Friday 6 October 2006

A Wave of Islamophobia.

If anyone doubted that Islamophobia existed in our country they should be in no doubt after reading and listening to the torrent of bigotry and prejudice pouring out of some of our national press and from our main media outlets over the last 48 hours.

Just a few examples.

The Daily Express launched its salvo with the headlines "Riots over Mosque on Queen's Doorstep." A story which also ran for 24 hours throughout the national and local television and radio news programmes.

The Evening Standard sunk to its usual depths with an almost farcical headline "Guide Dog is Banned by Muslim Driver." Almost farcical except when you know the Standard's racist track record over the years.

The Guardian, Times, and Telegraph plus the BBC and most radio news programmes ran with the story of Jack Straw requiring Muslim women to remove their veil when meeting him.

This followed hard on the heels of Cameron's comments on Muslim schools and Reid's statements about no "no go areas" at Labour Party conference.

We are clearly in the middle of one of those regular episodes, launched by the unsavoury alliance of media and politicians, of attacking the latest vulnerable minority.

The historical parallels with the persecution of the Catholic minority in this country three centuries ago and the jews even further back in our history are striking.

This week saw the commemoration of the "Battle of Cable Street," when socialists, trade unionists and people of good faith stood up to the emerging Nazi threat in this country and stood in solidarity with the Jewish community against the despicable attacks on it by Mosley's fascists.

It is now our time to stand up in solidarity with Muslim members of our community.

Whichever minority group comes under racist and bigoted attack in this way be it catholic, jew, muslim, hindu, sikh, black or ethnic minority, lesbian or gay, our role as fellow human beings is to stand with them.

That is what I am calling on every person in this country of good will to do today.

If we act now in standing together in defence of the Muslim community we can bring to a swift end this latest wave of prejudice.

If we do not act, my fear is that the islamophobia we have witnessed this week will gain the respectable cover it has been seeking and will grow unchecked.