Tom Griffin (London, OK): Under Siege: Islam and the Media was the theme on Saturday for a half-day conference at the LSE organised by Media Workers Against the War. Among the speakers was Daily Mail columnist Peter Oborne who talked about his own experience of disillusionment.
I found it very profoundly shocking in the lead-up to the Iraq War, to be lied to systemically by the British state. I thought it was something which was foreign to our traditions and our experience. Oddly enough, it radicalised me. I went through the opposite journey to what Nick Cohen went through.
Oborne went on to criticise the media's wider coverage of the Muslim community, something which he examined in a documentary and accompanying pamphlet earlier this year.
I just noticed this. That it was very easy and normal and aceptable, and praiseworthy in the strange moral parameters of British political and social reporting, to write falsehoods about Muslims
That is a major part of British public ideology at the moment. It's linked to Government, its linked to think tanks, its linked to a large number of core columnists who subscribe to that poisonous orthodoxy.
Also on the platform was Inayat Bunglawala, who is an advisor to Engage, a new initiative aimed at encouraging British Muslims to interact more effectively with politics and the media. His contribution addressed opponents of "the so-called left-Muslim alliance.'
The crux of their criticism has been that they believe that the left has sold out on key issues like gay rights, women's rights, etcetra by working with prominent Muslim organisations in this country. In my own experience, the reality is the exact opposite. It's through working with other groups that prominent Muslim organisations and groups have had to look at themselves and some of the views they've held up to now.
Our point of view is consistent. Is it right to call for an end to anti-Muslim prejudice when you turn a blind eye to prejudice against other minorities? I am very happy to say that earlier this year, Parliament passed the equalities legislation, which forbids discrimination on grounds of faith, race, sexual orientation, age etcetra. The Muslim Council of Britain for the first time supported this legislation, and other Muslim organisations for the first time came out in support, because they realised it's wrong to call for an end to anti-Muslim discrimination, when they're not as open against discrimination against others.