Daily Archives: September 22, 2006

Lucky in our enemies

No amount of spin can disguise the relative merits of a well-argued and honest brief. And, the same applies to personalities.

Yesterday’s press (and the previous evening’s television) presented us with Mr Abu Izzadeen. It was not a pretty sight.

Malcolm’s attention was caught by (as they say) two significant details, which add up to one big thought.

Here is one paragraph from Alan Hamilton’s (curiously attributed to Nicola Woolcock on the website) atmospheric piece in the Times:

[John Reid’s] audience had been rounded up by the local council at short notice, and comprised community leaders, councillors and a surprising number of Muslim women. Theym huddled together in the back rows of plastic chairs, paying the Home Secretary polite attention.

And here is Alan Travis in the Guardian:

Abu Izzadeen, in white flowing robes, interrupted him: “How dare you come to a Muslim area when over 1,000 Muslims have been arrested?” Mr Reid was a tyrant and an enemy of Islam. When Muslim women told him it was a “time for dialogue” he told them to “be quiet” before being ushered out by stewards and police.

There are several Asian (and possibly, but irrelevantly, Muslim) women in the media and prominent places. The BBC seems to be able to find another one, slick and sophisticated, at the drop of a hat. They are intelligent, vocal and at-ease with their personalities and self-presentation. Meanwhile, back in the schools and universities Asian (and possibly, but irrelevantly, Muslim) girls are outperforming their male counterparts. The London banks could not cope without them.

And yet, thinks Malcolm, where are these women when it comes to a confabulation of “community leaders”? This band of worthies is trolled out repeatedly, and without explanation or apology is, to a man, of one gender. Very occasionally, a token women, typically clutching a portfolio of essential documents, trips along in the view of the tv-camera but is never allowed to speak. Sinn Féin were rightly ridiculed by their opponents for the same penchant, until they rose to the challenge.

Ah, but it’s “cultural” the apologists say. Cut the crap: it’s chauvinist. Or it’s something even more sinister. Half the “moslem” population are female; but silent.

Here’s Malcolm’s formula: bluster and a beard make a bigot. Perhaps John Reid’s voice of reason may, one day, be answered by something quieter and with more sense and more real feeling.

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