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Nazism Gains a Foothold in Britain
[Opinion] Widespread demonization of Muslims has opened the door to the far right
Liam Bailey (wordsworth)     Print Article 
Published 2006-11-15 06:58 (KST)   
The demonization of Muslims from the top of government down first Muslim peer Lord Ahmed spoke of is beginning to have an effect on every aspect of British life. Not only is it leaving young Muslims open to fundamental and extremist propaganda but, as the verdict in last week's trial of a far-right politician showed, it is slowly seeping through our whole society and beginning to affect our judicial and political systems.

Given the British National Party's principle policy recommendation of removing all ethnic minorities from Britain, the trial of their leader Nick Griffin and his colleague Mark Collett for using words or behavior intended to incite racial hatred didn't surprise too many people.

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The court watched Nick Griffin, who was filmed by an undercover reporter telling BNP supporters that Islam was a "wicked, vicious faith" and that Muslims were turning Britain into a "multi-racial hell hole."

Collett was also filmed calling asylum seekers "cockroaches" and saying "let's show these ethnics the door in 2004" as well as slurring murder victim Stephen Lawrence as a drug dealer, in a pub in Keighley, West Yorkshire. With such compelling and damming video evidence, and neither showing any remorse, their acquittal came as a shock to many.

When compared to the previous day's trial of 23-year-old Muslim Mizanur Rahman, who was tried for much the same crime at the Old Bailey, for his attending a protest in response to the Danish cartoons carrying placards saying "annihilate those who insult Islam" and "behead those who insult Islam." As well as calling for more Sep. 11-style attacks and soldiers to be brought home from Iraq in body bags.

Despite his apology ("I didn't think about what I was saying") and his lawyer comparing his remarks to those made from soapboxes at Speaker's Corner, Rahman was found guilty of using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior with intent to stir racial hatred.

Given the similar crimes and the lack of remorse shown by the BNP defendants who were also faced with stronger evidence than the young Muslim defendant, the contrasting verdicts were an indication that Islamaphobia, caused largely by the government's demonization of Muslims is affecting justice in Great Britain.

Islamaphobia first became a problem after 9/11, but it really started increasing after the terror attacks on the London underground in July, 2005. Just how much of a problem it was becoming was first evident in the local elections in May of this year, when the BNP gained 11 council seats. Given the party's reputation of racism and using violence to achieve its main policy of removing all ethnic minorities from Britain; these gains were the first indicator that Labour's tough stance on race issues and immigration was legitimizing far-right views.

With the Jack Straw-induced veil debate, and the other prominent ministers drawn in supporting his view, Nov. 13, perhaps more than anything else accelerated the rate at which the demonization of Muslims and Islamaphobia was not only becoming acceptable behavior but the norm in Britain. The debate, still making the news and drawing in yet more prominent people, like the Archbishop condemning the wearing of the veil in public, has the potential to do even more damage to race relations in Britain.

The not guilty verdict for two prominent BNP members was hailed by Jon Cruddas, a contender for the deputy leadership of Labour as a "wake up call" for his party. This has led to their considering tightening race laws even further. Calling the BNP leaders' statements offensive, Chancellor Gordon Brown almost immediately pledged to raise the chances of convictions in similar cases by bringing in tougher powers. As the trial of Mizanur Rahman showed, the law is tough enough, further tightening legislation in the current climate of Islamaphobic double standards would only increase the persecution of Muslims for such crimes.

I believe it may already be too late but what the government should focus on is reversing its anti-Muslim rhetoric and putting a stop to the government's treating of Muslims differently from other ethnic groups, by trying to impose restrictions on their religion and behavior. Contrary to the government's belief that this would reduce terrorism and increase integration it is in fact having the opposite effect.
An earlier version of this article will appear on War Pages
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Liam Bailey

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