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Douglas Murray in Standpoint Magazine
Douglas Murray on the subject of islamophobia and related topics in this month’s edition of Standpoint magazine.
Britain’s first Muslim minister, Shahid Malik, declared on a Channel 4 Dispatches programme this month that: “I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe.” Foreign readers ought not to fear that they’ve missed something here. There actually aren’t any concentration camps for Muslims in Britain. No Nuremberg laws have been passed. Only the most excitable observer would attempt to claim that Belmarsh prison is truly Treblinka. But that paranoid assertion is gaining currency. Its first victims are Muslims in Britain who, instead of being persuaded to face up to their problems and eject the extremists from their midst, might easily be flattered into believing that it’s not even their problem.
Like fashion journalists searching for “the new black”, some guys just love identifying “the new Jews”. Never mind that with violent attacks on Jews in the UK at an all-time high, the new Jews might be, well, the old Jews: the search to identify criticism of Islam or Muslims with anti-Semitism is not only mistaken, it is calculated and deliberately diverting.Leading the effort is the former political editor of The Spectator, Peter Oborne, whose Channel 4 programme, It Shouldn’t Happen to a Muslim was the catalyst for the minister’s comments.
While gaining new rights prominent Muslims compare themselves to people who were stripped of all rights. Nice work.
The term “Islamophobia” is a crock for two reasons. The first is the fact that it is a deliberate attempt to conflate criticism of a belief-system with hatred of a people for the colour of their skin. Thus “Islamophobia” is neatly allied with the real horrors of racism.
But “Islamophobia” is also a nonsense term – though this is a far less popular aspect to point out – because a “phobia” is an “irrational fear”. “Claustrophobia” is irrational because enclosed spaces tend not to kill you. Being scared of small rooms is irrational. Exaggerated and faked stories abound in journalism. But despite this, and as a mounting death-toll asserts, there are a considerable number of reasons to be fearful of some – though certainly not all – aspects and versions of Islam. Women, gay men and Jews have particular reason to be fearful. As do commuters in major European cities and continental film-directors. It’s not “phobic” to be worried about Islam. It is eminently rational.