Things you can say about Muslims in progressive papers

Julie Szego:

Ramadan describes the problem in Britain as one of “violence”. Presumably he means the surge in violent attacks against Muslims in recent years. It’s an ugly trend, but surely context — the attacks being partly a response to Islamist terror — is relevant here? The terrorists might be few; but their atrocities, would-be atrocities and apologists are not. Merely stating these facts does not equate to condoning anti-Muslim violence or blaming the victim.

As for the Danish cartoons, yes they were drawn with malice. And this might have been the last word on the matter if it wasn’t for the rampage that followed — both in Europe and across the Muslim world where Western embassies were torched and lives lost. The cartoons were a provocation to Muslim extremists who duly rose to the occasion.

Anti-Muslim bigots beating Muslims is an “ugly trend”, which she explains away. However, protests and riots against Danish cartoons are merely a provocation to Muslim extremists. Westerners who beat Muslims are not extremists. Note how she does not see a parallel between the two phenomena. Note how she rationalises Swiss fears:

Ramadan surely knows the Swiss vote is an irrational response to rational anxieties about political Islam’s threat to Western norms elsewhere in Europe. Ignoring the Islamist challenge only fans the populist bigotry. I’m not sure if Ramadan’s views would enlighten the Swiss on their folly or simply reaffirm their decision.The sad irony here is that Switzerland’s Muslim population is overwhelmingly secular and liberal in attitude. Ramadan is now urging Swiss Muslims to be more “assertive”. It’s worth asking precisely what he means.

This is a perfect illustration of the dog whistle. It’s hard to respond to such nonsense. What rational anxieties can a European hold about political Islam’s threat to “Western norms”? Suppose we grant Western norms are liberal democracy. In what sense is there a danger of political Islam as a movement in any of these countries? Muslims are marginalised minorities in every European country they live in. And I’m no fan of Ramadan, but her implication that Ramadan wants Muslims to be assertive, so that they can impose Sharia is outrageous. Ramadan thinks Muslims should speak up and reassure their compatriots of how normal they are. I think that’s bullshit: if the Swiss people are bigots, it’s their own fault. And 57.5% (or whatever the figure was) of those who voted against minarets are ignorant bigots.

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