When I heard about Louis Smith being banned from gymnastics for two months for mocking Muslim prayer I thought of Toni Morrison, who once said that “the very serious function of racism is distraction”. There’s no doubt it was a stupid thing for Smith to do, and, yes, if you look at it for what it is, it is Islamophobic. But this story is a distraction.
It’s no secret that Islamophobia has been steadily on the rise in the UK, Europe and the US. There’s the relentless hounding of Muslims on the front pages of our national newspapers; Donald Trump has added a Muslim travel ban to his repertoire of racist ideas; and broadcaster Fatima Manji has been directly targeted for wearing a hijab by Sun columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, only to have the press regulator uphold his right to attack her. [Iman Amrani, 1027 comments]
[TOP RATED COMMENT 346 votes] “Yes, the gymnast’s drunken antics were Islamophobic.”
Nonsense. In fact, the ban itself is Islamophobic, in the literal sense: fear of Islam. He wouldn’t have been banned for mocking Christian prayers.
[2ND 283] Let’s stop for a second here. A person, in the UK and in 2016, has been suspended for mocking a religion. It is horrible and incredibly dire.
Girolamo Savonarola would be proud of the British Gymnastics federation.
[3RD 262] Are we still allowed to take the piss out of Islam?
[4TH 235] No its not. It’s what’s wrong with our Politically correct culture and bowing down to uncomfortable truths.
The only question you need to ask about this sage is, if he ridiculed say Christianity, would he have been punished in the same way if at all?
I rest my case.
[5TH 233] 1. You need to stop conflating race and religion. Race no one can help. Religion is a set of ideas, some making pseudo scientific claims and some making moral and ethical directions. They are up for challenge and mockery accordingly.
2. The reports of islamophobia are grossly exaggerated. Tell Mama was discredited long ago, and lost its state assistance accordingly.
3. You mention McKenzie’s tabloid hack piece for the Sun. It was a lame piece of hack journalism; but we don’t ban that sort of thing in a free society. Any journalist should understand that.
4. So far as McKenzie had anything to say, he said the veil was a symbol of how Islam oppresses women. It does, as do all Abrahemic faiths. Christianity has watered down its sexism considerably, but it still thinks you need a male member to hold the top jobs.
5. Why did McKenzie write his nasty piece? It was in the immediate aftermath of 83 people being murdered as they went about their normal business. If his article is the best example of islamophobia in the wake of such brutal, senseless slaughter by Islamic fanatics, then I’d say Westerners are a lot less islamophobic than you would like to believe.
6. You left out any mention of that attack. Why?
[6TH 220] It could have been worse, he could have drawn a cartoon.
[7TH 212] Islam is an ideology like any other. It is vital for democracy and civilisation that we are free to mock any ideology. If it’s OK for make fun of Toryism, Jeremy Corbyn and his loony shadow cabinet, and the wishy washy C of E, then it is fine to make fun of Islam too.
It is deeply sinister that Louis Smith has been punished for doing so. [Guardian Cif] Read more