On Monday night, Channel 4 screened a documentary entitled Proud and Prejudiced. The show aimed at portraying the two forms of extremism: 'right-wing' extremism and 'Islamist' extremism. Such extremism is currently a threat to British National Security and has been dominating the media in Britain. To add to the media's scrutiny, this documentary has portrayed a completely inaccurate and thoughtless impression of extremism.
The show featured the English Defence League
(EDL) leader Tommy Robinson and Sayful Islam, the leader of now banned
extremist group Muslim Against Crusades (MAC) (Also, previously known as
The programme compared and contrasted these two groups and concluded
that they were both alike and extreme as the other. This is far from the
MAC is/was a group with no less than one hundred followers out of the
hundreds and thousands of Muslims in Britain. The EDL, on the other
hand, has a massive grassroots influence with thousands in membership
and thousands more unofficial followers.
Muslim Against Crusades believe that Britain should be under Islamic
law and conduct their activities mainly through offensive protests and
insensitive rhetoric. The EDL opposes the existence of Muslims in
Britain and have been at the forefront and cause of mosque attacks and
Islamophobia outbreaks across Britain. One can merely look at Andres
Breivik, the man behind the Norway attacks, whose motivation and
influence to commit acts of terror was heavily influenced by the English
Defence League views, to see how dangerous the far-right movement
Proud and Prejudiced portrayed the views of MAC and EDL to
be the views held of the people of Luton, either being ' Islamist' or '
right-wing.' The show made Luton appear as a community segregated and
marred with violence and protests. The voice of the community of Luton
was ignored and replaced with violence, hatred and intolerance.
There was also no mention of the majority of Muslim across Britain
who has condemned MAC's activities or the other religious groups who
have condemned the EDL.
What was also strange was that Unite Against Fascism,
a group which counters every EDL protest was briefly mentioned in the
documentary but not featured in the film despite being opposed to both
forms of extremism. Why weren't they interviewed? Shouldn't there have
been moderate views to counter these arguments?
Let's also not forget the publicity this has given both groups,
especially the EDL. Tommy Robinson had the opportunity of declaring to
the public that he was not against 'black' people or people of other
ethnic minorities. He was only against Muslims.
This could only be an open door for recruits from other ethnic
minorities to join his cause. It would be hard for anyone neutral
watching the show not to sympathise with him. And this sympathy was
prevalent all over Twitter with tweets such as "Well done tommy robinson, well said" and ''Muslims are just scum'' by Twitter users tuning into Channel 4.
On the other hand, there was no prevalent sympathy towards MAC,
rather condemnation of both groups from majority of Muslim individuals.
Tweets included "Some of the plaquards from MAC are just downright disgraceful & downright unIslamic" by Muslim Public Affairs Committee and "People
need to understand that one who is an #extremist can NEVER be a #Muslim
and one who is a Muslim can NEVER be an extremist" by a Muslim
The producers of Proud and Prejudiced could not have been more misguided in portraying how extremism operates in Britain.
Instead of challenging MAC and the EDL, Channel 4
essentially encouraged extremism by providing Tommy Robinson and Sayful
Islam a platform for their extremist views. This will doubt benefit them
by serving as a major recruitment tool for their causes.
First Published by Huffington Post UK: http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/reyhana-patel/channel-4s-proud-and-prejudiced_b_1308633.html
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