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In one of history’s great ironies, the local police and the Crown Prosecution Service first considered charging the radical imams portrayed in the film with criminal incitement. But after concluding that no crime had been committed, the government decided to charge the investigative journalists instead. Real life does not get any more surreal than this.
Government officials claimed the documentary “distorted” the truth, employed “selective quoting,” and used words and phrases “out of context.” It is unclear how the filmmakers misrepresented Dr. Ijaz Mian’s statement that “You cannot accept the rule of the kaffir [derogatory term for non-Muslim]. We have to rule ourselves and we have to rule the other.” Or Abu Usamah’s remark that “We hate the Kaffir! Whether those kaffir are from the UK or the US!” But then as Andrew Anthony speculated in the Observer, perhaps Messrs Mian and Usamah were innocently rehearsing for a stage play.
Maryam Namazie, spokesperson of the Council of ex-Muslims of Britain, has argued that the UK media has been too soft in its coverage of Islam. The political Islamist movement in Britain and Europe, she says, has engineered a “victim status,” whereby criticism of Islam is being equated to racism against Muslims. “Criticizing a belief is not racism, it is not the case that Muslims are being vilified.” Meanwhile the attitude in Britain, according to Channel 4’s Kevin Sutcliffe, has degraded into one of “if you don’t like the message shoot the messenger.”
The upshot is that if you offend the Muslim community, you will suffer for it — if not via death threats, then by lawsuits, fines or the loss of a broadcasting license. In this atmosphere it would seem prudent to simply keep your mouth shut. Happily a few journalists are still willing to risk threats, criminal prosecution and their careers to discover the truth.
Christopher Orlet writes the Existential Journalist blog.
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