Richard Littlejohn in the Daily Mail: When ‘free speech’ extends to inciting hate
London, UK, February 19th 2014 – An article in the Daily Mail [18.2.2014], written by Richard Littlejohn [Jolly Jihadi Boy’s Outing to Legoland], has smeared as ‘extremists’ and ‘terrorists’ those participating (organisers, helpers and paying visitors) in a forthcoming ‘Family Fun Day’ at the theme park Legoland, by reinforcing the false narrative that argues ‘the more practising a Muslim is, the closer he or she is to acts of violence and murder’.
In relation to this article, Taji Mustafa, media representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain made the following points:
1. There can be little doubt that the article is an attempt to smear the organisers – and by association those who help on the day and those who plan to attend. It portrays muslims, as ‘Islamic hate preachers’ by attributing crudely constructed views – and then tries to smear the reputation of individuals by associating them in the minds of the Daily Mail readers with others who the readers have had repeatedly associated with criminal acts of violence.
2. There can be little doubt that the article will fuel hatred against Muslims in some quarters by mocking practising Muslims. It begins its parody of the ‘fun day’ with morning prayers and ‘gender segregation’ before moving seamlessly to a series of violent actions by the participants – bombing, killing, executing, suicide attacks. By throwing in fictional names like ‘Ram Jam Choudary’, and a few ‘jokes’ about kofti kebab and bacon sandwiches, Littlejohn gives the article a distinctly racial tinge.
Far-right extremists, who have been venting their anger at the theme park for entering into a commercial agreement with a Muslim organisation, may think they have found a new champion in Littlejohn.
3. This article is just the latest attack in several years of attacks on Islam, which all share the sinister aim to bully and intimidate Muslims into leaving parts of their faith and values and to become secular liberals. An argument has been constructed by some politicians and think tanks, and carried in some sections of the media, that practising Muslims should be known as ‘extremists’ or ‘Islamists’ who are only one step away from ‘terrorists’ or ‘jihadists’. Neocons like George W Bush, liberal imperialists like Tony Blair, and muscular liberals like David Cameron have all fuelled the narrative. They hope, within Britain and Europe, to create a more ‘submissive’ Muslim community – and within the Muslim world, to stem Islamic revival and a desire for unification by maintaining a collection of weak secular nation states, ruled by ‘friendly’ or ‘client’ regimes.
4. In a decent society, the media should fulfil the worthy roles of holding politicians to account, and scrutinising and debating ideas. But by constantly exercising their ‘freedom’ to incite to hatred and ‘freedom’ to smear and gossip, all they do is fuel suspicion, hatred and disrespect for the religious beliefs of others. When newspapers like the Daily Mail attack the views of Muslims, through mockery, smear and caricature, they show clearly their ‘freedoms’ are for the powerful press barons who make money out of such smears – and not for the victims of their smears, who face hostility on a daily basis – and reminds us of a warning in the Quran which says ‘Woe to every slandering defamer, who collects wealth and [continuously] counts it, He thinks his wealth will make him immortal’
5. Our message to the Muslim community is to understand the game that is taking place; to hold fast to the Islamic values that are misrepresented and smeared in the media on an ever-increasing basis; to understand this beautiful deen of Islam, and preserve it in our community; and to carry its example to everyone around us.
6. The Muslim community cannot remain silent over such attacks, the silence becomes an indicator of acceptance for those who want to attack Islam . We should be very vocal against such attacks, letting such people know that our deen is not something we would compromise and are willing to take on any genuine misunderstanding and debate these matters in a respectful and dignified manner.
7. If the Daily Mail and Richard Littlejohn can teach us anything, it is that the general public deserves an alternative to their values mockery, smear, gossip and innuendo. If they’d ever like to debate that point with us, we’d willingly oblige to debate these and any other matters regarding Islam.