I have been reading the recent reports around the death or murder – depending on your opinion – of 28 year old Mohammed Yassar Yaqub recently and I feel compelled to put forward my opinion on one certain element of the matter.
That element is the press and media reporting of it. Not just on this matter but also on a wider basis when the press and media report on Muslims and Islam in general.
As I say, I won’t go comment too much on this particular case.
I won’t discuss the theories behind why he was shot, the speculation about his income, what sort of a person he was or wasn’t, or on the speculation around activities he was reportedly involved in. I don’t feel it’s appropriate to do so, I’m not prepared to potentially slander the man and I’m not linked in any way to him, his family, his city or the community so have no knowledge of it (not that that stops so of the red tops in this country speculating though!).
Anyway, as I say, the part of this matter I take issue with is the press and media reporting. In particular the constant claims that the shooting (or euphemistically, the police exercise) was not in respect of terror or was not terror related.
Now bear with me on this…
While it is arguably a good thing that the press are clearing up the fact that “terror” is not a factor in this matter, why do they even have to mention it? What is the need for them to clear this detail up in the first place?
I’ll tell you why, because the press have spent years demonising Muslims generally, British Muslims in particular, Islam on the whole and have created a perception and mentality amongst sections of the British public. In addition, this demonization has been carried out with a clear agenda and purpose.
The agenda has been rooted in propaganda which is, for some unbelievable reason, something people seem to think ended with the Nazis. There has been a concerted effort by some of the rags purportedly containing news to influence the thinking and mind set of the public at large. There is stock in sowing the seeds of discrimination and racism. It plays in to the hands of the powers that be, it makes it easy to segregate people and determine policies for forthcoming elections that can be tailored to each of these ghettoised communities and, ultimately, fear is a great motivator.
If fear can be instilled within the public at large then they will be less inclined to question decisions that are being taken by those in authority. Decisions that will apparently make them feel safer and provide fewer reasons for them to be scared.
Remarkably, this laissez faire approach adopted by the British public has resulted in a gradual but significant diminishing of freedoms and rights as can be seen in the recently passed Investigatory Powers Act, also known as the ‘Snoopers Charter’
You may wonder where I’m going with this and how I’m linking the reporting of Yaqub’s death and the clarification around terror with a restriction in liberty.
Well, the point I’m making is that the seeds sown by the press in this country have resulted in a significant proportion of the general public developing a latent xenophobia where it is assumed that any man with a Muslim name is bound to be up to no good, or any rucksack left on a bus contains a bomb, or where any woman wearing a hijab is the victim of oppression, or where anyone speaking a foreign language is planning a terror attack under your nose! I could go on but I think you get the point!
Such pre-judgments have been slowly, consistently and successfully built in to the psyche of a huge number of people in Britain. How can I say this with confidence? Because the press now have to address the pre-judgments made by people (that this shooting was probably because he was a terrorist) and confirm that it’s not actually terror related this time.
What the press are saying here is, “On this occasion it’s not terror related but it normally is so remain vigilant, remain scared, continue to let us do what we want!”
The sad thing is we have been here before…
The Irish in Britain were victimised in a similar fashion in the 1970’s during the height of the bloody and brutal war that has come to be known as ‘The Troubles’ (like it was a bit of a jape) and the bombing campaign on mainland Britain by the IRA.
Following the Birmingham Pub Bombings in 1974, widely believed to have been carried out by the IRA but which resulted in the arrest and incarceration of 6 innocent men, the UK Government introduced the Prevention of Terrorism (Temporary Provisions) Act which, it has been argued, resulted in the Irish people within Britain being seen as a ‘Suspect People’ who, if seen congregating together in groups, were assumed to be members or prospective members of the IRA.
The fact that Immigrant communities tend to “stick together” in a new country and provide one another with a coping network free from the accusations and racism they encounter day to day seems to be ignored for some reason. Apparently it is more likely that they’re planning to blow you up!!!!!!
How is it that 40 years on from when Britain’s press and politicians were profiling and discriminating against a minority community within Britain, we now find ourselves in the same position, holding the same pre-judgments and biases and unable to see past colour, race and creed? The group being discriminated against may have changed but the outcome is the same.
Many people would argue, successfully in some cases I should add, that race relations in Britain have come on leaps in bounds over the last half a century. However, in the reporting of Yaqub’s death it is evident that there is still an underlying level of discrimination directed towards communities that make up part of Britain on the whole and it is something that may shift but seemingly won’t go away.
I’m trying to conclude this as best I can but, to be honest, I’m not really sure how to.
It’s just flat out depressing to think that a cross section of society has been indoctrinated and is willing to accept the bile spouted by the press and politicians and that, once again, we have a community within Britain that is victimised and pre-judged en masse.
So I guess I’ll finish by making a suggestion.
Remain vigilant. Remain Scared.