On 20th October James Peck of Lincolnshire Live reported on the controversy generated by a video released by Lincolnshire Police. Apparently titled “British Muslims” it was a clumsy attempt by the Force to counter anti-Muslim bigotry which in the opinion of this writer crossed the line into promotion of Islam as an idea. You can view the 13-minute video embedded below in the “Lincolnshire Live” link.
I am unsure of the law in the UK, but had this video been produced in the US I believe it would almost certainly be illegal. Accordingly, I wrote the following letter to the Deputy Chief Constable of the Force, Craig Naylor who robustly defended the video. I have not received a response.
Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor of Lincolnshire Police (photo courtesy: https://www.police.uk/lincolnshire/team/deputy-chief-constable-craig-naylor/)
“Dear Deputy Chief Constable Craig Naylor,
I refer to your recently released video which I assume is titled “British Muslims”, about which I saw this report. http://www.lincolnshirelive.co.uk/news/local-news/police-heavily-criticised-social-media-655619
It is commendable that the Force should be addressing anti-Muslim bigotry yet I have criticisms of the video and would like you to address them.
At 1:03 we read, “British Muslims. How are they portrayed? Terrorists? Jihadis? Islamic State?” It’s true that they are portrayed like this because some British Muslims are as described. It does not seem to be a good start to imply that a plain statement of fact is not true. No data is shown as to how Muslims are portrayed. We are being presented with anecdote rather than scientifically-determined fact.
At 2:12, Hafez Abusammad Mulla claims that, “Coins from Muslim countries dating back to the C8th were used in Great Britain.” (sic) This is not true. He refers to a coin minted in England as the British Museum link shows. https://www.bmimages.com/preview.asp?image=00031108001&imagex=1&searchnum=0002 It does not inspire confidence when the first substantive claim made in the video is untrue.
At 2:46, much is made of Muslim membership of the modern British Army. It is a sad fact that more British Muslims (ca. 850) joined IS than the 600 or so in the Army. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-32026985 This is quite a commonly-known statistic and it does no good to pretend that there is not a problem when quite clearly there is.
At 3:50 Hafez Abusammad Mulla states, “…’so-called’ Muslims have been responsible for terrorist attacks but these people do not represent the views of normal Muslims like me in this country or abroad.” There is no doubt that, say, IS are a Muslim group. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has a PhD in Islamic Studies and several Islamic clerics are embedded with their fighting groups. To call IS “so-called” is to privilege the wish over the fact. On terrorist attacks, according to Pew Research in 2013 8% of Muslims worldwide said that suicide bombing was often or sometimes justified: that makes about 128,000,000 worldwide. That is not insignificant. The numbers are here: http://www.pewforum.org/files/2013/04/worlds-muslims-religion-politics-society-full-report.pdf
At 7:15 Yasmin Qureshi MP, states, “(I) try to disassociate these terrorist attacks away from Islam.” (sic) It is normal practice for IS terrorists to claim their allegiance to Islamic State and to give a Koranic verse as justification. There is no means in reason for asserting that they are any less Muslim than Ms. Qureshi. This is evangelizing on behalf of a religion.
At 7:59 Khalida Ashrafi says, “When the Charlie Hebdo attacks… happened, the number of hate crimes that were being talked about…were through the roof…” No statistics are produced to confirm the claim. This is anecdote. We know that TellMama’s statistics about serious hate-crimes following Islamist atrocities did not show spikes in the few weeks after. A professional approach to this claim would have detailed statistics, breaking them down into types: speech on social media, verbal attacks in the street, assault etc. A chance to produce firm data was lost.
At 8:30 Bana Kora of the Muslim Women’s Council declares, “For us our religion is a peaceful religion.” This may be a commendable wish, but it is not a statement of fact. Since 9/11 there have been approximately 31,000 jihadist attacks globally. As a matter of pure fact it is not true. The Koran itself contains at least 109 verses of violence and a distressing amount of anti-Semitic invective. Again, we have proselytizing on behalf of a religion.
At 11:45 Hafez Abusammad Mulla avers that “(Muhammad) said ‘The best of mankind are those who benefit mankind’”. A nice thought but again highly unlikely to be true. The quotation comes from al-Daraqutni who flourished in the tenth century, 300 years after Muhammad. Al-Daraqutni could not have known that Muhammad said it – and it sounds nothing like Muhammad as recorded in the Koran. Hafez Abusammad Mulla is making things up.
This was a most disappointing video. It features no statistics on anti-Muslim bigotry, no case studies apart from verbal anecdote, no numbers on the tolerance or otherwise of British society – nor does it compare it with other countries or with other groups such as Jews. It gives a platform to Muslims to deny the link between the scriptures of Islam and violence and to state historical untruths. I would suggest that it is not the role of the Police to produce, and presumably pay for, such da’wa – evangelizing for Islam.
I would suggest that you should make the case statistically and in a secular, professional manner for privileging the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry over other forms (anti-Semitism, anti-Polish, anti-Rumanian). The video does not address this. The case should rather be that one doesn’t attack Muslims because they are fellow humans, not because of any peculiarity of their religion. That is what equality under the law means.
I would be grateful if you could explain how this evangelizing on behalf of a religion is legal and what, if any, further research you have in place to measure the effectiveness of the video. While it is true that the role of the Police should be to promote cohesion, this should not be done at the expense of enabling groups to make up untruths on taxpayer-funded time. Social cohesion can only come if we talk openly and honestly about ideas. No serious security analyst on earth denies the link between Islam and violence: your video attempted to repudiate that. And there, I fear, is the video’s weakness: its editorial decisions render it untrustworthy in the public debate.
I invite you to comment, should you have the time to reply.
Yours sincerely etc….”