Tuesday, April 15, 2008

"apes and pigs" Islamic Teacher Recieves

£70,000 settlement for unfair dismissal.

An update on this story. "Teacher accuses Islamic school of racism," by Alexandra Frean for the Times Online: A former teacher at an Islamic school, who alleged that it taught an offensive and racist view of non-Muslims, has been awarded £70,000 by an employment tribunal after winning his case for unfair dismissal.

Colin Cook told the tribunal in Watford that pupils were taught from Arabic books that likened Jews and Christians to monkeys and pigs at The King Fahad Academy, which is funded and run by the Saudi Arabian Government.

The tribunal ruled that Mr Cook, a British Muslim, was unfairly dismissed from his £36,000-a-year post at the school in Acton, West London, in December 2006 after blowing the whistle on systematic cheating at a GCSE exam.


1 comment:

  1. Say No to Islamophobia


    Islamophobia, which has both deep roots in Western culture and a long history during which a distinctly American form evolved over many decades, is the most pressing problem facing the American Muslim and Arab-American communities. Since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, defamation is the only element of the backlash facing these communities that has unquestionably worsened at every stage.

    Defamation affects all sectors of these communities - assimilated and immigrant, well-to-do and working class, Muslims and Arab Christians - no one is immune to the highly negative effects it has on relations with other Americans, including neighbors, co-workers, and even friends. In recent months, some of the most egregious and dangerous trends in Islamophobic defamation have made substantial inroads into the most influential elements of American popular culture, especially in cable television news.

    Defining Islam in the most radical terms

    One of the most striking and ironic features of the debate on Islam in the United States post-9/11 is the passionate insistence of the most right-wing Islamophobes, whether of the evangelical Christian fundamentalist or right-wing Zionist varieties, on the most extreme interpretations of Islamic scriptures and practices. In some instances, the only people sharing certain radical interpretations of Islamic texts and traditions are the so-called "salafist-jihadists" such as al Qaeda, and the Islamophobes. Both have a stake in presenting Islam as authorizing excessively reactionary and violent behavior, and both agree that Islam sets itself on a collision course with the West and all non-Muslims in general. The fact that this is at odds with most traditional interpretations of the faith is of no consequence to either group.

    What has been most counter-intuitive is the anger that presenting more benign, tolerant and traditional interpretations of the faith, and its texts and traditions, provokes in many Islamophobes. Defenses of traditional and tolerant versions of Islam that stand in contrast to various forms of Muslim extremism are not always embraced as an enlightened or preferable or correct interpretation, as one might have expected from individuals purporting to be opponents of Muslim radicals. Rather, the Islamophobes tend to react with outrage, accusing those promoting tolerant interpretations of covering- up the "ugly truth" about the Quran, Islam and the Prophet, as if there were a fixed meaning to religious texts and that providing a non-extreme interpretation is a form of deception - a deliberate mis-translation of texts and their meanings and mis- representation of what Muslims "really believe."

    All to often, those who provide more tolerant and inclusive interpretations of Islam as a social text are overtly or implicitly accused of lying, covering-up. In other words, the most virulent critics of Islam generally have a passionately felt stake in insisting that bin Laden is, as so many Islamophobes in the West have insisted post 9/11, the best Muslim in living memory, a true follower and emulator of the prophet Muhammad, and so forth. Muslims who dissent from this point of view are dismissed as either "lax Islamics" or as practitioners of taqiyyah in order to deceive credulous Westerners. As David Horowitz' Frontpagemag put it, "Osama bin Laden is a very good Muslim - a model one, in fact, and one of the most devout in the 1400 years of Islam."

    A good example of this process occurred after a television debate I had with the noted Islam-basher Robert Spencer in which he claimed that "the Quran describes Jews and Christians as apes and pigs." I flatly denied that there is any such statement in the Quran, since there is none. After the debate. Spencer fumed in the National Review Online:

    It is precisely this capacity for self-criticism that has been glaringly absent from Islam's internal debate, both among American Muslims and those in the Islamic world. To take just one recent example: When asked about the fact that Muslim radicals make liberal use of the Koranic verse that calls Jews and Christians "apes and swine" and says that they are under the curse of Allah (Sura 5:60), Hussein Ibish of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee relied on American ignorance of Islam and simply denied that such a verse was actually in the Koran.

    In a response also published in the National Review Online, I pointed out in response that, It's worth taking a look at what Sura 5:60 in fact says, not what Robert Spencer claims it says, since his on-air characterization was distorted to the point of being unrecognizable, and hence unidentifiable.

    Below are three widely cited and credible English- language translations (translators' names in caps):

    YUSUFALI: Say: "Shall I point out to you something
    much worse than this, (as judged) by the treatment it
    received from Allah? those who incurred the curse of Allah
    and His wrath, those of whom some He transformed into
    apes and swine, those who worshipped evil; @@ these are
    (many times) worse in rank, and far more astray from the
    even path!"

    PICKTHAL: Shall I tell thee of a worse (case) than
    theirs for retribution with Allah? (Worse is the case of him)
    whom Allah hath cursed, him on whom His wrath hath
    fallen and of whose sort Allah hath turned some to apes
    and swine, and who serveth idols. Such are in worse plight
    and further astray from the plain road.

    SHAKIR: Say: Shall I inform you of (him who is) worse
    than this in retribution from Allah? (Worse is he) whom
    Allah has cursed and brought His wrath upon, and of
    whom He made apes and swine, and he who served the
    Shaitan; these are worse in place and more erring from the
    straight path.

    Thus, although Sura 5:60 certainly does exist, the verse he described in our debate and his article does not.

    I, of course, acknowledged that Muslim extremists do sometimes interpret this verse as referring to Christians and Jews, but I pointed out What is most relevant about the meaning of this verse is what the mainstream understanding of it has been over the centuries and at the present moment. No one except a malevolent dissembler could claim that mainstream Islam in the past or present has held that Jews and Christians are "apes and swine," or are under a curse of God. Anyone making such an interpretation, whether Robert Spencer or Osama bin Laden, does serious violence to both the text and the spirit of the Koran, and does not understand the mainstream traditions of Islam which hold Judaism and Christianity to be legitimate and respected faiths.

    In Spencer's response to my response, he continued to insist that the Quran does in fact say that Christians and Jews are apes and swine, and that These and many more examples are publicly available at the Middle East Media Research Institute website: in an April, 2002 sermon, Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, the Grand Sheikh of Cairo's Al-Azhar University, called Jews "the enemies of Allah, descendants of apes and pigs."

    However, as the Jerusalem Report pointed out, in fact Tantawi had denounced, not reinforced, this interpretation: "Sheikh Tantawi of the prestigious Al-Azhar institution also called for an end to anti-Semitic propaganda and to Jews being referred to in the Muslim world as apes and pigs." But even if Tantawi had endorsed the extremists' interpretation of this passage as referring to Christians and Jews, even though it does not in fact say this, this still would not mean that in fact the Quran calls Christians and Jews apes and swine. It would say a great deal about the attitudes of Tantawi, but not much about the language of the book itself. Similarly, it says far more about Robert Spencer and his own agenda that he reads the Sura in this way than it does about the Sura itself. His anger at me for pointing out that there is no such passage in the Quran and that the Sura to which he refers does not in fact mention Christians and Jews only made him more, not less, annoyed. Its clear that Spencer would be happier if the Quran actually did call Christians and Jews apes and swine. And to this day, he continues to claim that it does.

    Another revealing incident occurred during a 2002 interview I had on CNBC's program Hardball with Chris Mathews, in which we ended up arguing about the meaning of the word jihad. I argued that, "the greater jihad, the true jihad, is a fight within the person against the baser animal instincts. It's a struggle for spiritual purity, that it what it should be at least." Mathews rejected my interpretation on the grounds that the American Heritage Dictionary defines jihad as "Muslim holy war or a spiritual struggle against infidels" and said that, therefore, jihad is the "lingo of terrorists." I countered that "jihad is not the lingo of terrorists, it is a concept that is also a central tenant of Islam, which one fifth of the people in the world believe, and it's up to the Muslims to reclaim that concept away from these fanatics and these terrorists and give it back its spiritual meaning. And that's extremely important, and good." He replied that, "you're turning it into kind of an Oprah kind of thing, human inner-struggling and self-development." I countered that, "I'm not turning anything into anything else. That is the traditional meaning of the greater jihad, and that's what it should mean." He became visibly upset, and insisted, "That's not what jihad means!" And so it went. Mathews finally dismissed my arguments as "the same old crap," and said, "The trouble with having pressure groups represented on this show is they don't deal in facts."

    Apart from the absurdity of Chris Mathews trying to dictate the "meaning" of jihad, the danger here is also the notion that any word or doctrine central to Islam, let alone one as over-determined and multi-valiant as jihad, can and should have only one fixed meaning and that CNBC gets to define what that is. Therefore, the right to translate, the right to re-define, or even to select among competing interpretations of Islamic doctrines is assumed by the authority of the American media, and the Arab or Muslim American is left with two choices: either acquiesce and denounce the doctrine of jihad, or find oneself accused of religious or political taqiyyah*, and of purveying "the same old crap."

    These themes and many more have characterized the post-9/11 period in which anti-Arab racism has given way to anti-Muslim defamation and shifted from the entertainment to the news media. Other aspects of the discourse - to be outlined and analyzed in future research - have included the casting of everything to do with Islam and Muslims in the light of the 9/11 attacks, the idea that all Arab or Muslim criminals or criminal suspects are terrorists, constant suggestions that all Muslim activists are Islamists and/or supporters of terrorism, the use of tendentious neologisms, bizarre sexual anxieties, and frequent implications that Muslims are almost by definition anti-Semites and heirs, somehow, to the Nazis. Forthcoming versions of this study will include explanations of these and more additional themes of contemporary American Islamophobia