Peter Oborne, former chief political commentator at the Daily Telegraph, in a sequence of articles for Open Democracy has shed significant light on the demise of standards at the Telegraph titles drawing attention to the paper’s refusal to publish his investigative pieces on the behaviour of the Charity Commission towards British Muslim charities and the paper’s woeful neglect in coverage of the banking scandal engulfing HSBC allegedly to avoid losing valuable advertising revenue.
In our view, Andrew Gilligan and his derisory brand of ‘investigative’ journalism is further evidence of the “fraud” by the Telegraph titles on its readers who are fed a regular diet of shoddy journalism. Gilligan’s mudslinging at British Muslim organisations is well known. Lesser attention, however, has been paid to the number of times his ‘investigative’ pieces have been shown to be lacking in substance. Unfortunately, British Muslim organisations do not possess the kind of financial clout that large business corporations may be able to exercise over the Telegraph’s print output and so spurious allegations and unfounded accusations continue to be printed.
Gilligan’s form of non-violent extremism takes the curious shape of paradox peppered with paranoia. For example, in light of the Education select committee’s report this week on the so called ‘Trojan horse plot’ in Birmingham schools, it is useful to reflect on the number of articles Gilligan wrote elaborating on the ‘extremism‘ present in the schools, the actors involved and how the Sunday Telegraph “revealed the truth behind the plot”. Contrast this to the important finding by the select committee, and affirmed by the Education Secretary, Nicky Morgan, in an interview with The Muslim News last year, that “ No evidence of extremism or radicalisation, apart from a single isolated incident, was found by any of the inquiries and there was no evidence of a sustained plot nor of a similar situation pertaining elsewhere in the country.” Have we seen a retraction of the specious allegations Gilligan made in relation to the schools? Of course not. Have we seen an apology from the Telegraph for allowing articles without substance to be published and thereby committing a “fraud” on its readers? Of course not.
Guest Post: By Uthman Ahmad
There are few issues which are more contentious and divisive to Muslims than the role of Saudi Arabia in the Muslim world. This nation has polarised opinion amongst religious scholars, Islamic thinkers, political activists, pilgrims and even non-Muslims. In an Arab world dominated by ruling dynasties, the Saudi regime is perfectly consistent with its neighbours, but no other regime can simultaneously evoke such feelings of loyalty and detest from across the Muslims world.
The ‘Land of Tawheed’ is a phrase affectionately used to describe Saudi Arabia as a bastion of monotheism. It is after all the birth place of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Salutations be upon him) and his place of final rest. And within this peninsula is the Sacred House of God, the Ka’bah in Mecca, and the Prophet’s Sacred Mosque in Medina. Every year millions of Muslims make pilgrimage to the holy sanctuary to renew their faith while chanting the ‘talbiyyah’ which is a profound statement of the Oness of God. The scenes of countless Muslims making ‘tawaaf’ around the ka’bah are perhaps the most iconic symbols of Muslim unity and spirituality known across the globe, but consider this: Over the years the Makkan skyline has increasingly become dominated by exclusive hotels and shopping malls generating obscene sums of wealth for Saudi princes . They tower over the ka’bah physically and metaphorically as poorer pilgrims are driven further and further away to the outskirts of Makkah. The House of God, once accessible to all, seems increasingly accessible only to those who can afford it. Also coupled with the fact that the pilgrimage is the second largest source of income for Saudi Arabia after oil, it does bring into sharper focus the opinion of some scholars that profiteering at the expense of pilgrims is prohibited. Even the pre-Islam pagans of Makkah prided themselves on the altruistic service of pilgrims without charge.
In all honesty, I did not want to write on the banal, stereotypical, anti-Muslim, “Halal hysteria”. There has already been a cogent piece written on this topic which deserves a read.
The thing is when something like this becomes current again you wonder what runs through the minds of neocons, liberals and anti-Muslim hate-mongers. Really. It has happened before. And it is only convenient (for the neocons and the right-wing extremists), to regurgitate the same. This time around the Sun sensationally claimed that chickens are slaughtered alive! Even Russell Brand picked up on the inherent prejudiced attack on the Muslim minority. As per the neocon demonisation formula, a report about food chains “secretly” feeding halal meat to the unsuspecting public is revealed. Perhaps a few reports by apologetic Muslims who do not follow Islam is published stating that they have no real concern about eating halal food.
The “Devout Muslim Scholar”!
And then you have the “devout Muslim scholar”, Taj Hargey. When a “devout Muslim” feels the need to express his (unqualified) opinion in the diatribe-churning, neocon-serving Daily Mail which produces less news and more Goebells-inspired war propaganda, then his credibility will come in for some serious scrutiny. He has of course attacked Muslims before. For instance, he called the niqab and burka a “cultural monstrosity”, calling for it to be banned.
Another reason for me necessitating the placing of my fingers to keyboard is the gratuitous maligning of the Muslim minority and Islam through Hargey’s deviousness. Had Taj Hargey, instead of misleading his readers to the false notion that he is a “devout Muslim scholar”, clearly highlighted that he does not represent normative Islamic thought and instead represents a fringe group then certainly, it would have been more honest of him. That is not the case.