have also suffered from being maligned by the British media, government and police. It not only wrecks the lives of those abused but also undermines the fabric of society and in the end everyone suffers. One or two resignations and a few public inquiries will not address these underlying causes.

Contrast today’s politics with the values that underlie the politics of Islam as presented by the first Khaleefah of the Muslims Abu Bakr as Siddiq:

Ibn Sad narrated, and al-Khateeb, in the narration of Malik that Urwah said: When Abu Bakr was appointed (Khalif) he addressed people with a khuthbah (sermon). He praised Allah and said, ‘Now, I have been appointed in command over you and I am not the best of you. …So know, people, that the most acute of sharp intellect is (he who has) the most fearful obedience (taqwa), that the most incapable (form) of incapacity is wickedness; that the strongest of you, as far I am concerned, is the weak one until I take his right from him; and the weakest of you, as far as I am concerned, is the strong one until I take from him what he is due (to give). People, I am only a follower, I am not an innovator, so that if I do well, help me and if I deviate then put me straight. I say these words of mine and I seek the forgiveness of Allah for me and you.’

[page 58, History of the Khalifahs who took the right way, as-Suyuti]

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