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Islam has a PR problem

25th Apr 201720m37s

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  • It's been a while since I've done a video. And, this video has been a long time coming. And the topic I'm going to talk about is Islam. Now, before I go into my thoughts on the current state of Islam, especially Islam in the UK and the West in general, just to give you a bit of background on my experiences with Islam growing up. So, although I was born in the UK, I lived in India for a few years when I was a kid, and I had a number of friends, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, non-religious. And I never really noticed Islam when I was there. I never really noticed the outward expressions of the religion as much as I did when I came here. For one thing, I never saw women there wearing burka. I know there are probably women who do but, I never saw it myself, or at least I never noticed it. I definitely saw women wearing the veil, I'm not not sure what that's called, the niqab, perhaps. But, it wasn't really something that really stood out to me. I think part of the reason was that most people I knew there or most people I could see there, were religious in some way. So, people often wore clothing that has some kind of religious significance, or at least cultural significance. And, the other thing is, for the most part, in India, you can't really tell looking at most people what religion they might be, you can only tell once you know their name, or you know a bit more about them, their background. And so for the most part, it doesn't really come into play, and it's not something that really bothers you or that you think about. It comes into play more when people want to get married. When people want to bring families together, and that's where often you get divides down religious lines, but not just religious lines, but lines of class, lines of caste, the caste system in India, in Hinduism. So, that was my experience of Islam in India. And then I came here. I grew up in a part of the country where there was quite a large Muslim population. And, it definitely stood out to me more over here. And I think partly was because, of course, most people in this country, in the UK, are white English. And so anybody who isn't stands out as minorities. And the other reason I noticed it more here was because my family were one of the very few ethnic minorities in our area who weren't Muslim because the majority of the ethnic minority population were Muslim, so Pakistani and Bangladeshi. Now, I actually made friends with a number of Muslim lads, and one of my best friends back home is actually a Muslim, really nice guy, lovely family. Just everyone's cool, and everyone's British, as well. Everyone's grown up here, like me. So for the most part, there weren't any problems. And, I didn't really know much about Islam until 911 happened. And I think for a lot of people that is probably true because when someone does something like that in the name of a religion, then you wanna read up about it, or hope people wanna read up about it, find out more. So, that's when I started to read up on Islam. And even then, I definitely bought into the mainstream narrative that the people committing these atrocities were aberrations, that they were extremists within the religion, and every religion has extremists. I mean, there are extremist Hindus in India who do all kinds of atrocious stuff. Anybody who's even taken a cursory glance at recent history, religious history in India, will know about the gujurati's. The Hindus and Muslims writing, killing each other. So yeah, to me, it wasn't hard to believe that people committing atrocities in the name of religion, were the fundamentalists and the extremists within a religion. But, then over time, as I saw how the mainstream was biased against people who are critical of the religion, i.e. people being branded Islamophobe's or accused of Islamophobia or even racism, just for criticizing Islam. And then when I also noticed how we were committing self-censorship on a mass scale, nobody would dare draw a picture of the profits of Islam, out of fear of being violently hurt or possibly even killed. So, as I noticed these things happening, I realized that there was something very different here. This inability to withstand criticism, just this refusal to allow any form of criticism, in other words, enforcing Islamic blasphemy laws on people who weren't Muslim. And, that's when I felt that this was wrong and something needs to be done. And, that's when my thinking started to change. I started to meet, meet people who were having similar feelings to me. I started to read up more about it. I started to notice the bias in the mainstream media, particularly media that considers itself to be left wing, such as the Guardian, New Statesman, even journalists who I respected, who I followed, I realized some of them were very biased towards the mainstream narrative that Islam wasn't to blame at all for any of these atrocities. And it was always the people committing in the name of Islam who weren't even real Muslims, they were just hijacking the religion, if you will. And, then I started to hear voices, like imagine there was, or like a prominent atheist, such as Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens. And, I realized that they, and to me, I felt that they were bringing a more of a rational thinking process to this topic. And, yet their views have been dismissed out of hand and people were accusing them of being racist, being bigoted in some form or another. And, that's when my thinking started to change and I guess I left the the current left wing behind, at least on this topic, and I sort of shifted a bit more towards the center or the right, if you will. And now that brings me to my current views on Islam. So, fundamentally, I think Islam has a PR problem. That I think is the fundamental issue here. I think that most Muslims in this country, most Muslims I've met, and indeed, say my, for example, my best friend, are lovely, decent people, and they just want to live a normal life. But, the problem is, and I found this with my best friend, they, a lot of these Muslims, almost refuse to acknowledge the extremist, extremist verses, or the sort of, the hateful verses within their own religion. Which is astonishing, because almost every, a lot of religions have hateful verses and you know, there are historical reasons for them. Those verses existing. There are a lot of violences being committed in the name of many different religions, Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, just to name a few. And, so it's actually astonishing that people are unwilling to accept the violence committed in the name of their religion. And, I know that it comes down to the identity people have about themselves within their religion. It's, the religion makes such a big part of their identity and particularly so for Muslims that, any criticism of the religion is felt as a criticism of themselves. It's felt as a damning indictment of that person. And, so there's obviously enormous resistance to criticism or demeaning of the religion in any way. And, this is the same reason why people riot in parts of the world, in Islamic countries. If somebody draws a cartoon of the prophet or produces a video which mocks the religion, and yet, ironically, within Islam itself, there are plenty of clerics and followers, who will quite happily mock other religions, such as Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism. I mean, I've had people come and say to my face, because I was brought up in a predominant Hindu environment, even though I'm not religious, they would come and say to me, oh, you know, your Hinduism is bullshit, because it's got this, this, this, this, this going on, multiple idols and blah, blah, blah. Now, it wouldn't affect me because, of course, what this person's opinion is, has no reflection on what I feel about it. But, it seems to me that for a lot of Muslims I met, it's very different. And I, and I know that's because they're commanded within the religion to defend the religion, to defend the faith. They're commanded to convert the non-believers. They're commanded to, to resist the non-believers, to treat people who aren't Muslim and not as equals, but as inferior. I mean, that's the general ethos surrounding Islam. I mean, of course, people can come out with versus saying, there is no compulsion in religion. There is no compulsion in Islam, and that he who kills a single person, it's as if he kills, he's killed all of humanity. Now, people take these verses out of the full context of course, because there are equivalent verses in the Quran which almost say the complete opposite. And I always encourage people to, to fight the non-believers, to slay them where you find them. And the rape, and, and the sexual slavery. And, of course, when you bring this up to devout Muslims, they point out, "Well, the Bible has these things". Which is true, I mean, Bible, the Old Testament in particular, has a lot of these nasty things, things which we consider nasty today. But that doesn't, of course, absolve Islam of its responsibility in explaining these verses. And, so yeah, so that's, that's where I'm at right now. I feel that, I think there's a significant chunk of the population who followed the mainstream narrative, which is that there's nothing wrong with Islam. It's a peaceful religion, and the people who commit atrocities in its name are extremists who aren't real Muslims. Which is, you know, interesting, if you, if you don't commit atrocities in its name, if you're a good person, then you're a real Muslim. But, the moment you commit an atrocity, you're no longer a real Muslim. It's the, the no true Scotsman fallacy. And then the idea that Islam is a peaceful religion, I mean, depends on who's, who's implementing it, who's following it, depends on what verses you follow. You can't just give it a blank statement and say it's peaceful. It's not about peace. It's about submission. The little bit of reading that I've done, I know that a Muslim is one who submits to the will of Allah. It doesn't say in there that it's Muslim who's one who is peaceful or is, or is violent. It's one who submits to the will of Allah. So Allah commands you to do something, you must do it. If Allah commands you to believe in a certain way, you must believe in that way. If Allah commands you to commit violence, you must commit violence because that is what you are supposed to do as a Muslim. And, that I think, is the truth of Islam. I think, but I think the reason why people insist upon this idea that Islam is peaceful is because if one were to not use the idea, if one were to simply go by the most glaring evidence in our faces, which is terrorism in the name of Islam, then you'd reach a very difficult conclusion to handle, which is, well, this ideology actually has a lot of violence and hate in it. But then we have so many people here who follow it and to whom it means everything. What are we going to do about that? And, it's a difficult question to answer. It's a very difficult question to answer. And, people in theit right suggest, oh well, let's ban Islam. Let's kick all the Muslims out. Let's ban the construction of new mosques, which I don't think is the answer, for two reasons. One is, it's not practical. It's violating people's human rights. It's disrespecting the fact that a lot of the people, like I said, who practice their religion, aren't violent people, they're nice people. And, thirdly, it's not going to work but it's, because it's not, it's not tackling the root cause. So it's impractical, and it's not tackling the root cause. And, if you just kick a whole bunch people out, then the contribution those people are making to your society, the jobs they were doing, what are you gonna do about that? And, we're talking a lot of people by now. A lot of people. Five percent of population in the UK. At least eight percent in France, from when I last checked. And, you know, other countries in Europe have similar percentages. So, I don't think that's the answer. I think the people on the left say, Oh, well stop blaming Islam. We should be united. We should, we will not allow these things to divide us. We will not allow criticism of Islam. We will, let's see if we can pass laws to ban Islamophobia because that's hate speech. Well, that's wrong as well, because that's basically trashing our rights of free speech and that's trashing our, our opportunity to learn how to think critically by analyzing things critically. And by questioning the things we're taught, instead of just believing that hook line and sinker. Now that, by the way, is how religion works. But, you know, this is not a religious country, we're a secular nation and we value science, we value reason, we value the rule of law, or like police like to think we do. So, I think the answer really is counter ideology, the ideology that drives people to commit acts of atrocities in its name. This, this fundamentalist ideology needs to be countered with a different ideology and interpretation of Islam that allows people who are listening to their interpretation to know that they can live in modern Western society and be Muslims. Now, of course, some people will argue that it's not just ideology, it's foreign policy of Western governments that gives rise to these things. But here's the thing. There is truth that the meddling that Western governments have committed in the Middle East has definitely angered people in the Middle East and angered Muslims there, which indirectly has angered Muslims here. But, we live in democratic societies, which means if you have a problem with what your government is doing, well, you have the right to vote, you have the right to stand as a member of parliament, get involved and help change those decisions. Help change those decisions. Because, that's how our country works. We have to convince each other of the path to take, right? If you have an idea, you want the people to vote for, then you have to convince people to vote for it. That's what politicians are doing whenever an election happens. They're advertising themselves to us. They're trying to convince us to vote for them. So, we have a mechanism through which we can influence the decisions taken. And, I know the cynics will say, well, their voting doesn't matter, because it's the rich and the corporations who control it. But I, you know, it's, I think, if anything, the recent election of Donald Trump should show that people, if they really put their mind to it, if they really want something, can still get a result that's completely against the establishment. So, given that there's that mechanism, I don't think it's fair to keep blaming foreign policy as the cause of the anger in Islamic societies. A lot of the Muslims who might blame the British government for these things, Well, they have grown up in this country, they've had the opportunity to get involved and vote. And I'm not blaming them for not doing that, I'm just saying that we need to do, you know, if you have to try everything you can, and if, after trying all of that, you can't change something, then you can start figuring out where you need to point the blame and make the change. But I think today, the ideology itself, is considered to be quite attractive to a lot of people who maybe grew up here and feel a little bit disconnected with society around them. And so they're drawn in by the ideology of ISIS, you know, why were they able to recruit so many people from this country and other countries in the West? Because the ideology was attractive. I mean, a lot of these kids were from stable households, and they didn't have really any problems. But, they were missing something. Now I'm not enough on the topic to explain what they were missing, but I think from what I've read, I'm aware that what they didn't have was an ideology to counter the ideology they're receiving from ISIS, from the extremists. They didn't have a counter influence to balance that. And, unfortunately, whenever I watch TV shows where they discuss these topics about Islam, about violence in Islam, about terrorism, that the Muslims who are in these shows, or the people who are representing Islam, are just apologists for it. Completely apologist. And the, there's, although there's a willingness to admit that there are problems that needs to be tackled, that I find that they are often on the defensive. They feel like their Islam is being attacked, that they're being scapegoated for the connotative terrorists. And, because that's their general mindset, often, it just turns into a defensive Islam and a complete, a refusal to admit any of these problems. And, and even things like criticism of the prevent program that the government is running. A lot of people are very critical of it, and yet I don't hear any better ideas being put out there for how to tackle this. All I hear is, "Oh well, let the Muslim community handle it itself". But, then I think of situations such as the girls who got raped in Rotterdam, in the north of England. I mean, I read up on what happened there and the Muslim community were approached by the police a number of times, to help tackle those issues, and they didn't do enough. They didn't do enough. And, so it went on for years and years. So, maybe things have changed now. Maybe people in the community are more alert, more aware, more involved, and willing to get second root out problems before they really become problems. But, for a long time, I think, in situations like that, they most certainly won't. And I think that's why a lot of people are skeptical today of Islam. And, that's why I say, it's got a PR problem. I don't think that it's, I don't think it's impossible for Islam to co-exist with democracy in this country. But, I think the people who represented on TV, the people who are speaking up for the so-called experts or the Imam's, or whoever, are not doing a good job of the fears of the general population regarding Islam, regarding extremism in Islam, and at the same time, they're not really representing the community well enough, because the voices that are the loudest seem to be the extremist voices. And the other voices, that I feel, the more moderate voices like for example. And, I'm not saying that he's a perfect guy, or that everyone should be supporting him, but he seems to be just getting shut down and criticized by people in the community. Which to me, this doesn't make sense. And, it makes me question, what is, what is the ultimate goal? What do, what do people want? What do prominent Muslim leaders in this country, what do they see as the future of Islam in this country? So, all in all, I think it's clear to all of us, sadly, that terrorist attacks, these problems related to Islam, are just going to keep on happening, keep on coming. I don't see a solution in the short term. I think in the medium to long term, I hope that people growing up in the West, Muslims growing up in the West will be more integrated, and will, the cultures will, will merge a bit more, and therefore are less likely to see themselves as separate to the society in which they live. I can definitely see that happening in the long term. I can already see it happening with young people, at least in my hometown now, on the way they're dressed, behave, the way they interact. And, so there's, there is hope. There is hope. But, I mean, we've we've just had this migrant crisis in Europe, where people have taken a lot of migrants from the Middle East. And these are people from cultures, which simply just don't have the same values as ours. And, we've seen that in a news reports of migrants raping people and then coming up with ridiculous reasons as to why they didn't know that what they did was wrong. And to me, this is just, and it's political correctness that allows these things to continue. Political correctness that allows people to get away with things in Sweden, for example, and for the police force to be not able to go into certain areas, no go zones. It's all just political correctness. And, and I think one axiom of life I feel, is that you always have to deal with reality, with the way reality is. I mean, reality is here, and then you keep pretending it's not like that. It's like this, the way you want it to be. It's, it's going to clash and you're going to fail.