Comment, Comics and the Contrary.
The news sources are full of the story that a ‘Muslim’ officer was excused from guarding the Israeli embassy during the recent Israeli invasion of Lebanon
I have two questions.
First, who leaked this story to the press, and what effect did they hope to produce?
Second, why are news sources concentrating on the fact that the officer was a Muslim?
It seems to me that the important feature of this officer’s identity was not that he was a Muslim, as did not ask to be excused from guarding the Israeli embassy prior to the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, and once the Israeli bombing of Lebanon ceased he returned to full duties. He was excused from guarding the Israeli embassy during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon because his wife is Lebanese.
This is perfectly sensible. Indeed, one would expect that the officers responsible for assigning duties within the diplomatic protection group would have a full, in depth file on each of their officers. It astounds me that a police officer was asked to guard the embassy of a nation that is bombing and invading the nation to which his wife belongs. This has nothing to do with the officer being Muslim, but rather that his personal, familial connection to the conflict ought to have resulted in the officer being ruled out of guarding the embassy, just as an officer would be ruled out of investigating a crime in which he had an unusually personal stake. He should not have had to ask to be excused. The officer should have been given other duties for operational reasons.
The only way that, in this story, his Muslim identity trumps his Lebanese familial connection is that, as a Muslim guarding the Israeli embassy during the time concerned is that he and his family may have been especially at risk from attack by violent Islamist groups. If this is the case, then being excused from this particular duty on welfare grounds is perfectly reasonable.
Of course, this all brings us back round to my first question. And we may now reframe it. The questions of who and why can be combined into a single question. Who is determined to paint Muslims as disloyal, unBritish, and subject to preferential treatment? Well, that sounds like the standard Melanie Phillips line, in other words, the line of the rabid anti-Muslim racist, unreflexively redeploying the standard anti-Semitic arguments but replacing the subject of their hateful stories with the modern bogey religio-ethnic group.
Someone within the police, presumably occupying a senior position, is an anti-Muslim racist. This person is presumably riding on a significant amount of support from police officers who are either stupid dupes or fellow anti-Muslim racists. Is it really that unreasonable for Muslims to withdraw from co-operating with the police?
Or even withdraw from co-operating with the British state on a much wider basis. When John Reid delivered his ‘grass up your kids’ speech in East London he was heckled by Abu Izzadine. This heckling was seized on by news sources and John Reid himself to demonstrate the inherent violence and unreasonableness of Muslim opponents to current British government policy. And this painting has worked. Abu Izzadine’s interjection prompted a rash of letters to newspapers. Taking The Mirror as an example, the October 4th edition included the phrase ‘an evil cancer spreading in this country’ and calls for deportations. This kind of rhetoric has been seen before.
But the point is that this story is almost certainly not what it seems, unless it seems to you that this story was a carefully stage managed event. As George Galloway points out
, Abu Izzadine is a well know violent Islamic extremist. The security services will have known all about this man. How did this man get within a few feet of the Home Secretary and take a place among in a small, controlled audience? The only reasonable explanation, excepting such fantastic levels of incompetence that we should all withdraw from co-operating with the police and certainly should oppose any increase in police powers, is that Abu Izzadine was allowed into the meeting in the knowledge that he was very likely to aggressively heckle John Reid.
In other words, someone was keen to paint Muslims opposed to current government policies as aggressive and unreasonable. In other words, someone is stage managing speeches by government speakers in such a way that the result aids the anti-Muslim racists.
That this kind of propaganda also helps John Reid to cement his political ambitions is, I am sure, entirely co-incidental.