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In the wake of Boris Johnson’s comments about the burqa I was reading an article by Polly Toynbee at the Guardian. She was responding to people who were highlighting the fact that plenty of trendy comedians had made jokes about the burqa in the past (even on the BBC), and in fact that she herself had referred to burqa wearing women in highly unflattering terms in the past:
“Something horrible flits across the background in scenes from Afghanistan, scuttling out of sight”
It would be easy to spend some time criticizing Ms Toynbee’s hypocrisy, the gist of her argument seems to be that it’s not OK for Conservative party politicians to criticize Islamic attire but it’s fine when the right sort of people (people like her) do it.
In the article she linked to an article by the comedienne Shazia Mirza. I found myself laughing at one of the jokes in Shazia’s article:
“A Muslim woman knocked on my door last night. I didn’t open the door – I just talked through the letter box to see how she likes it.”
Shazia Mirza first came to my attention when she made a joke “does my bomb look big in this?” on a TV show which at the time made me laugh. Back then I didn’t know anything about Islam, if I was hearing the joke for the first time today I might not be very amused at all.
I was discussing Shazia’s jokes on social media when someone shared a link to an article in the Daily Mail from 2016. The article contained a clip where Shazia was making an appearance on the program Loose Women. In the clip, Shazia “jokes”:
‘I’m not being frivolous but these ISIS men, as barbaric as they are, you have to admit, they are hot. I mean, some of them are. [lustful noises]
‘They are macho, they’re hairy, they’ve got guns. And these girls they’ve got are thinking “he’s a bit of alright”.
Now, let’s stop and think for a moment about these ISIS men that she is referring to (it really seems to be necessary to do that). In 2014 Canon Andrew White (known as the “Bishop of Baghdad”) reported from Iraq that 4 young Christian children had been beheaded by ISIS for refusing to convert to Islam. Most of you (presumably including Shazia Mirza and the hosts of Loose Women) have heard of the many other brutalities as well, including the beheadings of journalists, aid workers, the gang rapes of Yazidi women, of course I don’t need to go on. The word “barbaric” doesn’t really cover it.
People often say that we laugh at jokes because they get close to some truth, and I can’t help thinking that there may indeed be some truth in what Shazia was saying, that (some) Muslim women in the UK really do find something attractive about these psychopathic savages. Opinion polls have after all suggested that quite a sizable minority of Muslims in the UK feel “some sympathy” for young Muslims who go to fight in Syria and Iraq.
There is now not so much a divide as a vast chasm in our society, not just between the attitudes of ordinary British people and the attitudes of this sizable minority of Muslims, but also between what the ordinary decent British public thinks and what the mainstream media and our politicians think about such issues. I hardly feel as if I inhabit the same planet as those women on the Loose Women panel who laughed along with Shazia’s “joke”.
At the end of Polly’s article, she accuses Boris of sowing discord:
“But his intention is to sow discord, on which he hopes to ride to triumph.”
No Polly, his intention is not to sow discord, and as you well know the discord exists already and will continue to grow in our midst unchallenged by you and your friends in the wildly biased mainstream media. It is growing because of the government policies that you and your paper have long supported – an overly generous welfare system and an enthusiastically open borders policy on immigration (the latter policy Boris also supports for reasons I can’t fathom). It is growing especially thanks to the actions of Tony Blair’s (Labour) government which deliberately set in motion an almost unstoppable tsunami of chain migration of people from foreign and alien cultures, as you well know. The UK is ruled by a wildly out of touch elite that is creating the conditions for this discord to thrive, that is increasingly divorced from reality, unwilling as it is to hear any voices of dissent, that is destroying everything that is good about this country, an elite that you are very much a part of.
Boris Johnson or the burqa? It’s a false choice – both dehumanise Muslim women
Behind the burka
‘They’re macho, they’re hairy, they’ve got guns’: Viewers’ fury after Loose Women guest jokes about ‘hot’ ISIS jihadis
C4 survey and documentary reveals What British Muslims Really Think
British ‘Vicar of Baghdad’ claims Isis beheaded four children for refusing to convert to Islam