18/10/2006

Odd one out?

I find myself a little bit scared of the current mood in the press and in government, if I'm honest. It seems to be open season on Muslims, with stories like the godawful Melanie Phillips column in 'Like shooting swivel-eyed fish in a barrel' appearing all over the place. Crimes blamed on Muslims even though they're not comitted by Muslims. Ignorant pronouncements about attire worn by a teeny tiny minority of Muslim women popping up all over the place, with even the Prime Minister joining in saying someone shuld lose their job for dressing a certain way. First of all, I wonder what our attention is being diverted from with all this. But secondly, I'm scared that so few people seem to recognise the naked and irrational hatred that sits behind the 'debate'.

So, we clearly need a stupid song to lead into the taking apart of one of these stories from our favourite reactionary rag.

Two of these kids are playing together
Two of these kids are kind of the same
But one of these kids is doing her own thing
Now it's time to play our game
It's time to play our ga-haaame!

I'm going to mention three objects and you have to pick the odd one out? Ready? Here goes.
  • Ring
  • Scarf
  • Bracelet
That's right! It's the scarf as it's not a piece of jewellery! But this simple fact seems to have eluded those fine upstanding journalists of integrity at the Mail in the article, 'School bans Christian chastity ring but allows Muslim and Sikh symbols'. From the article:
Millais School in West Sussex has banned the silver 'purity rings', arguing that they fall foul of the school's no-jewellery policy, which only allows pupils to wear simple single stud earrings.

But the school has been accused of double standards as it allows Muslim pupils to wear headscarves and Sikh pupils kara bracelets as a means of religious expression.
Headscarves are not jewellery. End of. So why are they included in the article? Because if they weren't, there'd be no way to attack Muslims with this drivel.

And drivel it is. See, no Christian denomination or sect of any kind include the wearing of a chastity ring as a requirement. But from the Wikipedia article on Kara:
The Sikhs were commanded by Guru Gobind Singh at the Baisakhi Amrit Sanchar in 1699 to wear a steel slave bangle called a Kara at all times. This was one of five articles of faith, collectively called Kakars that form the external visible symbols to clearly and outwardly display ones commitment and dedication to the order (Hukam) of the tenth master and become a member of Khalsa.
There's your difference right there. BZZZT! NEXT!

The worrying thing is, that's the only mention of the Kara or Sikhs, but it's not the only mention of Muslim headscarves, even though they're not bloody jewellery. We get:
Rev Brown, 78, a retired Church of England vicar said: 'The ban is totally discriminatory, compared with the way Muslim girls in that school are treated, they are allowed to wear head scarves, symbolising their faith.
Rev Brown is full of crap, for the reasons outlined above. School rules say no jewellery, scarves are not jewellery so they're not against the rules. Also, I wonder whether the guy ever even knew that Kara bracelets were allowed or was even bothered. But without mentioning Kara bracelets, the difference between scarves and ring would be too obvious.

I do find the inclusion of Sikhs in this article, and in their other article about the BA cross lady worrying. As well as Melanie Phillips' extra bonus inclusion of Hindus in her column. In including Sikhs and Hindus along with Muslims, who they've long demonised, the Mail are now widening their outrage net to include more brown people. Here, we can see their 'it's not racist because Islam is a religion and not a race' start to slip.

Scary times.

2 comments:

Hel said...

Brilliant blog - there's so many of your posts that i could comment on and say "yes, you've analysed it perfectly."
i am not religious or anything but i'm becoming very worried by the way that inciting hatred against foreign religions is being used by the tabloids as a disguise for their racism. i've heard people using the word "muslims" when talking about people from predominantly non-muslim countries like India, it seems that now the word "muslim" is just used as another word for "Asian." there's so much racism in the world already, we don't need the tabloids adding fuel to it!

Five Chinese Crackers said...

Hey! A comment! Thanks Hel, nice to know someone's read this.

People do say 'muslim' when they're talking about people who aren't muslim, and have done for a long time. Sikhs and Hindus have been attacked in the past because people thought they were muslims, and there was a story in the press earlier this week (or late last week) about a family of Indian Catholics arriving home from a holiday to find their houses vandalised with anti-muslim graffiti.

I'm not religious at all, either. I just realise there's a difference between disagreeing with a belief and attacking the people who believe it.

Cheers!